Ever faced with the dilemma of wanting something familiar, but not wanting to cook? And, to top that, you also want to go out. Choosing a place that gives you precisely what you need at that point is not an easy task. Ask me!
I think restaurants should actually have a ‘comfort food’ section on their menus. For instance, Imli, the North Indian restaurant in Indiranagar, has khichdi on their menu. Ideally, one would not quite think of eating it at a restaurant, but it is one of their best sellers. The thick, delicious and yet so simple dish reminds me of home each time I eat it, and it is best eaten on rainy days.
Comfort food varies from person to person – I can sit and pop sushi rolls on the most depressing day. Perhaps the kick of the wasabi has something to do with it, but a trip to Harima on Residency Road fixes a lot of things. For some, it could be something as simple as rajma chawal from Punjabi Rasoi in Indiranagar. It is not a posh place, but the food is pretty much spot on.
A bowl of hot pho does the same trick, and Phobidden Fruit in Indiranagar makes a really good one. This noodle soup meal-by-itself is a flavour bomb, and you can choose to have it with vegetables, chicken, beef or prawns.
As a Bengali, it would be criminal not to include my own cuisine. And a portion of Hilsa cooked in mustard with steaming rice cannot be ignored, or even luchis with cholar dal will do. Oh! Calcutta is my usual go-to place, but the prawn malaikari at the recently discovered Paanch Phoron in Koramangala is an absolute treat. You might have to check in advance if they have it on their menu on that day though.
I am not a big fan of biryani, but a few of my friends swear by the donne biryani found in various pockets of the city, and Gundappa Donne Biryani in Sheshadripuram is a known hotspot for this Bengaluru specialty. And if you have not tried it before, you ought to know that this is not anything like Lucknowi pulao or Hyderabadi biryani.
And let us not forget the national comfort cuisine – Chinese. From chicken soups, greasy noodles tossed with vegetables and meat, to fried rice and chilli chicken – there is no dearth of Indian Chinese restaurants in the city. Chung Wah, Bangalore Mandarin, Hunan, Mainland China, Beijing Bites, and Mr Hong are only a few of my favourites. While most of them are okay to eat out at, some places are best for home delivery.
A steaming bowl of prawn Thai curry and rice comes a close second after Chinese. While the one at Mamagoto might be a little too sweet for a few palates, I would gladly make a trip to Rim Naam at The Oberoi to eat just that.
From something from Kerala, the appam and stew at Karavalli deserve special mention.
The delicate flavour of the stew hits the spot each time, and even though the restaurant is usually reserved for special occasions, an unwarranted visit can be such a treat.
The latest to join my list of comfort foods is the naga pork served on a bed of noodles; it is part of Monkey Bar’s (Indiranagar) new menu. The slivered pork is spicy (it has a hint of bhut jolokia) but will not burn your mouth and it is packed with flavour. The noodles are soft but not too mushy, and that makes a lot of difference to the dish.
Raise your hands if chocolate is your ultimate comfort food. And I am not referring to bars, but to sinful chocolate desserts. The Devil’s Food Cake at Sunny’s tops my list most of the time. What is your favourite?
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Priyadarshini is an independent journalist from Bengaluru whose life pretty much revolves around food, good music, literature, and cinema. She’s worked with different publications over the past 10 years, and has written about travel, theatre, films, books, music, food and lots of food! She’s travelled wherever her feet and budget would allow, discovering cultures through local palates and social behaviour, and in an ideal world would probably resort to using food and music to resolve any dispute.