You may not make money writing a blog but you do make friends.
So many lovely people have written, telephoned or met me after reading the blog and it has always been a heartwarming experience.
Food and its preperation is of universal concern and interest and I have found that people tend to delve deeper into the subject when away from their own country or place of origin. It seems to give an instant connection to their own culture.
It also is a take off point for exploration of other cultures and so I have met several interesting people who have taken the opportunity of their stay in Pune to find out more about local and Indian cuisine.
We had a wonderful evening cooking up a storm with Eugenio, a Brazilian theatre director who loves to cook, and Dirk, a German engineer working on an assignment in Pune, who is pretty proficient in the kitchen as well.
Eugenio and I worked out a menu before and bought the ingredients from around Pune.
There was space enough in my tiny kitchen for us all to work quite happily.My better half made his perfect basmati rice and so we all had a finger in the making of this feast.
With the minimum amount of fuss and much conversation Eugenio made a starter - pumpkin gnocchi and a dessert of kulfi.
The pumpkin gnocchi was superb, smooth and light. Paired with the piquant salty almond coriander pesto whizzed up by Dirk, it was a delight to eat.In fact we ate so much of it that I had little space for my prawn curry and rice.
The evening sped along with many things to share and copious amounts of red wine from Nasik ,which went very well with the meal.
Kerala Prawn curry and rice came next and the dinner ended with a fabulous kulfi made earlier in the day by Eugenio from a rice pudding. What a great idea! Served on a bed of a flavourful pineapple compote, made with freshly cubed pineapple in an caramelised orange sauce, it was out of this world.
It reminded me yet again of how creative cooking can be. Traditional recipes manipulated to incorporate unusual ingredients and great tastes that come out of using what is fresh and at hand, rather than processed foods out of a box, that can only be a shadow of what they profess to be.( Please note the bottled sauces and packaged ready meals now available on every super market shelf.)
It reminded me also of how companionable cooking can be.The process becomes part of the entertainment.
Our meal with relative strangers became a family affair with friends.Yes-Making bread together is as important as breaking bread together.
P.S. Eugenio used this recipe for his Gnocchi. The only changes were that he used Nutmeg instead of orange zest and coriander instead of spinach.
The Kulfi was a basic recipe but he used a few spoons of rice when boiling the milk.
P.S. Eugenio and Dirk have a once a month cook up on a theme in their home in Munster. If you are lucky enough to live there or are visiting, you can make bookings in advance for a very special meal at a fraction of what it would cost in a restaurant. Do check out their blog to find out more about this.