Long long ago when life was all about school, homework, friends, doll marriages, ludo, carom, skipping ropes, sibling fights and having crush on Bollywood stars, food was not a hyped fad and terms like Gourmet, Haute cuisine, Molecular gastronomy, were unheard of. Eating out was a luxury strictly indulged in, during Diwali and the family get- togethers meant a bunch of family members slogging all the day to prepare the feast. Festivals meant some extra cooking, little ahead of the D-day, to share food with friends, family and neighbors. Packaged food was nowhere in the scene and food was generally prepared with locally available, affordable ingredients. Spices were sundried and ground either at home or got done at local flour mill. Food was made from scratch and instant food probably meant a quick Upma, Poha , Koki etc. More importance was given to the quality and variety of wholesome food and less emphasis on ‘protein rich’, ‘gluten free’, ‘carb free’, ‘sugar free’ meals. More efforts were put in cooking the food with fresh ingredients while the presentation and garnishing was of least significance.
My mother always used to knead fresh dough for making rotis, for every meal. She used to cook just as much food as required so that there were hardly any leftovers. Working on limited budget, the homemakers generally purchased only those vegetables and fruits that were sensibly priced, but fresh, even if that meant walking down to vegetable market every single day. So on a day when cauliflower was sold at low price in vegetable market, one can find gobi aloo, gobi paratha, gobi keema, gobi pulav etc being cooked in almost every home in that locality.Soaring prices of onions would result in using it sparingly and by switching over to tomato based curries. When rice got costly people used to eat more wheat and viceversa. I guess that’s how inflation was managed in that era, unlike now when multiple source of incomes in families lead to buying ingredients that we need, despite of ridiculously high price tag. People try to impress guests by cooking ‘restaurant style’ food, made with exotic ingredients, using frozen food, with some unpronounceable ‘nomenclature’. Well, blame it on food going global and all sorts of cookery shows that consistently imparts ‘knowledge’ to us. And oh ! hail the Google! We must change with the changing times and so am I, but somehow for me, nothing can beat a simple homely meal, freshly made, using ‘real’ ingredients. I was raised the old school way .
Simple food stirs memories.. yes, ofcourse ! And today is just that kind of day when I walked down the memory lane to relive the moments of the rain soaked evenings, when we, the hungry kids, back from school, used to look forward to piping hot evening snacks, lovingly made by dear mother. The sinful cutlets, Pakora (fritters), the delicious chaat, sawa phota, healthy Upma, seyal pao and the yummy tomato toasters. Oh well, the last one being one of the most favorite of mine !
Tomato toasters could be made in jiffy, using the ingredients almost always available in kitchen. A kind of salsa is made by mixing chopped onions and tomatoes, spiced up with green chilies, fresh coriander leaves and basic powdered spices. The salsa is then stuffed in laadi pao/Pav or placed between 2 bread slices and cooked on griddle till crisp golden brown. A very simple recipe, ready in minutes and taste heavenly with some green coriander chutney or the mighty tomato ketchup. Give it a try !!!
- 2 small red onions
- 1 large tomato
- 2 green chilies
- Salt as per taste
- Dash of red chilli powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- Some fresh coriander leaves
- 8 bread slices or 4 Pav
- Peel and finely chop the onions.Chop tomato, green chillies and add some salt.
- Mash the mixture and sort of squeeze it. Reserve the liquid (wont be much) and use it in any curry.
- Add spice powders, chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
- Stuff a portion of this mixture between two bread slices or in the pav. Repeat for rest of the bread.
- Heat a griddle and grease it well with some oil. Place the sandwich on hot griddle and lower the flame to sim. Place a flat metal dinner plate/thali (steel/ copper/ aluminum) over the sandwich and place any heavy utensil on top of the plate.
- Flip the sandwich after a minute and pour some oil to avoid sticking of sandwich and to make it more crisp.Cook sandwich till both sides appear crisp brown. Depending on the size of griddle, you can cook 2-3 sandwiches at one go.
- Serve it hot with chutney or tomato ketchup.