Read the blogs and cookbooks of the great Indian wordsmiths, and you often come back to a common theme: how their love of food started in earliest childhood.
Plotting the course of the seasons, these writers evoke how the different ingredients arriving in their house (green mangoes, yellow mangoes, banana flowers, banana fruit) inspired different menus and dishes.
The memories are evoked with feeling, and reconnect you with a child’s fascination for taste and smell. You want to be there, as the kids savour the spicy kernels at the end a green mango curry.
Childhood in Britain in the 60s was a lot less exotic. Trust me… I was there. The seasons sometimes changed, but the food didn’t – an endless assault of over-boiled vegetables and stewed fruit.
So imagine my surprise – when I ask the helpful staff in the Kohinoor Kerala to name the sensational fruit in the chutney I’m eating, and they reply: ‘Bramley’.
BRAMLEY? Really? This is a fruit I remember with real fear from the 60s, an apple that grew in thousands on trees in our garden, and in almost every neighbour’s garden. A fruit that was fed to me for six months of the year in a slow-moving avalanche of pies, crumbles, stews, compotes and jams. I could taste Bramley in my sleep.
And yet here it was – the same fruit – transformed by the chef in Kohinoor Kerala into the tingling centrepiece of a truly sensational achari pickle.
Which just goes to show that we did grow up surrounded by exotic ingredients in Britain – we just needed someone from Kerala to show us.
The chef and team at the Kohinoor Kerala cooked a fantastic meal, and also shared the recipe for Bramley pickle (see top of page). Their advice was to add the cubed Bramley to the pan last of all, and stir fry briefly.
Welcome back, Bramley.
And forgive us for mistreating you for all those years.