It’s not often that you walk into a stranger’s home, greeted by the smell of sarson, sound of onions sizzling to submission and gentle renditions of Punjabi folk music playing in the background, while the evening sun plays hide and seek with Mumbai’s busy skyline to create textures on shiny plates. It’s also not often that I talk with such prose and poetry about a meal that involved the ‘usual’ butter chicken and seekh kebab.
New to the concept of supper clubs, when a dear friend invited us to a meal curated and cooked by her to explore the narrative of food from regions torn by war and conflict, it took me all of 5 minutes to convince (demand) the usual crew to book spots at this extremely intriguing table!
“Punjab 1947” came right on point, at a time when I find myself increasingly sucked into exploring the history of regional Indian food. The 1947 Partition of India has been written about in great detail – an archive teeming with stories of unimaginable violence, separation, courage and compassion. While, for the most part of my growing up, I’ve found myself to be a passive consumer of these stories, strange sentiments of connection have surfaced recently. And so, it was quite a surreal experience sitting at this table in South Bombay, where suddenly the people sitting around me were little parcels of memories, some of their own, some inherited, transporting us to a time we’ll probably never fully understand and yet recognise as a somewhat defining aspect of our identity today.
And what better conduit to take us back in time than a 6-course meal, celebrating Punjab before the ‘Great Divide’. From unveiling the conception of the all too familiar Butter Chicken, reconnecting with the humble makki (corn) to submitting hopelessly to a kulhad full of pedewali lassi. From Lahore to Rawalpindi, Amritsar to Ambala, needless to say this culinary journey celebrated the wide and bountiful province to its fullest.
The pictures, for real this time, fail to do complete justice (also, I admit to being a bit rusty with the camera now that the phone camera is so good! Damn you One Plus!) but I’ve got to share the sheer love and care put into each plate. Food took on a whole new meaning that evening and for that I’ll always be indebted to this meal 🙂
On the brink of our 72nd “15th August”, I don’t think there could have been a better reminder of the independence we’ve inherited.
Presenting to you, Punjab 1947: The Food, The Stories, The People presented by Third Culture Cooks, Mumbai.
Visit the Third Culture Cooks Instagram page here to know more and highly recommend you catch the next one!