How things take a French turn when Bengali and Punjabi street food creds collide.

Today's Bengali French toast topped with Punjabi sirke wali piyaz #LoveYourLeftovers #FinelyChoppedBreakfasts

As I have told you in the past, the 'French toast' breakfasts that I make are based on my childhood memories of my mother's kitchen. Not the luchi alur dom or porotha ghoogni that you would expect a true blue Bengali to speak of.

This is the savoury version of the French toast, not the classic one. My first memory of which is as a street food treat in Kolkata. Possibly in 1981-82. We had just moved into India. Everything was new to me and the 8 year old me looked at the world with the same curiosity that our 1 (or 1.5) year old cat, Baby Loaf does today.

I am talking of the deem pauruti that street vendors outside Nizam's Palace would make and which my mother and I would snack on after she picked me up from the Calcutta International School which I used to go to then. I have not had deem pauruti on the streets since then. I plan look up a deem pauruti vendor in Kolkata's office para (CBD) one day and hopefully relive those memories.

My mom began to make it for me at home and it became my favourite breakfast to have. Even after I grew up and left the city to work. She would make it for me whenever I went back to Kolkata on holiday. Every morning!

I make French toasts now when the bread is not that fresh. Or when I want something indulgent and happy to start the day with. Kainaz was not fond of it earlier but has taken a liking to it post the lockdown.

Some of the buildings in our hood remind me of Dhakuria in Kolkata where we had stayed
for a bit after moving in to India

There was sirke wali piyaz in the fridge today. The  chaat masala and lime juice treated raw onions that Punjabis serve in their dhabas with everything from chhole kulche at Amritsar to saag meat and tandoori roti at Delhi's Kake Da Hotel. I love it and decided to introduce it to my French toast today along with finely chopped green chillies.

I added a bit of the acidic juice from this very humble Punjabi roadside salad on top of the toast before I took it out of the pan. This perked up the street creds of our breakfast and helped us start our week with a bang.

Dahi bhalla, chhole, paratha and sirke wale piyaz from the Grovers. I took more servings later.


The sirke wale piyaz had come with the chhole and paratha that our friends the Grovers sent last night.

I was about to cut cauliflower to make dinner last evening and pair them with frozen parathas, when Anu's message came. "I am sending you paratha and chhole." K and I danced a jig of joy. Requisite balle balle and all that jazz. What could be better than fresh homemade parathas and chhole?

Dahi bhalla perhaps? Well that is what came with the paratha chholle and piyaz last night!

I have been in love with dahi bhalla (Punjabi for dahi vada) right since my childhood. My mother introduced me to these at a South Indian (now shut) restaurant called Rim Jhim at Camac Street which she discovered during me CIS days. I had had my first masala dosa there too.

Baby Loaf stepped up and came to the hall just as were going to sit down for dinner yesterday

Let's leave Kolkata aside for a moment. As I have said earlier, I often remember my early PG days, spent with a Punjabi family when  I was new to Mumbai, when Anu and Manoj send us food. I even take out our stainless steel crockery in memory of that. Last night, which was also a Sunday, reminded me of how dahi vada often featured as a Sunday special at my PG aunty's kitchen.

It was while I stayed at the PG that I first took up the practise of Buddhism. The tiny cubicle of a room at the PG was where I used to chant back then. 20 years later I have had the good fortune of chanting with Anu and Manoj as they are fellow Soka Buddhists.

Gratitude is the best sauce, and the dinner  last night was all about that for me.

Dhaaba styled gobi made by K with Grover parathas

Talking of my aborted gobi plan and dhaabas, it all came together today when Kainaz made a lovely 'dhaaba gobi' for lunch while juggling office calls. It starred cauliflower along with capsicum and tomatoes and basic spices but no onions. She used ghee instead of oil, skipped the potatoes which featured in the recipe which she got from a site called Pep Kitchen. I do not look up recipes but thanks to K's googling and cooking during the lockdown, I am getting to taste a lot of the deliciousness posted out there on the internet.

Baby Loaf was not impressed by the menu and wondered why there was no chicken on offer.

Perhaps, like my mother did when we were kids, K should have told him to reserved the abdar (fuss) for his future wife. Or I should have advised him to grow up and be atma nirbhar (self reliant) in the kitchen.

We just petted and snuggled him of course. I had the gobi with some of Anu's parathas.

#LoveYourLeftover and all you see!

Give me chicken, said Baby Loaf just as I did when my mother gave me on my birthday once!

Comments