To the point of this blog; she, my dear friend (Anuzi), saw this interesting foodie blog about 5 Dishes to eat again before one dies. So, she tagged a few of us to "Making sure my love affair with food will continue," (ref - Arches). Here are my five:
1) Chaat - a jumble of flavor and texture: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, crunchy, soft, nutty, fried and flaky tidbits, doused with cool yogurt or cold Jaljeera; fresh cilantro and tangy tamarind and sprinkled with chaat masala. The contrasts are enticing and fast. At the Chaat stalls in Bombay (Mumbai) on Santa Cruz or at Chowpatty Beach, Chaat gets down and dirty and HELLA good. For pani puri, the masalas are bright and plentiful, the puris hot and oily, plump daals; potatoes and onions chopped and ready to go. Pani puri is known for the "work" involved; at the stall the Chaat wallah does everything for you, except for the Jaljeera pani; that, you hold the puri and he fills it up for you and then you put the whole thing in your mouth and eat. And this whole event lasts roughly 5-10 seconds, so in under a minute, you are CHOWING. The samosas are piping hot, split open, ready for you to delight and burn your taste buds; dhai is thick and just the right amount of sour to balance the masalas; and the bhel... don't look while they make it, not sure what they stir in... but it is an amalgam of flavors that keep your head and taste buds buzzing long after.
(I will add a counter point in saying - BE CAREFUL; give it three weeks in India, and then you can ingest local foods; and faces covered to protect the innocent)
2) Sushi - the only restaurant recommendation I can make is that whatever city you are in, definitely go to a good restaurant. There is nothing worse than having dry rice and sticky fish in your sushi. Once you get to the good restaurant start with the edamame and miso soup. Edamame is fantastic, like potato chips, salty and you can't eat just one; but much healthier. Miso soup is a light soup that keeps your tummy warm and a good precursor to sushi. For sushi types, I personally enjoy a crunchy spider roll (fried soft shell crab); salty/sweet Unagi (eel); or a simple tuna roll. I've tried some new things, such as salmon roe on top - delightful little silky beads that have so much flavor; tempura shrimp (fried shrimp); and raw fish on top of the sushi (fish galore). I don't go for the California roll, or anything with cream cheese in it - it's too Americanized... and if you get a chance, watch the chef roll your sushi, it's damn cool.
3)Noodles - some people eat mashed potatoes or ice cream for comfort, noodles are mine. Especially Asian noodles such as jab chae; udon; or soba... slurping up noodles is a good past time. An easy and fairly healthy dish:
-One pound of Soba Noodles - cook till al dente or a bit softer then plunge in ice cold water
-Soba sauce - can get it in a bottle at local Asian store or in the Asian foods aisle; or mix one part soya sauce with one part mirin (sweet rice wine) till it appeases your taste - it should be a little sweet.
-Minced green onions
Drain noodles, toss noodles with sauce and minced green onions. Garnish with lots of cilantro. Yum.
4)Fried fish - Indian style. My favorites are pomfret and catfish. My family makes the batter very spicy; fries the fish, and then puts it in the oven for a bit so the outer layer gets very crispy. That and a bowl of hot white rice with some daal is heaven in thaali.
5)Anything my mom makes. Thinking about her food is making my mouth water. Masala dosa; chicken biryani; butter chicken; masoor daal... she puts so much love an ease into her food, each bite is excruciatingly good.
Since I love food so much, I won't just stop at five, but I'll list a few other favorites:
Chicken and dumplings, Meen Moile, Turkey Chili, Salmon, Tuna, Tuna Tartare, Pakoras, Manchurian, Tofu Lo Mein, Crab Masla Randey (Konkani dish)... and the list goes on.
I won't be tagging anyone, but if you choose to comment, tell me, what are your favorites?