Archives mensuelles : février 2016

The mystery of ghee (melted butter)

Let’s venture into jungle with the little Babaji to discover the origin of ghee. Essential to indian cook, the ghee is melted/clarified butter. You can buy some (in this case you will prefer organic ghee like this one) or you can make it (even if it’s quite long), or you can find it in the middle of the jungle…

To make ghee like the little Babaji (read Helen Bannerman’s story), you will need 4 very hungry and very swift tigers pursuing each other…


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Crepe for Candlemas!

Let’s follow the little Babaji venturing into jungle to discover the mysterious origin of ghee…

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This story was first telled by Helen Bannerman around 1920 with this problematic title: The story of little Black Sambo…


As this English woman wasn’t a very gifted drawer, the story of this little Indian boy meeting tigers into jungle looks like it takes place in Africa!

Fortunately, many other versions since this first edition show an Indian boy with Indian parents venturing into Indian jungle and meeting Indian tigers..


Aunty read this story to her kids thousands times! Please read it to children’s you know!

You will learn the origin of ghee which Mamaji uses for baking a pile of crepes.

After telling this story, you can have a look to the recipe of TIGER CREPES



download the TIGER THAUMATROP to play with your kids! (online for Mardi Gras!)

and the TIGER MASK


You can get different editions of Babaji with different illustrations here

Vikas Bahl’s Queen (a quite unexpectedly big success in India) released in France! It is delicious! As India has much better exported its cooking than its cinema, the pitch bets on this success to find a French audience. The heroine tries to colonise Europe with her so tasty Gol Gappa (aka Pani Puri, literally water fritter, more precisely a fritter stuffed with a spicy sauce). In some funny scenes, the young Rani sorts French and Italian cooking out.

Let’s begin with the French – so-called “froggies” across the Channel –, who might be perceived as head-eaters for Indian people.


The young Rani (“queen”, alone in Paris) sits down at the table of the famous Parisian brasserie’s terrace “Le Vauban”, just in front of the Invalides. The waiter suggests, in French, two specialities of the chef: a little fish-head with tomato and a little pig-head. Aunty can easily imagine how disgusting these dishes seem to Indian people, not to mention Hindu or Muslim preferences. Rani, who doesn’t speak French, orders the fish without knowing it will be raw (what is also nauseating for Indian).


Aunty has investigated to know where this speciality comes from.

There is nothing of the sort on the Vauban’s menu and yet it is just the menu of the restaurant Rani reads. Moreover this is exactly at Vauban’s terrace that this scene was shot one summer night.

Does this fish-head be a reinterpretation of a meal à la carte twisted for the comic effect of the caricature? Nothing of the sort! Like in every Parisian brasserie, the Vauban’s menu offers only easy-tasting cooking.


Maybe the restaurant completely alters the taste of an Indian speciality so that this fish head sounds like revenge. The head chef tries some fusion or international food (with chicken Nem and so many meat or fish a la plancha) but there is no reference to Indian flavours.

Let’s try another hypothesis: this sequence could be a parody of the misadventure of Indiana Jones and especially the American woman (in The Temple of Doom) invited by the Sultan for a banquet with eyeballs soup and monkey’s brain directly served in the head of the animal.

About head: maybe the scriptwriter or somebody of the crew saw a typical pig head with parsley in ears and tomato in muzzle in a butcher’s window which gave him the idea of this speciality. But no fishmonger has ever displayed fish head even adorned with lemon or seaweed. Note that nowadays few butcher’s, less and less in Paris, exhibit this kind of trophy.


Aunty wonders if this film gets French and Chinese cookery mixed up since she discovered that Chinese are very fond of fish head, but never raw. They like it fried or in a soup. Why Queen made this mistake between such different culinary traditions? Is it due to the recent proliferation of Chinese restaurants all over India even if they served more rice or noodles with vegetables than “bear’s paw” (you can watch the recipe in Tsui Hark’s The Chinese Feast). Raw fish without seasoning (neither ceviche nor carpaccio) is the antipode of spicy and simmered Indian meal.

We can’t deny that in France (regional or gourmet cooking), fish head may be used for fish stock or soup but never raw or stuffed, always simmered with herbs and spices and vegetables and filtered to eliminate the cuts. French chef can stuff a lemon with raw marinated fish (like ceviche) or appreciate other “head”, like Parisian mushroom’s cap with a persillade



Aunty’s still wondering…

May be this sketch is about the attachment of Indian to their cookery so that they don’t used to taste exotic meals. Most of Indians will think at this very moment: « Nothing is better than home and traditional cookery ». The disgust towards foreign food is complete when the “degustation” of the fish turns into dissection. This scene will confirm to every Indian tourist the necessity of three Indian meals/day guaranteed by tour operator. In Paris we can see their bus waiting for them in front of Indian restaurant like Saravanaa Bhavan.



Rani vomits in front of the Invalides. This background is probably like many exotic settings in popular movie particularly during song and dance sequences. Aunty remembered the pyramids of Gizeh in Kabhie Kushi Kabhie Gham or the Machu Picchu in Enthiraan or Corcovado in Dhoom 2… In Queen, Japanese tourists are taking pictures of the monument so we think about the photogenic architecture of Paris, and this dome, which reminds me the Sacré Cœur or the Taj Mahal. Maybe this image is against the tide, like the scene right after, when Rani flees and runs in the streets near the Eiffel Tower, which is quite frightening. Aunty, looking into the district, went into the dome which houses Napoleon’s remains; cherry on the cake, Vauban’s heart is also in a mausoleum. Thinking of Napoleon, Bonaparte had the road to India in mind during all the Oriental campaign and the negotiations with English crown: maybe this raw fish head cocks a nose at colonialist ambition… Moreover, maybe this is what contemporary movies often point out. For example, Bang Bang (Siddarth Anand, 2014) fictionalizes the theft of the famous diamond Koh-i-noor to bring it back into Indian territory…


Aunty will come back later with the much vaunted gol gappa!


Thanks to Amandine & Flo for their always precious information.

Aunty will show here her culinary experimentation inspired by the recipes read in book, seen in movie or exclusive. Aunty’s lunchbox is a fusion between Mediterranean, Italian and of course Indian flavors. Even the film form will be an experimentation while remaining instructive!

tandoor fire.jpgMake your own private tandoor!

Here Aunty will share stories from kitchen, recipes given with more or less precisions by literary characters, most often quotations from Indian novels but not exclusively.

Among so many others authors, aunty will present Bulbul Sharma, Radhika Jha, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni…

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As children’s literature is plentiful sweets, we will find the delicious ones Ganesh appreciates so much and will discover the mysterious origin of ghee.

As there is nothing better than old generation passing down secret recipes, aunty will remind us of over hand-turns, extracted from cookbooks or private archives.

Some of these recipes lacking in precision will be completed and experimented in motion.

Please don’t hesitate to send the recipes you read in book to aunty!

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for « my aunty », Madhur Jaffrey

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« Aunty ? Aunty ! »

Who saw Dabba (Ritesh Batra, 2013) will recognize the call from the beautiful Ila (Nimrat Kaur) asking her neighbour for few advices or pinch of spices missing in the curry she cooks everyday for her husband’s lunchbox. This voice enters by the window and goes down like the basket full of condiments and chilies. « Aunty » remains a voice, her body or her face ever hidden. Each viewer is invited to remind whose first delighted his or her taste-buds, whose introduced unexpected flavours.
In Aunty’s Lunchbox this voice resonates as other cook’s voice for revealing their recipes. These voices come from litterature or movie from very different Indian areas.
Beside these extracts read In book or spotted In movie, video clips (In motion) will present original culinary experiments inspired by savours from all other India, France and Méditerranean.  TF


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La version française d’Aunty’s Lunchcbox est consultable chez Contre-courants, la version anglaise sur le blog des Cinémas indiens.

« Aunty ? Aunty ! »
Ceux qui ont vu Dabba (Ritesh Batra, 2013) se souviennent de cet appel quotidiennement lancé par la belle Ila (Nimrat Kaur) pour quelques conseils ou quelques pincées d’épices à ajouter dans les différents curry qu’elle prépare pour la lunchbox de son mari. La voix descend d’une fenêtre à l’autre comme le panier chargé de piments et autres condiments. « Aunty » reste une voix, sans corps, sur laquelle chaque spectateur peut projeter l’image de celle qui a marqué ses papilles, lui a fait découvrir des saveurs inconnues.
Aunty’s Lunchbox fera résonner cette voix et celles d’autres cuisinières révélant leurs recettes, qu’elles habitent la littérature ou le cinéma indiens dans toutes leurs diversités régionales. Outre les extraits d’ouvrages (in book) et de films (in movie), des vidéos (in motion) proposeront des expériences culinaires inédites inspirées des saveurs de l’Inde, de la France et de la Méditerranée.  TF