And as I was lazing a few afternoons back with a cup of jasmine tea and a book, musing about how I got pulled into a world of culinary wonders, I got drawn to the days of yore. Sweet nostalgia. A flood of memories. And blissful catharsis. The answers came easily.
My first inspiration has to be my mother. The magical touch that conjured divine delicacies from the simplest of ingredients. The art that transformed left-overs to mouth-watering meals. The ease with which she controlled the chaos in the kitchen. The smile with which she whipped up a scrumptious lunch for twenty odd suddenly-showed-up guests. In a world of coal-fired earthen ovens. In a world that still did not boast of make-life-simple electronic gizmos. And definitely no supermarkets that stocked exotic inventory.
And the second inspiration had to be Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. One Sunday to the next was an agonising wait. Fighting with my brother for the TV remote as the clock neared the showtime. Even if India was playing Pakistan. Armed with my diary and a pen. Lapping up every word the chef spoke, scribbling his tips, taking copious notes of every step he demonstrated.
And before I realized, I had graduated from my small-town humble Bengali cooking roots to a make-believe world of international cuisine. Turkish kebabs. Cantonese chicken. Spanish paella. English puddings.
Today’s recipe is an as-easy-as-it-can-get chicken tikka. Inspired by what I learnt many Sundays back from the great chef.