Monday, March 25, 2013

Wonders of the Ordinary.......

Food and drink reviews are a comparatively recent phenomena.

Earlier, you quietly ate whatever appeared on your plate,  drank whatever was there, and got on with your activities. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that going out to eat was not an frequent activity, for the simple reason that there weren't so many places around you could go to, and advertising was almost nonexistent.

Today, reviewing food is a job. International food has sneaked its way into the country, smitten the young, they are totally spoilt for choice where contents of glasses are concerned,  and the papers are full of visuals and descriptions, and special deals to celebrate special days. Like someone recently highlighted National Breakfast Day. I guess next will be National Brush-your-teeth day.  Never mind.

It has, however come to my attention, that it is all in the marketing and description of food and drink.  And I must confess, that the inspiration has come from a friend who went into raptures imbibing  Black Dog alcohol with terms that you wouldn't associate with drinks, but more with, say a grandmother's lap.  ( mellow / woody / complex yet delicate / harmony of delight / the old world charm and leisure /fruity sweetness / spreads cheer and warmth in all circumstances / deep, golden / round and mellow ....)

I often wonder if we could market healthy stuff  using the same word attitude.

Some possibilities  occur .

Chinch-gulaachi Amti : Madame Toor, whistled at under pressure, getting her act together, as she waits to meet the spice of her life.  Hot oil, complete with mustard crackles, asafoetidish comments, and flaming chiilies with kadhipatta .  A bit of soaked tamarind pulp, and  a stubborn jaggery piece, salt, goda-masala , all boiling in excitement as the coconut and dhaniya leaves fall in.   Enjoy the earthy rich aroma and taste with plain rice  (and ghee), on a cool afternoon, with the papad and pickle-in-waiting standing by, as the old fan gently turns whirs, a sudden chilly crunch, a savouring of textures , and a warm flow down your hungry throat.

Sol Kadhi :  Or is it Soul Kadhi ?  Soup for the Amphibian Soul ?  Sipping pleasure for a thirsty mind ?  Like the woman of today, a mixture of wholesome coconut milk, the sharp kokum, the zing of garlic and green chilly, adorned with coriander greens, amidst secrets of clever cumin . Pretend to be on a Kokan beach eyeing the fish catch, as you delight in the myriad flavors bursting on your tongue, as you sip in style. Or hark back to your childhood, as you slurp it with steaming rice.  Age no bar, it is also an after dinner aperitif....  a delight for the sol or is it soul ?  P. S.  NO SUGAR !

Mango Panha :   Like a popular queen, she is everything to everyone.  A  sophisticated  sipping for those enamoured of glasses with narrow stem bases, in places with twinkling 5 stars,  and a wow-I am-thirsty seasonal delight for those coming in from the unyielding non-AC summer  Sun. Allow the mango blossoms to flower in your mind, as you swish around your mouth, the yummy concoction of cooked  raw mango mush, with sugar, water , ice, a dash of cardamom, and  trick of roasted cumin and rocksalt, with a hint of leafy mint, as you wander in a mind-aamrai on a hot summer afternoon, suddenly coming down to earth , as you  come across the floating saffron strands tickling your tongue.  A simply non-nonsense drink , like your Mom,  adding the saffron not because it looks good, but because ayurveda says  this is ideally cooling for hot summer days....   

Kadhi :  Like a great Indian leader, (the likes of which  we don't seem to see these days),  this buttermilk preparation is pan-Indian, and loved by all. Main coalition partners being buttermlk and besan,  the rest of the stuff is based on which region we are talking about. Slightly thinner south of the Vindhyas. A bit spicy with strictly crackling mustard seeds and turmeric in the Kokan. Much sweeter, and sometimes a bit less yellow, and thicker in Gujarat.  Lashed with tadkas of cumin, cloves ,kadhipatta, and tough looking red chillies.  North of the Vindhyas, like in Delhi , the capital , this is thicker, and often studded with pakodas that sit inside slowly getting drunk on all that kadhi power. Punjab with its Lassi might simply smirk at the southern thin kadhis.  The southern folks have a pakoda variety too, but the kadhi is thinner. The all time comfort food,  to be imbibed with rice, and sometimes, even drunk by the bowlful, tangling with a troublesome kadhipatta. To be had, in a great big lunch with family and friends, just before a lazy afternoon nap , on a Sunday afternoon.     

There is always more, like cutting and non-cutting chai, filter kaapi and simulations of Girasappa falls as the kaapi hurtles across several feet between two steel containers, the original espresso method.  I am not sure serving it in posh containers helps.  

Alcohols,  like short term avaricious governments,  change your perception for a short time.  You are always aware of the pitfalls, but alcohol makes you close the mind. Aur ek drink. Chalta hai .  ....

Give me the above any day.  Sometimes sweet, sometimes bitingly spicy, sometimes slurpingly eye-shutting pungent,  sometimes like the touch an old maternal  comfortable soft saree covering you as you sleep , and sometimes,  like a good friend, with whom you laugh , backslap, fight and make up.  

Yes, and none of these are named after Dogs.  And colors. 

Just saying ......



  1. Hahaha! Terrific! You can market a refrigerator to an Eskimo!!
    By the way Black Dog has no connection with any canines but a fishing fly used for angling :)

  2. Only you can write and ordinary recipe in this way, Suranga! As Magiceye says, you can market a refrigerator to an Eskimo!

  3. I have tasted some of these while my tenure in Bombay