In Kolkata, a women’s college seeks to bridge communities through food

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The Ekbalpore Government General Grade Girls University will host a heritage food festival, Khana-e-Kidderpore, on November 22, as part of World Heritage Week.

The Ekbalpore Government General Grade Girls University will host a heritage food festival, Khana-e-Kidderpore, on November 22, as part of World Heritage Week.

A women’s college located in Kidderpore, a neighborhood located on the southwestern edge of Kolkata, plans to use food as a means to culturally bridge the Muslim-dominated area with the mainstream and build bridges between communities.

The Government General Grade University for Girls in Ekbalpore, one of Kidderpore’s hotspots, will host a heritage food festival, Khana-e-Kidderpore, on November 22, as part of World Heritage Week. The event, which will include talks and panel discussions, would essentially celebrate the wide variety of food that Kidderpore still boasts of, although many in Kolkata associate the neighborhood only with biryani Y skewers.

“From luxury hotels selling various traditional Bengali food to Awadhi skewers, biryani Y pulaosfrom traditional Bengali sweets to hawa puri Y morningladdufrom fried fish to bakharkhani Y nan khataiof just little a Go aheadvada and German bread, the Kidderpore area has developed as a culinary basket of south-west Calcutta,” said Antara Mukherjee, an assistant professor of English at the university and the brains behind the festival. the hindu.

The event is held in collaboration with the West Bengal Heritage Commission, INTACH, and popular initiatives like Know Your Neighbor and Break Free Trails. It will include the launch of a local food map and cooking competition, and local students will be asked to prepare their favorite family desserts, a way of preserving recipes.

“This college for women opened six years ago, as a result of a long struggle by the people of Kidderpore. When I joined at the time, coming from Chandannagar, I arrived with a lot of preconceived notions about the neighborhood. But things started to unfold for me as I interacted with people and discovered a whole new space,” said Dr. Mukherjee. “You can call this event our reciprocal gesture with the neighborhood.”

Culture crucible

Kidderpore includes the areas of Ekbalpore (where the university is located), Mominpur and Metiaburz. It has been a city within the city, growing around the port in the second half of the 19th century. the century, part of it had already been transformed into a mini-Lucknow when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was forced to settle there. Heritage enthusiasts lament that reported crime incidents in the neighborhood in recent decades have overshadowed Kidderpore’s rich history and reputation as a melting pot.

“The festival is essentially a celebration of the gastronomic plurality of the region: cuisines ranging from Awadhi and Bihari to local Bengali, Anglo-Indian and South Indian. These diverse cuisines not only highlight the rich intangible heritage of the area, but also underscore the social diversity that is often overshadowed by stereotypical mindsets fueled by preconceived notions.” Dr. Mukherjee said.

“In addition, through this event, the university is also attempting to create sustainability outreach for some of the oldest food and catering companies (most are still family owned) by inviting restaurants to participate as pop-ups and display its best food for what we believe should be a sizable audience from a diverse academic and social diaspora from Calcutta,” he said.

“These diverse cuisines not only highlight the rich intangible heritage of the area, but also underscore the social diversity that is often overshadowed by stereotypical mindsets fueled by preconceived notions”Antara MukherjeeAssistant Professor of English, Government Girls’ General Degree College, Ekbalpore

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