The Wirecutter, a product recommendation publication, recently published a list of best instant noodles as selected by chefs, ramen nerds, and cookbook authors. Some of these brands I have tried, and some I hope to partake in the near future.
However, as someone who grew up in Delhi, nothing quite competes with Maggi Noodles (with classic Masala flavor.) Why? Because it has the taste of memories.
When Maggi noodles were introduced in India, as kids we had no idea that there was this thing called ramen noodles. We had Tibetan noodles. We had an Indo-Chinese version of chow mien. But there was nothing like Maggi -Minute Noodles. These were created in Switzerland, and the brand was acquired by Swiss food conglomerate, Nestle. This is one of the biggest snacks in India, despite some controversy around its ingredients. It has spawned its only culinary trend in India, as this article in Eater outlines.
The noodles were introduced at the time when commercial television was growing through a spurt. Maggi ketchup and noodles quickly became a favorite for all of us kids/teenagers. My mom would make these noodles if I finished my “homework” and she would cram it with onions, peas, carrots, and some other seasonal veggies. And to top it off, she would add a dash of red chili pepper.
It was a taste I carried to my new life in America, and whenever possible, I would go to stores that carried South Asian groceries and buy these noodles. I used to share an apartment with one of my best friends in Queens and then later in Manhattan, and his version of Maggi was a special treat on Sundays. The trick was a lot of onions.
Of course, lately, I have started to use traditional ramen ingredients – daikon, soft boiled eggs, scallions, and some ginger to create an Indo-Japanese-American fusion of Masala Maggi. Top it off with some low sodium soy sauce and a few drops of Siracha, and you have yourself a brand new version of a childhood favorite.
This is my one pandemic recipe. What is yours?
July 24, 2020, San Francisco