My eyes sting. I squeeze them shut to ease this stinging sensation. It’s hot around.
I don’t open my eyes for a while.
I am sitting with my grandmother. Her wrinkled hand moves in an out of tandoor. Smoke rises from the tandoor. The smell of charcoal is mixed with the smell of wheat flour and onions.
I open my eyes. I put the knife aside. I’m through with chopping the onions. My eyes aren’t through with tears though. I pick a jar full of red chili flakes and tilt it slightly over my palm.
I hold handful of red chili flakes and drop them into the tray, over the pile of chopped onions. I pick some oregano seeds, as many I can hold between my fingers and add them to the pile. Same with salt.
I dig my fingers into the pile and start mixing the ingredients together. My fingers burn as I massage chilli flakes into the pile of onions. My mind receives a quick message from my nervous system. Spoon! Stirrer!
I ignore that message and carry on with my fingers.
My grandmother pulls the first onion paratha from the hot tandoor and puts it in my plate. Over that she drops a chunk of homemade white butter. I break the hot paratha with my little hands, as little as a nine year old can have.
The first bite that goes into my mouth melts.
I put my hands under the tap, trying to calm that burning caused by the chili flakes. I look sideways. The chopped onions look dotted red and black with chili and oregano seeds. The salt, of course, I cannot see.
I wipe my hands and move to the stove. I put a pan over the flame and then drop a handful of cumin and mustard seeds into the pan.
My grandmother puts a small bowl of yogurt in my plate. Its mixed with some kind of black powder. In a stern voice she tells me, "Eat properly, eh. You’re supposed to dip that in this. Who did I make this for then?"
I obey, dipping the next bite in the yogurt mix. I relish it.
In the pan the cumin and mustard seeds have started popping up and down. I turn the burner off and take the pan off the stove. I transfer the roasted seeds to a plate and let them cool for few seconds.