Times Kitchen Tales 2: the recipe of the roads
What does food on the road mean to you? If you are someone like me, who has not made too many road trips, then you may associate it with dhaabas food and, according to what you have seen in your city, these would be places run by Punjabi that sell butter/chicken tandoori, paneer lababdar , Kaali Dal, Roti and Saag Paneer. There is much more to the food found on our roads.
This surprised me during my recent trips in the east; He travels outside of Calcutta and Guwahati, when I had the torka for example. You also get this at Odisha, a dish that certainly originated in Punjabi dhaaba dal tadka, but is now exclusive to eastern India. Made with green moong and black urad dal, often with eggs or added meat, it is a dish that the people of Punjab cannot even recognize, since your dal is mainly used for the anda dal in the dhaabas there and not for the moong green.
Then there were my trips on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur road, where I had alu, alu parwal and alu bhindi bhujia, in whose heart are the sliced potatoes, sauteed with or without other vegetables, in mustard oil and mixed with green chiles. and sliced onions. It combines beautifully with freshly made rotis and dishes of hot and smoked yellow dal and rice, all cooked on charcoal fire.
I asked on my social media channels for other examples of local food that were savored during road trips and the answers I got were really enlightening. Here is a sample of the dishes and the names of those who contributed to the story:
Assam (and to the northeast): Tekeli pitha (rice cakes) and lal cha for breakfast, kumura di hanhor (duck cooked in ash squash), tupola bhaat (steamed sticky rice on banana or taro leaves) served with chicken/boiled pork/fish, sauteed fried pork or light pork curry, masor have (light fish curry with elephant apple, tomatoes, etc.) ...
From Ishani Nath, Sunayana Hazarika, Sisir Kumar, Mitali G Dutta
Bihar: Litti chokha, kheer, chana churra (spicy black gram curry topped with chopped onions and chili peppers, served with crispy chura/poha/chidwa).
From Shubhra Chaterjee, Debjani Banerji, Shubhankar Ghosh
Odisha Mati handi lamb (lamb simmered in clay pots) and thick rice.
From Monalisa Dani, Siddhartha Karmakar
Maharashtra (where the restaurants are called khanaval and not dhaaba): Zunka, pitla and bhaakri (millet rotis with onion and kiss, dried and moist garnishes based on onion and garlic), thecha (chutneys based on chili), the lamb saoji very spicy or chicken (Nagpur), missal (of various degrees of heat of chili), including the Igulpur and Nashik chulivarchi missal (simmered in cow dung and charcoal ovens and smoked with coal), cooked gavran chicken slowly over coal fire (coconut and garlic-based in Konkan, kaala masala based in Aurungabad, Beed&Khandesh), sweet potato vada with a 'sambar' that is different from the sambar of South India. It is more like the white pea and the state shoots.
Jayesh Paranjape, Anagha Deshpande, Rahul Shobhana Banerjee, Siddharth Kumar Singh, Rupal Vidya, Anjali Koli
Gujarat Khichdi kadhi, kebabs and curried lamb (in Chikhli), ulta matka undhiyu in winter (around Navsari). From Shubhra Chatterjee, Amar Gutta
Go to: Tortilla de ros (tortillas added to the curried chicken curry sauce from the previous day), chops palette, pata bhaaji.
Sanchita Banerjee Rodrigues, Suhaas Shetty, Archana
Karnataka: Akki rotti and gassi (Mangalorean coconut-based curry), chicken bhaakri.
From Radhika Dossa D’Cruz
Kerala: Porotta and beef, kozhi varuthathu (fried chicken), appam and idiappam with curry chicken in Thattu Kadas (small restaurants)
From Liji Joseph, Alakananda Sen
Tamil Nadu: Posts selling ragi kanji, paniryaram and dosas and idlis
Rajasthan: Ker sangri, malai piyaz ke sabzi, papad sabzi, gatte ka sabzi, laal maas, thali marwari vegetarian with mangodi, green vegetables, rice and phulkas in 'vasas' near temple cities, candy stores selling kachoris, bhujiyas, Namkeen and candy.
Amrita Sengupta, Rupa Banerjee, Ratika and Richa
The list of dishes I received was much more than what I highlighted. I want to thank all those who could not mention here. It is clear that highways throughout India are serving the cause of highlighting regional Indian food. Please keep sending your stories.
How can you be part of this? Watch for this space, where we will present new topics for discussion every week. Find us in:
www.timeskitchentales.com and share your stories. The most inspiring stories from the Times Kitchen Tales repository will be shared in this column.