This evening I was invited to my great aunt’s house for a home cooked meal. She said it was going to be a simple, vegetarian meal, and my husband and I were looking forward to it. Thinking it was going to be about 2-3 dishes and a salad, I was looking forward to a light dinner. In the US, dinner at a friend’s house would generally be a very casual affair. In fact, the first time i was invited to someone’s house for dinner in the US, I was shocked when I was told to bring a dish of my own. Shocked! This was one of the many cultural shocks I had, because back in India, we would not even expect our guest to bring anything but their appetite to dinner. I learned the term “potluck” only in the US, where, over the 10 years of living there, I got accustomed to this ritual and it became second nature to me; second nature to the point that I felt comfortable asking my guests to bring a dish or desert or wine to dinner.
In any case, this evening, when dinner was served, I was reminded of how generous and warm Indian people are, especially when it comes to their guests. Let me share with you the menu and the sumptuous spread we were greeted to. Apart from the appetizers, we were fed the following: raita (yogurt salad), green salad, green chutney, pulav (rice dish), daal (yellow lentil curry), paneer tikka masala (cottage cheese in gravy), garbanzo beans in gravy, Aloo Gobi (a dish from North India made with potatoes and cauliflowers), mixed vegetables with paneer (dry dish), and a traditional bread from Mangalore (a city in the state of Karnataka/ South India). That is 10 dishes in all!! Here is a feast for your eyes:
I felt like royalty, being treated to so many dishes which translated into love and affection from my hosts. And this is generally the trend amongst Indians: to really take care of their guests and make them feel at home, even if it is only through food. Of course, the desert stole the show: A decadent choice between Caramel- lychee Ice cream and Chocolate-Almond Ice cream. I so wanted to walk home and needed to walk home after such a heavy meal ( a 1 hour walk), but common sense prevailed at 9:30 pm and I decided to take a cab.