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The fate of a curry smell?

The flavor of Indian food, especially those of our curries and masalas, is one of its kind. No other world cusine boasts such a huge and equally wide variety of spices and flavors. This variety adds to the complexity of cooking and its duration. The 2 hour or so marathon cooking for a three-course(conservative regular!) meal radiates enough aroma(refrain from saying ‘smell’) to fill an entire house. Truly so, it is a unique aesthetic of India cusine – It invites not just you but also your neighbours to dine!

But when does this aroma become a smell, especially one that is repelling? I would have never thought about this aspect of the Indian food had I been in India, but of late, I have become averse to this issue of curry flavor that sticks to everything around you. Perhaps it doesnt make sense to people living in India, but for most of us living in US, it should be apparent. In fact, we realize it more when we visit others(we get so immersed in our home and the aroma around!). It is the smell on your winter jacket when you take it out from your closet after the long summer? Yeah, that closet across the kitchen and in the walkway infront of your main door! It is the smell on your window drapes(curtains), the same on the couch and the worst is, at times, it sticks to our clothes. While we try as much to keep our clothing as far away from the kitchen as possible, in addition to perfuming it, the smell of curry just beats us over to everything on occasions. The reason for the problm is simple and is quite easily and naturally solved in India.

1. There is absolutely no air flow inside any buildings here in the US. Keeping a window open is not a norm but an exception. All these windows are glassed, meaning getting light is important(?) but not air! To that sin, add cetral and automated Air Conditioning(AC). Rather one shouldnt leave any doors or windows open. Those other types of windows, are not built to allow lot of air flow, most of them are netted to prevent dust/flies/insects and almost all of them are sliding windows meaning only one half opens while the other half is twice sealed!. Keeping your main doors(front and back for those few who have it) is just out of question in the country, i wouldnt be surprised if they say it is against law to leave doors open!(heard of noise pollution, privacy?). With all this, the poor aroma has nowhere to go, but to find solace in couches and closets and under the beds and hoods and wherever we dont often try to move things in/out. The longer it stays, the longer it sticks to things around.

2. Most of the houses here are carpeted. Nothing holds the smell better than carpets. For hard-core indian food families(religiously feast on freshly cooked indian food three times a day!), imagine the carpets tortured with all kinds of flavors over years….unless the house is well aired and carpets are soap cleaned regularly, it will certainly expose what they ate for dinner last night!

3. This is not true in general, but some leave their finished dishes open and also pile up(sometimes for days!) in the wash basin! This is even worse, a strange experiment with smell/decay!

Then there are those who dont give a damn about any of this, what can I say? It all depends on what you think? or should I say what you smell?

There is another aspect of the similar problem that happens to some of us. It is the joy of Indian food during Lunch at workplace. When one poor fellow Indian soul, somewhere in the other corner of the building, opens up his or her lunch box, Ah! Wah re Wah! the food’s distinct flavors that fill the entire floor…Hmm..pretty sure, 9 out of 10 other Indians out on the floor can guess what the food is. Tomato rice, Curd rice and chicken curma top the list. I am no exception, as much as I make fun of it, I opened by Rajma this afternoon stalking few cubes around if not the whole floor! I never dare to ask my other fellow American colleagues about what they feel about this? Perhaps, they were thinking about their tuna fish or left over chinese food that they had today! Trust me, it stinks so bad you would stop eating yours!

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