dal chawal


Have you ever felt so lost that even an episode from Friends turns out to be unfruitful? This is when you find your world in your comfort food. A plain and simple bowl of Dal and rice can sometimes trump the most delectable fares.

On a late winter night, while everyone is snuggled up in their blankets, you are awake to complete those due assignments. You could hear your flatmate’s snoring but there is nothing much you could do about it. That is when your stomach growls. You get up from your chair and head towards the kitchen to make some instant noodles. You pour in water in the saucepan and wait for it to boil. Suddenly you feel an urge to not eat those noodles. You start reminiscing about the time from your younger days. Those days when your mother used to cook your meals while you worked hard for your tests. At that time it felt insignificant only for you to realize its higher place in your life and that is how your everyday food became your comfort food. So, in the dead of the darkness, while you look at your noodles in the making, you are craving your comfort food. The thought about your comfort food makes you crave it even more. Surprisingly, you could smell it even when it was not in front of you. From ‘aaj bhi Dal chawal’ to ‘where is my Dal chawal’ we have all grown up.

Besides this, have you ever dwelled on your long vacation feelings? Some years ago while holidaying in Mumbai, I was hit by a strange feeling. I love to explore different cuisines and a trip to Mumbai is everything when it comes to food. Whilst enjoying the Vada Pao and Bhel Puri, I realized that I can not take another bite of it. At that moment all I wanted was some home-cooked rice, piping hot dal garnished with a dash of lemon, and fried potatoes. A girl, whose sole purpose of life is to eat and explore, was yearning for a home-cooked meal. What an odd thing to see. A few months back a similar feeling aroused when I visited Ooty. Indulging myself into the fine dining experience with chicken Chettinad and finishing it with Mysore Pak on my ‘I don’t remember’ day of the trip, I almost broke down into tears at the sight of that mouth-watering food. I felt extremely overwhelmed and the only thing my soul craved was for my comfort food. I loved the south Indian cuisine but at the moment it seemed as if my dal-rice was winning all the battles. Without a doubt, I could have ditched caviar for my home-cooked meal.

The feeling that you get when you crave your soul food but can only fancy it. That feeling when you close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting on your bed completely relaxed with your favorite novel. You start reading those yellow pages which have a deep story, a thrilling climax, and an unanticipated river of twists hidden in them. You reached the 94th page and that is when the door opens. You can see that perfect bowl of your favorite meal coming towards you. Your gaze is fixated on the bowl when it finally sits before you. You could already taste the zesty flavor that it has and smell the woody scent that your entire body yearned for. The scrumptious bowl of heaven awaits “your highness”. This is when the spell finally breaks and you realize the existence of this tangible realm where your bowl of goodness lives far away from you at the moment. You open your eyes to comprehend the heartbreak to be more hurtful than a breakup. Any affliction is tolerable but not the estrangement from your comfort food. The solace that a bowl of comfort can bring you is unparalleled.

Living far away from your humble abode can be challenging. From doing every mundane task to keeping yourself protected, every responsibility solely lies on your shoulder. However, what makes this sitch more arduous is that home-sick feeling. Especially when you fall sick and all you long for is some comfort through the meals you have. Yet, a disappointing discretion that you address is the distance from the place you once woke up every day. You as a breathing being do not get to choose what settles your mind but what does is that toothsome morsel. It is rightly marked that the way to one’s heart is through their stomach. You can go and explore any part of the world, meet any number of people and try out as many cultures as your heart desires but your affection for your comfort food is simply irreplaceable. I can not comment on who is going to be there for you but ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part’ your dal-chawal is going to stick to you till the very end.

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Featured Image Credits: Dawn Images

Ankita Baidya

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