Friday, November 9, 2012

Wait and Taste

Travelling across so many places meant exposure to different cultures, languages, costumes, people and last but not the least food and delicacies. Forget about east, west, north, south or central India, each township or district within state has its own unique flavor. There is so much of difference in the urban and rural part of any place, everywhere everything is distinct.

Kolkata’s rosogolla and maacher jhol is no doubt world famous, apart from that there are so many other varieties available which you will not found anywhere else. Not only Kolkata, any state in India has so much of its own flavour and taste which will be absolutely unique in that specific area unavailable anywhere.
Panipuri or golgappa or phuchka are all names of the same snack but when it comes to taste it varies from UP to Maharashtra to West Bengal to south. Kheer can be of rice or sewaiya or paneer or carrot or sabudana, somewhere it is called payesh, somewhere payasam, somewhere phirni.

Whenever we used to go out of station, it also meant having all meals of the day outside in some restaurants or hotels or in prebooked inspection quarters. Whichever place it may be, their local food was 99 percent liked by each of us, definitely we used to miss mom’s cooked home food, but for few days for some change and for some rest to mom, that was good.

Many delicacies of various places I still remember and which I will never forget in my life. On our trip to Gujarat, we had dhoklas, khandvi, handwa, thepla, sweet kadhi, bhakris, those were quiet simple foods but definitely very different and of course healthy and tasty. From Junagarh we had boarded a bus, it was a night journey, around 2 AM the bus stopped and we were very hungry, there was a small hotel from where dad took pao bhaji, it was awesome, bhaji had a lot of oil and butter in it, but in those hunger pangs, having such a tasty food was worth the pain of getting up at 2 AM. While going to Mandu and Dhaar in MP, we went to a highway dhaba and had sev tamatar ki sabji and rotis, it was mindblowing.

In our north east trip, in gangtok we went to see sunrise to the famous mountain peak, while coming, on the way we went to a monastery, we were hungry and eagerly wanted breakfast. We saw a small shop, not even a shop actually, it was a thela and a lady was selling momos. We did not have any idea about momos, but since that was specifically a momos shop and everyone was having momos there so we also ordered for it. Lady gave 6 chicken momos with some chutney. We were wondering how it would be? But when we tasted it, it was divine, plain steamed chicken momos with hot and spicy coconut and chili chutney. That was the first time I had momos and last time that I had such tasty momos.

Parathas, name only is so much mouth watering. We had been to brindavan, travel by road means exploring dhabas. For our dinner we stopped near a posh dhaba and all sat in dining table and ordered for Butter naan and dal makhni and aloo parathas. That was a complete waoooo.

Dadar railway station in Mumbai, the city of dreams, has a famous shop, “Jumbo vada pao”, each vada pao costed 5 rupees, that was perfect Mumbai taste, mirch, mast and masaledar. Goa, a place famous for beaches and of course sea food, I had my life’s best prawn biryani there. In a beach side restaurant, we went and checked the menu. We saw prawn biryani and asked for it and we did not regret our choice. In goa only, I had pomfret fry and it again was a spectacular dish, pomfret fish slit in between and coated with poppy seeds, it was amazing.

After finishing my training in Mysore, we went for city tour. One of my friend knew a pani puri wala, we went to his shop, and customized his pani puris to that of Kolkata and it satisfied our taste buds. Bhubaneswar and Kolkata are two places which have plenty of fish and sweets. In a costly restaurant of Bhubaneswar, Swosti Plaza, after finishing our meals we wanted to have some unique dessert, and I saw fried ice cream in the menu so asked for one. When they served it, it was some sizzling hot brownish red sphere of coconut and dry fruits and when you cut it, it has chilled vanilla ice cream and as you take this hot and chilled combination in spoon and put it in your mouth, it melts, you just close your eyes and enjoy the taste and feel the taste. So many times, we had prawns there. Chilli prawns, Bali prawns, everything was yummy. Chicken chowmein outside metro station in Esplanade station (Kolkata) was superb.

There might be infinite recipes which I liked, I am a foodie, I love to eat, in my dreams also, I sometimes think of food only, my husband laughs at this. Be it some plain and simple thing or some heavy and oily stuff, be it litti and sattu of patna or be it rasam and rice of kerala or be it radha pallabi of nabadip (west Bengal) or be it tikki chole chaat of UP or be it faluda and kulfi of delhi or be it daal baati churma of Rajasthan, everything tasted excellent.

Howmuchever you try preparing these recipes at home, they don’t come out that well. That taste or I should say that authentic taste of the traditional food which you taste in hotels of that particular location is far and much better there, than at home, while eating outside who thinks about oil and ghee, purities and impurities, at home we may be very much concerned about health but outside it’s a strict no no. It may be that when you go somewhere outside and taste their food for the first time you will like it to the fullest and that of course marks an impression in your tongue, heart and mind and it becomes incomparable to that same food prepared anywhere else. So when you try and prepare the same food at home it is straightway compared to the first impression of that food and the food which we had the first time, it’s taste becomes unbeatable.

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