Meet my husband Sean. This is a photo from our wedding when he was momentarily turned into an Indian prince for the day. As I mentioned in ‘About’ I met my prince when I was 8 years old in Miss Parson’s Grade 3 class in Bramalea, Canada. Even though my in-laws were adventurous eaters, as a child, Sean was not a huge fan of Indian food. Today, it is one of his most favourite cuisines. How did that happen?
Below is a little Q&A with Sean who lives with me (and our son Liam) in the Big Apple.
Big Apple Curry: How did you meet Ina?
Sean: I met Ina in Grade 3 when we were in Miss Parson’s home room class together. From that moment on we were close friends, walking to school together, partnering on a truly legendary book report on The Fellowship of the Ring, and slow-dancing together at school dances. By age 13 I had developed a little crush on Ina (whatever that means when you’re 13 years old) and was quite sad when she moved away at the end of that year. My family and I moved away to another town the following year, and we lost touch for almost 20 years. But I always thought of Ina and wondered what happened to her. Finally, technology caught up with my inquisitiveness and I was able to Google her. This was before FaceBook and LinkedIn, so after an elaborate research effort, I finally tracked down her email address. At the time, she was living in New York City and I was living in Boston. I spent an inordinate amount of time writing an email to look like I spent no time at all writing it (smooth, I know) and sent it. No guys, I didn’t Google-stalk her. Ina wrote back the next day, excited to hear from me, and we spoke for hours a few days later. The rest, as they say, is history.
Big Apple Curry: Did you eat Indian food growing up? Have you always loved it?
Sean: I grew up in a fairly adventurous house from a culinary perspective. Indian food was not a staple my parents cooked at home, but they always introduced us to new things and came to love Indian cuisine themselves. But not me. As a kid, I was turned off by what seemed like pungent smells (smells I now love and crave). I stayed clear away from Indian food. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old when this all changed. One night, my mom brought home Indian take-out for herself. Butter chicken and naan. Probably the most popular Indian dish in the world. As my mom was eating, she looked at my frown and said “Oh for God’s sake Sean, just try a piece!” As soon as I ate that piece of creamy, tomatoey-buttery chicken wrapped in fresh, hot flatbread, I was sold. After that I devoured Indian food any chance I could get. Today it’s my favorite cuisine. Hands down.
Big Apple Curry: What do you love about Indian food?
Sean: One thing I love about Indian food is the variety. Like many people, I began with butter chicken and naan from a local Indian restaurant, and continue to love the signature dish — it’s fairly innocuous as far as Indian food goes, so for this reason it’s a great place to begin for the novice Indian food eater. It’s typically fairly mild, with great, rich flavor, and coupled with the naan it makes for a perfect bite. But Indian food is much more than butter chicken and naan, and the sheer variety of the dishes is something I have loved discovering. From my mother-in-law’s incredible homemade dosa (a thin rice crepe stuffed with golden turmeric potatoes and coconut chutney, which I nearly died from over-eating once, but that’s a story for another time), to the fragrant Kerala seafood curries I tried in India, to the succulent Pakistani lamb kebabs Ina was taught by a close family friend. One reason I’m so excited that Ina has started this blog is that it will allow her to introduce so many people to the rich tapestry of Indian cuisine!
Big Apple Curry: Did you find it really hard to learn Indian cooking?
Sean: To be honest, no—at least not with Ina as a teacher. I know it sounds like I am supposed to say that, but one of Ina’s many gifts is the ability to explain things in a very clear way, and to remove apprehension about something, like Indian cooking, that might seem esoteric and exotic. I began like many of you will, by learning how to make perfect rice and a basic chick peas curry, and eventually graduated to my father-in-law’s chicken curry, lamb keema, and various lentil dishes. Although I am far from Ina’s level, I feel really comfortable making several Indian dishes now.
Big Apple Curry: What do you do when you’re not learning how to make Indian food from Ina?
Sean: I earned my Ph.D. in philosophy from MIT and currently work in corporate ethics. I play the bass, enjoy good craft beer and living in New York City.
Big Apple Curry: What’s the best thing about living in the Big Apple?