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I did it! One week of cooking Indian. By weeks end, I felt like I could maneuver in the kitchen with my cache of Indian spices (15 and counting!). Not only did I learn to cook 5 classic Indian dishes, I was able to learn about Indian culture and music with some of my online research. I am convinced that this week has done a few things for me. Like a real vacation, this virtual and real food trip to India has been the backdrop for some rich bonding.

For my last couple of meals, there were at least 7 others who offered their hands for the various tasks in the kitchen: flatbread making (kneading and rolling), sweet sticky dessert cooking, pot stirring, spice adding  (no less than 5 plus spices to add at any given moment), table setting, music searching (Indian groups and artists, of course!), prayer offerings (always including the people of India), and finally, eatin’ – what a treat!

There has been a lot of activity in my home and kitchen – some expected and some unexpected, but in both instances, the past week’s excursion into Indian food and culture has been exciting and pleasurable. Who would have known that India would become such a popular conversation among family and friends? Who could have foreseen how my culinary experiment would serve to help my family bond around shared food and learning? Who would have thought that family meals, music, and even entertainment would all take a turn towards Asia with a new historical curiosity and contemporary interest?

My personal favorites this week included the Curried Cauliflower Soup, Bhajias, and the last meal: Balti Chicken. Balti describes a way of cooking. There once was a place called Baltisan located in today’s Pakistan. Some food theorists argue that the Balti style of cooking originated in Kashmir (the top most position in the map of India) and was perfected in the British city, Birmingham, England.  Though there is some debate about origins, no one can argue over the popularity of this type of cooking. Reading about the Balti style of cooking, I couldn’t help but compare it to “crock pot” cooking – just about anything and everything can go into the pot, but with Balti, the difference is in the type of container or pot that is used!

Balti essentially means “a bucket”  in Punjabi, and the food is cooked and served in a two handled wok.  The combination of spices and aromatics contribute to a nice smooth, delicate taste ! YUMMY sums it up better. It was easy to prepare and easier to eat. Like a stew, you can scoop up whatever is in the wok with the chipatis!

I am becoming convinced that you cannot have a fantastic Indian meal without also taking some enlightening and educational trips into India in other ways. India nightlife and entertainment for our evenings included several Bollywood Hollywood films (downloaded instantly-thanks to NETFLIX!). My daughters and I particularly liked the predictable musical romances: boy-meets-girl-and-both-fall-in-love-by-singing-to-each-other. There are many others we still hope to watch. The family has already decided that one Saturday soon, we will devote a chunk of time to the watching (again for most of us) the movie about Mahatma Gandhi.

The Bollywood Hollywood Film Industry is located in Mumbai (formerly called Bombay). Mumbai is the most populated city in India with some 17 million people. Mumbai offers tourist goers attractions like outdoor bazaars, the Gandhi Museum, and of course the beautiful Arabian sea.

Still lots left to do in India. Cooking and culture takes lots of work.

Here is a preview of the next menu: CURRY! PRACTICE is needed!

Cod in Tomato Sauce, Golden Raisin and Cashew Pilau, Tomato and Onion Salad

Spicy Tomato and Potato Curry, Chipatis

Aromatic Chicken Curry, Bombay Potatoes

Vegetable Korma, Rice, Poppadums

Citrus Beef Curry, Basmati Rice

If there is one  reward for the week (I had many, but this one was nice) , it was the hug I got from my youngest daughter, thanking me for making it a great week. ahhh-bonding, what more could I ask for. Phir Milenge-See you later!

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