Anyway, the point is, I am. White, not stupid. I've learned a lot about my family's Indian roots over the years, but I still have a lot to learn. But, since yesterday was Ben's birthday, I decided to make him and his buddies an Indian feast.
As I was cooking (all FREAKING day), I took some time reflect on what I've learned about Indian cooking.
- The internet is my friend. Pachakam is my go-to site for Indian recipes. It makes me laugh, because the Malayalam and English are kind of used interchangeably, and sometimes I don't know what things are. So then I go to my Internet BFF google, and all is solved.
- If you're uncertain of your cooking skills, serve to your doting husband and white people. He will be too smitten and impressed with your effort to criticize, and they don't have a clue what it's supposed to taste like anyway.
- It's not true Indian cooking if you don't dirty every. single. dish. in your kitchen. And every utensil, and definitely every pot. Actually, there's no way (unless you're my mother-in-law) that you have enough pots in your kitchen to cook a full Indian meal, so go ahead and plan on washing a few as you go.
- The reason for the excessive dish dirtying is that Indian cooking requires cooking things (getting a pot dirty) and then cooking it a different way (new pot dirty) and then frying some stuff (new pot dirty) to add to it. Also, you don't just add spices. You roast them (dirty pot), blend them (dirty blender), and then add them to the recipe.
- Indian food has some WEIRD ingredients in it. The only thing you can get at Kroger is meat, potatoes, onions and garlic. Everything else must be bought at your local Indian grocery. I know you might think you don't have one in your area, but you probably do. And, if you smile and look sweet when you ask stupid questions, they will be more than happy to help you figure out what you need.
- Yesterday I made Sambar, which calls for Puli (Tamarind). It looks disgusting. You soak it in water to make disgusting Puli juice. Apparently, it's very important when cooking Sambar. Yuck.
- Another weird Sambar ingredient is called Hing, or asafoetida, or Kaayam. I have no idea what the heck it is or what it does, and it looks like bootleg medicine in the container. It looked so scary that I figured it was important, and put some extra in the pot.