Manu Madhok, a successful pediatrician now living in a suburb of Minneapolis, has ancestral roots in Kashmir and was born and raised in Delhi. His love of cooking is reflected in the gleam in his eyes as he talks about the foods of his childhood. As it happens, he is able to enjoy those childhood foods in his adult life because his mother continues to make them for Manu and his family, ever since she and her husband immigrated to the United States. This three-generation family prospers as the grandmother cooks; the grandfather nurtures the garden, tending to the abundant basil plants, tomatoes, and chiles; the mother is busy pursuing a career as a dentist; and the two children flourish with parental and grandparental involvement.
At their house, I was treated to a lunch of simply prepared curry of fried cheese in milk, Stewed Radishes with Tamarind, Pan-Fried Bottle Gourd Slices with Yogurt and Aromatic Spices, and white basmati rice. Every curry was thin-sauced, devoid of onions and garlic, uncluttered with spices, the vegetable or cheese being the showcase. The culmination of the meal was the aromatic classic Kehawa—Assamese green tea gently brewed with cardamom, saffron, and ground almonds. What’s not to love about that?