On Friday this week, it will be three years since my dad passed away. Fittingly for him, he died in the Wimbeldon fortnight (his last words to me were “Federer, Federer” ) as he was obsessed with sport and food.
People might find it funny but his unfulfilled wish was to be at Centre Court with a bowl of strawberries and cream and maybe a hot dog with a beer to wash it down; then another hot dog for when he felt weak with hunger, some more beer and strawberries – all this rounded off with a bowl of Dal soup and a poached egg on top when he got home.
My sisters and I were always greeted at airports with “What did you eat on the plane?” – with me having the dubious distinction of almost reducing him to tears because I got off a 12-seater plane once and told him that I was too sick to eat the mushroom roll that was given to us and wasn’t thinking clearly enough to pack it for him.
His eating habits were somewhat eccentric : I remember him eating dal and rice with ornate chopsticks for a couple of years; chips had to be served to him and us in a newspaper cone so that we could all benefit from an authentic chip eating experience; and meat had to served for Sunday lunch. When we were younger it was lamb – my dad would park outside the butchery and blow the horn. A minion would come out, take our container, fill it up with meat and return it to us, thereby saving us from the blood and gore of the butchery.
As my dad grew older it was chicken on Sundays (same method used in the butchery) and then towards the end it was a good potato curry made by my mum – all the meat eating saved for trips abroad when he visited us.
The potato curry recipe has now been passed to Vimal, my mum’s oldest helper who has been with us for almost fifty years. This is also the first thing we eat when we go home to India as it is one of the husband’s favourites. Here is how she makes it::