A Masala Chai … Cake, and the perfect bhutta masala. Food for a rainy day!
Its raining, and the thought of eating dal chawal for the tenth time this month seems oddly unappealing. You remember the crisp pakodas of your childhood, and the karak chai that was milked down for your young palette. You recall sneaking out of the hostel gates just five minutes before closing time for a bhutta since that’s what one does when it rains. A part of you remembers sharing another scorched bhutta with that boy from your building on Worli Sea Face when both of you were returning from tuitions, but the wiser part rejects that memory since he really wasn’t as special as thirteen-year-old you wanted him to be.
You remember also the first time you “entertained” as an adult- not just ordering in, but with the intentions of making an entire sit-down meal, and how Bangalore’s rains played spoil-sport. You made scrambled eggs with supermarket sausages that evening, and served Vodka with entirely too much orange juice. But when the evening was over, everyone crowded in the tiny balcony watching the last drop of rain fall from the sky and felt oddly alive and grown up.
You put on your favourite rain song of all time, and start looking for inspiration in the kitchen. Leftovers won’t do. It is time to whip up food for a rainy day.
Here’s where you can begin.
We’ve tried the boiled (ugh) version, and the microwaved one. But to get the true pleasure of the roadside bhutta, an open flame is a must. Also, don’t bother with one of those fancy exported defrosted “American corns”, but buy a husky local variety.
Of all the masala combinations we tried, this one approximates the flavours of the beachside bhutta best. It hits tastebuds you’d forgotten about and is ideal with a cold glass of coconut water if you can arrange for one!
Parsi Style Bombil Fry
If it rains, then frying is a must. But what you fry doesn’t always have to be a root vegetable. Try this Parsi-style bombay duck (its a fish!) for something a little off-beat and yet super easy on a rainy evening. Its tart vinegary flavour is perfect for making you forget about all the leaks that have sprung up on the roof.
Masala Chai Apple Cake
What’s better than chai with cake? A cinnamony chai-flavoured cake that keeps for even after the rain shower has gone, and tastes absolutely delectable with home made vanilla ice-cream. The addition of apples to the recipe fools you into believing that the recipe is almost healthy (it isn’t- especially because you would’ve finished half the cake before you know it), but provides just the same amount of warmth and succour as the best cup of Darjeeling drunk in your favourite mug staring at the rains from your window.
Cauliflower Feta Fritters
The combination of cauliflower and feta is surprisingly winning- but if you don’t have feta at home, crumbly home-made paneer works just as well with minor changes in the recipe. In fact nearly every spice pairs well with cauliflowers so feel free to experiment (we’ve tried microwave-smoked cumin instead of the aleppo pepper and it has led to a milder, slightly Moroccan tasting version that was nearly as good), but the one ingredient that makes the fritter is the lemon zest. Be generous with it for a truly awesome twist on the traditional gobhi pakoda.
Our national dish has been co-opted by those Brits, and we aren’t talking about Chicken Tikka Masala! But seriously, the greasy onion pakodas of our childhood have made way for Britis- Indian style Onion Bhaji everywhere. We love this particular version’s addition of fennel seeds to the batter, and its use of ghee as a binding agent (ghee makes everything better!). All the ingredients you need for this dish are typically in the pantry, so these can be whipped up at a moment’s notice to go with chai (or why not) a glass of sparkling wine!
And when you’re done with all the cooking, drown in the melody of what is our second-favourite monsoon song (the ukulele slays us). Invite us over for a cup of tea, and lets talk, readers. What’s your favourite monsoon recipe??
Photo Credit Featured Image: sea turtle via Compfight cc
Onion Bhaji Photo Credit: DeathByBokeh via Compfight cc
Cinnamon Photo Credit: Nomadic Lass via Compfight cc
Corn Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc