My mother and I are in the kitchen on a bright Sunday afternoon right before Ramadan. Spices overwhelm our shared counterspace as my mother toasts and grinds spices for her garam masala, the ubiquitous Indian spice blend.
I’m squishing tamarind pulp that’s been soaking in warm water through my fingers—my mother assures me that the food processor won’t give the same results.
After years of avoiding learning from my mother’s kitchen skills, I find myself this year asking her to show me how to make tamarind chutney—a sweet+tangy condiment that’s only made during Ramadan at our home, that I eat in unhealthy amounts with everything during the month. It’s time I learned how to make it for myself.
Despite the lack of food consumed during the day, there is an eclectic abundance towards the end as everyone at home prepares their own favorites to share. Our family’s iftars consist of dates, almonds, a cool sweetened milk drink called sharbat, and a spiced fruit salad. There is usually some sort of deep fried Indian snack—my sister’s dahi vadas, my dad’s bhagias (always tending more towards onion ones), samosas (the flat, triangular kinds at my home) prepared en masse and frozen to be fried at a moment’s notice, kebabs. All of the snacks go fantastically with the tamarind chutney; many are lovingly shared with friends who live close by. [Read more...]