Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Tagful of Tasty Memories :)

I've seen this tag on a few blogs and have elected to go ahead and do it, because complete and total foodie that I am, how could I pass up an opportunity to write about:

"Five memorable meals ever eaten: It could be anything that makes the meal memorable - the food, the place, the place you were in your life when you ate, the company, the weather, the ambiance - heck, the guy who served the food!"

In doing this tag, I face a problem of plenty. I come from a majorly foodie family and consider it one of my greatest blessings that I was born to the couple who're the best cooks in not only my family, but among all the families I know. So food has always been an integral part of my life, or rather, amazing food has always been an integral part of my life.

Understandably then, it becomes difficult to pick just five out of a lifetime of memorable meals, but it was a process I thoroughly savoured :D

1. Festive Meals - As long as we were based in Bombay (a timeframe which spans the first 22 years of my life), our routine for Christmas, New Year's & Easter was almost always the same. Breakfast was at home, a meal which in the later years was mom's homemade bread and roast chicken. Our mouths would start watering the day before with the house fragrant with the aromas of baking bread and roasting chicken! Lunch would be at my maternal grandparents' home where my grandmom would lay out a spread of Indian delicacies. I say "Indian" because she travelled all over India with my granddad and her cooking reflects that diversity in addition to the flavours of our native Kerala. The Christmas sweets post-lunch also were just as versatile. Dinner was at my paternal grandparents' home where my grandmom favoured Western flavours more. So we'd have a roast again, and she'd make a yummy stuffing to go with it. Surprisingly, what my sister & I both looked forward to were granny's salads, because the dressings would be 100% rich mayonnaise (not the healthy yoghurt like our mom usually made us eat!), and aside from the veggies, there'd be crunchy croutons (again, not on our mom's usual menu as its deep-fried bread), and of course, extremely generous chunks of cheese!!!

2. Murg Shifta at Ivy Restaurant - This is a place close to home in Bombay. We checked it out some years ago, and have been hooked since our first meal. My favourite is this heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth chicken kebab - the Murg Shifta. The first time I bit into one was the first time I was moved to tears by the sheer exquisiteness of food. Whenever we've visited Bombay after settling in the UAE, no matter what else needs to be done in the short time we're there, we ALWAYS eat from this restaurant. If we can't go there, then dad orders in advance and then picks up the food. This restaurant was also the setting where I had a meal with this dude who'd come to see me; food came second to the conversation that day as we each evaluated whether or not we could spend the rest of our lives together, though I made it a point to mention the Shifta and how it was a favourite :D I later married that dude, and when we visited Bombay post-marriage, we all went to Ivy again (or as he puts it, we returned to "the scene of the crime"!!!)

3. Stamp of Approval - My mom & grandmom came to visit us a few months after my marriage. As soon as she freshened up after reaching home, mom came straight to my kitchen to check out what I had prepared for dinner, and on seeing the dishes, she couldn't resist sampling one of them. As I had learnt how to cook only after marriage, this would be the first time she would taste a dish by yours truly. Though baking had become a passion some years before and she liked the cakes & desserts I made, I think its somehow different when it comes to the food you eat on a daily basis. So there I stood, making tea and watching with some nervousness as she took a bite of a chicken preparation - one of her recipes itself :). To my dying day, I will never forget that look of surprised admiration & pleasure that lit her face!!!

4. With My Oldest Friends - Most of our socialising in Bombay was with the families of my dad's two oldest friends. Their kids are my oldest friends and we've gotten together countless times at all our homes. The atmosphere is always comfortable & relaxed the way it is when everybody goes back donkey's years and every get-together was loads of fun. But there are two meals that especially stand out in my mind as I do this tag. The first was my 15th birthday party, which was just 11 days before my tenth standard board exams. When everybody else was feverishly cramming, we partied on till 3 a.m.!!! (And yes, I did do pretty well in the exams too :D) The second meal was a get-together when I visited Bombay in January this year. Hubby couldn't get leave, so I had gone alone. I knew I was pregnant, but as I hadn't seen a gynec yet, my parents & I didn't share the news with the others. That night, us "kids" played cards like we've done nearly all our lives, and we laughed and laughed with the same abandonment as when we all really were kids and even as I was laughing, I was filled with this bittersweet feeling that this would be the last time we were together like this. My life, at least, had changed forever, and the next time we would all meet, I'd have a kid of my own.

5. Thankful for the Blessing - The first trimester of my pregnancy brought on nausea so intense that for the first time in my life, the mere thought of food made me sick. The culinary sights & smells I'd savoured all my life suddenly became so unbearable that not only did I keep out of the kitchen, I'd stay shut in my room if somebody else was cooking. My diet was reduced to a chutney sandwich for breakfast and either a simple khichdi* or chapati** & curd for lunch and dinner. With my energy level at an all-time low, I couldn't make even these basic meals; first my parents, then hubby & my ma-in-law took over the kitchen. So the first day I re-entered my kitchen and was able to stand there and cook a decent meal was a huge blessing for me. As I made a proper, tempered dal*** and marinated mackerel for frying, I actually had tears in my eyes! I was that happy and that thankful to have regained my old strength and abilities, and I vowed then that I would never take them for granted.

So these are some of my most delicious memories :) Anyone else wanting to take a tasty trip down memory lane, feel free to pick up the tag!

* khichdi - rice, lentils (and vegetables if you want ..... I didn't!) cooked together.
** chapati - Indian flatbread.
*** dal - lentils cooked to a soup consistency.


  1. This is one tag I loved doing and love reading it too :) As I ws saying elsewhere, it hs a warmth associated with it :)

    The first one - I cud so relate to it :) My Mom and Dad are awesome cooks and so many ppl look forward to being invited home for the same :) Juz loved ur X'Mas routine - @ home and then @ the grandma's :) Sounds so nice!

    Loved the third one :) It must hv been such a happy moment for both of u rt :)

  2. AAAHHH!! This post is one of my all time favs...

    and my fav from among your 5 was the one with your oldest frns..
    some how that bitter sweet feeling that it was the last time you were having a riot and life would change forever going forward gave me goose flesh.. somehow that very paradigm change makes me a bit nervous ...

  3. Swaram - Oh definitely, food & food talk have their own unique warmth! The festive routine was very nice indeed & I miss it so!!! Anyway, hope to start my own traditions too :)

    Amrita - Thanks!!! I wouldn't say it was the last time I was having a riot....there definitely will be more rioting in the future :D, its just that that was perhaps the last time I could be completely carefree. Now on, I'm responsible 24x7 for a lil person & that's not something to take lightly. I guess I was bidding goodbye to my childhood that night, and yes, its a major paradigm change, but coming onto the other side now, parenting is a joy unlike any other!!!

  4. You read too much into the "last" :D
    but yea.. there will lots and lots of better times for sure.. i am grateful that i got hooked to your blog... i get a perspective thats so clear and correct and beautiful :)

  5. Your post had me hooked. And the festive meals had my mouth watering and me drooling. Mayonnaise and all ;-)

    'Scene of the crime'- LOL.
    The memory of your meal with your old friends must've been so special! :-) Warm & yummy post. I'm hungry, no make that ravenous!

  6. Amrita - wow, thanks!!! Likewise for your blog :D

    Lostworld - thanks!!! I was very hungry too afterwards :D :D

  7. you are such a lovely person, salom! love u.