There is no denying that 2021 absorbed and carried forward the brunt of a seemingly never-ending global crisis. We’ve had our ups and downs; a fair share of the bitter and the sweet. Despite everything, all of us showed up, stuck around for ourselves and for each other.
The secret ingredient that held all of us together at Nymble? It's a simple one, but quite powerful at that - our burning passion and innate love for food. No two ways or words about it.
Here’s a reminder of WHAT’S GOOD! A glance at those who drive Nymble and what drives them. Presenting to you Nymble’s Food Rewind 2021, a wrap of everyone’s most cherished food memories and stories from the past year.
Darshan Rander - On Adrenaline Peak
For me it is the taste of Misal Pav that I had after a long trek at Kalsubai, the highest peak of Maharashtra. All I wanted to do after the trek was to eat something and sleep. The last thing one would expect at this point, from an otherwise common local dish, would be for it to knock some socks off. Lace the story with the smoky notes of flavour from the wooden stove and an adventure though? The thought becomes more fathomable and the dish becomes an instant hit!
When we started to descend, we lost our group and accidentally went inside another group's camp. As they were about to serve lunch we realized that we couldn't find our lead and were in the wrong camp. We gracefully so ourselves out. And ran. For our lives or out of hunger? We don’t know but all we know is our hunger was sprinkled with the right amount of adrenaline that perhaps ties this whole experience together.
Raghav Gupta - A Thanksgiving Special
I had just moved to the San Mateo neighbourhood in California with my wife and Thanksgiving was just round the corner. Now, I had never celebrated Thanksgiving before and so I reached out to the community on an app called NextDoor telling folks that I was new to the neighbourhood and was looking to learn more about the festival - my first post on the platform.
The overwhelming response I got from that post and the 5 back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners we did in 2 days is a food memory I'll cherish for a long time to come. Complete strangers invited us over into their own homes, so we could celebrate the festival together. The spirit of the festival was truly felt.
The first family baked a pumpkin pie especially for us and offered to drive by our house to give it to us. We offered to collect it ourselves and they threw in a peach cobbler in addition.
The second family was having a close family Thanksgiving dinner - a couple, their 2 kids, parents and siblings and they invited us to be part of this close knit gathering. We could not have felt more at home. They treated us to salad - greens with feta, nuts, herbs and berries; mashed potatoes and some vegetarian sides.
The third person had invited her bible group over at her place and we were invited to celebrate Thanksgiving by truly thanking god. After we were done eating, we sang and danced, picked up the guitar, played the piano and thanked god for all we have.
The next day, we decided to turn the tables by preparing a Thanksgiving feast ourselves - vegetarian stuffing and sweet potato chaat. We met 2 other families in the nearby park and all of us had gotten something or the other from home. Beauty lay in celebrating with each other and making up for not having all of our families around.
Our final meal was with a wonderful couple who decided that they'd invite over student friends of their university-going kids - students who had not been able to go home for holidays and celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. We stopped by for dessert and tried a plethora of pies - pumpkin, apple, pecan and elderberry. We already look forward to celebrating Christmas with them.
All these meals reminded us of what Thanksgiving is really all about. About being thankful for all you have and about spreading the message of love and joy with friends, family and neighbours. Sharing home cooked meals together is how we choose to spread that message.
Many dishes exist in this memory. The one I feel that is special is the one I prepared and took to these meals - the sweet potato chaat! What I liked most about this dish was that it was the perfect fusion of Indian culture (chaat) and the thanksgiving season (sweet potato). It was the perfect dish to bring our own touch to Thanksgiving and be grateful for all that we had back home in India.
We followed this recipe: https://www.tastingtable.com/686515/sweet-potato-chaat-recipe-indian/
Yeshwin Raju - Unison of Taste Buds
I had come across the restaurant ‘Mallika Biryani’ via one of my relatives who stayed in the same locality as this restaurant and there was a good amount of hype built around it. The locality otherwise stands pretty secluded, much to my surprise but also indicating that the only footfall in the area was because of this restaurant. You can always find an array of cars and people flocking over to this restaurant in long queues (especially over the weekends). An Indian take-away/diner, if you will. Of course, the steaming hot Mutton Biryani made my taste buds sing (and scream) in chorus, but the icing on the cake had to be the tender mutton pieces. The magic of the thin slice of fat and ghee coated on the outer layer was felt the moment the mutton melted in the mouth.
One fine weekday, I had to drop my mom at her workplace which is about a few kilometers from this restaurant. Coincidentally, I had woken up late during the day and never had the chance to eat my breakfast. After dropping her, I thought I'd get a quick bite of Crispy Dosa. But as I mentioned, it was quite late and the weather was overcast accompanied by a gentle drizzle. Well, I thought to myself, what could be better than having crispy dosa during such beautiful weather? A hefty Biryani brunch, duh!
This is exactly what I did: I drove there, ordered one plate of Mutton Biryani for myself, received it at the counter in one of those hardened banana leaf biodegradable plates, found a table for myself and then devoured the entire plate of biryani, savouring each and every mouthful of the dish. The weather, the scarce crowd (due to it being a weekday), the setting of the restaurant with secluded vibes but most importantly, spending time with myself and not being dependent on anyone/anything made me appreciate those small things in life. In the end, the travel and starvation was all worth it after all.
Anusha Murthy - A Hug in a Bowl
Veg Rendang Curry and Flaky Paratha. One of my first fancy meals outside after 1.5 years of being holed up inside homes, my family and I decided to visit a vegetarian restaurant in Bangalore called Street Storyss. Turns out this place was a vegetarian restaurant and celebrates vegetarian food. Unlike most veg places where the options are limited to non-polarising dishes like Potato, Paneer, Cauliflower etc, this place celebrated the essence of the food and had a kickass vegetarian rendition of most of the global popular meat based dishes. I ordered this main course of Indonesian Rendang Curry and paratha (almost like our paratha) while keeping bare minimum expectations from this place. And the dish was spectacular. The curry itself was warm and coconutty, very comforting and had just the right hint of spices. The paratha was flaky and crispy and a perfect accompaniment to the curry itself.
All in all, a truly special and delicious meal. It was simple, flavourful and had the right balance of spices. It seems to be pretty straightforward. Like most Asian cooking, the curry paste is the hero here.
We went back a few weeks later with some friends, had hyped a lot about this dish and managed to make it to the restaurant. After a round of appetizers, we carefully kept in mind to order extra parathas as well and went to place the order for it. Only to find out that they had removed it from the menu :(. It was crushing. Please help me track down the chef and ask for the recipe!
Shubham Sharma - Satisfaction Served.
A memorable food memory that has been lodged in my mind is of the time I went with my friends to a South Indian restaurant named Murugan Idli situated on the Chennai-Bangalore highway. I had been there one time before, but since then I have been craving their delicious Dosa that cannot be found anywhere in the city of Bangalore. A 90 KM road trip should be a give away of how amazing the food there was.
The crisp thin Dosa along with Sambar that was enhanced with the right amount of sourness. It was truly a ‘satisfaction served’ moment.
Darshana Dutta - Say Cheese for the Cheesecake
I had the best Strawberry Cheesecake of my life in a tiny little Tibetan cafe in McLeodGanj. It was freshly baked in the morning and it tasted heavenly.The softness and fluffiness of the cake really hit the bar. I had it with a king-sized cup of Americano and it just made my day. My take away? The best cheesecakes are found where you least expect it!
Poornaditya Mishra - Goa Trip? Lost and Found!
The Kingfish Kebab from Ritz Hotel, Goa. The Kingfish in fact made for a King-dish. Cooked to perfection and infused with the perfect blend of spices. When I look back, the fondest of memories I carry from the ‘unplanned trip’ discussed ahead, is the memory of this particular dish. Just like every other Goa trip, my plan with my friends got cancelled at the last minute. Bummed, I spent an entire week stuck in my hostel with nothing to do. Almost as a miracle, another friend of mine invited me to her place and her parents agreed to take us to a Goa trip after hearing about my cancelled plan. Her father was known to be strict, so I quite was shocked but happy to accept the offer anyway. As far as others know, it was a solo trip. Hush hush. Nevertheless, the trip was full of visits to several places and a wide variety of food that was savoured, especially seafood!
Rohin - God Sent Cholle Bhature
Bangalore is Kaapi-Idli-Dosa land. It is somewhat a struggle to find good North-Indian chaat and street style food here. An absolute surprise when I discovered authentic Delhi-Paharganj style at Natraj Cholle Bhature here in Bangalore and that too just 100m away from our office! I remember being skeptical at first. But when I broke the fluffy Bhatura, a wasp of hot steam escaped and took me back to the dingy lanes of Paharganj! Digging my teeth into the spicy cholle along with a sliver of sliced onion & pudina chutney was a god-sent heavenly experience.
And only Dilli-wallahs would know this, a good cholle bhature is amiss without the kaccha pyaaz, nimbu-mirchi ka achaar and pudina chutney! So the inclusion of this detail made the whole experience god-sent.
Tanzim Ahmed - Crispy Out, Juicy In.
It was the first time I went out with my Ukrainian friends and I couldn't figure out what to order because the menu was in Ukrainian. At a loss of words and hunger not, I pulled out Google Translate to save myself the embarrassment and ordered the first dish it translated. Chicken Kiev. It has become my favorite since.
Vladyslava Savytska - 4 kuai (RMB) for happiness
I tried the Mapo Tofu at the Peking University canteen in China. It was one of the first Chinese dishes I tried, and I fell in love with it immediately. What I loved the most was the addictiveness of it owing to the spicy bean sauce, sichuan peppercorns, and the perfect ratio of rice and gravy.
Rohit Natu - Nipponshoku wa saikoudesu
My mom wrote a review for the restaurant named Origins in Pune when it opened, and naturally we went to taste their menu. The staff was surprisingly knowledgeable about the dishes and their hospitality could be paralleled to those of the Japanese. For me, The Panko Salmon Futomaki had the perfect combination of ingredients and textures. It was wrapped in seaweed with rice, a crispy peanut salad and prawn tails on the side to be paired with some classic kimchi and wasabi. Bite-sized but filling!
Abinaya Nagappan - Tokyo In a Bite.
Stir Fried Tofu from Druid Garden. I cook tofu quite a bit but I was very impressed with how this tofu was hard on the outside and soft when you bite in; I've had something like this earlier in Tokyo but never after that - so this reminded me of childhood and hence, stayed on in my mind.
Ashwati Madhavan - One for the Seoul.
Ramen or ramyeon? The difference between a Japanese and a Korean ramen lies not just in the name but the nature of it. Koreans went down the ‘instant’ noodle route and stand as pioneers in packing flavour in these ready-to-make processed packets, while the Japanese prepare ‘authentic' ramen the long and tedious way, with the brewing of the broth and what not. A Japanese ramen aims to hit all the notes of layered subtlety while a Korean bowl is supposed to hit you left right and centre with loud, spicy and snappy flavours. It really is out there.
It was no secret that the bowl of ramyeon at Korean Cultural Centre, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi was also just one of those instant ones, but served in style. But how an ‘instant’ bowl managed to draw me in every single possible time (even when I knew the potential packet version of the same that I could easily make at home) really beats me. The effort to make it to this bowl every time I found myself in the city, felt effortless. I never ordered anything else, almost as if the experience wouldn’t digest itself without this bowl. What was it - The fresh yet perfectly fermented Kimchi side, the caramelised peanuts or the pink pickled cubes of radish? The courteous staff? The imported premium Korean cutlery? The open space and the minimalism? The lack of a crowd? I don't know. All I know is that Dalgrak cafe at Korean Cultural Centre became a safe haven, my very own cozy cave to camp in, every second day.
Nabadip Deb - Utterly Butterly Delicious!
The dish that immediately comes to mind is the Butter Chicken from Havemore, Pandara Road Market, New Delhi. Not very far from India Gate if one wants to walk over after a full meal there!
The first thing I loved was the mere sight of it - the portion size was huge and the texture spoke larger than words. It's very easy to make Butter Chicken either too sweet or too spicy - but Havemore had pinned down the right flavour profile. It was loaded with cream, and then some more cream. Not much of a story but to get a taste of not just the best Butter Chicken but also the famous rivalry between Gulati’s and Havemore, we made sure to try both (psst psst, Havemore trails first).
Abarajithan - Multiverse of South India
Along with the rich cultural heritage Madurai is known to harbour, my home town is also known for some of the best food in all of South India. Once such food is ‘Kari Idiyappam’ which was only available at a road-side hotel of sorts in Madurai. The dish stands as a healthy replacement for non-vegetarian fried rice and it’s surprising how they manage to bring that flavour without unnatural additives.
The eggs are scrambled first. Then some Chicken or Mutton gravy is mixed with it, along with some curry leaves. Once properly mixed, around 3-4 idiyappam (string hoppers) are added and minced several times. No ingredients are actually fried in the process.
Punch-line explainer: The ingredients of this recipe are separately famous in Kerala (Idiyappam), TamilNadu (Salna/Gravy) and Andhra (Chilly spices).
Karan Japee - Breakfast of Champions
Mutton Kari Dosa & Paya from a madurai-styled restaurant in Chennai called Manjal. The food couldn’t be more authentic or packed with flavours. The open dosa was just perfect. Crispy on the outside, but soft inside. Topped with small chunks of boneless mutton which was tawa fried with onions, garlic, curry leaves & the usual masalas closed the deal for me. Pro-tip? You always need to finish your meal with a sunny-side up when you have a Madurai or Chettinad meal.
Raghav Parwal - A test of tomatoes, and time!
Spaghetti Arrabbiata. The dish was cooked by me and my wife, with loads of inputs from Shashank (an ex-chef at Nymble). This was the first dish cooked by us which really tested our patience, as this required us to saute the tomatoes for hours!!!
Although this dish is a pasta, generally perceived to be unhealthy, we made sure to add loads of broccoli, capsicum etc to shift the scale towards a slightly healthier side.
NOW, I wasn't too sure how the sauce would turn out, and if all the time was even worth the effort. But when the sauce, the aromatics and the veggies came together with the pasta, the taste was just perfect! With loads of Parmesan sprinkled on it, and crunchy Garlic bread on the side, this pasta was magic in each bite. I envy the Italians who eat this deliciousness every other day :(