Certain vehicles signal food, and certain ones do not. A formula one race car might be the farthest from eating, signalling instead an immediate relation to speed and anything else as fun as going that fast, something like sex.
However, other vehicles seem to be made for food, or in this case made for food, hauling, kidnapping, and sex. Enter the van.
This article deals specifically with happy vans doing happy things. This will be the only mention of the nasty and not fun, all white, no windows, serial killer van. It is occasionally known as the child molestor van. I am not an afficiando, but it seems that these are synonymous, and white. Kidnappers use black vans with no windows.
Ever since the popularity boom of the van in the 60’s, it seemed like a perfect vehicle to drive around and sell people food. Mostly, this is a minor homage to the vehicle that has brought me some of the best, most random, and regionally quintessential things I’ve eaten. It is a vehicle of aesthetics and utility, as evidenced by it’s ability to carry both Mr. T and food for the homeless.
One can usually gauge a region’s staple street fair when a mass of vans are parked and selling to long lines. Any Italian festival in Manhattan or Williamsburg will always have sausage and peppers, a random festival in Kansas City will always have barbecue, and when I hit the Southwest then I find tamales and tacos to end all others.
So it was a pleasure to see my favorite food vehicle represented in Mumbai. The fare from these two fine gentlemen today is roasted and spiced nuts.
– Recipe –
Roasted Nuts and Garam Masala
/ nuts / spices / occasionally egg whites / garam masala /
Garam Masala –
Masala is a word for spice in general and a specific spice, much like thali is both a word for plate in general and a meal that is many small portions served on a plate.
One specific garam recipe is:
/ cumin seed / coriander seed / cardamom seed / black peppercorn / cinnamon stick / whole clove / whole nutmeg / saffron /
The quantities are basically equal with a little less on the clove and nutmeg and even less on the saffron. Toast the spices over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Indians love to cook over very low heat for epically long amounts of time. Grind the spices together in a spice mill or an old coffee grinder that you won’t be using for coffee anymore.
Roasted Nuts –
This is slightly more of a guideline than a specific recipe. Almost all nuts will have a more significant flavor when roasted. Pine nuts being mentioned in a recipe will almost certainly mean roasting them for a moment to release the oils in them.
If the nut is large and you want it sliced, boil it first for a few minutes and then slice it. However, please note that this can truly be a significant pain in the ass.
Some options for the chunky roasted nuts at fairs across the world is to make an egg wash with only egg whites and add whatever you like to it. Sugar is a good start, then move to spices, many people like cinnamon.
For a more Indian bend, add garam masala.
Simply bake for half an hour on medium heat and you are ready to go.