Documentary channel

The documentary ‘Mumbai Mornings’ proves that anybody can run

Veena Rao’s film follows in the footsteps of Abbas Shaikh, jewellery polisher and marathon runner.

The Mumbai Marathon on January 17 will feature all kinds of runners, from amateurs and thrill-seekers to hard-core professionals who have been planting legs on asphalt for several months in preparation for the 42.194 km-run. Among them is likely to be Abbas Shaikh, a gold polisher by profession and a marathon runner by choice. In 2019, Shaikh ran for seven hours and 23 minutes to win the 75-km race in the Bangalore Ultra. Veena Rao’s beautifully shot and crisply narrated short film captures his dedication to a sport that is usually thought to be the preserve of the middle and affluent classes.

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“I came to Mumbai this summer [2015] to make a short documentary,” Rao said in an email interview from New York City, where she lives. “I researched a few ideas before I came, but they ultimately fell through, and I had to look for something new. One night I was out with my cousin and he mentioned to his friend that I wanted to make a film. His friend told me about a member of her running team, Abbas, who had a great story; one that was inspiring and relatable.”

Rao read up on Shaikh in newspaper reports, and she felt that his story captures the essence of being a runner as well as a resident of Mumbai. “I think Abbas’s feat speaks to the fact that running is accessible and can be a lot more than a way to stay fit – it can represent freedom, a sense of purpose, and be a vehicle for personal change,” said Rao, who has previously co-produced Art, Architecture and Innovation: Celebrating the Guggenheim Museum and was an associate producer on Yoruba Richen’s The New Black and Judith Helfand’s Cooked. “I also think that Abbas is representative of the determined and hardworking nature of so many remarkable Mumbaikars. And the fact that he is so loved and supported by his fellow runners speaks to the strength of the running community in Bombay.”

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Young Indians now like their traditional food with a twist

Indian food with international influences is here to stay.

With twenty-nine states and over 50 ethnic groups, India’s diversity is mind-boggling to most foreigners. This diversity manifests itself across areas from clothing to art and especially to food. With globalisation, growth of international travel and availability of international ingredients, the culinary diversity of India has become progressively richer.

New trends in food are continuously introduced to the Indian palate and are mainly driven by the demands of generation Y. Take the example of schezwan idlis and dosas. These traditional South Indian snacks have been completely transformed by simply adding schezwan sauce to them – creating a dish that is distinctly Indian, but with an international twist. We also have the traditional thepla transformed into thepla tacos – combining the culinary flavours of India and Mexico! And cous cous and quinoa upma – where niche global ingredients are being used to recreate a beloved local dish. Millennials want a true fusion of foreign flavours and ingredients with Indian dishes to create something both Indian and international.

So, what is driving these changes? Is it just the growing need for versatility in the culinary experiences of millennials? Or is it greater exposure to varied cultures and their food habits? It’s a mix of both. Research points to the rising trend to seek out new cuisines that are not only healthy, but are also different and inspired by international flavours.

The global food trend of ‘deconstruction’ where a food item is broken down into its component flavours and then reconstructed using completely different ingredients is also catching on for Indian food. Restaurants like Masala Library (Mumbai), Farzi Café (Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru) and Pink Poppadum (Bengaluru) are pushing the boundaries of what traditional Indian food means. Things like a kulcha pizza, dal chaawal cutlet and chutney foam are no longer inconceivable. Food outlets that stock exotic ingredients and brands that sell traditional Indian packaged snacks in entirely new flavours are also becoming more common across cities.

When it comes to the flavours themselves, some have been embraced more than others. Schezwan sauce, as we’ve mentioned, is now so popular that it is sometimes even served with traditional chakna at Indian bars. Our fascination with the spicy red sauce is however slowly being challenged by other flavours. Wasabi introduced to Indian foodies in Japanese restaurants has become a hit among spice loving Indians with its unique kick. Peri Peri, known both for its heat and tanginess, on the other hand was popularised by the famous UK chain Nandos. And finally, there is the barbeque flavour – the condiment has been a big part of India’s love for American fast food.

Another Indian snack that has been infused with international flavours is the beloved aloo bhujia. While the traditional gram-flour bhujia was first produced in 1877 in the princely state of Bikaner in Rajasthan, aloo bhujia came into existence once manufacturers started experimenting with different flavours. Future Consumer Limited’s leading food brand Tasty Treat continues to experiment with the standard aloo bhujia to cater to the evolving consumer tastes. Keeping the popularity of international flavours in mind, Tasty Treat’s has come up with a range of Firangi Bhujia, an infusion of traditional aloo bhujia with four of the most craved international flavours – Wasabi, Peri Peri, Barbeque and Schezwan.

Tasty Treat’s range of Firangi Bhujia has increased the versatility of the traditional aloo bhujia. Many foodies are already trying out different ways to use it as a condiment to give their favourite dish an extra kick. Archana’s Kitchen recommends pairing the schezwan flavoured Firangi Bhujia with manchow soup to add some crunch. Kalyan Karmakar sprinkled the peri peri flavoured Firangi Bhujia over freshly made poha to give a unique taste to a regular breakfast item. Many others have picked a favourite amongst the four flavours, some admiring the smoky flavour of barbeque Firangi Bhujia and some enjoying the fiery taste of the peri peri flavour.

Be it the kick of wasabi in the crunch of bhujia, a bhujia sandwich with peri peri zing, maska pav spiced with schezwan bhujia or barbeque bhujia with a refreshing cold beverage - the new range of Firangi Bhujia manages to balance the novelty of exotic flavours with the familiarity of tradition. To try out Tasty Treat’s Firangi Bhujia, find a store near you.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Tasty Treat and not by the Scroll editorial team.