Its a warm afternoon in Jammu. Chiki is lying like a sloth bear, not barking. We are all gathered on the veranda. My childhood friend, Kannu and I, are as usual playing our favorite sport Cricket, where he is imitating Australia and I, India. Rama Aunty brings the aromatic nutri chawal. We both leave our bat and bowl and run towards the veranda but are being stopped because we are all covered in dirt and mud. We don’t bathe, we just clean feet and hands within 30 seconds and reach the veranda back.
Rice is being served. A big dollop of desi ghee is being poured on the rice. We both take our spoons and reach for the first bite. A moment of sheer pleasure takes place. No other thought comes, It is Nutri Chawal on the mind.
It is around 20 years now and whenever someone talks about Rajma rice, Cholle Rice, I go back to that time.
This time to my surprise, Mom cooked Nutri Chawal.
Exactly like the movie Ratatouille, I take the bite and I am back to the warm veranda of New Plot, Jammu. So, I try to decode what exactly makes it so delectable and my fondest food memory. First, it is the quality of rice. Without a doubt, Jammu produces the best rice in India. In fact, the area R.S.Pura is also called “Rice bowl of Jammu and Kashmir”. The rice which is used for preparation is the topmost quality of basmati rice. But believe me folks, this still doesn’t match the quality what Rama Aunty used. I think they bought the rice straight from heaven.
So, it can’t be just be rice. Second comes the preparation. Sliced onions are caramelized in ghee(preferred) along with cumin which forms the flavor. The nutri (soyabean) and green peas must be boiled and the water must be completely drained out of them. Fry them together with onions. Also, add a couple of Indian bay leaf and black cardamom. Add the rice with the appropriate quantity of water. Keep in mind that rice must be made in the bowl or rice cooker not a pressure cooker.
Nutri Chawal reminded me of Kannu and our childhood days. So, immediately after I devoured the chawal, I pinged him on Instagram with a story mention and within seconds, he replied saying that he just had them yesterday! Coincidence ?
Currently, my heart is half transported back to New Plot and this time I am thinking of the delicious Rajma Chawal, Chole Chawal, Khatte Aloo, Kimb and many more fondest food items and of course memories.