The term Curry has been in the news quite a bit recently. What with its all encompassing definition offering up a caricature of what is actually a complex and varied category of dishes in India. Well I would like to use this chance to invite you to explore the many shades of Curry through the Mumbai Sunday Curry Project. Mumbai is a melting pot of cultures with myriad communities and ethnic groups calling it home. Each stirring its own masala into the food culture of this maximum city! Being born and brought up in Mumbai, I’ve grown up amidst its incredible diversity. And been exposed to the vast array of cuisines it harbours. Inspiring a love for exploring its food that only grew broader and deeper as I travelled my journey researching and documenting food.
And Sunday curry is a phenomenon in Mumbai, where this city, always running on full speed, slows down on Sundays to partake of an elaborate meal at which families (all home on their day off) get together for lunch. Each community, and within that, each home has a favourite meal, more often than not this is a curry. So synonymous is this with Sunday that it came to be called Sunday curry and there is even a Sunday Curry Masala available for the occasion now. With a sort of ritual ritual that surrounds it. It begins with a visit to the market, to procure the produce and the masalas. Then its preparation aromatises the streets and bylanes of the city with myriad aromas of curries bubbling away. Eventually families will sit down to the special meal together, eat to their heart’s content, before retiring for a delicious Sunday snooze for dessert!
Over the last year, as I have immersed myself in the documentation of spices and their use across India through my project Spice Chronicles with RMG, I’ve learned about so many incredible spice blends. It reminded me of the masalas I grew up around! From the Parsi dhansak masala, to the East Indian Bottle Masala, the Bohri Kari masala and the Koli Masala. So when Harvardhan of No Footprints and I got talking, it seemed apt to explore Sunday curries and their masalas together! No Footprints have a keen focus on and reverence for community and culture and this collaboration is an exciting that one I hope you will join us on, to understand the multifaceted shades of the Indian curry!
The Mumbai Sunday Curry Project
Mumbai the maximum city runs on adrenaline through the work week, but Sundays are a day to slow down and smell the… well, Sunday Curry! Most homes will cook up a special Sunday lunch and it’s usually a Curry – mutton, fish, chicken or like in the case of the Parsi community a Dhansak. Whatever the favoured meal, it;s always followed by a Sunday Siesta! The Mumbai Sunday Curry Project is a month-long celebration of this phenomenon. Each weekend in October, No Footprints in collaboration with RushinaMG will explore one of the many communities that make up the cultural fabric of Mumbai, through their most iconic Sunday curries!
On signing up, participants will receive an experience box containing 5 spice blends (one for each community/cuisine + one bonus!) These spice blends will be used in each of the weekend workshops to cook up some of Mumbai’s most beloved Sunday curries. Spread across 4 Saturdays in October, each session will delve into the culinary culture of a community with No Footprints, showcasing its history and ethos, and Rushina MG sharing its culinary profile and cooking up one of its iconic dishes or curries. Participants can choose to cook along or cook the next day for Sunday lunch.
The Spice Boxes
The spice blends in the experience kit will support Khamkar Bros, spice purveyors and sellers. A culinary institution in Mumbai, this shop procures and produces spice blends of some of Mumbai’s most prominent families, and has today come to be a repository of their secret recipes!
About Rushina MG
Rushina is a Culinary Chronicler and Corporate Food Consultant. With a deep knowledge of global cuisine, in the last decade she has focused her efforts on studying and chronicling Indian food culture with a focus on Indian regional cuisines and foodways. She has to her credit many pioneering concepts. In the past year she has taken a deep dive into spices and their varied cultivation and use across India and its various regions and communities.
More about the 4 Sunday Curries
|Koli Community||20th Nov 2021||4:00 PM to 6:00 PM|
|East Indian Community||27th Nov 2021||4:00 PM to 6:00 PM|
|Parsi Community||4th Dec 2021||4:00 PM to 6:00 PM|
|Bohri Community||11th Dec 2021||4:00 PM to 6:00 PM|
The Kolis are the original inhabitants of Mumbai. For over 500 years the Koli fishing communities have been living and working along the coastal waters of the seven islands that made up the present day city of Mumbai. Today about 5,00,000 Kolis are estimated to call Mumbai home and most are still making their living off the sea. They live in ‘koliwadas’meaning “a home that opens to the sea, settlements that would be invisible to those not in the know. THey helped develop the harbors and the coastlines of Mumbai when it was Bombat and it was original islands like Kolbhat (now Colaba), Palva Bunder (now Apollo Bunder), Dongri, Mazagaon, Naigaum and Worli that were named by the Kolis. In fact even the name Mumbai owes its origin to the temple of Mumbadevi in Dongri, worshipped by the Kolis.
Koli cuisine draws from the land and sea. The traditional crops of the region, coconut, rice, seafood and Kokum (Garcinia indica), valued for its cooling properties on the body are the mainstay of the cuisine along with seafood that the community fishes for along the coast of Maharashtra.
Koli Masala – Koli Masala is the go to spice mix in the Koli kitchen. Extremely versatile, it is used to add flavor and body to a variety of dishes from vegetables to the vast repertoire of fish curries of the community.
What we will cook: For our workshop non vegetarians will make a Koli Prawn or Fish curry and Vegetarians will make a Rushinas family special Lentil and Coconut Curry.
East Indian Community
Mumbai is home to several Catholic communities but the one that is indigenous to Mumbai is the East Indian community. While “East Indian” alludes to originating from Eastern India, this community of Mumbai is not from the East of India at all. Their origins are much closer! East Indians are a Marathi speaking community, indigenous to the heartland that includes the former Island of Salsette (including Bandra, Kurla, Thane and Bhayandar), which makes up the land mass that is Mumbai. On the occasion of the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria, the Christians of North Konkan adopted the name East Indians to make themselves a distinct community, separate from that of the immigrant Christians. The cuisine is a beautiful blend of many culinary influences, that of the kolis or fishermen, local tribal and agrarian communities along with the British influences among others.
Bottle Masala – If there is one thing that has come to be synonymous with East Indian cuisine it is the bottle masala. So named because it was traditionally stored in alcohol bottles, Bottle masala is a kitchen staple in East Indian homes. And even though it is a blend of 30 plus spices it does not really overpower a dish in the way many spice blends may. Which is why the East Indian kitchen uses it across all sorts of dishes from chicken, mutton, fish and shellfish, to beans, dals and even vegetable preparations.
What we will cook: For our workshop non vegetarians will make Maasachi Curry a little known, light but complex curry featuring tender fall-off the bone mutton redolent of bottle masala that is slow cooked and flavoured with tamarind. What makes it unique is the use of rice starch for thickening. Vegetarians will make a Soya mince based Keema curry in the East Indian style.
Parsis are descendants of Persian Zoroastrians who immigrated to the Indian subcontinent centuries ago to flee persecution during the Islamic conquest of Persia. Down the centuries the community has not only woven itself into the tapestry of India but has also served to enrich it much like sugar does milk. Parsis have been pivotal in the growth of India after it attained independence.
Dhansak and Sambhar Masala – Dhansak is a full meal that traditionally combines a lentil preparation, slow cooked with meat and vegetables and served with caramelized rice, mincemeat kebabs and a finely chopped Kachumber or salad of tomatoes and onion, piquant with fresh coriander. Although never served on happy occasions because it is a meal eaten during mourning, it is much loved on Sundays. The Dhansak and Parsi Sambhar masala are intrinsic to this dish.
What we will cook: For our workshop RushinaMG will share her own special take on Dhansak, with Chicken Dhansak and mince Kebabs for non vegetarians and a Vegetarian Dhansak with Cauliflower Kebabs for vegetarians.
The Dawoodi Bohras or the Bohris were one of the earliest communities to settle in Mumbai The earliest Bohris arrived on the shores of what is present day Gujarat from Yemen in the Middle East almost a thousand years ago and with time spread out out over what are the present day states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Many made Mumbai their home, and played a significant part in growing the city into the commercial capital of India it is today. Today the community has a notable presence across the city.
Bohri Kaari Masala – Bohra Kaari, kari or curry is a coconut and cashew based curry made with a special masala called Kari masala. Mildly spiced and redolent of coconut it is slow cooked to accentuate flavors.
What we will cook: For our workshop we will make a Mutton Kaari for the non vegetarians and a special Potato and Cauliflower Kaari designed specially for our vegetarian participants by RushinaMG