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‘Charcoal’ cheers up Indian foodies in Bangkok

Enjoy Delhi and Mumbai'f famous street food in Bangkok too!

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Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology Restaurant, Bangkok Image: charcoalbkk.com
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A ‘Spice Library’ with traditional condiments from all corners of India, Mumbai’s famous ‘Dabbawalas’, an Indian mixology concept at the bar to fire up your drinks and a restroom where you can hear the lively noises of Delhi’s famous Chandini Chowk area – all of this and more are on offer at the most unlikely of places, Bangkok.

In the Thai capital’s ever-busy Sukhumvit area, the Charcoal Tandoor Grill and Mixology has raised the bar for authentic Indian cuisine and that is evident from it being a runaway success, especially among foreigners. Located on the fifth floor of Fraser Suites in Sukhumvit’s Soi 11, Charcoal is not only about Indian food but also the tradition that is behind the popularity of this food.

“Charcoal offers authentic tandoori kebabs, char-grilled over glowing embers in our copper-clad ovens. People can enjoy the delicacies that come from the house of the Royal Moghuls,” Derrick Gooch, the general manager of Fraser Suites, told IANS as he excitedly took me through a brief journey about Charcoal’s existence, its food and the idea behind the effort.

“We wanted our food to be real, authentic Indian. We spent considerable time in India to pick the best chefs and cooks, raw materials and equipment. All our spices for the restaurant and other raw material still comes from India to ensure that authentic taste,” Gooch, who once worked with a leading resort near Gurgaon and has been settled in Thailand for the past nearly 14 years, pointed out.

The popular celebration dishes, made from centuries-old recipies, at Charcoal include murg angaar (charcoal), murg malai kebab, tandoori malai broccoli, sikandar ki raan (tender lamb), the softest possible paneer tikka and dum biryani.

“Our DNA is kebabs. We offer only two types of gravies in Indian food. We get a lot of foreign guests and they really relish the char-grilled food here,” restaurant manager Vijay Kamble, who worked in a leading hotel chain in Mumbai before moving to Bangkok, told IANS.

The Sunday brunch buffet (@ 999++ THB (Thai baht)/almost Rs,2000 per person) offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs with Indian breads.

“We lay a lot on stress on retaining the original flavour of the spices that we use. The idea is to ensure that our clients should be happy having Indian food here,” chef Manzoor, who hails from the City of Nawabs, Lucknow, told IANS.

There’s a unique about Charcoal.

The restaurant boasts of a whole wall that is a Spice Library. Spices are kept here in a traditional way while sharing information about them. Another wall depicts the Mumbai Dabbawalas concept in all its colours.

Related article: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate

Even the restroom in the restaurant is inimitable. “The moment you enter it, you will hear the real-time sounds of Delhi’s famous (and chaotic) Chandini Chowk area. The sound of vendors and honking of horns does not let you miss out on Delhi’s life,” Gooch pointed out.

The restaurant also offers the best variety of ‘paan’ (betel leaf) – straight from the popular Prince Paan Shop in New Delhi’s GK market. It is priced at THB 100.

“Our paans are the most authentic and fresh ones. We use Kolkata and Banarsi betel leaves. To suit the convenience of our foreign guests, we have smaller sized paans too,” Dev Singh, who hails originally from Nepal but has settled in Delhi for over three decades, said.

But what takes the cake is the Charcoal bar where lies the Mixology Studio. Signature cocktail creations come alive in a sophisticated industrial setting here.

“The cocktails here are combined with Indian spices to fire them up. We have a unique style of presentation too,” Kamble pointed out.

Cocktails like New Delhi Duty Free, comprising spices, honey, Bacardi, watermelon juice and mango, are served in a bottle-jar which is packed in a transparent plastic bag (like the ones in which liquor bottles are packed at duty-free shops at airports) along with a dummy Indian passport.

Other spiced up cocktails include Horn Ok Please (betel leaf, basil and gin), Mufftey Mai (gin and cucumber in a glass laced with chaat masala), 1947: Independence, Sialkot’s Gun Powder, Kolkata Rickshaw Fuel and many more.

At Charcoal, one will have to cook up excuses to explain over-eating!!

Here are some details of Charcoal:

Where: Charcoal Tandoor Grill and Mixology; 5/F, Fraser Suites, Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand. Timings: 6 p.m. till 12 a.m.

A meal for Two: THB 1,200 upwards (IANS)

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  • Charcoal is nice. Lots of other great Indian restaurants in Bangkok too. Rang Mahal, Kabab Factory, Punjab Grill…

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This gives the Thai people an idea of how the Indian food is made and served. Just like how we enjoy Thai curry, they enjoy our dal fry

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  • Charcoal is nice. Lots of other great Indian restaurants in Bangkok too. Rang Mahal, Kabab Factory, Punjab Grill…

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This gives the Thai people an idea of how the Indian food is made and served. Just like how we enjoy Thai curry, they enjoy our dal fry

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India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

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BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)