I’m writing this 54 years to the day that my father, Papaji, arrived in the UK. It also happens to be to the day when Papaji and Jhaiji were married, 59 years ago. On Tuesday the 30th of May at approximate 8.45am Papaji passed away to continue their spiritual journey. This was after 18 months of ill health and numerous stays in hospital. So why am I writing this on my foodie blog?!
As I may have mentioned earlier (read About), my foodmemoirz journey started with the thought my parents will not be here forever. My love of food was sparked by the ritual of food as I grew up, almost in entirety, due to both my parents. As predicted the need to document the essence of that was important, but now vital for me with the passing of Papaji.
Over the course of the next few weeks I will be posting some of Papaji’s favourite dishes.. or maybe they were my favourites.
So why the title “Funeral and tea”?
From the day Papaji left us to the day of the funeral, which was two weeks, one of my lasting memories, I feel, will be making tea… or chai to be exact. The family home was and still is open to any visitors that wish to mourne. This in reality was anywhere between twenty to forty people each day. The mourners came and went recounting stories of how Papaji had left their footprint on their lives, good therapy in part but painful at times. My real solace was making myself busy making chai for almost every visitor. The process allowed me to be alone, if needed, in the kitchen and focus on the fact that I must not allow the chai to boil over at various stages. “Fant”-ing it (adding air to it by repeatedly scooping it and pouring it back from a height into the pan), sieving out the the various spices. Finally serving it to the guests.
This, unexpectedly, became my therapy.
Thank you for reading this and I hope you enjoy the recipes that follow. This has definitely been a time to grieve but more importantly celebrate all that Papaji achieved during their colourful life.
Our last family picture, Diwali 2016. (Left to right: Papaji, Me, Bhaji (Rai), Jhaiji and Bhanji (Parvin)).
Ps for the day of the funeral we had catered for about 200 mourners. We had chosen to recreate some of Papaji’s favourite dishes which we served to friends and family; mixed daal, aloo batown (aubergine and potato), boondi raita, savoury spiced rice, mitay chowel (jurda, a sweet yellow rice), jalebi, besan, samosas, pakora and clah (a sweet semolina dish). Papaji would’ve been happy.
Shanti Om Papaji xxx