On Monday last week a long stretch of the River Thames from Oxfordshire through Berkshire and down to the outskirts of London had 14 severe warnings( with the potential for loss of life) in place and over four hundred properties along the Thames were evacuated. There were fears that thousands more were at risk.
The road and rail networks came under severe strain and many home owners faced flooding (some for the third consecutive year). This winter crisis has opened serious divisions between departments in the coalition government and the Labour opposition blames government spending cuts for the ongoing disaster.
Rubina stood by the big bay window in my front room, looking outside. There were large puddles and streams on the road and still the rain came down in a steady downpour that had been going all morning. I noticed that she pulled her pullover tighter against her. We had just got back indoors and the house was still quite cold.
“You say its been raining like this for 2 months, Wool?” She asked.
I nodded. “ The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for parts of south Wales and south-west England, on Tuesday 11th. They were saying the continued rain in these areas would add to the misery being endured by thousands of home owners.” I said, as I fiddled with the room thermostat, trying to get the room warmed up quicker.
Rubina shuddered and made a face. I poured more tea in her mug and she topped it with milk. She shook her head when I offered her the sugar bowl. “ Hapana,” She said. “I may have as many cups of tea in a day as I like but I only have sugar in my first cup, after that it’s milk peke yake. She smiled sweetly and I did my best to look like I understood.
I asked her how it was that she had agreed to come to England at such a horrible time
“We have some important clients here, but your Babu has so many pressing engagements just now. That’s why he sent me. He would hate you to think that it was the foul winter that put him off,” She said.
Rubina had arrived in London some four days earlier for a series of meetings and consultations with various clients and partners in the City of London. I now realise that Babu was pulling the strings. He had arranged it so that I would be the young lawyer’s chauffeur and general assistant. The boss at the Government Shredders, where I worked, had unexpectedly announced that I was owed ten days’ leave. He said I should take it now or lose it. Rubina’s visit seemed to be the silver lining on a very dark cloud. On the day she arrived someone sent me a photo of a rainbow.
The young Rubina is the brightest and most respected lawyer in their firm and she is often described by her colleagues as a workaholic with borderline OCD tendencies. She completed all her city assignments in two days and we spent a very pleasant day doing the sight-seeing and shopping things. Rubina was extremely knowledgeable and wanted to see so much. She was so clever at explaining things but had the charming wonder of a child. She was not shy to admit when she had never heard of something. We went to the Tower of London and then visited the British Museum where we saw the mummies, shrunken heads and terracotta armies but it was down in the Tate Modern that she made me realise why people are so interested in art galleries.
And so here we were now back in my flat on the last day before she went home. My plan was to drop her off at her hotel in the late evening and then perhaps catch up with the guys at the pub for a last pint before closing time. It was only 3.30 in the afternoon.
“Woolie, let’s spice up the afternoon.” Said Rubina, as if reading my mind. “Eh?”, came my simplistic reply.
“Show me your kitchen, she said. I haven’t forgotten when you baked for the kids at my flat, last year.”
I was not sure where she was going with this but I led her to the small kitchen at the end of the corridor. She found an apron, put it on and went through the cupboards, fridge and store looking for ingredients. I live alone right now and I do not shop very often. But this did not deter the young Rubina. After ten minutes of searching, poking and prodding she had gathered an impressive array of ingredients. Some of the stuff she had found I never knew that I had.
First Rubina got together some ingredients and chopped them up. There was red onion, spring onions and chillies.
In this small pot she placed a vegetable mix made of peas carrots potatoes and sweetcorn. This were fried gently in a special blend of secret spices.
Next I helped to prepare and chop a huge bunch of coriander.
This next pot contains 1 Kg lean minced beef, fried in a blend of select spices.
We then added the chopped ingredients to the meat and vegetarian pots
Using strong plain flour Rubina made a good dough for the pastry under my careful supervision.
There are copyright and patent restrictions in place that prevent me from disclosing how we started with the dough and arrived at this stage in the proceedings. I wish I could tell you but unfortunately I cannot.
In the next step we half- filled a big karai with frying oil which we then heated. We deep fried six or seven samosas at a time, turning them after three minutes or so. We removed them when they were golden brown.
These were then lifted out of the boiling oil using a slotted spoon and then placed on absorbent paper,
We repeated the deep frying process until all 108 samosas were cooked. These were placed in a warm oven to retain the nice crispy pastry.
We sampled the results immediately and I was surprised at how delicious they turned out. Rubina confessed that she had watched and helped her ma make samosas many times but these ones were the first that she had done on her own. She was extremely chuffed at the result.
Many people will tell you that cooking genuine samosas the traditional way is time consuming and labour intensive. This is true. By the time we had finished it was quite late and it made no sense to drive Rubina all the way back to her hotel in town. It was a grand honour to play host to the brilliant lawyer on her last evening. We played chess and scrabble until the wee hours. The cold and dampness were kept at bay that night by these simply wonderful spicy treats.
I hope that you too will try and make some.