Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When Food Comes Full Circle

Life back then was very "English", as my cousins used to say.
Living in an oiltown set up by the British had touches of  the culture everywhere.
Definitely on food.

So we grew up munching "hamburgers" over a sunday evening movie in the Club, saw our mums serve roast chicken and mutton curry with equal aplomb. Our pantry shelves were lined with canned food- baked beans, sausages and sardines. The supper served at parties included soups and croissants.It was a time when puri sabzi and bacon and eggs shook hands on dining tables.

Then Guwahati happened.
Meals were mostly Indian- rice, dal, the mandatory vegetable and the special non vegetarian whenever my mother could make it. College life meant chole bhature in the canteen, aloo paratha at Kalyani, egg rolls at Feeds and oh yes- the butter chicken and naan we would treat ourselves on birthdays  at Prag.

Oh Calcutta ( Kolkata) and our Bengali cook dished up fish curries and aloo posto . Fish happened in my life like never before and at the behest of my good friend Shivaji, I also made the Sunday trip to buy fresh fish.
Gol Gappas, aloor dom, jhaal muri ruled the roost. So did the PeterCat Chelo kebab and the Prince Biryani.
The mishtis became permanent residents inside our fridge.

Mumbai  brought home a Gujrati cook who was really not a cook but managed to dish out basic stuff. Our meals were mostly chapatis and a  veg dish and dal  cooked by her coupled with maybe some sausages or cutlets from Venkys fried before dinner. She would cook in the morning and the same food would be breakfast, lunch and dinner. ( Diaries of a working woman!!!). Sundays saw me cooking Assamese fish curry and chicken.

Eating out was usually fast food or definitely only Indian and Chinese in fine dining.  And how can I forget my orders from our neighbouring Gurukripa- my daughter loved the Chicken 65 ( which I mistook for a Chinese dish)

So Mumbai was again primarily simple Indian and good Chinese and Konkani.

Finally , it's Delhi. Life  has become one euphoria of exotic roasts, pan Asian, Mediterranean, bakes, stir fries- you name it.It's like a TLC show happening live every meal.

But what I love most is the fact that everything I used to remember  from way back then has reappeared. 
Life ( and food) has come full circle.


  1. Nothing quite like the food in Kolkata, I think. Ever noticed how the Assamese always speak from the heart when it comes to food? So do Bengalis. No other community asks you for details on your meals like the Assamese and Bengalis do. Growing up in the tea gardens became the bane of my existence after a point - I am super-critical about food, but I still eat rubbish.

    And the household help in Mumbai is always a pain. With age catching up, I HAD to learn how to cook, instead of complaining all the time about how things tasted back then. Bought an oven, too, to bake long forgotten recipes. Even then, I am no match for either my mother or any other lady of that era.