Hello from New Delhi, India where I’m staying with my great friend, Leela Manilal and her large extended family. Leela is a retired journalist and the Beyond Wonderful International Home Chef, India. We’ve spent the last 25 years cooking together; developing and sharing Indian recipes, all while giggling, chatting and generally solving the problems of the world.
I’ve spent a lot of time in India—this is my tenth trip—and made lots of friends that have become family. On this visit, Leela and I are putting the finishing touches on a new batch of sumptuous recipes soon to debut at Beyond Wonderful.
But first, let’s take a detour with the kids in the house. Everyone here knows that I always arrive with Mary Poppins-style suitcases, bringing something magical and unexpected. Since Easter is near—and Indians do not celebrate the holiday as we do in America—colored, decorated eggs were an obvious choice. None of the kids had a clue what they were, but all were open to spending the afternoon on the veranda giving them a try.
I walked to the local market and went shoulder-to-shoulder with a large, lumbering cow while buying three dozen eggs. Back at the house, the cook hard-boiled and cooled them for later. Leela wondered if we needed so many eggs, but I find that a large supply is essential once the creative juices begin flowing and the kids crank out multiple masterpieces.
I usually set up kid events in advance, but this time I wanted Annamae, Dipika, Saana and Kibir to experience filling the colorful egg cups with water, dropping in the dye tablets with vinegar and watching them fizz. On a whim, I had purchased a swirl egg coloring kit that used oil and water to produce multiple colors and effects. It proved to be the most popular as the kids created amazing designs.
From the moment we got started, one would never have guessed that these kids were new to Easter eggs. Saana loves purple and guided her eggs there first. Kabir flat-out loved green and started all his eggs in that cup. As he worked, he regularly wiped his wet green hands on his shirt and laughed that no one could tell the difference.
Silly me, I quipped that Peter Rabbit would be proud of the kids’ creations—“Peter who?” Whoops! The Easter bunny is a whole other cultural experience best saved for another time. After all, how do you keep a straight face when telling children in another culture that there is a giant rabbit bringing millions of Easter baskets filled with chocolate, sweets and presents to children all over America?
As the kids put the finishing touches on their eggs, I covered a large tray with vibrant green bunny grass and encouraged them to display their finished masterpieces. Like children everywhere they took great pride in their accomplishments and began counting to see who had created the most eggs.
Now what do we do with them? I suggested egg salad sandwiches or egg curry since we were in India, but was quickly shot down. It turns out the kids were much more interested showing off their colorful eggs than in eating them. I, on the other hand, collected the eight plainly colored, cracked eggs that they’d left behind and headed to the kitchen.
Happy Easter from the veranda in New Delhi, where I’m happily residing with my laptop and a very large bowl of egg salad—all to myself!
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