Churan & Supari: Because You Want It Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter

This is a post that was first published in my private blog three years ago on July 31, 2008 titled, ‘Tasty Treats’ soon after a trip to my motherland, India.  I reproduce it here today because I am currently craving all these churans and suparis, and also more importantly because this is a reminder about the “show” that even these small life experiences are.  I don’t know when I might make another trip that way, but until such time, I can brighten my memories with pictures of these delightful treats.  Also, there’s a deeper perspective that I chose to explore by way of these treats.  See for yourself.  Original post follows…

So, if variety is the spice of life, then these tasty little treats certainly add a lot of spice to life and to our tastebuds, in particular!  Check out the array of churans and suparis here– I found this amazing display in a kiosk right in the middle of a mall in Bengaluru!  If your eyes aren’t dazzled by the brilliant colors, your nostrils will be piqued by the many tantalizing smells wafting in the air nearby, and then, when you begin to ask for a sample of this or that, your tastebuds will be jolted into a reawakening of every sensation ranging from sweet and sour to salty and even bitter!  The names of the various treats are as colorful as they look:  how can you argue with Ram Laddu, Chulbuli Imli, Khatti Imli Chocolate, Madrasi Supari Sadha, Kesar Supari, Milk Supari and Dates Supari to name only a few!

Makes me also think about how these small treats are similar to other small treats in life that aren’t really essentials, but only essential in how they enhance our overall experience!  We don’t necessarily need them, and we can do without them; in fact, we might never have even known we liked them and/or wanted them had we not chanced upon them– sometimes in a moment of inexplicable serendipity!  Often times it may be the simplest of things that provide pleasure in our everyday world, such as the beauty of nature, the sound of children playing, a stirring song, a good read, a brilliant movie.  And like the churan and supari that play with our tastebuds to give us a pleasurable life experience, these very many other non-essentials (think everything outside of Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs) also play their part in causing us to experience an even greater form of self-actualization when we find ourselves approaching these basic experiences with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. 

So, here’s to the churan and the supari, and to all those other non-essential things in your life that charm and tease you; and in doing so, they put that song on your lips, that spring in your step, and that smile on your face!  


 

Enjoy all of life’s tasty treats!

 

 

Churan

Chips & Dip: A Very Gourmet Exercise, If You Please!

So, yesterday’s Pita Chips post must only naturally be followed by a post on how to serve these chips, i.e., what sort of dips might go well with them.  Well, you could open a bottle of salsa just as well as you could make some fresh salsa– one of the perfect accompaniments to pita chips.  Or you could serve it up with hummus, of course.  But here’s what I did recently:

I served my pita chips with three kinds of dip:  an Ajvar (Eastern European Red Dip made with Peppers & Tomatoes), a yogurt-based Raita-style dip (Yogurt w/ Grated Cucumbers), and a no-nonsense Guacamole (Avocado and seasonings).

Use your imagination, people, and enjoy!  Check this out for pictures, and don’t you just love my dip-server?  I absolutely adore it!  One bite and one dip, and you’ll be saying, like we say around here, Yeh Hui Na Baat!

The Best Chips? Pita Chips Made At Home!

If you like crisp and crunchy pita chips as an alternative to potato chips, you’ll love the home-made variety— unless, of course, you prefer to just stop and pick up a box or a bag of gourmet pita chips at your local middle-eastern store (and pay big bucks for what will vanish into thin air in no time!).

But if you don’t mind the little time and effort that it would take to make them at home, let me assure you, you will not regret it!  Here’s what I do:
  • Buy a bag of fresh pitas from your local middle-eastern bakery
  • Cut them up into halves and halves again to make small triangles
  • Open them up inside out so that each piece becomes two
  • Heat up your oil in a nice flat-bottomed wok
  • Fry your pita pieces, a few at a time, turning once
  • Drain them out onto paper towels
  • Sprinkle with anything from salt, pepper, chili powder or even parmesan cheese
  • Serve with anything at all from hummus to a cheesy dip or a yogurt dip

What could be simpler than that?  And what could be more satisfying?  Mmmmm! Mmmm! Mmm! Check out these pictures from the last time I made some.  

Apéritifs and Hors d'œuvres: Unnecessary Essentials For Civilization

These are the unnecessary things before a meal, but if available, will make the meal very pleasant, not to mention your company during the meal also very pleasant!  In the case of the apéritifs, however, these are limited to those of legal drinking age, although the hors d’œuvres have no age barrier associated to their consumption!

One popular aperitif in my house of late has been a variation of the traditional Bloody Mary, only I use the Clamato cocktail tomato juice mix which makes for a very sweet-and-spicy beverage quite similar to the BM, only not so gloppy.  Oh, and hold the celery stick, please.  And what’s the poison, you ask?  Why, Absolut or Grey Goose, of course!

Bm1

And with an aperitif like that, what might be a suitable hors d’œuvres?  Why, Papads, of course!

Bm2

So, there you have it– a blend of the East and the West in so elegant a manner, I guarantee you will become completely civilized in no time!

Gota: The Gujarati Snack That Got Rediscovered!

Well, rediscovered only because I must have been under a rock all this time.  Because it has only been quite recently that I discovered this delectable savory snack in my Indian grocer’s freezer.  I was drawn to the bright packaging right next to the palak pakoras in the same section, and thought, okay, let me try something new.  So, I took it home, opened it up, pre-heated my oven to 405 degrees, laid out the balls of Gota onto a cookie sheet, and let them bake (reheat, rather since they’re precooked already) for a good twenty-five minutes.

G3

When I pulled out the tray, what I found were the most tasty and spongy fried fritter-like balls which came with a tangy chutney that I had to defrost.  I read the packaging again to find out that the key ingredients are chick-pea flour and wheat flour kneaded into a dough with yogurt and seasonings before being deep-fried.  Not unlike my pakoras but still quite distinct.

So, there you have it:  my lovely encounter with Gota, the Gujarati savory snack.  Doesn’t this just go to show how diverse the regional cuisines of India truly are– all these years later, I’m still discovering something new!

The Mall Food Court: Nothing You Can't Get!

Three weekends ago, a trip to the mall resulted in the requisite trip to the Food Court.  What mall trip can go without one, right?  Well, I suppose it could, but if you’ve passed the noon-hour and are starting to wilt a little, why not go on up to the Food Court and see what you can find.

Mf1

Which is just what we did.  You’ll see here evidence of that trip.  A microcosm of world cuisines, really.  And to be found in of all places– the mall!  So, there was a plate of Chinese something-or-other, A slice of Sicilian Pizza, A Grilled Sub Sandwich, An Enormous Baked Potato with-the-world-on-it, and of course, some Country-Style Fries.  Wash it all down with some Soda, and you’re good to go for another hour or so.  Or hop back into your vehicle and almost-nap all the way back home– if you’re not behind the wheel, that is! 

Either way, not a bad use of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon!  Check out the rest of the pictures below.