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Food in ya belly! Dinner time in a social squat

8 Feb

La Otra Carboneria, is a squatted community space next to mercat Sant Antoni. Every Thursday they host a vegan dinner, open to all.

The food is tasty, simple and satisfying. The atmosphere is loud, friendly and relaxed. Yes you will stand out a little as a guiri but nobody cares really. If you wanted to dip your toe in the social/community/alternative living scene in Barcelona, this is a good place to start. They also host art exhibitions, a free shop (exchange stuff you no longer need for stuff you do), workshops and talks.

Go with a group of friends and get a table to yourselves, or go alone and perch at the bar. It’s all good.

Payment is by donation. Give what you can, a euro, a couple of euros or more. Beer is one euro.

La Otra Carboneria describe themselves as free space for people to collectively create and fight a city model which wants to sell everything. A model which treats people as little more than scenery in the ‘Barcelona Theme Park’.

Visit them at the junction of Carrer Urgell with Carrer Floridablanca.



Eid-al-fitr, the end of Ramadan and the start of food!

19 Aug

Eid mubarak everyone, it’s the end of Ramadan!

The whole neighborhood was buzzing last night. One long month of temper tantrums has ended at last. Praise be to Allah!

Men, think your girlfriends are scary on PMS? Bitch please! Try hanging out in a neighborhood full of cranky, starving, paranoid hash dealers. It’s a bit like going for a walk in a park full of rabid Chihuahuas. All bark and no teeth…..but my god there is a lot of yapping.

Yet today, I bet you could score freebies of these Dr.Jekylls. It’s all peace on earth and goodwill to mankind with beaming smiles and brotherly back pats. Their bellies are full of food and blood full of THC.

Personally, I’m out to score something way superior to drugs.

The Eid biriyani.

It is a thing of beauty.

Just remembering South Indian style biriyani is making my stomach growl. I haven’t eaten all day, and I can’t get the thought or smell of biriyani out of my mind. I’m going to get really cranky in a minute if somebody doesn’t give me some freakin biriyani!

Or I may just give up and make it myself. So here you have, my grandmother’s biriyani recipe, emailed to me by my mom with her annotations. I’ve added a few of mine.


(to be adjusted according to the amount of rice you use)

Rice——1 kg (2.2 lbs) approximately 8 cups ( Clearly a time of big meals for big families)

Oil—-1/4 the amount of rice say 2 cups (you can reduce this) + 1 tblps of ghee, (clarified butter) to add some flavor

Meat————————————-1 kg
Coconut milk—————————–1 cup
Lavang, (cloves)—————–12
Tej Patha (bay leaves)———–a few
Onions———————————–300 gms (sliced long)
Garlic———————————–250 gms (paste) (reduce according to taste)
Green chillies—————————20 slit
Ginger———————————-2 inches (paste)
Coriander leaves————————a few
Haldi (turmeric)—————– a pinch
cashew nuts—— 250 gms
Kariapatta (curry leaves) and salt to taste

Water/Liquid 16 cups (always double the quantity of rice): this includes the coconut milk and the water residue from the mutton cooked. Always measure this out in a separate dish.


Cook meat with salt and haldi and a little ghee separately.

Put the oil and ghee in a pot, add all spices, then the onions and fry till they are red, then add the garlic and fry a little. Pour the water into the reddened onions and garlic. Add the green chillies and ginger, a little coriander leaves, karipatta, and salt to taste (very important). I was notorious for cooking meals without salt

When this comes to a boil add the rice and a pinch of haldi and the cashews.

Wait till the water has boiled down to the stage where it is almost under the level of rice (you will see only a few bubbles coming through the rice). At this stage add the cooked meat, mix it thoroughly into the rice and then lower the flame to just a simmer. Put an airtight lid on the pot and check it every 10 min to see if the rice is cooked.

If you have an oven you can put the dish into the oven (this is how Patti does it)


The water quantity should be exact (i.e. double the rice, and should include coconut milk etc.)

If you add too much water you will end up with a soup like Patti did when she was young and thatha (my grandfather) and his friends had to drink the biriyani from cups!

Tip: Serve it with Raita, which is onions chopped and mixed with natural yogurt. You can also add grated cucumber and chopped tomatoes to the raita.

Bon provecho!

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