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I’ve never been to India, but I consider myself a curry enthusiast. And I’m fascinated by Indian cuisine. A month or so I spent some time in the kitchen with Mrs. Nimji, an eightysomething neighbour (of sorts) who just happens to have self-published what is now considered the bible of Ismaili cooking, having sold somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter million copies. I loved just being in the kitchen with her, watching how she toasted her spices and snipped her almonds in the button-up housedress she used as a full body apron, keeping her outfit immaculate underneath. She gifted me a jar of her own garam masala and my own masala dabba, a round tin filled with smaller round tins filled with spices, which is like the Indian version of an artists’ palatte. I’ve had it on my countertop, admiring it but not quite ready to delve into it until this weekend, when I got to hang with one Vikram Vij, who y’all mayContinue reading

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We went to Seattle for a few days last week for spring break. I had never been, and decided it was time to go, if for no other reason than to see something green growing out of the ground. The morning after we arrived, the first thing we did was hit Pike Place Market – the original Starbucks, of course – very cool to see the original decor, and the lineup took no longer than any other Starbucks, although coming out it was already starting to wind down the street. The market was – as the kids seem to be saying these days – totally beyond. Stall after stall selling tulips, overflowing their white buckets – a dollar apiece, or a dozen for $10. Curios shops, magic shops, book shops and candy shops, with a gum wall out one back door along a cobbled street for a dose of weirdness. (The gum wall is a back alley wall where people in line for the theatreContinue reading

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Fish and chips, from scratch! Easier than it sounds, and so satisfying – there really is nothing like it, fresh and crunchy from the hot oil. A great thing to make when it’s warm enough outside to open the windows! If you can get your hands on a bag of Billingsgate fish & chip batter mix, buy it and use it in place of the flour – if not, no worries. It will still be delicious. I made chips the easy way – using that new method I learned from Cooks Illustrated. I put them on, sliced the fish, dredged and fried it, and the whole lot took under 30 minutes and made a great many people very happy. I made a wobbly mayo to go with, using a generous spoonful of grainy dill Brassica mustard. And the mushy peas – boil peas, then mush them with a dab of butter, splash of cream, and salt and pepper. Yes, I realize it’s not authentic, butContinue reading

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