The monotonous procedure of eating the same kind of food daily is often drudgery. At times, to rejuvenate the taste buds, a change becomes the need of the hour. Changes are inevitable, especially for the chawal eating mankind in the great subcontinent.
While the palette rejoices the fervent cravings with a dash of international cuisines like Italian, Arabic or Chinese, little explorations were done on the other gourmets of the world.
And little did I know that my need for change would land me up in a Filipino joint outside the hustle and bustle in the great Arabian country, Kuwait.
The eatery looked like it was lifted out of a pre-industrial revolution setup, with dim white light creating halos over the food behind the counter. While my knowledge of non-Indian cuisines is pretty amazing, the things behind the counter looked like I was gazing into a crystal ball of an alien fortune teller.
While the lady behind the counter told the names of the dishes, all I could figure out was some myriad mis-orchestrated nasal music notes (like Himesh Reshammiya’s songs, but better)
The laid out spread had a few fish dishes, one chicken and a vegetarian item. I guess I could see a slight flapping of fins and shudder in the gills as the counter staff picked up a whole fish for the person in front of me. I am sure that I saw the fish’s eye roll in agony and plead for mercy as the person walked to his table, lips smacking.
Being a righteous vegetarian who indulges in chicken once in a blue moon, I thought it was the best choice and second safest bet to choose the vegetarian dish. The primordial safest bet was to walk out, as my imposing figure entering the place, had woken up the people enjoying their afternoon ambrosia. The time had passed for that.
I seated myself in the rickety chairs. The table had variety of sauces and pickled jalapenos for helping yourself. People around me were looking at me with awe, like I had wandered into a fine dining restaurant and seated in a table-for-1 on Valentine’s Day.
The lady served my food- rice and some curry. The rice was sticky but was not that bad. The curry was some green vegetable cooked in a not so spicy broth, but was sharp in taste due to the citric acid. This was topped with fried tofu. Accompanied with the tangy jalapeno pickle, which had occasional chilly and onion to go, make it a revelation of citric acid and more citric acid.
The food was a no nonsense affair, simple and elegant, but apart from who likes experimenting new thing, I highly doubt whether the DalChawals and Thayirsadams of the country would live up to like the cuisine of this side of the world.
After getting back to office, I googled up the mental image of the dish and the closest resemblance for the same was something called ‘Ampalaya Guisado’ which was sautéed bitter gourd. And good heavens, it was nothing close to bitter.
While my monotony of chawal did not bring out any particular benefit, I could get to experience a whole new cuisine and get to know a civilization. (ahem, ahem, a simple yet powerful punch-lie to end an article)