The recipe of this East Indian 'Bottle Masala' is not a closely guarded family secret. For the past four months, this musical concoction has been presented, with additional Polish, Bolivian and Namibian flavours, to an all-American audience.
Since January, Virgil Sequeira, 21, a resident of Vasai, has been representing Asia at the annual Singers Of United Lands (SOUL) programme organised in the United States.
SOUL is an organisation based in Michigan, USA, started by Marcus LaPratt in 2003 that brings together four musicians from different continents to make up a quartet every year.
A former student of St Xavier's College, Sequeira performs a medley of East Indian numbers in the choir format under the banner of 'Bottle Masala', an ingredient characteristic to East Indian food. "I use it to describe my performance because like the masala, the musical piece is a medley of native dance music," said Sequeira, adding that the performance never ends without the waving of the handkerchief in the air, East Indian style.
As part of the six-month programme, Sequeira has been touring the US along with three other musicians from Poland, Bolivia and Namibia and discussing their cultures by way of musical presentations and workshops in schools, colleges, churches, senior homes and cultural centres.
Before the six-month tour concludes on June 24, the quartet would have visited 13 American states, Canada, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia. "Many Americans tell us that we have seen more of America than any tourist and in a way that most locals have not had the chance to experience," he said.
Sequeira, who graduated in anthropology last year, believes that the tour has given him an opportunity to bring together his course of study and his passion for music, travel and East Indian culture.
"It is a big honour to present East Indian culture on an international platform. The feeling of seeing Indians hidden in the audience gives me a greater high," said Sequeira, adding that in New Orleans, an East Indian family originally his neighbours from the Vasai gaothan, drove down for two hours to listen to folk tunes. "I cannot imagine East Indian culture without the brass band, the wedding umbrella, the ghumat, the street dancing and Bottle Masala," he said.