Sunday, September 6, 2009

My most unforgettable meal

It was a hot summer in 2004...I had a whirlwind "court the customer" tour in Copenhagen and then Bonn and after an unfruitful visit to a nameless operator customer in Navi Bombay and fighting the remnants of a bad laryngitis attack, I made a lightening decision to postpone my trip back to the US by a couple days and take a detour to Bhubaneshwar and rest awhile with my parents. I am a native of Orissa (yeah! I know most people don't know the state) when I am asked what my ultimate comfort food is...I say "Dalma"...a hot bowl of Dalma with a steaming hot bowl of rice liberally adding some home-made idea of heaven (no I am not counting calories here). Dalma is a dish made with lentils, mixed vegetables (pumpkin, green banana, potatoes, brinjal) and paanch phutan...and yes I do believe my mother makes the best "Dalma" I have ever had. However, on this 2 day trip to Bhubaneshwar, I did not want my mother slaving in the kitchen...Oriya food is a labor of prepare a home style meal takes half a day...

My research showed me that there was a home-style restaurant "Dalma" serving "tasteful Orissan cuisine" (their words not mine) and I was sold. I told my parents, no cooking at home...let's go down to Dalma and have Dalma...I made a detour to my old B-School, dredged up some old memories and a good appetite and at 2.00 PM we made our way to Dalma. My dad and I had the non-veggie thali while Ma had the vegetarian thali. Here are the dishes on my thali with descriptions -
(A) Hot White Rice with ghee (aka clarified butter)
(B) Dalma
(C) Aloo Bhorta - Smashed potato fry seasoned with green chillies and mustard oil
(D) Santula - A medley of vegetables (papaya, pumpkin, Brinjal, Ridgegourd) cooked in very little mustard oil and seasoned with paanch phuton
(E) Raita - made from banana stem
(F) A mutton curry
We had also ordered Badi Chura (fritters crushed and seasoned with garlic and chillies)...AMAZING...Pumpkin Flower Pakoras (fritters made tempura style with Pumpkin Flowers)...and Mangsho Kasha (a dry goat curry preparation)
Why was this meal reminded me of my mother's cooking minus the hard work...every dish was perfectly executed....a symphony truly at the same level of brilliance and genius as the maestros of music. It has been five years since I ate that meal and yet remember it with a great deal of fondness. When we were young...Ma made sure we were exposed to a variety of cuisines - south indian, north indian, indian chinese, fast food but took us back to our roots with typical Oriya food...I am unsure I will be able to do that for K2...I can't really cook many Oriya mantra with food is quick and fast on the table...
I chilled out Saturday, went to Whole Foods and got 3 different kinds of rice (Forbidden/Black Rice, Bhutanese Red Rice and Jade Pearl Rice). I am looking forward to cooking with these three rices with different flavor profiles. K1 and I went out for a movie "Kaminey" and lunch at PF Changs. Plans are to take K2 to the Aquarium tomorrow. ....How was your weekend?

1 comment:

  1. Yeah the food is awesome out there.....Glad that you enjoyed :)