As we March towards the glorious day when the equinox means the clocks finally move forward and mark a new season, there should be a definite spring in your step. In terms of Indian events, March marks much more than just better weather – Holi will soon be here, and, whether it’s edible, musical, viewable or do-able entertainment you’re after, there’s an awful lot to anticipate…
8th March: August Supperclub’s Holi Special lunch club
As ever, Menaka and Meghna will lay on far too much very good food. The atmosphere on this auspicious afternoon will be extra festive – marking both the Hindu festival of Holi and the 40th wedding anniversary of the hosts’ parents. There may be no bhang in the thandai , but the 10-plus dish lunch ensures definite bang for your buck.
Though not strictly Indian, Michelin starred-restaurant-trained chef Pratap Chahal’s latest gastronomic adventure includes plenty of South Asian innovation to savour. Yogurt ‘kebab’ comes with asparagus chutney and chickpea confetti; creme brulee is infused with jasmine; and a rose tart will gain heady perfume from frankincense.
28th March: August Supperclub’s Indian supperclub
Undertaking an energetic bout of spring cleaning ahead of this meal is highly recommended – as is a day-long pre-feast fast.Don’t idle too long over the idlis that start the supper lest you overeat and have issues filling the meat istu and multiple other menu offerings into your happily swollen stomach.
28th March: Joginder’s Supperclub
Mother-and-daughter team Rani and Saira are old pros at pop-ups. Each month, menus change according to what’s seasonal and locally available. Given prior warning, they’ll happily cater for dietary requirements – but the North Indian Punjabi menu remains a mystery until you sit down to supper.
28th March: Dhaba Lane’s Spring Up For Homelessness
Dhaba Lane duo Arti and Upma’s Indian high chais always go down a storm (in a teacup?!), and this month, they’re serving them up for ‘The Big Teas-Up in aid of Spring Up For Homelessness. Head for Hackney’s St. John’s Church and say ‘Hallelujah’! as you receive endless eats, sweet treats, and bottomless chai.
2nd, 9th, 16th & 23rd March: The Spice Angel’s Indian Party Specials
Always wanted to master cooking Indian khana for a crowd? In this two-and-a-half hour class, MasterChef 2014 quarter finalist Rani will teach you to bang out a blinding biryani and the raita relish that’s the right accompaniment. The crisp onion pakora whose preparation completes the course will probably become your party piece..
3rd March: Spirited Sermons – Indian-influenced gins
It’s always easier to drink up history when the lesson is accompanied by a cocktail or few. This sermon in Rev JW Simpson’s series has a Holi theme, so expect to shake up and sip rainbow Pickerings gin-based libations as you soak up facts and anecdotes about Indian gin and dive into the supplied spiced snacks.
Mallika Basu is a food writer, Food Tube star and bloody good Indian cook – so much so she’s known as ‘Miss Masala’. If you fancy earning yourself your own suitably-spicy moniker amongst your nearest and dearest, take a seat at the table for this three-course meal and masterclass with the woman herself.
‘The Indian Kitchen’, Monisha’s indispensable guide to South Asian storecupboard staples, really should be on your shelf. But however brilliant, a book can’t better meeting the author in her own neighbourhood in order to shop for ingredients and cook a regional vegetarian feast under her expert tutelage.
14th & 27th March: Jenius Social Indian Street Food
Street food is social by its very nature, as are Jenius Social’s cooking classes. Led by the resident expert head chef, you’ll learn to handle knives (and yourself) in the kitchen, marinate meat like a master, and bring balance to your flavour combinations. The evening ends with a shared-feast-cum-spicy-social-mixer.
Part of Padmaja’s mission is to introduce the intricacies of India’s diverse cuisine with anyone who cares to come and cook with her. Intimate classes take place in the host’s home kitchen, and, after you learn pav bhaji, tandoori chicken, paneer tikkies and more, you earn the right to scoff the lot, with wine.
At this Asia House talk, filmaker, writer, singer and cultural commentator Sangeeta Datta will both pose and ponder the complex question, ‘Who is the real Indian woman?’; looking at diverse interpretations and representations within art-house, regional and indie cinema and addressing a range of contemporary, critical issues.
18th March: ‘Granta 130: India’ launch
If you have a keen interest in contemporary Indian literature, check out Granta Magazine and Commonwealth Writers’ launch and drinks reception for ‘Granta 130 – India’. Guest editor Ian Jack will be in discussion with Man Booker-shortlisted novelist Neel Mukherjee and former India correspondent for the BBC, Sam Millar.
26th March: Martyrs of India
One doesn’t need to speak a language to appreciate its beauty. At Keats House: Vatayan: Poetry on South Bank plays host to the launch of Reginald Massey’s ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the forgotten Indian Martyrs‘, which features numerous poetic recitations spokemn in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
Until 21st March: Multitudes at The Tricycle Theatre
Multitudes focuses on liberal Muslim Kash, the protagonist’s immediate and extended family, and their various political stances. The play addresses faith, belonging, Britishness – themes which will be further thrust into the spotlight in various post-show Q&As and panel discussions on selected evenings during its run.
1st March: JHAM!
‘Pumping up the jham’ is precisely what the performers in this hi-octane performance will do throughout this ninety-minute piece. The music combines classic ‘solkatti’ – a rhythmic South Indian vocal style which lends one of its key syllables to the show’s title – and Western beatboxing, whilst dance moves mix the modern and the ancient.
2-3rd March: Ahir Shah’s Texture at Soho Theatre
First debuting at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ahir Shah’s one-man show touches upon issues that affect us all – coming-of-age struggles, romance (or lack thereof), hitting the bottle, and loneliness. This insightful, fresh hour of alternative comedy hour holds cross-cultural appeal and delivers humour and food for thought by the spadeful.
10th-15th March: Boiled Beans on Toast at Watermans
Primetime Theatre Company is of India’s best-known English-language theatre companies, and this play has received much critical acclaim since its Mumbai debut. Girish Karnad’s Bangalore-set comic drama is an inter-generational exploration of a single Indian household, exploring six shared yet very separate lives.
The economic themes arising in David Hare’s stage adaptation of Katharine Boo’s slum-set Behind the Beautiful Forevers is the starting point for this seminar, which ponders poverty’s representation in the media. Commentators include Indian historian Sunil Khilnani, journalist and writer Ian Jack, and Indian film specialist Rachel Dwyer.
If you can’t catch Behind The Beautiful Forevers onstage at the National Theatre (more fool you – the staging, casting and execution are all exemplary) then do yourself a favour and book a ticket for a live streaming at one of the selected cinemas showing the Mumbai slum-set play for one night only.
16th March: Sculpture by Kiran Dixit at Nehru Centre
Indian artist Kiran Dixit’s 3D forms convey elements of both the East – from where she originates – and West – where she honed her skills. The main body of her work focuses on the human figure, with cleanly-executed forms showing influence of mentors including Ramkinker, Binodbihari, Somnath and Dhirainder Burman.
19-29th March: Tongues on Fire’s 17th London Asian Film Festival
This year’s London Asian Film Festival offers something for everyone from everywhere; with Tongues on Fire curating a rich mix of South Asian film screenings, lectures, live performances, masterclasses, interviews, seminars, exhibitions, workshops, a short film contest, and its very own awards ceremony.
23rd March: Rang Rasiya
Fans of controversial cinema will relish the opportunity to view Ketan Mehta’s ‘Rang Rasiya’ – a magnum opus whose release was long-stalled by Indian Film Censors. London’s Nehru Centre is the venue for a long-awaited British outing for the film, which debuted at LIFF in 2011 and focuses on the life of Indian master painter Raja Ravi Verma.
5-14th March: House of Holi at Cinnamon Kitchen
Don a supplied boilersuit and enter Cinnamon Kitchen’s ‘House of Holi’, a pop-up pod where one can gaily fling rainbow-hued paint powders in celebration of all things Holi. A festive menu and colourful cocktails at Cinnamon Kitchen’s Anise bar will put paid to the appetite that’s sure to build.
6th March: HOLI the Festival of colours
Celebrations in honour of the Hindu spring festival of Holi are known for being good-natured, high-spirited, and all-inclusive. Nido Student Living is hosting a free afternoon – and indeed evening, for the energetic – involving powder paint-flinging, snack-scoffing, drink-downing, DJ-spinning and dancing one’s socks off.
For her pop-up premiere, blogger, eater and cook Shrimoyee Chakraborty has teamed up with Asia House resident chef Paul Bloomfield for an afternoon of psychedelic Bollywood funk and food at Zensai in Camden. Your ticket gets you three hearty helpings of street eats, with decadent Desi cocktails also on offer.
If Holi is wholly about the excuse to party’, this London club night is announcing itself as the capital’s premier venue. All afternoon and very late into the evening, expect entertainment aplenty – Bollywood performanced, ‘big choons’ from EDM DJs, special guests making love appearances, and rousing dhol drummers.
20th March: Holi Kali – Club Kali at The Dome
The ‘World’s Biggest LGBT club’ sees Holi in in a wholly fabulous manner, promising to fly you around the world in 80 tunes – or at least tempt you onto the dancefloor to strut your stuff to Bollywood, Bhangra and Arabic tunes plus whatever else DJs Ritu and Dilz see fit to spin.
20-29th March: Freedom Week at Richmix
Shoreditch’s Richmix boasts a consistently strong South Asia-focused arts programme, and in March, the venue will celebrate the 44th anniversary of Independence for Bangladesh. Freedom Week events span all sorts of art forms – expect live music, film, theatre, workshops and talks – frequently free and family-friendly.
29th March: Holi at Dishoom
London’s Bombay cafes almost single-handedly introduced the capital to the phrase ‘bura na mano, Holi hai!’ (‘Don’t get offended, it’s Holi!’) – an essential utterance for anyone attending the team’s no-holds-barred bashes. This year, said bash is alfresco, involving music, mithai, rangoli, gulal, and some sublime street eats.
- For more on Holi, click here
- To read about a past Monisha Bharadwaj workshop on ayurveda, click here
- For more on last year’s Southbank Alchemy festival series, click here
- For more on the Bengal to Bethnal Green exhibition at Richmix, click here