8.29.2015

When Will I See You Again?

Whenever we traveled to the Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts to see Mark's parents, we made sure the visit included a meal at Bombay Bar and Grill in the Black Swan Inn in Lee. Most times, we took his parents Jim and Dorothy with us and, once, we were joined by his Aunt Naoma and Uncle Charles (Jim's twin brother).

When Jim died eight years ago, the whole family gathered there for a meal - there must have been close to 20 of us, with Mark's mother front and center, surrounded by all, helping her begin her next phase of life.

After that, we made sure each visit we had with Dorothy included a meal at Bombay, at a table in the glassed porch overlooking Laurel Lake. She harbored pleasant recollections of eating Indian food in Great Britain, where she lived as an 8-year-old in 1929.

Our last visit to Bombay with Dorothy was in summer 2014, after a day visiting the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Our fondest memory of that day was realizing that, while Dorothy, at 93, was indeed getting older and physically more frail, her mind and wit were sharp as ever.

We were in the Impressionist wing of the Clark in front of a Monet painting, when Dorothy started to fiddle, reaching to find her glasses. Mark leaned over her wheelchair and said, "The glasses won't help - it's still Impressionist." It was a joy to hear her laugh at Mark's joke.

Following that busy day, which included a very large lunch, we took Dorothy back to her place and said, "Well, you probably want some rest... we'll see you tomorrow." Without skipping a beat, she said, "I'm fine. I want to go out for dinner. Let's go to the Indian restaurant." So, out to Bombay we went.

That evening, Dorothy ate us under the table she ate a third of the tables appetizer, and her entire entrée of Chicken Aam Walla (my favorite) while Mark and I shared a different dish. She also had a pint, while we had wine.

Just weeks ago, Dorothy left this world for her next adventure. It was a very sad time for all, and so hard to say goodbye. That evening, several of Marks siblings were able to join us for one more meal at Bombay. We toasted Dorothy, and had the Chicken Aam Walla.

This recipe seems to be one of the restaurant owners own inventions, as I find no references to it online or in my Indian cookbooks. Today, I have made my version - it is quite simple and so very flavorful. Browning the onions is important to the flavor of the dish, so don't stop when they are merely caramelized. Bombay uses cream in their version; I opted for coconut milk. Both are good.

Dorothy would approve.

~ David

Chicken Aam Walla, My Version

1/3 cup oil
3 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
12 curry leaves
2 mangos, peeled and pulp puréed (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (not light)
2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breast

Heat oil on a large kettle over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until onions are browned.

Add the ginger and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the puréed mango and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until darkened a bit. Add coconut milk, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer.

Cut chicken into 1/4-inch strips. Add to simmering sauce and stir well. Bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until chicken is just done.

Place chicken in a serving bowl, with dishes of rice, raita, and chutney on the side.

Serves 4.


38 comments:

  1. Dorothy looks so happy in that photo. I'm so sorry to hear that she passed. I think Bombay Bar & Grill will always be a special place to you all; full of memories of much food, drinking and laughter.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, David. I'd be eating this alone, in met household, as Dean can't stand mango. More for me!

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    1. Well, eating an entire dish of something is just a sacrifice we sometimes need to make. So sorry that Dean can't abide mango - such an innocuous fruit - makes me wonder if he has an allergic reaction to it?

      We had so many happy visits there with Dorothy and family. It's nice to have a place to go that feels like "home."

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  2. I loved the family photographs you have shared here, David, thank you. The recipe sounds amazing. Mango and chicken, wow!

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    1. Thanks, Liz - glad you like the photos, and the recipe!

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  3. Wonderful post and photos, underscoring the importance of tradition and making the most of our moments together with the people who mean the most to us. Thanks for sharing. ( and the recipe looks yummy!)

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    1. Food and memory are so closely connected, Susan - and this will always be Dorothy's Mango Chicken, to me.

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  4. Dear David, so very sad to read that Mark´s mother has passed away - my very sincere condolences - the pictures of her and the lovely story you shared with all of us is so heart warming and special that I feel a bit awkward writing about your chicken recipe - but the restaurant sounds like a wonderful place to share a meal with family and friends and re-live a lot of happy and priceless memories!
    Please make sure to express our sincere condolences to Mark,
    Andrea & family

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    1. Thanks, Andrea - Mark will see your sweet condolences as soon as he opens his computer this morning - we are still rare in that we share an email address, and have since the beginning of the internet! We will always think of family when we have this dish... Liebe Grüße, David

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  5. what a lovely post. i love the impressionist joke! she seems like she was a special lady. i'm really intrigued with this recipe - that's a lot of mango!!!

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    1. Yes, Mimi - it is a lot of mango, but it really smooths out into the sauce and doesn't overwhelm. The browned onions really make the difference. You can try it with one big mango, and then add more if you want.

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  6. Mmmmm.....I must get some mangoes when I go to town.
    That photo of Dorothy is precious. I want to look like her when the time comes!
    I don't know much about Indian food but what I have tried is so delicious. Yummy spices, and coconut milk, what could be better?

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    1. Thanks, Caterina! Yes, when I grow up, I dream of looking half as good as Dorothy! I think you will like this dish - it is rather addictive!

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  7. Very sorry for your family's loss, David. She looks like she had a joyful spirit! What a lovely post!

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    1. Thanks, Marcelle! You kind words are heartwarming.

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  8. A very touching post. I am sure she is there in my spirit as you enjoy your meal and reflected upon her life.

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    1. Thanks, Towny. We definitely felt her with us that evening.

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  9. This post almost made me cry. Beautiful photos and words. So sorry for your loss, and what a nice way to remember Dorothy.

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    1. Thanks, Caroline. I often find that food is a really nice way of remembering people, whether it is their recipe, or a meal shared.

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  10. So sorry for your loss. But what lovely memories you have.

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    1. Thanks, Inger - we really appreciate your kind thoughts!

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  11. Hi David, so sorry for yours and Marks loss, Mark's mom sounds like a very special lady, and so nice you guys created such special memories with her.

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - we found out form Mark
      sister that Dorothy always thought of Bombay as "our" restaurant and she didn't do there with the other children. That makes it even more special now.

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  12. I was saddened to hear about Dorothys passing a few weeks ago. That's a lovely photo of her, I hope to look as good!
    I tersting dish this, I've never really come across mangoes in a Indian dish as such, we use mangoes a lot in chutneys, pickles and as meat tenderisers.
    Aam waala refers to a mango seller, so maybe the mango seller had this recipe? It sounds wonderful. I LOVE curry leaves, so any recipe with curry leaves is an instant favourite.

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    1. Thanks for telling me the etymology of Aam Walla (Waala), Nazneen - perhaps the restaurant's misspelling of waala made it harder for me to find! You really need to try this recipe!

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  13. Just a few words and lovely pictures made me feel the loss of a woman I never met. It is not just your cooking that is divine...

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  14. I'm sorry to read of Dorothy's passing. She seems like she lived life to the fullest. I'm sure she was smiling down on the two of you as you enjoyed her favorite dish.

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  15. What a lovely woman - I'm guessing that her smile can brighten an entire room. I will definitely try this recipe -- mangoes are at the top of my favorite food list!

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    1. Thanks, Valentina - I know you will love the mangoes in this dish! (You made me look up the plural of mango, as I have always used mangos... turns out, both are correct!)

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  16. So sorry to hear of Dorothy's passing condolences to you and Mark. She looks like a lovely lady in the photo with the pilsner in the forefront. My kind of lady.

    I adore Indian food, but have never heard of this dish. Anything with mangoes is divine...thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet and kind thoughts! I really think this was a made-up dish by the owners of the restaurant - which is fine with me, as long as I can make it at home!

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  17. I don't know HOW I missed this one, D. What a lovely story and delicious dish. I'm picking up some mango tonight. I have to try this. xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Colette! I think you posted a note on Facebook! Glad you are going to try this - it is a winner!

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  18. Such a wonderful post, David. Mark's mom looks like a gem - lovely picture of her. Loved the joke about the Monet painting. Your Indian fare (we love Indian food) looks delicious!

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    1. Thanks for your sweet comment, Cathleen. Mark's mother was pretty quick, and had a really sharp sense of humor.

      I hope you make the Aam Waala someday - I assure you it's worth it!

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