Home and heart

Indian cuisine boasts of incredible variety of dishes and wide flavours.


If the home has a heart, it must be the kitchen. 

From its warm confines come food and nourishment, sustenance for body, mind and soul.
 
Who does not remember secret forays into this sanctuary of tempting delicacies during siesta hours and ferreting out snacks for afternoon feasts? 
 
I well recall those occasions when I uncovered little that was palatable.

Nothing deterred, I embarked on rustling up something of my own. Those were days of iron stoves, fuelled by charcoal.

Small pieces smothered in ash were left smouldering for quick and easy relighting.
 
Heaping more pieces on the embers and fanning them vigorously made flames leap up.
 
Now it was time to place a bowl full of all the good things that one could lay hands on -- ghee, Ovaltine, cocoa powder, nuts and sugar—and stir the mixture until a rich and sticky mass was formed. Mmm... delicious!

Of course it was always a case of eat now, pay later. However, no amount of scolding deterred me.
 
The early introduction to tasty delights is only a small taste of delights to come. Indian cuisine boasts of incredible variety of dishes and it is not surprising that we are surrounded by a wide and even bewildering combination of flavours and seasonings.
 
Almost every corner of this land has a speciality with a distinct taste and twist of its own. On my bookshelf is a cook book that is made up completely of dosa recipes.

 It showcases no less than fifty-two of them!
 
The kitchen opens an easy way to achievement.

With just a bit of enthusiasm and perseverance, one can turn out mouth-watering dishes.
 
No repetitive or lengthy practice is required. The work is completed in a short while and the results are there to be seen and enjoyed immediately.

What is more, when the dish turns out well, the stress and weariness involved in making disappears.
 
There is the added bonus of sharing it with others.
 
Kitchen is the nerve-centre of many happy occasions.
 
No celebration is complete without a well-laden table. Indeed, as one friend remarked the other day, one may well forget the name of the bride or the groom, but not the lingering satisfaction of a sumptuous meal, well served.
 
It is a matter of pride that in our country exists one of the world’s largest free kitchens.
 
Run by the Golden Temple in Amritsar, it feeds approximately 100,000 visitors everyday.
 
Called ‘Langar’, it ensures that no one goes hungry.
 
It welcomes and caters to all, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The camaraderie that prevails here is both remarkable and admirable.
 
The kitchen is no doubt a place that satisfies hunger pangs, but how does it nurture the spirit?

Thousands of years ago, the Buddha, after a lengthy period of self-denial, learnt that one must eat to philosophise.

As an old song goes, ‘It is easy enough to titter when the stew is smoking hot, but it is mighty hard to giggle when there’s nothing in the pot’!

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