Friday 15 May 2009

Hardeep Singh Kohli on the Indian Takeaway

The closing night of the Festival of Asian Literature at Asia House features Hardeep Singh Kohli talking about, amongst others things, his latest book. Details are:
Hardeep Singh Kohli @ Asia House Festival of Asian Literature
Friday May 22, 2009 at 6:45pm
Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street
London, England W1G 7LP
Get Directions
Hardeep Singh Kohli loves many things in life - but none more than food. So when he decided to travel round India, searching for his roots, the obvious thing to take with him was not a "Lonely Planet", not a BBC camera team, but shepherds pie and Yorkshire pudding. Indian Takeaway is the entertaining story of Hardeep's attempts to cook his way round India, dishing up very British meals for the people he meets. Hilarious, strange and true, Indian Takeaway is a book for everyone who loves to cook, longs to travel, or for anyone who wants to spend a few hours in the company of this warm-hearted and entertaining man.

BAFTA-winning broadcaster Hardeep was writer of the Channel 4 hit Meet the Magoons, a presenter of Radio 4's Saturday Live, Midweek and The Food Programme as well as contributor to numerous radio programmes such as Radio 4's Front Row and Radio 3's Nightwaves. Hardeep is often found clad in turban and kilt as panelist and presenter of Newsnight Review, he is currently presenting on the BBC hit programme The One Show. He was also a runner-up on Celebrity Masterchef.

For tickets, ring 020 7307 5454 or email
Ticket Info: £10/£7
I must admit I think this guy is great - he's intelligent, warm and humorous, and wears a turban and kilt (sometimes at the same time). The BBC have obviously taken to him - I think his Scots-inflected voice comes across very well. And yes, it is good to see a turbaned Sikh guy just getting on with it. My jaw nearly dropped the first time I saw him hosting BBC2's Newsnight Late Review. It was a bit like the moment when, in the 1970s, we first began to see brown people on TV (unfortunately the programme was Mind your Language...) - we'd gather round the TV agog.

I've not read the whole of his book Indian Takeaway but a pdf extract of the first chapter is available on his website - so far so good. Being about the same age a lot of his experiences of growing up in Britain resonate with mine. Here's his take on one of the benefits of the weekly trip to the gurdwara (Sikh temple) - prasad is a sweetmeat distributed to the congregation after the religious service at the temple:
Prasad is a truly amazing thing. If you ever needed convincing that the universe has some form of higher power at its helm, then prasad would be the single substance to convert you. It’s a semolina- and sugar-based concoction bound together with ghee. It is bereft of any nutritional value, but it is hot and sweet and lovely. And it’s holy. What more could you want?
So you might want to get along to this more popular-writing ending to the literary festival which has featured the likes of Amit Chaudhuri, Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger), Kenan Malik (From Fatwa to Jihad – The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy) and Ziauddin Sardar.
p.s. Madhur Jaffrey ('legendary actress and Indian cookery writer') is at Asian House on 11 June talking about A Life in Indian Cooking.

Update p.s.: If you want to read more, Kohli’s writing a regular column for the Spectator at the moment, where a barny is going on in the ‘comments’ about whether he’s any good/should be writing for this right-of-centre magazine.

I would definitely have tried to get along to the Kohli event but will be busy packing up the family to go away the next morning for the May half-term holiday - more of that in another post perhaps (yes,unbelievably I did it). If you go to any of the Asia House events, let me know what you think.

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