I love pasta, not just the elegant frothy Italian white sauce types or the varied versions of red sauce or arrabiatas. I love pastas with an Anglo-Indian hint in it, the stews and endless crunchy vegetables (even veggies like zucchini and bottle gourd) that makes me feel less guilty of chomping down plates full of carbs. While cooking my lunch today, pasta with carrots, cabbage and chicken chunks I was transported back to my short but fulfilling relationship with Anglo-Indian cuisine and after battling with my mind for hours I decided to finally hit the “publish” button and give a tribute to one of the most authentic cuisines in the world, very rarely traversed outside Mumbai, Goa, Pune and few other places where you still find Anglo families deep rooted within their culture and speaking beautiful Hinglish while showering you with love and their variety of mouth watering food!
As a child and belonging from a missionary school with a lot of Catholic influence in my life, I have always longed for Christmas holidays more than any other festival. I would sit eagerly throughout the year planning my next Christmas gifts and the elaborate home cooked lunch where my teachers would visit and we would eat, talk and dance till night rolled in and ended my favorite day of the year. What made the day more special was my mother’s venture into the kitchen, she is an amazing cook but hates cooking, such was her war with kitchen that we would eagerly wait for an opportunity to drag her there until I began my journey there and she happily let the responsibility slide off her shoulder once and for all.
I have been lucky to have forged a strong bond with Anglo food no matter how brief the association was. It all began when I was dating a certain Anglo guy, let’s call him by his surname, Murray. Knowing each other since a long time and after dating him for a month, I moved in with him (and his family) to know Pune more and work at an events company there. There began my culinary experiences, learnt most of my cooking, appreciated the value of meals with the family and going out of my comfort zone to imbibe new cultures, people, food and a variety of other experiences that marked the beginning of discovering myself. While the whirlwind romance died out in a couple of months, it surely left memories of lovely afternoons etched deeply in my heart.
Living with the Murrays’ have been one of the most amazing journeys in my life, they taught me to love a person beyond any measure and accepting them wholly with arms full of affection without even knowing them properly. I specially miss the youngest cousin from the family, Jovi, who always waited till I woke up to come wrap me up in a big hug and then poked me till I got up to prepare breakfast and make her some too. She always had strict instructions from the big guy to make sure I had my breakfast since I rarely have them ( I am not much of a morning person at all-food or no food). It was simple yet it never bored me, plain white toast lathered in margarine with coffee. On weekends there were always sides of sausages, salamis and fried eggs that the big guy made.
Lunch and dinners were special affairs which were mainly made by Linda and Uncle Ronnie for all of us and trust me when I say this, we were a large number with a huge appetite. My personal favorites were spice mutton dalcha with mashed potatoes, kedgerees with potato and cheese muffins, masala fish, pork vindaloos, the pasta stew that I can never get enough of and an array of others.
Some dinners we had cuisine swaps where Bryan ( a half Bengali) would scream and nag till I wandered off into the kitchen and cooked him something Bong and big guy would help me, pass things or scrape things off the plate. One such dinner consisted of the famous bengali dish named loochi (poori made from maida) and aloo dum that managed to melt off their hearts and talk about for a very long time. Other times I made them Bong chicken curry, chilli chicken (not Bong), chowmein and a host of other food that held no significance infront of Anglo culinary brutes.
One of the most beautiful memories that I have from the Murray household is that of Christmas lunch. We spent an entire day prepping the menu. There was salad with peppers, apples and chickpeas, peas pulao and spicy chicken curry along with mocktails and cocktails. Starters were mostly pepper chicken bits, chilli sausages, paneer stuffed rolls and assorted snacks and wafers. We ate and danced, we ate some more and boozed our bottoms off.
Other nights went mainly like me returning from some event looking like a frail, wet, smelly cat and someone rushing around to shove some food into me and not just some food, something terrifyingly great like schezwan rice and manchurian chicken balls or pork curry-rice with fish cakes.
Some other great Anglo foods that moved me were salt pork, salt beef, beef-meatballs and stir fry, curried beef, pulled beef and their tangy and flavorful biryanis which are different from the North Indian Mughal counterparts and each has their own unique charm.
Teas were magnificent too where suddenly out of nowhere a slice of home-made fruit cake with marmalade would appear infront of your eyes and even though you sat lazing around the house whole afternoon, you would have no idea when they were made unless ofcourse you helped the novice (Jovi) on her initial ventures into the chaotic and therapeutic kitchen world.
Such was my short tenure at the Murray household that contributed enormously towards my gastronomical prudence and one that I can ever be thankful enough for!
The images have been used from Google images search options.