Food is always associated with festivities in most cultures. Among the Bengalis, eating out is a norm during the Durga Puja. At the pandals, stalls are set up that sell a variety of food from different parts of the country. The trend of eating out continues on and off till Diwali and then peaks up again during the New Year.
These are the times when I usually try out different cuisines. Though my food choices are rather limited by the virtue of being a vegetarian, I look for the vegetarian version of various cuisines. Last week, during a lunch-out at Hitchki (the word means hiccup in Hindi), a restaurant in Powai, I spotted a dish on the Menu card, with a rather strange sounding name – Bibimbap.
Seeing the unusual name, I checked out its composition. It looked like a rice dish cooked with carrots, mushrooms, and some other ingredients. I found that the restaurant served the dish both with and without meat. I opted for the vegetarian version, which we ordered along with dim sum and bough for starters. While waiting for the order, I surfed the net to find out where this cuisine came from.
Bibimbap – a popular Korean dish
Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish, made of rice, served with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, and a bit of pepper paste. The word Bibimbap translates as “mixed rice,” with ‘bibim’ meaning “mixed” and ‘bap’ meaning “cooked rice”. It is an essential dish in Korean cuisine. The ingredients are chosen carefully to balance, harmonize, and offset each other. The Koreans believe it heals the body, releases energy and keeps illness away.
Soon after the attendant had served the dim sum, he brought the Bibimbap in a black bowl. Sliced carrots, cucumber, mushrooms and soybean sprouts arranged on top of the rice, with sesame seeds sprinkled over them gave a wholesome look to the dish. It was served with hot pepper paste on the side. The textures and colours came together nicely in the bowl. Everything was supposed to be mixed up before eating.
As I dug my spoon into it, I found that the vegetables, being lightly cooked, retained their individual flavours and all combined together tasted delicious. There was some sweetness to the sprouts maybe due to honey added during cooking.
So, the unusual sounding Bibimbap turned out to be a healthy dish. Those who are fond of sweet rice ‘meethe chawal’ would enjoy this dish.
Quotes on Food
While on the topic of food, let me share some of my favourite quotes and proverbs on food that are universally applicable
The belly rules the mind. – Spanish Proverb
Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is. – Irish Proverb
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. – John Gunther
If we’re not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn’t settle for junk food. -Sally Edwards
Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature. – Carlo Petrini
I believe that cuisine is the most important link between nature and culture. – Alex Atala
The so-called nouvelle cuisine usually means not enough on your plate and too much on your bill. – Paul Bocuse
Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. -Voltaire
I have come to the conclusion that just as the Japanese live to work, Asians live to eat. – Anastacia Oaikhena
Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork. – English Proverb
Oh yes, before I end, a word about Hitchki. It is a resto bar, designed with the theme of nostalgia. It was interesting to see old telephones boxes hung on a wall and a bicycle on another.
The service was average and the music was a bit loud for my liking. Some preparations were very good, while some were average. But, the bowl of Bibimbap made it a memorable treat for me.