Older. Wiser?

I guess my frequency of posting has slowed down with age. Had five posts in mind and yet didn't write since my birthday on Monday. This is a slightly self indulgent post. You can read all about it on this very warm post written by the lovely Sassy Fork. This is Jyotika's Facebook photo album from the night. And this is Manisha's Facebook photo album.

I was talking to my mom the other day about her post on our escape from Iran. I had mentioned about eating a very nice chicken curry and rice there. She said I was right. Apparently it was at the Dhaka airport on our way to London. It was a four hour break. We couldn’t leave the airport. So we ate lunch there.

The amazing thing is that I was just five years old then. But then I have food memories from even before that. Of refusing to eat black pudding at a seaside town in the UK. The waitress saying ‘how would you know if you don’t try”.  I was less than three then. She was right.

Of stuffing a pink coloured ice cream in a  cone that my mom bought me into the cupboard because I didn’t want to eat it. ODing on cans of grape juice. Caviar from shoe polish like cans while at Rasht. Crying one day because my mom had come late to pick me at school. Till they gave me the minced meat and rice dish meant for the grown up kids in the day section. Being taught how to peel the orange my mom had given me for a school field trip.  A bar of chocolate of a brand called Penguin on a trip back to the UK. First refusing to eat and then continuously eating for two days the pantuas or Bengali gulaba jamuns that my granny at Delhi made on my first trip to India. I was four then.

Coke, Pepsi, Penguin and rocket lolly-less Calcutta and a petulant 7 year old refusing to eat 'Indian food'. Fried rice, spaghetti and meatballs, fish and chips and chicken and chip and 'Spanish omelettets' rustled up by my Mom. 'Turkish Delight' by my dad. Year later I stood in a store at Istanbul and realised how much parents have to work on their children... usurping the name of baclava and sticky Turkish halwa was apparently the only way to make me eat fried lamb then.

Is this normal? Remember food from so long back.  Am I freak of nature? I guess birthdays make you pensive and reflect on life. 

While on birthdays, my first food memory from a birthday was that of the ‘Russian salad’ that one of my teachers got for my fifth birthday party at Rasht. My first taste of mayonnaise. My dad used to make paper hats for the guests and a paper crown for me on my birthdays. My mom had cooked Chinese for my last birthday party at school in Calcutta. K and I went to Goa for the last few of my birthdays. 

Bro trying to get into the pic. Mom cooked Chinese for us...last year of mid school. The haircuts more Mithunda than Bieber

Birthday at Iran

This year we were at Mumbai. K suggested throwing a birthday party to bring in my birthday on Sunday night. My brother’s birthday is a day before mine. While growing up we would argue about whether our common birthday party should be on his birthday or mine. K came up with the perfect solution. In fact this would see out his birthday and bring mine in. It’s another thing that my brother lives at Gurgaon now. And was ‘cleaning the house’ when we called him at midnight on his birthday.

I decided to cook.’ How can you cook for your own birthday’ some asked. But as Ash said when she heard this, “what better to way bring in your birthday than by doing what you love”. 

This was a rare party on a day where I wasn’t at work. It was Sunday. An excess of time to cook in. I waited for Bunkin Banu to come to work and then started. She made her kebabs while I pounded out the green curry mix. I have slowly got the rhythm right and it’s not as back breaking a dish now. Thai chicken green curry and a vegetarian green curry with broccoli, corn and shitake mushrooms for the two vegetarians. We won’t call it ‘Thai’ tough. Banu and I had intense discussions on how much rice should be the right amount. Vegetarians always stretch my imagination and this time the result was a Mediterannean themed aubergine and hung curd salad. A dish inspired by the baigan raita which a Malayali colleague’s mom had sent for lunch recently. A recipe I conjured as I cooked. (I’ll post the recipe soon. It’s very simple). And was happy to see the carnivores devour it later at night. Also on the cards were my microwaved and pan fried pork spare ribs.

Never had so much time in hand for a party before this. But the plan was not to cook when folks came. Except a little paneer starter –chop paneer into cubes, add chillies and mint leaves and sumac and pine nuts, microwave for thirty seconds – you are done. A hair cut, ‘extra short’ as the hair ‘stylist’ was off to London to learn how to do ‘short hair cuts for women’ and I was ready to grow older.

Then the gang started pouring in. At last count we had 3 food bloggers, a blogger  who bakes, a former food journo. Yet this wasn’t a blogger’s meet. Five Tweeps. Yet not a tweet up.  Two ex Presidency Sociology students. Two Xaverian’s. From two different cities. Two doctors. One market researcher. One former market researcher. One clinical researcher. Four ad folks. One who works in an ad agency but has designs on her mind. One film director, music director, musician, film writer AND singer rolled into one. Two ex Assembly of God students. From two cities. Two ex Lorreto gals. One ex radio jockey. Now being wooed by the Ruskies. A divine baker. A great photographer. 5.5 BengalisParsi. I Goan. 3.5 Maharashtrians. I Marwari Jat. Two Bengali mixed marriages. One sired by a third. Another match made in the blogosphere… in other words a usual Mumbai mix.

An evening of chatter and laughter. New friendships that were made. Thoughtfully selected gifts. Precious time taken out on a Sunday night, in some cases amidst distances to travel or engagements to balance. Some were caught at work or in flights giving more occasions to look forward. Cake smeared on the face by the wife at the stroke of midnight. No one’s ever done that to me before. The specially baked  Nutella cake too heavenly to waste. 
Slept late into Monday after the others left. The advantage of working in a company that gives you a holiday on your birthday. A day of food discoveries followed. The elusive Sancho’s and the first taste of authentic Mexican food. A soft taco that fired one up. A chocolate chicken mole that needs getting used too.

Dinner at the hallowed Golden Dragon. The lobsters in pickle and ginger elegant, the sliced pork and bacon in string beans lively and the Sichuan noodles off the menu passionate. The banquet with fiery Sichuan elegant, peppers almost made one forget that the dinner could have paid for two nights at Penang.


And I thought that a birthday outside Goa would have sucked. Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.