Thursday, May 1, 2014

Confessions of a Foodaholic

There are two types of people in the world, one who eat to live and others who live to eat. Eating is a very interesting activity. The way people eat and what they eat explains a lot about their personalities and character traits. A perfectionist would love to have an elaborate meal together with proper china and glasses. An easy going person would stack up the starters, the main course and dessert in a single plate and be on his way. And a lazy person would eat whatever is in easy reach right in front of the TV just like a couch potato. Food is not just a survival requisite. For some people it is a constant source of distraction and lust. These people constantly worry and think about food. Their days are planned revolving around food. These people are those who fit to the description of the term FOODIE.

I always had this steak of a foodie in me but it took me a long while to understand it. While in college in a very anorexic frame I used to give a tough competition to the guys when we used to sit down to eat. Our college canteen had recently introduced a bliss called momos and we played silly games and bets to eat more and more of them. On an average I guess I easily ate around 40 momos per day. In the final year we used to discuss our future plans over cheese burst pizzas. My interaction in these discussions was limited to quietly gorging slice after slice of pizza oblivious to my deeply involved friends. People would be very surprised because none of the junk I ate showed anywhere on my petite frame. So far so good. But then the evil eye stuck and suddenly the cheese bursts and hotdogs started showing up in a not so flattering way. But how could that stop a foodie from eating. Migration to a new place meant a lot of new savories. Experimentation with cooking meant a lot of disasters in kitchen which sadly had to be eaten because of the hard work and dedication involved. The homesickness pangs were overcome with food, the office politics were drowned with aerated drinks, the shitty roommates were handled over cup-a-noodles, heartbreaks were taken care by chocolate cakes and happiness was celebrated in over-expensive restaurants.

That’s the thing about foodies, every major life event somehow turns into a celebration over food. I guess being an Indian it is drilled into our systems from the very start that food is an important arrangement for any celebratory event. Before pizzas and French fries became a rage, birthday parties were dominated by deep fried samosas and gulab-jamuns. Special guests at home meant paneer pakodas and spicy mutton kababs. As kids, me and my sister periodically made visits to the kitchen to wash off the extra stuff while mother was busy serving the guests. It was our guilty pleasure. Special guests or ordinary it is our Indian hospitality that mandates that the person visiting our home should not be sent empty stomach-ed. It is this mind-set that gets stuck from the very early stage that any big day = good food. Even now on any special occasions like my birthday or salary day, my mother always tells me “Aaj kuch accha kha lena” (Eat something good today). And these words of wisdom are definitely not lost on her daughter.

The daughter, which would be me, makes it a point to pamper herself to a good greasy meal for any think she feels is an achievement. If I diet for a whole week, I feel it’s mandatory to reward myself with a fiery grilled chicken. Late night watching of television series seems totally non-enjoyable to me without a packet of potato chips and mango fruity. Like a pregnant lady I sometimes get sudden cravings of food items. Like having ras-malai in the middle of the night or butter pepper prawns mid-afternoon or good ‘old Maggie in the late evenings. Sometimes these un-fulfilled cravings lead to foodie dreams. In my dreams I am happily chomping away my desired delicacies. And what feels great is that I am not alone here, my foodie friends also is a partner-in-crime for the dream sequences. Her’s is a hilarious one. She loves potatoes and in her dreams nightmares the potato keeps running away from her, the moment she nears it, it keeps getting up higher and higher and sadly farther farther from her reach. She always wakes up crying from the dream but happy to realize that it was just a dream. Me and my potato foodie friend easily spend more than 35% of our monthly salaries in expensive restaurants on food and drinks (not counting special occasions or parties). One gets a craving of batter fried squids, the other simply follows. One feels like eating some tandoori chicken other happily complies. Our friendship started with the shared love for food and restaurant hopping. Our appetites combined together can put a bunch of guys to shame. Our outings (shopping, site-seeing or simply roaming) are carefully planned to include atleast one major and popular food joint. Between us we have this huge list of places popular for their exquisite cuisines which we HAVE TO visit before we leave Mumbai.

Now after all this food talk I present before you a list of my personal favorite food items (selected after careful analysis and deliberation). The list comprises mostly of comfort food which reminds me of home. Needless to say the selection was pretty difficult, the competition was cut-throat. Items that made to top-ten are as follows:

1. Chicken
There is nothing more versatile than the white feathered bird. What party would be complete without chicken tandoori as starters? It is something that is edible into everything from soups and salads to main course. Chinese food is unenjoyable without a healthy dose of chicken Hakka noodles together with chilly chicken. Grill it, toss it, sauté it or cook it in dum – the end product is surely got to be finger licking good.

2. Koshur-Haakh (Kashmiri Saag

This is a pure ghar-ka-khana type of dish for us Kashmiri pandits. The green-leafy bliss comes from Kashmir and sells like hot cakes when in season. The dish contains no special species or ingredients yet it feels like a blast of flavors in your mouth. This dish is best enjoyed with plain white rice, curd and desi French fries which we call aoulu churma in Kashmiri.

3. Roganjosh 
There is a popular saying which goes – Mutton is to Kashmir what beer is to Australia. And roganjosh is easily the king of all the different types of varieties available. It is a tender mutton cooked slowly with a myriad of spices. It is very spicy and best enjoyed with rice.

4. Matar-aaloo (Potato-peas)

This is undoubtedly my most favorite vegetarian dish. I like it without onion or tomatoes. Crisply fried, spicy and melt-in-the-mouth kind. Enough said.

5. Maggie 
I have literally grown-up eating Maggie. The first thing I ever cooked was Maggie. It was the reason of many fights between me and my sister on who gets the major share. The best thing about Maggie is that it is so versatile. You can make it with vegetables, shreds of chicken, with egg or just plain. After all these year the love for Maggie remains. All week I eagerly wait for weekends so that I can gorge on a very unhealthy breakfast of Maggie, lays and thumbs-up.

6. Maasch (Minced mutton balls)

Minced mutton balls mixed with spices and cooked in a red gravy. Sometimes the balls are filled with dried plums which gives it a very distinct taste. It is best enjoyed with plain white rice, pulav or piping hot paranthas.

7. Prawns 
Believe it or not, I had never tasted prawns before I came to Mumbai. Now I am so in love with them and other sea foods like squids. Did I mention that the potato foodie friends is an expert when it comes to sea food. It is under the careful reign of the sea princess that I am slowly venturing into the sea food territory.

8. Mutton pulav 

A very mild and fragrant concoction of rice and boneless pieces of mutton. Cooked in desi ghee with aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and bay leaves. It is enjoyed as it with a little bit of pickle.

9. Baigan-ka-bharta 
Baingan ka barta is something is was very rarely made at my home. But here I cook it atleast once or twice a week. What helps is that both me and my roommate love it. The smokey flavored barta is enjoyed best with chapatis.YUM.

10. Goshtaba

It is a dish they say fit for kings. It is prepared with fresh mutton minced to perfection for hours and hours manually and cooked with curd and spices. The taste lingers long after you are done eating. One of these big balls of heaven and you are done for the day.

Well, must be said that the selection was easily the most difficult task I had to do in a long time. Now be a sport and let me know your feelings about food. Your favorites, your cooking experiments and the food that is in your to-be-tasted list.



  1. Areyyyy ye achchhii baat nahi know how we live...hum bachelors subah subah kaise rahte hain aur uspar khaane ki itni baatein :)
    bhook lag gayi ! bahut suna hai Kashmiri saag, roganjosh ke baare mein, through one of my kashmere friend in bangalore...
    goshtaba....never heard of pahli baar sun rahe hain !
    And by the way, chicken is my all time fave...

  2. शाकाहारी होने से आपके स्वाद में उत्तीर्ण नहीं हो पाये।

    1. ek do shakahaari vyanjan bhi thae usme ;)

  3. Yummy food. Whenever I come to India, I leave no stone untouched to feast on food as if its my last day on earth. I miss my yummy Maggie that we would gorge on during college days and I'm quite finicky when it comes to ur post, Sneha:)

    1. India has the best and varied food available, be it from the streets or the authentic ones straight from kitchens

  4. Ya,so when are you inviting me for dinner??!!

    1. haha, i love to eat but not no fond of cooking :)

  5. Delicious piece of writing!! Like always, you put good efforts when you write a post and that shows up while reading. Appreciate the time you have taken to carefully cook this post with the right ingredients, golden memories, yummy experiences and clever experiments!! :)

    Makes every reader hungry as we read about the aromatic richness in those mouth-watering delicious dishes, I guess they are universally favourite and enjoyed the same by one and all!! :)

    It is definitely important to enjoy food for it's taste, aroma and joy in eating rather than just eating for the sake of living!! Reading about these dishes made me so hungry, I am off to the kitchen now to cook something really special lol ;)

    Well written,
    Good luck,
    Cheers!! :)

    1. IWell i hope you turned out something real tasty in kitchen and had fun eating it :)

  6. my gawd the aloo friend ... hw can some1 be so mad abt aloos.. lmao.. a post well drafted, with nice blend of flavours.. also it truly signifies ur foodie avatar.. 40 momos... itna bhi mat chod..:)

    1. They don't cook much aaloo in their home, that's the reason for aaloo craziness :)

  7. Very nice writing
    U made my mouth full of water