As I sit here typing, my chicken tikka masala is simmering away in my favorite heavy-bottomed pot. The smell of garam masala and perhaps a bit too much cumin shifts my senses towards feelings of incredible warmth. My tongue is anticipating the spice of red chili flakes and the tang of tomatoes and yogurt. My mind is on how much time it’s going to take before the chicken and jasmine rice is done, when that tenderness will peak. I think about how this recipe has evolved since I first posted it on Marinated.

Before this moment, my apartment was a little darker, and not because a light bulb recently burnt out. I spent the day anxious, alone, and quiet for this or that reason. I found some peace at yoga for an hour, only to return to my empty apartment feeling as I had before. In these moments, I can think of nothing else but the prospect of cooking. I start to crave a busy mind maneuvering through Whole Foods, scanning ingredients, brainstorming the possibilities of the unique things I can do with my ramps or my basil plant. When my emotions are taking an extra beating, I’ll crave a challenge. I’ll want to make a soufflé or a fruity galette or a seasonal pavlova even if it’s 11 at night. Whatever I know will busy my mind, I take it on.

This has been true for me for quite a while now. It was my strongest coping mechanism growing up, and it continues to grow up with me. Perhaps it’s not so great that I’m avoiding feeling my emotions through action, but there are worse coping mechanisms than this, right?

I digress. I wanted to start this mini-series of “Recipes for the Self” as a way to write down the things I’ve used to help me in the hopes that they can help others. Cooking and eating has always been my therapy, and hopefully there will be things mentioned in these posts that allow you to explore that side of yourself as well. My love for food starts here: at the warmth and the love cooking and food can provide for you and whoever you’re cooking for. As I navigate the job world, I’m trying to devote my life to figuring out how this warmth and love can be communicated across all boundaries – be it through writing, recipes, media, therapy, or what have you. Regardless, I think here is a good place to start.

I can only hope my experiences can begin to shape a few of yours.