Sep 20, 2016
For time immemorial our mothers and grandmothers have taken pride in cooking wholesome meals every day. It has shaped our palates so much so that today we crave for those flavours, which were such an integral part of our growing up days.
At a time when gourmet restaurants are at a full-time high, homemade food is something that we all find our comfort in. Far away from the waiting queues and table reservations, are home chefs who are serving delicious homely food inspired by heirloom recipes or influenced by childhood memories. These meals are not only made with love but also an undying passion to preserve and revive age-old recipes.
One such home chef is Pia Promina Dasgupta Barve. Born and raised in Kolkata, she recollects having many Jewish friends. “Many of the lunches we shared in school and the food in their houses have had a major influence on my food habits and cooking,” she quips. Flower Silliman, author of a multi-cuisine cookbook titled Three Cups Of Flower, who was also her cookery teacher in school, have been a major influence on Pia Promina’s love for Jewish cuisine. Her mother too spiked her interest in food; the former loved experimenting with different cuisines by looking up a variety of cookbooks.
So it is obvious that the Mumbai-based home cook took to hosting pop-ups focusing on cuisines that she grew up on. Her first being a lunch pop-up called ‘Jewish Kitchens Of Calcutta‘ where she served a Bengali-Jewish menu. “The Jewish community didn’t ghetto. They mixed well with everyone and were inclusive of other communities and their cuisines. For example, Cochin’s Jews use coconut milk in their cooking and the Jews who settled in Alibaug have a lot of Maharashtrian influences.”
Pia’s last pop-up was inspired by authentic Sri Lankan cuisine as a result of a trip with her friends earlier this year. Dishes like Lankan Chilli Garlic Crab, Chicken Jaffna Curry, Wambatu Baduma were part of the menu.
Bringing back the nostalgia, Pia plans to host another Anglo-Indian pop-up in Mumbai. The community’s sausage curry and pepper water still hold a special place in her heart she says. “Their food is full of spicy and tangy flavours and that is how our dishes will be,” she says. When asked about the dishes to expect at this pop-up, she adds, ” I am still working on creating the menu, but vindaloo is one dish that is definitely going to be there.”
Watch out for Pia Promina’s next pop-up here.