Food is to be celebrated. It makes you feel good. There are various categories of food, but the one that brings back a cherished memory and reminds one of home are surely comfort foods. They have a uniquely transformative property and can change the aura with the first bite.
Sheela Krishnaswamy, a nutrition and wellness consultant, defines comfort food as the one which people reach out so that they have a sense of satisfaction, comfort and relaxation.
We require this especially when we are feeling low or are sick. And healthy eating should be encouraged in such a state.
“If someone likes curd rice, the rice that is used can be unpolished or brown. It will give the same value as far as comfort is concerned but it is healthier,” Sheela suggests, adding that one should make subtle changes to a dish to make it healthier.
Podcaster and student Saadat Mohi-Ud-Din, says that his comfort food is Rogan Josh, a Kashmiri dish and something he is fond of.
For Bhumika Kohli it is fries. “They magically take away all the stress. When it feels like the world is falling apart, my fries have got me. It also has to do with all the good memories they bring, like munching on an endless supply of fries with friends. Maybe, it is the nostalgia and the sentimental value that I have attached to it which comforts me.”
This reporter interacted with many people who shared their preferences when it came to comfort food and it ranged from ‘rajmaa’, rice to biryani, but the most common answer was some form of creamy rice like ‘pongal’, ‘khichdi’ or ‘kedgeree’.
Ostensibly, this must be the choice because of the creamy texture and the sides that can be had with it. “To make it more wholesome, add in a handful of vegetables in a bowl of Kichidi. It becomes a meal in itself. For sides, the hapla or ‘papad’ can be roasted and not fried. It can be a urad papad for protien. Add a glass of buttermilk and there is a beautiful meal,” suggest Sheela.
But most of the time, it’s not the case. Our cravings gravitate towards unhealthy food and often we indulge in binge eating. But one must be mindful of this.
“If a person reaches out for chocolate, pastry or something sweet, my suggestion would be to replace that with a chikki (peanut or almond). It gives sweetness and is also nutritional. Or one can opt for sweet fruit like mango or banana. For those who like chips for their crunchiness and salty flavour, a good replacement would be Kadle puri (puffed rice) or lightly salted or roasted nuts. The fibre content in these will make one feel full and reduce the tendency to binge,” Sheela says.