Last fall, before her final battle with cancer took her, my friend Joyce wanted to make one of her sons a special birthday dinner. He requested curry. She remembered I frequently make curry for our family, especially after my dear friend, and Lil' Lamb's godmother, Mallu Mom, taught me and got us all hooked on her Kerala style curry. One of the most important steps in making really wonderful curry, is to have fairly fresh garam masala. This toasted spice powder needs several special ingredients that are not that easy to find, especially in a regular grocery store, and so I suggested to Joyce, she could just use store bought garam masala. She wanted authentic, and so she spent an afternoon searching for star anise and fresh curry leaves, which she finally found in an Indian grocery in Salt Lake City. She picked up extra for me, and so I've had a nice large bag of star anise in my pantry for nearly a year.
As I was preparing to make chicken curry last week, I realized I also needed to replenish my garam masala. When I make curry, I always think of Mallu Mom and say a prayer for her and her family. When I make garam masala, I will now think of my friend Joyce and say a prayer for the repose of her soul and the comfort of her family. It is lovely to think she will always be with me and her gift of star anise will keep her and her intentions present in my mind and heart.