I also enjoy a nice outing to the Indian grocery store; I do my best when I’m there, trying respectfully to use the right words (atta instead of flour and never referencing a ‘curry’ since this is a crass Anglo-misnomer) but I’m also cringingly aware that they may think I’m pulling a “Food Channel-Poseur” and will be holding themselves up at the counter, screaming with laughter behind the Bollywood dvds as I leave …
(I do prefer to believe that my sincerity is not in question as I have been the recipient of more than a few whispered best-ways-to-do-this during my visits …)
Indian mothers throughout the world – Mummyjis, if you will – you have my utmost respect and admiration! I applaud the sheer time and love it takes to make just one Indian meal and the skill that is involved in making everything come together at the right time. We often joke at home that it takes two days notice just to make a proper Indian lunch – never mind dinner! (And to Son #2, no I still don’t think it’s necessary to rub the chickpeas through a sieve to remove their skins and this will not be happening in my world …)
Having said all that, help is available!
Published back in 2003, Vicky Bhogal’s now classic cookbook Cooking like Mummyji is still my turmeric stained go-to and the ultimate beginner’s reference.
I love the chatty, trusted ‘friend-over-for-a-cuppa’ tone of the book (Bhogal is a Brit-Asian) and her sharing of what is really being eaten in a Punjabi home seems like a important confidence.
The practical credo of the book is to de-mystify the process behind Indian cooking in a culture where no one seems to either measuring or writing anything down!
(You can read an extremely entertaining excerpt about tea-making on her blog).
The recipes are simple, authentic and they work; plus, the anecdotes and photos throughout are endearing. There is no question -Vicky rocks.
By the way, if you can’t make basmati rice – loads of people cannot, my informal survey tells me – this book provides a foolproof recipe – and it never fails.
When the rice separates as I draw a fork gently through afterwards [never a giant spoon at this point!] I feel satisfaction and pride every time.
As an aside, no one does a comfort food potato better; sinkingly soft cubes, fragrant and touched with a rich sauce.
(I’m looking at you My Mum’s Thariwala Chicken ...)
These spuds are like nothing else.