Kahaani (2008)

Kahaani Movie Poster

Kahaani is a pretty solid mystery thriller. It starts with a chemical terrorist attack that kills all the passengers on a particular train car. Then we cut forward two years and a pregnant woman is searching for her husband who has gone missing in Kolkata (Calcutta).

Rice and Lentils with Yogurt Drink (Kichdi Chaas)

Khichdi recipe by Indiaphile.info

Kichidi and chaas is my all-time favorite comfort food. My mom used to make kichidi for me whenever I felt a little under the weather. The combination of steaming hot rice and lentils with a cold glass of chaas always made me feel better.

Chaas is a simple combination of yogurt, salt, water and cumin. It’s sort of the Gujarati version of salty lassi and holds a special place in my heart. It pairs perfectly with kichidi, another staple in a Gujarati household.

Pulao Recipe (Indian Rice Pilaf)

Pulao - Indian Pilaf by Indiaphile.info

If you could tell the history of rice pilaf, you could tell the history of the world to at least as far back as Alexander the Great. It’s a dish that is ubiquitous across most of the world’s cuisines. This is probably because it is such a great dish for large gatherings. To make a large pot of rice pilaf is not much more difficult than to make a small pot.

The Dirty Picture

The Dirty Picture Movie Poster

“Is she vamp or victim?” the gossip columnists Nayla asks, “which should I label her?”

The Dirty Picture is based on the true story of South Indian softcore actress, Silk Smitha, who attained great popularity in the 1980s. She succeeds in the film industry by being neither fully in control nor fully controlled by the system. She is neither calculating, nor victim to the image created around her. She is being led by no one and succeeds in spite of the industry big wigs.

Dry Bhel (Sukhi Bhel)

Dry bhel recipe by Indiaphile.info

The best way to travel in India has to be by train. The one positive thing everyone can agree British Colonialism did for India was building the extensive railway system in the second half of the 19th century. The Indian Railway runs over 10,000 trains everyday. Express trains that go over long distances are nothing like the city commuter trains that are notoriously overcrowded. Think more of the trains of Wes Anderson’s “Darjeeling Express”.

Rabindranath Tagore (1961), A Documentary on a Great Literary Figure

Rabindranath Tagore

Whenever I learn about Indian history, I am always surprised by the long history of interconnectedness between India and the West. Well before America was a country, India was influencing Europe and Asia in ways that would eventually make it here.

This tradition continued in the life of Rabindranath Tagore. He was born in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1861, during the time of the American Civil War, and died in 1941 during the second World War. This movie didn’t go into what impact the American Civil War might have had on his life, but as I learned when I went to visit the Star of India, this was a huge growth period of trade for India, as Europe could no longer reliably expect supplies from America. Tagore’s grandfather amassed great wealth with investments in coal, indigo, silk and sugar, and he established the Union Bank in Calcutta. The world’s great wars, on the other hand, would deeply affect Rabindranath Tagore.

Bhel Puri Recipe, A Menagerie of Flavor and Texture

Bhel Puri recipe by Indiaphile.info
Bhel puri is another fun Indian snack food from Gujarat. It is a fun treat made from a balance of sweet, tart, salty and spicy, a common combination in Gujarati food. Gujaratis love to add sugar to savory foods. The other brilliant thing about bhel is the texture. It has just the right combination of softness with crunchiness, of dry with wet.