My community is disappearing. What once was a thriving community in the heart of Bombay is now vanishing; and with it, all our traditions and culture. In a city of 22 million people, there are hardly 5 lakh East Indians left. Or was that 5 lakh across the globe?
The salt on the wounds? When most people talk about East Indians, they’re either talking about American Indians or Indians from the East of India. It’s like we didn’t even exist. Ha!
With so many inter-caste and inter-racial marriages that take our world forward, our community takes a step backward. Yes, we are becoming global citizens, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our culture. Just because we learn new ways of living, it doesn’t mean we should forget the old ones. Well, at least not all of them! Some things are best forgotten, but some must be remembered. The concept is ‘Roots and wings!’, isn’t it?
Traditional East Indian Food
Most of us have been brought up without learning the community language either, other than a spattering of words, myself included.
Ask the younger generation of East Indians nowadays, and many of them might say they don’t know how to cook the traditional vajri curry or even the trotters khudi. Some may even laugh at the fact that vajris aka cow and goat stomachs or trotters aka goats hooves are considered a traditional delicacy, until they taste them and realize that they’re actually quite amazing.
I had originally planned on writing a piece about how a handful of East Indian ‘aunties’ make these dishes. But time just seems to pass with the swiftness of a horse at the races. And mom and my aunt are so busy caring for granny that they don’t have time to cater to the likes of me.
And so now, a few months later I’ve dug up some of the old pics of the East Indian dishes that my mom makes, with her special twist, especially her spicy chicken tope.
Here they are. No, I’m not going to write the recipes down. Just find any East Indian ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ (as they’re lovingly called’) and they should tell you. If you can’t find any, well, it’s probably because we are disappearing, isn’t it? If you find them, and they don’t tell you the recipe, let me know and I’ll write them down the next time.
And no, I haven’t found the pics of vajri curries or the trotters khudi yet. So I’ll be asking some ‘aunties’ to talk about them in a few weeks.
Yeah, that amazing dish of goats brains with a special spicy masala tastes amazing. It’s even more mouth-watering with my mom’s addition of coconut milk, cashewnut paste and cream. Have you ever tried it that way?
Crab Curry Masala
Everyone loves crab curry. Buy a dozen or two dozen fresh crabs from the market and salt them. Fry the crab masala and then add in the two dozen humongous crabs. Regular curry. But mom’s secret recipe includes adding in garlic and onion paste and slit green chillies. It adds so much to the flavour!
Mom also makes a better tasting version of sorpotel. Her secret ingredient, my homemade wine instead of vinegar? I absolutely love sweet sorpotel, as do most of my friends that gorge on her food. So different!
Okay, this one isn’t really East Indian, is it? But it’s made using the jungle khudi masala. I love the BBB curry. It’s so much better than eating them on a shig.
I have no idea where the pic of the whole stuffed roast chicken went. So here’s the pic of just the roast chicken thighs. Always tastes amazing with the kashmiri chillies, doesn’t it? Especially with the caramelized onions. And me, I just love those roast chicken skins, almost as much as roast pigling skin. Don’t you?
On that note, I need to go look for the missing chicken. Hopefully it’s not roaming headless somewhere, spilling stuffed liver pudding from its insides. 😉 Maybe we’ll catch up again sometime soon for other East Indian food? Maybe sorpotel pav?