Hindi Language Blog

Comfort Food Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in Hindi Language

When people move away from home for school, work, and where life takes them, they often leave behind countless childhood बचपन (bachpan) comforts including the tastes स्वाद (swaad), aromas ख़ुशबू  (khushboo), and flavors ज़ायका (zaayka) of a warm home-cooked meal (भोजन bhojan formal usage/खाना khaana common usage). These become lingering memories यादें (yaadein), dormant in the subconscious mind, and are teased awake by a stray sound–like mustard seeds राई (rai) popping in hot oil; the smell of spicy crisp पापड़ (papad) being roasted over an open flame, or the satiating smell of a रोटी (roti) baking on a hot griddle तवा (tavaa), then being flipped until it puffs over the flame.

Indian food can be simple and satisfying or decadent and complex.There are as many varieties of Indian dishes as there are regions and traditions, However, the basic home-cooked Indian meal has more-or-less similar components everywhere in the country.

The थाली (thali), literally meaning plate includes a lentil or legumes (also known as pulses in India) in the form of a soup or in a thin gravy. This is the ubiquitious दाल (daal). Daal is made with a variety of lentils, and eaten with cooked rice चावल (chaaval) and a sauteed vegetable dish सब्ज़ी (subzi). Sometimes daal is replaced with a gram flour based preparation called kadhi. In a home, a thali may include one or two subzis, roti, chaaval, dal and/or kadhi, papad and Indian pickles अचार (a-chaar). A meal is often topped off with दही (dahi) yogurt in some form–as buttermilk लस्सी/छास (lassi or chhaas) or just plain curds.

If you order a thali in a restaurant, you will most often see these dishes served in little stainless steel cups arranged along the inside rim of a large plate. Chaval is usually piled in the center with a couple of rotis and a papad resting on top. Restaurants also usually include a dessert.

When in doubt about what to eat, it is always safe to ask for daal-chaaval-roti-subzi, or just daal-chaaval. Piping hot गर्मा-गरम (garamaa-garam) daal-chaaval with a generous drizzle of clarified butter घी (ghee) is sure to comfort any weary traveler.


Let’s listen to this conversation between two friends. Seema visits Meena and Meena invites her to a flavorful meal that reminds Seema of her childhood.

Seema (at her friend, Meena’s house): कैसी ख़ुश्बू आ रही है।? मुझे भूक लग रही है। 
Kaisi khushboo aa rahi hai? Mujhe bhook lag rahi hai.
(Mmmm, what’s that aroma? I am really hungry.)

Meena: गर्मा गरम कढ़ी चावल, रोटी, और आलू की सब्ज़ी।  आओ हमारे साथ खाना खाओ।
Garamaa-garam kadhi-chaaval, roti aur aloo ki subzi. Aao hamaare saath khaana khaao. 
(Piping hot kadhi-chaval, rotis, and potato curry.) Come, eat with us today.

Seema (licking her fingers): तुम्हारे खाने का स्वाद और ज़ायका कुछ और है ! बचपन की याद आ गयी। 
Tumhaare khaane ka swaad aur zaayka kuch aur hai! Bachpan ki yaad aa gayi.
(The taste and flavor of your cooking are something else. It reminded me of my childhood.)

Meena: लस्सी पिओगी?
Lassi peeogi?
(Would you like some lassi?)

Seema: बस नहीं, शुक्रिया।  पेट भर गया। 
Bas nahin, shukriya. Pate bhar gaya. 
(No, thanks, my stomach is full.)

Conversation Vocabulary
बचपन bachpan childhood
स्वाद swaad taste
खुशबू khushboo aroma
ज़ायका zaayka flavor
भोजन bhojan  meal (formal usage)
खाना khaana meal (common usage)
यादें yaadein memories
राई rai mustard seeds
पापड़ papad thin, flat crispy rice/lentil cakes
रोटी roti flatbread
तवा tavaa griddle
थाली thali plate (literal meaning)
दाल daal lentil soup
चावल chaaval rice
सब्ज़ी subzi sauteed vegetable dish
कढ़ी kadhi gram-flour based gravy/soup-like dish
अचार a-chaar spicy Indian pickles; eaten as a condiment
दही dahi yogurt
लस्सी /छास lassi or chhaas churned buttermilk
गर्मा – गरम garamaa-garam piping hot
घी ghee clarified butter
भूक लग रही है  bhook lag rahi hai I am feeling hungry
भूक bhook hunger
तुम्हारे tumhaare your (informal)
कुछ और है kuch aur hai is something else
आलू की सब्ज़ी aloo ki subzi potato curry
याद आ गयी yaad aa gayi have remembered (literally, memory has come)
याद yaad memory
बस bas enough
पेट भर गया pate bhar gaya stomach has filled up/is full (bharna = to fill up)
पेट pate stomach
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About the Author: Nitya

Namaste, friends. My name is Nitya. I was born and raised in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). I'm a native Hindi speaker. However, as life took me through school, college, work, and waves of friends from different parts of India, my repertoire of Hindi flavors and dialects grew and added dimension to my native fluency. Casual, formal, colloquial, and regional ... Hindi is a language with incredible variety and localization. Through this blog, I will help you learn Hindi through conversations, vocabulary, colloquialisms, and glimpses of Indian culture. आओ, मिलकर हिंदी सीखते हैं। (Aao, milkar Hindi seekhte hain!) Come, let's learn Hindi together.


  1. Alison Schwartz:

    Thank you for your great posts! Great cultural info and I love the dialogues, too.

  2. Mrinalini Watson:

    Thank you for another well crafted conversation. When my daughter returns for the holidays I am looking forward to using your posts to help her recapture Hindi. God bless

    • Nitya:

      @Mrinalini Watson Thank you for the feedback! I’m happy that you are finding the posts useful.

  3. Perrin:

    Hi 🙂
    thanks for this learning content and your work on this website, i had a question though.about “kaisi khushboo aa rahi hai”, is “kitni kushboo a rahi hai” correct too ?

    • Nitya:

      @Perrin Hi there, that’s a good question!

      When you say “Kitni khushboo … ” you are generally commenting on the aroma you smell, without necessarily wanting to know the source. It’s an exclamatory statement like saying “What wonderful aromas are in the air!” However, when you ask “Kaisi khushboo aa rahi hai?” it is a question directed at finding out the source of the wonderful flavors/aroma.

      I hope that explains it a little more clearly. 🙂