I've been in love with Indian cuisine since my first dinner in Philadelphia with an Indian family in their home in 1969. When I came to California in 1971 there were no Indian restaurants and I had to go to LA for most of my ingredients and spices. I began my hunt for authentic Indian and Middle-eastern recipies in book stores and and ethnic neighborhood shops in LA and San Francisco. I discovered books on ethnic foods and traditions and a world of spices and how they are used. It has been a wonderful adventure.
My favorite things to cook
A fragrant North African style couscous steamed over a traditional rich Tunisian stew and then flavored with a little rose water and cinnamon; Tikki Murgh (a spicy chicken curry)served with cilantro chutney, pakoras, home made chipati bread, bashmati rice and a cucumber-yogurt salat; two of my most favorite meals.
My favorite family cooking traditions
As a child I watched my mother and grandmother cooking oldfashioned American meals with gusto. In those days all meals were prepared from fresh meat, veggies and dairy products. My grandmother was the bread maker. We kids hung around her old wood stove for slices of fresh hot breads with creamery butter - mmm. Mom was the "chef" and pastry queen. I often got caught lifting the lid on the buffet servers to see what delights she had made for the weekend. Their cooking, baking and constant preparation of good food has stayed with me all these years. Seasonal pickeling and canning of fruits and vegetables was an essential to great dishes all-year-round.
My cooking triumphs
A Indian dinner for 15 friends which included 4 apetizers, 4 main dishes: fish, chicken, lamb and beef, each with complimenary chutneys, two cucumber salads, 3 vegitarian sides, rice and traditional teas. I started preparation on Monday and finished on Saturday for dinner that night which was spent with good friends from several countries who also migrated to California.
My cooking tragedies
In the early '60s I was given a secret family recipe for divity candy from a woman I worked with in North Carolina for two years. I HAD to have that recipe to take with me when I moved back north to Pennsylvania. It was the best I had ever tasted - perfect. She relented and I promised her I would never reveal it to anyone, knowing how important it was to her. She relented and gave me the recipe with her best wishes. As soon as I was settled I made a double recipe for Christmas. Disaster! I ended up with goop that tasted good but never jelled. I found out later that she had left one important instruction out. I still have not revealed this wonderful recipe to anyone else to this day.