I took a sip of the cold beer and gobbled a morsel of the intense aromatic 'Yakhni Pulav' - A North Indian preparation of Basmati rice cooked with lamb in its own juices and spices. I looked at Raji and smiled. She could read in my eyes, what was in my mind. As I said in a devotional tone "is this heaven". The taste was like a 'final wish' in life come true. As I savored the irresistible dish, I thought its the succulent lamb, the fragrant basmati rice, the right balance of sun ripe tomatoes, the unsurpassed herb coriander, and Raji's own 'GARAM MASALA' - Made with a special recipe which she inherits from her Late Father's renowned 'Tava Dhaba' - A mélange of different cuts of lamb, chicken, fish and their offals cooked ala minuet seperately as per order on a tava (rustic flat round griddle) placed on top of live coal providing the heat with fresh coriander, chilies, tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and the special Garam Masala.
Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in the North Indian cuisine, whose literal meaning is 'hot (or warm) spice'. Garam masala is not "hot" in the sense that chilis are, but is fairly pungent. The Mughal Emperor's considered Garam Masala as the majestic renaissance in the evolution of North Indian cuisine.
But the real enchantrass is Raji who uses the perfect balance of every commodity used in the making of her Garam Masala. In every traditional north Indian savory vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish she makes it works like a magic potion enhancing the flavor to its fullest height. It acts like a building block of tantalizing sentation on your taste buds. Every dish she makes tempts me, entices me to boost my appetite persuading me to leave the plate clean.
But how does she do it?? The answer to this fact is 'The simple ratio of a humble, yet precise mind which evaluates each individual spice and gives justice to their natural balance of flavor and harmony including mace, bay leaves, black pepper corns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves and lastly but not the least cinnamon. I accept the verity without demur, Raji's heart is the abode of legendary obsession for cooking with passion and salute it from within.