When I first came back from filming in Kolkata on the street food a production company wanted to do a pilot for some cooking show and they asked me to make a dish from Kolkata at Totnes market in south Devon.
The only dish that I felt confident to cook was jhal muri because there is no cooking. I assembled the basics from a trip to Southall along with some stainless steel pots, made a couple of masala mixes and set of to market and churned out very mediocre versions of the classic.
Apart from my lack of dexterity and knowhow what I remember was that whether they wore dreadlocks or polyester and cardigans every body loved it- and this got me thinking because rare is it that foods cross cultures with such ease.
Also it is cheap to make, portable, durable and needs no last minute cooking, just mixing.
And thats how it begun… with various trolly structures with tins attached I set off and set up anywhere I felt there was the need. Like a excitable puppy who knew no boundaries there were the inevitable scraps with the form fillers but in time you learn that no means no and brashness is replaced with confidence in what you make and slowly the rough edges are smoothed and you learn how to blend in and to smile and to confuse them into submission.
Taking the trolly to the Indian and Bengali areas I was politely given tips on the importance of balancing the flavours and the textures and by taking it on to the buses, trains and tubes I learnt how to work a crowd and manage a fully loaded snack counter fast and sharp.
The trolly has had many incarnations and is a constantly evolving situation. Now I have a van which gives more options and other snacks I do. There are parties too and big events which fill your pockets with notes not coins but the best is when I take to the streets on a sunny day with no particular destination and a full cart and let nature take its course and see what the world brings to me.
Many thousands I have no made and blessed I feel to have had the privilege for when people watch they become transformed and they start to shine and to open and show the sunny side of humanity that we all have inside. From uptight city folk to crack vendors hanging around the shadows and everyone in-between as they watch and eat what they watched they leave all the rest behind and become just like everyone else and that to see is very beautiful.
The cooking can and should be easy.
It is, like most things, about volume control and timing.
You cook with your eyes, your nose, your ears, your tongue, your hands but most of all your heart- from there you make the real taste.
There are a few basic techniques to understand and then you are off and running.
Every type of cooking has an arsenal of flavours that can transforms ordinary ingredients into royal affairs. Master the arsenal and you are king of the kitchen- giving yourself the great freedom of simplicity and the potential to make the cooking your own.
The seasoning just takes a little practice- like learning a language.
A language of a few words for the busy or an endless dictionary for the scholars and knowledge seekers- as to your wish, it is up to you.
Events and where to find the LOVELOVE Express
The Everybody LoveLove Express happily rides with EAT-STREET the progressive collective that is driving British street food forward.
From a single Jhal muri trolley to workshops and demonstrations to a full blown multi sensory banquet of sounds, sights, smells, decorations and tastes and the bringing to life the award winning film - Street food kolkata Why Not.
It is all about the food - how it is made, how it is mixed and how to find the greatest pleasure in satisfying our greatest need. The project is the idea of Angus Denoon, long time chef who over seven years filmed, wrote, ate and immersed himself in the street food of kolkata - one of the worlds greatest cooking situations.
And for seven years he has sold snacks from the streets of kolkata in the streets of the UK and Europe - hawking street corner to elaborate weddings and everything in between..
From an Argos trolley carless enterprise to a van dressed like a temple the kolkata street food experience has grown into a multi dimensional affair in may different shapes.
Contact Angus to discuss hire the Everybody love love experince for you event.
This different Indian food - its Bengali style - authentic but original because we are here not there and basically it all about the chats- the snacks- the stuff that makes you lick your lips.
Fresh and alive, full of flavours and textures and realms of different pleasures. Light on the tummy but nourishing to the core and accessible to all. Vegan apart from the lassi and wheat and gluten free but the phuchka’s.
Beautiful to the eye, the nose and the taste and made individually with much care. A small piece of personal theatre that you eat.
Everything runs on minimum impact. No plastic is used, Everything recycled. It is done with love and respect. Were possible organic and local produce is used and each can be totally self contained.
From a single jhal muri trolly to the full blown fully dressed banquet of snacks anything is possible with the lovelove express.
Jhal muri is mix of the textures- roasted rice, channa dal, peanut and sev- the fresh(tomato, cucumber, bombay onion, ginger, fresh coriander) and the flavors( yellow lime, tamarind sauce, mustard oil, chaat masala and gram masala) all mixed mixed in the pot and served in a paper cone and eaten with a wooden spoon.
Masor dal cooked with mild Bengali spices and served warm in a box on a bed of roasted rice and
topped with coconut, tomato, coriander leaf,bom-
bay onion, fresh ginger, yellow lime juice, tama
rind sauce, chaat masala, gram masala and sev-
the crisp chickpea flour noodle.
A one hit wonder and explosion of a taste experience that brings heaven to earth. A crisp hollow puri, the size of a golf ball, filled with a cushion of soft Bengali flavoured potato and the sweet and sour tamarind water, a little masala’s and crisp sev noodles.
Taken all in one as all becomes one and nothing else matters.
rose royal lassi
Of air and agitation and fully fleshed curds come the lassi.
Yogurt beaten with rose water, palm sugar, yellow lime, black pepper, ice and the puree from the alphonse mango.
Chai that has no tea, milk or white sugar.
Made from infused spices( green cardamom, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, mace,bay, black cardamom, ginger) and sweetened with sugar from the palm.
THE SET UPS
Taking up less than one square meter it can be wheel into any situaltion. The try can be also rested on a wicker stand. Mostly used for Jhal Muri but any snack rests happily on the trolly and dressed appropiately.
THE STAND ALONE CHAT COUNTER
A low level snack counter with seating possible around the stall to watch the makings of the dishes.
THE VAN EXPEIENCE
With Garlands and all flags flying the counter unfolds from the back of the white van than is dressed inside like a trip from a temple to bollywood. The inside can be turned into a little cinema or comfort zone.
There is much we can learn from the street food cooking of kolkata. Workshops show people about the Bengali flavours, how to cook without a kitchen and how to make the most out of not very much. Learning about the mixing of the spices and the arsenal of flavours and the tastes and textures that turn simple fayre into royal arrangements. Making classic dishes from the Kolkatan streets. - The Jhal Muri, the Gugni Chat the variations of the Puri and the Lassi, Chai without tea or milk, the kidchiri and the chapati. Its Indian in style but different - universal in appeal and how to make food cheap and good.
Sessions are adapted to the situation be it classrooms of young people or corporate jollies or to groups of friends wishing to learn.