Last week I told you about the terrific dinners we’ve been a part of with our neighbors. Back in December we went to one of the more memorable meals I’ve ever had. My friend Gita had prepared an Indian feast with different curries, eggplant to die for, soup, amazing rice pilaf, pickles. It was by far the best Indian food I’d ever eaten, and I think, much like Middle Eastern cuisine, the best stuff is prepared at home, with lots of love and care. My dear husband turned to me about halfway through dinner and made me promise to learn how to make this food.
Well, as luck would have it, I now have Gita’s cooking teacher, her mom, here in Beirut for a month and teaching me how to prepare her delicious food! From 11-1 each day, I’m going to be heading downstairs so she can show me her techniques and recipes. Today I learned how to make a basic curry paste that can be used with fish, lamb, chicken, beans, shrimp. She makes it in big batches, freezing portions in ice cube trays to be pulled out whenever she needs one, and given that it took about an hour and a half to make, I understand why this is something you’d prepare in advance.
These are things you can’t learn from a book – the way the smells coming from the curry change and evolve as it bubbles away. Why the order you add ingredients matter. Patience. Love must be in your heart as your cooking so it can be passed along to those eating it. Oh, and that ground tumeric from India is a much more intense orange than anything I’ve ever seen sold before (she brings huge packets of spices with her). I can’t wait to learn more! Tomorrow’s lesson – Prawn Curry.