Rita and Bina crossed paths at a project in Quinta da Vitória, Lisbon. Rita, an anthropologist, and Bina, a rehab resident - ground-level investigator and informant - have become unlikely friends and authors of an Indian-Gujarati cookbook. This was back in 2000, and the book materialized in 2016.
Rita Ávila Cachado, a researcher at CIES-IUL, specialist in the area of migration, transnationality and housing, discovered the Quinta da Vitória neighbourhood during an internship with Loures Municipal Council. She has dealt with issues associated to the Hindu population throughout her entire academic career, with research focused on the final period of Portuguese colonialism in India, culminating in a PhD on the relocation of the neighbourhood of Quinta da Vitória, where Bina was a resident. With fieldwork in Diu, Leicester, London and Maputo, it was in this Lisbon neighbourhood, in Portela de Sacavém, and partially relocated in 2002 in the Alfredo Bensaúde neighbourhood, that the idea of a book about Indian-Gujarati cuisine was born.
According to the author of the book, 'one of the interesting aspects of this case, and which made me want to compile this set of recipes in a book, is that Bina grew up in a vegetarian family and, by marrying into a non-vegetarian family, became knowledgeable in two divergent cuisines'.
The book Coentros & Garam Masala. An Indian-Gujarati cuisine in Portugal' emerged from investigation literally at table with a 'talented cook' who fed Rita Ávila Cachado's anthropological research. The book not only became a way of valorising Bina Achoca’s gastronomic culture, but also of informing everyone on various cultural practices of the Hindu population in Portugal, including recipes adapted to the Portuguese context such as 'cod curry' or 'Gujarati seasoned gizzards', not to mention the famous 'best samosas of Lisbon’ !
As Rita Cachado adds:
'Published at the end of 2016, this book arises from a project that has been gaining ground, between an anthropologist and her privileged interlocutor. Over the years of research with the Hindu-Gujarati population in Portugal, there was a growing need to return something to the population. There were several academic publications, but none for the general public. In fact, the process of collecting the recipes for the book did not correspond to in-depth work on material culture or food anthropology. Not being an anthropological work, however, it stems from a relationship rooted in an ethnographic context.'
In the European Researchers' Night 2017 there will be show cooking, similarly to what happened recently at the Lisbon Book Fair.