Reflection prepared by Jerri Miller, PTPI’s Membership Services Coordinator
The Hundred-Foot Journey: Food for Thought
When reading The Hundred-Foot Journey, a particular Indian dish is referenced when discussing a character in the story: Onion Bhaji. Richard C. Morais graciously included the recipe in the back of my copy of the book, courtesy of Chef Floyd Cardoz, so I thought I would give it a try. Before you read further, perhaps I should offer my apologies to Chef Cardoz, Mr. Morais, and everyone else who knows how this dish should actually look and taste.
My experience starts in the grocery store as I am trying to locate the ingredients needed for this recipe. As I am walking the aisles searching for gram flour without success, I am reminded of the scene where Abbas only locates a very slim selection of Indian foods and spices at Harrods Food Hall. When I read it I thought about how disheartening it might be to people of other cultures who would like to find something, anything familiar in their new neighborhood grocery. It is frustrating for me and my only goal is to try a new recipe, not find a little something of home.
I bring my groceries home sans gram flour and get started. As the name implies, onions are the main ingredient. Through onion-induced tears I julienned two, but I wimped out on the third, and mixed all the other ingredients and spices together. Because I could not find gram flour, I used wheat flour to create the batter, then mixed it in with the onions and threw little batches in hot oil (rather, I gently placed them in oil so I didn’t splatter myself). After a few attempts and finding the right amount of cooking time, the end result was pretty tasty, even though I did not eat it with the suggested chutney or have all the required ingredients. I would love to hear from those of you who know this dish or who try to make it!
For the complete recipe or to discover the character reference, you will need to purchase the book. If you are in the U.S. and purchase it through Amazon Smile, please make sure to list People to People International as your charity and they will donate a percentage of your purchase price to us. Also, be sure to check out our new blog series, Cultural Cooking, to find recipes from our members around the world.
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