Our ancestral village is in a Majdia, a small town in West Bengal. The last time I had been there was long ago, but it still stands out distinctly in
An old house stood in the midst of a large unkempt garden. It almost looked as if it was a part of the wild. I loved it. One could go searching in the nooks and corners and find some eggs laid. Imagine the excitement of kids then! There was a huge lake, the waters of which came in little waves to our feet when we sat on the lower steps leading to the house. A boat or two could be seen far away. Some men waited with their nets hoisted in the water.
We kids were excited beyond words. Imagine catching your own fish, frying and eating it too!
But our excitement was short lived.
My mother’s paternal aunt who stayed there was a pure vegetarian. She could not imagine fishy things spoiling the sanctity of her kitchen.
Kitchen was a revered place where everything was cooked with total devotion, after cleansing oneself with a bath and prayers to the divine.
Foods fit to be offered to the Gods, was made to feed the part of him, which resides within us.
We had undertaken a long journey. My stomach particularly was growling. I stole a look at the store along side the kitchen. I saw only rice and dal stored in tall glass containers.
My grandmother eyed me with a smile and said, “Do not worry. I will soon serve you hot and tasty food.”
I smiled back, not very convinced. She lighted the logs and soon a gay fire was burning. While rice boiled in one big utensil and dal in another,she called me to accompany her.
“Put on your chappals. No rushing about without them.” She said.
We went with a little cane basket to the garden. We plucked some broad beans, brinjal, a small pumpkin and broke some tender shoots of it. We dug out a few raddish and carrots. She shredded some jackfruit seeds and went about cutting and mixing it all together before cooking it.
Within an hour or so, we were all sitting crosslegged on thick cotton mats on the floor, savouring one of the tastiest meals ever made.
Food fit for the God’s are really made with the simplest of things.