Welcome to my website and blog ‘Food for Thought’! It’s a foodie hub for anyone who cooks food, is interested in food, cares about the food that they eat, and loves their food.
What is ‘Food for Thought’?
‘Food for Thought’ was born in early 2011 as a weekly radio show on Hammersmith-based radio station OnFM 101.4, and as a channel on the audio website Soundcloud.com (http://www.soundcloud.com/anjuldutt). Its timing coincided with an inspiring visit to New York City where I was enamoured by city’s ‘GreenMarket Farmers Markets’, and the artisan produce and food producers that I encountered. When I returned to London, ‘Food for Thought’ became a forum and personal mission to highlight the amazing food heroes, real food producers and diversity of food that can be found in the UK.
This ‘Food for Thought’ audio blog and website is the next phase of the ‘Food for Thought’ project, and is an expanded and enhanced form of my original radio show.
Me and my food journey….
I’m Anjul Dutt and I’m a curious foodie. The seeds of my curiosity about food were sown at a young age. I was born and bred in the small Welsh town of Caerphilly, the home of Caerphilly Cheese. As an Indian child growing up in Wales, some of my earliest and fondest memories of food were those I experienced at home – fragrantly aromatic savoury dishes and delectable sweet dishes from my mother’s extensive repertoire of Indian recipes. Tangentially, I was also fascinated by native Welsh/British cuisine which was very different to what I experienced at home, and I often observed how my mother adapted traditional Indian recipes using British mainstream ingredients when authentic ones were not readily available. In hindsight, it was my first experience of fusion food, which is part of the mainstream culinary landscape of 21st century multicultural Britain.
Being brought up as a vegetarian, I became an expert at scanning ingredients labels on food packaging to check whether they were suitable for my dietary requirements. A by-product of this necessity was awareness of how many unintelligible and unfamiliar ingredients many pre-packaged foods contained
Fast forwarding to 2013… London, my home, is one of the most exciting, diverse food cities in the world. I love the fact that you can eat your way around the world by travelling around the city’s extensive transport network. It’s fascinating to see how food and culture intertwine by visiting London’s many ethnic areas that have become home to communities from countries ranging from Poland to Pakistan. The best Italian Gelato can be enjoyed in the London’s extensive growing network of Gelaterias, and food from the regional Indian Diaspora is available in Southall (Punjab), Wembley (Gujarat) and East Ham (South Indian).
As well as being enjoying international ingredients and cuisine, I’m also an advocate of real food. So what is real food? In my opinion, real food is food that is additive free, minimally processed, ethically produced and as (close as possible to as) nature intended. We live in a world where food is often considered to be a fuel consumed purely for sustenance. Many people have become emotionally and physically disconnected from the food that they eat, and almost take it for granted. With the lion’s share of food being supplied to consumers by ‘the big four’ functional supermarket chains, there are sometimes knowledge gaps with people not knowing where their food comes from or how it is produced.
Another related principle that I try to live by is to source and consume locally produced, seasonal food that is grown or created with heart and soul by small producers and restaurants – they are my food heroes. I’m also a supporter of a different kind of food hero: innovative organisations that works directly with or on the periphery of the food industry, who think outside the box and strive to improve and implement positive change for consumers, producers, the environment and produce itself.
What is my favourite food?
My favourite food varies from season to season, and often depends on my mood. I like to cook (experimental and soul food, as opposed to refined chef-style cooking) using high quality and fresh, seasonal ingredients. Herbs and spices treated with respect and used in moderation form an essential part of my kind of food – fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and green leafy basil can lift an ordinary dish and make it extraordinary.
During the Autumn and Winter, when the nights draw in early, there is nothing more satisfying than wholesome, moreish food such as homemade pesto with rigatoni; a Marfona jacket potato with cottage cheese and chives; or steamed Basmati rice and Masoor, split Mung or Arhar dal. To me rice and dal is like a hug in a bowl. Also, squashes, Brussels sprouts, apples and numerous root vegetables come into their own as Autumnal harvest time bounty leads to the long Winter months.
During the warmer Spring and Summer months, seasonal fruit, salads and vegetables really excite me. I love to trawl around London’s network of farmers markets to discover when different varieties of fresh produce come into season. One of my favourite vegetables in the summer months is British asparagus. To me, it tastes far more delicious than all-year-round asparagus that comes from foreign climes. However, it has a relatively short season with fixed dates – it lasts from 24th April till 21st June.
Even though I advocate local British produce, its impossible to be a curious foodie and ignore the wealth of diverse produce that is available from around the globe. My palate would feel deprived if I didn’t consume foods like avocados, peaches and olive oil.
Aside from the savoury foods, and fresh fruits and vegetables that I have waxed lyrical about, decadent and delicate desserts are also a wonder to behold. Indian sweets, cheesecake, gelato, and anything made with dark chocolate are some of my favourites. One of my favourite guilty pleasures is a mug of hot chocolate made with a combination of fine quality dark and milk chocolates.Follow @AnjulDutt