Festival foods brings back childhood memory

Sunita Giri 11:47 PM |

“Sunita, meat is ready, now its your turn”, bhauju gave me call from upstairs kitchen. I am a cook in demand and a good cook, if I find myself in the group of people who do not want to cook, but anyway cooks; having no option but to cook. I think I am in love with the line that says, I love cooking, how much I love it actually, is something I really need to think hard. It took me time to understand to figure it out but still I do, I mean I really love cooking. This quality gets highlighted if only  my cooking gets appreciated by the people I cook for. If they don't, I guess I better learn more, yet cooking is something I purely do for me rather than to please people around me.

However, its really nice to have people around during the festival seasons to do all the cutting, chopping and grinding the spices. My main work was to calculate and then mix it in the meat. Like how much spices, onion or seasoning is needed to add and how long to leave it aside, before we cook it.

You can call me foodie.  I seem to be knowing almost all the TV’s good chefs regardless of their nationality. More so, I know on which channel they come. Nigella Lawson and the Master Chef Australia is one of my favorite show and I hardly miss them. However, this dashian I was in so much demand for my cooking skill and for the first time I am so proud to be the one who was in demand for my hobby.  

This time, I was in charge of preparing festival foods and all needed spices are anything but pure Nepali. I really don't know what it really has to do with me being so addicted to watch so many cooking shows and me being able to master something that is pure Nepali Food. That too all I wanted to do is to cook the meat items; as good as I grew up eating it, during Dashain in Bal Mandir.

While I was in Kitchen preparing for marination, Arpan asked me, “have you eaten blood ?”   Arpan is my nephew. He loves to eat and did help me in the kitchen to make meat items. Well of course, not regularly but its okay, he is only fifteen. But more than that, I am a guest; in the house full of all christians that too during the month of dashain.  

“Yes” was my answer and that, “I had the variety of blood as a dashain delicacies; when I was of your age or well younger than you.” It is another thing, it was not my favourite festival dish. They also used to make one variety of intestine and bowls too, well that too, was not my favourite festival dish. But that is not the important part of festival.  Due to the varieties of the foods, meat items and entertainment, I think everyone can find, what is their favourite dish of any festival.

Arpan was curious, to see me marinating meat and its spiced up scent that filled the kitchen and wafted in the house, which really wowed him and everyone in the home. He asked me “do you always cook meat like this ?” “Yes” was my answer, “I don't eat meat as regular as you [they eat meat almost daily ] but when I eat it, it really has to satisfy my eyes, my other senses long before I actually stuff it in my mouth” was my reply to his curiosity. I am very liberal when it comes to adding spices and seasoning, it sure is not for those, who love boiled food for the health sake.

Some believe, festivals are for children and not for adult. At least thats what, most of the adult thinks so. I think its for both, adult needs to transfer the tradition at its best form, to   the children; so that they will transfer it to their children. As they are the one who enjoy it a lot.

No one can deny, one core fact about any festival and that is, major part of the all the festival around the world is food, food and food. Food do have power to bring back memory and take us back to our memory lane.

For long time, I wanted to master the kind of food, I used to eat in Bal Mandir. Not the regular food but only the kind they made during Festival. Couple of years ago I made some radish and green peas pickle, which was as good as it used to be when I was child. Meat was something, I have learned during my time in five star hotel. People in hotel knows so many ways to make food wow and yummy and look good too therefore, at times meat was somewhat better than what it used to be in Bal Mandir, curries were also not that hard to learn and make it good in due course of time; but it was not easy to master on pickles and to make best pickles was not easy anyway.

Now, I can make some food that was as good as they used to make in Bal Mandir but there are still some food which I yet have to master. Still there is no one and no house that can serve me food and make me forget the taste of food which I [we] used to eat in Bal Mandir during Dashain.

So this time there was everything to make it a Dashain, I was with my family in Chitwan and they did tried their best to make it feel like Dashain, at least for me because they are christians and I am not. Yet, how on earth that lack of radish pickle [ radish, and lapsi was not available in Chitwan at that time]  has so much power to make feel that something is missing, something is lacking. I was missing the taste of it and scent of it.

Not surprisingly, when I am back in Kathmandu, first thing I did is to make that radish, peas and lapsi pickle. Oh, God it sure has the power to give me the childhood memory and feel of the Dashain. But some food you should not eat it alone it needs people around you and the other festival food to accompany it, which we enjoy making it only in festival time.

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