Monday, 24 November 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey to Indian green-chillies

What I have been upto this past week-ten days? Manic cooking!! So much that I feel the need to pen down this experience.

I am no cook. I have survived on pan fried noodles and anda-maggi whenever I had to cook. Yummy food is so easily available and at such a good price in India that I never felt the need to learn cooking either. Besides my parents who lived stone throwing distance spoilt me bad by sending even packed breakfast of egg-bread over to my place. So I never really got to cooking.

Past 6 weeks I have enjoyed the yummy food in Netherlands. All the Apple tarts and yummy salads. I felt home. Till last weekend when I went for the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey! Its a movie all about food and I found myself in tears as I missed both Bollywood and Indian Food. As soon as the movie ended I scurried to a nearby restaurant not expecting too much from the food ( i have had a bad experience with Indian food here ) but was pleasantly surprised by a delectable feast - daal, rice, paneer butter masala, palak paneer, naan, mixed vegetable, raita, pickle,papad.. mmmmmm.. and  all so delicious. Almost like a home cooked meal. ( I salivate even as I write about it ). I couldn't stop smiling. My soul felt happy. It might sound I am exaggerating but I am not. 6 weeks away from some good home cooked Indian food coupled with foodie-bollywoodish movie was too much for the foodie in me to take I guess.

Conversing with the restaurant staff in my beloved language Hindi was cherry on the cake. These little glimpses of India I see here make me unbelievably happy. Happier than maybe even being in India did.

The friendly restaurant staff also pointed me in the direction of the store which sold green chillies. Very few shops here sell the Indian green chillies. At least that's what a 6-week-old-in-Netherlands-me thinks.

So.. first thing next day I went to that supermarket to buy green chillies. A special shopping trip of about 4 kms just to shop for green chillies. And I found them there of course. Neatly packed in bunches of about 20. Each costing Rs 100 (lol). Seeing them made me happier than seeing my best friend would have ( I am dead if she reads this ). I have new found respect for green chillies now.

Once back home I googled some recipes, tried to remember all the tips I got from family on cooking and then started my week with cooking. Manic-crazy-non-stop cooking week followed. Every day I tried my hand at couple of new dishes. All that I relish. Egg curry, daal, malai kofta, stuffed capsicum, baigan bharta and more. Mid week I got luckier and learnt about this Indian Grocery Shop in Amsterdam. Since there are none in Haarlem, the city I live in, I travelled especially to Amsterdam to buy ata and besan! Indians will know what it really means. Imagine traveling from Gurgaon to South Delhi just to buy besan! Love for pakoris can make one travel FAR is my conclusion. I bought some spices there as well. Gladly I carried a big bag full of spices, enough to last 6 months, with me from India. I preferred to carry my beloved spices rather than few more clothes! (ya I am the aloo-puri kind of traveller. I travel with my food).

The week ended with some friends over for dinner and I cooked an Indian feast for them. It was the first time in my life I cooked a meal for someone especially come over for dinner. I feel a little embarrassed even admitting it. For Indian standards its beyond terribly bad I think, where almost every girl is an excellent cook and cooking for family and friends is common.

Its been a wonderful week just being adventurous in the kitchen. The house owner who loves cooking himself, feels his kitchen has been hijacked as he has not had a chance to cook for the past week ten days. The kitchen has now been returned to him. Dutch food will be a welcome change now for me too.

I think I will go back to my travelling and leave the kitchen alone for a bit. :)

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