It has been about three months of lockdown, and life has never been the same. Things like working from home, virtual classes for the children, spending a lot of time at home together as a family and more importantly, eating each meal together as a family has become the new normal during these trying times.
Food has been an integral and evolving part of this crisis. People trying out new recipes, different food-related challenges on social media platforms, putting up photos of them cooking, amateur cooks trying out gourmet recipes and hordes of pictures of plated and stylized food have crowded the Internet.
However, there are times when people get bored of eating home-cooked food. I am sure women, especially, would agree with me when I say that we are tired of eating food cooked by ourselves. We crave to eat something that tastes different occasionally. But the pandemic has forced hotels, restaurants and many food delivery apps to shut their operations, leaving us with no options.
So here we are, bringing you a few tips and tricks to enhance the usual home-cooked food into something gourmet-like. Toppings are here to rescue you and your cravings.
Toppings are a layer of food spread on another food to spice up or enhance the taste and flavour. So, your spreads, sauces, dips, crumbs, creams etc. are all considered toppings that could make regular food taste different and better.
I am going to list out a few unique toppings to try for everyday home-cooked food that could drastically uplift the taste and turn a boring lunch into something delicious.
If you are not too worried about calories, cheese can be one of the best toppings ever. It is so perfect that it can work on almost anything. Also, there are various types of cheese available, even at the local grocery shops, that could work very well with Indian or Continental food.
Start with simple home-cooked ramen noodles. Grate a bit of cheese on top, and it instantly perks up the whole deal. There are flavoured cheeses as well, which too work wonderfully. If you have prepared scrambled eggs or an omelette for breakfast, garnishing it with cheese and coriander leaves makes it so much more fulfilling, not to mention tasty.
Veeba has a unique jalapeno flavoured cheese spread that enhance the taste and look of sandwiches, nachos, chips, crackers and other munchies that children so love to gorge on.
It is the season of the king of fruits, and if you are tired of eating mangoes just as it is, you can convert them into toppings for various foods.
Of course, there is the usual way of having cut mango pieces with ice creams and cakes, but there are many other ways to add mango as a fantastic topping to your daily food. Blend it into a thick paste and try it with a wheat toast for breakfast. You can make it into a sauce by blending it with cinnamon powder and cardamom powder. It works great as a topping on ice cream, smoothies, even other fruits and cakes.
Raw mangoes can also be prepared into great toppings. Boiling raw mango flesh with sugar, chilli, salt and cinnamon powder can yield a perfect dressing for salads, curd and even fried fish or chicken. The tangy, spicy taste can very well turn the usual food into something special.
Believe it or not, eggs have been our country’s favourite topping for a long time. One of the first recipes any Indian teen learns is to make egg Maggi. Then there are parathas, rice, curries, even salads that are topped with eggs.
Boiled, scrambled, or made into an omelette with all sorts of ingredients, eggs do not only make a delicious topping but also provide the necessary protein to your body. While Indians have been using eggs as toppings for biryanis, pulavs, curries etc., the West has, in the last three decades, discovered that eggs could be transformed into a topping for any food. So, you have salads, pancakes, pies, pizzas, spaghetti, noodles, rice, crepes, rolls, you name it, they have it.
Another Indian topping that goes with almost anything is honey. Naturally obtained, this good food is the result of hundreds of worker bees, accumulating the goodness from so many flowers. No food can taste unpleasant or dull if you top it off with some honey.
Whether it’s your salad or pancakes, chicken or noodles, rice or paratha, a spoon of honey on it will enhance its taste. Honey on desserts like pies, waffles, ice creams, cookies, pastries and cakes is a given, but research on the health benefits of honey has opened it to a plethora of other uses, most of which are merely pouring it out as a topping.
While this particular topping has been out there in the West for a long time, Indians have used it in a completely different manner. Pickle in India is a mix of vegetables, fruits, meat or seafood in an assortment of spices, stored for an extended period, for the spices to be absorbed entirely. It is more or less eaten as a side dish.
However, pickled vegetables or fruits are stored in a concoction of vinegar and water, with additions like chilli, cumin or sugar added occasionally. These are kept for a day or two and consumed within a week of making. Vegetables like onions, carrots, beetroots, radishes etc. are pickled and then added as toppings to foods like noodles, pasta, rice, biryanis, chicken fry and fish fry. They add a tangy, spicy flavour to the food and are also considered to be good for digestion.
So, next time when you feel like you are bored of the usual food on your table, simply try a topping to see what works best with your dish and savour your gourmet food with all your senses.