A dish can surely taste differently from a restaurant to another, state to state, home to home and so on. Reason? Twist in recipes, quality of ingredients, methods of cooking etc etc.
Can a dish taste differently on ground and in the air ? Certainly yes but can it be far better in the air than on the ground? Is it to so something with the altitude? Perhaps not. This has been intriguing me for some time now.
The humble Upma, a South Indian snack or a breakfast must, is popular and eaten across the country. And I would have eaten it invariably in my every breakfast during my frequent hotel stays. That means I would have eaten upma in almost every state of India. So would have many Indians.
And like many Indians, I have eaten upma both on ground and in the air, practically 35K feet above sea level. And, the taste surely in the air is amazing. On my numerous Indigo flights, I always prefer the “The Magic Upma” along with a black coffee.
The Upma served by indigo is Rava Upma (semolina pilaf) is supplied to indigo for inflight service by a company in south. The ready to eat Upma comes in a plastic container ( btw I hate eating and drinking out of plastic ware or paper glasses) to which a some amount of hot water is added. The dry semolina which in dry form is about 80 grams, turns into a delicious breakfast weighing about 250 grams in its hyderated form after about 8 minutes post adding the hot water.
Early this week, once again, I opted for Rava Upma during an indigo flight. And to my delight, had a sort of conversation with the magic container.
The look of the Upma, when ready, was a treat for the eyes. The off white semolina had a sprinkling of dark mustard seeds, green peas, red tomatoes, nuts, ginger, dal, green chilly and onions. I picked my little plastic spoon to fluff it. Ah! What a delight for the eyes blended with the aroma which started coming out of it. That raised my appetite further.
One heaped spoon full of the Upma in my mouth and the flavours exploded on my palate. It was a granular Rava. Each grain of the Rava was almost distinctly separate yet clinched to each other. The Rava Upma powered by just salt was flavoured by adding onions, ginger, curry leaves extract, carrots, tomatoes, mustard seeds, Bengal gram dal and roasted nuts. A close interaction of your palate with the dish also discovered a hint of desi ghee which made the dish divine. Every spoonful was satisfying and an enjoyable breakfast. I polished off the entire thing- till the last grain in the container. My interaction with the dish told me as to why I like it all the time.
I call this a high flying Upma– after all it flies at 35k feet above.
What about the grounded one? Well, as I said, I eat it in my every breakfast in a hotel. So, the next morning had it in a five star in the buffet breakfast served in the coffee shop.
The basic look was somewhat similar to the air one but besides semolina, I could see only some black mustard seeds, some dal, coriander and curry leaves. So, predominantly a combination of white and green. It appeared more of a sticky lump with a dash of some condiments. Tried to dissect it with the fork but it won’t fluff as the Rava grains had turned into a mashed consistency.
A spoonful in the mouth didn’t give me any astonishing reaction. It was just an Upma flavoured with salt, mustard seeds, coriander, curry leaves etc. No granular feeling in mouth, no ghee flavour, nothing exciting but just an ordinary Rava Upma. Was it filling ? Yes. Was it satisfying? No. Will I eat it again? May be yes because I like southern food and Upma is healthy.
I would like to call it a grounded Upma – at ground level.
Same dish eaten, eaten twice within less than 24 hours at two different levels, with two different methods of preparation and resulting into two distinctly different tastes, provoked my thoughts to compare the two. The ready-to-eat wins hands down. It is said that processed food should be avoided but for this magic Upma, who cares. The flavours are great and it tastes heavenly. It is satisfying and a healthy meal. Do you need anything more than that?