Mmm...South Indian foood! I can't tell you why I love to cook so much. I started with pies and cookies at age nine, full meals at age 12,  and breads and pastries in my teens. Although I have had no formal education, my kitchen was a laboratory in my teenage years; my father caught me one afternoon aborting a "failed project" in the dry creek bed behind the house. I can taste and smell subtle nuances and replicate recipes effortlessly; all my life I have read cookbooks "for fun," tasting the flavors as I read. I can adapt and substitute ingredients easily, coming from the platform of 'what we have in the pantry' rather than 'that missing item.'
Every country that I visit, I make a point to learn a special dish from that region, so it was not too unusual that I'd adapt to cooking South Indian food when my husband brought me here to live. My Mother-in-law made sure that I knew how to cook her eldest son's favorite recipes, especially his most favorite dish Aviel, a mixed vegetable dish that commands a curried coconut sauce, with ingredients that compete for dominance--cumin, tamarind, garlic, chili--and a slight nuance of burnt flavor from the bottom of the clay pot over the fire. Replications of my Mother-in-law's Aviel have taken on a new meaning now that she is no longer with us. South Indian Food! Come for a meal sometime.