Cooking serves multiple purposes for me – a creative outlet, an injection of variety into my life and a self-esteem booster, but it’s most surprisingly enjoyable purpose at the moment is putting a big smile on Husband’s face. It helps that he enjoys eating and meal time; he also has a love for new dishes, flavours and foods. The dishes I create are as much a result of his love for me as they are my own handiwork.
The following statements sound dramatic, but they are true. My journey in the kitchen represents the core issues I struggled (and struggle) with for most of my life. Acute doubts about my capabilities, fear of what others think of me, paralysis from the previous two that lead to inaction (and chocolate chip pancakes for dinner). Anyone who has a history of debilitating fears know that there is no magic bullet, but there is always a way forward. Being loved through it and out of it both by God and by people – my husband being the main one now – is the the deepest way I found of dealing with the painful places in the heart and mind.
My daily offerings in the kitchen are a small picture of that process. With every tomato sliced, salad made, chicken cooked through and seasoned well, I tell myself that I’m going to make it even as I hear in my heart God telling me that I can do all things because of Jesus. Love changes us in a way that nothing else does because true love shows us the truth about who God is, who we are and what our lives can be.
A long preamble to say that I am generally confident in the kitchen now except for one kind of food – Sri Lankan. This is also the only kind of food special requested by Husband in the past eight weeks of marriage. Most meals I make stand alone in my mind. Not Sri Lankan food. In my mind, it is compared to my grandmothers, my mothers, aunties, cousins, second cousins, etc. I forget that Husband compares it to no one else’s curry. One day I will do the same.
This is one of the few recipes so far that contains more specialized ingredients, so it is a tiny bit trickier. Cooking it is not complicated, but the right ingredients are important.
- Chicken curry sautee in oil onions, garlic, curry leaves*, pandan**, ground cumin and mustard seeds. Add the chicken pieces (I used drumsticks and thighs – I prefer chicken with bones in a curry than chopped up chicken breast). Mix together thoroughly. Add curry powder***. Add coconut milk and a bit of water. Squeeze a bit of lime juice in as well. Let it simmer on a low to medium flame for a little while for the flavour to soak through and for the chicken to cook. I kept an eye on it and kept adding water or coconut milk as the liquid dried up. Check the taste periodically to see if it needs more curry powder and also salt.
* I bought the curry leaves in a local Asian store.
** I have no idea what this is in English – Pandan is the Filipino word for it (we had a plant growing in our yard when we lived there). In Tamil – or Sinhala, really, I have no idea – it’s rampe.
*** I bought a Jaffna curry powder at the Asian store, and there was plenty of spice in it that I didn’t put any chili powder in. The curry powder you use will significantly influence the kind of curry flavour the dish has. Curry powder is NOT the yellow stuff you can buy in most grocery stores. That’s not a real curry – not to me anyway. If you want to make your own, roast cumin and coriander seeds together and then grind it in a food processor.