I had an affair today, yep I confess, it was an affair, a rocking glorious affair with food. Wondering how it came about? It all started when I happened to see an invite for a food walk from a facebook group I belong to. I was intrigued with the concept of a walk just for sampling the street food and decided to join in immediately, although I had absolutely no idea what to expect there on that day and didn’t know anyone else who had registered too. But hey, what’s life if we always do what we are comfortable with, shouldn’t we step out of our comfort zone now and then and have a little excitement? That’s the motto I live by and I almost never say no to new experiences even if they give me the scare of my life. After all, I don’t have a wife/kids/family/commitments or any other reason that my friends use to avoid doing risky stuff. If I can’t do it now, when will I ever do it? So after this big build-up let me move onto the actual food walk.
After bantering for a week on the event page with the organizers Madam Pratibha Agarwal and Tanmay Chordia, Saturday finally came up. As my luck would have it, events were conspiring against me all day with work piling up. But I put my foot down at last, told them at the hospital that there was no way I was going to be there from 5pm to 7pm as I had informed them earlier itself and then I made my way to Mint Street, the venue of the Food Trail start-up point, dressed in Red as Aditi Jain had specified earlier.
When I reached Kakada Sweets the assemble point- there was already a large crowd of people milling about waiting for the organizers to declare the meet open. I finally found Aditi, after asking around, and she, would you believe it, was wearing a maroon Kurta, after specifying to me particularly about wearing Red. Well, she was busy volunteering with the group then, so I let her go, intending to have out the color-code issue with her later. Tanmay Chordia, my FB friend, joined us then and taking charge of one of the groups he made a push off from the start point. I joined the next group, spearheaded by Bhavna Jain and we hit the sugarcane stall outside Chotu-Motu, which has awesome fresh sugarcane juice, all natural and so sweet. In the hot and humid evening (for it rained later on) and after the long walk up Mint Street, the sugarcane juice was the perfect appetizer.
We next hit, Ajab Mitha Ghar, for some kachoris and hot, hot jalebis. Pooja bought us all a plate of jalebis gratis and after sampling the taste, we all ordered a round. And then we reached Maya Chats, where Bhavna vouched that the Masal Kachori with Mint chutney was something to die for. So then it was Kachori time for me and yes, it was tangy, spicy, sweet all at the same time and the mint chutney combo rocked. Spot on Bhavna.
The next pit stop on the tour was at Maharaja Ice Cream for the original Rajasthani flavored Malai Kulfis. Pooja, our ever smiling guide bought a plate of kulfis and passed it around for tasting (thanks again Pooja, you rock) and nobody who tasted it could escape buying a large plate of kulfis for themselves. It was perfect. I savoured a stick of malai kulfi and was tempted to order another immediately. It was a battle between my tongue and my dieter’s conscience, especially as the final highlight was still to come. Having conquered my temptations, I went along with Pooja to the last venue on the food trail, the Pani Poori stall outside the Jain temple. Pooja vouched that if there is a better pani poori being served in Chennai anywhere, she was yet to find it. This was it. The original of originals. Pani poori heaven and my, did the group gorge. The pooris were disappearing as fast as the guy could make it. And the more I tried to stop myself, the more I felt tempted to indulge in one last fling.
Fortunately, for my waist line, Pratibha Jain, the organizer turned up with the last batch and leaving them to sample the goodies I made my bye-byes and promising to return for more (part-2/3/4 and all-like a bad action movie), I bade everyone their my adieus and made my way back to the hospital and neglected duties. I hope my patients were a bit understanding if I wasn’t really very attentive today, it was all that chat food working its way up my system.
So, there it was my first affair with north Indian food, courtesy the Mint food trail. Like all affairs it was brief and glorious while it lasted and the aftereffects will be seen only when I step on the weighing scales tomorrow.
(P.S. a big thanks to all the volunteers- Pooja, Aditi, Tanmay, Bhavna , Tara..you did a fantastic job)