The 1Shanthiroad Cookbook: A collection of dishes and memories made at the iconic Bengaluru art space
This cookbook is an ode to 1Shanthiroad, where the food served has always played an important role, whether the occasion was the launch of an art exhibition, a talk or a performance.
Fatafat Omelette, Gauri Lankesh’s Urgent Saaru, Congress Kadlekai Masala, Pikachu Salad, Welcome to Paradise, Azerbaijan Stuffed Spiral Bread.
It is quite unlikely that most of us have ever heard of these unusually-named recipes; they are, after all, culinary innovations and experiments from home kitchens. For instance, Gauri Lankesh’s Urgent Saaru is a saaru (a thin soup eaten with rice in South India) with a twist invented by the late journalist. Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in 2017, had shared this recipe with her close friend and artist, Pushpamala.
Urgent Saaru, and scores of other recipes contributed by artists and friends, are part of The 1Shanthiroad Cookbook, a 340-page book edited by Suresh Jayaram.
Located in the busy neighbourhood of Shanti Nagar in South Bengaluru close to Bangalore Hockey Stadium, 1Shanthiroad, an art space and art residency, stands apart — not just for showcasing some fantastic art, but also for its amazing food and warmth. Whether it is the launch of an art exhibition, a talk or a performance, the food served from its kitchen has always played an important role. The cookbook is a perfect ode to this art space that has fed so many.
It explores a variety of flavour profiles, with recipes from artists across ages, regions and countries. The dishes are a mix of contemporary and traditional food, vegetarian and meat-based, elaborate and quick fixes, that have been either prepared at, eaten at or brought to 1Shanthiroad’s potlucks. Apart from artists, the staff of 1Shanthiroad — cook Devi Raju and Mohnavathi V — have also contributed a few recipes.
Artist, art historian and ex-principal of the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Suresh Jayaram founded the art space on the terrace of his parents' house in 2002. Jayaram’s mother Lakshmi Devi, he writes in the Foreword, loved to feed people. It was an open house, and Jayaram carried forward the legacy of his mother, whose dishes feature in the book as well.
“Initially I wondered how this place is going to be, because it has a small kitchen, but ultimately it became an important place for bringing people together and having conversations across cultures. There used to be enough food whether it was me or Devi or Mona (1Shanthiroad staff members) cooking, or my mother sending me food. Foreign artists who came here realised that they don’t have to cook. One day we told them to cook food from their countries. We said we will help them took cook, and we'd all eat together. There was always a day when they would cook. It could be German Apple Strudel or a salad, and it became a tradition,” Jayaram recalls.
Nihaal Faizal, artist and founder of Reliable Copy which has published the book, has shared a recipe for Paragon Prawn Mango curry, the dish he always carried for 1Shanthiroad’s potlucks. Originally a recipe for fish curry from the well-known Paragon restaurant in Calicut, Nihaal’s mother Zarine made a variation with prawns.
As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time at 1Shanthiroad, Nihaal says he became familiar with the place through its food. “All my experiences at 1Shanthiroad have been about eating. As a resident, you always meet at the dining table. So most conversations happen over a meal, which is why it is very special to me. Even if you drop in informally during lunch time, you will be fed. If you are familiar with 1Shanthiroad, you remember it through food. That's why we chose a cookbook. It is an archive of the place whose story is being told through food,” says Nihaal.
Even the illustrations in the book endeavour to do this. Akshay Sethi has captured the objects of the entire household — artifacts and kitchenware such as a steam iron press, wooden masks, a stone figurine, a tea pot, a puttu kudam (puttu maker) — visually. Buyers can customise the cover: it can be blue, grey, green or red, and can feature either of two drawings by Jayaram — a pressure cooker or mixer-grinder — to be embossed on it.
The recipes in the cookbook are listed under sections such as Breakfast, Snacks, Soups and Salads, Mains, Curries and Gravies, Rice and Staples. It also features accompaniments, chutneys, pickles and relishes, dips, sweets and desserts, and even podis and fresh masalas.
In terms of ingredients and methods, all recipes are formatted in a similar manner. The creator's name is right next to the recipe's. At the end of each recipe are some unique aspects about the dish. For instance, artist Pradeep Kambathalli mentions in the note section of his recipe Fatafat Omelette that he learnt it from another artist, Cop Shiva, during a Khoj Residency project at 1Shanthiroad. Fatafat Omelette, cooked in groundnut oil with a pinch of oregano and red chilli powder, is eaten straight off the tawa. Kambathalli adds, “The dish is a great quick-fix starter when having a beer or a late-night fix when roaming about in the house aimlessly.”
Arbi (taro root) cutlets by artists Sarasija Subramanian and Kadamboor Neeraj were an accidental discovery. When the arbi they were preparing for a meal at 1Shanthiroad overcooked and turned mushy, the duo transformed it into cutlets to save the day.
There have been other serendipitous discoveries, too. Jayaram recalls how he tried to fix beetroot sabzi and tomato chutney at the same time. “I just cooked both of them together in a blender, and it became a beetroot chutney,” he laughs.
Wellington-based artist Benjamin Buchanan, who was selected for an artist-in-residence exchange programme in 2014, has contributed a simple but fun recipe called Pikachu Salad, with cucumber, peanuts, red onion, tomatoes and mint leaves.
Senior artist Smitha Cariappa says though she has not prepared Mudre Kanni (horse gram gravy) at 1Shanthiroad, her friends from the art space have tasted the dish when she prepared a Kodava cuisine dinner spread. From among the staples of Coorgi cuisine, Cariappa has also offered Pandi Curry (pork curry) made with kachampuli (a dark, tart vinegar) available in Bengaluru near Kodava Samaj, or at ham and pork shops.
Of her memories of eating at 1Shanthiroad, Cariappa says, “I won't be doing justice to it by speaking about one meal or one dish, as I have had so many there. It is memorable each time, but very often, I am surprised by the dips that come out of its kitchen.”
The dips in the cookbook are indeed fun, such as the avocado and raw mango dip, the beetroot dip, the curd and dill dip by Jayaram, a pomegranate dip by Smitha Cariappa, and a curry leaf dip by Bharatesh GD. In the Foreword Jayaram also writes about how before any event, he likes to rustle up stir-fries, soups, salads and dips.
A Gujarati from Mumbai married to a Tamilian in Bengaluru, artist Heena Pari shared the recipe of a Gujarati staple — undhiyu. She also prepared it for the cookbook’s launch. Pari says the book is both a treasure and an important marker of time. "As its Introduction mentions, I hope to 'infuse it with the aromas of the dishes it contains within its pages’ and pass it on to my children,” she says.
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