Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cook Something Bold and Pungent

The first time my husband and I visited India we stayed with an Indian family who, although we didn't know it, had never hosted Americans before and were quite nervous about having us in their home. 

We were a little nervous too. We got on a plane in Chicago and 15 jet-lagged hours later disembarked in New Delhi. While we were waiting to our luggage, I saw a familiar sign and told my husband I needed to use the bathroom and would be right back. I walked in and then into a stall where I was greeted by two foot rests and a hole in the ground. (I have since learned that this is fondly referred to as a "squatty potty".)  I suddenly didn't have the urge any more. I turned around and watched a large cockroach stroll across the counter where the sinks were. Where have I come to? I thought as I rushed to rejoin my husband.

Our suitcases arrived (since it was a non-stop flight they should have, but if you travel with me I recommend bringing pjs, medicines, and a change of clothes in your carry-on because I regularly have suitcase no-shows) and we headed out the door to meet our hosts. 

Have you ever watched a movie where the camera walks through a crowd of gaunt, staring people dressed in turbans and salwar kamises? That was pretty much what it was like as we stepped out to the throng waiting for arriving passengers. 

They were behind a rope and we gazed at them hoping for a sign that read "Fleming". The crowd looked back at us without one smile. So we stood in the center of the roped off area feeling rather on display in our American clothes and pale faces as we scanned the crowd for some spark of recognition. After all, they had our photo. Finally we saw the small, hand lettered sign held by a couple in their 50s and we introduced ourselves and followed them out into the fog of India at midnight.

We had a wonderful few days with them before going on to visit other Emmaus Bible Course workers in other parts of the country. The thing that amazed me was the intensity of the faith of these people. We prayed when we arrived, when someone else arrived, when we were going to eat, when we finished eating, when someone was leaving, when we went to bed. Being a Christian is not easy in many parts of India and they recognize their dependence on God.

On the day we were to leave, the wife confessed to me their fears about hosting us. Then she said they had asked a friend who often has American visitors what they should do. His advice? "Leave the chilies out of the food." So, she told me, that's what they did...left the chilies out!

Wow! I had loved the curry dishes we had eaten with them, but my goodness gracious, they were hot! I mean hot and spicy! I was so glad they hadn't put the chilies in!

But we do love Indian food and Thai and many other bold flavors. For our anniversary in Colombia we always went back to an Indian restaurant we loved. I have brought spices back from India and have been learning to cook somewhat authentic Indian dishes. 

What does this have to do with family mealtimes? Well, November 8 is "Cook Something Bold and Pungent" day. So I thought you might want to celebrate with a simple recipe from the Tamil Indians who live in Durban, South Africa where my husband was born and grew up. 

Oh, but you might want to leave out the chilies!

Curried Meat
Fry 1 or 2 sliced onions in 2-3 Tbsp oil until golden.
Add 1 Tbsp your favorite curry. (Be sure there's enough oil so the onions don't stick.)
Add 1 pound cubed meat (beef, lamb, or chicken).
Stir to coat with curry.
Add a few peppercorns, 4 or 5 whole cloves, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. minced garlic, and 1 cup water. 
Cover and let it cook 30 minutes, stirring frequently and adding water as needed (you want there to be a sauce when you are done.)
Add 2-3 large cubed potatoes, 2-3 sliced medium carrots, and 1 cup inch-long green bean lengths.
Continue cooking until vegetables are done.
Remove bay leaves.
Serve over rice.

Have several (or all) of these condiments available to eat with the curried meat:
salted peanuts
shredded coconut
chopped canned pineapple
sliced banana
plain yogurt
diced tomato and onion mixed together

P.S. There aren't any chilies in this recipe.

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1 comment:

  1. Looks yummy! Thanks for sharing on the Healthy Living Link Party.



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