Well, where should I start? Of course, food is a basic need for survival. Whether you eat instant noodles, or a takeout pizza or sandwich, or a slice of processed cheese, it will definitely serve the purpose. But what would you say to eating home-made noodles in a remote village in China, or a freshly baked pizza in a local pizzeria in Naples, or maybe fresh (or rather aged) cheese in France? That is the difference between eating and savoring. Of course, you don’t need to actually go there when you can go to a nice restaurant or even make it yourself.

Once you get the taste of finer things in life, you simply can’t go back. My tryst with food began after my marriage. Naturally, because of the society-defined gender roles, I was expected to take care of the cooking. But being the rebellious one, I had this cleared up with T, and he merely said, “Don’t you worry about cooking. If you don’t want to cook we can always eat out”. That put my mind at ease, and cooking did not seem like a burden or responsibility to me. Rather, it felt something beautiful and fun. Something that I wanted to do for the person I loved. The kitchen turned into my experimental laboratory, where I conjured up all possible permutations and combinations with the spices. I loved to put my own touch to each and every thing that passed by my hands.

My first meal, as is customary for a new bride, was fish. But we had no idea where to get fresh fish in Riyadh! So we got some canned tuna, and well, let’s just say I made something edible out of it. After that, one step forward, I prepared meals using the instant spice mixes. But a year into cooking, I realized that this wasn’t some rocket science. Cooking is simply understanding the flavours of the spices, its role in the food, and using it in just about the right quantity.

Of course, it wasn’t as easy as I make it sound. No dish ever tasted the same way twice once I stopped using the spice mixes. After over four years of cooking experiences, there are just a handful of recipes that I have mastered so far (and by that, I mean that miraculously the taste is consistent every time!).

Exploring is a term that doesn’t just apply to traveling. You can explore various palates, cuisines, spices, produce etc. The list can never end. One specialty about being Indian is that you are a hard-core foodie at heart. And I love to try everything that comes my way. Saudi is the best place to do so. The variance of cultures that have come together here is like nowhere else. You can find authentic gourmet restaurants as well as small eateries of any and all kinds of foods.

So far, we have tried Saudi, Lebanese, Yemeni, Turkish, American, French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, Peruvian, Japanese, Thai, Pakistani, you get the general idea how many cuisines I have had. Food has become kind of an obsession. You can find a whole lot about a culture just by eating their food.

So I will be adding two new sections. One, where I will mention all the different restaurants we go to and what we eat there. And two, some of my favourite recipes! See how I light up when I talk about food?

May the exploring never end.


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