I spent my first night in the UK (since childhood) at Togo Dada's house and I spent my last day night there as well. Life has a way of being wonderfully circular at times. I felt guilty that I had not been to his house since my first visit, having missed his youngest daughter's wedding as well but this last evening was an opportunity for tying up loose ends.
Togo Dada and Dadi live in Bracknell, a small town close to Reading. Dada has not been very well recently and Abba and I thought that we should meet him on an urgent basis before we left the UK for Germany. So, the night before our final departure, we made the long Tube journey from Walthamstow to Waterloo followed by an even longer train journey to Reading. (There were a few moments of panic along the way as we were not able to get in touch with Togo Dada and we got off at the wrong stop but that was quite quickly resolved) Togo Dada arrived at Bracknell station to pick us up and to our pleasant surprise, seemed to be in good health. He informed us that Dadi was away in London, watching the Olympics.
At his house, Togo Dada took upon himself the onerous responsibility to feed us. He proposed a barbeque, an idea we jumped upon with considerable relish (pun fully intended). I learned a thing or two about 'healthy' barbeque foods that day. I helped Togo Dada prepare chicken skewers for the Barbeque and threw together a coleslaw and a salad as well. They were all delicious, fresh and (quite) healthy, so I will share the recipes here for future use. (Like him, I determine the quantities of my ingredients purely based on instinct):
Togo Dada's Chicken Skewers:
- Chicken Brest (Fillets)
- Low-fat Natural Yoghurt
- Minced Garlic
- Minced Ginger
- Garam Masala
- Chili Powder
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt (to taste)
Marinate the chicken, refrigerate and prepare the coleslaw! Once marinaded, skewer for the barbeque!
Togo Dada's Coleslaw
- White Cabbage
- Creme Fraiche
- Low-fat Natural Yoghurt (left over from chicken)
- A small quantity of Mustard (whole grain, powder, etc.)
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Shred the cabbage and carrots. Add salt and pepper and a small quantity of olive oil. Add mustard. Mix in Creme Fraiche and Yoghurt. Taste to see if quantity of mustard, salt and pepper is adequate. Otherwise, add more. Refrigerate if not used immediately.
Togo Dada's Garden Salad
- Red & Yellow Bell Peppers
- Feta Cheese
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
Dice the Tomatoes, Avocado, Peppers and Feta Cheese. Thinly slice the lettuce. Mix.
Togo Dada likes to add Cucumbers to his salad but I've never been a big fan of Cucumbers in salads, so I may try something different. Maybe Beetroots?
- Wholegrain Mustard/Mustard Powder
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
Mix the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with the salad (obviously)
While preparing these dishes, Togo Dada and I discussed my time in the UK, my law degree and my future. His ears pricked up when I said that I intended to move back to Bangladesh to practise. He turned to me, with half-squeezed lemons in his hands and a half-grin on his face and said: "You know, all that is wrong in that country is our fault." He paused. I looked at him, querulous, uncertain of what to think or say. He continued: "My generation left the country, we're all here, abroad. We didn't want to go back to struggle and deliberately chose a life of comfort. You'll have to go back and struggle. I admire you for making that choice." I remained silent and he went back to squeezing lemons.
After the meat was barbequed, the table set and dinner commenced, Dadi returned from the Games. We spent some time reminiscing about my childhood and Abba's first posting in London before heading back to the Railway Station. Togo Dada also took the time to impress us with his considerable knowledge of Classical (particularly Romantic era) music: Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, etc. It was a wonderful way to spend an evening with one of the elder members of my family; a man who to me represented a certain set of choices but also someone I hope to see again in the future.