The Modern Desi Dinners: Authentic Indian food with a story to tell
Bhavna Kalra is the founder and chef of The Modern Desi dinners – bringing together four guests to experience her home-cooked seven-course degustation of Indian food in her quaint Sydney apartment, as part of her new Saturday night supper club.
Supported by her Sous-Chef husband, each meal is presented beautifully and served with a story on the side, taking each guest on a journey throughout their dining experience.
However, Bhavna makes it clear that guests should not expect to receive the same food as what they would find at their local Indian takeaway joint.
“Indian food in Australia is very generic and it is very badly misrepresented, and I always find that almost every restaurant has the same menu,” she explained.
My food is not something that you would get in a restaurant; it’s authentic home-cooked food served in a nice, presentable way, and I share stories about the dishes, while educating people on how Indian food takes influence from other countries.
“When people listen to these stories, they can enjoy the food a little bit more … because now they feel like they are doing something a little more than just eating.”
The idea for these dinners was established after Bhavna began getting traction on her food blog, Just a Girl From Mumbai.
Borne out of a yearning for food from home, Bhavna began cooking and sharing the dishes she loved while growing up in Mumbai on the blog, which blossomed into a community of diaspora around the world.
“When I moved I started to feel very sick… so I went to see an Indian doctor who checked what my diet was lately and we learnt that I had not eaten any Indian food for almost two months, so he suggested I start eating it again,” Bhavna recalled.
I generally eat everything and I’m not the type of person to want Indian food all the time, but this experience was a revelation, and it was incredible to learn that I was feeling sick because I was not eating Indian food anymore.
“That made me start cooking and documenting a lot on Facebook, and I started getting a lot encouraging comments about my meals, with people telling me the food reminded them of home as well.”
Despite only starting the blog after moving to Australia, the seeds of Bhavna’s love of food and storytelling were planted many years before.
Growing up, her grandfather would often share memories about the food he would eat in his hometown of Multan before having to leave Pakistan during partition, while her history-loving father would share historic tales of the Mughal rule.
“I moved away from my little town to the big city in Bombay… so suddenly there’s an amalgamation of all these cultures and cuisines,” Bhavna said.
“So, that became my collective inspiration to cook and learn how to make all these different things.”
Bhavna hosts The Modern Desi dinners every Saturday in her Macquarie Park home. For a 20% discount, book before October 30, 2019 and enter the code Cultural Pulse 19 at the checkout HERE