Birthdays come and go, but I reckon they should never slip by without a celebratory nod, especially when it’s your son or daughter marking a milestone. A feast was called for, so I brought in the big guns: chilli, ginger, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, coriander et al. Indian is our fave food as a family, after Italian (got to say that with an Italian surname!), so it was fitting to celebrate my son Luca’s day with a few bowls of hot stuff. Back in the day he traded lunches with Sammy Akuthota from Chai Lounge and Satya restaurants. Sammy got a great deal with ‘exotic’ pasta dishes and Luca got an exciting exchange with plenty of hot southern Indian stuff from Sammy. I chuckle when I think pasta was an exotic choice for school lunch 25 years ago, but, oh, it was. It makes you reflect how far we have come in a couple of decades.
For our lunch I made one of our old-time favourites, Cauliflower & Potato Curry. It’s from my cookbook FRESH which was published in 2000. FRESH went on to win the Lifestyle section of New Zealand’s premier book awards at the time, the Montana Book Awards. I mention this because I love how great recipes keep on being great. Yep, if you come across (or create) a great recipe, it can give you buckets of eating pleasure for years. The idea of recording favourite recipes in a small book seems outdated now (though I still do it) because a computer is faster, but there is nothing like those splattered pages in a book of handwritten recipes, or pieces of paper nestled within, to evoke memories. If handwriting is not your thing, type the recipe into the computer, print it and glue it into a small book, then scribble comments over the top each time you cook the dish. That way you’ll still build up a very personal collection of recipes to hand down to someone you love.
I’ve digressed … back to the feast! Along with the cauliflower curry, I made a punchy carrot salad, the coconut chicken curry I have been running on Shared Kitchen for a few weeks, because every time I look at that photo I want to eat it. I doubled the recipe so we had plenty for ‘laters’. I picked up a couple of mangos at a dollar a piece so served them with a tamarind dressing, made a couple of bowls of kachumbar (fresh tomato, cucumber, coriander, lemon and red chilli) and served it all with a big pot of steamed rice. Success. Peace and quiet for 5 minutes as everyone tucked in. And, even though it was Luca’s birthday, he served the food, and cleared the table and washed the dishes with his sister. That makes cooking for him a pleasure (all those years of training are worth it!).
We finished with a very un-Indian dessert: a rich and decadent chocolatey cake. Gâteau au chocolat We could have had a fruit salad with it, but, oh well, we were pretty bunted by the end of it and no one missed the fruit. And do you think you can trust kids to sprinkle icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) over the cake? Nope. They had a sprinkling fight. Oh well, they’re still babes at heart.