By Samir Saxena
Food invokes nostalgia. As a 90’s kids from a small town and having grown up with my grandparents around, this nostalgia has become a mental benchmark in today’s times. Everything I eat or every place I visit, I keep comparing it to my childhood experiences. Recently, a spoonful of pudine ki chutney from a small food joint in Shirdi took me back to my childhood in Udaipur, when my dadaji used to make chutneys using freshest coriander & mint leaves in a rustic grinding stone. That was pure heaven!
Once, I had ordered a dish from a homechef on Holachef and the food came with a small box of tamatar ki chutney sweetened with jaggery. It took me straight back to those chilled Udaipur winters when I used to relish makke ki roti with gud; sitting under the sun in the backyard of my house – something that most kids in Mumbai would never experience!
For me, as a child, butter chicken was another dish which had great memories attached to it.
In fact, there’s a funny story when butter chicken inspired me to become a Chartered Accountant!
Once, an uncle of mine who was a CA took me to Barry’s, an old, legendary restaurant in Udaipur. It was my first time at Barry’s and I tasted the best butter chicken there. As innocent as it may seem, I thought to myself that if being a CA meant getting to eat such brilliant butter chicken more often, then that’s the profession I should pursue too!
Today I am not a CA and Barry’s is long gone (unfortunately); though the search continues for a butter chicken that would taste just as good!
Nostalgia and cravings
I sometimes get cravings for homemade white butter, to just relish those days when every aloo paratha made by mom was served with a healthy dollop of white better on top. Or I often immerse in the possibility of having that sweet khoya made at home with thickened milk. I think of how ghee shakkar ke chawal was the quintessential dessert after every meal and not cheesecake or mousse or brownies. Cheeni ka Paratha was one innovation by my dadi which drove us kids crazy and wanting for more.
Bread or roti with Bikaneri Bhujia was an acceptable combination back then. Even today, I sometimes eat my entire meal with Bikaneri Bhujia. Poha was not poha without spicy sev on top. Back in the day, my pocket money used to be Rs 4 a month and that was enough for me to indulge. Cream Roll was the most coveted treat for just Re 1, which I used to eat every Saturday in my school canteen. I still have it sometimes in Bombay; purely for its nostalgic pleasure.
In those days, even Bournvita had its own special place in my life. I remember how my mom used to add a few spoons of Bournvita to a little sugar, water and milk in a small bowl. She would then swirl it using a spoon till it became a gooey delicacy. I loved having it! Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night and make it for myself, devour it and go back to sleep! I even made a variation of it with tutty fruity, jujubes and sometimes attempted to make chocolate bars by freezing it.
Food was as much a part of my childhood as was growing up. It helped me deal with my difficult teenage years, examination fever, fear of growing up, fear of future, my teenage heartbreak, my first victory, my first loss and a lot more.
I miss all that. As I write this, I once again feel like that grumpy blue-eyed boy of the family who refuses to get out his quilt to get ready for school on a cold, wintry Monday morning without a mug of hot chocolate. I miss those winter mornings too.
About Samir Saxena
Samir loves to travel. He usually picks a direction and takes open roads either on his Bullet or his prized cycle too. Photography, football and FC Barcelona are some of his other passions. He can drink gallons of chai, is a day dreamer and recently started blogging at http://profusely-confused.blogspot.in. You can follow him on Twitter at @SamirSaxena.
Oh, and he heads the Operations at Holachef.