Curry and a TIFF in Toronto’s Entertainment District.
Family’s like food have entered the age of fusion. Spices from one style of cooking, techniques from another and ingredients from a third make for a unique dish and experience. Families are just like that as well, blending ethnic backgrounds, religious upbringing and even parenting styles. No one knows this better than Anjum Choudry Nayyar aka Masala Momma herself. Anjum is the founder and inspiration behind the blog that shares how to be Mom in the Western World while maintaining a connection to South Asian culture in the 21st Century. Despite her busy schedule Anjum meets me for lunch in Toronto’s Entertainment District, right across the street from the Tiff Lightbox at Aroma Fine Indian Cuisine. I can’t wait to share a meal with her and get to know this rising star over some good Curry.
Aroma Fine Indian Cuisine is located at 287 King St. West, Toronto at the corner of King Street West and John Street. This is heart of the action for some folks in Toronto. Restaurants, bars, theatres and of course across the street is home to the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ve stayed in this area before and at night it is alive with Torontonians enjoying themselves. It’s the perfect place to meet Anjum and lucky for us both Aroma is brand new to both of us, an adventure in the making.
Like most of downtown Toronto there is tons of construction happening around the area. Aroma is located above the fray though on the second floor and offers up a lunch buffet that should provide Anjum and I with plenty of good food while we share stories and get to know each other.
It’s a busy place over the lunch hour but Anjum and I are able to grab a nice table away from everyone. The first thing we do is head straight for the buffet. There are two separate stations, a cold one filled with salads and chutneys and then of course there is the hot station with everything you could want from an Indian buffet. Buffet stations is family style eating but on a massive scale. My trick is to start with the dishes I really love and then round out my plate with the rest, this way I always get my fill of my favourite dishes and not on bread
Anjum and I load up our plates with everything from Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower & potato) to Butter Chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh and Tandoori Grilled Chicken. It’s a smorgasbord of Indian cuisine and it smells fantastic. The Tandoori Chicken was especially juicy and the meat just fell off the bones.
With our plates filled, Anjum and I got down to catching up. Before our meeting at Aroma we’d had a few conversations over Twitter but in person is where I really get to know someone and over the course of lunch I became a fan of Anjums. A journalist by trade, she married the man of her dreams but in doing so became part of a family with rich South Asian culture and traditions. How would she blend her Western upbringing with her Husbands family traditions and beliefs? Well the answer to that is of course her blog Masala Mommas. Realizing she isn’t the only mother to face these questions she took to her blog, documented her journey and found a community of other women and men struggling with the same issues.
To steal a tag line from Patak’s, Anjum and her blog are helping people Mix In A Little Indian into their everyday lives.
Lunch is over and so is my time with Anjum. Today I got to experience two different and wonderful adventures. The first was eating at Aroma and the second was meeting in person someone I’ve come to respect. I know that should I ever have a question about anything to do with Indian culture or traditions I can tweet my expert Anjum for the answer. If she doesn’t have it then her community will I’m sure.
The next time you’re taking an online relationship off line mix it up and try meeting at a place new to you both, that way you are both on equal footings and you can explore it together.
This 30 Days of Indian adventure series is sponsored by Patak’s Canada, the world’s leading producer of authentic, quality, and convenient Indian foods, sauces, and pastes. Continue to follow this adventure to find more great ways to Mix in a Little India into your daily life. The opinions on this blog are my own.