It was Saturday evening – the kind of beautiful when Sunday evening’s pit-of-doom feeling is far, far away. Why, there was glorious Saturday night to live, followed by the Sunday morning quiet and drinking coffee while listening to the wind. (For me, the pit-of-doom usually sets in after 6 p.m. on Sundays.)
“Let’s have an ice-cream,” I said to R.
“Can we also have cheesecake?”
R is fixated upon cheesecakes lately, ever since we got back from Vienna. He has fallen so head over heels in love with cheesecake that even chicken has started feeling envious.
“Okay, let’s go out and explore our options.”
What is marriage if not a little bit of me, a little bit of you, I reasoned. On Saturday evenings, I am all zen-like. Nothing can touch me. I am as pleased as a hummingbird who has discovered a tree-full of fruits and is chirping away like a deranged creature.
We saw ice-cream parlours. We saw bakeries with cheesecake. We saw hipster ice-cream parlours that sold cheese-flavoured softies.
And then we found this.
This delightful, decadent jar of ice-cream, cake and fresh mango all whipped up together. This slice of bliss hiding in Lane No. 6 of Koregaon Park though I hear they have more branches across Pune. It’s deliciousness come alive in a jar.
I have always loved experimenting with food and eateries. While some experiments succeed, others fail majestically. The latter tempt R to stick to a safety net when we eat out and give me curious glances as I make my order. But Saturday evenings like these? They reinforce R’s faith in me and my choices. Good for you, you cute-little-mango-icecream-cake thingamajig!
The other evening, I took home a Chicken Hot and Sour Soup. I have been suffering from a bad cold and cough lately, and Chicken Soup is extremely comforting. Mom would make it for me once, along with all the other hot foods in her collection – khichdi and kadha. I was thinking about her as I unpacked the soup and got ready to slurp. The soup was hot – and I don’t just mean the temperature – and it was delicious. But when I went to rinse my mouth later, a shock awaited me. My lips and tongue looked bloodshot. Continue reading
The eight years or so that R and I have been together, trying out new foods has been a thing. Both of us enjoy trying out new cuisines, new ways of preparing traditional dishes, and cooking with spices we haven’t tried before. Before we got married, exotic restaurants – European, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese – would be our date-night idea. And we spent as much time analysing the menu, or maybe more, as we did looking into each other’s eyes. We ate out at a lot of Indian-food restaurants too – from Bengali to Gujarati to Maharashtrian and others. Ever since, though we don’t eat out as often, we keep experimenting on our travels.
Indian food here in Vienna is very curious. Continue reading
And pure refrigerating and gastronomic genius. Continue reading
“I’ll have some of the Radha Pallobi.”
A friend of mine, a newcomer to Market No. 1, Chittaranjan Park, had just wiped clean a plateful of Bengali sweets – chomchom, rajbhog, sandesh and yes, rasgullas.
“Splendid idea.” I told her. “You’ve had far too many sweets anyway.”
“Wait, what? Isn’t Radha Pallobi a sweet? It sure sounds like one!”
I shook my head and handed over to her a plate of steaming hot Radha Pallobi – stuffed luchis with delicious aloo dum. She was taken aback momentarily, but soon dug in with enthusiasm, much to the shop-owner’s joy.
My friend was no exception; most people on their first trip to C.R. Park are gastronomically overwhelmed at the sheer expanse of this mini-Kolkata. There’s the chaat corner, for instance. They have soft fuchkas – or panipuri – which they fill with a yum mixture of mashed potatoes, chillies and fragrant lemons. They have mangsho-ghughni – chickpeas infused with delicious spices, and hold your breath, mutton. And then there’s jhalmuri too – tall cones of puffed rice flavoured with green chillies, onions, tomatoes, spices and namkeen. Continue reading
I turn to you like I would turn to a drug. Except I don’t do drugs. But wait, I believe compulsively soaking in the morning sunshine and sinking my nose deep into shiuli flowers also count as drugs, minus the grave bodily damage – ta da! But, I digress.
So I turn to you like I would turn to a drug. You lighten the darkest of my afternoons, when all I can see from my silly, corner desk at work is a sombre sky. I have such a love affair with you that it seems sad beyond the grave that you will be gone in a month or two. Relegated to cold storage, ignored, graying and dehydrating. Continue reading
*Picture from thegastronomicbong.com
I have been sitting at my desk in office utterly perturbed. It is a Wednesday that isn’t a mid-week (which other country still has working Saturdays?!) and there has been a lot of work through the day. But this is not why I have been perturbed.
The truth is, I have been facing severe withdrawal symptoms. It has been a whole four days since I had chicken and my self-control is fraying even as I blink! Back in Delhi, Mom and Grandpa knew about my condition and always ensured I got my dose. After all, it was an infinitely better prospect than being around a listless, disinterested individual who lacks concentration and drive. But here in Pune, I have difficulty in finding a supplier near my place. I need to walk down quite a bit or worse, hire an auto-rickshaw (please see this to know why this is doomsday!). R often tries to help me out but his late working hours interfere with our best laid plans.
It’s only June but mornings in Pune have started to bring rain. I woke up to the music of raindrops last night and stopped short of spooking R out by walking to the bedroom all drenched, holding a flashlight. Things got dreamier when sweet, fragrant winds blew in from the window at dawn and I couldn’t believe the world could be cruel enough to expect me to work (turns out it could!). This was when I decided on an evening treat.
Maggi noodles has never been my comfort food. Unless you count the countless times it has helped comfort me from hunger away in a hostel that served consistently bland food. But I experimented. Maggi, Top Ramen, Yippee, Wai Wai. They all worked for me. I threw in a generous amount of tomato ketchup to get the right tang. Goodbye, soul wrenching hunger. But the health people can’t let us lie in peace, it seems. Exactly how you feel when you spot a red ant in the bottom of your lemonade glass – after you’ve finished it.
There are moody evenings, when nothing, right from the hazelnut coffee at Starbucks to the chicken at Thai Palace, seems to set things right. And then there are breezy evenings when all you need to make life beautiful is a plate of spicy panipuri from a roadside vendor.
The panipuri has several names: golgappas in Delhi, fuchkas in Kolkata and gupchups in Bihar. Be that as it may, the perfect panipuri must have potatoes, onions, chickpea and chillies, and be flavoured with salt, pepper, tamarind and lemon. You absolutely must ask for some additional jaljeera to wash it down.
“Did the vendor have clean hands?” says my health conscious family, fed on 99.9% germ-free advertising on television. “Oh, he wore sterilised gloves.”
I will tell you a secret though – please avoid the places that serve you “mineral water” panipuri. An over-hygienically made panipuri is against the natural scheme of things, and like rainbow-coloured roses, just doesn’t feel right.
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