Some fathers like dogs, some don't. Chotto-Ma's dad is a dog-person, mine isn't. Chotto-Ma sits on D's lap, and together, they pour over a Dog Encyclopedia for hours. I'm fairly uninvolved in the process, though merely by being in the same room, I seem to have collected a fair amount of information on breeds and barks. Growing up though, my conversations with my father had rarely concerned canines. Baba was not fond of dogs (or anything else on four legs for that matter), Ma was non-committal, and my brother and I thought nothing of it.
Dog-people or not, D and my father have one thing in common. They're the best kind of dads, the solid kind. The kind with lots of love to give; along with a firm shoulder and tight hugs. Their fathering is completely different, but D is the kind of father that suits Chotto-Ma, and Baba is the kind of father that suits me. It's all about the having a father who fits.
So, while D was woken up on Father's Day with an odd assortment of dogs and pups (the ones below), I called Baba to give him kisses, and to hurry him on. He and Ma reach London today; their flight lands in a few hours. Of course, if any of these dogs had been real, he would've probably caught the next flight back.
Meet Spotty Dog and Shaggy Dog, hand-cut and drawn entirely by Chotto-Ma, for her Ba, in the secrecy of her room. Apparently, Shaggy Dog isn't snarling at Spotty Dog as I'd initially imagined. He's showing Spotty Dog how well he's brushed his teeth (!)
And this is Bookish Dog, which I contributed, inspired by one of Chotto-Ma's drawings.
She also made him a card with Hanuman, the powerful Monkey-God from the Ramayana. Hanuman is her fast friend, and one with whom she has long conversations.
So, even though summer shows no signs of throwing a party, we had a dog day afternoon. And, of course, we also fed the dad. Cuddles are all very well, but you do need a slow-cooked pork-belly to keep you going. The (very) slow-cooked pork belly was on the hob for three hours, gently simmering in coconut milk, and when it was done, it broke off the bone, melted in the mouth, and was as good as a pork belly can get. There was a green mango salad too. I'll tell you all about it.
Slow-cooked Pork Belly in Coconut Milk
3 long slabs of pork belly (we picked up 3 pieces for the 3 of us. You can easily add one more, keeping the rest of the recipe the same.)
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
Generous splash of fish sauce
3 star anise
2 long stems of lemongrass, each cut diagonally into 3 pieces
1 tsp green peppercorns
2/3 long dried red chillies
1 large white onion, sliced
1 inch ginger, bashed with a pestle
3 large cloves garlic, grated/minced
Bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tsp tamarind paste
2 green chillies, chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp brown sugar
This really is a one-step recipe: Put everything in a pan together, and simmer slowly, stirring (when you remember), for about 2-and-a-half to 3 hours. When it's cooked to it's softest, pick out the lemongrass and star anise and discard. That's all. Nothing more.
Green Mango Salad
I knew I wanted a green mango salad, and one that I found on The Kitchn suited the pork to perfection. You can find the recipe here (the only tweak I made was adding thinly sliced fresh coconut), so I'll just leave you with the pictures.