Chai and Pakodas have become a staple snack that every Indian gravitates towards as soon as it starts to drizzle, we explore why
Apart from my playlist that plays songs of singer K.K. on loop, the only thing that is constant about monsoons for me is: Chai and Pakode. I’m unable to put my finger on the exact reason as to why Chai and Pakodas have become a staple snack that every Indian gravitates towards as soon as it starts to drizzle. Maybe it’s the comfort, sound and smell of freshly fried Pakodas that soothes us. Or perhaps, the combination of food and rain makes us remember a simpler time of our lives. The time when mom brought us snacks in bed on a rainy day, while we paused our world to see which droplet of rain wins while competing on our window pane. Yes, it definitely is the memory we associate with rain and food from when we were younger. Remember when we used to celebrate rainy days as kids by watching Cartoon Network for the whole day, as our mothers brought us snacks near the TV set? We could take a break from our homework and our school and just enjoy the hospitality provided to us, by mom. Such memories made us positively co-relate monsoon and food. Psychologists say that memories associated with food in our childhood, continue to influence us in many ways. Have you ever found yourself ordering twice from the same restaurant despite having a horrible first experience just because you like the cuisine they serve? This is a classic example of how memories continue to influence our food preferences. Well, our love for Chai and Pakoda stems from pretty much the same principle.
I live in Delhi. A city where life runs faster than Usain Bolt. But do you know what sets this city apart? The food. The only thing constant in the hustle bustle of Delhi has been good food. Whether my boss appreciates my work or not is unpredictable. But getting amazing Fish Pakoras at Ganesh Restaurant in Karol Bagh after a long day of work is definite! I often tell myself maybe Dilli Ka Khaana is the reason I’m still in this city, rather than staying in the mountains. Delhi comes alive in monsoons as do the many Chai and Pakode joints it has. Long queues of people craving kadak Chai with Bhajiya (another word for Pakode) can be found outside every other joint. A staple point for getting delicious Pakodas and Chai in Delhi is the Sitaram Pakodewala in Lajpat Nagar. Vikas Panwar, who is the owner of the joint once told me how Delhiites are crazy for Chai and Pakode in monsoons. I recollect, he said, “Monsoon is the peak season for our business. Last year we had 30 delivery riders waiting to collect orders at any given point while we attended walk-in customers at the store.” How Vikas manages hundreds of hungry foodies in the city, is beyond my comprehension. The same sentiment was echoed by Prateek Dhingra, owner of Sarojini Nagar’s Khandani Pakodewala. He told me once that monsoon is incomplete for foodies without Chai and Pakodas. He said, “As soon as it starts drizzling, our phones start ringing with customers calling to demand pakodas. We get calls from morning to evening!”