Southeast asia is famous for roti with pickles
Any food writer encounters the following question: “What’s your favorite food?” No food writer should have an answer at the ready. I certainly don’t — never have. I couldn’t possibly. I do have a favorite condiment, though: the mustard-cured Indian pickles known as achar, or simply “pickle.” As one would with most beloved condiments, I use it to make a very simple thing burst with flavor. French fries don’t burst with flavor all on their own, but dunk one in ketchup, Dijon or mayo (depending on where in the world you are) and watch that whole fried pile disappear. We’re not talking about fries, though. We’re talking about rice, the undisputed king of the subcontinent. Now let’s talk subcondiments.
Basmati rice mixed with yogurt is India’s answer to Asian congee/juk, British mash or any bare-bones starch or grain-based, porridge-type sustenance dish. Sometimes lentils are involved, and sometimes this humble mixture is it. It’s frequently infants’ first solid food. Indians from the western state of Gujarat eat rice and yogurt following a meal as a kind of digestif. Delicious and fortifying as fragrant, earthy basmati and tangy, fresh, probiotic- and protein-rich yogurt may be by themselves or together, some would say it’s missing a certain something, and that something is a tangy, pungent, mustard oil-cured fruit or vegetable.