My bad back started a few years back after I picked up some heavy suitcases while returning from Goa, had an untrained massage at the beach there on my birthday, came back home and bent down to whack a cockroach ... ping!
Since then its been a series of intermittent painful stiff back moments, solitary confinements, life scarring experiences (MRI), unfashionable belts, acupuncture needles, homeopathic sugar pills, knock out pain killers, ginger steps and diathermy. The pain becomes fine for a while and then gets back like a nagging spouse.
The last two weeks have been ones of pain. Pain killers, diathermy, belt happened. But there was one thing which really worked.
Last Sunday I had friends over. Cooked four dishes. Not an inch of pain. Of course it helped that I am not one of Julia Child's 'servant less American housewives'. Having Banu to chop makes a huge difference.
Pain followed through the week.
Then we had another dinner yesterday. One of those who couldn't make it on Sunday wanted to come and have at least one dish cooked by me. One dish?. I don't do just one dish. So decided to replicate Sunday's menu - doi maach (which turned out well), Funghi Fellini (with spring onions and lime added this time) , kosha chicken instead of kosha mangsho as the group yesterday were not into red meat, pulao rice and remixed a Green moong daal made by Banu. Why mess with a winning mix?
I was not pleased with the consistency of my kosha chicken in the past. I used to use the pressure cooker. That worked well with mutton as one wanted to bludgeon the meat into submission. Chicken kosha became watery though. A fellow blogger had suggested not using a pressure cooker. So this time I used a saucepan on an open flame. It turned out to be sublime. Just the way I envisaged it. I felt like the way Satyajit Ray must have after he saw his favourite film Charulata for the first time.
Our famous veggie friend, the one who lost 35 kilos, and has avoided food after that, got excited by the mushrooms again. I was really impressed when he pointed, out after tasting the dish, that I had used lime juice instead of vinegar this time. And no pepper. I often guess the ingredient after tasting a dish myself. Didn't expect a vegetarian who was off food to do the same. I saw him in a new light. He sweetly said that the mushrooms this time were even better than last time's.
In fact their was another vegetarian last night who was a new addition to our dinner group. She has converted to vegetarianism. But loves the world of food and introduced me the Peter Mayle's amazing books on Provence. These book are highly recommended to anyone who likes to read travel stories centred around food. She got very excited by the daal which I remixed with some ghee, whole cumin seeds and green chillies. And got us a great selection of tarts and mousses from Birdy's.I am a sucker for a good lemon tart.
I just realised that the post was largely about vegetarians! What to do? The non vegetarians were watching a horror film, Paranormal Activity, in another room. I am a bit undecided on whether I prefer watching a horror film or stick my nose into a stinking gym shoe. Anyway I guess this makes up for the times when I call fellow food lovers and K smiles politely without understanding at the all the fuss is about.
Well to cut a long story short I had a good client presentation in the morning, then watched Kurbaan with some colleagues for an office farewell. Watching a movie in the middle of a workday was the high point as were the samosas. The movie was pedestrian and predictive. An equivalent of the spoofish Scary Movie series for terrorist films. Banu chopped, while I was at the movie. I came home and marinated. Went for a physio session. Came back. Cooked. Four and a half dishes in an hour or so.
Then a house full of friends, chatter and laughter, a bit of Teachers and a lemon tart from my Peter Mayle guru ... and my backache was gone.