An ode to Mum’s cooking, delicacies from India

by Anshul
6 comments

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An ode to Mum’s cooking, delicacies from India

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One of my primary reasons for missing India, is my mom’s cooking. Specifically, home cooked simple meals, that are far from the “curries” that pass as Indian food at restaurants. Below, I showcase what home-cooked meals are like at my place. True delicacies of India are not only regional, they can be unique to each family or kitchens.

Breakfast – Delicacies from India

    • Dalia, also called cracked wheat, bulgar wheat, or couscous, is used regularly by mom, for a breakfast preparation. Cooked with onion, mustard seeds, fresh coriander, peanuts, and voila you have a nutritious Indian breakfast ready!
Delicacies from India

Savoury Dalia

    • If Dalia is not for you, you can easily swap the same preparation for another Indian breakfast giant, the humble Poha – flattened rice flakes. Much like dalia, poha has several versions and regional cooking methods across India.
Delicacies from India

Onion and Potato Poha

    • Uthappam is a Southern India classic loved throughout the country. Essentially, a fermented rice and lentil batter cooked with onions, tomatoes, green chillies, on top.The showstopper here however, is the Molagapodi on the side, which is a powder chutney made with dry lentils, dried red chillies, and mixed in with coconut oil.

 

Delicacies from India

Uthappam with Molagapodi

    • Neer Dosa is one of several versions of the beloved dosa. This delicacy comes from the southern state of Karnataka, and literally translates to ‘Water Dosa’, made with rice batter. Unlike regular dosas you may have heard of, Neer dosa is almost translucent thin, and melt in your mouth. What’s better than Neer dosa? Neer Dosa with coconut chutney!

More importantly, it makes its way to our household through the wonderful neighbours’ kitchen. Gotta love Indian aunties that share food across kitchens regularly, a cultural exchange like none other.

Delicacies from India

Neer Dosa, with coconut chutney

 

Lunch – Delicacies from India

    • Baigan (Eggplant) Chokha is one of my favourite lunch menu items at home. Chokha is a melange of fire roasted vegetables, in this case, fire roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and chillies, mixed in with mustard oil, and fresh coriander leaves. Smokey charred (and peeled) vegetable mix, accompanied by the simple dal and boiled rice, its a flavour party!
Delicacies from India

Baigan Chokha, with Dal and rice

    • I am lucky to have in-laws that come from Palakkad, a district in Kerela, and borders the state of Tamilnadu. So their plates and palates both reflect the crossover equally well. Or so I am told, and we exchange our affection through food 🙂

Visit to the in-laws usually means a beautiful feast that includes regional delicacies (going left to right in picture below) like the Avial (mixture of vegetables cooked in coconut milk, and curry leaves), Pachadi (yogurt with vegetables, coconut, mustard seeds, with ginger and curry leaves), Lemon Rice, Curd Rice, and Peserattu (Lentil crepe).

 

Delicacies from India

Avial, Pachadi, Lemon Rice, Coconut Rice, and Pesarattu

 

Snacks – Delicacies from India

    • My snacking habits are definitely not this healthy. But when I visit India, I make it a point to try as many seasonal fruits and drinks as I can. It is common to find fruit and juice vendors across each neighbourhood, and I made good use of that to tuck into some freshly squeezed Sugarcane juice. The vendor was more than happy to see me walk over with a jar every other day, for my fix.
Delicacies from India

Fresh Sugarcane Juice

    • While seasonal mangoes hog most of the limelight in India, the hidden gems in my opinion are Chikoo (Sapodilla) and Sitaphal (also known as sugar apple, custard apple, sweet sop). Both these fruits have unique flavours and make for great afternoon snacks, or even dessert!
Delicacies from India

Chikoo (brown) and Sitaphal (green)

 

Dinner – Delicacies from India

    • Indulgent foods in India, are endless. But Poori makes an appearance in every list – a deep fried bread, made with unleavened whole wheat flour, which mops up those curries really well. In this case, being used to mop up Suran ki Sabzi (Elephant Yam curry), a regional delicacy in many North Indian households, especially made during Diwali.

 

Delicacies from India

Poori, with Suran sabzi

    • This delicious meal below includes some of my favourite items, like the Jowar/Bajra roti (mixed Millet roti), accompanied by Bhindi(Ladyfinger or Okra), Baigan Chokha (described above, fire roasted eggplant prep), Turai Sabzi(Ridge Gourd with split pea lentil), and Moong Dal(Mung bean dal). The array of vegetables eaten in India, and the preparation techniques are truly unique (and regional).

 

Delicacies from India

Millet Roti, with Bhindi, Choka, Turai, and Toor dal

Take Away

Weeks, or even months before I get to India:

Me: Mom, I will be home for the holidays

Mom: What would you like to eat when you get here?

As soon as I set foot at home:

Mom: What should I make for you to take back to Canada?

Mothers have a way with food, to show affection by feeding you. And if you are like me, you eat an additional portion to show your affection in return.

Delicacies from India

Mom and I – Grand Hyatt, Goa

Off to the gym folks, New Year resolution beckons 😉 Wishing you all a happy 2022 – cheers!

6 comments

Sarah (polgara100) January 2, 2022 - 8:59 pm

So much to love in this article. I am lucky my mother lives nearby so I can get my mustard oil amchar, bhaigan, bhindi and tomato chokha fix fairly often. But your article reminded me of the sapodilla and mango days of my youth (I found sapodillas a little too sweet! And they often had worms). The dosas look amazing.

Reply
Anshul January 2, 2022 - 9:17 pm

LOVE it 🙂 So glad you get in on the good stuff through your mom regularly! You know what they say, if the worms love it, must be good – haha! Sapodilla can be super sweet, thats what makes them go with dessert so well too.

Reply
Vimal January 3, 2022 - 11:05 am

As a Palakkad born, Delhi bred, Caribbean residing NRI I must say – this is a nice article. those pictures made my stomach growl. How ever I must correct you, Sugar Apple and Custard Apple are two different fruits. so they look similar but the taste and flesh consistency is different.

What surprised me was you called the Eggplant dish ‘Baigan Choka’. This term and spelling is more commonly used in the West Indies – countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, etc. In north India its called ‘Baingan ka Bharta’.In fact here the humble egg plant is called Baigan where as back in India its Bengan/Baingan

Reply
Anshul January 3, 2022 - 11:24 am

Caribbean residing NRI – you lucky duck! 🙂 Had no idea that sugar apple was diff, point taken, and will be hunting for it on my next trip to the islands.

Baigan Chokha/Choka comes from Bihar (as does my father’s family), as in ‘Litti-Chokha’. Guess who else has Bihar ancestry? Trinis, Guyanese, etc. That slave route ran from Bhojpur/Awadh (now UP/Bihar) all the way to the caribbean.

Bharta is a more ‘cooked’ version of Chokha, and is typically eaten in Delhi/Punjab/Haryana. Unlike Chokha, bharta is further cooked with spices and veg, after fire roasting.

I agree, Baigan Choka is more how my Trini friends say it, and Baingan Chokha for us desi folks.

Cheers Vimal, thanks for catching the finer details in the post 🙂

Reply
Andy January 3, 2022 - 12:09 pm

Should not have read this until after lunch, now I’m even more hungry! Love the heart behind this post as much as the photos and descriptions of the dishes. Nothing like mama’s cooking!

Reply
Anshul January 3, 2022 - 12:41 pm

Cheers Andy! Indian takeout tonight? 😉

Reply

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