My grandmother (called chaachi by her siblings, children and grandchildren alike) was a formidable force in our family. In her white mundu, cotton top and large hoops of gold that dangled from her ears, she was ever the gracious, devout Syrian Catholic matriarch – Mother of 9 strapping lads and 2 girls, this was the real grip that kept the family, home, hearth and plantation going. Each of her kids regarded her with a mixture of fear, reverence and love. Each seemed convinced that s/he was the one she had a special bond with, her secret favourite. She had a proverb for every situation, advice for every concern, solution to every problem. What’s more, farm hands, cousins, neighbours..all sought out her secret Ayurvedic ‘green’ remedies to drive away pains, heal wounds and cure secret illnesses. To my young, citified eyes, chaachi was a rather intimidating figure. More the busy disciplinarian than the dada dadi ki kahaaniyaan type of grandmother, she was the last word on all things to do with farming, Catholicism, and upbringing of cattle and kids. And yet she was our last resort to get what we wanted out of our parents. If chaachi had agreed to a jaunt we had planned, no elder would ever have the guts to refute. Read more
Posts from the ‘Main Course’ Category
Having grown up reading, much of my cooking inspiration came from the books I read. And since most of that was European or at any rate western, all those tea parties, fairy food, jam tarts, lemonades and the like are to answer for my incessant desire to eat, cook, bake, experience western cuisines (and my girth). On the other hand, I always considered Asian food to be vaguely but politely uninteresting. How foolish, blind and delusional was I.
Honestly, I don’t know where to begin about Penang and food. This has been such an amazing revelation. The most incredible thing about the food in Penang is probably the beauty with which the different types of cuisines (Malay, Indian and Chinese) mingle to arrive at myriad variations of delicious ingenious dishes. The abundance of incredible fresh produce, mind-boggling variety of types and cuts of meat and poultry make, range of spices and a whole world of herbs make cooking in Penang an experience of beauty!
There are some days for me when NOTHING hits the spot like a really good Indian curry. Not a generic add an MDH masala curry but the real deal. Made from scratch. Like a good fish curry. Mom style. Red, fiery, coconutty, tangy…with shiny curry leaves, crackling mustard seeds and plenty of spice.