For the past month, I have been talking a lot about travelling. When we travel, food becomes an essential part of how you have unearthed the mysteries of a new city and of a country. It is a part of that complex puzzle that helps you experience and understand a place and its people. Ingredients talk of history and how you eat talks about its society and culture. An important part of travelling is coming back home as well. Coming back home to your city, your people, your bed, and of course your food.
This month on the #BlogAlong, Shruti aka Msz Knowitall, Upasna from Life on my Plate and I, aim to take you back to your home, your roots, to the depths of your heart as we talk of comfort food. Food that has become a part of who you are. Food that talks to your soul! There are a few food items that you can have at any time of the day or night and never tire. The smell, the sight and the taste takes you back home and at that moment you know that all’s well in the world.
We all have a few food favorites that speak to our heart. Here are my top 5…
How can Maggi not be on the top of my list. In fact, how can Maggi not be on the top of any kid’s list who had grown up in India! The quintessential two minute instant noodles that instantly lights up everyone’s spirits. Instant noodles is actually supposed to be food when you don’t have any groceries left at home or just don’t feel like cooking. For me, however, and I’m sure a lot of people, having Maggi was like a celebration. As a kid, it was the spicy noodles that you were treated to when you behaved well. The lovely noodles which was the first thing you ever learnt to cook… even before you learnt to cook eggs. The versatile noodles that you can experiment with.. until you find your special way of making it, and then there is no going back. The taste and feel of these noodles that take you back to your childhood days. Oh Maggi… you had such an impact on me growing up.
Unfortunately Maggi, I know it’s not going so well for you right now. Times are tough. You have always been there for us when we needed you, and it is time for us to be with you now. Hang in there my dearest Maggi, get better, and when you do, we’ll be right here waiting for you….Yours forever and ever!
2. Amma’s Chapati
Comfort food would usually takes you back to your roots. It is something you have grown up having. The next comfort food on my list is exactly that. Chapati, roti or flat breads are a staple in the Indian diet. We make them everyday and have it with our vegetables. No big deal right? Wrong! There is a way that my mother makes chapatis, which she learnt from her mother and it’s a way that my family has been making chapatis. Some would call it a ‘paratha’ because of how it is made, but it’s not really that either. The soft and layered chapati makes even the dreariest of vegetables taste great!
For my mum and me, chapatis is not just about the bread that you have with your veggies. It is about bonding. Before I got married, and even now when I visit home, I’m almost always in the kitchen with mum while she makes the chapatis. I sit on one of the platforms and we gossip away! If it’s just the two of us, the chapatis come straight to my plate from the tawa, all hot, soft, inviting and sooo yumzzz!!!
It took me a while to learn how to make these chapatis. Unfortunately, I still cannot make them as well as my mum and granny. Practice makes perfect… hopefully!
3. Bisi Belle Bhaat
Bisi Belle Bhaat, literal translation : hot + pulses + rice… but that is just a simplistic way of describing what Bisi Belle Bhaat is. It is rice and saambar mixed together, with lots of vegetables, served hot. It is usually accompanied with some crisps or papads and raita. I throw in some pickled onions in the mix and now my mouth is watering. The perfect Sunday afternoon fix!
Bisi Belle Bhaat is a traditional dish from my state, Karnataka. Although there are many variations of the dish, my brother and I love it the way our mother makes it – with lots of vegetables cut nice and big and full of peanuts! I know adding peanuts might sound strange to some, but we’re North Kannadigas and we LOVE peanuts in anything and everything. It gives a nice little crunch to the mushy rice and dal. That’s the way I have learnt how to make it (so has my brother) and now my husband, a Bengali, likes it as well.
When I was living in London, Bisi Belle Bhaat was my go to dish to cook. It is a little laborious as you have to cut a lot of vegetables and wait for them to cook, but the preparation and the wait is always worth it. I would make enough for about three to four meals and be comfortable with the quantity because I knew that I will never tire of eating it.
You can find plenty of recipes of Bisi Belle Bhaat online, but I will soon write about how I like it. Perhaps you will like it too. *stay tuned*
4. Bread … in all its forms.
- What can I say about bread? You can have it savoury, you can have it sweet.. you can have it for breakfast, you can have it for dinner.. you can make it what you want and that, baby, is how I like it! I love love LOVE bread! Yes, you’re not supposed to like carbs, but I can’t help myself… bread is so versatile! No matter where you travel, there is always a different variety of bread to sample. Even at home, grabbing a slice of bread and having it with cheese spread does wonders to me. I like to experiment with different varieties of bread. I once tried to make oregano and olive bread, but that was a huge disaster. I shall try it again though…
I also love bread upma. It’s such a lovely Indian twist to having bread. My mother used to make it with bread that is a bit stale, but I don’t mind it with fresh bread. It soaks up all the masala… and yes, I love adding peanuts to that too 🙂
- 5. Chocolate Brownies
There could be no other befitting end to my list than chocolate in all its forms. Anyone who knows me and is reading it, I’m sure is smiling and nodding their heads and saying.. ‘Yep. That’s right!’
I have a huuuugggeee sweet tooth! Slightly selective though.. but huge never the less, and chocolate is what the tooth craves. Chocolate in all its forms. Chocolate bars.. with liqueur inside it is even better! Chocolate ice cream, with chocolate sauce.. chocolate cake.. the list goes on! Of all chocolaty wonderfulness, my absolute favorite is the chocolate brownie.
As a young girl, the first thing I learnt to bake, were the chocolate brownies. I used to bale when my parents were not at home. It made me feel so grown up! As a I grew older, the vanilla essence in the brownies was promptly replaced by rum. I remember this one time when I was making brownies, I was pretending to be Nigella Lawson. I love the way she speaks to the camera with the little bit of mischief in her eyes and big smile on her face. She chucks things in a pan and watching her cook is such a pleasurable experience. So, that day, while I was pretending to be her, I said to the wall (which was supposed to be my camera).. ‘add a dash of rum’ and I didn’t realize that what I put in was much more than just a ‘dash’ of rum! Oops!!!!
When the brownies were baking, the whole house was smelling of rum! Well.. we all know that more the rum, better the brownies 🙂 My parents, however, were a little skeptical of having that batch of brownies. Lots more for me I guess 😉
So here we have it, the top 5. There are many many more that I love, adore, and mad about. What makes you droooooool and your heart skip just thinking about it? What is the food that makes you feel alive? Join our #BlogAlong and make us feel hungrier than we usually are (FYI we are ALWAYS hungry!)
This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party hosted by Shruti from Msz Knowitall, Upasna from Life on my Plate and me. This month’s theme is Top 5 Comfort Food. Tell us what makes you feel like home!