Cooking with Priya Mani: Stone Flowers aka Lichens

Images of Stone Flowers aka Lichens by Priya Mani

Back in March, 2021, there was a talk by Priya Mani on gathered, edible lichens from the Indian subcontinent. It is hardly imaginable that a lichen scraped off tree barks in the sub-Himalayan forests is the decisive and defining ingredient of what we know and imagine as “spicy-Indian.” Knowledge and use of stone flower that was for generations hidden in regional kitchens have suddenly found a nationwide use, albeit as a secret ingredient in readymade spice blends. Its lack of a specific aroma or describable flavour has meant that cooks struggle to explain its culinary role, yet noting its contribution to an extraordinarily complex flavour profile, sorely missed by its absence.

This will be an extension of this talk with the exception that Priya will cook these Stone Flowers (aka Lichens) live and has provided Stone Flower recipesIf anyone chooses to cook along, this would be a wonderful addition and would love your comments about your experience.

After the initial talk in 2021, Field Museum scientists Matthew Nelsen and Todd Wilhelm did a Lichen foray to the Indian markets in the Chicago area (likely on Devon Avenue) and will report back on their finds.

About the presenter

Priya Mani is a designer and cultural researcher working to create gastronomical experiences. She is based in Copenhagen. In her carrier, over the past 20 years, she has pursued the craft of culture, through textiles, technology and food. She is particularly interested in the human factor and has worked for over a decade in the area of design and innovation across industries. In the context of food, she has worked with large corporates and researched extensively on many aspects of food – development of traditional diets, choices, consumption, diabetes and obesity.

Priya started her career as a cultural anthropologist, living, studying and documenting the Toda tribe in the Nilgiris for many years. She worked with UNESCO Parzor, studying Parsi heirloom textiles and authoring the very first monograph on Parsi Zoroastrian textiles. She subsequently wrote as a textile scholar for Peonies and Pagodas, Parsi Textiles in the Tapi Collection. (Thames &Hudson, 2010)

Since 2008, she has led research projects for many Danish companies like on various aspects of food consumption, the culture of the pantry and cooking and its impact on health. She is the author of many seminal reports.

Saturday, May 7, 2022
10:00 a.m. Central Time

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