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South East Asia experiences rare total solar eclipse

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Women watch the solar eclipse through solar viewers in Bangkok, Thailand, March 9, 2016.[Photo/Agencies] TERNATE/PALEMBANG, Indonesia – Thousands of astronomy enthusiasts are flocking to Indonesia this week to catch a rare event – the country’s first total solar eclipse in nearly 33 years. The eclipse will be visible in parts of Australia and Southeast Asia, but…

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Award-winning Chef Gaggan Anand Wants to Take Indian Food Beyond its Stereotyped Curry Prism

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Chef Gaggan Anand
Dal Curry. Wikimedia

Bengaluru, Sep 24, 2017: Ranked as Asia’s best restaurant for three years in a row for his eponymous “Gaggan” in Bangkok, Kolkata-born Chef Gaggan Anand is all about taking Indian food to the world beyond its stereotyped curry prism. He’s on a mission to prove to the world that the concept of curry doesn’t exist in Indian cuisine.

“I want to show the world that there’s no such thing as a curry. There’s only a curry leaf that gives the taste. Curry is a very British idea. With just a curry leaf oil, I can make anything taste like curry,” the award-winning Anand said in a conversation with IANS at the Taj West End here.

The owner and executive chef of the Bangkok restaurant, which has won the top spot in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, ranked by theworlds50best.com, for three consecutive years since 2015, was on a four-city tour to present his food through pop-ups at Taj Hotels in the country, from where he had started his culinary career.

Anand’s food is all about elevating humble Indian street-food-inspired-dishes through innovation and plating in a fine-dining fashion — from chocolate paani puri to keema pav.

And he’s managed to do so by eliminating knives and forks and letting global diners eat Indian food the way it’s traditionally eaten — using the hands. Thereby, he managed to place Indian food on the world map in a much larger way.

Also Read: Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Brand Ambassador for Food Street at World Food India event 

Served through 25 courses, he presents the tasting menu through emojis, eliminating the long descriptions of dishes that usually feature on a restaurant menu. And it’s certainly not an easy task to guess what’s going to be served by reading the ideograms.

“My idea is to bring all of people’s senses to life. I use food to seduce people and agitate their minds by surprising them without any pretensions. Everybody would have made jalebis into various sweet versions but no one would have thought of a savoury version,” an exuberant Anand explained.

“I have created my own philosophy of food, which is what sets me apart and has got me where I am now,” said Anand, whose restaurant is also the only Indian eatery to grab a spot among the World’s top 10 restaurants, ranked by theworlds50best.com.

Unlike many other kitchens across the world, Anand’s is always blaring out rock music and most often he’s seen in his favourite band’s T-shirt when he’s out of the kitchen. Music is one of the key elements of his food-making process.

He even created a dish named “Lick it up”, inspired by the American rock band “Kiss”, which diners need to lick off the plate, and treats his service like a concert, filled with surprises and theatrics.

And for constant renovation of his food, Anand has dedicated a total of six teams for research and development in his “food laboratory”.

As the Netflix Emmy-nominated “Chef’s Table” show describes in an episode on his restaurant, “his kitchen is a virtual United Nations with people from across the world working in it”.

Anand had started off his restaurant in 2010 majorly using the molecular gastronomy principles, wherein ingredients undergo physical and chemical transformations, and later adopted a “minimalist” approach to food, he shared.

“Most often, Indian chefs give glory to quinoa, zucchini and goji berries while ignoring our own ingredients like drumsticks and colocasia root. We should create from our ingredients rather than seeking to the West for ideas,” Anand asserted.

“So, my food is all about honesty in using seasonal produce, while keeping the plate as minimalist as possible. Only the elements that belong on the plate stay on it”.

This simplistic approach is perhaps what late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam loved the most about Anand’s food. “I used to travel along with Kalam sir when he was the President. He used to eat the rice and rasam I used to make for him at 6 a.m. each morning,” the chef reminisced.

But restaurants come with an expiry date, Anand believes. “Gaggan will close by 2020. It’s the end of an era. For a decade I cooked at Gaggan, and now I want something else.”

The celebrated chef will be heading to Japan’s Fukuoka city in 2021 to do a 10-seater restaurant.

“It’ll be an inaccessible place. I really want to control the crowd and reduce the volume. Now the volume is too high and I want to do food that pleases my soul now,” he said.

With the Michelin announcing the launch of their prestigious Michelin Guide in Bangkok by the end of 2017, Anand said if he gets three Michelin stars, he would claim the fame of being the first such Indian to be so recognised.

“Even if I don’t get it, I don’t have much to lose; they’ll have to answer to the people who have loved my food,” he said with a nonchalant shrug.

“I still haven’t given my Indian passport away though. I’ll always remain very much Indian at heart, even though nobody in Kolkata really knows me and that I’ve made the region and its food so famous,” Anand concluded. (IANS)

 

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India is The Most Corrupt Nation in Asia with Highest Bribery Rates of 69 %

More than half the respondents have had to pay a bribe in five of the six public services in India

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India is the most corrupt nation
India Against Corruption - Protesters in Bangalore - 22nd August 2011. Wikimedia
  • India has surpassed Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam and, Thailand concerning bribery rate with 69 percent, the highest on the list
  • Vietnam stood second on the list after India at 65 per cent bribery rate
  • India also holds account for the highest bribery rates in public schools and healthcare sector, with 58% per cent 59 per cent bribery rate respectively

Sep 03, 2017: Indian government is struggling hard to defeat the evils of corruption, but there is still a long way ahead to fulfill the objective of corruption free India. According to a survey released by the Transparency International (TI) in March 2017,  an anti-corruption global civil society organization reveals that India stands as the most corrupt country in Asia with 69 % bribery rate. In the survey, approximately 22,000 individuals spanning across 16 Asian countries participated over a period of 18 months starting in July 2015.

As reported by ANI which further cited Forbes’ article “Asia’s Five Most Corrupt Countries”, the issue of corruption is pervasive across Asia. The TI report says that India has surpassed Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam and, Thailand concerning bribery rate with 69 percent, the highest on the list.

It was mentioned that more than half the respondents have had to pay a bribe in five of the six public services namely-  hospitals, schools, police, utility services and, ID documents.

The article by Forbes also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for persistent efforts to eradicate corruption from India.

Also Read: Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption 

“However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against corruption has made a mark: 53 per cent of the people think he is going it fairly or very well. And it has led to people feeling empowered, as 63 per cent believe ordinary citizens can make a difference,” it stated.

Vietnam stood second on the list after India at 65 per cent bribery rate.

Pakistan stands fourth on the list with 40 per cent bribery rate. About three-fourths of respondents in Pakistan consider mostly the policemen to be corrupt. It said that seven in ten people had to cajole police officers or the courts for a bribe. When asked about the change in the situation, people sounded dejected when it comes to wiping out bribery from the nation. Only one third feel that ordinary citizens can make a difference.

Last year, India was placed 76th out of 168 countries surveyed by the Berlin-based corruption watchdog in its Corruption Perception Index, mentioned ANI.

India’s corruption perception has been the same consecutively for two years 2015 and 2014’s  as 38/100, which shows no improvement in the scenario.

According to the March 2017 statistics, Pakistan most likely of all was the country to have higher bribes legal institutions. While in India, the police bribery rate was 54 per cent.

India also holds an account for the highest bribery rates in public schools and healthcare sector, with 58% per cent 59 per cent bribery rate respectively.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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“Regionality is What Sets Indian Food Apart” from the Cuisines Across the World, says MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan

Gary Mehigan carries back inspiration from India to his kitchen from his each visit

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MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan
MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan. Twitter
  • Gary Mehigan said that Indian food is gaining deserved attention globally
  • We have many Indian chefs like Manish Mehrotra, Sanjeev Kapoor
  • The Chef expressed that food the world over has seen enormous changes driven by social media

August 27, 2017: Globally renowned English-Australian chef, television show host and restaurateur Gary Mehigan says he believes that “regionality is what sets Indian food apart” from the cuisines across the world.

In an email interview with IANS from Melbourne, Mehigan said that Indian food is gaining deserved attention globally. “We’re close to seeing India explore its intellectual property, namely food, properly. We have many Indian chefs like Manish Mehrotra, Sanjeev Kapoor and many other names from all over the world infiltrating the food scene in a big way.”

 “People still sometimes see Indian food as a homogeneous chicken tikka, rogan josh, chicken vindaloo cuisine, when we know it is far from the truth. Regionality is what sets Indian food apart. Regionality is what the world is going to appreciate when it starts to learn about Indian food,” Mehigan explained.

“I hope I’m a part of those who bring great Indian food to Australia,” said the chef, who is now the face of Fox Life’s “Food @ 9: India Special with Gary Mehigan”.

“There’s quite a bit of Australian talent we’re trying to showcase through the series. These shows get addictive and help us travel vicariously through our television sets,” he stated.

ALSO READ: Indulge in Gluttony: 14 Surprising Facts that you never knew about Indian Food!

Mehigan, who will be setting foot in India for the seventh time this November, said he carries back inspiration from the country to his kitchen from each visit.

“I love the country – something about the color, the chaos, the diversity and the originality of the food, it all gets under your skin. I carry home a few recipes and ideas each time I visit. It’s certainly changed the way I cook at home,” he said.

Known popularly for shows like “Far Flung with Gary Mehigan”, and for his presence as a judge on “MasterChef Australia”, the Chef expressed that food the world over has seen enormous changes driven by social media.

“I’m loving where food is at the moment. Ideas are being shared so quickly through social media — whether it’s Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I can browse through my Instagram and look at what some of my most favorite restaurants in the world are serving for lunch.

“The frame of reference for younger cooks is much bigger. They are able to browse through how a matcha ice-cream is made in Tokyo, or how funky desserts are made in Parisian cafes,” Mehigan said.

All in all, it’s a great thing for food with awareness growing, he opined. “This global club of foodies is only expanding. It’s a great thing for food, our health, and our planet too if we care about where our food comes from.”

Social media is also one of his ways to keep reinventing his food, said the chef, who has been in the industry for nearly three decades.

“Social media is there to keep my imagination going. I’m food obsessed. I go on holidays because of food. I think I’ve never been in love with food more than I am now,” Mehigan said, signing off. (IANS)