Paneer

Back in my youth, I was unable to eat spicy food. People don’t know me to be a fussy eater, but I wasn’t always so adventurous as I am now. Even so, I’m still quite decided on the food I will and will not eat. But I’ve taken a liking to spicy Indian food, and I have Mikah to thank.

When I think back on our relationship, Mikah was pretty good at making me try things I didn’t like/like to do, sometimes, even making me like them. Spicy Indian food. Snorkeling. Holding rabbits. Choosing a place to eat (but that’s another story, another day).

Mikah knew I had a weakness for cheese. So the first thing we ordered in New Bombay, back when it was a tiny canteen on Salcedo, was mutter paneer. And he ordered it medium spicy and made sure there was a lot of rice and water. And, of course, I was hooked. Even when he leveled up to Spicy, I was quite ready. I can still see the pride on his face when I first said, “Spicy,” without prompting when the girl at Swagat asked if we preferred mild or medium.

We became regulars in Swagat and all the different branches of New Bombay, and were allowed to order Aloo Mutter even if it wasn’t on the menu. He was friends with the uncle and auntie who ran the original New Bombay, from his constant eating there, and how generally friendly he is.

(That’s another thing about Mikah and me. I look like the friendly one and he looks like the scary, arrogant one, but actually I’m quite aloof and antisocial and he makes friends with you if he likes your cooking).

In this way, he prepared me for life in Malaysia. I must say, he prepared me well.

My feel good meal after this super long day. Everything is fixed by cheese.

A post shared by Joelle Jacinto (@joelle41) on

This photo of Mutter Paneer was not eaten with Mikah, I was on my home from work with a Makati stopover, but soon as I snapped a pic of it, I emailed it to him and said, “Thinking of you…”

Day 2 of #500HappyMikahDays

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