Growing up I remember several families who had fled from Iran and were living in India waiting to go to the West as refugees. Families with small children, older couples, bachelors – everyone leaving the one place they knew and called home to find asylum in another country. People who were fleeing religious persecution at the hands of the government seeking to find another place they could safely raise their children in and call it “home”. A couple of decades later, I have connected to some of these refugees (thanks to social networking!) who are now successful businessmen and women, honest taxpaying citizens of the country that harbored them in times of need. Their children are educated in the ways of their adopted country and they have in most cases forgotten the hardships and trouble their parents went through to bring them safely across. When asked where home is, the younger generation replies it is their adopted country while the older one still relates to Iran as their home.
Are they nationalists? No. Are they unfaithful to the country that gave them safety and abode which Iran could not provide? No. My son was 4 ½ years and my daughter barely 9 months when we moved to Belgium. I try to visit India and/or Yemen once a year at least so they are abreast with the culture and family over there. I cook Persian or Indian food half of the week and listen to Eastern music. I have applied for Belgian citizenship and taken classes in the Dutch language. I have no hatred for the country or its people or culture or cuisine, but at heart I want to be associated with India. That was the country I was brought up in – that is where I feel home is. Similarly, my children think Belgium is home. They crave for French Fries with mayonnaise and Dutch is the language they are most comfortable conversing in. They have Yemeni and British passports, but want to get Belgian citizenship someday. Does your passport or nationality dictate where you belong to? Or is it the people and roots you develop while growing up that dictate where your heart truly belongs to?
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
115 grams aubergine or brinjal
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
5 grams red chilies
1 sprig curry leaves
5 grams ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
50 ml vinegar
A small piece of cinnamon
5 grams coriander seeds
A pinch of sugar
10 grams onion
A few cloves of garlic
5 grams green chilies
10 grams tamarind
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons corn oil
5 grams turmeric
Salt to taste
- Slice the aubergine lengthwise and rub over with turmeric and salt. Keep aside.
- Roast lightly red chilies, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Now grind these spices together and keep aside.
- Soak tamarind in salted water.
- Slice garlic, ginger, green chilies and onion.
- Heat oil and when hot, fry the aubergine and drain and remove.
- Mix together the fried aubergine in a vessel with the ground spices, vinegar, and tamarind, curry leaves and sliced ingredients.
- To the same hot oil, add this mixture and coconut milk.
- Simmer for about 15 minutes stirring all the time.
- Add the sugar just before removing from the fire. Serve warm or cold with bread or chappatis.