Guest Post: Cooking Indian with Jane

Indian food

Thank you to graphic designer, painter, and cook Ellen Cornett  for helping me kick off the new year with this story. Stay tuned for more on resolutions.

All last week I was asking people about their New Year’s resolutions. It was a mix of idle curiosity and looking for some suggestions. I hadn’t yet finalized my own.

As I was thinking about this, my daughter, Jane, and I spent much of a Sunday morning and all afternoon crafting an Indian dinner. We both love Indian food—I think it’s our favorite. We set out to make coriander almond chicken, cabbage with split peas, raita (a yogurt condiment), basmati rice, and naan. Some of the ingredients were difficult to locate and it was tricky finding an Indian grocery store that was open on Sunday afternoon. But perhaps the biggest issue turned out to be my apparent inability to understand what I am reading.

The cookbook we worked from was an impulse purchase from Costco—big and lovely with gorgeous photos of India, of the food and of preparation steps. But it would seem that one photo of a chicken dish looks pretty much like any other. We had decided on this coriander almond chicken, but I managed to read and direct us through the many step preparation of a marinade for cardamom chicken before Jane figured out I was on the wrong page. I hit my head several times, we rinsed off the chicken, and went ahead with the coriander almond recipe. 

The kitchen was wild towards the end of the afternoon. There was chopped cabbage flying all over, and the food processor was going nonstop, as were a couple frying pans and several pots.

Jane figured out how to shape the naan dough and I checked the recipe and heated the oven to 200 degrees for her.  According to the book, naan cooks for 7 minutes on one side, is flipped and cooks for 5 on the other.  After 15 minutes, our naan was barely cooked. Jane checked the cookbook. The naan should cook in a 400-degree oven.  Hmmmm.

We reset the oven and nibbled the barely cooked naan to tide us over while we finished everything else. I was feeling pretty giddy at this point, and Jane just kept looking at me and laughing.

Dinner came out pretty well. The naan was never quite what we’d hoped, the cabbage and split peas were okay—maybe a seasoning issue–the raita was great, who can screw up basmati rice, and the chicken (which Jane did without much help from me at all) was fabulous.

So I have my New Year’s resolution—actually two of them. The first is to acknowledge that Jane has grown up and is now capable and accomplished, and often better at things, even in the kitchen, than I am. The second is to slow down and pay attention to what I’m doing, be more deliberate.  And a third thing, which is not a resolution but an observation—sometimes things don’t have to turn out perfectly to be a perfect experience.

Image from this blog.

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