In this special episode, Anubhav Sapra travels to the village of Parsauna from Muzaffarpur, along with his mother on the holy day of Vasant Panchami to explore the local flavours mostly the festive time delicacies. Since it was a festive time, we are excited to try some traditional festive time delicacies. After a pleasant winter morning drive, we reached the house of our gracious host Pradeep ji at whose place all the culinary actions for the day were about to unfold. We met their family who were so welcoming and generous that the place felt like home.
Pradeep ji gave a brief tour of his home that was built with traditional architectural wisdom. We then went to the backyard of the house where a makeshift kitchen had been arranged amidst the open green setting. The ladies of the house had gathered there to start with the breakfast preparation. In villages, people use cow dung cakes as fuel for cooking and they come in different shapes and sizes. It is an inexpensive source of fuel. Moreover, the food prepared on it has earthy and smoky notes. With all ingredients arranged in place, they quickly began the process. Sarita ji, our enthusiastic hostess, started with the malpuas which were followed by the folding and frying of matar kachoris. She then wrapped up this leg of the cooking by frying the vadas for the dahi vadas and the puris.
Soon the dishes were laid on the table and without much ado we dived into then because we have been hungry for a while. The puris were accompanied by a delicious aloo matar sabzi that had been prepared earlier. Everything was simply amazing but the thin and crisp malpuas were the clear favorite.
Post breakfast as promised Pradeep ji accompanied us to show how the local palm tree wine taadi is extracted from the tall trees. He took us to Amar Ji who was a professional taadi tapper. Amar ji got his tools ready and led us to an open place full of palm trees. He climbed up on a few of those trees and collected the sap. It was a risky affair because he wasn't using any protective gears. We tried the freshly extracted sap called neera that hasn't been exposed to much sunlight. It was sweet and refreshing. On being stored or left exposed to sunlight, it transforms into taadi, the palm wine.
From there we went on to take a brief stroll down the village. Here we chatted with some of the residents about their lifestyle and so on, then witnessed the milking of a cow, interacted with curious kids there, and headed back to Pradeep Ji's place to check out the elaborate lunch preparation. We were fascinated to witness Sarita ji and the team of ladies zealously whip up three dishes- dal, aloo bhujia, and stuffed gatte ki sabzi- so quickly. Now it was the turn of the litti and chokha which is Bihar 's most iconic dish. We saw how it is made from scratch and realized how elaborate the process was. Both the littis and the chokha were baked on the dung fire. We also saw how they were cleaned off the ash using a simple inventive technique.
Finally, we wrapped up the cooking session with the thekuas, a popular sweet snack that is usually made with atta and jaggery or sugar. The mouth-watering festive time spread consisted of litti, chokha, ghugni, chutney, rice, dal, gatte ki sabzi, tilauri and dudh pua. Everything was so tasty and hearty that we had a surfeit of it. What we enjoyed the most was the conversations over the meals. They gave us a sneak peek into the culture and traditions of this place.
In the evening it was time for us to leave. We conveyed our gratitude, bid goodbye to our brilliant hosts, and departed with the promise to be back soon.