2014: New Class, New Kitchen, New Pots and Pans :-)

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Very happy to announce that our first 2014 cooking class I gave last night was a success. It was full too.

So, in short, it was SUCCESS-FULL.

🙂

My students here in New York like my hands-on, interactive, Indian cooking classes. They tell me they have a great time. They also tell me they enjoy the fun, and the friendship, and the food.

I am very happy that they like the classes so much.

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In 2010, when I started Mukti’s Kitchen, I didn’t realize how much fun this was going to be. I now have so much independence and my students, supporters and friends have helped me so much to make it a success. I’m announcing new classes on my website. I’ve also updated the payment options so that students can directly pay online while registering for classes.

I’ve also decided to increase the class time from two and a half hours to three hours, listening to student feedback.

Just before I left for an India trip, I had my Brooklyn kitchen remodeled. That made a big difference to find space for more students and easier movements. And from India, I brought new ideas, new récipes, and new pots and pans too.

I’m sharing a couple of photos here.

Join us. You’re going to love it.

Sincerely,

Mukti

Mukti’s Kitchen

Brooklyn, New York

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From Kanyakumari, Southernmost Tip of India

From Kanyakumari, Southernmost Tip of India

I am in Kanyakumari now, with my friend and Brooklyn Food Coalition’s executive director Nancy Romer, as well as a few Indian food and environmental workers.

Kanyakumari is the place at the southernmost tip of India, where three seas — Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea — have merged together.

This photo shows two famous rocks on the sea. The one on the left is the rock where Swami Vivekananda, revolutionary Indian Hindu monk, visited as a part of his India pilgrimage. Now it has a beautiful memorial temple on the rock.

On the right is the giant statue of Tamil poet Thiruvallur. The status is 133 feet tall.

To be able to be at this sacred place is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.

I feel blessed.

Sharing with you,

Mukti

Mukti’s Kitchen

http://www.muktiskitchen.com

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P.S. — I also had a surprise birthday party here in Tamil Nadu. Nancy and our South Indian friends gave me a pleasant surprise. It was great to celebrate here 🙂

Birthday cake

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Durga Puja — Four Days of Fun, Friendship, and … Food :-)

How many people outside of India heard about Durga Puja, annual, four-day celebration of a ten-arm Goddess vanquishing a demon?

Not too many, I’m sure.

Yet, it’s one of the greatest shows of art, spirituality and culture. It’s one of the most festive autumn events held under the sun. Millions of men, women and children have a great time. 

And they have great food. Fabulous food for four full days — from the seventh lunar day through the tenth.

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You eat “mutton” curry on Navami (but you do not use onions or garlic in that curry for cultural reasons), the ninth lunar calendar day. You eat sweets — including Bengal’s famous Ras Golla — on Dashami, the final, tenth day of the moon. Then, you keep eating visiting elderly’s and friends and relatives, paying them formal respect. It’s an enormous tradition. Respect has always been a big part of India’s and Bengal’s traditions. No matter how different it has become now.

I grew up in India in this tradition. Never thought about religion as a dogma. It was as much about spirituality as it was about food, friendship and fun.

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A community Durga Puja with makeshift temple.

So, what is Durga Puja?

This is what my husband Partha wrote in an online travel journal Travelogged. I quote from it.

“Four-day Hindu festival Durga Puja takes place every fall all over eastern region of India. Puja is a Sanskrit word for worship and Durga is a goddess who vanquishes the demon Asura with her ten arms. According to the Bengali Hindu traditions, Mother Goddess Durga comes down from her Himalayan abode on to the plains for those four autumn days, and brings along her children Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kartik, who each symbolizes a special force.”

“In West Bengal and Bangladesh, it’s really more about expressing incredible folk artistry and music rather than the religion itself. That’s the unique, secular perspective of Bengali Hinduism. Appreciative Western minds would love it,” he wrote.

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Durga Puja: where art and culture meet.

 

You wouldn’t believe how fantastic the art is. Here are some pictures. All of it for four days only, and then they all disappear, forever. Artisans working for months — day and night — to produce their wonderful art, right on time.

Only if the Western World knew!

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Mukti’s Kitchen, Featured in Edible Brooklyn

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Photo Courtesy: Edible Brooklyn

Happy to report that Edible Brooklyn, a reputable culinary and culture magazine, published an article in its Fall issue.

Here’s the link. Please visit and share. Thanks for your comments and feedback.

http://www.ediblebrooklyn.com/department/notable-edibles/muktis-cooking-classes-bring-masala-to-the-masses/

Below is a segment from their article.

Notable Edibles:
Mukti’s Cooking Classes bring Masala to the Masses

First published in the Fall 2013 edition of Edible Brooklyn

“The secret, she tells a group gathered at her Kensington home for a class on Mughlai cooking, lies in her massive masala dabba. “Masala” means spice, “dabba” means box, and Banerjee’s is the traditional tin type you can pick up in Indian and Pakistani neighborhoods like her own. Banerjee has so many spices—from asafetida to nigella—they overflow the dabba and take over her dining room table.

You leave full of fresh flavors and new knowledge: how to gently roast spices before you cook, how frying oil tells you it’s time to add the next ingredient, that red onions have a stronger flavor Indian cooks prefer.

“I’m really lucky,” Banerjee says, “that I’m carrying my master craft from my mother and grandmother to my friends.” But walking home, smelling like a masala dabba, we know we are the lucky ones.”

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I am very lucky, indeed.

🙂

Mukti’s Kitchen Relaunches Blog :-)

Dear Friends:

Happy to announce that we’re relaunching our blog. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to do it, and also waited with great patience.

We’ll post simple secrets of Indian cooking — how to make healthy and delicious Indian dishes, spending a minimal amount of time in the kitchen.

We’ll also post fun stories around some of the dishes: how I learned to cook them, what were some of the problems and nuances to master them, and things of that sort.

I hope you visit us periodically, and share your thoughts.

Here’s a photo a plain and simple vegetarian stir fry, using squash from our Brooklyn kitchen garden. I used all possible parts of the plant: stalk (stem), leaf, flower, and of course, fruit. I used a very small amount of olive oil, and the usual five-spice mix (paanch foron). It was simply mouth watering. My family members loved it.

Try it. I’m going to post the recipe soon. Please visit our website at http://www.muktiskitchen.com .

Happy and Healthy Cooking to You All,

Mukti

Mukti’s Kitchen

Brooklyn, New York

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