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lag jet and canola in black and white

Okay so we are just off a pretty long flight back from India. Mum’s 60th surprise reunion at Mahabalipuram and 80 parsis in one spot had us praying a tsunami would not strike. That would be a tenth of our population wiped out in one hit. 

  (This isn’t even the whole group. Just the immediate family on dad’s side !)

A twelve hour stop over in Singapore was probably not the best idea in terms of ‘just get us home already’ but we did get to eat Singapore Chilli Crab at Dempsey Hill after two years and I wouldn’t swap that for the world. 
  (Photo courtesy R1)

As I start this next paragraph it occurs to me that I have just, for the first time, referred to Sydney as home and India as India. Did I just swap the language I used to use? India is the zig to my zag. It’s the colour to Sydney’s black. It’s the smells and the sounds and the dirt and the chaos to the order and the clean of home. My god, it must mean I have two homes now and this makes me insanely happy. 


I’m so jet lagged at the moment, I’ve just drizzled my roast veges with canola instead of olive oil. (But I figure there’s nothing fresh rosemary and citrus salt can’t fix.) It also means that three weeks of fairly rich, but always delicious food, has now made me crave the simple smells of lamb on an outdoor babrbie. So I will leave it here. I must go hassle Mr. Husby to get our cutlets on. (I’m not being suggestive.)

Dee x




what rhymes with ‘DELHI’

It’s hard when you live away from home for so many years. You come back and see things with such different eyes…


Women clutch their handbags so SO close. Men walk arm in arm and don’t think twice about sharing icecream from a single cup. They also have glorious moustaches. Children go to bed at the most ridiculous times.

My Madras smells like coconut oil and jasmine flowers. And did you know only 1 in about every 10 people wrap you in their arms and give you a jolly good great big hug. With damp patches under their arms. It cannot be helped. We are all going to drown in our collective sweat here.

And there is a lot of noise. Always. Loud talking. Loud horns. Loud calls to prayer. Loud street music. 


Would I change all this? Not. For. The. World. Because this is where I grew up, it’s all I knew for the first 20 years of my life. It’s where I feel at HOME. And the food. Please don’t make me cry thinking about the food.

We started our holiday with Mahiar’s Biryani. It is a long standing tradition at home that that’s what we eat for our first meal. He loads it up with pieces of succulent mutton and bones filled with marrow that can be sluuuked out in one gusty shot! Then you have to sleep it off for an hour or three and wake up and have some chai. We actually had this two days in a row just because we could.

The next few days went by in a blur. Sweet and spicy daal, masala fried fish, mums oogly boogly amazing cauliflower bacon bake, garlic bread, mutton ras… the list goes on and on. 

As if that were not enough. Greed then got the better of me and I longed to eat chicken malai tikka and daal roti at my favourite restaurant. So off I went with a couple of crazy girlfriends and we ate till we popped at the seams. One of them even taught me what I should do in the event I want to rob a bank. 

  (Chicken malai kebab. My undoing)

  (Disguise. In case you need to rob a bank). 

And this then, my dear friends, was my complete and utter undoing. When you’ve lived overseas for so long you tend to have very sanitized insides. You forget how quickly – and why – Delhi rhymes with Belly. Man oh man. Suffice to say for the rest of the week I lived on jam and toast, lots of lime juice, an occasional chappati and when I was really feeling fantastic, curd and hot white steamed rice. Uurgh. 

But like any brave soldier, soldier on I did. I’ve loaded up on the homeopathy, the ayurveda, the home remedies and even some positive thinking. I think I’m ready to go out again and conquer the food world.

Between yesterday and today I’ve eaten possibly the world’s best Indian Chinese. Twice! I’ve had ginger chicken and dragon chicken and this mind blowingly delicious lollipop chicken. (Yes. There’s plenty of chicken). I’ve eaten an ice-cream sundae at Haagen-Dazs and paan icecream and a DIY butterscotch and nut bar at Ibaco. 


Next I want to tackle the old haunts. Ajnabi. Oh Ajnabi, how I long to step into the slightly dirty, oily confines of your chaat shop. Saravana Bhavan of old, I need to compare you with the dosas your sister store makes in Sydney. Cakes n’ Bakes, do you still make that sickeningly sweet, disgustingly delicious Japoise Pastry? Ponnuswamys, Samco, how about some Chicken 65 and Egg Masala?

Be still my beating heart. We still have two weeks to go. Dee x



tea talks, chai chats…

As I lie awake at this ungodly hour, longing for a cup of yummy chai, I can’t help think there is something deliciously warm about people that love and drink tea. They are kind and open and love a chat. I often wonder, does the soft gurgle of a boiling kettle have a calming effect? Does watching the brew brew make a person relaxed enough to open up, to share thoughts and feelings? Is there anything a pot of tea can’t fix?

Many times I’ve sat in the orange Bollywood Zen Pergola and shared a pot with friends. A quick visit has turned into an hours-long conversation. We’ve shared tears and laughs and secrets that, if my teapot could only talk, boy oh boy! And often the tea’s turned cold and so that has finally prompted me to find the perfect tea cozy. Yes, I hear you laughing! It’s what your nanna used, isn’t it!!

And so began my hunt. Markets, shops, online… nothing caught my fancy. But then Etsy, my secret addiction, turned up some beauts. There were owls with tufted ears, strawberries crocheted on crochet leaves, pineapples, pussycats, owls, more owls, blue ones, green, red, yellow, Mardi Gras flag ones, you name it, they have it.


And suddenly, suddenly, I chanced upon Bluebell and the Fox‘s ‘Utamaro Geisha & Pillow Books‘. It was love. Instant and utter love. At first sight. I had found ‘the one’.


I wrote to Bluebell in the States and she replied yes, she would make me a gigantic tea cozy that would fit my gigantic tea pot. Emails were exchanged, photographs were sent, and slowly, slowly, little bits of the human behind the screen on the other side of the world was revealed. And it must be because of her love of tea!

We chatted away like old biddies sitting with our big mugs of chai. She told me about growing up in the mountains and now moving back. I told her about my crazy kids and Australia and India and how the school holidays can’t be over soon enough! Why, I even jagged an invite to visit when we go to the States next. We don’t know each other from a bar of soap but we’ve certainly connected over a cuppa…

Now my kettle has clicked off, my tea is brewing, the mint leaves smell yumm and I need to go check if the postman’s knocking. Utamaro Geisha may have arrived. Dee x

All tea cozy photos used with the permission of the lovely Bluebell. No bluebells (or foxes) were harmed in the process.

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santha, sanghati and full santhosham – 1



We left one of India’s bustling metro cities to drive two hours south to Big Foodie’s aunt’s hometown. Kalikiri. With a population of 25,000 it’s more a town than a village but whatever you may call it, it pretty much transported me straight back to my childhood. The sounds and sights and smells reminded me of Devlali that my dad grew up in and I had the utmost pleasure of spending three days here.


We drove through dry barren rocky countryside to get to Kaliks in time for the santha, the local farmers market. This is organic farming at its most basic, most pure, most real. Small scale. Home grown. Delicious.

Farmers arrive in droves and spread out their wares on large plastic sheets. Onions compete with chillies compete with cucumbers compete with haldi and spices and grains. There is even a stall that sells dried fish don’t ask me why, I just took a photo and ran away!! The one electronic weighing machine stands out like a sore thumb amongst the beautiful hand-held brass bowls of the ancient scales.




In the old days the santha used to come to this town on Mondays only so god help you if you didn’t shop for the week! There was nowhere else you could buy your veggies from. Nowadays you can even buy locks and keys and slippers at the santha and you’ll find these stalls dotted amongst piles of fruit and vegetables.





We came home exhausted but happy and ended the evening riding on a tractor through some fields. I have to say I prefer the bullock cart ride from earlier in the evening though…



To be continued once I find the Odomos. The mosquitoes here are the size of dragonflies! Dee x