( Photo from the Internet for Illustration only)
This is a very popular Indian snack.Its spicy, deep fried and made out of ‘besan’ ( gram flour) and spices.It originated in a city called Bikaner, in the state of Rajasthan, in Western India.Its reach is of course not just pan-India, but global, what with we Indians to be found everywhere these days 😀
I have a visceral connection to the ‘bhujiya’. I guess anyone who has stayed and studied in a hostel would have such a connection. This was what that sustained me and my friends, while we were students of Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU), New Delhi, through the terrible, mass produced food served in the hostel mess. I stayed in the Ganga Hostel for girls and I think, it’s mess was the worst. Most of the girls’ hostels’ mess were pathetic I think, because the boys would regularly terrorize the mess warden/manager/cooks/serving staff 😀 While we girls usually stuck to a little polite and non-invasive cajoling that didn’t have the intended results 🙂
The ‘bhujiya’ was liberally doused over the staple rice and ‘dal’ ( a watery lentil soup) because the vegetable curry would taste like what a friend of mine called ‘cat crap’. While the vegetable curry changed everyday, the cat crapiness never went out of it!
The real glory of the ‘bhujiya’ was its tremendous potential in perhaps one of the best sandwiches I have ever had till date.One could make it anytime because it was so simple. The ‘bhujiya’ sandwich was spectacular because it was fashioned out of stolen ( from the hostel mess) or borrowed ( from fellow ‘bhujiya-ites’) or leftover ( a true hosteler always had a friend who would keep breakfast for her/him and which would be normally be eaten at midnight). The essential ingredients of this sandwich were bread, butter, ‘bhujiya’, chopped onion and tomato ketchup.The bread was buttered, sprinkled with ‘bhujiya’ and chopped raw onions and liberally doused with ketchup. If by any chance there was leftover ‘aloo bonda’ ( deep fried mashed spicy potatoes coated with gram flour), a highly popular ,un-healthy, calorie ridden breakfast option,the sandwich turned gourmet, with the ‘aloo bonda’ being squished in between the bread.Hail awesomeness!
Amongst my friend circle, we had two types of the ‘bhujiya’ sandwich. 1) The ‘Kissing’ sandwich, which didn’t have the chopped raw onions. 2) The ‘Non-kissing’ sandwich , which had chopped raw onions. The distinction was based on whether one had a boyfriend and thus was smooching, to not having one and fantasizing about the then Imran Khan 😀 For you see, raw onions have an extremely pungent smell and thus taboo for kissing 😀 Somewhat like Jackie Kennedy’s apparent grudge about Aristotle Onassis smelling of onions or garlic( I forget which)! The ‘bhujiya’ sandwich thus was a barometer of one’s love life 🙂 I always had the ‘Kissing’ sandwich and was teased un-mercifully by the mates 😀 But my preference was more due to the fact that I can’t stand raw onion than an erm prolific love life 😀
Much later, I would spot the ‘bhujiya’ as the preferred companion to booze in parties thrown by friends.Many such parties were/are painful because some drunk usually starts singing which really, really puts me off!The other drunks cry, clap and egg him on to unspeakably, horrendous heights of torture .In such situations, I am very comforted by the ‘bhujiya’, its familiarity and no nonsense look and taste 🙂
Well, time to say ta-ta, guys.Here is a song from a Bollywood movie released while I was in JNU.Stars the legendary Amitabh Bachhan.It was a huge hit & I totally loved its cheesiness 😀