The emerald green taro leaves forcefully held fast in the midst of my peridot shrub of bracken greeneries. It’s an abnormal spot for taro leaves to grow, however in any case, the sun and the downpours blessed me with a hopeful blessing.
Taro, or kochu as it’s brought in Bangla, is one of my preferred greens. The dim purple stalks, sautéed and tempered in mustard oil, with a trace of nigella seeds for that severe taste, or the dull green soft leaves cooked with shrimp — every single eminent pleasure, and practically staple in our rural ‘deshi’ cooking. Indeed, there are such a significant number of variations in the taro family that the dishes arranged with it in our kitchens are incalculable too, and stuffed with flavors in the superlative.
The motivation behind why I am all wet about taro is on the grounds that as of late, I have by and by been reminded that there is no closure to how one can cook taro. One of my companions, numerous years junior, served me a quintessential Bengali fish — hilsa scoured in mustard glue, with generally cut shallots and green stew for included punch. The fish steaks enclosed by taro leaves and steamed over bubbling rice were divine, and some other descriptor would miss the mark.
Perhaps the whole setting of her home added to the feeling and a touch of un-care in me. Her wooden two-storeyed house, worked far away from the clamoring city, is covered up in the midst of huge trees, and plants and unkempt brambles; the smoke transcending her mud stoves as she included kindling — all appeared illusions from my fantasies, just that it was an ordinary reality for her.
Her menu for the day was khichuri, which is the standard breakfast in the towns. Just she changed her formula by making it with dark colored ‘aman’ grains. The full red rice, blended with couple of lentils and served hot with omelets directly from the wok to the plate, and a dash of unadulterated ghee as an afterthought. Sublime sustenance!
Aman — profound water paddy, or bona aman dhan — has a sweet taste to it, the paddy develops with rising water between July to September, and the developed paddy is gathered between November to December, after the subsidence of water. This is an ordinary citizen’s grain, however the dark colored variation is an uncommon solace nourishment.
The late morning bite was the regular flavor palm cakes, or taaler pitha as it is known in Bangla, with cups of sweltering tea. Hard stuff palm has a firm dark colored outside and a jam like inside, and a typical saying in our towns is that the agonizing Bengali month of ‘Bhadra’ summers are just for the beverages to mature.
It takes a patient and careful cook to make rice cakes with it; the ochre shading, and a somewhat sweet taste makes it an ideal nibble for early daytimes, or the nights.
Lunch as I stated, was incredible. Added to the steamed hilsa, enveloped by taro leaves and taro stalks, sautéed in garlic was the dark nigella glue, grounded with a cut of garlic in oil, the natural peanuts generally slashed and blended in mustard oil, shallots, green chillies punctuated with coriander leaves, and to add to all these ‘bhortas’ was the Bengali extraordinary, dry red bean stew glue in oil.
Tasting coconut water and tuning in to my companion sing profound Bangla melodies against the brilliant nightfall, it was an ideal update that natural ‘deshi nourishment’ and settings beat every extravagant food we long for in the city, throughout each and every day. I think it is time again to eat up nearby food, splashing under the deshi sun.