Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Unscheduled Feast

Your reporter eating a samosa.

OK. It was scheduled. And had been for weeks.

But I had planned to be disciplined, or at least moderate. In the end I rationalized that I had had no February Feast. I was, until last evening, one feast short on my 12 Feasts a Year schedule!

When Nancy joined our faculty last year I enjoyed talking with her about her heritage. She's from New Jersey and she is a Sikh. Her husband is from India. I wanted to know about her traditionally arranged marriage. The results of that practice seems to add credence to my oft-cited principles of love. Certainly the obvious love of this young couple does.

Jagdeep, Avi, Nancy.

Why are there so many Sikhs named Singh? Does she know anyone who practices that strange (to non-Sikhs) tradition of wearing a dagger, for heaven's sake? One of our students, a Sikh, wears a turban of sorts. I wanted to know about that custom.

But, being me, I was most interested in the food!

I had discovered Punjabi food in 1968-69. My Asbury College (now Asbury University) roommate, Solomon Lasoi, was a Kenyan. Through him I became acquainted with a Sikh couple from Kenya who were studying at the University of Kentucky in nearby Lexington. And they invited Solomon and me to dinner with them at their home.

Terrell, Solomon, and Mr. Singh, May 1969.

I am always delighted to discover new culinary delights and was not disappointed. The curried chicken and rice and attendant dishes were delicious. I wish I had been keeping a journal at that time so that I could remember the meal in more detail. Ever since then I have been interesed in having another Indian meal.

So I found occasional opportunities to suggest that Nancy should bring a Punjabi dish to the next faculty pot luck. She replied that instead she and Jagdeep planned to have Sheila and me as their guests for a real Indian meal at their house.

The occasion of the first birthday of their son, Avi, served as the occasion for a big celebration for a host of their friends, relatives, and co-workers, including us, last night.

What a feast!

My absolute favorite, but an item that may have included my usual alloted Weight Watcher points for an entire day, were the appetizers. They are called samosas. It is a large triangular deep-fried stuffed pastry. The crunchy crust is fairly bursting with a spicy concoction of potatoes and spices and onions and who-knows-what. Yum!

Soaking up this audacious sauce are chunks of chicken breast.

The main dish was Butter Chicken -- small chunks of chicken breast swimming in a spicy reddish-orange sauce, served over basmati rice. This dish seemed very similar to what I had eaten in Lexington FORTY years ago.

I think the chicken should have been served over the rice. Since I am dieting I went light on the rice.

Side dishes included spicy creamed spinach dotted with small cubes of cheese...

I really liked the creamed spinach. (My mother will be proud.)

and, yes, spicy chickpeas.

Chickpea dish.

A thin tasty yogurt sauce was available to top any or all of these dishes, perhaps to moderate the bite of the hot spices. Quartered flatbread, itself spinkled with spices, provided a way to sop the soupy residue of deliciousness when the fork had done all it could.


What a wonderful treat.

Avi enjoying his birthday cake. I couldn't resist posting this. How well I remember those days with my toddlers!

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