Comfort and food, two words when used together can only be, well, cathartic. And why not? Most of the things you do in this world, in this life, can ultimately be attributed to either or both.
Comfort food. Music to the ears really. Be it after a hard day’s work or when cramps are at their worst. Be it when you are upset or at your life’s lowest. Or, just on any ordinary day. It doesn’t even warrant a special occasion. Perhaps that’s what special about it after all.
Comfort food inevitably becomes your partner when nothing else seems to pacify your soul.
For some, it may be icecream while for others daal chawal with dahi, a bowl of soup or spaghetti and meatballs. For some, it may be sweets while for others chocolates. For some, it may be parantha bhurji while for others khichdi. It can be anything but at the end of the day, it serves only one purpose. It makes you feel good. It soothes the heart, mends the soul and gives you that push to face whatever it is that you need to face.
If you notice, comfort food is never complicated. It is almost always, simple and easy to make. Why do you think that is? Well, I think because you turn to it when life gets too complex. And with life, work and what not already so complicated, the food, the comfort food at least needs to be unpretentious and simple. Makes sense?
What’s my comfort food?
Well, ask any Bengali and the answer will inevitably be aloo shiddo bhat. And I’m no different either. Now that’s just plain rice with boiled potatoes, all mixed together with some butter or ghee, or when you have stomach troubles, some mustard oil, with salt and a green chilli on the side. Sometimes with a boiled egg on the side or even a fish fry. It’s something engraved in the Bengali DNA, I think.
There’s something about aloo shiddo bhat which reminds me of home. It reminds me of those childhood days when mom would feed us from the same plate. Sometimes it would be a quick breakfast, even lunch or dinner. Always melting in the mouth, it reminds me of the warmth of home. It transports me back to my roots. Sometimes it is a reminder that as I keep embracing everything else, everything new, I shouldn’t forget who I am. I don’t know if it makes sense to you but it does to me. It is my connect, my reminder that I’m a Bengali too apart from so many other things that I also am.
But that’s not all. Khichudi with fried eggs or eggplants or potatoes also comes a close second. Sometimes when I’m upset or when there’s something nagging at my consciousness, these are what I turn to.
My comfort food is more than just food to me. It is my mother’s love. It is those silly fights with my sister and those mornings when my mother fed us all from the same plate. It is a window to my childhood. It is everything that I never want to forget. It is the doorway to my happy place.