It’s cold enough for snow in London and with that wind chill it feels colder still. Still, one doesn’t have to let Jack Frost’s icy fingers creep into their soul and destroy their spirit. A spot of spicy South Asian entertainment will sort you out til the sun shines and the temperature rises.
Whether it’s edible, musical, viewable or do-able entertainment you’re after, check out February’s finest Indian events….
9th Feb: Cuckoo Kitchen Winter Menu
Cuckoo Kitchen is a charitable, quarterly pub-based pop-up. Seasonal feasts are always a treat; featured February eats include masoor dal soup, Goa-style osso bucco using top-notch meat from Ginger Pig , and yogurt and orange cake. This time round, it’s at The Baron in Hoxton, and your greed supports the Street Doctors charity.
14th Feb: Papi’s Pickles Edible Sketch
Love South Indian food? Use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to pop to Papi’s Pickles’ pop-up. Edible Sketch is held in a re-purposed South London chapel and offers attendees the chance to do a little life drawing as they supper on South Indian and Sri Lankan fare and take in some top tunes.
The Dhaba Lane duo re inviting a lucky few lovers to come dine with them on Valentine’s night at a rather slick subterranean Shoreditch cafe. Arti and Upma’s fresh, flavoursome feast menu packs a punch, from a round of snacky starters to a decadent duo of desserts. As an added bonus, the venue is BYO.
14th Feb August Indian Supperclub
Meghna and Menaka’s Ealing supperclub always features an ample amount of food – so if you’re attending the Valentine’s edition with your amour you’d better shift those romantic post-dinner plans to earlier in the afternoon. They say food is love; with a full 15 dishes on the menu, there’s a lot on the table.
More unique eats from Papi’s Pickles will be on offer within the cosy confines of Maida Hill Place’s social enterprise cafe. The two menus are inspired by the former French colony of Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s seaside town, Point Pedro; and by the street eats and tiffin tins of Tanjore.
21st Feb: Rajiv’s Kitchen Nepalese Supperclub
This one’s Nepali, not Indian, but such a super supperclub whose menu includes so many dishes that will taste divine to anyone who thinks subcontinental spice is even slightly nice that it had to be on my list of ‘must-dos this month’. Truly Nepalese to please.
24th Feb: Anjali Pathak’s Supperclub at Tredwell’s
To celebrate the publication of her first cookbook, Little Miss Pathak will be treading the Tredwell’s kitchen to treat guests to a supper composed of selected dishes from ‘Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen’. With an Indian-accented menu that crosses many continents, it’s a good job there are two sittings.
After two long months and far too long, Nilanjani Pai’s East London supperclub makes a very welcome return, serving a selection of the South Indian dishes the host mastered from her sister-in-law. As longtime official front-of-house and unofficial quality tester, I can say with certainty that DGC lives up to its name.
Chef Prakash guides attendees through preparation of a three-course, meat-free menu. Working in pairs, guests will prepare and partake in a South Indian supper featuring vadai, spinach dal, Kerala-style green bean thoran, lemon rice and more – with a very sweet finale in the form of mango payasam.
Damn Good Curry is not solely a supperclub – now Nilanjani is also sharing secrets at Walthamstow’s Cordon Verve cookery school. This time round the focus is South India, spices and tempering; teaching how to accurately master a menu made up of very authentic, very homely dishes.
This intimate half-day crash course is small on numbers and big on hands-on participation. Starting with a Spice Masterclass, you’ll also cook kebabs, bhuna chicken, Goan fish and learn to make rice to really entice. Love what you’ve learned? Good, because you’ll head home with enough food for two.
Jeanius Social’s classes pack a lot into each programme; knife skills, spice knowledge, flavour balancing, marinating, cooking technique, and, of course, practical application; here through preparation of Punjabi-style seekh kebabs, Moghlai chicken curry and biryani and its authentic accompaniment – raita.
MasterChef quarter finalist Rani is the so-called ‘Spice Angel’ behind these classes. Her aim is to preach and teach the virtues of authentic, additive-free, fresh Indian food through sharing skills and secrets. In this edition, curryhouse classics are the focus – chicken tikka masala, Bombay aloo and pilau rice.
In this lecture, Dr. Sunil Amrith will transport a no-doubt attentive auditorium back to the 1920s Bay of Bengal, to a time when India’s East coast had its closest links with Southeast Asia; then explains how and why, just a decade later, the close connections forged between the nations in the 18th and 19th centuries were destroyed.
How on earth would one go about planning for an election where 174 million people would need to cast a vote? was a staggering bureaucratic undertaking. This talk at SOAS unravels the complex and confounding processes involved with compiling the first electoral roles in India as the country moved towards independence.
- Gandhi’s translation of Plato’s Apology, produced whilst he was in South Africa, was banned in India by the British authorities. Phiroze Vasunia’s seminar explores both its background and the role of Plato’s philosophies in the realisation of Gandhi’s satyagraha concept.
Dr Alice Tilche’s seminar returns attendees to 1950s Gujarat, when anthropologist David F. Pocock first encountered the competitive, hierarchical Patidar community in Sundarana, central Gujarat, to examine how lifestyles and values have changed across the intervening decades.
- Are there parallels between the works of Gandhi and Bengali poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore? Professor Sir Richard Sorabji argues the case that both their thinking and personal correspondence show it to be so; yet questions whether the two figures ever had a meeting of minds.
See & do!
Until 5th May: Behind the Beautiful Forevers at The National Theatre
The hopes and dreams that exist in Mumbai’s slumdwellers are far more beautiful than the surroundings in which they eke an existence, yet the realities are harsh and uncompromising. Katherine Boo’s award-winning novel documents the lives of Annawadi residents; David Hare’s dramatic production brings it to life.
Until 4th April: Dara at The National Theatre
Shahid Nadeem’s Dara spans the lives of two 17th century Moghul princes lives from cradle to grave. Dara and his brother Aurangzab each intend for India’s future to take a different direction; and, in Tanya Ronder’s intense and dramatic adaptation, each is willing to fight for his right to the throne.
2-7th Feb: Kali Theatre’s Talkback 2015 week
If you’re excited by the prospect of being amongst the first to witness performances by fresh, original voices in new theatre writing, Talkback week will wow. As the culmination of Kali Theatre’s Writer Development Programme for South Asian women, expect to enjoy a week of inspired and inspiring performances.
8th Feb: Bengal to Bethnal Green at Richmix
Befitting the local area, Richmix’s monthly series celebrates East London’s Bengali music and arts. Each concert will feature top talent from the Yousuf Ali Khan-directed Grand Union Orchestra; based on Bengali songs, but fused with modern music to cleverly reflect the area’s contemporary cultural climate.
11th Feb: Soumik Datta Arts Club at Richmix
This monthly music night at Richmix features something old (ancient ragas), something new (innovative trip-hop beats), something borrowed (various musical samples), but it definitely won’t leave you feeling blue. Each feel-good event provides a unique platform for eclectic musicians to break moulds and boost spirits.
20th Feb: SAWCC London at Richmix
SAWCC (say ‘saucy’!) is the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective; of whom Binita Walia and Emilia Telese are two. In this event, they’ll be chatting about the themes of gender roles and cultural migration as explored in their joint multimedia exhibition, ‘Modern Women’, showing at Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
25th Feb – 9th May Tara Arts presents Shakespeare’s Macbeth on tour
Tara Arts’ interpretation of Shakespeare’s well-loved ‘Scottish play’ has an Asian persuasion. Directed by Jatinder Verma and starring Robert Mountford and Shaheen Khan, the reimagining features a trio of drag queens whose nefarious antics swiftly drag an Asian family into self-destruct mode.
The Southbank centre supports South Asian arts in many forms. This event introduces Shashwati Mandal Paul, a khayal, tappa and thumri expert, for the first time since 2008. Her performance will include fascinating classical music whose origins lie in the songs of North Indian and Pakistani camel drivers.
28th Feb: Samyo at Southbank Centre
This annual orchestral showcase makes the prospect of a Saturday spent on the Southbank even more appealing. Samyo’s sounds are bold; Indian-inspired compositions creative and arrangements arresting. Watching the orchestra live is feast for the eyes and ears alike.
- For more on the stage version of East Is East, click here
- For more on Damn Good Curry supperclubs, click here
- For more on Rajiv’s Kitchen supperclubs, click here
- For more on last year’s Southbank Alchemy festival series, click here
- For more on a Bengal to Bethnal Green exhibition at Richmix, click here