When I am tired, low, sleep-deprived or just plain starving, the thought of some foods lifts me up instantly. It's when I don't want to think about their glycemic index, I only want to think about how they satisfy the depths of my soul.
Tangy coconut milk, yummy veggies, soft rice noodles, sautéed onion and garlic, chili sauce-all thrown into what was once called (and probably still is) poor man's food in Burma. Except now it's eaten in fancy restaurants which charge more than the poor man earned in a month. The restaurant where I love to eat it has, what they call, a Khao Soi Meter-one that, no doubt, keeps ticking!
The pani puri of my childhood was not eaten in a sanitised, new-age way-what with mineral water pani et all. It almost kills the taste to eat it this way. We ate it at a stall, with the man dipping his hands in the water to fill the puris with the spicy, tangy, green looking water which, miraculously, never gave us cholera. I still prefer to eat it that way. Does the hygiene bother me? Not really. The taste is totally worth it.
American chop suey
There's nothing American about the American chop suey as we eat it in India (just as the Indian Chinese is not really Chinese). I realised this only when I went to the US and asked for chop suey. Sadly, what I was served looked nothing like its Indian version. It was pasta with minced meat. Imagine my surprise when I was craving for the yummy fried noodles with tomato gravy and was confronted with a greasy looking meaty dish. My heart sank as I remembered my college canteen, which, I can safely declare, made the best American chop suey ever!
Wok-tossed garlic greens
Soul food can be healthy too. Freshly tossed greens in chopped garlic and ginger poured over brown rice. It's what I eat most, and never really get tired of it. The greens have to be cooked right then-take 10 minutes. The meal leaves you feeling light and fresh.
Hot and sour soup
Women, says a friend's husband, need a "soy fix". I agree. A good old Indian Chinese meal can be more uplifting than any pep talk. Just waking into a Chinese restaurant and inhaling the soy-infused vapours can be enough to cheer you up. I always start with a hot and sour soup, which, with its perfect mix of spice and tanginess, makes for a great start to a Chinese meal. On winter evening I cook this at home often. If you throw in some vegetables, it becomes a great meal in itself. I need a soy fix from time to time, as do most of my female friends.