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Indian Tea Tasting: Assam

For India Week, we will be trying a different blend of Indian Tea every day of the week and giving our own opinions of it, as well as a little of the history. Today's tea is Assam.

We are on to Day 2 of our journey through the teas of India and on to Assam. Often used within the blend of English Breakfast teas, it is a stronger, fuller flavour than the Darjeeling we had yesterday. Whether you prefer that or not is just a matter of taste- it has split the office in half. Unlike with the more subtle Darjeeling, the stronger flavour allows you to add milk and sugar to the Assam without loosing its distinctive taste.

Surprisingly, just like Darjeeling tea is grown in the Darjeeling area, so the Assam plants are grown in the Assam area- the world's largest tea-growing region. To get its distinctive taste, the tea plants need very hot daytime temperatures, matched with a lot of rain- something the lowland areas of Assam are perfect for. 

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Dance in Indian Tradition and the 21st Century

There is a strong history of dance in Indian tradition. For centuries dancing has played an important role in celebrations and religious festivals in India. However, it wasn't until the twentieth century and the advent of cinema that it was shown to the world. 

A Tradition of Dance

It was the Indian film industry and ‘Bollywood' which suddenly put dance on the big screen. Song and dance are both absolutely integral to Indian cinema (far more so than anywhere else in the world) and this is shown off on a global scale, with Bollywood now the largest film producers in the world. Over 1,000 feature films are produced every year with an ever-increasing international appeal from Asian audiences residing in the UK and US.

Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the birthplace of Indian film and much of the present day mass marketing of Hindi language films still comes out of this entertainment hub. Over the years Mumbai has produced larger than life stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shilpa Shetty.

It was these stars roles in Indian musical films that made them the celebrities they are today. The melodrama of the script is interwoven with song and dance that usually consists of romantic love songs and complex dance routines.

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Indian Lunch Review Day 2: Butter Chicken Curry

As part of India Week, we are trying a different Indian dish for lunch every day this week. Each day we will be eating something from the menu at Masala Zone and will be reviewing it for you. Today's dish is butter chicken curry.

After yesterday's mammoth meal, we were expecting good things on Day Two of our culinary adventure in to Indian cuisine. On the menu today was butter chicken curry (as modelled in our very arty photo above), and it certainly didn't disappoint.

For £8.70 you can get India's version of chicken tikka masala, with a sauce of tomatoes, butter (unsurprisingly) and a top-secret blend of spices. Add in generous helpings of chicken and rice, and you've got yourself a lovely little meal.

Butter Chicken

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An Interview With Comedian Inder Manocha

As part of India Week we interviewed the brilliant comedian Inder Manocha about his heritage and how he got in to stand-up:

Tell us about your Indian and British heritage?

My parents are from India, although my mother's background is Iranian. I was born in London and have been to India once, to visit the Baha'i Lotus Temple in New Delhi. I have inherited more 'Indianness' than I probably realise. Even though I don't speak any of the languages, I feel very Indian sometimes: my views on family, the way I can express myself, my mannerisms. But I can also be very English.

What was it like being a student at Oxford University?

Inder on BBC

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Bollywood: Facts and History

For India Week we are focusing on Indian Entertainment, Music and Film today. It is impossible to look at such a topic without looking at Bollywood. Bollywood IS Indian entertainment in many aspects. So if you don't know too much about India's Hollywood, then here is a short introduction for you.

History and Style

Bollywood is basically the informal name for the Hindi Film Industry based in Mumbai, which is one of the largest centres of film production in the world. Although it is the largest in India, it is only part of the total Indian film industry, despite the term Bollywood often incorrectly referring to the whole of Indian cinema.

It all started way back in 1913 with the first silent feature film made in India, called Raja Harishchandra. Over the next twenty years the Indian film industry grew so quickly that by the 1930s, the country was producing over 200 films a year. It was in 1931 when Alam Ara became the first Indian film with sound, but not until the late 1950s when films started to regularly be made in colour.

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