Tingama – pure love
My friend Piplu, who is a filmmaker of great repute, had a dream.
His dream was to feed his friends food cooked at home.
And he did his best. But beyond a point, it became really difficult.
After all, he has a lot of friends.
That is when he came up with the idea of Tingama.
A place where friends or even perfect strangers can eat food that is designed and created largely by his lovely wife, Munia.
And Tingama was born.
Beautiful name. Munia and Piplucall their son Tinga. And since most of the food is the creation of Tinga's Ma, it was named Tingama.
Tucked away behind a number of busy stores, on bustling Banani Road 11, up a flight of narrow stairs, past a pastel coloured door is Tingama. No signage. You will just have to know the place.
Still not fully launched, they are open on weekends only for now. On weekdays, they operate on prior reservations.
I was lucky to have had an invite from Piplu to have lunch there.
It was a Saturday, and a working Saturday. I walked up the stairs to a sparsely decorated ante room that leads onto a small terrace.
And at that very moment, you will get transported to another era.
An era when time passed more slowly. Where you could see a lazy cat lounging on the windowsill of the neighbour's house. Where the pitter-patter of rain was welcome and not frowned upon as the harbinger of traffic jams and waterlogging. An era where you could exhale and not worry about the next moment. An era where two friends could be themselves on a small terrace, under the open sky.
Another small set of stairs leads to the dining room.
My photography skills never do justice to the setting. No exception this time.
The room is decorated like a chic European café with tasteful posters and artwork. Beautiful lights swathe the space with warmth.
There is a single long rough hewn, painted table designed for community eating. It can seat ten people. Friends or relative strangers. Does not matter as the place influences a bonhomie among those who come to eat.
What can I say about the food when it is cooked with so much love and care?
Of course it all tasted great.
We had some scrambled egg filled samosa as starter. It took me back to streets of Sri Lanka where I had lovely short eats filled with scrambled eggs.
The menu was simple but not exactly straightforward.
There was plain rice with poto lshorshe, wax gourd cooked in a mustard sauce. Not a dish that you have every day. Not a dish that an average restaurant will rustle up.
There was a delectable, runny prawn malai curry, a lovely take on a Bengali classic. Small prawns and not the large ones, so you get prawns in almost every bite. Bright ochre sauce.Ideal for eating with rice.
The dal was simple yet gorgeous. Red lentils cooked to a lovely thick soupy consistency tempered with onion and garlic. Topped with coriander leaves, it made a statement of simplicity laced with grace.
There was an unforgettable goat meat dish. Mutton bafat.A dish native to the Indian west coast, and of Parsi origin. I am told it has been adapted in Mangalorean cuisine. A delicately spiced curry where onion, ginger or garlic did not take the centre stage. It was a mélange of spices like cumin, coriander and red chilli that held the fort with superb undertones of cardamom and cinnamon. Juicy, soft pieces of meat with halved potatoes. Stuff daydreams are made of.
Dessert was the creamiest, yummiest firni possible. With little grating of jaggery on top, this did not overwhelm the meal but provided a brilliantly fitting finale.
We also did a recording for radio there with my partner in crime, the very excellent Kazria.
Apart from the spices and techniques, what clearly stood out was the love and care that went in. The lovely people behind Tingama were there with passion, with dedication.
I wish Ican go again.
Only time will tell if I can.