Food & Wine
An award-winning cookbook author learns the secrets of her aunty’s kitchen in South India
My nine-year-old palate went into shock on my first trip to India. My father’s indian cooking was an occasional treat at home in Belmont, Massachusetts, but in his homeland, green chiles lurked everywhere, and even breakfast was full of fire. Fortunately, my father’s sister, Aunty Kamala, was an excellent cook; she took my mind off cornflakes and hamburgers with her mouthwatering mild rice pancakes and coconut milk curries.
Food & Wine
A cookbook author’s passion for fiery black peppercorns leads her to the lush spice plantations of India.
I was standing in a dark, cavernous shed in South India piled high with burlap bags of peppercorns, thinking about a love scene in Salman Rushdie’s novel The Moor’s Last Sigh. It’s in a hot Cochin warehouse like this one, filled with pepper dust and rows of bulging sacks, that the beautiful spice heiress seduces the dashing duty manager. The pair consummate their love atop bags of Malabar pepper, mingling the edible with the erotic in a coupling destined to be remembered ever after as “pepper love.”
In Kerala, in South India, during the buoyant fall harvest celebration called Onam, goodwill and good food bring Hindus, Christians, and Muslims together
Sticky tropical heat and a driver with a bright smile greet me at the Kochi airport in the Indian state of Kerala. A few minutes later, we’re heading south on a road lined with coconut palms and banana trees; wide rice paddies, now golden brown, fill the gaps between towns. Kerala is a calm, strikingly beautiful land, full of canals and lagoons and abundant with tropical fruits and flowers—and it is calm and beautiful in other ways, too.