It was largely Bengali cuisine that I grew up on. Clean flavours, austere usage of spices, abundance of vegetables and local greens fresh from the kitchen garden and local farms and a bountiful profusion of freshwater fishes.
And then one sunny morning, a still teen-aged me bade farewell to the pristine life in my lazy time-stops-still hamlet by the river and took the long arduous bus trek via the emerald forests and mist-riddled hills of Meghalaya to Guwahati for further studies.
Guwahati. My home for the next several years. Guwahati introduced me to the seething Brahmaputra, the Lady at Kamakhya, the warm, loving, innocent Assamese people and exposed my palate to Assamese cuisine, simple, rustic yet delectable. In my head, thoroughly understated in the pantheon of Indian cuisines.
Time flew on rosy wings and one day it was time for me to leave Assam and the gorgeous friends I had made for life and move on to Delhi.
Delhi was explosion on my food senses. The decadent world of Mughlai cuisine, unmasked in front of me, left me spellbound and numb. This was a hedonists paradise unlike anything I had experienced before and prodigal indulgence was religion.
And before I had recovered from the frenzied riot on my senses, I was already addicted to the nihari at Karims and a monthly sojourn to the Parathewali Gali to keep me ticking had become a ritual.
Delhi also unveiled before me the diverse spectrum of Punjabi cuisine – the ostentatious butter chicken on one hand, and the delectable rajma masala and blessed soulful langar cuisine on the other.
It’ s while at Delhi that my affair with rajma-chawal started, one that continues unabated to this day.
Here’s the recipe of my rajma masala to go with that piping hot rice on that weekend morning when you are yearning for comfort food. Enjoy !!!!