Breaking bread together is one of the simplest and often most effective forms of diplomacy. With her pop-up dinner series “Third World Cooks,” Ragini Kashyap is using the power of a good meal to bring people together.

The 30-year-old Kashyap, who is based in Mumbai, recently told PRI The World that she has hosted several dinners around the world. The menu is derived from recipes from regions marked by conflict.

“We essentially eat good food, tell a few stories, and…sort of explore the conflict from a lens other than facts, figures and news channels,” Kashyap told PRI.

The radio show also visited a dinner Kashyap hosted a few days before India and Pakistan celebrated 71 years of independence. She focused the menu on Punjabi dishes as a tribute to those who were displaced due to Partition.

“We eat food based on the land around us. We draw borders on the lands around us and we otherize the people who live the closest to us even though they are most similar to us,” Kashyap said of the Punjabi-themed dinner.

The meals are lavish, eight course affairs that are served to about 15 paying guests. As Indian newspaper Mid-Day reports, Kashyap has a series of criteria to ensure the dinners truly represent a particular region.

Each dinner, writes Mid-Day, must “represent as many groups of people from the region as possible, showcase the food of different regions of the geographical area, comprise an interesting mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies, and lastly, truly reflect what people eat.”

Since founding the series, Kashyap has hosted dinners in London, Australia and Mumbai.


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