This month’s Foodie Files chat is with the lovely Moni from Thoughts of a Moni! Come learn more about her foodie adventures! Moni is a fellow vegetarian who I met at an event on sustainable heating of all topics! Her food photos always leave me feeling hungry and thanks to her my list of places I need to try in Melbourne just keeps growing!
So, let’s hand things over to Moni shall we!
Do you have a philosophy towards food?
I have two main philosophies. One is to know the source of my food. As a result I value cooking from scratch, and try and do as much as possible by myself. I grind my own spices (or I steal the spice blends my mum makes), I make sauces from scratch, and I really enjoy having home grown produce. I am lucky enough to have a father and a father in law who are both avid gardeners, so this means I am often coming home with seasonal produce that they have grown.
I also detest waste. Perhaps because I have been visiting India regularly since I was a baby, I have seen first hand how desperate people can be for food. With these images in mind, I cannot tolerate people throwing food in the bin. Instead, I am a firm believer in freezing food, gifting food and repurposing food. We regularly take leftovers for lunch, or I often create new meals with leftovers. I also hate letting fresh produce go to waste, and so often take soft fruit to my mum’s place to make chutneys, or I put them in smoothies.
What’s your favourite food memory?
I think it would be eating pani puri on the streets of Kolkata, India with my cousins. I’m a huge fan of Indian street food, but whenever I go over, my aunties ban me from eating on the streets for fear of an upset stomach. This means that a trip to street vendor usually involves a carefully concocted plan to sneak me out of the house! Pani puri is a very typical street snack that consists of small deep fried puffed up cups of dough, filled with spicy potatoes and dunked in tamarind water. You put the whole thing in your mouth in one shot, and enjoy the flavour hit! Usually we all stand around in a circle and get handed the panipuris one at a time, and as people get full, they drop out of the circle. Needless to say, I’m always one of the last ones standing!
Do you have a go-to food of choice?
Definitely rice. I think it’s the Indian in me, but I cannot go more than a few days without having rice! It doesn’t matter what form it’s in, infact one of my most satisfying meals is a bowl of hot rice with a knob of butter or ghee. Sooo good.
What’s your favourite meal of the day?
I think I would have to say brunch. If you have time to eat brunch, you’re clearly having a lazy day! I also find it a very indulgent meal. You can easily have brunch at home by eating a bowl of cereal, or even some fancy eggs on toast, and make this meal very cheaply, but going out for brunch will usually set you back over $20 a person, but the enjoyment of having someone bring out some delicious fritters, or poached eggs on fresh sour dough, whilst sitting in a hipster café doing the cryptic crossword, is an indulgence I really enjoy.
What’s the strangest food you’re ever eaten (and would you eat it again?!)
When I was a child, I wasn’t vegetarian, I used to eat seafood and chicken. I have very vivid memories of demanding that I be served the eyes from the fish head whenever my mum cooked fish curry. What in the world was I thinking? I definitely wouldn’t eat them these days.
Having said that, I have massive respect for people who eat meat and believe in nose to tail eating. It totally aligns with my no waste philosophy, and if I was a meat eater, I would hope to be a nose to tail person too.
If you were showing a visitor around town for a weekend where would be your must-eat destinations?
Gosh, so many places, so little time!
Firstly, I would insist that they get here by Friday evening, so I could take them to Tamil Feasts for dinner. I can’t speak highly enough of this initiative. The food is amazing, but more importantly the cause is something I am very passionate about.
Saturday brunch would have to be at one of the Rustica Canteen branches, they are all delicious, and the coffee is great too. Given that we had brunch, we could skip lunch and head straight to an early dinner at Tipo 00. Tipo 00 is one of my two favourite Italian restaurants, and even as a non dessert lover, I cannot go past their take on a tiramisu, the Tipomisu.
The next day, we could have a small breakfast at home, and head out for Indian food to Taste of Taj at Clayton. This place is nothing fancy, infact it’s just a small take away shop opposite a train line in the suburbs, but don’t let this fool you. The food here is seriously amazing, and possibly some of the best Indian food I’ve had in Melbourne (second only to my mum’s kitchen!).
Our final dinner would be at my other favourite Italian restaurant, Franco Choo’s in Prahran. Franco Choo’s has a seasonal menu with only a few choices, which means they serve up food that is perfect for the time of year, and it is prepared with the utmost love and care.
Are you full yet?!
Where can people follow your food (and other!) adventures?
My main social media outlets are my blog and Instagram, although I do dabble in a bit of Twitter too.
Blog: Thoughts Of A Moni