The sky is grey with fluffy cotton-like clouds. Somewhere, far away, thunder rumbles and a familiar earthy smell fills the air. Think of the monsoon and the first thing that your mind (and tummy) yearns for is that steaming cup of chai and crispy, golden brown triangles of samosas with good old piping hot, aloo masala-filling.
Oh wait! Spicy, deep fried, vegetable pakodas with fresh green mint chutney are not a bad idea either. Or maybe thin, gooey, sugar-soaked jalebis with cream? Heaven!
Something about wind and rain and grey skies makes us hungry. Not just hungry, but self-indulgent. Deep-fried, sickly-sweet guilt just doesn’t get a look in. So why stop at just plain old chai and samosas? Check out these snacks and different kinds of tea, and go all the way.
It is impossible to miss the keema pav stalls on the busy streets of Mumbai. The spicy flavours of minced mutton with onions, garlic and ginger are complemented with warm, plain, buttered pav. "I would call this the perfect starter to a full-fledged, lavish non-vegetarian meal," says Saif Rasul Khan, a Mumbai-based law student.
I was on my bike riding back home after a late shift, when it started raining. I was a good half-an-hour away from home, and there it was - a food stall. Watching the pouring rain, sipping the hot, steaming chai, and munching hot vada pav with spicy red chutney - that's bliss!" recalls Samrat Sarkar, an IT professional based in Mysore. The Indian version of the burger, vada pav, is a staple on the busy streets of Mumbai. Tucked between small, warm loaves of bread are spicy round potato vadas with a sprinkle of red chilli powder. Best eaten with a spicy dry-chilli chutney.
We've grown up eating sliced tomato, onion, cucumber sandwiches, layered with chutney or cheese. But this one comes with a twist. Can you imagine our good old Maggi between slices of bread toasted golden brown with lots of butter? Nothing like it! "One day, my roommate and I ran out of our 'food-bank' except for a packet of Maggi, and two slices of bread. Scarcity is the mother of invention, and that's when we thought of having a Maggi sandwich. We cooked the Maggi, placed it between the slices, and CHOMP CHOMP! A delicious meal!" says Rikhiya Banerjee, a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
We might have tried everything at the fanciest of restaurants, had exotic cuisines at plush hotels, but nothing can beat that comforting bite into good old bun maska, oozing with butter, while sipping chai. "It's probably the easiest and best meal I can make and have at short notice in the monsoon. Midnight hunger pangs call for bun maska and chai at any food stall," says Parul Kandoi, 24, a student at the Faculty of Law, Delhi University.But know what? You can actually make the bun maska experience better. Squeeze a layer of bhujiya into the bun to taste its crispiness. Raghav Verma, co-founder of Chaayos, the Delhi-based chai café chain, says, "It goes best with Irani paani-kum chai and is a huge hit at Chaayos."
Do you retch at the sight of milk? Maybe you haven't tried the aromatic, saffron-coloured, full-of-flavour masala milk. Loaded with dry fruits and exotic spices, this drink is not only good in taste but can be drunk hot or cold. "Not being much of a beverages person, one thing about the monsoon I look forward to is enjoying that steaming mug of masala milk with turmeric that completes my rain experience," says Tanvee Deorah, 23, a Delhi-based student preparing for the civil services.
Chopped golden potatoes, slightly crisp on the outside and soft and silky on the inside, peppered with spices and occasionally topped with some mint chutney. Tawa aloo is one of the most delectable delicacies to enjoy as you watch the pouring rain.
Tibetan yak butter pu-erh - Ladakh
Kahwa - Kashmir
Kangra tea - Himachal Pradesh
Paani kum chai - Mumbai
Gur wali chai - Punjab
Suleimani chai - Andhra, Kerala
Darjeeling tea & Assam tea