Posted on November 27th, 2012
he first time I tried Indian food was in New York City.
While I looked for an apartment (half-scared of the city, I refused to rest until I found a studio in a doorman building; this decision nearly broke me and you may take from that what you will), a couple hosted me in their home. The husband was Scottish and had spent years becoming adept at recreating the curries he’d come to love growing up. I settled in listening to soul music and eating Indian everything on rice, the beginning of an education in all of the things I didn’t know about—one that continues today.
When I moved out, I didn’t begin learning how to food my new favorite food because I didn’t have to. There isn’t a cuisine that can’t be delivered to your doorstep in New York, no matter how high the rise, and so when I was feeling overwhelmed, sad or just plain hungry, I could pay $13 for a box of Lamb Korma and some naan and I was practically self-sufficient.
It wasn’t until we spent a year in rural Georgia while Marcel was a baby that I began to make small attempts at Indian food out of desperation. The nearest Indian restaurant was an hour away and, really, what other choice did I have? A friend had given me a cast-off Indian cookbook before leaving for graduate school in London but something about the book (maybe because it said “Indian cooking?”) intimidated me. I started with something accessible, a Curried Chickpeans with Vegetables recipe out of Joy and started chopping.
Ten years later and I can drive to an Indian restaurant again which is nice; the number of spices you have to acquire and assemble at home before melting your ghee remains daunting. I’ll never be one of those hard-working, happy curry-a-week cooks. It’s nice to know that, on the occasional Monday, I can crack open a cookbook that doesn’t scare me (Claud Mann‘s 13-year-old Dinner & a Movie anyone? This is his Predestined Cosmic Curry) and there isn’t a lot I don’t feel better about by the time the kitchen smells like an all-you-can-eat buffet at the corner of Lexington and 28th.∗