Some people consider a juicy hamburger comfort food. For others it's mac and cheese. For me, it's a spicy plate of Khi Mao, Thai drunken noodles, fostered over two long years working at a noodle house in graduate school. For my British friend, writer Matt Wright of Wrightfood, it's anything Indian (as long as it's good).
The thing about comfort food is that it's just as satisfying emotionally as it is culinarily, sometimes even more so. It evokes memories of easier times, eases stress and fortifies you in the face of obstacles. Which is why I loved Matt's recent Indian Sweet and Sour Chickpea and Spinach Roti recipe, inspired by his wife's recent stint as a vegetarian. If the biggest trick of a meatless main is leaving out the meat and still feeling sated, then Indian food, with its layers and layers of flavors, is the false bottom hat. The added warmth of ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander and clove, and the hardiness of the chickpeas, make for a welcome addition to any Meatless Monday recipe roster, even for those of us who fell off the vegetarian wagon long ago (and whole hog, as it were).
With such a complex, spicy and savory dish, I immediately think of Kabinett level Riesling for a pairing. A current favorite is the 2008 Dr. Heyden Oppenheimer Kreuz Riesling Kabinett ($12.99). Slightly advanced for a 2008, it's perfect for drinking right now with its intoxicating secondary petrol, citrus and stone fruit notes. In the mouth, it's appley and fresh, with racy acidity and peach nuances. Do not fear the tiny bit of residual sugar here, it will be whisked away by the tangy tamarind and tongue-tingling spices. In fact, a fully dry wine might get lost in the dish, but the Heyden skips alongside it, fingers intertwined like childhood friends.