Food & Travel

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, […]



Tibetan New Year nears, bearing a sweet dish

Tibetan New Year nears, bearing a sweet dish

SOMERVILLE — Losar, the Tibetan New Year, begins with a spoonful of dessert. Dresyl, also known as deysee, is a warm dish of sweetened rice that women make for their families on the morning of this festive day. “In Tibet, we would add droma, which tastes like a chewy sweet potato. But here raisins work as a good substitute,’’ says Yeshi Lokyitsang, owner of the House of Tibet Kitchen. She pulls out a Ziploc stash of the miniature root vegetable with traces of Tibetan soil […]



Bombay cafe makes a bang in London

Bombay cafe makes a bang in London

LONDON — Dishoom, which opened last summer and calls itself “A Bombay Cafe in London,’’ takes its name from the Indian comic book equivalent of “Pow!’’ and “Wham!’’ In some Bollywood films, “dishoom’’ is, at times, said out loud in fight scenes when someone throws a punch. Mumbai, once called Bombay, is the home of studios where these films are made. Started by three Londoners who spent childhood summers in Mumbai, Dishoom pays homage to old-fashioned spots there. At one point, there were a few […]



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 […]



A tranquil space for lunch or tea

A tranquil space for lunch or tea

On that busy stretch of Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Central squares, a sidewalk vent lets out a sudden gust from below. The Red Line rumbles underfoot. A few doors away, inside the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center, everything is peaceful and quiet. A large golden Buddha in the far corner of the adjacent meditation hall adds to the tranquility. But you don’t have to be a practicing Buddhist to enter. You can stop by for lunch, tea, or dinner and a lecture. “This place […]



Truck Mixes Tradition With Innovation

Truck Mixes Tradition With Innovation

The exterior looks like a dry-erase board, but it’s an essential feature of the truck. On the white surface, Ayr Muir, the 31-year-old proprietor of Clover Food Lab and an MIT alum, writes out the day’s menu as soon as he gets the ovens going every morning. The truck’s handwritten name and matching logo, which is doodled in marker pen, don’t exactly draw attention, but the food has its devotees. Food trucks are a longstanding MIT tradition and the outfits tend to reflect the ethnic […]



Melding Indian spices, she’s in a class by herself

Melding Indian spices, she’s in a class by herself

SINGAPORE –The bustling streets of Little India, an ethnic quarter in this city, seem removed from the other orderly neighborhoods. Here, hit Tamil tunes spill out of record stores, which makes passersby want to dance, and sidewalk flower sellers weave ropy garlands of jasmine and orchids. The quarter is also home to many Indian eateries. In the midst of all this activity, the newly opened Spice Queen – with its burnt-orange glass-and-chrome front – stands out. Chef and owner Devagi Sanmugam is an established figure […]



Pongal: A relevant dish and festival

Around mid-January, people in South India celebrate Pongal, the harvest festival. Unlike Halloween or Christmas, Hindu holidays don’t fall on the same date each year. My mother consults an almanac to keep track of festivities. Since I can’t read that flimsy paperback, she just tells me about upcoming holidays. And because few of them touch my life in New England, I pay little attention. But Pongal is different. My ears automatically perk up at the mention of the word because it stands for both the […]



A ‘miracle tree’ that could feed sub-Saharan Africa

A ‘miracle tree’ that could feed sub-Saharan Africa

Recently, I saw a C&EN blog under the intriguing title: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary…. Moringa?  I wrote on the moringa a while ago for CSM. As a child growing up in India, I greeted the appearance of one particular vegetable on my plate with exaggerated distaste: tender seedpods from the moringa tree, locally known as “drumsticks.” Imagine my surprise when I heard a health worker from sub-Saharan Africa describe this backyard tree as a possible solution to malnutrition in tropical countries – he called it a “miracle […]



Guru the Caterer’s Following Has a Taste For Indian Food

Guru the Caterer’s Following Has a Taste For Indian Food

Four years ago, Guru the Caterer set up shop on Broadway here. The sign read “divine Indian food for brilliant minds” and listed the contact information, but the shutters remained closed most of the time. Meanwhile, a minivan with the same intriguing tagline was zipping around Cambridge making deliveries. Read the rest of the story here. html. pdf.