"Candlelight graces a table on our houseboat in Kerala. Tears well and fall down my cheeks at the taste of okra. The cook comes in, “Ma’am are you alright? Was the food too spicy for you?” I smile and nod subtly sideways, the Indian way that says, no, yes, maybe." (read more...)
Okra has a special place in my heart, even if it's kind of edgy for most people, like pig's feet and tripe. I may not have liked it as a child, but memories bring nostalgia of times gone by.
There wasn't a Sunday that went by without a visit to my grandparents in the countryside of Clay Country. The first smell to hit you when you walked in the door was fresh cornbread from the oven, the second was fried okra. I have visions of my aunt Sarah in her various plaids standing at the stove with a big smile on her face so happy to have us home. The taste of fried okra crunchy, salty and yet moist, was delicious with hot cornbread loaded with sweet butter running down my fingers.
You can imagine my surprise to find fried okra in Kerala, India floating down the river on a houseboat at dusk. The only difference was the spice. They didn't use cornmeal to coat the sliced okra, they use gram flour (chickpea). it was terribly familiar and yet at the same time, novel.
Sometimes we are moved to tears by the simplest things. My eyes started to water as the cook placed a plate of fried okra down on our table. You can't hide tears in candlelight, they reflect. And like a wave, nostalgia washed over me as I thought of those Sundays. My father had died recently and I felt his presence on that moonlit night, brought together by a simple mostly unloved vegetable. I felt connected to the Indian culture in a whole new way. We both love the same thing.
Our Culinary Adventure in India is already sold out for 2020, but start planning ahead for 2021. Crunchy, spicy, salty, fried okra is waiting for you...
End of Summer love to y'all. This is the last of our Summer Recipe Series but look forward to hearing from us regularly musing about travel, our destinations, more recipes and our times on the road.