When I was growing up in America (after coming here in 1994), my family and I weren’t the richest family around. It is actually quite a nice story of how we got to this point. Even though we would be struggling, we always had food on the table. It was the one thing that we had a surplus of. We are lucky enough to have a mother that always puts out food on the table – traditional or not. We were even more lucky because it was always so delicious. Even though we were poor, I was a chubby child because I loved her food (and fast food…but I matured! Now I shun it – for the most part).
Nonetheless to say, as cliche as it may sound, my mother is my biggest influence when it comes to cooking. I learned to measure ingredients by taste and by senses rather than having it pre-measured. I learned to experiment in the kitchen by watching her throw in things that she can only imagine taste good. 95 out of 100 times, it tastes phenomenal.
When my brother had to undergo a new diet that strictly forbids wheat, all-purpose flour, wheat, gluten, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, chicken, and tuna, it was very difficult to think of foods to make – especially dishes that he would enjoy. After many trials and errors as well as some frustrations and some hair-pulling, we finally got it down to a science. Now the whole family, more or less, follows the same diet because as it turns out, the majority of the family also suffers from high-blood pressure. So we also had to alter our food so the sodium wasn’t as high.
However did we eat anything right? Especially GOOD stuff?
Tonight was an example of something my mother made that all of us could have: Rice with shrimp, assorted vegetables, and some spices. The spices are the ones that made a simple dish very Indian…specifically, Keralean (from Kerala – a state in the southern part of India).
3. Green peas
4. Diced carrots
9. Ground chilli
11. Meat masala (a mix of cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, pepper, cumin, red chillies, etc).
12. A couple of sticks of cinnamon
Procedure: My mother and I are the same. We throw everything in the pot and let it cook for some time. She cooked the shrimp first for about 20 minutes then added everything else in. It was delicious.
My family had it with pickle – no, not the American Dill pickle. Indian pickle is almost like what wasabi is for the Japanese – a small portion of something spicy that you slowly incorporate with the meal. It is usually pretty spicy and very concentrated. It comes in different flavors – popular ones being mango, lime, lemon, and gooseberry.
I had mine with my favorite pickle – my mother’s homemade mango pickle. That recipe will be up in the later posts.
Welcome to India – where the cows eat hay and we ride autorickshaws everyday.