My Camera & My Chai: Desi Food, Oh Yeah!

I don’t know how many of you have heard that song, called “Country Roads” by John Denver. It was pretty much of a favourite of mine, and I still like it a lot. It reminds me of nature, blue skies, grass, the wind, the mountains and the rivers.

It also reminds me of country food, or as we call it in India ‘Desi Food’.

Now, close your eyes, put your feet up; modify the lyrics and, with hand rubbing belly, sing the song as follows”

“Country Food, take me home / To a place I belong / …” Make up the rest.

But, you get my gist.

Now, take the simple omelette. There are omelettes cooked in 5-star hotels, where the simpering chef will offer you a choice of ingredients for the stuffing – bacon, ham, cheese, onions, chillies….. It comes folded, twisted, rolled and screwed. While it tastes good, there is something missing.

There are humbler restaurants, where the choice of ingredient is not that elaborate. The omelette does not reach your table in so many different shapes either. While it still tastes good, there is something missing.

Finally, when you are on the roadside in India, there is the simple chef to greet you with a scowl. Very French, you think. The dust, the sweat mingle and rest in little blotches on his forehead. Or, drips down his arm.

He gets into action. The egg is whipped with the ingredients, and poured onto the pan. It cooks. He adds the bread, flips it over. He then flips the whole thing over a couple of times.

The pan is smoking. The egg is gently cooking. It browns. The aroma wafts into your nostrils, and you are transported into a land you had forgotten. The modified lyrics of John Denver’s marvellous song sing through your brain, and you wait in anticipation.

He hands you your omelette on a cracked plate, or a steel one, and the promise is delivered.

You are in Heaven.

John sings.

And you say to yourself, “Desi Food, Baby…. Oh Yeah…”

Life can be good.


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