Safwat Saleem x SAADA

Garam Masala

Artwork inspired by the search for spices.

Artist Introduction

Safwat Saleem

Safwat Saleem is a visual artist, graphic designer and filmmaker. He uses satire and art to bring to light stories of adversity and feels the most at home when making politically-charged satirical art.

The Story of Patel Brothers

"It was an issue of appetite, mostly. His meals were the places where this alienation became most stark, dinners like small marches of misery, with American flavors he found difficult to find comfort in— nothing like the khichdi or curries he had grown up eating. Where was rice flour? Turmeric? This was an era in which Indians had to stuff canisters of these ingredients inside their checked luggage."

Garam Masala

Dr. Krishnendu Ray

Dr. Krishnendu Ray is an Associate Professor of Food Studies at NYU. He is the author of The Migrant’s Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Household and The Ethnic Restaurateur.

J. Ranji Smile

"More discerning folks recognized him immediately. He was no prince at all, but a chef — and quite an accomplished one at that. Two years prior, he had grabbed headlines as Joe Ranji Smile, sometimes shortening the Joe to 'J.' He was a cook at Sherry’s, a tony Manhattan establishment, and he hailed from what was then colonial India but is today Pakistan. As an 1899 article syndicated in papers across the country surmised, this colorful man who dazzled diners with his 'curry of chicken Madras' and 'Bombay Duck” was 'the first India [sic] chef America has ever seen.'"

Artwork by Hanifa Abdul Hameed.

Early South Asian American Restaurants

Dr. Vivek Bald

Dr. Vivek Bald is a scholar, writer, and documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on histories of migration and diaspora, particularly from the South Asian subcontinent. He is the author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America.

Safwat Saleem x SAADA

Garam Masala

Safwat Saleem's new collection for SAADA, inspired by the search for spices.

About the artwork

Safwat Saleem

Safwat talks about his approach to the artwork.


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