Monsoon calls for chai-pakoras, and memories of a time gone by. To relive those moments, we got food writers and bloggers from different parts of the country to share their fondest food memory associated with rain. Here's what they had to say...
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, food consultant & owner of APB Cook Studio
A particular memory is from a time when I was eight or nine years old. Our south Mumbai house used to have a small bridge that was connected to a wrought iron ladder, which led to the kitchen. During monsoon, the area would be covered with tarpaulin, thereby turning it into a tunnel. It was here, with the sound of raindrops falling on the tarpaulin, that I ate my first alu paratha or batata na rotla! Our maharaj or cook would make these really fat parathas, which would be lathered with fresh white butter made by my Dadi. The taste of soaky parathas is still fresh on my tongue.
Another vivid memory is that of eating aloo tikki chaat in Dehradun after my marriage. We were returning from the movie theatre when it started raining and it became cold. The misty weather called for some chaat, so we stopped by at Ganapati Sweets to enjoy some crunchy tikki chaat. This year, I am planning to make dumpling and noodle soup, and lots of spicy Maggi!
Shirin Mehrotra, food blogger & writer
My favourite monsoon memory has always been of curling up in a corner with hot pakoras, chai and a book. In our Lucknow home, making pakoras was an affair where the whole family got involved in some way or the other. In north India, we make pakoras with onion, potato, brinjal, cauliflower, palak and even torai or ridge gourd. The pakoras that I loved the most were of these tiny onions. Mom would stuff them with masala and then batter fry them. The crisp of the besan coating with the softness of onions was just the perfect balance of textures and flavours.
Ruth D’Souza, restaurant experience blogger
My fondest food memory is of steaming pathrades that were regularly made in our Mangalore home during the monsoon. Popularly known as colocasia, these leaves would spring up during the rains, and as children, we were sent out to pick them with the strict warning that we get only the medium-sized ones. Any larger and we would risk itchy throats. Once the pathrades are steamed and ready, mum would make it in multiple ways - along with a mutton curry, or with clams, or shallow fried with a Mangalorean chilli-salt paste called Meet Mirsang. After pathrade, it would be the classic Mangalore goli baje! Steaming hot, fluffy and if I have the patience, then I make a mint chutney on the side. Or to make it sweet, with a little banana mashed into it.
Every year, to this day, my mother encourages us to step outside in the first rain. While growing up in Mumbai, I remember how the whole family would rush out in the first rain and then come home cold and drenched to khekda bhaji (onion pakoras, but called so because they have very less batter coating and so, the sliced onions look like fried soft shell crab) and piping hot sheera (eaten with a contrasting lime pickle) to warm us.
This year, we were on holiday en masse - from my youngest children to my 85-year-old grandma, and we ran out in the cold showers of the hills, laughing and jumping in the windy rain. This, despite the room service later took forever to bring us our (by then, cold) pakoras and masala tea. It is a memory that I will treasure in my heart for a long, long time.
My absolute favourite thing to eat in the monsoon is the Makyachi Usal, a Maharashtrian version of creamed corn, that is quick to make and delicious to eat, its texture comforting and flavours piquant and warming.
Monika Manchanda, food blogger & consultant
Monsoon for me is filled with memories. Growing up in Delhi, we would get rains for days altogether and then dry spells. I remember we would wade through waterlogged streets to get to school, and later in the evening my granddad would fill a bucket with rain water and mangoes for us to sit out (adults with umbrella sometimes) and eat by the dozens - no knife or no slices, just pure mango bliss!
I also remember the pakoras that Dad would make after the first rains. He never cooked much while growing up, but then there were certain things only he would make, and pakoras were one of them. And on days he wasn't around, my granny would send us to the neighbhourd shop to buy samosa and jalebi, because they have to go together.
This time I want to make the khasta UP wali kachori and serve it with a super spicy aloo ki sabji. I have eaten this as a monsoon breakfast. There used to be a halwai in the corner of our street who would make fresh and delicious stuff, and many a rainy Sunday morning, breakfasts used to be kachori and aloo ki sabji from his shop. Sitting far away in Bangalore, I crave for that taste even now.
Sreeja Jayaram, cookbook author
An unforgettable childhood food memory is of feasting on hot plantain and jackfruit chips that Mum and aunts had just fried in the courtyard of our ancestral home in Kerala. Our family came together and good times happened around these bowls of salted chips and tea. Even today, with Mum watching, chips are made at home every summer.
Much time has passed since, but every year when the clouds gather, those flavours emerge from memory, and I cannot wait to make fresh banana fritters and spicy, crunchy dal vadas with endless cups of cardamom tea.
Kalyan Karmakar, food blogger & Editor-At-Large of India Food Network
There would be days when it would rain so much in Kolkata that we would be stuck at home and not go to school. The city would come to a stand still. My mother couldn't go to work either. Nor could she go to the market to buy fresh vegetables or fish or meat. This meant that she would reach out to the staples in the kitchen such as rice and moong dal, and make a hot khichudi and serve it with a blob of butter on top. I would lap it up and then hurriedly get back to the novel that I was reading. Whenever it rains in Mumbai, I feel conditioned to make khichudi at home. I make a slightly drier version than my mother's though. If our cook, Banu, comes to work then I request her to make some assorted besan bhajiyas with potatoes, brinjal and cauliflower on the side.