Published by Sathir Dance Art © 2017
Pray | Eat | Love
Pray | Eat | Love
“Quite a few dancers I know are self-proclaimed foodies, but I am not one of them. I usually eat what’s offered to me, with few exceptions, and I’m generally content as long as food is not overly greasy, sweet, or salty, says Kiran Rajagopalan, who is currently based in New York City.
He adds that dance and travel have broadened his palate over the years, and always makes it a point to sample the local street food in any place he visits. “To date, I think Mayavaram has some of the best food in India – especially the streetside Rumali Roti, Gulab Jamun, and Rava Kesari freshly made in the stalls right outside of the train station.”
The dancer, who has just premièred his latest dance production, “Twin Rivers”, a multidisciplinary production exploring Hindu and Yoruba culture, music and dance, also speaks of delicious, multi-course meals he enjoyed in Indonesia, often served in makeshift restaurants with low-lying tables and benches on busy sidewalks. “When I was a student living in Spain, I used to survive off of €1.50 Döner Kebab pita sandwiches stuffed to the brim with falafel, vegetables, tahini, and hot sauce."
Kiran’s favorite food though is what he calls the Russian Roulette of street food – Pani Puri! “There’s always that chance of getting a shot of food poisoning, but it’s totally worth the risk for just a taste of those delightfully messy, tangy, crunchy, spicy, and sweet snacks!” Being a dancer in Chennai was often difficult, he adds; small victories and small disappointments were celebrated with a trip to Kolkata Chat on the bustling corner of CP Ramaswamy Road & Ranga Road. "I was wise enough to know that indulging in street food had to be done with care. I learned to never have it the week of a major show or between back-to-back shows."
Kiran remembers running to a Pani Puri stand in Cuttack immediately after a disastrous performance: “It started backstage when I discovered that the ceiling was so low in the green room that I could not even stand up. I was even more enraged that I had injured myself trying to dance around the random bricks strewn about on the stage. Without telling anyone, I grabbed a shawl and ran out into the street after my performance, the chatwallah never blinked an eye as I stood before him in my full costume and stage makeup, and he served me two rounds of the BEST Pani Puri I’ve ever had!”
Want to try your hand at making Pani Puri yourself? Link with recipe below.