I have to get everything done by 5:30-6:00 By 5:00-6:00 is my time of cutting onions, ginger garlic paste ready, tomato puree ready. I have . . . 40 people coming today, 25 grown-ups- 28 grown-ups and the rest of them are kids. And I’m nervous now. I wasn’t nervous yesterday. Everything has to be in place, and out,
and ready. Cleaning is such an important part in our culture. I don’t know why, but we grew up with that. -I have no plans. I’m just . . . filling in. -And I know when the chaos is going to start. It’s alw- . . . it’s as if I’m ready for it. So I’m looking forward to that chaos. “Okay now. This starts now at 4:00-4:30.” Take out, uh, wear gloves. Take all those little balls and put it in …[indistinguishable]. -What? Should I put a little bit there? Ah! Ahhhh! -What? I cut my hand. -Ohh! She cut her! There will be always some last minute thing I’ll remember. I need candles lit up, I need the house smelling good. I want no curry smell in the house. Do we have any flowers somewhere? Flowers? Nice . . . some big- -Mom, why would we have flowers? If we didn’t buy it then there’s no reason that we’d have it. -Didn’t change the bulbs here. -Where? -This Hallway. -Oh, I didn’t clean the floor, Mahi. -Okay, here. -And um, I have to get everything ready before 6:00. [Doorbell] Some of the vegetables, you know . . . We call it “bitter gourd” Particularly as a kid I didn’t like the taste. And then these are curry leaves. It’s used as a garnish sometimes, but it is actually cooked sometimes. And depending on how you use, the flavors are released. This again is very South Indian. We call it “ribbed gourd.” The skin by itself can be used, and is often used, to make chutney. It’s like a sauce. So this is coriander with cilantro. One of the side dishes commonly used in South India is what we call “pickles.” The bases can be vegetable, it could be sometimes even um . . . uh, meat. There’s a mango pickle, there’s garlic pickle, chilli pickle, mixed vegetable pickle . . . But the key for any of these pickles is that they are fermented in spices like red peppers. Today we get all these varieties in bottles, but when
I was growing up, my mom would make it fresh. But because nobody does that anymore, it’s a lost art. Your dad would take in charge of all the drinks. There are a lot of wine-lovers and um . . . whatever they want. Even cocktail, but he takes in
charge of drinks and he sets up his own bar, his glasses, everything. I just take care of the appetizers. He does the easy part. I do the [laughs] difficult one. Delhi’s the capital of India. I was born there. My dad was in a transferable job so every three years we would
go to a different place. He worked as a consul in um . . . Indian Embassy in Romania, and the capital is Bucharest. We did a lot of parties. And it took me a while to get used to it, but I was thoroughly bored in a party. Because they’re all grown ups, and diplomats, and political talks, and I was 18, and I’m like, “What am I going to do here?” [laughs] But the fun part was cooking. From Romania I enrolled myself into MBA program in Cyprus. I would study and work part time as a bartender. This is the person going from a diplomat’s daughter who has had all the helpers and everybody lands up in Cyprus. And the first time I worked as a bartender I was sick for two day- I didn’t go to work for the next two days.
They were like, “What happened?” I said, “I had fever.” When I got married, I was very happy to be here. We were in Arizona for maybe six months at the most and . . . your dad got a job at MSU. We were looking for a house that we could find right away, so we moved to Spartan Village. We made a lot of lot of friends. Most of them students, PhD students. And um, I learned a lot from them. I remember that I used to play over here. And I had like little tea parties and stuff and I would go to the playground. I have a pretty good memory of this place. So we have American friends but we have Indian circles, so we are looking as soon as you come here, I told you we’ll go to temples or associations. [chanting] -We’re always chanting your family name [chuckles] -Oh wow. Does my mom come for that? -Yeah -She’s there? Okay. I didn’t know! [chuckling] India does have a lot of festivals. And knowing that these are all students and your dad is an assistant professor, I could afford to throw a party. I would celebrate Holi, Diwali, or any festival. I would cook and call them over for dinner. I felt that, um, that I need to celebrate this along with them, so they have company and they get exposure, too. So for every group I have 5 or 6 dish to
be made. So the next day I’ll get up like 5:00 in the morning. My chicken is cut and marinated. I don’t cook I just marinate chicken, fish, whatever I want to. Non-vegetarian dishes are usually marinated for Indian cooking. The vegetables are chopped, I’ll give you an example like eggplant is chopped, that’s one dish. And then I’ll make one lentils. It is Dal Makhani it’s made of kidney
beans, you can add a couple of other lentils in it. So I just take this out
and use my six spices. I would open this to cook everyday. I have six burners and most of them will take onions, tomato, garlic ginger paste. I’ll start with that on each burner and I’ll have capsicum in one, eggplant in another, and the chicken to one. Oh! I forgot about appetizers that’s another big chore, appetizer. So Indian appetizers take a lot of time. Most of them would be fried.
Over the period of time I made it easier by bringing in some American dish. Okay, throw guacamole, salsa and a dip it’s so much easier than the kind of Indian-typical
Indian appetizers are. They take a lot more time. I love creating an occasion for everyone to dress up in nice clothes that we
never have opportunity to wear anymore. It’s really rewarding to see all our
friends happy and enjoying themselves just getting to see everyone get loose and having fun
is the best feeling. It makes me really happy when they enjoy the food since I have I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m always trying to improve. Even though we all have come from so
many different places around the world, I feel like together we build this great
community and that’s worth celebrating. Sometimes we all just want a piece of home, and that’s what I’m happy to provide. The whole thing is just a lot of fun.