Chickpeas and vegetables in simple tomato curry sauce
No matter how well we love our fresh, homemade, plant-powered meals...and we do love them fiercely well...there is always something that confounds us by seeming better from a box. For me, one of those somethings has been Maya Kaimal kashmiri curry sauce. Which is actually from a jar not a box, but that is beside the point. The point is, I could slurp that jar for breakfast and it would taste heavenly. I won’t ever profess to know much of anything about Indian cooking except that it isn’t my forte. I just love a good curry. Unfortunately, love of dishes hasn’t translated into ease of creating as well as as with other foods, despite variations on the theme being a regular weekly meal.
Last time I was at Sprouts, I surreptitiously snapped a quick pic of the Maya Kaimal label in order to make a springboard from the list of ingredients. They are a pleasant enough list and a solid start, though leaving the added ambiguity of "spices including tumeric" in addition to the obvious lack of stipulated quantities. Determined to throw my best effort into recreating this tempting treasure of a sauce, I perseverated a few evenings in a row until at last, I was ready to give a wholehearted attemp at a replica a go.
So the question is, did I successfully remake the Maya Kaimal kashimiri curry sauce? Nope. There are plenty of resonant notes of course, which is only to be expected given the similarities in ingredients at least. It just isn't the same. But, I love what resulted, as much or better. Better for sure, if we get to factor in the fact that in my home version I know the whole big batch of sauce only contains 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar and no other added sweetener, plus one tablespoon olive oil, and very little salt. And it's robust, flavorful, mild and lovely. The key is in sauteeing the onions, ginger, garlic, spices, and lemon juice, finishing with a tomato-laden whizz in the blender.
Minds tend to wander in the middle of a semi-sleepless night, and goodness knows my mind wanders enough in the day to make those midnight ramblings exponentially more rambling. On this curry night, Little F woke up wide awake and playful at 1:30 am, calling, "Mommmyyyy!" at the top of his lungs. After the fourth book, laying beside him in the dreamy, cozy quiet of his room, his eyes started to flutter and close again. I lay there and listened to the soft, strong but gentle rhythm of his breath, instinctively slowing my own down, better to breathe in my little boy. And then...because you know me, a thought popped into my head of that barely related curry sauce. A random flash of a thought, cutting into the moment keenly so as to claim some self-importance. It was just this: that while goals aiming to copy versus create brings a certain inherent lack of satisfaction, to model off something you love in aims of creating your own something feels just a shade enough different to be really, genuinely rewarding.
For some reason, half-coherently analyzing the difference between being inspired by something and simply being a copycat was strangely reassuring in those wee hours of the night. I don't know if this will make any sense, but straight on the heels of these curry-copy thoughts, it struck me that the day I'd been dreading...the one when I would have to be my own person again rather than comfortably couched as Felix's mommy with my better, more confident self rising to face the world smiling for the sake of my tot-in-tow...was already come and gone. It had happened quite some time ago, even. I'd fallen back to a rhythm of facing the world as just myself, as writer, teacher, plain old person, friend. And all is OK. What's more, he has already branched out without me, at three a bold, loving, independent, creative thinker and doer...and all of this is wonderful.
What I'm really trying to say is, in the middle of the night I woke up to awareness that in small ways I'd been mentally trying to replicate who I am and who we are as a family day to day. Despite consciously, constantly striving to be grateful and present, I've spent too much brain power on fearing tomorrow's changes, even the good ones. I know that's not going to change completely, maybe ever. But so far, variations have brought as much beauty and opportunity as longing and looking back. Not least, my chubby bubbly baby now confidently pulls up his step stool to work alongside me as Chef Fitty. While belting out his versions of Christmas carols we cut, stir, and season a mean curry together. Best of all, he inspires me to no end. No, actually it gets better. The togetherness, I mean, and the inspiration. It's still growing.