If I have to sit back and analyze myself to get an answer as to “what is that one thing I can’t live without?” I would instantly get an answer, “to eat, to eat good!” The love for good delicious food gets me going each day.
It is my parents from whom I got this nature, I believe. My dad is completely foodie. In a bite he can decide to continue eating more or drop it. He has an eye for detailing and a perfect taste for great food. This has helped my mom to bring out her best since it is difficult to please my dad with anything less than the best. With that upbringing, I am blessed with friends who also were passionate about great taste. There was a time when we use to go out for dinner every 3rd day, in search of taste that could satisfy our taste buds.
It was Samosas, kachoris,Poha with tarri as a pass time outside food. Dal-baati-churmaat home. Mouth watering Italian, Punjabi and Indian continental food with friends. Two years of stay at Hyderabad for my higher studies gave me opportunity to explore almost all big-small famously, infamous restaurants and hotels. I was introduced to some fine dining there with authenticate Hyderabadi dishes. The Hyderabad Biryanis, the lemon rice, Mirchi ka Salan, the list goes on… Not to forget the all time famous Karachi biscuits! I struggled to get good pani-puri, though. The taste buds were pushed to next level of experience in Mumbai. Some of the awesomest cuisines and presentations I witnessed in Mumbai. Be it Vada pav, Bombay Sandwitch or the Pav-Bhajiat Choupaati! Customized pizza at Jazz by the Bay, interactive kitchen counter at Masala Kraft to the revolving deck overlooking the bay…
My wife is a great cook and her experimental cooking has added a new dimension to my understanding about food and various ingredients. I had some of the nicest vegetables, chutneys, cakes and pastas at home cooked by her. I am particular about few things like the perfect taste of Kheer or Gajar ka Halwa for that matter. There are things that nobody makes better than my mom. The sambar that she makes beats any 5-Star, Udupi or a good restaurant. I tried to get that taste of sambar in Hyderabad and Mumbai too; nothing comes closer to what she makes. Infact, when I eat South Indian dishes outside, it the sambar and chutney that makes me decide if I want to visit the place again. Baigan ka bharta, Daal baat churma, Gatte ki sabji, Halwa are few dishes I prefer eating at home because the best is made there.
Now again in a new city, exploring the authentic local food and restaurants that could make me happy. The other day we went out to explore some Punjabi food. Overall the food was good. The daal makhani was 10 on 10. I never tasted that authentic dilli ki daal makhani ever apart from, in Delhi itself. The flip side is, it becomes difficult for me to appreciate food even if it good but not ‘that good’.
Different cuisine helps to understand the local culture of that city. The food habit has influence of the rulers who ruled the city. Hyderabad food is influenced a lot by the Nizams. It also gets influenced by people residing, location, culture, climatic conditions and lifestyle. Mumbai is heavily influenced by Gujrati food. Due to its fast paced life, you would find eating joints at every nook and corner – serving fast with high turnover per table.
fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: It is not just the spices, ingredients and kitchen that makes the difference. It is the cook, the chief who make the difference. I also feel that the nature, mood and happiness quotient of cook puts soul in the dish.