Monday, November 10, 2014


I have always been very fond of Sweden as far back as I can remember. From the time when I was a little girl, my family has had business ties with Swedes. My Dad's friend Sven  is a dear friend of mine as well. When I was about 7 years old, I got a little note from then 8 year old Evelina through her mother Ylva who was in India on work. From then on, we have continued to write letters to each other which then graduated to emails and now whatsapp messages!! Like all friends, we have shared and discussed all things related to pets, books, movies, boys, schools, etc.

And when I was 15 years old, I had the opportunity to visit her for 4 weeks and go to school with her as well. Those 4 weeks as a 9th grader in Sweden during one summer, was a period of enlightenment and change for me. I came back a different person and till date I remember my time there fondly. One of the memories I carry with me was the time I spent in the kitchen with Ylva, my friend's mother. I was her sous chef in the kitchen and enjoyed spending that time with her during the weekends. Ylva, was a warm and caring mother who would churn out delicious meals for the family everyday. I went to Sweden as a scrawny teenager and came back as a plump one!! I gained 8kgs in those 4 weeks I spent with Evelina's family. So you can imagine what a fantastic cook Ylva was and still is!! Ylva has been a strong influence on me when it comes to my fondness for food and cooking.

Since 1995, I have visited Sweden numerous times and have been a big fan of Swedish home cooking. My favourite is of course, the Swedish meatballs. But I must say, that my most favourite are the breakfasts there. I love the different breads, honey, smoked salmon at times, the cream cheese and other cheese spreads!

During my short stay of 3 days in Sweden this October, I got to eat all my favourite dishes and what made it even more special was catching up friends after a long break. I was going back to Sweden after a break of 7.5 years, a lot of things have changed since my last visit there. For starters, Evelina has two little adorable boys aged 4 and 5 and I met them for the first time last month. Evelina put in a lot of effort to make sure that they were delicious dishes on her table for every single meal while I was there. What was very striking for me to know was that she has inherited the dining table from her parents after they moved and it was the same table that witnessed me gain 8 kgs in the summer of 1995. Only fingers crossed this time that it doesn't happen again! ;-)

My very first dinner at Evelina's was a seafood extravaganza. She had to drive to Gothenburg to pick me up from the airport and she used this opportunity to visit a local seafood store and bought a lot of goodies to feed me. There was boiled shrimp which was very flavourful and was served with a spicy aioli. There was also cold-smoked salmon and hot-smoked salmon with gravlax sauce. She had also baked a potato gratin for dinner. Its layers of potato slices baked in cream along with garlic and parsley. Now what can go wrong with something like that? It was heavenly! Although I manage to buy smoked salmon every now and then from the big metros in India, the gravlax sauce is something I miss here in India. I love the sweet, spicy and sour taste of the gravlax sauce and has been unable to recreate the same in my kitchen.

Clockwise from top left - Hot and cold smoked Salmon, Vintage Volvo, boiled shrimp and the grey autumn skies over the Swedish countryside

Evelina and her husband John, live in the Swedish countryside about 3 kms from the nearest town of Gallstad. She has her own hens in a coop and gets fresh eggs from them every day. A week before I arrived, she had a bought a whole sheep from the farmer next door and had it butchered and packed into neat little packages to be tucked into the freezer, to consume over the next few weeks. I made Rogan Josh with some of that lamb and it was a big hit with her family. I also made a chicken curry for dinner one evening and had her little boys running around in circles with their tongues out as they found it too spicy. Evelina made Swedish meatballs for lunch one day when her mother visited us. In no time, she made the meatballs, sauce and potatoes while chatting with us in her kitchen. The meatballs were served with Lingonberry jam which is a classic combination.

Like I mentioned earlier, breakfasts are my favourite in Sweden. With fresh eggs from Evelina's back yard, the breakfasts in her house were very special. As a teenager, my favourite was a layer of butter on any bread and a thick layer of honey. I had to eat that one morning just to relive that summer of 1995. Another day, it was smoked salmon with gravlax sauce and eggs. One of my new discoveries this time is the cheese spread that is available in tubes in a multitude of flavours. The flavours range from smoked shrimps, shrimp and crayfish, ham, blue cheese, chives and smoked reindeer meat with actual bits in it. During one of my visits to the local grocery store I was amazed to find a huge display of these cheese spread tubes. The range of flavours was just mind-blowing!

This was probably my shortest trip to Sweden and the first time I did not visit Sven and his family. Sweden and its people are very close to my heart and I am already longing to go back to Sweden. I hope to make it back to Sweden in 2 years from now with my little boys and share with them the culture and friendship that is very special to me. 

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