Know Your Food

Favourite Indian Comfort Food

Food is an essential link to our childhood that leave us nostalgic. Homemade food reminds us of carefree summer vacations spent at our grandma’s home. Loitering and living up the time with cousins, getting yelled at by uncles and aunts, a table full of food and loads of fun, laughter, and gossip is another mini-celebration of its own.

The food that we all grew up eating gradually earns a place in our hearts and minds. Many of us are professionals working away from home and we crave the homemade delicacies that our mom or grandmom used to prepare out of love. As we spiral down memory lane, we surely find ourselves giving those comfort food dishes a miss! Surely, the food that comforts us may be high in carbohydrates or calories, but who thinks twice before digging in that plate full of soul food? These yummy and soothing foods differ from place to place. A whiff of yakhni from a Kashmiri kitchen will bring the same rush of memories for a native the way a well-spiced “bisi bele bath” will do for a Kannadiga. If khichuri transports a Bengali to Durga puja then missal pav would awaken all the senses of a Maharashtrian. A few comfort recipes that are iconic in their own way are penned down below.

Khichdi with a Twist

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serve: 4 per

Type: Main Course

Ingredients:

Broken wheat (Daliya): 2 cups

Mung dal (without skin, yellow): 1 cup

Butter: 3-4 tbsps.

Onion: 2

Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp

Tomatoes: 3

Potato: 1

Cauliflower: ½ cup chopped

Carrot: 1

Beans: 2-3

Green peas: ¼ cup

Turmeric powder: ½ tsp

Chilli powder: ¼ tsp

Pav bhaji masala: 1 tbsp

Tomato sauce: 2 tbsps

Salt to taste 

Ghee: 3 tbsps

Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp.

Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp.

Chopped coriander leaves to garnish and serve 

Method:

  1. Wash and soak daliya and mung dal for about 15 minutes.
  2. Clean and wash all the vegetables before chopping. Chop all the vegetables finely.
  • Take a frying pan or a wok and heat well. Add butter into the hot wok. Sauté finely chopped onions. Once they turn golden brown add in the ginger garlic paste. After a minute or so add in finely chopped tomatoes and cook till fat separates. At this time throw in potato, cauliflower, carrot, beans, and peas. Coat them well with turmeric powder and chilli powder. Cover and cook till well done.
  1. Once the veggies turn mushy, add in pav bhaji masala, tomato sauce, and salt. Use a masher to mash them roughly. A few chunky bits in the mouth are always delightful.
  2. In a pressure cooker, add in a couple of tablespoons of ghee. Put jeera and asafoetida and let it splutter. Toss in the daliya and the mung dal along with 4 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker and cook till the cooker releases 4 whistles. Let it cool and open to check its doneness. The mixture can be cooked for longer as per one’s taste and liking.
  3. Add in the bhaji into the khichdi and mix well. Check for seasoning.
  • Serve this lip-smacking khichdi with a tablespoon of ghee and some chopped coriander.

(Tips:

  • Add a tsp. of oil to prevent the butter from burning.
  • Fried poppadum and some green chutney go well with this khichdi.
  • One can even enjoy this with plain yogurt or a mildly spiced and tangy Gujarati kadhi.)

 Thukpa

Serve: 4 per

Type: Soup

Ingredients:

Noodles: 1 ½ cups

Beans: 4

Carrots: 2

Spring onions: 1

Mushroom: 150 grams

Cabbage: ½ cup chopped

Spinach or Amaranth: 4-5 leaves

Garlic: 2-3 cloves

Ginger: 1 inch

Fresh red chilli: 2 small (or 2 tbsps. of red chilli sauce can be used instead)

Soya sauce: ½ tsp.

Sesame oil: 2 tbsps.

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lemon wedges and fried peanuts to serve

Method:

  1. Boil noodles as per instructions on the packet.
  2. Clean and wash all the vegetables.
  3. Chop beans finely. Chop carrots into thin round slices. Slice the onions and chop the greens finely. Quarter mushrooms and roughly chop cabbage. Amaranth or spinach leaves can just be torn roughly. Thinly slice ginger into juliennes and finely chop garlic. If fresh red chillies are used, slice them thinly. Care should be taken to chop each vegetable with precision and care and kept separately from each other.
  4. Take a wok and heat sesame oil. Add in garlic and once they brown sauté onion slices. Throw in beans, carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage. Toss them well. Add 3-4 cups of water. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes on a medium flame.
  5. At this stage add in amaranth or spinach leaves, ginger, red chilli or red chilli sauce, soya sauce, and seasonings. Cooked noodles also go in at this stage. Cover and cook for another couple of minutes.
  6. This hearty soup can be served with a lemon wedge and some fried peanuts.

(Tip: Spinach noodles can be used to add in vibrancy and colour. Whole wheat noodles or egg noodles can also be used.)

Kadhi Chawal

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serve: 4 per

Type: Main course

Ingredients for kadhi:

Curd: 2 cups (preferably sour)

Gram flour: 1 cup

Water: 4 cups

Turmeric powder: 1 tsp.

Green chilli: 1

Ginger: ½ inch

Salt as per taste

Ingredients for pakoda:

Gram flour: 1 cup

Onion: 2

Green chillies: 1

Coriander leaves chopped: 2-3 tbsps.

Salt: to taste

Turmeric powder: ½ tsp.

Baking/cooking soda: a pinch

Oil for frying

Water for making the batter

Ingredients for tempering:

Oil: 2 tbsps.

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp.

Fenugreek seeds: ½ sp.

Asafoetida: ¼ tsp.

Curry leaves: a sprig

Red chillies: 2

Ingredients for chawal:

Basmati rice: 1 ½ cups

Water: 3 cups

Method:

  1. Start off making kadhi with the sour curd in a wide bowl. Whisk in the gram flour and water. Ensure there are no lumps and the batter is thin and runny.
  2. Grind ginger and green chilli into a fine paste and add it into the curd and gram flour mixture. Stir in the turmeric powder also.
  • Heat a heavy bottom vessel and pour the curd mixture into it.
  1. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Season as per taste.
  2. For the pakoda: chop onions, green chilli and coriander leaves finely. Add this to the gram flour in a bowl. Season this with salt and turmeric powder. Add a pinch of baking soda and mix well.
  3. Add enough water to make a thick batter.
  • Keep the oil hot enough to fry the pakoda. Drop in teaspoons of the batter and fry them in small batches.
  • Add this to the hot kadhi.
  1. To finish off prepare an aromatic tempering.
  2. Heat oil in a tempering pan and add in mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they crackle add in asafoetida, fenugreek and curry leaves. Break the red chillies and add them too. Fry them well and pour them onto the kadhi pakoda.
  3. Cook rice and serve the piping hot kadhi pakoda on a bed of simply steamed rice.

Curd Rice

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serve: 4 per

Type: Main course

Ingredients:

Short grain rice: 1 ½ cup

White butter: 1-2 tbsps.

Curd: 2 ½ cups

Milk: ¼ cup

Salt to taste

Sugar: ½ tsp.

Carrot: ¼ cup grated

Ginger: 1 inch grated

For tempering:

Oil: 1 tbsp.

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.

White urad dal: 1 tsp.

Asafoetida: ½ tsp.

Coriander leaves: to garnish and serve

Pomegranate seeds: to garnish and serve

Method:

  1. Take any short-grain rice, like ponni rice or sona masuri rice to make this dish. Avoid basmati or any other fragranced rice.
  2. Clean, wash, and soak the rice for 5-10 minutes. Cook the rice in a pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles.
  • Open the lid of the cooker, add a dollop of white butter and roughly mash up the rice. Do not make it into a paste.
  1. Let it cool well. To the cooled rice add curd, milk and salt. Mix well. One can adjust the consistency by adding or restricting the amount of curd or buttermilk.
  2. Throw in the grated ginger and carrot. Adjust seasoning and add in half a teaspoon of sugar. Mix well.
  3. Prepare a tempering by heating oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle pop in the white urad dal and asafoetida. Fry till the dal is golden brown and throw that into the curd rice. Add some fresh coriander and mix well.
  • Serve it cold with some coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds.

Any food can be comforting if it not only satisfies you but also lifts up your mood. A perfect comfort Indian food is the right balance of nutrients and memories.

1 comment on “Favourite Indian Comfort Food

  1. HEMALATHA

    Delicious and mouth watering recipes.

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