So, it’s been almost 8 months since we said goodbye. Not much have I heard about you these days. I’m assuming it’s a good thing for if it’s another devastating attack on your beautiful city that I have to come across, God knows how terrible it will make me and the rest of the world feel. No news is good news. Yes, let’s keep it that way.
Things are not going well here though. You see, we’ve gotten into a little trouble of late. Money trouble. And the unfolding of the real life dramas that headline the dailies these days are not making us any richer. Or better.
I think a lot about escapism these days. For awhile, at least.
Call me mad but I wish a black cat will lead me to another world where time stands still so that I can sit back and reprioritize my life before the clock starts ticking again. Sometimes, there are dreams of houses up in the mountains where different types of herbs grow in my garden and I will just wake up to smell them, have delicious meals cooked for me and sleep again until the next day. Oh, I dream of a pork noodle stall too, complete with black vinegar from Zhe Jiang.
On one of those dreamy days, I found myself in the library, looking at titles most familiar to me. The blue Lonely Planets and the compact (but heavy) DKs. Across the rows of global escapisms, I saw a tag that said Indian Food Recipes.
And that’s when I remembered you. You were a true escape. Not of those silly, dreamy Piscean shits. You were real. Your history, culture and people astounded me. Your food, oh my God, your food can charm even the most venomous of foodies. Just throw them your majestic Rajasthani thali and watch them go weak.
I took a few glossy ones, sat at a corner and decided that this was one of the best. Atul Kochhar’s Indian Essence.
The picture of the Laal Maas reminded me of the redness in your cooking. Red, fiery red. And that was one of the reasons why I loved it so much. I scrapped the initial idea of attempting a roganjosh and went ahead to adapt Mr. Kochhar’s Laal Maas recipe instead. Cooking’s more fun when it comes with reminiscence of the good times (and good food).
Of course, it was nowhere near the real thing but the spirit of the fellowship of the spices was very well contained. Imagine a combination of turmeric, dried chili flakes, ground coriander, cardamom, toasted cumin and garam masala raveled in the wonder of yoghurt.
I need to work on making the meat tenderer. And to remind myself to be sensible on the chili flakes as I am afterall, not Rajasthani.
In the morning after, sans the smell of herbs in my garden up in the mountains, I reheated the Laal Maas and made myself a pasta dish with more chopped coriander for a ting of freshness.
Jaipur, I hear you sniggering at this feeble attempt of your infamous Laal Maas and that you rather have me trying a Chettinad dish which I am more familiar with. But thank you for I know you mean well and that you just want me to not forget you and your wonderful people. And food.
You can be sure of that, my friend.