Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bread like an Indian

Dear little Anjali,

All you thought you were doing was putting that peculiar, white, chewy-looking thing into your mouth (much like that dirt-filled plastic giraffe off the floor the other week). But little did you know that in that tiny act of eating your first piece of Indian food what a gigantic rite of passage you’ve crossed.

For that was no ordinary peculiar, white, chewy-looking thing. That was naan, the finest gem of the great Indian cuisine. And as one-half of your skip ancestors will agree, it is the most splendid gift given to the world by your other-half of Indian ancestors.

Yah, yah… I know. Some will tell you that it was zero. Others will try to convince you that it was the Gandhi’s non-violence, and still more will whisper that it was actually wireless technology that Marconi stole from Dr JC Bose of Kolkata. (Bloody Italians, never trust them!)

But..but.. little Anjali.. don’t let that fool you. Think for yourself. So without the zero, we wouldn’t have had computers. Without wireless, the world wouldn’t have had cell phones. And without non-violence, we wouldn’t have had… well, nobody really practices it anyway, so it is a moot point. But without the great Indian cuisine, we wouldn’t have had dal makhnis, navratan kormas, matar paneer, shahi kebab, rogan josh, biryani and of course that tasty piece of naan in your mouth. Life wouldn’t have been worth living really: cell phones or no cell phones.

Why else do you think the English turned up at our doorsteps with guns and canons? It was the mysterious, aromatic curries that we laboured over for centuries to perfect that seduced them from thousands of miles away. And even as they left kicking and screaming, they took away enough Indian chefs to their cold, icy homeland to have all the Chicken Tikka Masala they fancied.

Can you think of anything else from India that the world has shown such remarkable interest in? Which is why, while others will want to dunk you in holy water or make you read the Hebrew To’rahs, we Indians keep it simple. Chew and gulp, chew and gulp – and there won’t make a better Indian than you.

Always ready to enlighten you on your Indian heritage
Chetna Auntie

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