What A Joy to Have You Back in Our Lives! An Ode to Maggi as it Returns Home from Forced Exile
THERE’S ONE — and only one — ghar wapsi movement I will unfailingly support. And that is the ghar wapsi of Maggi.
There’s of course a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the return of this everlasting joy — for instance, the Maharashtra government’s appeal in the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court‘s order and the decision of the Union Department of Consumer Affairs to continue pursuing its Rs 640-crore suit against Maggi for alleged unfair trade practices — but I am going to protect myself against any fallout of the pig-headedness of government agencies by creating my own personal hoard of Maggi packets. This is the only industrial food product, I am happy to admit, I love apart from Britannia’s ‘cheddar’ cheese slices, Maggi Hot & Sweet ketchup and Pringles!
I started my morning a couple of days back with a breakfast of Maggi noodles flavoured with the regular masala and fortified with scrambled eggs and diced tomatoes, onions and green chillies. This is the way I like my Maggi, and although India is the only country in the world where only the vegetarian variant of the instant noodles is sold, I love it with tandoori chicken in makhni gravy or with leftover mutton mince preparations. There’s something about it that feels so good — and I consider it an attack to my human rights if any government agency tries dictate to me what I can eat, and what I cannot.
I have often wondered what makes Maggi tick — its history goes back to Julius Maggi, the Swiss pioneer of readymade legume meals for industrial workers, who founded the company Maggi GmbH in 1897 in the German town of Singen, where it is still based today. I believe that more than the taste, it is the sense of empowerment that Maggi gives you, which works in its favour. Anyone, even a kitchen disaster like me, can make it without much sweat. And you can cook it according to your whims. I have had the instant noodles with mutton mince balls in the Spaghetti Bolognaise style, I have had it with tangy lauki kofta, and now I propose to add jackfruit (kathal) kofta to my list of Maggi add-ons.
More importantly, it is one food item that my younger son, who’s 13, and I, heading towards 52, can share together without him turning up his nose at my “noob-like” food choices. When Maggi was off the shelves, we were both feeling nostalgic about it, even though I have seen and eaten more of Maggi on account of being four times his age.
Fortunately, there are many others in this world who think like me! One of them is Rahul Singh, progenitor of the fast-expanding Beer Cafe chain. In a media statement issued not very long ago, he promised his loyalists: “We will be glad to welcome back our favourite old school meal across all our menus. We are awaiting more information regarding the re-launch and hope the brand will retain the same flavours.”
I am told Maggi is back on The Beer Cafe menu — in the section dedicated to “Canteen Favourites”. Explains Singh: “The section features Maggi with a quirky twist — Maggi with chicken tikka, or tandoori sausage, or crispy vegetables, or scambled eggs and buttered toast. These were instant hits with our beer enthusiasts.” So, what is it about Maggi that works in its favour?
“The great part about Maggi is that it is very relatable and it transcends barriers of age and profession. The response to our menu was overwhelming but it had to be discontinued.” We must thank the Bombay High Court, and the three government laboratories that carried out the court-mandated tests, for Maggi being back on the Beer Cafe menu.
I hope it will be back on the menu at Tapri, Jaipur’s favoured hangout of the young and the hip, which is famous for its nine kinds of vegetarian Maggi preparations topped with cheese, olives and green chillies. I remember having the Tadka Maggi at Tapri during one of my Jaipur visits — it had onions (regular and fried), garlic and tomatoes, and I chose cheese and chillies as my toppings.
On a winter evening, it was as soul-satisfying as any good meal anywhere in the world. Unsurprisingly, I agree wholeheartedly with the terse comment on top of the menu page listing the Maggi items. “Universal Food,” it says. “Regardless of Age, Caste, Sex and Time.”