Trust Stephen Colbert and his team to find an ingenious way to highlight that American is a nation of immigrants. Immigration is a hot topic button in this year’s Presidential elections. “Immigration makes some voters nervous,”says Colbert. And how does Colbert address the immigration issue on his show? Through food. Yes, that is right – food is that great connector between various communities and what better way to address this issue by breaking bread in an immigrant’s kitchen?
Colbert visits Yamini Joshi of The League of Kitchens, a New York-based organization that connects people through food. Joshi is originally from Mumbai, who now lives in Queens, New York. She teaches Indian cooking through her League of Kitchens immersive classes.
In this 2-part episode (January 5, 2016 ) Colbert first talks to Lisa Gros of The League of Kitchens on how and why she started the organization.
And then we see Colbert try his hand cooking Indian food in Joshi’s kitchen that is funny and awkward in some places. Predictably Colbert breaks out into a Bollywood dance with Joshi. The duo dance to Roop Hai Tera Sona from Kabhi Kushi, Kabhi Gham.The pair ends up making ghee, a sabzi or vegetable dish and roti. What was interesting is that Joshi used coconut in her long bean dish. It got me thinking if that was a Maharashtrian or a Gujarati dish, or was it a South Indian dish? It was captivating to see Joshi use an old kitchen equipment for grating coconut. I remember folks using this old tyme coconut grater over 25 years ago in their kitchens. Today you will be hard-pressed to find that grater in a regular kitchen. Many have migrated to grating coconut in a food processor or that trusty and indispensable “mixie.” I was also intrigued on how Joshi broke that coconut with a hammer. The old way of breaking a coconut is to bang it against a piece of concrete and crack it open! In the US most of us end up using frozen coconut pieces for our cooking.
You can read more about Joshi’s journey from Mumbai to New York and how she became a part of The League of Nations. And may I say I love that cheesy poster of Naan of Your Business. Whoever came up with that poster design was influenced by Bollywood movies from the 1980s and 1990s.