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RASOI - THE INDIAN HOME KITCHEN FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

Panditji & Suvir SaranRasoi - The Indian home kitchen is the sanctum sanctorum of the Indian household. In all traditional Indian homes cooking is revered like the scriptures. The kitchen is kept clean and treated like the abode of the preserver Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. In many homes, only women of the house can enter the kitchen and in others only the brahmin chefs. In either case, those entering the kitchen must be freshly bathed and cleansed of any foreign impurities. Footwear and any other leather objects are banned entry into this sanctum. Many kitchens like the one in my grandmothers home had the temple inside the kitchen. This made all the rules even more sacredly observed.

When I think of the kitchen in my grandmothers home, I think of time honored traditions and hospitality. Serene, pious, meticulous, generous, aromatic, bustling, spicy, plain and at the same time seductive are some words that come to mind. It was her that my love for tradition and culture found its roots. From Dadi's (paternal grandmother) daily morning poojas (prayers) to Panditji's (Our families Brahmin chef, he came in my grandmothers wedding endowment. Has been with the family for over 50 years. My mother treats him like her father-in-law) stern but loving control of his temple and playground. It was here that he prepared foods that were first fed to the gods as offerings, then to birds and then to family and friends. It was with respect for this food that he kept us little mischievous children away. It was the spirituality of the kitchen that gave this brahmin his life long vocation.

In Indian kitchens one finds those secrets that have been shared from one generation to next. Never written, only shared through practice. Not even spoken, lest someone foreign may hear that ingredient which makes a dish spiritually richer. In India, often one does not speak that which one treasures, lest the evil eye fall upon it. I remember my mother often getting recipes from Panditji and then when she prepared them, they would come out differently. It was always just one little step that he had missed or a spice he omitted or a herb he forgot to add to her notes. When confronted, he would pretend like it could not have happened. But then, I the little baby of the house would keep a diary that made note of all he did. It was from this that I realized that there were so many little steps that seem redundant and yet made all the difference to a recipes taste.

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In Indian kitchens of yesteryears, one would find many chefs. They each had their own specialty. Each had a dish or two that they excelled at. There were spices that one could entertain better than the other. In the end, the task at hand has always been to prepare dishes as they would have been made in the vedic times. Tradition in India sees prosperity by the measure of a persons girth. Hence the cooks of a household would make sure that each dish would help in adding to the inches on the household members waists. Also the more cooks in a kitchen the more wealthy the family was deemed. Today, Indians are just as calory conscious as the westerners. That and a shortage of skilled chefs has ended the era where each family had a few cooks that came from a lineage of professional cooks.

The Indian Kitchen is the soul of an Indian home. It thus also becomes the gateway to the souls of its peoples. The flavors, the aromas and the textures that come out of these kitchens are a muse to every soul just as they are an offering to the gods. Just as music and art have healing properties so does the kitchen. An Indian kitchen stores spices, herbs, mortars and pestles and grains and oils that have medicinal uses that have kept people healthy for thousands of years. The cooks in these kitchens sate hunger, cure disease and act as priests. No journey through India is complete till one can study the working of an Indian kitchen.

Come partake in the offerings of the Indian kitchens.

Suvir Saran

Suvir SaranThis article comes from a web site which gives a first class insight into Indian Cooking, what it is about and how to create some of the recipes in your own home.

It is the web site of Suvir Saran, a native of New Delhi, India, who was raised on traditional Indian cooking. He is a passionate and inventive cooking teacher as well as a sort of unofficial ambassador of Indian culture; wherever he goes (in India, Europe and the United States) he finds himself teaching people - colleagues in classes and jobs, strangers in airports and on the street - to love the food and culture of his native country.

To learn more why not visit Suvir Saran's own web site - click here

© Suvir Saran, 2001
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