Deciding our skills best lay in food, Niya and I donated a home-cooked, authentic Indian meal to our Section’s Annual Charity Auction. One week later, on a beautiful Friday evening, we embarked on a pilgrimage to Central Square’s acclaimed Indian grocery store, Shalimar. We were cooking for four lovely, “mild spice” friends, and our elaborate recipes called, amongst other things, for paneer, okra and paranthas. As we approached the storefront, the rich aroma of ground spices filled my lungs, awakening long-lost memories of Indian-store adventures in Leeds.
Shalimar turned out to be a magical place, triumphantly living up to its British counterparts. Tiny aisles overflowed with giant sacks of basmati rice, unpainted shelves groaned under the combined weight of black jars, green jars, tall jars, fat jars, translucent jars with curious insides and opaque jars with unintelligible labels. Crates of gnarled, ancient-looking vegetables littered the floor, bottles of Limca and Fanta peeped out from an old fridge and the fragrance of ripe, juicy mangoes permeated every cramped, crowded inch. Mmmmm!
We predictably OD-ed at Shalimar but, luckily, its prices were just as old-world as its produce and we escaped without much collateral damage. Once home, we hit the the Raj Kapoor playlist and divvied up the recipes. I got started on the yoghurt marinated chicken curry, while N handled the palak paneer. We also made raita (a yoghurt based cucumber dipping sauce, traditionally used to cut the spice of a rich curry), bhindi bhunjia (chopped okra, sauteed with spices and onions), steamed rice with cashew nuts and peas and paranthas with methi (fenugreek) and onion.
The meal was a big hit and, despite a debilitating food coma, we even managed to drink some mango lassi for dessert. Yay Shalimar! I can’t wait to go back 🙂