Who am I kidding? I was really there for the food. Indian street food.
When I walked in, the potato patties (or "patis") were sizzling away on the stove. They consist of boiled potatoes mashed with turmeric powder, red chili powder, dash of lemon juice, some chopped cilantro and salt, then rolled in some farina (in this case, Malt-o-Meal).
Manisha was ladling mustard oil with cilantro and sesame seeds on the dhokla, which is a kind of spongy cake made with rice flour and dal (and sometimes the Indian equivalent of Alka Seltzer! That made me laugh).
On the table was a fabulous spread of dishes and condiments:
The patties are covered with a heaping ladleful of ragda made of, in Manisha's words: "dried yellow peas soaked overnight and then pressure cooked with onions sautéed in oil + ginger + garlic + green chillies + cumin powder + turmeric powder + salt."
Atop that you can add a variety of chutneys: sweet tamarind, made with dates or apples, cilantro/lime/mint/green chili, and and red chili/garlic. Plus onions and some crunchy lentil noodles (sev).
To cool the heat of the dish, you can have a bite of sweet yoghurtlike shrikhand. Or you can add to the fire in your mouth with a snack of dal biji (Haldiram's is the best brand).
(Interesting side note: The swimsuit has to be stretched out as big as possible on a frame before you start sewing decorative elements onto it. Otherwise, the swimmer would never be able to get the suit on, because those beading stitches don't stretch.)
Manisha, meanwhile, was working on her own creative endeavours:
There was a lot of talking and laughing but not much actual stitching going on. And the eating wasn't finished, either. Manisha brought out some gulab jamun (dough balls in sweet syrup) and ice cream.
What a fun time it was! The drive home was a bitch (wet, icy, snowy roads and drivers alternately super-timid and dangerously oblivious) but I was comforted by the bundle of leftovers on the seat next to me.