I remember exactly how the light fell into the house through the front door when the clock was somewhere around 4.30pm. At 8.30am, that same beginning-of-day light came through Jane’s room window – where I slept during my 3 months home. It made dancing leaf shadows on the deep green wall inside. One morning, I grabbed my phone (rituals!) and made a small video. There was a light breeze, the curtains moved and sunlight filtered in as my swollen sleepy eyes blinked wider to watch this bit of theatre.
I don’t think I’d ever seen – really seen – my home aka piece of my heart so alive before. I can close my eyes right now and feel the warm yet soothing breeze coming in through the kitchen window. When I stood over the stove frying fish in the afternoon, I told myself I would remember exactly how it feels to be on this fringe of humidity hell while welcoming that subtle respite. That breeze. It’s the work nature brought right to me as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how lucky I was to just be standing there at that moment in time. And for a few seconds while everything moved around me, I stood very still.
To call this life an out-of-body experience would be no exaggeration. I spent all my time yearning for it and trying to adjust and accommodate others feelings of how I should be feeling when I’m away from it. Self-imposed or not, I can’t say but like the guy in that book-turned-movie Brooklyn* says, “Home is home.” When you dream of a place all the while when you’re gone it feels like you never really left. Yet, the first day back I was stunned while simultaneously comforted at the sight of my parents. The disbelief that I hadn’t been living here for 21 months crept up on me. Once that passed I remembered who I always was. That stupid homesickness lifted and I instantly belonged again.
Still, parts of me have changed making each visit home something new. This time I had a strong feeling of what I should be working towards. It’s always been just a thought but with each day it seems to get more clearer. Those slivers of light have to mean something. Seeking to remember them keeps them with me at all times. I am back in Washington now and it feel comforting to have all these things to locked in my mind. All I have to do is close my eyes.
*I did not like the movie very much. I have to read the book to make peace with the ending.
Notes and ideas:
Here are the ideas:
For the cilantro creme fraiche
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and set in a fridge when ready to use. Keeps for a week.
For the dough
Mix the flours with salt. Add the vegetable oil and press it into the flour. Add the water a little at a time until a firm dough forms. Knead for a minute. Roll it into a ball and leave it in the bowl to rest on the kitchen counter for 15-30 minutes.
For the filling
*I add a little bit of salt while the peas are cooking in the water and added a little bit more at the end to taste.
Heat the vegetable oil on medium heat in a skillet. Once the oil is sufficiently hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and stir them for 30 seconds or until they turn fragrant. They go from fragrant to burnt fast so keep a close eye (and nose) on them.
Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric and stir for a minute until the onions soften a bit. Mix in the peas and add the water. Cook the peas until most of the water has evaporated (about 5 minutes). Take the skillet of the heat.
Add the cooked and cooled pea mixture to a food processor and add in the cilantro and mint leaves. Pulse until the peas have almost broken down but not completely. You want it to have some bite – not a paste. Spoon the mixture into a bowl.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make a paste of the flour and water in a small bowl.
Flour a working surface. Form the dough into balls and roll them out into one at a time until they are very thin and long. Keep dusting lightly with flour to avoid sticking. Cut the dough into sheets measuring about 7.5 in (L) X 2.5 in (W).
Grab one corner of the sheet and fold it into a triangle/ cone shape. Add the filling into the cone until it’s almost full to the top. Using the flour paste to seal the open end of the dough sheet. Flatten it a bit in the middle. Don’t be too worried if it doesn’t form into a perfect triangle. If you’ve filled the dough sufficiently, it will fold into a more samosa-looking shape very easily. It took me a few tries to get there. Also, I have pictures!
Place the samosas on the lined baking sheet and brush them liberally with the melted ghee. Put the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15 minutes on one side. Pull the baking sheet out of the oven and flip the samosas, cooking them on the other side for 10 minutes. The samosas should be a deeper, toastier brown and crunchy.
Serve hot with this chutney or cilantro creme fraiche, for a grown up dahi samosa. I’m so strange.