Mahatma Thali and Claire's Kitchen

Mahatma Thali and Claire’s Kitchen, an art happening by artist Manali Jagtap Nyheim was opened at the award-­‐ winning Ganapati South Indian Kitchen (Diners’ Choice Winner, 2012) in London on 17 September 2012 - 29 October 2012. Due to the demand and interest in the Mahatma Thali, Ganapati Restaurant continue to serve this creative food a year on.


Unknown to many, Mahatma Gandhi was passionate about food. He spent half of his life researching the ‘perfect diet’; a diet that would nourish the growing Indian population and that could be sustained by the nation. His books on food and nutrition, written more than 60 years ago, are full of insight (and ingredients) relevant to the challenges of over-­‐consumption, nutrition-­‐less food, and obesity faced in the developed world.


Mahatma Thali and Claire’s Kitchen is the culmination of a collaborative project between artist Manali Jagtap Nyheim and Ganapati South Indian Kitchen. It is a culinary-­‐artistic ‘jam’: Gandhi’s ideal ingredients are used by Ganapati South Indian Kitchen to create the “Mahatma Thali”; the Mahatma Thali was served on 17 September to selected guests – when the restaurant was transformed into a typical Indian eating space; typical Indian kitchen utensils (plates, bowls, tiffins) are transformed into art objects – an installation prepared by the artist that also involves sound from an ordinary Indian village kitchen; stainless steel eating plates with vinyl prints of Gandhi’s ideal ingredients in Malayalam are displayed, along with the artist’s recent mixed media works on paper.


The opening on 17 September 2012 included some 30 selected guests from media, the art world, food industry, and Indian Diaspora in London. Present were Shan Meclennan and Rachel Harris (Southbank Centre), Rebecca Heald (New Contemporaries), Vicky Bowman (former UK High Commissioner to Myanmar), Manan Bhansali (The East India Company), Vivek Singh (Cinnamon Club), Salil Tripathi (Institute for Business and Human Rights), and Smita Tharoor (Tharoor Associates), to mention some.


What’s the personal story behind the piece? Manali Jagtap Nyheim explains, “Brought up in India and now settled in the UK for over 10 years, I feel that the everyday cultures, traditions and values I grew up with are becoming distant memories. I find solace and bring memories back to life through transference artwork. In this case, I’m fusing Mahatma Gandhi’s politicised passion for food with the popularity and integration of Indian cuisine into British culture”. She also says, “Food scarcity is a pressing issue in many parts of the world. Climate change, over-­‐consumption and commodity trading drive this scarcity. I want to make art that speaks to these issues, but also to the wisdom of those who had foresight and offer solutions. As such, the Mahatma Thali and Claire’s Kitchen is a deeply political art-­‐piece”.


Widely covered by the Indian press, Mahatma Thali and Claire’s Kitchen has been called "a multi sensory exhibition” (Times of India) and referred to as “Mahatma Thali -­‐ inspired by the diet of the father of the nation”(Hindustan Times)


The Mahatma Thali becomes part of the Ganapati South Indian Kitchen menu for the length of the show. Proceeds from the Thali go in part to Art Affinitee, an organization that supports women artists in India – and its next annual Women Art Expo – that focuses on female infanticide/foeticide.

a multi-sensory art happening, involving the visual, auditory, tactile and taste senses