Car trips are synonymous with loads of fun, loud music, and above all non-stop binging. India is a country that offers a variety of options to choose from. One can plan a mountainous adventure or a desert safari. There is a beach(y) destination on one hand and a ride to any beautiful and green countryside on the other. One would definitely want to stop and soak the breathtaking and picturesque view. It also gives an opportunity to get a breath of fresh air and make new local friends.
However fun it may sound, the cheerful company in the car can be engrossing only till one leaves the city. The moment the car hits the highway, one looks out for something to munch and sip. In this fast-paced life, it is easy to go to one of the supermarkets and fill up the cart with loads of junk, sugary drinks, and unhealthy snacks. People fail to understand that is easier to pre-cook something and pack it up. This especially comes in handy with children and senior citizens at home and traveling together. Apart from the food being healthy one needs to keep it flavourful yet less messy to savour.
The most important thing is the longevity of the food. The longer the car trip the drier the food.
1. Baked Masala Pinwheel or Baked Mathri
One can substitute shop-bought ready-made fried stuff with a healthier baked option. Baked pinwheels can be hassle-free to make and have a longer shelf life. They can be made with ingredients available at home. One can even try baked chakli, chivda, or mathri.
Pinwheels can be made with whole wheat flour. One can season them with salt according to the taste, a couple of cumin seeds, and some carom seeds. Mix them well. Now it is time to add in the spice powders. Though one can add whatever one likes or according to the palate, it is advisable to keep things simple and less spicy. Too much spice can upset the stomach while traveling. And this is not something that anybody would wish for while on road. So one can add some turmeric powder, chili powder, and chat masala. A teaspoon of crushed kasoori methi gives the pinwheels a nice aroma. One can get a crumbly texture to it by adding some butter and kneading in cold water. The consistency of the dough should be tight enough and not soft and easily pliable like that of a roti dough. Resting the dough for about half-hour or so is advisable. Thin chapattis can be rolled out. After applying some butter on the chapatti can be rolled tightly like one would roll a Swiss roll. Then it can be cut into half-inch thick roundels. While flattening the roundels one can see the layers. These can be baked in a preheated oven 170 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or till they are golden brown and crispy. They can be cooled and stored in airtight jars.
One can do a lot of variations with them like filling it with potatoes or cheese. The filled-up ones do not have a longer shelf life but can easily go for a couple of hours or so. Similarly one can try baked mathri and chakli with rice flour.
2. Curd Rice
One cannot just fill up the stomach with snacks and light eats. One definitely needs to enjoy a meal too. The meal should be satisfying and light on the stomach. A mildly spiced curd rice is a wonder food at all possible times.
Well-cooked and mushy rice can very well be transformed into a bowl of heavenly and addictive curd rice. Dollops on curd with salt into the rice is itself so inviting. It can be taken to another level with some added aromatic and flavourful things. Once can add some colour into the curd rice with some pomegranate seeds, some grated ginger, and some freshly chopped coriander leaves. Topping it up with a temper of mustard seeds and asafoetida is just icing on the cake. Curd rice may turn sour if kept for a longer duration. Even the temperature makes the difference. The hotter is the temperature the faster it turns sour. The trick is to add some milk. A ratio of 4:1 works well.
3. Rolls and Sandwiches
Rolls are perfect for road trips as each individual can hold one and enjoy. The chapatti or the flatbread of the roll can be made ahead and the filling can just be veggies that are readily available in the refrigerator. Rolls can be made with vegetables, meat, or cottage cheese. The flatbreads can be smeared well with some delectable sauces or chutney. It can be a humble coriander and mint chutney or an exotic homemade barbeque sauce. One can go a little extravagant with the filling too. Sandwiches are the perfect partners for trips and tours. One can make the sandwiches and pack them individually. Thinking out carrying pieces of bread, filling and dressing, and assembling just before having might not be a good idea. The whole drill is cumbersome and messy.
Hydrating oneself during car travel is essential. From a masala chai to freshly squeezed juices, the list is endless. While in summers, one can relish Aam Panna; winters call for hot chocolates in flasks. Water is definitely a must. One can add in some lemon juice and enjoy lemonades.
5. Fresh fruits and Salad
Fresh fruits and some cut vegetables are perfect munchies for a car journey. One can carry a dressing separately in another airtight jar and poured just before having it. This ensures that the fruits and salad are crunchy enough.
6. Energy Bars or Whole Wheat Cakes
Road trips need not be devoid of desserts. Healthy multi seeds and date energy bar not just satiate a sweet tooth but also re-energizes. They can be made into laddoos. A dry fruit, fig, and desiccated coconut laddoo is a perfect dessert while on the go. One can even think of classics like whole wheat carrot cake or a banana walnut cake classic to binge on.
Car trips can be fulfilling in terms of experience and the food that one has. All-time favourites like a puri sabji can be as appetizing as a fanciful mini pie loaded with vegetables. Similarly, some tangy tamarind rice can be equally inviting as a funky cheese toast. The key to food that is carried is homemade, light, and well packed. One can innovate in terms of packing food but the mantra remains fresh and simple.