Neelima’s Kitchen : The Journey Begins / by Bindaas

Kala Masala  | Daughters of the Solstice

Limited Artisan Curry Pastes

“Ayana” – Belonging to the Solstice

According to the Drik Panchang - Hindu Vedic Calender - today is Uttarayana, meaning the position of the tropical sun is in the midway point between the Spring Equinox and Winter equinox. This celestial point in the Drikpanchang for Waikato region and timing is specifically in relation to the activity of the Sun north of the equator today, it is  Shashthi TithiIn vedic timekeeping, a Tithi is a lunar day, or the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the moon and the sun to increase by 12°. Tithis begin at varying times of day and vary in duration from approximately 19 to approximately 26 hours.

For us today in the Waikato region, the influence of the tropical Sun from the North brings fragrances from the motherland of India, that is where my ancestors have written stories in the soil. And through my blood and soul they speak everyday, carrying information forward. That is the specific legacies, rituals of our tribe Mali. Their origins are unknown.  It is a relatively undocumented small and ancient community of farmers, who have been last recorded in Western region of Rajasthan in the late 1800’s.

Women would carry the typical marking for this tribe - a line of red vermillion across the forehead. Since they would be in the fields all day, the line is strategically placed on the third eye, blocking it from the harsh rays of the sun.

Alas, those days are long gone where young women of such rich heritage proudly adorn these marks. Modernization has slowly but surely been erasing reminisces of such antiquity, as the female has progressed. It is in light of these kinds of great losses of identity and information that the curry pastes have emerged. An artist’s attempt at studying, calling, experiencing and sharing information through time immaterial of a small slice of history, carried forward through culinary sleight of hand in Raglan, New Zealand. 

 Neelima’s Kitchen is a three channel matriarchal exchange between my grandmother Pramila Madhukar Girme (19th Apri 1933 – 23rd March 2013) and her daughter Neelima Borawake and me – the Artist via the medium of one time created curry pastes, which infuse ingredients of lunar/cultural/personal/spiritual significances passed down from 3 generations in Maharashtra, India. 


 My grandmother, Pramila was a lean, intelligent passionate woman, she was married to my grandfather when she was 16 and gave birth to my mother when she was 18 years old. And this bond continued as I saw the world through my mother’s arms when she was 32 years old. Ofcourse Kala Masala would be the first masala I used as Pramila's method was famous and many people in the community would order from her regurlarly. 

Batch 1

Kala Masala | Daughters of the Solstice
Limited Artisan Curry Paste

How to use the Kala Masala Curry Paste


2 Cups Chickpeas : Soaked overnight
2 Medium Onions
1 Medium Tomato
1 Bunch Coriander/Cilantro
1 Table Spoon Butter
1 Baby bottle of Kala Masala Curry Paste


Medium to High Flame
Heat the butter till it melts and add onions, 3 pinches of salt and sauté till onions become a little transparent. 5 minutes, keep stirring. Then add tomatoes and the entire baby bottle of Kala Masala Curry Paste.
Medium Flame
 Mix and stir till all the paste is completely integrated into the onions and tomatoes. Then add the chickpeas, mix for 1 minute. Add 4 full cups of water and one teaspoon of salt to the entire mixture and cover the pot.
High Flame
And cook for 10 minutes
Low Flame
Open the pot and mix to make sure that the chickpeas are getting soft. Depending on how you prefer the consistency of the chickpea curry, you can cook on low flame for another 10 minutes (which I highly recommend)

Once the curry is ready garnish with plenty of chopped cilantro, some pepper and a little sprinkle of lemon and serve.

Concept and Preparation of the Artisan Curry Paste

 Nityas and Tithis

This project explores the primordial female cosmic energy -Shakti through autonomy of the spirit via the channel of progeny during which the daily study and meditation of the Drikpanchang is a part of the ritual.   

Through the preparation of the curry pastes I am exploring this matriarchal string, as I consult the calendar everyday. It allows me to finely tune into the shifting energies and tap into transcendental philosophies, while gathering materials for my pastes. As I pull information from my cells and my soul in the kitchen, a talent that my mother has gifted me and one, which we have acquired from my grandmother, I follow the moon to lead the path. The 3 of us are in disparate spheres of existence, yet we are bound through our spices, our special talent for cooking, our individual orbits (including those of giving birth, life, death, past lives and karmas), and through the large volumes of people that we are famously known to feed for generations.

Pramila's Kitchen - Malinagar, Sholapur District, Maharashtra

Raglan, Waikato, New Zealand
***May 19th  | The Preparation Environment

The kitchen was being prepared on Upper Wainui road by Jasper - a kind Dutch who spontaneously decided to scrub down every surface with great vigor,
19:01:54 hrs the Titihi was changing 
Panchami-(Ruled by the Serepent, a good day for purging of poisons
And thus auspicious for cleaning.
Shasthi  (Favourable for coronations, meeting new friends, festivities, and enjoyment) 
Upon this auspicious change of lunar tide the onions were chopped in a cleansed environment and the first batch of artisan curry paste was made with a unique Kala masala powder indigenous to the Maharashtra cuisine eaten in the Mid-Western part of India. The bottles of paste were ready. We cooked it some of it for trial, and had a huge feast in the silver light of the waning moon.

May 20th  3:40pm to 5:00pm | At John Wok’s Organic Retail
For Sale 4 Portions of Kala Masala  | Daughter's of Solstice Paste
@ 8 NZD per bottle

Today the period of Shasthi will end at 16:27:41 hrs in Ralgan leading us into Saptami – The 7th Lunar day ruled by the Sun in the tropics, the calendar says, a good time to begin a journey. And I reckon a culinary one.

*** When To Cook
Kala Masala | Daughters of Solstice was prepared at an auspicious time. It was the beginning of Shashthi tithi after the cleansing of the kitchen during Panchami. Therefore this week’s paste ; created with spices brought from India will bring coronations, meeting of new friends, festivities, and enjoyment.  So be sure to call a good friend over for that meal. As well, be aware of the sun’s strong influence from the Northern hemisphere coming through your window, and how it is delicately balancing the darkness of the waning moon, as the spices sizzle in your home during this period of Uttarayana

Shashthi or Shashti (Sanskritषष्ठीaṣṭhī, literally "sixth") is also a Hindu folk goddess, venerated as the benefactor and protector of children. She is also the deity of vegetation and reproduction and is believed to bestow children and assist during childbirth. She is often pictured as a motherly figure, riding a cat and nursing one or more infants.  The worship of Shashthi is proscribed to occur on the sixth day of each lunar month of the Hindu calendar 

Until next week and next batch of stories and explorations.