6th December 2015, Sunday
The final day of Journeys- A Festival of the Arts began with a unusual culinary experience that pleased the audience to no end. ‘Travelling chutneys’ was a live demonstration by chefs Nitu Malladi and Aarti Irani on the journey of chutneys and how the condiment has spread throughout the world with its various versions of dips, especially in America.
Nitu Bajwa Malladi is a former athlete, a mountaineer, a mother, a learner, a dreamer, one who loves to sing and dish out yummy food. She is currently a home-baker who makes your celebrations super cool with her cakes and bakes. A working mother and the need for healthy food is what set her journey off at a very young age. The first disastrous dish being the humble rice, made while her mom was away at work. Nitu has always been eager to ask for recipes from her friends, mothers; trying them at home and in the process getting hooked on to cooking. She was the official chef for her whole wing during her hostel days. Moving away to Pune for work fuelled the passion more, whereas marriage brought both North and South cuisines together for her.
Aarti Irani has more than 15 years of experience in her specialized fields of Mall Management, Acquisition Marketing & Retention and Relationship Marketing. She learned cooking at an early age of five, her inspiration being her dad who used to experiment with various dishes. It later developed into a passion for her as she reached the top 50 of Master Chef India Season 2. Even though Aarti hasn’t been involved using her skills professionally, she is looking at opening a place of her own by early next year.
The final leg of Gyan Adab’s Art and Literature festival – ‘Journeys’- kicked off with a live kitchen demonstration titled ‘Travelling Chutneys’. Curated by chefs Nitu Malladi and Aarti Irani, the session focused on the journey of chutneys- tracing their travel from across boundaries to the subcontinent to become a staple on the Indian platter. The birth of chutneys can be dated to as far behind as 500 B.C. in the timeline. With the evolution of people, the food and cuisine also evolved. As people started migrating from one place to another, they took along with them their cuisines- and most essentially, their chutneys.
Chutneys are a part of most cuisines, in the form of sauces, and are broadly categorized into six flavors ranging from sweet, spicy to sour. A typical Indian meal will essential create a perfect balance between all the six flavours, with one flavour standing out. The Indians’ obsession with spices led them to discover the importance of these masalas– they have a long shelf life. This is why Indian chutneys do not get spoilt for until quite a few days. Moreover, the Indian cuisine has been highly influenced by the rulers who ruled over the land. Their food influenced our cuisine, and in turn, our chutneys as well.
The Britishers have been credited with making the Indian chutneys popular across the world; they absolutely loved them. Chutneys come in various colours and varieities. The Mughalai and Kashmiri cuisine allows for chutney to be served with snacks or kebabs. The North Indian platter entertains a lot of different chutneys such as the ‘gulabi’ etc. While in most cuisines the chutney is served at the beginning with snacks, the Bengalis finish their meal with a dollop of chutney. Chefs Nitu and Aarti ended the session with a live demonstration of the preparation of various chutneys, while they were accompanied by Monish on the tabla and Devadas on the keyboard. It is not everyday that the audience gets to taste a variety of chutneys, as they left with their tastebuds tingling with a milieu of flavours exploding in their mouth.
With the help of a volunteer, freshly-made chutneys were passed around to the audience. They were served with snacks like appams and khakras, and brought a whole new flavour to the game.