This week’s story is inspired or say triggered by a sight I accosted a few weeks ago. During a breakfast buffet in a five star, I saw a middle aged man having a Croissant (a buttery flaky Breakfast roll) and Chholey (a typical Indian main dish) in his plate. Weird no ? May be not. I tried the combo recently with a multigrain Croissant. Was not great but yes I am sure the experiment did prove to me that with a normal Croissant it would surely be a flavorful combo.
So, today let she talk of some weird food combos, do they really work and what have been our combos which we may be eating but never bothered to take notice. They may be weird or logical, how does it matter ? Just enjoy….
Master Chef Joe Bath once treated me and a couple of friends to a sausages, ham and bacon filled a huge Pan Cake Roll. Wired no ? May be not. I loved that experimentation. A mildly sweet pancake batter tasted awesome with the salty meat cuts.
Chef Consultant Sanjay Pawar made a biscuit base out of prawn curry and topped it with a jellyfied Coconut Water mixed with black pepper. Wired no ? May be not. I haven’t tried yet but the picture he sent me talks a lot about it and his mastery. Would surely taste great and look forward to taste it.
Famous Food Blogger and Author Kalyan Karmakar once talked about having Kheema Dosa and a Dosa filled with Bacon. Wired no ? May be not. I myself tried two variants of this. One was egg Dosa and the other one was Plain Rava Dosa topped with a fried egg, gun powder and ghee. Both were amazing combos. In fact, it was sort of a union of egg counter and the Dosa counter during the breakfast.
In an event this week, Chef Manager at Soda Bottle Opner Wala, Anahita Dhondy while talking of Parsis’ fascination with eggs, presented us a combo of Mango with egg over a toast. Wired no? May be not. Why may be ? Certainly Not! I loved it. She told us that next month they are having a mango based dishes menu and surely a visit is must then.
Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna during his early years talked of his famous experiment of Chocolate Samosa….and we know it became a rage. In one of the shows, which I anchored for him last year in Mumbai, he created a dish with a long Noodle, Beetroot Yoghurt and edible flowers, smoked with Paan (beetle leaf) flavour. The same dish he later demonstrated on the Master Chef Show on television, a few weeks later. Noodle and yoghurt ? Wired no? May be not. The dish was certainly looking great and inviting. I couldn’t taste it because by the time the show finished, the galaxy of celebs present had already polished off the entire thing. Sadly, I couldn’t even take a picture of it. Never mind, there is always a next time.
Coming back to our main story, we all come across various wired looking or weird sounding food combos. Quite a few of them we ourselves indulge into or are nostalgic about. I am sure many would have smiles on the face when I talk of those good old days in school or college when a humble samosa smashed over a chutney spread bread slice used to be a delight. For me, that is a big yesssss even today. I may be off carbs but can’t resist that nostalgic combo. Remember those days of putting a bit of salt in the bottle of coke and quickly sipping it to avoid spillage of the gush it created? We all have weird food combos in our life.
Similarly, I remember a pantry boy in our office cafeteria inventing a combo of lavish sprinkling of Aloo Bhujia over a soupy Maggie. That dish is still to die for, at least for me and many of my colleagues. The moist and soft masala noodles combined with the tang and crunch of Aloo Bhujia was not only about combining different textures but also a blend of flavours. Whenever, I come across this combo, I would certainly eat a few forkfuls. Incidentally, Chennai airport, as far as I know, is the only airport which has a kiosk which makes fresh Maggie for you. It has been there since the time airport was operating out of the old building. I really don’t know why, but yes, I would surely have Maggie from that kiosk, each time I am there. Nostalgic? May be.
My another weird sounding food combo story is quite interesting and weird in true sense. I have never liked the famous North Indian Mint Chutney which is almost a must in every house hold. I remember assisting my mother in grinding fresh mint leaves with chopped onions and other spices in that old style stone Pestle and Mortar. However, I never relished it. Parents used to force me to eat a bit as it was known to be having cooling effect in summers and used to resent. One day, a close uncle of mine, who had a background of hospitality, visited our home and witnessed that ruckus over lunch of my refusing to have that Punjabi Mint Chutney. After spending the day with us, just before the dinner, he entered the kitchen, asked my mother to give him that mint chutney and then did something to it. Again, on the dinner table, he persuaded and somehow convinced me to have a bit of it to taste because he had done ‘something’ to it to please me. I didn’t believe as there was no visible difference in it. For the sheer respect for him, I put a quarter of teaspoon in my mouth and…..ola a bouquet of sweet, salty, and tangy flavours combined with the freshness of mint and a creamy texture hit my palate. Certainly, I was pretty impressed and floored with the amazing flavours and the taste of it. I took two spoonfuls in my plate and enjoyed it. After a lot of emotional blackmail and pushing, he gave out his secret. He told me that he had mixed Tomato Ketchup, Roohafza Sharbet and a hint of fresh cream in the chutney. Quite wired no? May be not. May be because, it worked wonderfully well for me but when I discussed this with a North Indian Chef, he gave me a weird look. I tried it many times after that in my home, but couldn’t bring out that same magic because my uncle didn’t part the secret of proportions of the inputs he added. May be, by hit and trial one day I may hit upon the right proportion. Certainly a great combo.
There are many wired sounding food combos around us. Somehow we don’t notice or laugh it away or brush those aside as madness or eccentric. For example, how about a Chocolate Omelette ( don’t smile, once someone actually had it), Noodle Filled Samosa, Anda Tadka Daal (I have written about it in an earlier Story), Chicken Bharta (when I heard I thought it to be a baingan bharta with chicken in it; actually it is a shredded chicken or small chicken morsels cooked in masala like a bharta, in Kolkata) and it is super tasty, Poha with Jalebi– a daily breakfast in Indore, Banana slices in Curd sprinkled with sugar, Kosha Mangshu (bengali mutton curry) eaten with Luchi (a fried hybrid of puri and bhatura) whereas in north India anything fried with Mutton is no no. Even chappaties are not glazed with ghee or oil if eaten with Mutton, Keema Samosa, Rabri Parantha and the list can go on and on.
So, the weird food combos do exist. Some are deliberate experimentation, some are nostalgic and some are actually weird and not worth a try. What does the Google say about it ? Check it out and you will come across some great experiments with both Indian and other foods. For example, in the Indian side you would find The Moburg (a combination of fried momos burger), Chinese style Bhelpuri, Schezwan Dosa, Chocolate Pizza, Chocolate Momos, Vodka filled Golgappas, Green Chilli Ice Cream, Nutella filled Parantha and Paan Shots. On the other side, you will find Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich, Salami and Grapes, Honey on Pizza, Oreos dipped in Orange juice, Vanilla Ice Cream with Soya Sauce, Grape Jelly Jam & Scrambled Eggs and then Fish Fingers with Custard to name a few. Some of them are really weird and one can’t even dare to try. But yes, one of it caught my fancy and I did try. Honestly, it came out to be a great combination; albeit with a little twist of my own.
I took two rounded slices of bread and toasted it with olive oil on a skillet. Then applied peanut butter on one and topped it with Red Chilli Jam (please refer my earlier story in this blog). On the second toast I applied masala of sweet and sour lemon pickle and a hint of Steak Sauce on it. Combined the two and it was a burst of flavours on the palate. With each bite you could relate to a different flavour. Quite amazing and tasty adventure.
So, if you love your food and are willing to experiment, go ahead and try out your own imaginations. Nothing is weird. Aren’t we have been eating a sandwich of Jam on one slice and butter on the other, or aren’t we fond of our mango cubes cut on Vanilla Ice Cream or Maple on Vanilla or…or..or ? Go ahead and jump on to the next level of combos.
Bon Appetite !!