CHENNAI: “I do what I do, to understand why we eat the way we do. Nothing we eat is accidental,” says Ragini of Third Culture Cooks, an initiative that hopes to decode and educate people about the ‘Whys’ of our eating habits, explore the history of flavours, food and its diversity.
In her journey, Ragini has been exploring conflict as a point of departure, looking at geopolitical conflicts and how food has been affected by them. “One of the conflicts I looked at was the Partition. My entire family too was displaced during the Partition and I know the stories from an intimate point of view. I knew there are dishes that my grandparents had in their childhood that they remember with fondness. So I always had the vision to bring to light how the Partition displaced ecosystems of politics, architecture, culture, art forms and food,” she says.
In August 2020, on the 73rd anniversary of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, Ragini interviewed a series of people, all of whom were either living in the aftermath of studying and writing about the Partition, under the title ‘Partition 73’, exploring the impact of the event. This year, as a tribute to the people she interviewed — those who were displaced during Partition and their stories — Ragini has come up with a set of 16 illustrated recipe postcards, titled Postcards from Partition.
“I prepared a dish every day last year, to introduce and represent the speaker. And many had asked me for those recipes. So each of the postcards will feature an image of the dish prepared last year and the detailed recipe,” she shares. The postcards, illustrated by artist Atashi (Instagram @atashidraws) include recipes of dishes ranging from Ragini’s grandmother’s gud walnut cake, baingan raita, caramel custard, mirch ka saalan to chicken curry, all with a story to tell.
The cards will also have a QR code for the recording of the interviews from Partition 73. “Each illustration and recipe represents each interview. It’s a wonderful way to memorialise the moment when all of us came together to share stories of family and food,” she says.The postcards are available and can be purchased in a digital format and those who buy them will be entered into a draw to win a printed set of the cards, which will be mailed to the winner. “As part of the postcard initiative, 50 per cent of the proceeds will go to the Kalap Trust, an NGO working in the Tons Valley in Uttarakhand,” she concludes.
The set of cards are priced at Rs 800. For details, visit Instagram page @Thirdculturecooks or www.thirdculturecooks.com