Joyee Mahanta and Priyangi Borthakur. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Assamese: Poita bhat with aloo pitika
In Assam, where Joyee Mahanta and Priyangi Borthakur of culinary venture O’Tenga hail from, this humble dish is often served as breakfast. “Poita bhat is made by soaking cooked rice overnight, and served the next morning by flavouring it using mustard oil, onion, green chilli and salt. You can also add egg to it. Fermenting the rice makes it more nutritious. It’s a typical commoner’s breakfast,” says Mahanta.
The rice preparation is traditionally served with a side dish, usually aloo pitika. “It is a mash made using potatoes that are lightly seasoned. Other types of pitika, such as pura maas (fire grilled fish), also pair well with the rice,” she adds.
Kumaoni: Mattha rice with palak ka kaapa
“Summers in the Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand, where I come from, are not very hot, but are marked by an increased consumption of yoghurt and buttermilk (mattha) in various forms, as it’s believed to cool down the body and aid in digestion,” says Bandra resident Pooja Pangtey, co-founder of pop-up venture Meraki.
“Mattha rice reminds me of summer days spent with my grandparents in the hills, where they reared their own cattle. My grandma would have an endless supply of milk, curd, butter and ghee – all made with cow’s milk,” she adds.
This dish features mattha tempered with jumboo (a dried alpine herb) and mixed with green chillies and garlic salt. It is usually accompanied by a side of pahaadi cucumber rubbed with flavoured salts and roasted red chillies, and palak ka kaapa, which is prepared with fresh spinach and dehydrated pahaadi palak. The rice and kaapa are dunked in cold mattha and eaten as a summer special.
Konkani: Avnas ambe sasam
According to Santacruz resident Prabha Kini, who belongs to the Goud Saraswat Brahmin community, any Konkani wedding lunch is incomplete without this dish. “It’s made using chunks of mango and pineapple, and garnished with black grapes. You can also use the green ones, if the darker variety isn’t available,” says Kini, adding that the dish is meant to be served chilled.
Prabha Kini. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Although it stars fruits, the Avnas Ambe Sasam is served as a sweet curry on the side, and not as dessert. “The recipe for the masala is not elaborate. All it uses is mustard, a couple of roasted red chillis, and fresh grated coconut.”
Sindhi: Gathri achar
The uniqueness of this raw mango pickle comes from the fact that it is allowed to mature in little muslin parcels, giving it its name (gathri is Sindhi for parcel). The final product, after sitting out in the sun for a week or two, is a sweet-sour blend of flavours, with a spicy kick.
Food writer Ankiet Gulabani recreated this lost recipe after speaking with older relatives. “My mum had memories of stealing parcels of pickle from atop her grandmother’s dining table, but she never came across it when she grew up. It took a lot of fishing to put all the components together, and we managed to make it for the first time a couple of years ago.”
Gulabani adds that it’s nearly impossible to find the traditonal version of this pickle in Sindhi households today. “Most make a flash version of it, which eliminates the use of parcels, and has none of the original’s complexity,” he shares.