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Monday, 4 July 2016

Coriander and courage.

I like Indian food and I like to cook it too.A while back I found a book written by an Indian from recipes her mother had taught her.
Revelation?I should say so.
Since then I've acquired various similar tomes (some good ones have been written recently).Back then though I had the book but lacked ingredients.Supermarkets either did not sell what I wanted or sold them in puny amounts for exorbitant prices.
I Googled.Yes ,I could buy on line but I like to see what I am getting food wise.
I located an Indian supermarket some distance away and we made an outing of it.
What a revelation.It was a horn of plenty,a cornucopia.The sheer quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables.Very cheap and very fresh.
A sad little button hole of Coriander costs you over a pound in an English supermarket.Here you get three bunches big as bridesmaids bouquets for a pound.
It was my second visit and this time I needed certain flours,the long thin rolling pin and the board used as a rolling template.
There was a whole wall of sacks of flour.Large and small,all in glorious technicolour and all in Indian.Not the Indian on my list either.
No assistant and no idea.
Then down an adjoining aisle a short lady in a plain coat,wire basket in hand and pulling her shopping trolley."Excuse me" I said "I want to make samosa's,pakora's and bread but I'm not sure about the flour.
She halted her trolley,clasped her hands together and said " I use this one and that one".I put the flours in my basket and thought to thank her."what else is on your list "she said.She took the list and we went round the whole shop together.We finished at the boards and thin rolling pins."No"she said "better quality,better price down road.""You pay,I pay then I see you outside".
I did as I was told.Outside she strode along,me in her wake.She giving me cooking tips as we speed along.Once inside the shop she chose what she thought I needed.I put them in my basket and turned to thank her.
She had simply melted away.I paid and left.
On the pavement I paused to accustom my eyes after the gloom of the shop.Then a small figure came hesitantly from behind a display stand ."I just wanted to say "happy cooking""she said.
I took her two clasped hands and thanked her sincerely.Such kindness,two shops and all.
She went her way and I mine.Two women with cooking in common.I do not suppose I will ever see her again.
I came home and began cooking Indian food.I thought of her while I was doing it and smiled.
Time passed and my cooking carried on.Then the atrocities began People with bombs,guns,machetes.Horror in Paris,horror in America,horror here.Like most people I was shocked,disgusted and angry.
Then I remembered my friend in the Indian supermarket.
I began to cry then because I knew that while kindness and gratitude exists between ordinary people the man with the machete cannot win.


  1. I would like to live off exclusively Indian food if I ever became vegetarian, but it seems to take all day to produce a banquet which will be eaten in a half hour...

    1. There are a lot of dals and curries that you can make in a slow cooker-which is what I use.A pressure cooker is too much like Russian roulette.I have heard too many tales about curry covered ceilings and worse.

  2. What a wonderful post. It's truly heartwarming to know that - in this insane world - good people really do still exist. Who knows, perhaps you will see her again when you're shopping one day.

    I don't know much about Indian food, but I applaud you for learning about it and cooking it.

    1. Thanks for that Jon.
      I think there is plenty of fellow feeling about, its just that we are all wary/shy/diffident about talking to strangers,especially us Brits.
      I am guessing I encounter kindness/help more than some because I am curious or nosy about things.I take the chance and mostly it works out well.
      Should you ever come to London I will meet you at Euston station (London).Nearby is Drummond Street.It has lots of Indian restaurants that Indians use themselves.Two in particular are good and very reasonable.I will treat you to a feast!
      Now go and ring that piano tuner.