I am used to being in charge and in control of my kitchen, so when my son announced that he was bringing home an Indian friend who was going to cook us a meal, I waived between delight and concern. I love curry but I had never met this friend, and suddenly, there he was, on my doorstep, armed with a smile, and a bagful of food and exotic spices. I handed over my kitchen.
At first, I couldn’t decide whether to hover or leave him in peace and eventually decided that he probably wouldn’t want a complete stranger watching, so I accepted a glass of wine and retreated gracefully.
A while later delicious smells began to waft from the kitchen. Smells that I had never before experienced not even in the best Indian restaurants. I went to investigate and was welcomed with an array of colours, textures and aromas. “Let me take a photo!” I said but was told to wait, until the finishing touches had been added.
We were given a “snack” to try while we waited – chicken that had been marinated all night and that melted in your mouth at the first bite. The spices had been exquisitely blended. Next, came some chickpeas, again, seasoned in a way which brought them to life. This was followed by chicken in the richest of sauces the colour of which I have never seen before. The smell was amazing. A. was happy at our delight. This was Indian food that we would never find in a restaurant. This was made from a recipe that had been handed down for generations and was now scribbled on the back of an envelope. We ate slowly, savouring each bite, letting the flavours explode on our tongues. We were honoured that he had cooked it for us.
As we ate, A. talked about India and it reminded me of how much I love to travel. That night we were transported to India, by the flavours, the smells, the colours and the tales. When it grew dark I lit some candles and we sat outside to extend the evening.
“This is all we need in life,” said my son wisely, “Good food, good wine and good company.”
A. left the next day, leaving behind the spices and a promise to send the recipe by Whatsapp. I wonder what his ancestors would have made of that.