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Lunch with Celine

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Saturday lunch with her dear neighbour is always an experience to cherish. It is not just the food but the warmth and love that she pours into it  

Bengalis are known for their refined taste-buds. We almost sleep-walk into fancy kitchens filled with the smoke of exotic dishes. All the more so, when it’s our neighbour’s kitchen. Naturally, I felt ecstatic when Celine, my dear neighbour invited me for lunch on a Saturday.

On her gas stove, steamed rice was placed next to a pot full of prawn curry simmering on a burner. The curry was spiced with chilli paste, rye, cumin seeds, coconut, kokam and vinegar. She quickly brought out a plate full of fish cutlets. Next to it there came a small bowl filled with green salad mixed with cabbage leaves, tomato and onion, garnished with lemon juice and chopped basil leaves. Tucked on the side was a plate full of mackerel and bangra fry. There was also a small bottle of homemade Goan pickle of raw mangoes, marinated with vinegar and chilli paste.

Celine, 70-year old is born and bred in Mumbai and hails from the city’s East Indian community. The people from this community are said to be one of the oldest and original inhabitants of India. Their food is said to be a fusion of Portuguese and Maharashtrian food. They are also known for their distinct bottle masala, prepared with thirty-three kinds of spices.

On that sweet lunch, what mattered the most was Celine’s warmth and love which poured into her food. “If you want to live longer and happier, eat more fishes and kisses,” she said.

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