The Obliteration of Indian Food

The obliteration of Indian Food. Where do I begin? The title sounds quite dramatic right? What can I do, I was thoroughly irritated when I penned this. You see, recently I’ve noticed a trend, something gets anglicized, it becomes a sudden trend. Exposing other cultures to the world, great. The problem is somewhere along the lines while becoming trendy, hip and widely accepted the item losses it’s authenticity.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_3

Let’s take food for an example, Indian Food to be precise. Belonging to the blogging community, I often find myself researching the hottest food trends. I was so perplexed when I saw a familiar yellow drink I grew up drinking labeled as “Golden Milk“, claiming all the benefits of the traditional medicinal drink. Golden Milk? Really? If you’re wondering about the drink bloggers and health fanatics seem to be raving about, it’s  Haldi Dhood (Turmeric Milk), you know the first thing your Nani or Dadi (grandmother) prescribed you when you were down with a cold. The problem isn’t with the world knowing our Ayurvedic secret ;). The problem is the extremes of recipes I see, mix agave, serve it on ice, add vanilla essence. There is a reason behind each spice in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic science. Turmeric is added as an antibiotic, a cleanser, honey to sooth the throat, black pepper for its warming properties and it’s all added to hot milk, where all the ingredients come together to warm and soothe the body.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_1Then there’s this. Whatever it is, it’s not Biryani. They could have easily called this an Indian inspired Chicken bake but by calling it Biryani is an insult to Biryani. There are times I understand the need to translate a name, perhaps Kadoo ki saabzi doesn’t sound so appetizing at “curried pumpkin”. When I first started sharing my recipes I was lost on how to name my recipes without losing its authenticity. In the end I decided to call a spade a spade, saabzi is saabzi, translating is fine, but let’s not completely change the essence of a dish and remain calling it the authentic name.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_2Now you’ll probably wonder why things like this get me so riled up. I’m no expert cook nor the sole representative of Indian food. I do however pride myself in trying to preserve authentic Indian homemade food. I’m trying to cook and document my grandmothers and mothers recipes so I don’t lose that homemade taste, my husband gets his childhood cravings satisfied and my daughter knows and appreciates what real, authentic Indian food tastes like.

So the next time you’re out for dinner, cooking with Indian spices or talking to a friend from another culture, familiarize yourself, understand that biryani doesn’t have to be like your grandmothers chicken bake, it can be someone else’s Nani’s Sunday special Biryani, and that’s okay.

Live deliciously friends.

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RB Collective | Lackawanna Coffee

Yesterday I shared a favorite new spot in town, Lackawanna Coffee. A sweet little coffee shop that’s tucked in the middle of Downtown Jersey City. For a small shop they’ve used every corner of their space. Each area is decorated appropriately and has its own character that ties in cohesively as one.

RB Collective | Lackawanna Coffee

One of my favorite areas is a tiny breezeway that leads the way to the outdoor patio area. It’s a bare space that’s been tastefully decorated with curated items by Ian and Julius’s (the owners) good friend, Ron Beinner. As luck would have it Ron was sitting in the patio area working when Taylor and I stopped in for a visit this past weekend. Ian and Julius graciously introduced us and I got to ask Ron about the collection while my friend Taylor captured the space beautifully.

RB Collective | Lackawanna CoffeeRB Collective | Lackawanna CoffeeRon finds himself traveling quite a bit for work and has collected these pieces along the way. There are candle holders from Berlin, diaries from Paris and vintage finds from Upstate New York. This is just a small collection of his finds around the world. He will be rotating the pieces and adding more as items sell. My favorite was a vintage elephant cover diary from the 1930’s. You can see more of this space here on Taylor’s page.

RB Collective | Lackawanna CoffeeIf you’re in or around the Jersey City Area, I’d certainly recommend stopping by this quaint coffee shop.

All photographs courtesy TC Photography.

Lackawanna Coffee | Jersey City

A place to unwind, free your thoughts, sip on some caffeine and plan your next move. A hidden gem tucked away in the center of Downtown Jersey City is the best way to describe Lackawanna Coffee, a new coffee shop in town.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey City

Immediately upon walking in this cozy little coffee shop located on Grove Street I was drawn to the contrast of white washed walls paralleled with black tin finishings. The airy and relaxed vibes reminded me much of the cafes and coffee shops in Brooklyn where many creatives go to think, play and spend their weekends.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey City
The first thing I noticed was how well they used each corner of their space, fresh flowers, a collection of art pieces in the breezeway and pine finishes give this space an artist clean touch. As I made my way through the breezeway I was left speechless, the patio area of Lackawanna Coffee is a secret garden for city dwellers! It has the original ivy covering its neighboring buildings, beautiful rose bushes surrounding the courtyard and a vintage rocking horse that leaves you feeling whimsical.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey CityThe plan was just to go enjoy a coffee with my friend Taylor and take advantage of a great photo backdrop, but after noticing how much detail went into creating the serene space I wanted to know more. I immediately went back to the barista from whom I had ordered my black iced tea with fresh simple syrup (excellent by the way) and asked if I could speak to the owners, Ian and Julius. To my luck both of them were there and graciously offered to share their inspiration and journey.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey City
Ian: So you mentioned you felt like you were walking into a Brooklyn spot? Our birth was actually in Brooklyn, we opened a pop up shop concept, our laboratory of sorts. Once we finalized this spot in Jersey City, we phased that space out.

Me: It has that feel, you kept some of the city, brought some of Brooklyn and kept that low key vibe. And I absolutely love these lights, they are just so natural and romantic.

Julius: Our architect actually suggested ground LED lights but we wanted something more intimate and free flowing. These lights give this space that feel.

Ian: We were mindful in wanting the space to look natural and not made up. For example that breezeway space before you come out here (outside) we kept the rough form and put up some simple benches and shelves. The curation is actually being done by Ronald Beginner, a Senior Photography Producer. (See here for more about this curated space)

Me: What about the history behind the name? Why Lackawanna?

Ian: So we wanted to pay homage to Native Americans without the corporate style of dream catchers and feathers. We’re not natives but wanted to acknowledge that this space was theirs, they were here, they are here. This area in particular, parts of Manhatten included was a part of The Lenape. It wasn’t theirs as they never had ownership of land, they believed the land owned them, not the other way around. We wanted to give that feeling.

Taylor: Does the name have any relation to the Lackawanna train station in Hoboken?

Ian: So in the Lenape language Lackawanna translates to the point where a body of water splits or forks, it’s the junction point. So that area was where the river split. Lackawanna literally means junction point. So we like to think  of this as a place where customers can come and think, unwind, and free their thoughts when they are at a junction point in their lives. This is your space to come and figure out where you want to go.

Me: I love that, it’s such a beautiful and positive space. I’m so excited to have a shop like this in our neighborhood. Thank you so much for your time and for bringing this space to us.

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey CityThis post was not sponsored, I was just absolutely thrilled to have such a wonderful, calming and family friendly space in town!

Lackawanna Coffee Jersey CityLackawanna Coffee Jersey City
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the inspiration and curator behind the breezeway in Lackawanna Coffee.

All photographs courtesy TC Photography.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

Recently Sanskriti Box contacted me about an opportunity to share and review their service. Sanskriti Box is a monthly subscription box that’s filled with hand picked children’s books, stories and activities that will immerse children into Indian culture. They strive to choose engaging books with exciting illustrations, moral lessons or traditional folk tales and base the theme around an animal or holiday.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box
While there aren’t different boxes for varying age ranges, you will find a variety of activities and books that will suit a wide age group. Another great feature is if you a few children at home, Sanskriti Box will fill the box with that amount of crafts, so there’s no need to order extra boxes, every child gets a craft. Let’s dive right in to see what was in the box and how you can get your little ones subscribed.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti BoxFriday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

The Review:

The beautiful crimson box arrived packed with the crafts carefully packaged. Little Mirchi was excited to open it right away. The first thing to strike her eye was the book “Ganesh and the Little Mouse” a sweet tale about Ganesh, friendships and being proud of who you are. She then went through the items one by one.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

Here’s what was in our May Box:

Books:
Ganesh and the Little Mouse
In the Indian Night Sky

Crafts:
Wood Family Craft Kit
Paint, Glue, Scissors (this is only sent once)

Snacks:
Parle-G Cookies

Other:
Sanskriti Flash Cards
Family Tree Charm
Jade & Lily beauty samples

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti BoxFriday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

Little Mirchi was excited about the wooden family and as soon as her Papa arrived home from work she sat him down to paint. There were directions in the box guiding how to decorate the wooden figures however we let her free play as she was more interested in making sure Papa had a red shirt and Mumma had a blue dress. The book “In the Indian Night Sky” was a bit advanced for her so she wasn’t as interested in it, I’ll save it for her and I’m sure she will understand it more once she’s older. Out of all eight items that were sent she was interested and interacted with four items: Ganesh and the Little Mouse, Wood Family Craft, Parle-G cookies (but of course!) and the paints. All in all it was a good concept and I enjoyed seeing the wonder in Little Mirchi’s eyes as she discovered each item.

Friday Favorites: Sanskriti Box

As most of you know I love adding cultural books to Little Mirchi’s library collection and this box makes it easy. If you’re looking for a monthly surprise for your child each month that makes culture and leaning enjoyable, this would be a great box to subscribe to. Love Laugh Mirch readers get 20% off using the code “MIRCH” at checkout.

Sanskriti Box sent me this box free of charge to review, as always all opinions are my own.