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20.11.2017

Cooke Town's neighbourhood markets are brimming with produce, and Joshua Muyiwa, bpb contributing editor (and this writer's good friend), can be found scouring them for veggies and then cooking up a storm on Sundays with his flatmate and partner on a new dabba service, physicist Kabir Husain.
 
The menu on Monday Lunch varies depending on what Joshua's reading, what's in the news, or the latest dispatch from friends abroad. Previous menus have included a Brazilian chocolate and pork stew; Allahabadi kofta biryani with all the trappings, including shahi tukda and rabri (made from scratch!); Karnataka military-style meals with meatball curry; a Caribbean menu featuring fried plantains; Burmese salads and beef khao suey; Moroccan stew with beef, olive, raisins and chickens; even a Nepali dabba inspired by his grandmother.
 
What began as grub-on-request for colleagues at Joshua’s co-working space, has now grown to include requests from the neighbourhood. "Cooke Town has almost no decent restaurants – but the neighbourhood's great for produce. I'd be cooking at home everyday."
 
We’re Meant To Bean
 
This week's menu is inspired by Yottam Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem, a gift from Kabir's mother: a bejewelled saffron rice, studded with raisins, nuts and herbs; fried tomatoes with garlic - deceptively simple with just three ingredients, but the trifecta of Mediterranean flavours come together exceptionally well; Na'ama's fattoush, that has ruined us for every other fatoush – every bite of this salad, soaked in buttermilk, is a burst of the brightest summer flavours. And the star of the meal – beef meatballs with fava beans and lemons, are tender, with a caramelised crust that gives up its meaty juices at the stab of a fork, and tender, exceptionally flavourful beans, bathed in the beefy fat, gently echoing the flavours of the meat.
 
What began as improvised cooking for one has evolved dramatically; the two boys spend all Sunday cooking elaborate meals for groups of 15, taking in requests from the neighbourhood. “I enjoy doing dabba because I would never cook these dishes for myself. I'm always looking at recipes and food blogs obsessively, wondering what something should taste like." It has also required them to push the boundaries of their culinary creativity and skill. "Fava beans are hard to find, but we found avarekai has that same buttery texture, and we used those instead. And there was the time we had to chop two kilos of ginger for a Burmese jin thoke salad.”
 
The menu is mailed out on Friday. Sunday is market day, and Monday is D-day. "But it’s all very informal,” Joshua insists. “We like to think we're cooking like our grandmothers did – remember those summer holidays, the house full of grandchildren, and they’d be churning out amazing meals every day for months!'
 
And in that spirit, the lunch dabba service is about generous, family-style portions and big, bold flavours. “Yup, there's nothing dainty about this. No slivers or fillets here,” he laughs. “It’s very insistent food, in that way.”
 
A dabba for one includes 4 dishes, and is priced at Rs. 500 per head. Pick up and drop offs of tiffin to be arranged for. You can place your orders by emailing joshua.muyiwa@gmail.com
 
This piece was contributed by Anisha Rachel Oommen, food journalist and co-founder of The Goya Journal.

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