Most days, inspiration for cooking comes to me from my travels but I also cherish memories of the food that comforted me when I was a child.
I remember trying to watch and learn in what must have been one of the world’s smallest kitchens at my terrace home in Bradford. The capacity of the kitchen was one and a half adults and I was the half. Into this space were crammed pots, pans and the usual utensils as well as more exotic items as such as the lowyou (a heavy cast iron deep frying dish) tawars and strong metal or stoneware dishes for grinding masala
Everything was stacked, stored and arranged neatly around a sink and cooker that doubled as a work surface. Finding one’s way around this kitchen was comparable to solving a Rubik cube or playing chess.
I used to watch my mum conjure up the family feast.
Sometimes she would pound ingredients into a paste with her full body weight until she judged the texture to be just right. How she managed to crouch in that tiny kitchen! Her agility was a wonder to behold. I had to recoil to make way for her.
Other times I would stand on the tips of my toes marvelling at combinations of spices, fresh lentils, masala and funny looking vegetables including a firm purple khun that simply amazed me. I tried to make khun puri at the age of 5 and wondered why it did not taste like purple violets sweets.
Although my mum, must have been constantly on the watch for and anything likely to fall on me she allowed me to see the battered flat round Khun puris frying.
These days I am bigger and so is my kitchen. Nevertheless, my kitchen is still orchestrated and brought alive with the same discipline, passion and creativity that brought my first kitchen senses alive. The only difference is that it is now my mood that governs my menu. Tonight fish is shouting out to me with a spicy tamarind and garlic marinate served with some zesty lime bananas and baby rotis. Sounds just the ticket…..