On one of my adventurous train journeys ( which usually miraculously escapes fatal accidents – courtesy India railways 🙂 ) , I heard my co-passenger branding veggie’s ( vegetarians) as “Ghaas Phoos” (Grass).He went on to explain that “Ghaas Phoos ” dishes (i.e , vegetarian dishes) are extremely ” saada” (simple) , boring and lack variety. On contrary I have indeed enjoyed large variety of dishes , thanks to my mom , my friends and colleagues.
My tryst with different cuisines began at my home ( unknowingly 🙂 ) . Born and brought up in eastern India , I was introduced to all eastern delicacies very early at childhood.
Some of my all-time favourites are : Sandesh, Rosogulla , Kheer Sagar , Rasmalai , Paneer Puri’s served with condensed milk, Pokhalo , Jhula ,Dalma ,,,and so on.
My mom inspite of being a south Indian house wife introduced us to all kinds of Indian cuisines – Punjabi , Bengali , Maharastrian, Gujarati etc apart from our regular dishes. A fervent disciple of Sanjeev kapoor (chef of cookery show Khana Khazana) , Tarla Dalal ( chef of cookery show – Cook it up with Tarla Dalal) and the famous food columnist Vasundhara Chauhan , my mom used to create wonders with least amount of spices and very few vegetables. Consequently Shahi Paneer , Paneer Pasand , Matar Paneer , Malai Kofta , Navratna Korma ,Dhokla ,Poha , Appam , Puttu etc , etc ,etc are all much familiar to us .
My exploration of cuisines started with an unfamiliar name – “Maa Ki Daal ” , with a familiar and well-known taste . I got to taste this dish at Delhi , the famous notorious walled city , where I was undergoing my training for my first job. I used to wonder what exactly is “Maa ” in “Maa ki Daal “.At first I used to think that the simple dish of black gram is made exquisitely by mom’s ( 🙂 silly , me) . After a little bit of investigation , Eureka ! ! ! I found out what exactly is “Maa ” doing in the simple urad ki daal 🙂 ( of course the preparation of daal is not so simple as the name sounds 🙂 )
It’s a love-hate story with Delhi’s hustle bustle , pollution , crowd and to top it all the wide variety of junk food and main course available . At first I hated the sight of medium sized handful Bhature’s dripping half kilo oil served with chole in three inch oil slug . ( Awwww ! ! ) . Fast forward to today , I desperately wait for winter season to taste the lip smacking chhole bhature”s and pav bhaji’s . The other favourites in my list are : Rajma Chawal, Kadhi chawal , pahaadi daal , Kachori’s etc.
“Pahaadi daal ” was introduced to me by one of senior officer’s wife , residing at dehradun (Capital of Uttarakhand) . She delicately served the extra katori’s(servings) of daal along with lot’s of affection , when we were on our way to Delhi . Instantly I fell in love with “Pahaadi Daal ‘” and did a little bit of research about its preparation with the help of my mom . “Kachori” and “Moong Dal ka halwa ” are the other delicacies worth craving for during winters in North India . Kachori was introduces by my U.P friend at Office and discovery of “Moong Dal ka halwa ” can be traced back to the numerous birthday bashes we used to enjoy at the great “Rajasthani Restaurant “, Rishikesh(Uttarakhand) .
I also had a wonderful opportunity to taste Russian delicacies ( Ah ,Ah 🙂 vegetarian only) . The head chef at our officer’s guest house developed a liking for my curiosity and used to serve with all kinds of special dishes whenever prepared on special occasion’s.These dishes sometimes were made for Indians sometimes Russians .One special dish , which I regret for forgetting the technique of preparation was made up of fresh fruits and vegetables especially for our Russian guests was extremely delicious.
Today I dream to visit north-eastern part of India to taste their exquisite vegetarian cuisine.Fortunately , after enjoying rich experiences I still wonder how can a vegetarian be “Ghaas Phoos” or boring or simple and blah,,,,, blah,,,,,,blah…………………………………….
P.S : Reference of image used above littlefrugalista.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/cartoon-vegetables/