Gastronomica

Chef Praveen Anand of Dakshin

Chef Praveen Anand of Dakshin

Praveen Anand is a Chennai-based chef trained in western cooking. Today, his passion is authentic South Indian food. His embrace of the traditional is significant in a nation that has quietly begun discarding some of its food customs. In his two-decade long career, he has researched foods of various communities in Southern India bringing dishes from each of them to a wider audience. The fruits of his labor are evident at Dakshin, listed as one of top 20 restaurants in Asia in the authoritative Miele […]



Churchill’s Secret War

Churchill’s Secret War

Most readers with an interest in world history are familiar with Ireland’s seven-year Potato Famine, which lasted from 1845 until 1852. Fewer know of the catastrophic 1943 famine that claimed up to three million lives in Bengal, an eastern Indian state and then British colony. In the fall of 1942, Bengal’s rice crop failed following a devastating cyclone. As World War ii raged on its eastern border with the Japanese invasion of Burma, Bengal went on to lose its source of rice imports. Despite this crisis, […]



Ginger and Ganesh

Ginger and Ganesh

“Please teach me Indian Vegetarian cooking! I will bring ingredients and pay you $10/hr for your trouble. I would like to know about your culture as well.” In 2008 Nani Power, Virginia-based writer and aficionado of spicy Indian food, impulsively placed this ad on Craig’s list. Much to her delight, more than a dozen Indian immigrants who lived within driving distance of her home responded. Many of her hosts offered her ginger-flavored chai, milky black tea, as a welcome beverage. Over time, some shared their […]



World’s Largest School Lunch Program

World’s Largest School Lunch Program

On any given school day, one industrial kitchen in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, is astir well before dawn. In this food factory run by the Akshaya Patra Foundation, workers prepare hot lunches for over one hundred thousand children in the city’s state-aided schools. Inside the plant the preparation proceeds like clockwork. By seven a.m. special containers of a paella-like tomato rice are loaded onto the waiting food trucks. I savor a plateful for breakfast before boarding one of these vehicles. Despite the city’s chaotic rush-hour traffic, […]



Of Math & The Monkey God

Of Math & The Monkey God

Centum is Latin for hundred. I don’t know if Italians use the word anymore, but some people in India still do. To them, centum is what a smart kid would score on a math test. In the middle class neighborhood where I grew up, many adults seemed to believe that math scores were a perfectly good indicator – indeed, the only indicator – of a child’s I.Q. – the equivalent of a Mensa rating. Alas, my scores in arithmetic could never be rounded off to […]