Eat with Your Hands, a pop-up Indian restaurant in Towers Hamlets Cemetery Park, London, promises to offer an immersive dining experience — complete with spicy food, and yes, eating with your hands. The pop-up restaurant has come up for three weeks leading up to this year’s community celebration Shuffle Festival. The theme of Shuffle Festival this year is public and private spaces — something that the restaurant took inspiration from.
An Alien Concept
Chef Anjli Vyas, founder of Bare Kitchen, which works on raw food dishes, flew from Mumbai to cook for the occasion. “Does the way we eat change based on the environment we are in? Do we act differently, do we change?,” she ponders, Evening Standard reported.
The event gets all the more interesting since it is happening in London, a city where the concept of eating with one’s hands is alien. Foreigners are often baffled on their visit to India, and sometimes even disgusted with the ‘unhygienic’ idea of eating with hands.
At Eat with Your Hands, the diners are not offered cutlery so they ‘can feel their food’. It also features a group seating set-up to encourage conversation. For Vyas, food was always about ritual. “Having grown up in a Hindu family. My childhood was filled with memories that marry the two and so it was only natural that I began to develop the same rituals for myself,” she told Verve Magazine. “I soon discovered that each person has a different relationship with what they eat. Since I was a child, I have sought to savour every taste, smell and story.”
Hygiene is Important
Diners are asked to wash their hands, and are given rose-infused water, oils and balms. Says Vyas, “There is beauty in how we cleanse ourselves. Hygiene is so important in an emerging market like India. Living in a city like London is just the same. By asking people to slow down and wash their hands, they’re taking time for themselves.”
The project is a collaboration between Vyas and Hamilton, a fellow chef from India. Born and raised in London, they both work in India. While Vyas runs Bare Kitchen in Mumbai, Hamilton runs a farm fresh grocery store in Hyderabad.