Food writer Ruth Dsouza Prabhu loves to add a dash of meet mirsang masala when she is making prawn pasta. The Mangalurean staple masala made of two different types of red chilies, turmeric, cumin and vinegar add a spicy tangy flavour and deep colour to the pasta that Dzouza absolutely loves. “I still make my six-monthly batch of the meet mirsang even though mostly people now choose to buy it off the shelf,” she says.
Along with other food bloggers, consultants and enthusiasts, Dsouza was recently part of the city’s Masala Day celebrations — a meetup to share experiences and recipes of various spices that constitute cuisines from different parts of India.
The whole idea of a day like this began in March last year when Mumbai-based gastronome and culinary consultant Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal had a food awakening of sorts. While celebrating Macaroon and Good France Day, both food-related festivals, her husband pointed out that while Western foods were being fêted, there was no such conversation around the diverse cuisines of India.
“That thought stayed with me. Then, one day, I came across Pakhala Dibasa (a rice dish) celebrated by Odias worldwide on social media. That got me thinking,” says Munshaw, 42, who then went on create The Indian Food Observance Days, a global community of people invested in celebrating, sharing and collating information in Indian food according to a seasonal calendar. “The idea is to keep alive our food traditions, which are being lost by the day thanks to our busy lives and need for convenience,” she says.
In April last year, Munshaw launched #AamAchaarDay, which included a Facebook Live panel discussion and a big following on Twitter and Instagram. This was followed by days like #PapadBadiday and #MasalaDay in May, #Pulao-BiryaniDay in June, #ChaiPakoda-Day in July #KhichdiDay in November among others.
In Bengaluru, food consultant Monika Manchanda has celebrated days like SubziTarkariDin, AcharDay and ChaiPakodaDay. On the cards are #PulaoBiryaniDay, followed by ChutneyDay, LadduDay. Recently for #MasalaDay, she put together a panel to discuss indigenous spices from different parts of the country. “The idea is to celebrate one day a month for different Indian seasonal foods,” Manchanda says.
The idea of Indian Food Observance has grown organically and also being celebrated in Indore, Delhi, Assam and Mumbai, besides here. The idea is to not forget Indian food heritage and the diversity, says Mohit Balachandran, cuisine director at SodaBottleOpenerWala which is collaborating on this. “While the Indian food scene has evolved to involve world cuisine, fusion food, it is important to conserve our own food. This is where an initiative like this can go a long way in involving people through social media,” Balachandran, who blogs on offbeat Indian food on his blog Chowder Singh, says.
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