I have begun cooking Dahl lately. The smell of those Indian spices frying off with garlic takes me back to those blue days of my early 20’s, living with my ex boyfriend in a decrepit old sub divided Queenslander, above Shaws Bay in Ballina.

N- often cooked curries from scratch, and those fragrances perfumed many of our days back then. He did most of the cooking and it is not something that I began to learn or take any pleasure in for myself until my early 30’s in Sydney living with Al. It is only very recently that I have begun tackling curries from scratch myself. I particularly love pounding and grinding the spices in the mortar and pestle.

N- and I parted company not long before I turned 26, and when it happened I was left high and dry from a culinary  point of view. I had a very few number of meals in my repertoire. Looking back, it feels as though I lived on endless cups of tea and cigarettes for the next few years, but I am fairly certain that I actually ate real food at least reasonably often. My weight averaged between 45-48kg so it is fair to say that my portion control was on the meagre side.

It’s been a slow climb to where I am today. I’m still not too adventurous, and it’s not a passion, but it’s a continuing pleasure, a cumulative venture. I retained N-‘s spanakopita recipe from our days together, and that is one of Al’s favourite meals, but my repertoire is wide and varied now.

Do you have a chequered history with cooking, or did it always come naturally?