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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Hello Kitchen. Hello London. Hello Home.

Hello Blog, Hello Computer, Hello High Speed Internet, Hello Facebook, Hello time-alone-to-write, Hello time-alone-to-think, Hello cooking-for-myself, Hello Cooking-for-my-husband, Hello cooking-for-my-kid, Hello grocery shopping, Hello dishwashing. Hello laundry. Hello making-my-own-tea/coffee/bed/breakfast.

Hello Kitchen, Hello London. Hello Home.

Yeah. That’s right. Hello. Again.

I’ve been in India, you see. Attending my sister-in-law’s wedding (Su, you’re maaaaaarrrrriiiieeeed!!! Yay!!!) And what a FUN wedding it was! In true Punju style, a veritable feast for the senses – music and dancing and people and booze and flowers and colours and lights and FOOD. Food of virtually every kind imaginable – Lebanese and Japanese and Chinese and Continental and Italian. And Indian. Of course.  Dum Biryani and Raan and Chicken Kali Mirch and Malai Kofta and Kabuli Channa and  Kababs and Tar Meat and Mirchi Roti and Tandoori Prawns…mmmmm.

So, eat your heart out people, cause I certainly did. Oh yeah.

I did other things too, you know. Lest you think all I do in life is eat. (And how right you are). But yes, I did do other things. Most definitely so. After all, folks, it was my sister-in-law’s wedding. And so, I successfully fulfilled all my required duties as the dutiful and compliant Bahu-of-Khanna-family. (It’s ok, you can laugh. I’m laughing too). No, but, seriously – among several other dutiful and compliant tasks worthy of Bahu-of-Khanna-family – I was handed sole responsibility of the auspicious and highly eminent task of tying the Gatbandhan for this delightful couple. It is hard work that, I tell you, tying that knot so tightly that there is no chance in hell it ever comes undone. Thank god for all the bicep training I’ve been getting at the gym.

Now Su and Gareth: you were probably blissfully unaware of this little fact, being lost in excited anticipation of the various activities that were to fill the happy hours of your wedding night.


(Oh and I don’t blame you, one bit. One should always be lost in excited anticipation of the various activities that are to fill the happy hours of one’s wedding night.)

I’m referring to the amorous devouring of Godiva and Dom Perignon of course. What else could I possibly mean? <flutter of eyelashes>


Pull yourselves together and attempt, please, just for one second, to get back to the moment in question.  And remember that it is your duty and your obligation to keep that knot tied strong. I speak metaphorically of course. Hopeless romantic that I am, even I’m not so foolish as to expect you to walk around your whole lives tied together by a piece of cloth. Even one tied by Yours Truly. But you know what I mean. So, since my wish is also my command (and everything is always all about me) – here you go: May you both be happily married always and forever. Partly because that’s the way it should be. But mostly because some part of the responsibility for your everlasting conjugal happiness rests on my little muscles. Kapeesh??

Anyhow. All that is well and good, and here’s to many, many, many years of happiness to Su and Gareth.

But, The Big Wedding – sadly – is over.

As I said to my mother-in-law, casually, on the day after the wedding – “I think, quite honestly, that you and Dad have committed a grave injustice to the world in not having produced an additional 5-6 children that you could marry off in such pomp and ceremony.”
She threw back her head and laughed.
Clearly she missed the point. Duh.
This is no laughing matter, you see. I mean I could certainly do with a whole week of uninterrupted fun, frolic and debauchery, every year for the next 5-6.  I think.
But it is not to be.
They had two children. Losers!!!! A measly two.
Both of whom are now married.
No more uninterrupted fun, frolic and debauchery for me.

But on that unhappy note, I’m sooooooooooooo sorry I haven’t Yummyami’d for ages and ages. I hope you’ve missed me, cause I’ve certainly missed you! Awwwwww!!!!

Not to make excuses, but I haven’t blogged because I haven’t cooked. And if I don’t cook, there’s nothing to blog about. No? Also of course, I find it trés impossible to write in India. For starters, you are NEVER alone. EVER. There’s always someone somewhere. Here and there. Around and about. It’s a country of 1.1 billion people, so that’s to be expected, I suppose. The problem is I can’t write unless I’m alone. Weird peculiarity, I know, but there you have it. And then of course the speed of the internet in my parents’ home would give the Tortoise (of the legendary “The Hare and The Tortoise” fame,) a serious run for his money. And finally, you’ve got to concede, this time was a most-special occasion and, I was way too busy practicing dancing to “Will you be my Chhamak Chhalo” and making myself look pretty (now, that’s hard work) and tying never-to-be-undone Gatbandhans. And eating. (Mostly eating. But don’t tell anyone. Please?)

And now? Now, I am home. In quiet, silent, polite England. Where you can hear a pin drop. Just me and Ranbir. And Sid at work.
But, I’m happy to be back actually. Cause true to the cliché, there really is no place like home. It’s nice to get back to my bed and my bathroom and my high speed internet and my laptop and the taste of my own cooking...

Or not.

Cause. (Brace yourself.) I. Think. That. I’ve. Forgotten. How. To. Cook.
Now you may scoff at me and tell me that’s not possible.
But I have.
I know it and my kitchen knows it. Deep in our hearts.
Because, you see I step into my kitchen and the gleaming white tiles stare me sadly in the face. As does my empty sink, glinting in the sunlight. And my strangely spotless pots and pans. And the unnaturally clear surface of my wooden counter top. All I can smell - everywhere - is Mr. Muscle.

All thanks to Sid who returned a few days before me. But of course. Sid, you bloody clean-freak. How do you stay married to me?

So, (sigh) I need to make friends with my kitchen again. Get reacquainted. Win back it’s heart. Show some love. Warm and fuzzy. And all. But... where do I begin??

I mean, the most poignant labour of love (To Kitchen, With Love) would be to cook Indian food. Maximum ingredients, maximum time, maximum mess, maximum taste. But I just can’t do Indian food right now. I’m Indian Fooded out. Totally. I mean, after the Dum Biryani and Raan and Chicken Kali Mirch and Malai Kofta and Kabuli Channa and  Kababs and Tar Meat and Mirchi Roti and Tandoori Prawns, could you do Indian food?

I think not.

So I fall back on the Old Faithful. Chinese Stir Fry. "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai", after all.
So, it’s Honey Prawns and Garlic Broccoli. Fresh, Simple, Healthy, Delicious.

Here’s what you need:

Honey Prawns

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried crushed red chillies
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp grated root ginger
- 2 tsp honey
- 500g (1 1/4 lb) jumbo prawns - peeled and deveined
- Salt to taste

Stir-fried Broccoli

- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 broccoli, cut into florets
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp soy sauce

Here’s how you do the Prawns...

Heat the olive oil and crushed chillies in a wok over medium heat. Add the prawns, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 5-10 minutes until the prawns are cooked. Add honey as your final step stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick. Serve immediately.

...and then the Brocolli

Once you’ve emptied out the prawns from the wok, heat some more the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic, broccoli and chilli flakes and stir fry for 5-6 minutes. Add the soy sauce, and season to taste.

And so, while I dig into a large serving of prawns and broccoli, I realize that my kitchen is alive with the aroma of chillies and burnt garlic. On the wooden counter top, are my cutting board and knife waiting to be cleaned; garlic skins waiting to be discarded; bottles of honey and olive oil waiting to be put back where they belong. The sink is full of dishes waiting to be washed.  Before me is a plate full of deliciousness waiting to be savoured.

It is a strangely comforting sight.
My now-familiar kitchen seems to smile at me in gratitude.
I smile back.

Hello Kitchen. Hello London. Hello Home.

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