The joke amongst my friends is that I would spice my spices if I could. And they couldn’t be more right. It takes every ounce of control I have not to add haldi to meatloaf, garam masala to pasta sauce or elaichi to iced tea. I love food but of all the food in the world, it is Indian food, with its abundant use of spices, that I love the most.
In 1990, I moved from India to attend graduate school in Virginia. Like many other young Indian students, I was terribly lonely. I hated Virginia—it was so cold, the people seemed nice but distant, and nothing seemed to taste quite right. One night, in a fit of nostalgia, I began to cook my mother’s kheer. I combined the rice, milk and sugar and as the milk began to boil, I wept. Through my tears, I stirred in the cardamom, the spice that formed the high note of the dish. Soon the entire kitchen smelled like my mother’s. As I was finishing up, a young Indian man on campus rang the doorbell. He had caught the aroma of simmering kheer and come to find its source. And that, folks, is how I met my husband.