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The first time Tim took me to Indian food was the first time I liked Indian food. It was also the first time I ordered a lassi. I am half Indian, my dad grew up in southern India, and my Italian-German-Danish mom taught herself to make a mean curry, but I wasn’t on Team International Eating until well into my adult years. By the time I’d met and married Tim, I liked plenty of different cuisines, just not Indian, so on our one-month wedding anniversary, we decided to celebrate by doing something to change that. We went to Nashville’s Sitar and ordered Tim’s favorites: butter chicken and garlic naan. Turns out pillowy herbed dough heady with garlic, alongside creamy, tender chicken, is not a hard sell. I was in. Mostly though, there was that sweetened yogurt drink that had caught my eye on the menu and accompanied my meal. Served over ice in a tall glass, it was sweet, just barely, and flavored with rosewater—it was also the most wonderful offering I’d ever sipped through a straw. I’ve ordered other lassis since, at other restaurants, and they’re usually nice, but that rosewater one is a stand-out. Tangy and frothy and not so sugary to give you a headache (which other lassis have been), it was the kind of drink you dream about for days after it’s yours.
Last week, Tim ordered rose hydrosol (which is similar to rosewater). It’s pretty easy to find rosewater online (like on Amazon, for example), and it smells like bathroom potpourri, which is another way of saying I’m not outside enough. You might be tempted, like I have been for years, to think making a splurge purchase on rosewater is out of hand, but, fresh from the lassis we had for breakfast this morning, let me tell you I was wrong. Rosewater imparts the irreplaceable flavor of roses into the foods it’s placed in, creating a floral flavor at once pleasant and unique.
Tim came up with the recipe for this re-creation of my beloved restaurant drink, and, if you’ll permit me to brag on him for a minute, let me tell you it is spot-on. Pale and frothy, sweet but not overly so, with just enough tang to remind you of the yogurt and kefir but not enough to turn you away. Coupled with the cardamom, it holds the new first-place title of Best Drink I’ve Tasted in my book.
I couldn’t wait until another day to tell you about it, so here you go.
Get your hands on some rosewater and make this now.
A few notes from here in Nashville, here in this first week of October:
1 / An autumn that’s all big mums and our neighbors’ porches filled with pumpkins, right alongside bare feet and sundresses.
2 / A few blog updates, some obvious (design changes) and some not (new hosting). If anything seems wonky when you stop by this space, it probably relates to one of the things we’ve changed, and we probably don’t know—so please tell us.
3 / A a new library book I’ve been waiting for, an interview with its author (posted here) and my favorite quote from that interview: “My description of this room will differ from your description of this room will differ from everybody else’s description of this room because we are limited and graced by our own pair of eyes, the things that we notice in the foreground versus the background—That’s the beauty of creative work.”
4 / A good chunk of time thinking about this story, especially because of one line about always wanting everyone to understand what you do, and why you can’t and they can’t, so just stop: “For several years I felt this overwhelming need to explain ourselves and the decisions we made as a family to other people. I hated that I lived in that trap, and yet I couldn’t seem to get out of it. But God slowly freed me of that in Oklahoma.”
6 / Extra work hours, new projects, more social activities and several upcoming trips—and how all of these things, with the tighter schedules they bring, are good things we are being given right now.
7 / Remembering August, when I cried in the middle of Wal-Mart, by myself, walking the aisles to buy copy paper so we could print out paperwork to try to get back earnest money from a house we thought we’d buy, but lost.
8 / Remembering last night, when I cried in a Goodwill parking lot, next to Tim, out of sheer and overwhelming joy at how shockingly we have been comforted and encouraged since then.
9 / Words like these, from Naomi Shihab Nye : “I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back. I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.”
10 / A mug filled with creamy, frothy pumpkin pie you can drink—recipe below.
UPDATE: The winner is Lindsey Hepler! Thanks everyone for entering, and congratulations to Lindsey!
THIS THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST HAS BEEN a night on Nashville’s walking bridge, traffic whooshing by on the distant interstate, a ferry boat passing beneath, my head against Tim’s shoulder while I tell him, “You know, if I lived a thousand years on the planet all by myself, I’d never figure out how to build a boat like that,” and us moving to the other side of the bridge to keep watching it, following it, mesmerized by the turning showboat gears like little children looking at a train; a twilight picnic next to soccer practice, SUVs dropping off and picking up preteens, moms calling out I love yous to their running kids just as the golden hour fades; spiders’ webs so big, constructed around our back door overnight, that I shriek when I see them, even though the streets are sleeping in the early-morning sunrise; long-distance phone conversations with wise voices; surprise hydrangeas; oven disasters that send us to share dinner on the front porch (also covered in spiders’ webs, for the record, because those spiders! they are something!); and, along with these things, a whole lot of good meals to eat.
We’ve had Kathryn’s buckwheat almond cake (but with peaches!), smashed potatoes to use up our pantry stash, Erin’s brilliant einkorn tortillas, fresh tomatoes on homemade bread (recipe soon, we hope!), peach crisp adapted from the brilliant David Leite, pesto to use up our basil, cucumber water to use up our cucumbers, and, this morning for the third time in the last few weeks, this berry date smoothie.
We’re calling this a berry date smoothie with a kick because it’s the kind of smoothie that starts off sweet and then surprises you, almost burns you, as the hot, hot kick of cayenne hits the back of your throat. You want to reach for a glass of water when it hits, but then the rest of the smoothie comes instead, and then you want to say, “Do it again!” and so you take another swig.