|Ma’s Chicken Biriyani|
Part of spending time in Durban this weekend meant that I got to spend time with my grandparents. I am incredibly lucky to have able and willing elders who are in their early 80’s at the helm of my family. My grandfather still plays a weekly game of 18 holes and my grandmother is the centre of all familial ties to a large extended family. They have been travelling the globe since they got married, 50-something years ago, and have literally got stories to tell from every country in the world. Just last year they went to India (for the 6th time) where my gran got to ride a camel and walk the streets of a country that is both foreign and familiar to her. It sounded like an incredibly energising trip for them both.
My gran is still the head chef at all gatherings, but is always keen to chat about recipes she’s seen on BBC Lifestyle or about the latest book she’s buried in. Being her eldest grandchild makes me a proud moment in her life and she always makes me feel that way, even when I doubt my deserving.
The three generations of women in my family often end up spending many hours in the kitchen and while this might come off as a most archaic ideal, it works because we’re all quite particular about the process, not to mention the end product. But I guess the best thing about this kitchen-bound arrangement is that I get to hear stories about my grans life and about where I come from and about why I carry certain traits that can only be attributed to lineage. It’s a relationship that no amount of measurable anything could replace.
It goes without saying that my gran is still an absolutely beautiful woman, but in her younger days, she was truly breathtaking. Her latte coloured skin, dark brown hair and jade eyes made her striking and exotic in a predominantly Indian community. So much so, that she would be sent to collect the food rations during the Apartheid regime because she would always retrun with more than the allocated amounts.
As a child, Ma would always amaze me with her knife skills. She would be able to peel the jacket off any fruit or vegetable in one delicate spiral and carve out cores and foreign bits in near artistic form. She would be able to, with only a whiff, smell a pot and know what spice was missing. Her culinary wiles are still as precise as anybodies and she still grinds and mixes masala for our entire family, which is so good that it often finds its way over the sea into the homes of her family.
This year was no different to any other. Ma made the Chicken Biriyani for us all. This recipe is from AllRecipe.com, but it looks very much like the one my gran uses from the Indian Delights cook book.
And PS: Before embarking on this culinary expedition, invoke the unconditional love that only grandparents can give and remember, sharing is caring.