A story of love, loss and second chances by Nikita Singh, releasing this Valentine’s Day.
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An Indian woman staying in Denmark talks about a Danish birthday party, that turned Indian!
“What! 10 point menu? Are you serious?”
Our stay in Denmark just turned a year old and what better way to mark the day than attending a Danish birthday party. I was way too excited about the party, given the opportunity of devouring typical Danish cuisines and socializing with the Danes. A Danish birthday party is all about a close family get together where a sumptuous lunch is enjoyed with an accompanying glass of wine.
“The ‘Birthday Man’ loves Indian food and he wants to prepare a typical full course Indian meal to serve his guests. He had brought his ‘little box full of goodness’ to show us today in which he has collected the different ‘Indian Spices’ brought from the numerous India trips he has made in the last year,” said Sudeep soon after telling me about the birthday invite.
“Okay.” That was the only word I could manage looking pensively at him as he finished the sentence. “But why was he showing his ‘collection’ to you?” I quickly asked silently concealing my fears.
Sudeep pulled out the 10-point menu from his laptop bag which the ‘Birthday Man’ had proposed serving his guests.
Sudeep pulled out the 10-point menu from his laptop bag which the ‘Birthday Man’ had proposed serving his guests. “He wants us to come to the party, a little early so that we can help him make all the dishes.”
Trust me I am a god fearing, country loving Indian living abroad, but the idea of putting together a ’10-point Indian menu’ made me hate myself. “Why he wants an Indian palate and why am I an Indian?” I thought; something that I never did; not even when the country was governed by a knowledgeable puppet who refused to smile for a decade.
“He wants us to make the Dosa, Sambhar with three types of chutneys, three varieties of Paranthas, vegetable Pulao, Lamb Curry, Karahi Chicken, Raita, Beef Rolls, Shahi Paneer, Jeera Aaloo” Sudeep continued. “And yes can you please make a nice birthday cake for him; I promised him that you will!”
“Why do you make promises without even asking me?
“Why do you make promises without even asking me? And whose party is it anyway?” I snapped realizing my dream of relishing a Danish meal being washed away.
“He will make the butternut squash,” Sudeep said smilingly.
I hate cooking more so because of the foreplay that is involved before preparing a meal three times a day since the past 5 years of NRI living. Oh! how I miss my cook back home when I used to act like the ‘trophy’ cook making a dish or two in the entire week while finding fault in hers’ the rest of the time.
It was a tiring day at the supermarket getting hold of all the ingredients especially the ‘Paneer’. However, I managed to accumulate whatever was necessary for the D-day, made the ‘Dosa’ batter and the cake and set the jelly for the ‘Lego’ figurines I planned to put on the cake.
As the clock struck 6 in the morning, I frantically brushed aside my blanket and hurried to see whether the ‘Lego Jelly Figures’ had set. Finding success, I quickly gave some finishing touches to the cake and got ready for the busy day ahead.
So the pleasantries were exchanged and we quickly rolled our sleeves to get our hands dirty for the mammoth task that lay ahead for the day.
So the pleasantries were exchanged and we quickly rolled our sleeves to get our hands dirty for the mammoth task that lay ahead for the day. The guests would be coming in in the next 3 hours. We cursed the couple of wrong turns that we took while we made the 1½ hours journey to the ‘Birthday Man’s’ place which stole away a precious hour from our stipulated cooking time.
“Oh! man, we have forgotten the batter!” I exclaimed. The batter was still fermenting inside the oven while we had already reached our destination and doing away with the shoes. So poor Sudeep had to make another trip back and forth to get the batter! I desperately asked him can we do away with it as we already have too many items on the menu!
“No, we can’t,” he said patiently. “He wants to eat Dosa”.
“But we still do not have the lentils to make the Sambhar, so what is the big deal if we strike off two items from the list?” I argued.
“It is his birthday dear and he wants to,” Sudeep said ending the conversation.
“Yeah right it is his birthday, his party and we are being held hostage!”
“Yeah right it is his birthday, his party and we are being held hostage!” I thought.
Finally, we managed to get all the dishes out on the table for the guests to enjoy. In the meantime, we were still circling the ‘Dosas’ to be served hot and crispy. In the stipulated time frame, the ‘hosts’ and the ‘pseudo hosts’ had successfully dished out a 15-course Indian meal enough to suffice at least 30-40 adults.
“I do not want to go home now,” said a reluctant five-year-old who was the only one among the pseudo hosts who had enjoyed the birthday party playing happily with the host’s children.
“We have to sweetheart,” I said wryly.
“The next time, you all will sit and I will prepare the food for you and of course I will be less ambitious in my plans and restrict the menu to 5-6 items only,” said the ‘Birthday Man’ as we exchanged the final goodbyes.
“The next time we will look forward to a Danish meal and if you plan to have an Indian meal then we can do it at our place so that we can do away with the shifting of the entire kitchen establishment 180 Kms back and forth,” I quickly snapped not letting go of the opportunity.
Indian dishes image via Shutterstock
A part time backpacker, an accidental baker, a doting mother, a loving wife, a pampered
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