It is always difficult when you keep moving from one place to another. Bereft of friends, you struggle through the first years, trying to maintain perspective. You then end up comparing the places you left with the place you arrived at and almost always find that the other side of the shore was greener. You also hunt around for friendly faces, the Indian in the crowd….and in South califonia, it is tough…with most Mexicans having faces somewhat similar to South Indians.
But the good thing is food, there are nice spices in hot Mexican food and you start to enjoy the fish tacos and all the other tasty items from the Mexican menu..
Soon you locate the neighborhood Indian grocer; you finally find that version or make of Greek yoghurt that is close to OK, you figure out the best brands in Atta and rice. Having got the kitchen in some order, and the mistress of the house settled with not many complaints, you then start to hunt for the restaurants. Within a year you would have covered all the Indian eating houses in a 100 square mile radius and would have decided that all or most are horrible. You suddenly start feeling that the ‘Nando’s’ in UK was by & far the best chicken you ever ate, after Sagar Calicut…
The other day we went to an Indian take out joint and they asked “Do you want Shak with your Roti’s?” I was wondering what language she was talking in - Gujarati? Marathi? Tamil, Punjabi?? Or was she talking of the ex Lakers ex Miamai heat player Shaq O Neil?? Or was it ‘Shak’ for suspicion (suspicion with rotis? – Then, I remembered my cousin telling me that she once had to clandestinely meet some lady behind the MacDonald’s to pick up her 100 pack chapattis in Ohio)? All of this did not make sense, till we figured out that it is the curry of the day and that it was a Gujarati term for curry.
Then she wanted to know if we were in the Chapatti club – I was flabbergasted, wondering what on the earth such a club does. Well some investigation revealed that you can order bulk Chapattis every week on the supplying Desi lady only after becoming the member of such a club. Thus you get wholesale rates for 50 or more, if not it will be retail rates, per packet of 10. BTW there is a chapati club in Belgium but you play music there!!
Problems started when we got making yoghurt at home. Using the primer from purchased yoghurt made it all gluey and stringy. Till my wife met a friendly Punjabi lady. She provided some ‘Desi culture’ and with that, complaints on the horribly gluey yoghurt ceased. So now we thrive on curd made using the finest bacteria from the Punjab.
By the way – at that time we did not know Inji Pennu – the food blogger. She had promised to be the Good Samaritan and send the curd primer to anybody who wants it, who would pay for shipping and leave a comment on her blog!! Now that is a great soul!! Inji, thanks, you also share a favorite of mine, Koorka kizhangu – she had researched that topic so much that we can now use the results to try & find the supplier in California!!