Saturday, February 04, 2006

Friday Evening Comfort Food

I decided to stay home last evening for this:

and this. Loads of brownie points and warm fuzzy childhood memories for the first one. The second one...a totally blah chick flick with two good looking people. And now back to the warm fuzzy stuff.

I guess Maggi was first introduced in the Indian market when I was still in the primary section in school. Like all big evil corporations with millions to spend on ad campaigns, Nestle came up with the perfect way to market Maggi. Target the kids and lure them with schemes like get a box of sketch pens when you return ten empty maggi packets (for five you could get some stupid toy which no wanted) and lure harried mom's with the 2-minute promise. I am not so sure about the numbers stated above but I do remember the sketch pens/felt pens and the bi-weekly trips to the neighbourhood convenience store for the exchange ritual. I am sure the store owner got really tired of this but he never complained because the product was literally flying off the shelf. Then it suddenly stoped. Someone somewhere started a Maggi-makes-you-blind hulaballoo and people stopped buying Maggi for their children. Nothing that drastic happened in our household but the rate of consumption did slow down a little. My mother (bless her heart!) had nearly unflinchable faith in Nestle and that other company- Glaxo (of Complan and silly Complan boy fame).

But things were never the same again...until August 1997 that is, when I was shipped off to the deserts of Rajasthan. I remember trying the rather insipid Top Ramen and hating it in the interim period. Anway back to 1997, Rajasthan. There, in a quaint colege town I re-discovered the joys of Maggi, only this time it came dressed with blobs of paneer and had a new name - Fried Paneer Maggi. This dish could fit in anywhere from late night hurried meals in the NC (between cramming sessions for the compre's) to romantic dinners at Blue Moon. A good dish of Fried Panner Maggie (Priced at 20 Rs. for a full plate and 10 Rs. for a half plate) could make or break a deal. Girls bragged about how guy X treated them to it and if they kept smiling pizza and cold coffee at Volga's would surely follow!

The final validation for Maggi however came much later, after I had left Pilani and was visiting some friends at INS Shivaji, Lonavala. In their rooms each of my friends had a small electric heater sitting in a corner. This is was a smaller version of the type of heater you cook on. Since all of them ate all their meals in the mess, its presence was intriguing. The mystery was explained later in the day, when after a gruelling trek in the nearby hills we were treated to a quick Maggi meal made in little pots which sat on guessed it...the little heaters and regaled with stories of cadet days in NDA when the little red and yellow packets with their 2-minute claim was the only solid food they had for days!! Maggi-the fuel that drives our Millitary...ultimate validation of the curative, restorative and life giving powers of this highly processed curly noodle-y meal of white flour and GKW.

And now on these distant foreign shores a hot bowl of do-minnit still works wonders.

Incase you did not get it:

NC- Night Canteen

Compre's - Comprehensive Exams. These were a set of annoying end semester exams.

Blue Moon - A Pilani institution famous for its milk shakes (legend has it that they even sold dosa shakes!!) and Chimpu - the owner. The romantic dinner at Blue Moon's was a two part affair with dinner on the tables outside followd by romance in Shiv G later on. Hmmm...I need to do a post about Shiv G some day.

Volga's -upscale restaurant where boy and girl could order just one coffee and sit for hours till closing time. Why upscale ? Coz this was the only place with completely indoor seating, soft lighting and dark corners.

INS - Indian Navy Ship. Don't know why a camp in the hills is called that.

NDA - National Defence Academy

GKW - God Knows What


Kumari said...

Aah...Fried Paneer Maggi. the only time in my entire life i liked Maggi was then. Now i don't again :) Somehow we never bought that mnay Maggi pkts when I was a kid. It was labelled a luxury food till i reached 10th and by then i lost interest. But like you said, Pilani did revive it big time :D

And yes, do pls post on Shiv G soon :)

Pankaj said...


Ended up on your blog GKH (God-Knows-How). The Maggi post brought back some lovely memories. It used to be a weekly ritual at our house. I was so enthusiastic about the whole affair that I would bike a few kms to get the Maggi packets, cook them myself (that was the only time I would enter kitchen and my parents hated the squiggly stuff anyway), divide them in two equal parts and eat it with my big brother!

Ah, the pleasures of piping hot Maggi.



Sagnik Nandy said...

Bass, money koriye dilen to. Blue Moon! Countless memories. I almost owned that place. So much so that I was given their kitchen for an afternoon to cook :) And as far as friend paneer maggi is concerned - i hated it for some reason :(

* interestingy the word verification reads "ncmgc" which in a distorted way sounds like "NC Magic" :)

Anyesha said...

kumari: coming piping hot post on Shiv G and other shady per order.

pankaj: Geez...that was some enthusiasm dude. Thanks for stopping by.

sagnik: Hold on, the Shiv G post is coming soon. Somehow we got along better with Pappu's brother Atul who ran the Xerox store..only he did not have the maggi

R said...

It used to be fried maggi when I was there a long time ago; guess they decided to change the name. Chimpoo -- wasn't that the name of the guy at Blue Moon?

Anyesha said...

R: You are right. Chimpu ran Blue Moon, Pappu ran the Sky shop and Atul the xerox facility. Fried maggi with panner was called fried panner maggi...extra special...that's it. One could also get just fried maggi.

Anurag said...

We still survive on maggi in Pilani :)