memories offer the fertile soil, while scientific curiosity lights the kindle fire

The route from my study room to the kitchen was a rather long one. Throughout my student life whenever I had some free time I would do anything, but cooking. My mother was rather happy to keep me away from turning her kitchen into a mess. Maggi, Bread Toast, khichdi and boiled chicken were the only food I could ‘assemble’ (more like desperate measures) during my hostel life. I deliberately replaced ‘assemble’ from ‘cook’.

Growing up with a large number of kids in a joint family taught me to never demand anything. We had to eat what was served. But during festivals, the kitchen would transform, as everyone would be involved in preparing festive food. Many a time I would wake up to the sound of electric beaters working on eggs or sugar and butter. A common scenario during ‘Eid’ (Islamic Festival) & ‘Bihu’(Harvest Festival). We Assamese Muslims take pride in celebrating our cultural festivals with equal love and enthusiasm. Culture is by far is a bigger denominator than just religion for Assamese Muslims.

‘Bihu’ for me is the time for a variety of sweets prepared majorly of rice flour, jaggery, and sesame. Assam being an agricultural state, rice is our staple crop. Tea, mustard, jute and a variety of vegetable and fruits are grown in the region. Our dishes are heavily influenced by what is available in the season and grown locally. I love Assamese food and will dedicate a whole section on Assamese cuisine and alternative food in my blog.

When I left Assam for my higher studies, I missed home cooked food. I and my roommates literally survived on preserved food. Luckily people from hilly areas have a great understanding of food preservation technique: dried, smoked, pickled protein lasted us 2 to 3 months. In dire straits, food became the most precious commodity.

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