Almost exactly a year ago, Reuters published a study that found Indians – from India – to be among the happiest people in the world. This in spite of countless natural disasters, over crowding, extreme poverty etc.
But…The happiness of Indians doesn’t surprise me. I’ve encountered this phenomenon before.
London has an enormous population of Indian, from India, people – though they are called Asians over there. I know this because for a time I worked for a cosmetics collection sold only in England and we had a line specifically formulated for Asian (Indian-Asian) skin tones that did very well.
One of my BFFs, Alex, lived in London for a couple of years in the mid ’90s. As Alex was moving into her flat (apartment), one of her neighbors came out to greet her. No surprise that the neighbors would be curious. Alex is a majestically tall, beautiful, blond woman who gets attention wherever she goes. Her neighbor was similarly tall – but the similarities ended there. He was an Indian gentleman dressed in traditional Indian garb.
In New York, the sight of a new neighbor’s belonging clogging the hallways and tying up the elevators can send residents into a rampage. We might bombard concierges and doormen with calls demanding to know when the eyesore and inconvenience will be over. We’re not really a ‘welcome, here’s a bundt cake‘ kind of people.
So, having moved from New York, Alex was getting ready to apologize for moving in, crowding the hallway, using the elevator, making any unnecessary noise…really, for anything at all.
But, no need. The Indian neighbor came out, took a look at Alex and her belongings that cluttered the hallway, smiled broadly, clapped his hands together as he announced joyously: ‘Oh! Goody Goody, my new neighbor!’. He was so happy to welcome her.
Since the goody goody greeting, we have tried to follow his lead, soak in some of his glee. And we have used his words whenever we greet new neighbors, new adventures or new anything.
To try to infuse his joy into my cooking, every time I make Indian food, I whisper his words over and over in my head.
Goody Goody Mulligatawny Soup (Serves 8)
Tiny Apartment Tips:
Creating this soup uses a lot of kitchen tools…so clean as you go.
- The fragrance of the soup will be strong depending upon how much curry you decide to include…So, close the doors to your bathroom, bedroom to keep the aroma from permeating your linens
- Make an effort to welcome new neighbors who move into your building
- 3 TBSP Butter
1 medium onion, diced small PLUS 1 whole onion cut in half
- 2 Carrots, diced small PLUS 1 whole carrot
- 2 – 3 Stalks of Celery, diced small PLUS 1 whole stalk of celery
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced small
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 1 TBSP Curry – I use a little less – but maybe that’s why I’m not as happy as people from India
- 1/4 TBSP ground nutmeg
- 3 Whole Cloves – whole cloves are really expensive…but, if they mis-charge you at the Food Emporium, and you find the mistake, they will refund you the entire amount! There’s a reason to be happy!
- 3 Sprigs of Parsley – flat leaf
- 1 12-14oz can of chopped tomatoes
- 32oz of Chicken Stock or Broth
- 2 Bone In Chicken Breasts with rib meat
- 2 Cups cooked rice – I used long grain American Basmati…but, would probably recommend plain white rice instead
- 1/4 Cup of heavy cream
- Salt and Pepper
1. Poach the chicken breasts:
Remove the skin from both breasts
- In a pot large enough to hold both breasts, cover the breasts completely with water
- Throw in 1 onion cut in half, a bay leaf, a whole carrot chopped in half, a celery stalk chopped in half, 1 TBSP salt, 1 TSP freshly ground pepper
- Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil
- Reduce to a simmer
- Simmer :15 mins or until the chicken is cooked through
- Remove from the poaching water and set breasts aside to cool
- Strain the poaching liquid and reserve liquid to cook the rice
2. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat
3. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery and red pepper
4. Saute the vegetables until very soft – about :15 mins depending upon how small you dice
5. Add the flour, curry and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook about 2 mins
6. Add the whole cloves, salt and pepper, chicken broth, parsley and tomatoes
7. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer (BTB/RTS) and simmer covered for 1 hour
8. While the soup is simmering and IF the chicken breasts are cool enough to touch, shred the chicken with your hands
9. Cook the rice in the poaching liquid according to the ingredients on the rice packaging
10. After the soup has simmered for one hour, remove from the heat.
11. Puree using an immersion blender – I have a new pink one from Cuisinart!
NOTE: if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a blender…Allow the soup to cool! Then, transfer a couple of ladles at a time to the blender and puree. Transfer the pureed portion to a second pot. Repeat until all of the soup is smooth and creamy
12. Stir in the heavy cream – you can skip this…the soup is tasty and creamy without…
13. Add in the shredded chicken and rice and heat through
14. Serve with a garnish of chopped parsley, sour cream and…if you want to spice it up – a little dash of Gindo’s Spice of Life
Welcoming committees may be going the way of the dinosaur. And, the ‘no bundt cake’ approach isn’t exclusive to New York City. I lived for a bit in CT and never received a bundt cake out there either.
I’m not saying we should all be baking every time an apartment on our floor changes hands…But, would it be so bad to welcome a new neighbor?
Those simple happy words from Alex’s Indian neighbor still make me smile fifteen years later
I’m not really sure why the people of India are so happy. Maybe it’s the food? After making and eating this soup, I could see that. It really is another reason to smile and announce joyously: Goody Goody!