My first introduction to ramen was in the late 80’s when I was in high school and living in boarding school. I had just returned to India from Tanzania where I had been raised on traditional Indian and Tanzanian food. Though my memories are vague on why I had ramen in school, I vividly remember the amusement and then the amazement of eating ramen for the first time in my life. It had being stir-fried, and was served with a sunny-side egg and small chunks of beef. Thus began my love affair with ramen.
Post high school, and while in college and in early professional life ramen kind of became my backup food – it was cheap and available in every store at any point of time. Though I tried various ways as inscribed on the packets I was never happy at the end result. The taste of the ramen from my high school days lingered in my mouth. I wanted something different. Thus began my experimentation with ramen which ended in me using black mustards to provide the smokey flavor. The mustard seeds also provided the bridge of changing an essentially Japanese product to a very Indianized version
It was an instant runaway hit among friends and acquittances in multiple cities in India.
The real stamp of approval came when my wife who was born and brought up in the US moved to India in the early 2000’s to work and ended up in the same establishment where I was working. During our dating dates I made this dish for her and it became one of her favorite dishes. 14 years after being together it has become our to go comfort food. My wife jokes that it was the ramen that clinched the deal for her.