Columbia Connects

Columbia Connects is an annual tradition that brings Columbia alumni together for fellowship and networking and welcomes new graduates to the community.  

We invite you to take part in a variety of in-person and online events and programs where you can: This year our New York event will be online and open to the entire alumni population as part of the Columbia at Home series.

Free Webinar

Manal Kahi ’15SIPA and Chef Shanthini from Eat Offbeat will host an interactive cooking demonstration. Chef Shanthini will prepare Katarica Curry, a Sri Lankan Eggplant curry, and we encourage you to join them and cook along.

The program will conclude with a Q&A about the dish and about Eat Offbeat and its mission to share recipes from around the world.

  • Wednesday, September 23, 6–7 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Free for all alumni
  • Registrants will receive an ingredient list and recipe in their confirmation email

Optional Meal Boxes

To enhance your experience, Eat Offbeat can supply meal boxes, recipes, and ingredients in advance of the event.  There are three options you can choose from:

Option 1: Eat Offbeat Feast Box - delivered right to your door! (NYC only)

A fully prepared meal for those who want to try the dish, but don’t want to cook.

Option 2: Eat Offbeat Ingredient Box - (Date to order this box has passed)

For those who want to cook along, this box contains all the dry and hard-to-find ingredients for the Katarica Curry, as well as four other recipes for a full five-course meal. 

Option 3: Digital Recipe Cards 

A collection of four recipe cards for an entire meal delivered to your inbox.

FAQ's for Registrants

Q: Can the curry be used for meat dishes too?
A: Yes, sure. Curry can be cooked with anything. 

Q: Do you recommend a particular type of eggplant for this dish?
A: The graffiti or Sicilian eggplant.

Q: How can this dish be prepared keto, if the ingredients aren't already.
A: Remove the rice. 

Q: How many servings does the recipe make?
A: Four to six people. 

Q: How well will the food keep/freeze for?
A: Four days in the refrigerator and up to two weeks in the freezer but we do not recommend freezing it.

Q: Are there any good resources (Online or cookbooks) for amazing recipes like these?
A: The Eat Offbeat Cookbook - Kitchen Without Borders (available March 2, 2021)

Q: What are the options for the meal box?
A: The Meal box is a choice of either the chicken curry or a Vegan dish, both include the Katarica Curry as an appetizer. This option ships to NYC only. 


Katarica Curry Recipe 

The Katarica Curry dish recipe has been shared with you as your confirmation email, it is also below for reference.

Chef Shanthini
Fried eggplant in creamy curry leaf, and tomato sauce
Serves 4-6 as a main dish.

This eggplant curry is a crowd favorite at Eat Offbeat. The eggplant slices need to sweat a bit prior to frying, which helps them crisp up better. If you have extra hands in the kitchen, the two aspects of this dish could be made simultaneously. Like most curries, this is best served over fresh basmati rice. 


2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds), cut into 2x1-inch planks

2 teaspoons ground turmeric 

1 tablespoon, plus 2 pinches, kosher salt

vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup chopped yellow onion

10 curry leaves

10 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 can of chickpeas

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

cooked basmati rice, for serving

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


  • Sprinkle the eggplant planks with 1 tablespoon of salt. Let the planks rest on a paper towel-lined for 15 minutes.
  • To fry the eggplant, pour vegetable oil to a depth of at least 2 inches into a large stockpot or Dutch oven and clip a candy thermometer to the side, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F over high heat, then lower the heat to medium to maintain the temperature during frying. While the oil is heating up, line a large plate with paper towels. 
  • Working in batches and using a slotted spoon, place the planks in the oil. Fry until all the sides turn golden, gently stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, and then quickly remove them with the slotted spoon. Place on the towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the curry leaves and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and remaining 1 teaspoon of turmeric, then gently fold in the eggplant planks. Stir in 1 cup of water, another pinch of salt, the tomato paste, black pepper, chickpeas and continue cooking for 5 minutes more. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar. Serve over rice, garnished with cilantro. 

Manal Kahi Bio

Manal is the co-founder and CEO of Eat Offbeat, a refugee-driven food company that delivers authentic meals conceived and prepared by refugees who now call New York City home. Manal moved to NYC to pursue a career in environmental affairs, but the Hummus she found on supermarket shelves led her on a different journey. She co-founded Eat Offbeat to help New Yorkers discover authentic cuisines from around the world all the while creating quality jobs. Eat Offbeat has since served over 250,000 meals in NYC and has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, The Guardian, the Huffington Post, Newsweek, Fast Company, and others.  

Chef Shanthini Bio

Chef Shanthini - Chef Shanthini, or Shanthi as she is known in the kitchen, contributes an overwhelming amount of recipes and flavor to the Eat Offbeat profile. Growing up in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, she served as chef to her large family and, today, hundreds of others who crave her authentic curry recipes (unrivaled when it comes to Sri Lankan food in New York). With a deep appreciation for the sweet delicacies of coconut, rambutans, and mangosteens that she ate fresh growing up, Chef Shanthi’s recipes represent the multitude of distinct Sri Lankan ingredients Shanthi misses from home. She introduces many people to a gastronomy previously unbeknownst to them, and as a result, receives lots of rave reviews from customers.