The Spice Trail begins
It all started when 'Spice Girl', from Spice and More wrote to me here saying that she was coming to Mumbai and wanted some restaurant tips. I jumped in with detailed suggestions and then suddenly said, hey why don't you drop in at our place. Many mails later Spice Girl arrived with her husband and two children at our house in Bandra all the way from Sydney.
Spice Girl is a Goan from Pune who moved out of India when she was fifteen with her parents.They still make sorpatel and vindaloo though in the Southern Hemisphere now. Her husband Andrew, an architect, from Brisbane seemed to have gelled easily into the Indian diaspora and was sad to hear that we had not put green chillies in the shammi kebabs. Their two children were very sweet and well behaved. They crashed out in the bed, fatigued after a rough flight where the calendar girl air hostess offered tea when the kids were throwing up.
Us four grown ups chatted for ages about our lives, our countries, our food, writing, our cultures, mixed marriages, our jobs, our cities, our holidays... it hardly seemed like we were meeting for the first time. As Spice Girl said possibly due to common interests. The evening reminded me of my chat with Scarlett in Calcutta.
The gift of the MagiOur guests from Syndey gave the three Wise Men a run for their money with their gifts for us. Spice Girl had read my post about cookies . She baked a batch for me, sealed it in a vacuum pack and got it. The vacuum pack machine was bought just for this. And the cookies were my favourite type - milk based with milk, dark and white chocolate chips. Even Santa wouldn't pay so much thought to gifts.
I thought I would open them on Christmas. I couldn't wait opened them yesterday! A whiff of butter of surrounded the room immediately. I thought I will have half a cookie. I had two. And one more this morning. They are amongst the best cookies that I have ever had.
And that was not all. Spice Girl had asked me if she could get anything more. I casually mentioned cheese. Well now I have a treasure trove of varied cheeses from them. Enough to last me for a year. They had even got some soft cheese packed with soft drink bottles to keep the cheese firm. The customs guys didn't appreciate their sentiments and those had to be abandoned. Oh and did I tell you that they carried all this from Sydney to Singapore and then to Mumbai.
Andrew got an Australian wine, Pikes, for us. His plans of getting kangaroo meat were shot down apparently.
I couldn't resist the cookies but will open the cheese and wine by the Christmas tree on Christmas. Or will I wait? What do you think?
Our menu was largely Calcuttan. Banu cooked while I stood on one foot and directed. The hit of the evening was Banu's shammi kebabs. You could see the life flow back into the jet lagged couple, frazzled by Bandra Linking Road's Sunday shopping crowd, as they bit into the kebabs.
Banu's alu posto turned out to be pretty good. She is a good student. Our guests seemed to have taken to this novel dish. Spice Girl wanted the recipe.
The green moong dal todka tasted straight from the streets of Calcutta thanks to the Cookme tadka mix. Andrew, who earlier groaned at the mention of dal, liked it too.
This was topped off by what Spice Girl referred to as my 'special mutton dish', kosha mangsho. It was great to see our guests from overseas mop it all up with Banu's parathas.
Sweet Bengal's kheer kodom and nolen gurer shondesh helped us finish their orientation to Calcuttan food in Mumbai in a sweet way.
Yes, yes, the shammi kebabs were a Muslim Mumbai treat and we had a Mumbai Bawi hosting us through her fever. The Knife's angels?
I drew up a South Mumbai travel plan for our Aussie friends for the next day. Don't know how it went yet but Spice Girl did text me that they had a lovely lunch at Britannia, a place I recommended for Parsi food. They managed to get Raspberries too apparently.
And hopefully Chitrita Banerjee's Eating India would be a good companion as they explore India.The evening brought back memories of Durga Puja 1981 or 82 in Calcutta. I had invited my Polish classmate Robert home for lunch. My dad had arranged for special khichudi from the Puja and local gifts (batik shirts, saris) for Robert, his brother and his parents.
The next dinner at our place is on the 25th. We are planning to order Goan food from Candies. The guest list includes two bloggers I haven't met so far. Couple of friends from 'real' life. And a couple whom I first new through the virtual world of Orkut.
Gosh it's difficult to keep count of the number of wonderful people that I have got to know through blogging.