In the meditative quiet of the early morning kitchen I can smell the basmati as it soaks, and hear the slices of eggplant flap against the paper towel as they are laid to release their juices.
As I remove the tops from a kilo of chillies the noise of the knife hitting the wooden board has a soft quality. I breathe to the rhythm of the knife. The chillies are so red so green. Their skin is shiny and slippery to the touch. They are plump, these ones. The onions smell stronger, my eyes water sooner. The oil sizzles and spits as the cauliflower is prepared.
The aroma of raw spices as 7 or 8 of them go into the dish. The scent of food slow cooking, the spice aroma maturing with the heat.
Everything is intensified in the quiet meditation of the kitchen.
Vegetarian Maqluba, adapted from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi
Slow Cooked Chilli Jam