UPDATE: Chak sent me a captioned photo that he took when I wasn’t around. In Indian homes, as in Japanese ones, you remove your shoes at the door. Indeed, I do this in my own crib to keep it clean. I was wearing my usual boots (this is a spiffy new pair of black calf boots by J. B. Hill), and here they are by the door:
Last night reader Chak Dantuluri invited some readers and some of his science-friendly acquaintances to his house in Naperville (a Chicago suburb) to enjoy a home-cooked Indian meal and conversation about this and that (read: science, religion, atheism, free will, and so on). Also on hand were Hemant Mehta (aka “The Friendly Atheist’).
Chak’s wife, Kavita, outdid herself with the cooking, spending hours and hours preparing a stupendous feast with about two dozen courses. If you’ve ever cooked Indian food, you’ll know how time-consuming that is. It was a magnificent feed, and she didn’t stint on the spices, which I love.
Since about half the attendees were theists (of the Hindu variety), we had some interesting chats. I learned a lot about Hindu theism, which seems far more philosophical than, say, Christian theism. I don’t often get to have a back-and-forth with Hindu theists in this country!
The get-together was also a benefit for Doctors Without Borders, and those attending came up with $500 for that worthy organization.
But I mustn’t leave out the food. Below are the appetizers, including vada (the savory “donuts” to the left, pakhora (vegetable fritters, lower right), idli (lentil mini-pancakes, above the pakhoras), a wonderful spicy dish of peanuts whose name I don’t know, a chicken dish made by Chak (upper left), and one of my favorite Indian foods, a homemade coconut chutney to accompany the idlis and vadas (the bowl of yellowish stuff halfway up the right).
You’ll also recognize The Friendly Atheist at eleven o’clock. You may know that Hemant recently got married, and his new spouse is onhis right. Kavita is to his left.
And here’s the main spread, with South Indian veggie dishes to the left, and nonveggie dishes (including lamb pulao) to the right. There are chappatis (indian bread) at lower right as well. (Click to enlarge.)
Early this morning Kavita made me one of the India’s classic foods: dosas (Indian “crepes” made from lentil and rice flour), cooked in a special pan and served with coconut chutney. They’re a ubiquitous snack, especially in southern India. I had three. Here she is preparing my breakfast. Keeping the dosas mist and oiled is crucial:
And one of my dosas. The chutney is essential: you break off pieces of the crispy and savory pancake and slather them with the chutney.