The Rift of the Maggi

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.

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Spicing up an Evening

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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In defence of coffee

I daresay coffee has it only a trifle better than guinea pigs when it comes to scientific study. I have read about coffee being good for your liver, bad for your skin and bad for your liver the next time I checked. The stores boast of rich product portfolios of trillions of types of coffee – decaffeinated, hazel, espresso, everything but the kitchen sink – and I have seen health freaks twist their nose in distaste when offered a brew.

On winter mornings, I downright cherish – what’s a stronger word, treasure – my cup of steaming coffee which I partake of from a seat by the window. These are usually mornings when I do not need to be out in the maddening crowd or spend a divine day trapped in some godforsaken bit of work, but can stare into nothingness, think about the rest of the beautiful day, and watch the cows come home.

When the health freaks make me their object of distaste, and I feel benevolent enough to let them feel good about themselves, I casually replace my coffee with the bitterest concoction of green-tea in my possession.

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The Sharmas in Karol Bagh

Roshan Di Kulfi

It was a white, wintry day. Mr Sharma and his wife stood outside Roshan Di Kulfi – the old, Karol Bagh restaurant – waiting for a table. They looked enviously at a group of college children, busy eating with plates in their hands. There was a time when Mr Sharma too could eat while standing. He would come along to the restaurant with his wife, then girlfriend, and order two plates of papdi chaat. It had come as a pleasant surprise the first time they visited, the fact that the place also served food other than kulfi. Now, however, his hands shook too much. Worse still in Delhi’s biting winter.

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The Big-Bong Wedding Larder

Bengali Wedding Food

*Picture from The Hindu

With my housemates gearing up for the wedding in February, there’s ceaseless discussion on food. The talks gather steam after I am back from work. Though delicious in themselves, the talks render bland whatever it is that I am snacking on. You see, how can I be expected to cherish a sandwich when people are deliberating upon chicken kosha, mutter-paneer and daal tadka? I sit drooling and chewing, wishing the day were upon us already. It is another story – quite sad really – that I will not be able to enjoy any of the delicious food that is being planned. The bride and groom will sit atop the stage, smiling beatifically for the shutterbugs, as the guests lick off their plates.

“How many types of fish will we have?” a friend of mine asked cheerfully. “I am expecting at least three. After all, it is a Bengali wedding. Will there be hilsa?” Continue reading

Savera Shuts Shop

“They only serve in the mornings.” R would chuckle as we walked along Savera, F.C. Road.

I would make a face and pretend to be very engrossed with my mobile phone. There would be a colleague or so by my side. We would be on our way to have a chocolate sandwich. This was several years ago, when we first came to Pune. I would steal a glance at R when I thought he wasn’t looking. Back then, he would often sport his favourite blue shirt. The one that today exists only in my memories.

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Saying Hello to Food

Food, I have found, is an enormous help when it comes to combating mood swings. And falling in love with food is one of my newly acquired gifts.

As a child, I was the model kid in the block. You know, the one who never badgers you for a chocolate or a lollypop. Or a samosa or a panipuri. Or a burger or a pizza. It’s another story that we lived in an age when Pizza and Facebook hadn’t conquered minds. But anyway, you get the point. So whenever a mama or chacha would drop by with goodies for the baby, the baby wouldn’t be too happy. Those were the occasions when you’d be required to sample the food so that the guest could be sure you’d liked it. And I had very proper notions about eating. The quintessential no chaat-no fried-no sadak-ka-khaana school.

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I am a Pizza Connoisseur, claims Flu-Stricken Delhi Dude


I have a Pizza Lover colleague at work. Oh you have one too? I guess there are plenty of them roaming around the floors of air conditioned malls and outlets that serve baked bread with onions and mushrooms. At work, I have a Chicken Fanatic (who’s taken to cashing in on my Bengali eating habits like a fish takes to water), a Vegetarian Snob who is okay with egg for it is the new pure-grass thing and even a Cad-M Cad-B freak. (they are sinful chocolate drinks which are proprietary to Maharashtra, I think) So one fine day the originally from Delhi dude had a birthday and as luck would have it, he was struck with a dose of seasonal illness.

We did toy with the he-played-hookey-to-avoid-treat idea. It isn’t financially nice paying for a dozen starving stomachs especially when you are not exactly on till-death-do-us-apart terms. To confirm/un-confirm our fears and to give him some birthday evening company, I went along with a friend to say Happy Birthday.

As the evening shaped out, we ended up having pizzas at Dominos (Close to the all new Pantaloons outlet on Senapati Bapat Road, I am sure they are enjoying the new found strategic advantage).

Initial Arguments We Made For/Against the Plan:

“So much cheese goes into them… it will coagulate my throat!”

“But hey, I can’t do a mess ki tasteless thali night tonight of all nights.”

“Pasta is an absolute no-no much as I adore the little white strands.”

“Garlic bread could do the trick. Say what?”

“I have to stay off Coke. And ketchup. And even the delicious oregano. Poor me!”

“Some spice and some things nice go a long way in curing a sore throat.”

Dominos Pizzas

 All convinced and prepared, we feasted on a good number of pizzas, a box of garlic bread and a bottle of free Coke. The Chicken Barbeque in the order satiated my chicken fanatic friend and as for the birthday boy, he has never failed to admire the finesse of a well made pizza.

“Pizza Hut is better though,” he said seriously, “they have a more subtle technique of mish mashing the ingredients.”

“I am sure.” I replied, sipping some Coke. “I am a little low on pizza gyan though.”

“In Delhi,” he went on, “they make the pizzas more rounded and crispier. Even without the double burst of cheese, you feel all fuzzy inside.”

The two of us nodded furiously, having a go at the cheesy dip the Domino’s people had thoughtfully (and not without extra charges) added to our order.

Of course we split the bill.

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia and

A Tete Tete with the Happy Luncher…

The sky is a deep, dark blue. There isn’t a cloud to be seen. On-the-run lunchers in ICC’s Level 9 cafeteria are trying their best to relish poorly cooked vegetable thalis and pau bhajis. (and some are regretting their decision of trying new-to-the-menu: Maggi Noodles) We are out in the sun, walking toward Art Beat.

“A regular walk in the sun oh my. You must hate the food up there!”

Since I am not paid to be polite, I have no qualms in admitting I d-e-t-e-s-t Level 9! They serve water and call it curd, mix up yesterday’s leftovers and decorate the menu with a hideous aloo-chole-paneer. (ever heard of such a dish by-the-by?)

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