Simon Harris, Owner and Head Pickle Maker, Portland Curry Co.
In 1994 I traveled to India for the first time. I had no idea what to expect or how long I would stay.
I ended up there for the duration of my six month visa and by the time I boarded my flight home, I had never been so happy to leave a place in my life. A week later I wanted to go back.
Such is the experience of many who visit this amazing place. Its sights, sounds, tastes and smells can be overwhelming. It is noisy, dirty, hot, and smelly but also a beautiful place.
My fondest memories are of India are food related. Eating greasy parathas wrapped in newspaper in the Himalayas while waiting for a bus, dining on twenty cent coconut leaf thalis three times a day in Tamil Nadu when my funds were running low, feasting on Bengali style chow mein in Calcutta while sitting on a small wooden stool in the street and eating a masala dosa for the first time at the India Coffee House in Trivandrum, Kerala.
In 1998 I went back and spent two months working on an organic farm in the state of Uttar Pradesh. I lived with a family and we ate dal, rice and vegetables three times a day. Life was simple, but the food was delicious and the most exciting part of the day for all of us.
In 2015 I returned again for my third visit. I spent most of my time in the South and was lucky enough to take cooking classes in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. People had mentioned to me that after 18 years, I would be shocked at how much India has changed. There were more cell phones, more cars and a lot more people, but it was still the same place to me. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
Portland Curry Co. was formed in 2014 and it’s sister company, Zuppa, which specializes in soups, salads and sandwiches was started in 2007
Kaaren Bedi, Curry Princess.
I never really liked Indian food. Not until one evening in South Beach Miami my feet were too tired to walk to the sushi bar across the street. I was lingering outside a restaurant reading the menu posted in the window when a face popped out the door and said, “you know, you can come in, sit down and read the menu.” That face belonged to the restaurant’s owner, Adish. Our friendship formed over little dishes of Indian food the likes I had never experienced. It was fresh, perfectly balanced and beautifully presented. I was hooked.
He graciously agreed to let me come back and observe in his kitchen. One evening rather than eating in the restaurant he invited me home-“come with me, I’ll make ‘home food.” With three bananas, some tomatoes and two potatoes he changed my life forever. Tomato banana curry and potato banana peel dry curry- the secret of home food was revealed.
Home food is completely different than restaurant food or street food. It has history and intimacy- they are dishes passed down from generation to generation. Most often there are no formal recipes- just constructs and instructions given to cooks and daughters.
Fast forward- I fell in love and married a man who wanted to go back home to India. My time there was in the cradle of family. I was privileged to experience the country from the inside. I ate in homes from Kolkata to Mumbai to Bangalore and beyond. First hand I experienced Sindi, Bengali, Parsi, Punjabi, Telegu food and more. These are the recipes I have gathered from friends and family.