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Wednesday March 23, 2005 // By Sandy

If at all possible, employ an open flame

Sarah got an Indian cookbook for Hannukah, and we finally put it to the test Saturday night. It had been a while since we’d had folks over for dinner and games, and with our first free Saturday night in a long time, we fired up the stove, unshelved a gaggle of spices, and got cooking.

Wilted spinach and steamed potatoes and red onions

The menu: plantains with sauteed, pureed onions, wilted spinach with steamed potatoes and red onions, cucumber yogurt sauce, rice and flatbread. And for pretty much all of them, a whole slew of Indian spices: cardamom, fennel seed, coriander, garam masala, etc. I’m sure all of the dishes have proper, exotic Indian names, but I’ve since forgotten them.

Plantains in sauteed, pureed onion sauce

All but the flatbread, that is. That name I remember: chapatis. It’s easy to because we talked about them all night. And the next day. Not because they took hours of chopping and steaming and sauteeing, like some other dishes I could name (or not name); no, chapatis are nothing more than flour and water. Flour, water… and the soft allure of an open flame.

Once you roll out the chapati dough into discs and bake them on a griddle, you pick them up with tongs and set them on top of the open flame until they bubble up. Simple, but that’s all it took for the crowd to gather and gawk. Clearly this is something we’re going to have to make with every Indian dinner party. Fortunately, they happened to also be absolutely fucking delicious.

(This is normally where a picture of the chapatis would go, but I neglected to take one. Instead, here’s an educational diagram I found online:)

And for the record, heralding and exaltations go to Dave, the newly crowned King of Catan.

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