23 minutes | Mar 2, 2022
Revolutionary Seed: Voice to Indian Farmers
In September 2020, the government of India approved a series of agricultural acts, often referred to as the “Farm Bills.” What was proposed threatened to change the state of agriculture in India forever, and thus, inspired a long farmers' protest that is only just coming to a conclusion (thanks to a recent announcement that confirms the laws have been repealed). This episode tracks my journey to Tikri border — located on the capital’s suburbs — where thousands of farmers lived as they protested the effects of neoliberalism on Indigenous agricultural systems. Cooking with the community and feeding everyone who came to the site (including the police!) was one crucial way in which solidarity was cemented. My guide, and the guest of this show, is the inspirational activist Navkrian Natt, who along with thousands of farmers, resisted injustice with all her heart. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
34 minutes | Feb 23, 2022
How Indian Food Became Frustratingly Hip
Thanks to the cool-ification of Indian food, traditional ingredients from the subcontinent, like turmeric and ghee, are now repackaged and resold in Western and Westernized markets as if they were “new” discoveries. Cleaned up, minimalistic design labels are often employed to give the familiar and unfamiliar look, and conceal what one can argue is a recolonization of the Global South by the Global North. The U.S.-based academic Rumya Putcha tells us why this hipster Indian food is problematic, while Vidya Balachander, current South Asia editor at Whetstone, helps us unpack the idea of the global supermarket. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
29 minutes | Feb 16, 2022
Beyond Momos: Imaginary Homelands and Tibetan Food in India
Beginning with a brief history of Tibetans in exile, this episode explores how food can create imaginary homelands, even if it means that authenticity itself needs to be invented and reinvented. Three Tibetans in the diaspora, Jamyang Phuntsok, Tencho Gyatso, and Nima Dorjee, are the guests on this episode. Through conversations that range from personal histories to current food interests, we will talk about gastronomy and memory, tsampa as a potential political tool, and what role food can play for a community in exile. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
34 minutes | Feb 9, 2022
Ripples and Tipples: How Partition Changed Indian Food
In 1947, the British finally left India after 300 years of colonial rule. They created many arbitrary borders as they left, the most prominent of which was the line that was to separate India from Pakistan. The aftermath of this divide resulted in the greatest migration in human history, as millions made their way across hundreds of miles in the hope of creating new homes. The impact of this critical event is mirrored in what has become known as Delhi’s food culture, both at home and abroad. The well-known food historian Anoothi Vishal reminds us how partition lives on in India’s capital, while Jonathan Nunn, editor of the shape-shifting newsletter Vittles, shows us how the event created ripples in the imperial city of London. Partition transformed “Indian food,” in both colony and empire, and still shows its effects in new Indian restaurants today. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
33 minutes | Feb 2, 2022
The Mid-Day Meal feeds millions of schoolgoing Indian children daily, and has widely been considered one of India’s most successful welfare programs. Two economists who have been instrumental in its success, Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera, will uncover the history of this program, but also remind us that because what's on plates is always political, the future of welfare too, is uncertain. A focused discussion on the contentious introduction of the egg in the meal will, in particular, reveal how sometimes, unfortunately, political interests can trump the basic human right to food and nutrition. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
40 minutes | Jan 26, 2022
Where There Are No Butchers, There Are Cinnamon Buns
This episode flips the script on caste and food by celebrating and exploring the food practices of caste oppressed communities. Is there such a thing as “Dalit cuisine?” Do Dalit chefs and food enthusiasts accept this term? What are Dalit recipes, and how have they been archived and reproduced? Can food be a site of caste abolitionism? The two guests on this episode – Vinay Kumar and Rajyashri Goody – who self-identify as Dalit, offer their own personal reflections on food and food politics. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
42 minutes | Jan 19, 2022
The Dream of Two Kitchens
This episode presents a micro-history of contemporary Indian kitchen design, as told by Manju Sara Rajan, the editor of a prominent design magazine, and Madhav Raman, an award-winning architect in New Delhi. We look at what lies behind the urban, aspirational dream of two kitchens — one visible and one concealed — which has roots in a historical wet and dry kitchen binary. We also look at what interventions open and modular kitchens have made in this history, and what it means for gender and caste politics that still lie at the heart of Indian kitchen design. How do urban Indians negotiate the waves of aromas and the inevitability of oil splatters that come with making Indian food with their desire to showcase their Scandinavian-inspired kitchens in India all at once? We talk about how in urban India, the aspiration is really to have it all. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
26 minutes | Jan 12, 2022
Eating Capital focuses on the restaurant business in Delhi and Mumbai, an industry that, according to most experts, has irrevocably transformed due to the COVID pandemic. Cloud kitchens have exploded, and delivery, rather than dining in, has become the name of the game. In this episode I speak with an established restaurant consultant, Samir Kuckreja, and two restaurant owners, Kainaz Messman and Jiten Suchede, to ask what it really takes for independent cafes and coffee shops to tick in today’s highly competitive market. What are the values that restaurant owners must weigh in order to survive? These conversations are full of sharp insights for anyone who has ever thought about opening a cafe, and the news is not all discouraging. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
36 minutes | Jan 5, 2022
The Juice of Mango Clichés
To speak about Indian mangoes may be cliché, but because Indians never seem to tire of the subject, there’s always some juice. London-based writer, Nikesh Shukla, will humorously tell us how to devour one correctly – a skill most South Asians seem to inherently possess – while halfway justifying why our obsession for the fruit can and should live on. A conversation with food historian Vikram Doctor follows as he talks about the colonial legacy that underpins this obsession, and the parochialism that most Indians adopt as they cultivate their specific mango fetishes. I conclude in a kitchen with a Delhi-based pastry chef, Ruchi Vaish, who turns herself in as a Mango Obsessive. For her, mango season is the very best. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.
37 minutes | Dec 15, 2021
The Scale Show
This episode unravels the discrepancy between the illusion of oceanic abundance that our modern pescatarian diets are premised upon, and the reality of our waterways. To tell this story, I travel through Goa’s fish markets, seafood restaurants and jetties with marine biologist and Goa native – Aaron Lobo. We discuss how the modern fishing industry is depleting ocean life at an alarming rate, the implications of promoting the dinner plate-sized filet, and seeing fish as superfoods. It is quite apparent that there are not that many fish in the sea after all, but rather than making a case to stop fish eating, Aaron suggests something more compelling as a solution. Bad Table Manners is part of Whetstone Radio Collective. Learn more about Bad Table Manners here. Find show notes here.