No, it’s not what you have eaten at the new French restaurant or the Biryani at the Muslim joint or even the sandwiches at the sandwich and juice counters in Town. The best food that you can ever taste is a simple home cooked meal in a village deep within India.
Have you ever tasted hot Bajre ka roti with loads of ghee and jaggery on a cold winter day? Or simple kichhdi and zunka in the midst of a cotton field? Have you ever tasted local chicken made in local spices in the mountains up north? Or just wheat rotis and sukha aloo sabzi with onions and salt in a mud house deep in the forest of central India? Having travelled the length and breadth of this country, I can say hand-on-heart that there is no taste like food of Rural India.
There are some reasons why the taste of such food is unbeatable. First, they are made from local crops/grains with local home grown spices. Crops that have been grown traditionally have a distinct taste which we don’t get in the packaged rice and ‘fortified’ atta we are used to eating here. A local rice variety called kutki is sticky when made, but is so delicious that you could eat it without adding anything. Not just taste, these local crops especially millets are much more nutritious than the city varieties and they tend to fill up your stomach in lesser amount.
Second, it’s made on chulha, on firewood which adds a flavour to the food. Thirdly, the people don’t restrict themselves when cooking for others. Even if it is just plain daal and rice, they make it in large quantity and with so much love, that it has to show in the food (however clichéd it may sound, it is 100% true). People in villages might not earn much and have limited resources, but their hearts are open and do not think twice before giving you something without wanting anything in return. And it is true of every village whether it’s in East, West, North of India or South. While in the city, we offer visitors types of black tea to show off our taste; in villages you will be offered black tea because the house didn’t have milk or sugar.
And lastly, a perfect rural setting, warm homes and people and close to nature away from the chaos of city life makes the food stand out in its simplicity and earthiness.