Look! HUSH Has a New Look

Welcome to the new HUSH Supper and Storytelling website!  In order to ensure that you are seeing the new site, please bookmark www.hushsupperclub.com.  If you still see the saffron and black, you are at the old site.  Click here to see the new site.  The URL http://www.hushsupperclub.wordpress.com will no longer be used for HUSH.

The offending black banner and heavy, serif font are gone, and a softer, warmer color palette has replaced them.  Since the inception of HUSH, I envisioned an Indian-style script for the name.  If you like what you see, please share your thoughts.  If you don’t, share anyway. Feedback always helps make HUSH better.

With the new social networking icons, it’s even easier to connect with HUSH on Facebook, Twitter, RSS and via email. On the Reservations page, there is a new form for completing the questionnaire directly online. The Press page has also received a pleasing facelift.  Check out the Washington Post article about HUSH.

Many thanks to Tiffany Profet, my talented web designer.  She is extremely creative, efficient and affordable.  I cannot recommend her highly enough.  To see more of her work, click here.

Coming soon, a new slider featuring posts and images, as well as some fancy graphics and a way to share HUSH articles with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and other websites.

A trivia question about the new look:

1. Why doesn’t ‘hush’ in the header have a line across the top?

Leave your responses in the comment section.  I will reveal the correct answer on Monday.

Seats Left for Supper this Saturday, June 26 at 7 pm

We have a few seats left and would love to have you join us this Saturday, June 26 at 7 pm.   Unfortunately HUSH mama was unable to join us this weekend, but the menu we prepared still remains.  It’s a special summer menu of organic, fresh, authentic dishes that honor the legendary street food of Gujarat.  We’ll have bhel puri, makai no bhel, pav bhaji, falooda, mango rus, chutney sandwiches, and dahi wada.  Don’t know what any of that means?  Come to supper and find out.  We’ll feed your curiosity as well as your belly with a spice tour and a thorough explanation of each dish on the menu.

HUSH uses only organic dairy, but will be adding as many organic ingredients as possible in upcoming suppers.  All organic ingredients will be listed on the menu.

Saturday, June 26 at 7 PM.  Donation $75

Please complete a questionnaire on the Reservations page to request a seat at the supper table.

Today is also the launch of a website design that we hope will play nice with all severs!  Will send more info about that soon.  For now, the URL you see might not be correct.  The correct URL for HUSH is http://www.hushsupperclub.net. Please bookmark that and ignore anything else that might be present while we make the transition.

The Seed of a Mango – Food Memories on Father’s Day

The seed of a mango is often the center of a conflict, at least when Indian children are involved.  My father, the family bully and later beloved patriarch of the clan, routinely won the battle over who got to suck out the juicy bits of a mango seed, leaving his 6 brothers and sisters crying and cursing.  A childhood of poverty forced sharing, or winning, at every meal.  When Papa emigrated to the US and his fortunes changed, he went from social Darwinist to generous benefactor. Able to afford cases of mangoes, he offered them to anyone who crossed his threshold.  There were the fruits themselves, mango lassi, mango rus, and mango pickle.  Summer meant sticky fingers and sweetness.

San Cristobal de las Casas. Municipal Market: Mango vendors

Photo by Wolfgang Sauber

Chicago in the 1970s was not the international food haven it has now become, so mangoes were not available at the average grocery store.  Finding Indian mangoes was impossible because of trade restrictions.  Mexico was the exporter of choice.  Having a medical clinic in the Mexican barrio, Papa was happy to barter medical attention for mangoes by the case.  He would take orders over the weekend from all his friends, and visit the mercado on Monday to fill his trunk.   My brother spent his summer unloading 15-20 cases a week from Papa’s car.  When friends would come pick up their orders, of course my mother insisted they stop for chai, and eat one or two of our bounty sprinkled with cumin powder and salt before they left.

Papa made sure we could eat our fill at every meal.  I’m convinced he believed that part of the ‘giving my children a better life’ move from India included mango prosperity.  I grew up without sibling combat over seeds.  If my brother and I both wanted to suck the center, we just grabbed one for ourselves.   We watched Papa eat all the cut up pieces of mango, only eating the seed at the end.  Seeds were never the appetizer, always dessert.  We learned the proper technique for getting maximum pulp without it sliding out of our fingers and plopping on the floor.  Good times.

I lost my father seven years ago, almost to the day.   On Father’s Day this past Sunday, I called my mother. We acknowledged our loss, happy that we have each other.  For dessert I chose the ripest, plumpest mango I could find.  I devoured the seed, licked every finger, and relished the memories.


THE List of Underground Restaurants Worldwide, Brought to You in a SaltShaker

The FuNK Eye, Bhavishya Kanjhan, http://www.thefunkeye.com

In the land of Web 2.0 there exists an eyes-wide-shut kind of secrecy that only spies could formerly dream of.  For example, if in the privacy of one’s room, a Gujarati Jain girl were to get it into her head that she wanted to start an Indian supper club, call it HUSH, tell the world, make reservations, find volunteers, screen strangers and be featured in the Washington Post, she could manage it all without so much as showing her ankles or sharing her surname.  Why?  Because in Web 2.0 land, a website, email address, Twitter account, Facebook page and a mask can still equal anonymity.  Bizarre?  Tell me about it!

But therein lies the beauty for the underground culinary sleuth.   Where only a few years ago finding underground restaurants involved a trail of bread crumbs, today hundreds are ready to be found on a computer screen.  Luckily Dan Perlman of Casa SaltShaker has done the heavy google searching for you.

(I)n Web 2.0 land, a website, email address, Twitter account, Facebook page and a mask can still equal anonymity.  Bizarre?  Tell me about it!

Dan started Casa SaltShaker as a blog in Buenos Aires before his venture into the underground, or behind locked doors (puertas cerradas) as they are called in Spanish.  When Casa SaltShaker turned into a wildly popular secret supper club, he abandoned the idea of unlocking the doors and starting an official restaurant.

With seats filled and his waiting list weeks long, Dan decided to pay it forward on the web by compiling a list of other spots where people could dine.  Others wrote in to share their new finds, and the list continued to expand. Today, while not the complete list of all things underground, Casa SaltShaker provides the definitive starting point for anyone looking to share a communal table with strangers in a strange home or a strange land.

The Casa SaltShaker List

Do you know of any underground restaurants that aren’t on the SaltShaker list?  Please share with us!



New Supper Dates for June and Celebrity HUSH Mama Appearance June 26


New June HUSH supper dates are in – June 26 at 7 pm. HUSH’s mama will be making another celebrity chef appearance at the end of June.  We have been busy preparing a special summer menu of organic, fresh, authentic dishes that honor the legendary street food of Gujarat.  We’ll have bhel puri, makai no bhel, pav bhaji, falooda, mango rus, chutney sandwiches, and dahi wada.  Don’t know what any of that means?  Come to supper and find out.  We’ll feed your curiosity as well as your belly with a spice tour and a thorough explanation of each dish on the menu.

HUSH uses only organic dairy, but will be adding as many organic ingredients as possible in upcoming suppers.  All organic ingredients will be listed on the menu.

The new dates:

Saturday, June 26 at 7 PM.  Donation $75

Please complete a questionnaire on the Reservations page to request a seat at the supper table.


Share Your Garden Goodies at www.AmpleHarvest.org


The tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cilantro, basil and mint are in.  The HUSH garden has been tilled and planted.  Now it’s time to cross days off on the calendar until cherry goodness can be harvested and popped immediately into my mouth like candy from the gods.  Yet inevitably the happiness only lasts a week before it becomes abundantly clear that even HUSH can’t cook up enough delights to honor such abundance.   Then the mad scramble begins to ‘share’ the harvest with friends and neighbors.  The response?  The apartment dwellers generally squeal appropriately with gratitude, but others are either at the beach for the next month or in the same predicament – too many veggies and too few mouths to feed.

AmpleHarvest.org is an organization that connects gardeners with local food pantries, allowing them to donate their extra produce.

Enter AmpleHarvest.org.  A generous idea for hungry folks in need of fresh nourishment at the local food pantry. AmpleHarvest.org is an organization that connects gardeners with local food pantries, allowing them to donate their extra produce.  Brilliant idea, made possible by abundance, generosity, clever thinking, and the world wide web.  Pay it forward today.  Visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org, find a pantry near you and start sharing your garden wealth.

If you know of a food pantry in your community that is not currently listed on AmpleHarvest.org, please register them so that they can take advantage of the campaign.

Ample Harvest’s website

CNN’s video about Ample Harvest



Food Democracy Now! Petition – Ask DOJ and USDA for more competition and fair practices

As I’ve said before, while HUSH is primarily about culture and cuisine, there will be times when food politics become part of the larger story. I would like to influence the way we think, purchase and consume, but a few suppers a month will not a revolution make. For that, we need to vote daily with our forks, wallets and mouse clicks. To that end, I signed a petition to ask the Department of Justice to help poultry farmers have a voice against monolithic companies who intimidate farmers into remaining silent.

We need to vote daily with our forks, wallets and mouse clicks.

I will let the superb organization Food Democracy Now! explain the rest. Please consider signing the petition.

Food Democracy Petition, click here

Food Democracy Now! website


Chickpea Flour Recipes You’ll Want to Spread Around

For me, the nutty scent of chickpea flour is inextricably linked to a bathtub. No, you have not accidently found yourself reading some kinky sex blog involving naked bodies and food fetishes. The memory is of a nurturing kind, with my mother as masseuse and chickpea flour, turmeric and milk as the healing paste.

Mothers across the Indian subcontinent begin the baby massage ritual as early as 6 weeks of age, combining almond oil and chickpea flour to stretch the baby, soothe the skin, and even remove hair. I can see my six-year-old self irritated and impatient as my mother would make a paste for me to use on my skin after a sunburnt romp at the swimming pool. She’d run the bath, cover me in dough, and scrub. Like so many souvenirs, the annoyance fades, and the love of mother to child shines through.

For me, the nutty scent of chickpea flour is inextricably linked to a bathtub. No, you have not accidently found yourself reading some kinky sex blog involving naked bodies and food fetishes.

Most Indian women use chickpea flour (also known as besan, gram flour and chana dal flour) as a common ingredient in homemade recipes for all manner of beauty regimes. The pursuit of loveliness involves besan, milk, yogurt, rose water, lime juice, almonds and turmeric in various combinations. The recipes are endless, but besan and a liquid are always the base with the other ingredients added depending on the moisture of the skin, freckles, acne, wrinkles, skin lightening, and hair removal.

Skin Cleansing -

  • One teaspoon of besan
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • Half teaspoon of honey
  • Half teaspoon of olive oil
  • Mix it well and apply.

Sunburns -

  • One teaspoon besan
  • Two teaspoons yogurt
  • Apply to face and let dry for 30 min
  • Remove with plain water

Skin Whitening - One of the more disturbing recipes, but a common one in a fair-skinned obsessed India

  • 2 teaspoons of besan
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • A few drops of milk
  • Make a paste and apply it on the skin
  • After the paste dries, scrub off

Do you have any yummy beauty recipes in your family? Feel like trying the recipes above? Please share your thoughts with us.


HUSH Storytelling

HUSH is where supper and storytelling meet, yet supper has outspiced storytelling at hushsupperclub.net. No more. Today marks a change in style, content and frequency at HUSH.

Frequency – HUSH is now a daily blog, adding an exotic aroma to your morning chai Monday-Friday. Whether your interest is the cuisine, culture, religions or politics of India, your curiosity will be catered to. Apart from all things Indian, thoughts on writing, food politics and design will also occasionally appear.

Content -  Along with a daily dose of all things HUSH, the new ‘Ask Geeta’ page will be answered the first of every month.  Questions come from readers and HUSH supper guests.  Any question is welcome, regardless of its simplicity.  I will try to get to all questions, depending on the number received.

HUSH Alumni –  Those of you who have dined at the HUSH supper table are invited to add an anecdote about your dining and storytelling experience on the ‘Your Story’ page.  Was there a particularly funny or fascinating fellow diner, or something else you enjoyed about the evening?  Don’t keep it to yourself. Share!

Style –  The HUSH website is going through a three part face-lift.  Part one came last week.  Next week, a new header, removal of the offending black font and other eye-pleasing additions will be added.  A contest in search of a new logo design will also be announced.  At HUSH, design is delicious.

Readers, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Geeta