Welcome to the fifth entry in my Remembering India series, where I share recipes, meals and adventures from my 2008 studies abroad. Today I talk about one of my favorite Indian comfort foods: paneer bhurji.
My first day of school was a blazingly hot and sunny one, just a few days before the monsoons were set to begin. My pale skin and ill-equipped body were feeling the heat, big time—as evidenced by my flushed red color and profuse sweating. It was the type of heat that eliminated any sense of hunger, thirst, or productivity (yet somehow, left my sense of drama completely intact).
Our class broke for lunch, so a few classmates (who would eventually become my friends) and I took a walk to a restaurant near campus. They ordered me a glass of buttermilk, which is said to be effective at cooling your body down. I sipped the salty-sour liquid, embarrassed, but also humbled that these people I hardly knew were trying to make me feel comfortable.
I really wanted the buttermilk to be a magical cure, if for no other reason than to prove that I was tough enough to handle the hot Indian sun—and the tall glass whose contents (in my opinion) were so remarkably unrefreshing.
So I sipped it anyway as I stared at the menu—realizing that not a single dish looked familiar to me. In a short while I was going to have to admit that I needed help ordering—which I was reluctant to do after being such a wimp already.
At some point I caved, receiving two recommendations: masala dosa, a paper-thin pancake stuffed with seasoned potatoes, onions and chilis; and paneer bhurji, a scramble of fresh cheese, tomatoes, onions and chilis….