Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shades of red and green...

Christmas came early for me this year!

Last week was fraught. Before I had even a moment to recover, I went from 10 sleepless nights surrounding my sister’s big fat Indian wedding straight into frenetic preparations’ for Amore’s Organic Gelatos launch. I was working on that almost single handedly, and juggling a million things besides. In fact by the 15th I was beginning to wonder how to hold on to my sanity. I was warming up dinner for the kids when the doorbell rang. I opened the door and I swear, if I had been the type, I would have jumped with joy!

Theyie was back!

A few seconds later, I did jump with joy (sometimes decorum needs to be set aside!) Theyie is Manager, content with my newly set up company, A Perfect Bite. She joined me earlier this year and had very quickly become a huge help with all the writing we had to do as a consultancy. At first I saw shades of myself in her from when I just began to discover food but over time I have found a kindred spirit in her. Any last doubts about how great we were as colleagues were dispelled by the surprise Theyie carried.

Those who know me know that there is nothing that excites me as much as new ingredients. Once people realize you are obsessed with food you are the happy recipient of all sorts of new and interesting ingredients but I can safely say, I have never EVER received such a huge bounty of new things to explore! Theyie had brought back a basket of ingredients indigenous to Naga cuisine!

Theyie had gone home to Nagaland and I had sent her off with pleas to bring back some Naga Chillies and other ingredients just like I do with anyone that travels anywhere. Very little is known of the 7 states that make up India’s North East, even lesser about their cuisines. Ever since Theyie joined me the closet culinary anthropologist side of me has been salivating over discovering Naga Cuisine through her. In fact I have convinced Theyie to give me and the readers of this blog an introduction to Naga Cuisine early next year.

And bizarrely I couldn’t help thinking how perfectly suited to the season the basket was. It was a study in shades of red and green! 12, T-W-E-L-V-E WHOLE Naga chillies sent out a siren call from the centre, daring, just daring me to do something about them as they angrily jostled aside a bunch of beans on the right and thrust a few Tree Tomatoes away on the left. But that was just the cherry on the top. Closer examination introduced a host of new and wonderful things; crab apples, different types of fresh green beans, all sorts of dried herbs, some dried nagas and even a variety of dried beans.

The woods were lovely dark and deep...
....but I had promises to keep...

Focusing on work the next few days with the lure of that basket in my kitchen was a diabolical test from the food gods! But finally, my commitments were met and I could indulge myself. I managed to pack of the Husband, the son and my Mom – in – law to the movies, to watch Avatar making all the appropriate noises. As soon as they were out of the door, Natasha obligingly fell asleep and it was me and my muse in the kitchen, assisted by my gung-ho but long suffering house keeper Shobha!

Like a recalcitrant child allowed to run free I tangoed with tree tomatoes, jammed with Kaffir limes (will tell that tale later) and cha cha’ed with a chutney of Crab apples and Naga chillies. What a fabulous time we had! 5 hours later my family walked in to a quiet house, spit-spot kitchen and me working at my computer – not a sign of the cooking concert that has crescendoed in 4 jars of preserves, a chutney and Berry pulav for dinner!

Coming up soon - recipes for Tree Tomatoes...!

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