Indian Dinner in Two Parts

Part One
1994. I was newly married and my husband was a consultant at a Big Four consulting firm. One evening, he came home and told me he had invited his team over for dinner at our house the following Monday. Knowing they were all from out-of-town, I was excited to cook them a homemade meal. Until. Until my husband said, “I told them you’d make them a homemade Indian dinner.” I had my back to him when he said that. I slowly turned around. “You told them what?” “I told them you’d make them a homemade Indian dinner.” “Why on earth would you ever say such a thing? I’ve never cooked Indian food in my life.” “But you’re such a good cook, and I bought you that spice set with the cookbook. I’m sure you’ll pull it together.”

I fretted. I don’t take entertaining lightly. I have my own version of America’s test kitchen. He assured me that he’d help me grocery shop, prep, etc., and we’d be fine. I reluctantly agreed. The weekend came and we had multiple social events. Several times I mentioned we needed to get to the grocery store and he assured me we still had time. Up until we arrived home on Sunday evening at 11 pm. He was confident I could whip something up, no problem. I appreciated his confidence in me, but…

He left for work on Monday as I was still getting ready. I knew what I had to do. I flipped through the yellow pages, found the best ad for an Indian restaurant, and jotted down the phone number. On my lunch hour I called and placed a massive order. I picked up two boxes of food on my way home from work and emptied the contents into pots on the stove. I threw away all the take out containers and set the table. He arrived home. “I knew you’d pull something together, honey.” His team said they had never had Indian food before, never realized how delicious it was, and wondered if I would teach their wives how to cook. Why, of course I would.

Part Two
2011. A colleague from Room to Read invited me and three other women to her house to cook a homemade Indian meal, since we had all traveled/lived in India. She encouraged us to bring our favorite Indian cookbooks. The plan was to grocery shop then cook an amazing meal together. When I received the invitation, I was excited, mainly for the social aspect of the evening. Hanging out, cooking a meal with four women I admire. Before leaving the house, I scanned the cookbooks on my bookshelf. To my surprise, I had a small, paperback, picture-less Indian cookbook. I wondered where it came from and remembered my ex-husband giving it to me years ago, and me never using it. How had it survived six moves in the past 17 years and not been purged?

I threw it in my bag and headed to my friend’s house. We retired to the backyard, glasses of Chardonnay in hand, surveying cookbooks and deciding what to make. Surprisingly, my small picture-less cookbook had some great recipes. We chose several and started the process. A couple of hours later, we sat down to an amazing dinner. I finally had made my delicious, homemade Indian dinner.

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