In the last post I had written about the connection of geographical location and food. In this post lets see the history.
Contrary to beliefs, cooking does take a lot of planning especially in the olden days when there were no cold storages, transportation was not good and so women had to plan ahead especially for the monsoon times.
The monsoon especially in the coastal areas of Konkan regions are long and wet. As i mentioned earlier, there were no cold storages and neither was good transportation available to transport vegetables. Fishing would also be off-limits. And so the preparations would start from the summer itself. Onion and garlic would be bought in bulk and hung in bunches in the pantry. Ashgourds would also be stored similarly. Rice and all types of grain/ lentils would be bought aired and stored.
March would arrive with its tender mangoes and the pickle making season. Before that the redchillies too would be bought dried and stored. The fish eaters would dry fish.
If I am not wrong at the same time the cashews would also ripen and would be dried. In a konkani household some cashews are husked and some are not. The unhusked ones called as ‘bibbe’are used for making certain delicacies especially to make stir fry with Ivygourd (gherkins/tendli/kundru). This is a highly desired dish especially during festivals.
After this part was over, then it was the season of making papad and vadis (odis) would arrive. On an average there would be about 10-12 varieties of papads that would be made. Some bland, some spicy, some sweet. You may ask why such variety? For a joint family so much was needed especially when no vegetables were available. SO a staple diet in the monsoon were rice, dal, pickles and any of these papads. These papads would be either deep fried in oil or just plain roasted on fire.
You might wonder that the women of those times were burdened with work. Yes they were but then it was team work. They were helped in the grinding (on big grinding stones) by the men. The younger generation would look after running of the household, looking after the kids etc and the older generation with all these chores.
The rolling out of these papads would be done by all the women of the neighbourhood akin to pasta making in Italy. Usually the days of the week were fixed for these rolling out. Like rolling in House A on Monday, in House B on Tuesday and so on. The chores would thus be reduced and also the women would enjoy exchanging ‘news’ joking, singing etc. It used to be the time to connect.
And thus would start the monsoon season.
I have concentrated on relating what used to happen in the monsoon season in the Konkan area as that is what I have witnessed. I had a wonderful type reminiscing and narrating these activities, hope you had a nice time reading it.