Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Assamese G Spot - Part II - Socials



Assamese wedding
Courtesy Assam online

   If you survived the G talk in my last post, let me pick up the thread and lead you through the rest of the scene. Our food talk is an everyday affair  and not reserved merely as a Bihu extravaganza, that comes twice a year. Thrice to be precise. The second one that gets sandwiched between Bohag and Magh, is the quiet one when farmers are praying for a good crop as the cycle moves to the finishing line. But then weddings are a festivity that are annual affairs  and provide the gluttonous excuses, except for that inauspicious bracket between mid December to mid January. The invitation cards pile up, diminish and pile up in a continuous cycle. As do the strips of antacids, laxatives or the ofloxins trying to keep pace with the various modes of gastrointestinal motility. Come to think of it weddings and gastronomy are uttered in the same breath. Just when one is ready to leave, rustling in the silks, perfumed and powdered, a neighbour happening to be at the gate, would inquire, " Biya khabole neki?" A literal translation of this social small talk would be, " Off to eat in a wedding?" Not to attend, mind you.

 In addition to generating conversations that would go down to next generations, weddings also induce sartorial blocks that could spiral into major crises and melodrama.The common refrain being the lack of an attire that has not been seen in the circuit for some time. But that's a different cue altogether. Let's get back on the G track. So when you are dying to loosen that petticoat string after attending a juroon or a biya, and remove the  first safety pin from the neatly pleated resplendent mekhela sador, the catechism needs to be attended, initiated by the ones who could not attend.
" So what did they arrange for?"
" The usual..."
" Meaning?"
" The fish,meat, and all that..."
" What of fish and meat?"
Take a deep breath.
" So there was one chicken fry, mutton korma and fish kalia. Then butor dail, mixed sobji which no one ate, then there was fish steamed in banana leaves, murighonto with gourd, malai kofta. Then there were the tikkas and kababs for snacks, it was finished off with hot jelebi, ice cream, rabri, pudding..."
The listener's  eyes sparkle and he goes back to his meal of rice, masor tenga, dail, bhaji and chutney. But the food talk will continue...
" Uff! I still remember  Bhaiti/ Maina's wedding. What food they served! And what variety in fish and meat!"

If you are not on a wedding hopping spree, there are always the social calls to be made. This used to be the norm till a few years back. Any visit, even if it is for five minutes, will elicit the curious,
 " What did they serve?" God forbid if it happened to be just tea and biscuits. That household will continue to be the butt of all jokes behind the curtains and over the fences. The bar for such fares has stood steadily at lusi, alu bhaji, a few sweets and home made or ready made namkeens, home made pickle of either of amla, mango, chillies, olives. radish, mixed vegetables which have come from the backyard. This is accompanied  with a nice yellow omellete with onions in a runny middle  made in mustard oil.  Once you are finished with the soft lusis, round it up with steaming  aromatic tea made with garden fresh tea leaves that is supplied by a cousin twice removed from the aunt's husband's side. Or  anyone else from the meandering line plotted in the family tree if you don't have an immediate one employed in the Gardens.

When we take a break from the gluttonous path, we cleanse our system that has gone delicate, with an alkaline dish, khaar, atleast once a week, made of a particular banana peel. And voila! We are back on track! Actually that's where the vehement declaration of Assamese identity came from, "khaar khua Oxomiya!"  

Food has more than nutritional functions to perform. If any conversation is transforming into a debate and escalating into a heated discussions with the mercury rising, just drop in a line about a particular fish you had, or a dish you cannot remember the name of. The atmosphere will go all mushy and mellow enough to be squashed into a soft lump of bengena pitika, a version of  mashed brinjal. But let me warn you that the discussion could still get aggravated especially if it hinges on the method of preparation.

Now that we celebrate every conceivable occasion and have embraced all the other festivals, the calendar must be full of rounded dates and menus. And a brain spilling over with all that gourmet memories. Last I heard, there were instances of karva chauth making its way into some homes. It is only a matter of time before they find ways and means to circumvent the austere rituals.

So if you have finished reading this post and are wondering why was it  filled with all the food talk? Well! What do you expect from a true blooded Assamese  or should I say khaar khua Oxomiya... I am still smarting from a tele conversation. I had mentioned to my mother about someone's visit to my place. Pat came the query, " What did you serve?"
" They were in a hurry. So just tea and some namkeen..."
".............."
A stony silence. And then broken by a,
" ....not even some pakoras you made?"


    

19 comments:

  1. Khar Axomiya Pleasant....
    Maina Biya is that Urmi

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    1. This post is a general observation.

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  2. Replies
    1. Just an observation. Thankyou for stopping by.

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  3. That is an engrossing painting of a culture and it's gastronomic G-spot. Incidentally, I also hate biscuits and tea. Pakoras are the least people should come up with; better if it is palak pakora or paneer pakora.

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    1. I love those too only if someone else is slogging over the flames.

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  4. Food is a big thing even in Tamil marriages and that's the case in vegetarian fares too like in my own community.... I should visit you sometime maybe when your mother is around? ;))

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    1. Oh you can visit me anytime! We do have some nice vegetarian dishes too :)

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  5. What was served? is a question I can relate to very well. :D
    Good one on the topic.

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    1. Thanks Indrani! It's good to have company.

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  6. Hehe, not even pakoras? All this food talk has made me hungry for sure. Well-written Ilakshee!

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    1. Thanks Leena! So what are you cooking up?

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  7. it was undoubtedly -------- khar khuwa ! ! !

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    1. Glad you think so Partha! Good to have you here.

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  8. Haha, Ilakshee! I can easily be Assamese! I love all this food talk :)

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    1. More the merrier, Hema! The menu gets more interesting!

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  9. I like that you expressed your views boldly. Indeed food is one the centre of attraction in a marriage. I guess its inherent in all of India and not just limited to any particular region that way. Nevertheless a good read and love your style of writing :)

    xoxo – Style.. A Pastiche! - styleapastiche.com

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Your words keep me going :)