We made a ridiculous amount of food! About 8-10 kg of channa masala, 6-8 kg chicken curry, 1.5 kg sprouted moong salad, 4-5 litre Saaru (Rasam), 3kg rice, 30 chapatis and 30 Gulab Jamuns. We had to stop at that and not make anything more. Because this absurd quantity could easily feed twenty people.
We cooked for twelve hours straight. Everything turned out well. Everyone loved it and, thankfully, took leftovers home.
Food has been an integral part of both my wife’s and my life, even before we met. My wife’s mother is a chef and I grew up in a home obsessed with food
. So when we started dating, food became a major part of our relationship. We discussed everything at length—herbs, spices, recipes, rituals and our cultures around food. We cook often—mostly for ourselves and sometimes for those we really love. To use a cliched term, since I’m not exactly Chaucer: cooking is our ‘love language’.
Speaking of my own food obsessed family, my mother is a South Indian and father belongs to the western coast of India. Their food, by itself, was different. Add to it the fact that they belonged to different castes, made our kitchen ‘diverse’. My mother’s family are snooty uppercaste Brahmins who swear by asafoetida for “umami” in their vegetarian cuisine—the same asafoetida which doesn’t grow in India and can only be imported from Islamic countries like Iran and Afghanistan. (Woah, veered too close to politics there! Irredentists of Bharat, unite!)
My father’s family on the other hand, are so pedantic about their cooking that some of them would bring their own homemade food at family get-togethers.
In many ways, being an Indian is having a strong inconsequential opinion about food. (And also, ‘throwing shade’ at those who don’t eat the same thing as you.)
All that said, I’m grateful to my parents’ distinct backgrounds; I can easily navigate through most of India and not feel ‘othered’ by food, at least. I’ve witnessed the politics around food, on both sides, from the inside. It’s not exactly delicious.
, who has travelled India more than I have and loves the uplifting flavours of South Indian food the most, wanted me to capture the food from both the sides of my family and we decided the menu together (which we didn’t really follow through).
The dinner was really special. Our landlords and their family are a fantastic bunch: warm, open-minded, welcoming and full of laughter.
We also went out for dinner with the parents of one of my wife’s dearest friends. They wanted to celebrate our marriage and treated us to a lovely dinner, a day after celebrating their own 41st wedding anniversary. It couldn’t have been more meaningful.
The love I have received from people who’ve met me for no more than 2-3 times, has made a marked difference in my outlook towards life. I think nothing matters more than being a decent human being.❖