In today's episode we bring you a delightful gastronomic experience from the village of Singhana in Haryana's Jind district. So to explore the rustic flavours from this part of the country, we have arrived at the home of our host Narender Pratap. While driving to our destination, we came across the sights of vast stretches of green farms full of crops, cattle sheds, less crowded dusty roads, ponds with buffaloes swimming in it and simple village folks doing their chores. We were quite excited to discover the slice of life in this village.
On arriving, Narender introduced us to his family and then led us to their courtyard at whose one end there was an outdoor kitchen with a traditional oven called chula that operates with wood or dung fire. Narender's mom Anju ji was making bajre ki kichdi for lunch. The difficult part of this simple and wholesome traditional dish made with four ingredients is the pounding of the bajra or the pearl millet. Inspite of the advent of different machineries, in villages the womenfolk still pound the grain in special kind of mortar and pestle called imam dasta. As the channa dal for the kichdi was boiling, Anju ji pounded some bajra, cleaned its chaff using a winnowing fan and added it to the cauldron. After an hour's time the khichdi was ready . We first ate it with a generous serving of ghee and then with some milk. This was followed by a delicious combination of boiled rice, ghee and bura. Finally we wrapped up the meal with some thick and creamy buffalo milk curd that was so smooth and yummy.
After the meal Narender took us to show his farm. We took a tractor ride to reach there as it was at some distance away from the home. Here we met some of Narender's cousins and friends on the terrace of a building in the midst of the farm that served as a resting and storage space. While the saunf ki chai got readied, Narender and his cousin gave us a brief idea about the crops that were standing in farms and the ones that would follow them. The lush green carpet of rice and sugarcane crops were a treat to the eyes. As dusk set in, we finished our tea and returned to Narender's home to witness the dinner preparations.
The menu included sarson ka saag, gawar phali, makki ki roti, bajre ki roti, ràbdi and ghiye ki burfi. Anju ji first prepared the tempering for the sarson ka saag that she had already prepared by boiling the winter greens like mustard, bathua and spinach. She then made the gawar pahli ki sabzi. Next were the turn of makki and bajre ki roti. Finally she warmed up some rabri that she had prepared in the afternoon while we were away. Soon the food was served and everything was just delicious, especially the saag.
The rustic flavours just won our hearts and so did the care and warmth of our gracious hosts. We are extremely grateful to Anju ji for serving us such a gratifying meal. The rustic cooking techniques involve a lot of hard work as everything has to be done from scratch and the resources are limited. Hence, the village womenfolk have a very strenuous time managing all the household chores. Their unwavering spirit is truly inspiring. We wish you enjoy this experience