One of our favorite fall traditions continued with friends new and old in Paris.
Ragas Live + Food
The Ragas Live Festival is a 24 hour, live music event that was born as a celebration of ragas from the Indian Classical Music tradition, and has grown to involve musicians from all over the world. It began in 2012 on the radio, and as of 2016 became a live event, usually at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn.
We have been attending the Ragas Live Festival in Brooklyn for years. In 2020, when Covid had other plans, and the Ragas Live team created a streamed version including artists from many corners of the globe, we of course tuned in from home. But more than that, we reached out to artists who were featured and asked them what foods and drinks they would recommend we play along with (or before or after) their music. We made Sun Chicken from Madagascar thanks to the recommendation and recipe from Toko Telo, a Indian breakfast feast thanks to the menu provided by Abhik Mukherjee, and we also cooked up a selection of our favorite family favorites like pav bhaji, coconut dal, coconut rice, pooris, raita and coconut burfi and provided other options from the archives, like Malian Poulet Yassa and Gombos.
And everything we made, we packaged up and shared with nearby friends and neighbors, dropping it off in the short breaks between sets.
So when we found ourselves in Paris for Ragas Live 2022, we decided to do the remote + feast version again, this time with friends both new and old, in France!
Ragas Live 2022
When the festival is not happening, you can check out a few videos via the Pioneer Works Youtube Chanel or listen via links on the Ragas Live website.
You can also check out the many, many videos available on the Brooklyn Raga Massive YouTube channel, or use the below 2022 schedule with links I added to go directly to the artists you want to check out and support!
Watching from Paris, France, the first set was at 2 am! But I didnt want to miss the first set, either, because I had seen Saraswathi perform before. I asked her if she had any suggestions on what I could have along with her set to help wake me up and enjoy.
She was kind enough to give a lot of suggestions to not only wake me up but to cleanse and calm the digestive system!
To calm the digestive system, she recommended to “eat a few pieces of this before snacking on anything else: fresh minced ginger root (peeled), mixed with pink salt, and black salt (if available), and juice of half a lime (not lemon).”
She also suggested several hot drinks including chai masala, hot apple cider and paanakam, for which shared her recipe. I dont think I had had paanakam before and it was quite nice.
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup jaggery
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- salt + pepper a dash of each
- 1/2 lemon the juice of
- Bring 3-4 cups of water along with jaggery to a boil to the jaggery (half a cup) or till it completely dissolves in the water.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, dash of pepper and salt. Switch off stove.
- Squeeze juice of a lemon juice, stir.
Parvathy Baul sent along a long list of dishes and example recipes for dishes that could be find in Baul Ashrams during celebration days. With enough time and hands I would have made all of them! But I read through and decided to make Lassis and Panchmishali Tokari, and to heed the note that they do not use garlic nor onion.
It interested me most for a few reasons. I knew panch means five in Hindi (and also in Bengali, as it turns out), and so I was curious to know what the rest of the name meant. I soon learned that in Bengali, mishali means “mixture” and torkari means “curry.” And as the name suggests, the dish is a mix of 5 spices, and also typically 5 vegetables. It also uses mustard oil and I don’t think I had ever cooked with it before.
I read that it is a very typical dish and often eaten at celebratory times, which seemed like a perfect fit.
For the five spices, it is a standard mix called panch phoron, which you can find at any Indian grocery store. Typical of Bengali cooking which tempers whole spices rather than powdered spices), it contains five seeds: equal parts cumin, nigella, fennel and black mustard, and little less fenugreek.
For the five vegetables, it’s often includes potatoes, pumpkin, eggplant and radish but there are no hard and fast rules. The idea is to choose a variety of tastes, textures and colors, and cook them until they are almost cooking into one another but remain distinguishable from one another. I raided the fresh vegetables at our marché (farmer’s markets) here in Paris, and ended up with potimarron (pumpkin), eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower and orange carrots.
Upma + Curry Leaf Podi
Having only moved to France only weeks before, and only packing what we could carry on the plane with us, our several podis did not make the cut. But we were craving upma so i needed to make some sort of podi to go with it! It turned out great. Made into a paste with a generous amount of melted ghee and eaten with upma, it is heavenly. It has been useful ever since, added to rice (with ghee or not), and also added in with the spices when I make a chicken fry. Oh la la.
Incidentally, that’s another great crossover tradition that began this fall If we get one of the ubiquitous roast chickens for a meal, the 3 of us almost never finish it, but we take the leftovers and turn it into a nice Indian meal of “Indian tacos,” by frying up the chicken with ghee, onion and spices, and eating it inside of parathas.
Curry Leaf Podi
- 1 tbsp urad dal
- 1 tbsp channa dal
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ~60 dried curry leaves see photo
- 2 dried red chillies de-seeded
- 1 tbsp dried coconut
- salt to taste
- Set a large non-stick sauté pan to medium heat.
- When hot, dry roast the dals together, shaking the pan to let them brown but but not burn. When starting to brown, add the coconut and continue to stir frequently so as not to burn. When the coconut begins to brown, add the cumin and red chilis. Stir to combine, fry for 1 minute and Remove from heat.
- Add the curry leaves and stir to combine. Keep stirring for one minute then put on a plate to allow the mixture to cool.
- When fully cool, pulse in a blender or food processor until you have a powder (podi).
- Once totally and completely cool, keep in an airtight jar.
- 4 dried red chilis
- tamarind or amchur for tang?
- did i use garlic? maybe it was the penzy’s dehydrated roasted garlic?
- 1 1/2 cup yellow onions, diced
- 1 serrano chili (or small green chilies)
- 4 tbsp ghee (buffalo preferred) or sunflower oil
- 4 cups water
- 3/4 cup raw cashew pieces
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 15 curry leaves, we use dry or fresh – whatever we have on hand.
- 1 cup sooji
- 1 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- Up to a cup of additional veggies peas, diced carrot…
- Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Chop onions and chilies, and any veggies you plan to include and have all ingredients on hand (especially the ghee and the water which need to be added at a moment’s notice).
- Put cashews in a pan and heat to medium. To toast without burning, stir/shake pan constantly. When they begin to brown, put them in a bowl and allow them to cool.
- Heat a different large pan (unless you have allowed the first pan to cool some, lest you burn the spices), add the cumin seeds turn the heat to medium,. About a minute later, later add the mustard seeds. Shake the pan continuously so as not to scorch the seeds. When fragrant (1 minute or so), add the ghee immediately, and allow to melt (if needed).
- Add the onions immediately and stir to combine. When the onions begin to get translucent, add the curry leaves. Stop to enjoy that wonderful aroma. mmmm.
- Just when the onions begin to brown, add the cashews and stir to combine. When the onions are golden brown, add the carrots or peas (if using), to cook them for just a minute.
- Add the sooji and salt. Stir to combine. Roast the sooji for a few minutes. Stir frequently.
- Add the water a cup at a time, continuously stirring to prevent and/or remove any lumps. Add more water if needed to reach soft yet thick consistency.
- Garnish with cilantro, if desired, and then enjoy as is, or with ghee and your favorite podis and pickles!
We were looking for a Brazilian treat as a nod to Brazilian master percussionist Cyro Baptista. We of course thought of the beloved Brigadeiros but they are most often chocolate, which my son somehow detests. So, we found this vanilla version that my daughter made all by herself. They were very sweet, but our guests enjoyed them throughout the afternoon!
But next time, we want to make them chai masala flavored! We will ground up some Red Label tea and add it to the condensed milk when it is cooking down. For spices, we will add ginger, cardamom and fennel seed, which are three flavors required in our family’s chai. I think we will also cut down on the amount of sugar in the milk because it is already sweetened and we add sugar on the top.
An Iraqi purim treat, adapted from this recipe found on The Jewish Food Society (a fav!) site. We enjoyed them in the afternoon, during Amir ElSaffar’s set, but also with each group of attendees for dessert after lunch and dinner.
- 2 ½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- UPDATE W/ AMOUNTS ON NOTES!
- Prep: preheat the oven to 350F/ ——C, and line yourbaking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix the dessicated coconut, sugar and eggs until well combined.
- Quote from this recipe: "With one hand, grab a golf ball sized amount of the coconut mixture and squeeze your hand into a fist around the mixture until it holds its shape (the resulting cookie will be a small log with indentations where your fingers squeezed) and place on the prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture."
- Bake until browned and crisped (about 25-30 minutes), rotating the pan after 15 minutes..
Mint Tea + Dates
When asked what we should enjoy for their set, Esraa Warda told me we should have moroccan mint tea and dates. And she was specific that we needed to to keep it in a kettle (not tea bags), and use fresh mint.
It was going to be 11;30pm Paris time for their set, so mint tea and dates was just perfect. And as luck would have it, the furnished rental in Paris has the very same tea glasses I would have used if we were back in Brooklyn!! What are the chances of that?!
That’s a Wrap!
What’s better than licked-clean plates and pans to remind us what a delicious time we had? Until next time….
But I will end with one last photo as a postcard from Paris. I took my laptop and a glass of wine out to the balcony for the Arun Ramamurthy set at 10pm Paris time. 🙂