the appetizer:

Kate celebrates the Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire with an appreciation of Indian masala and suggestions for a Hollywood-Bollywood Oscar Party, plus don't miss her Valentine's Day Recipe ideas.

Kate Heyhoe Kate's Global Kitchen  

Slumdog Millionaire:
Steal This Food!

by Kate Heyhoe


Slumdog Millionaire poster

Through the magic of movies, Indian culture has fed us well. Crossing over from Bollywood to Hollywood, we've stirred up Aloo Gobi in Bend It Like Beckham, tossed rice grains at a Monsoon Wedding, spiced up black and brown into a Mississippi Masala, and even wed an Accidental Husband at the Samosa Palace. In Slumdog Millionaire, the feasts are fewer and harder to come by: our hearts crumble at two boys' unsuccessful attempt to steal food through an open window, while hanging from the rooftop of a speeding train.

Set in Mumbai, Slumdog Millionaire rocked onto the American screen—two weeks to the day before 2008's terrorist bombings rocked the real Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Slumdog Millionaire is gritty, disturbing, poignant, and it's also happy, spirited and engaging, thanks in part to A.R. Rahman's infectious Bollywood beat. The film won four Golden Globes and eight of its ten Oscar-nominated categories.

Given Slumdog Millionaire's impact, watch for revivals of Nehru jackets and armloads of bangles; a resurgence of Indian cookbooks, music and art; and an expanding awareness of India's most notable offspring. Just a few of India's famous talent, Western-born generations, and ex-pats include (with M for Mumbai-born):

  • Deepak Chopra, author, medical doctor, and spiritual teacher
  • Anu Garg, author and founder of Wordsmith.org
  • Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and possibly the next U.S. Surgeon General
  • Madhur Jaffrey, actress, food writer and author
  • Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor
  • Norah Jones, musician/singer/songwriter and daughter of Ravi Shankar
  • Sir Ben Kingsley, British actor
  • Padma Lakshmi, former model, cookbook author and host of Top Chef
  • Aasif Mandvi, The Daily Show cast contributor, actor and comedian (M)
  • Zubin Mehta, classical music conductor (M)
  • Ismail Merchant, film producer and partner in Merchant Ivory Productions (M),
  • Kal Penn, actor
  • Salman Rushdie, novelist (M)
  • Anoushka Shankar, sitar player and composer, and daughter of Ravi Shankar
  • Ravi Shankar, sitar player and composer
  • M. Night Shyamalan, screenwriter and director
  • CNN's Ali Velshi and Zain Verjee (not related, but both were born in Kenya)
  • Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and TV news host (M)

Mad for Masalas

A masala in India means a mix of spices, and there are as many different types of masalas as there are cooks in Mumbai. Slumdog Millionaire is its own cinematic masala, mixing British and Indian talent into a film that captures the spirits of both Hollywood and Bollywood. As with spices, the blend creates layers as complex and sensory stimulating as the most fiery Kerala curries.

If your appetite yearns for a taste of India, cookbook authors Raghavan Iyer, Madhur Jaffrey, and others have entered Western doors through Indian kitchens (their books are especially good for novices). You'll also find plenty of Indian recipes in our archives, from these and other Indian authors.

Sari Tip: If like me, you fancy the look of saris as drapes, here's my home decorating secret: a number of online companies make custom drapes from saris in magenta, saffron, plum and other colors, with gold and silver threads. Google "sari curtains" and you'll find some great deals.


Slumdog Millionaire scene


A Hollywood-Bollywood Party

Whether you're celebrating the Oscars or just celebrating the weekend, download the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire, and get ready to rock Bollywood style with these recipes for authentic and adapted Indian cuisine. Don't forget the naan, chapati or other flatbreads, yogurt, raitas, and ghee. For the best quality (and prices), seek out authentic Indian grocery stores in many larger cities. Visit our Destination: India page for more recipes and country background.
Basics and Special Features
Appetizers and Small Bites
Main Courses

Cooking Green

Six Ways to Shrink Your Cookprint

If you missed this article last month, check it out now. Why? Because my new book, Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen—the New Green Basics Way, comes out in March and this is an important concept in the book. Learn simple steps to make your kitchen greener...

Visit New Green Basics to read the rest of Six Ways to Shrink Your Cookprint


Mousse Sandwiches
Mousse Sandwiches

What to Eat This Month:
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