|My father's parents, second from left, c. 1930|
I haven't been back to the estate since I was in my twenties; it wouldn't be the same. The last time I went, it was without my parents; my cousin-uncle drove me there (his mom was the family matriarch) and when we arrived the workers were all waiting at the gate to greet us. I didn't think anything then of their joy at seeing me, a master's daughter, but later, when my relative took me to see the huts where the workers lived, I was ashamed.
The only link I have to that place now, since my father sold his share to his cousins, is the peppercorns that I ask for every time my parents visit India; I keep them in my freezer, and when I bring them out I sniff deeply into the ziploc bag. I run my fingers through them like they were precious jewels or coins, and I am greedy for them.
Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a pot -- a flat-bottomed wok or a deep sauté pan works well -- and when hot add 2 lbs of meat and brown on all sides. Add 1/3 cup (you read that right) coarsely ground black pepper, 1 tsp salt, and the juice of 4 lemons and sauté for a minute or two. Then add 2 c water and let simmer, covered, till the meat is tender. When you get to tender, remove the lid and raise the heat; when most of the liquid evaporates and the oil comes to the top, the curry is done.