Thursday, 19 January 2012

When west meets east

Look up, way up, and you'll find the Ganges River Goddess hovering over my old log house in the southern interior of British Columbia, a few miles south of Nelson.  And what is she doing there?  She's being ephemeral, visible only to the most ardent admirer, blessing my home with her cardamom bliss.

How did she get there? 

She was wandering around in the cold snowy land of Canada, looking for something to eat.  She must have smelled my cooking.  It's not really the same as in India, all sorts of crazy Canadian elements have been added.  Hemp seed, for instance.  Whaddya want?  We are talking about Nelson, after all, a small Canadian city where most Indian ingredients are readily available in the supermarket, despite there being almost no Desi people living there.  Nelson has an affinity for India, which must explain what drew me there in the first place.

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, I started cooking Indian cuisine, very badly, at the age of 13.  My earliest memories are of begging my mother to add a third heaping serving spoon of her Madras curry powder, with my siblings standing behind me, tears coursing down their cheeks, begging her to ignore me.  She occasionally obliged me, and taught me the wonders of whipping up a white sauce, adding her glorious yellow powder, and combining it with the leftovers from a meal that was too bland for me to eat.  Voila!  A cook was born.   By 13, I surpassed her: putting out tiny bowls of peanuts, coconut, chopped apples, sliced banannas, raisins, all sorts of jewels.  By 19 I found out that tinned curry powder was an abomination, and I was to report to the nearest specialty store, which happened to be in Flushing, Queens, buy my spices individually, and grind them to make my own masalas.  I'm back in Calgary now, and I'd better rush downstairs to my healthy coconut chicken, which must be stirred.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I've got a picture and blurb about my mother on the post "Mamma's Home Cooking."