Love is a mystery. Love is unitive. Love is how we connect as human beings with one another and with the whole universe together. Love is how we learn, become better, and make the world a better place to live for us and others. Love needs freedom to breathe, equality to thrive, and openness to flow and grow. Love is personal, political, philosophical, sexual, social, historical, metaphysical, transcendental, et al. Sadly, we have only one word to describe such a complex emotion. The ancient Greeks had six different words, but even that’s not enough. 2021 taught me new ways to describe the complexity of love and its various hues. Love lost on many counts, but it miraculously sprang on a few occasions like a phoenix. My LOVE vocabulary was defined and redefined by people who touched my life one way or another this year.SHILLPI A SINGH
LOVE IS A JAR OF PICKLES: Upasna Prasad
Like a jar of pickles, love is sweet, sour, tangy, and spicy. Love brings colour to your life, just like a jar of pickles makes your everyday meal delectable by adding flavour. Love and a jar of pickles take their own sweet time to ferment. If not preserved well, both a jar of pickles and love can get spoiled in no time.
Homemaker Upasna Prasad has been pickling for as long as she remembers, especially during cold winter months. “It takes a lot of patience and time for the pickles to come out just right,” she says. We couldn’t agree more. It is ditto for love.
“I have developed my system of learning good Bihari recipes for the past few years. And I have realised that unless I learn fast, the recipes of my grandmother, mother and mother-in-law will be lost forever. Who would send me these delectable achars? So I started pickling with fervour a couple of years, picking up the tips and tricks from them, and mastering the art in some measure.”
Pickling: My favourite winter past-time
“Karonda ka khatta-meetha achar is a sweet Bihari pickle that is a welcome change from regular pickles. When it is freshly made, this seasonal achar tastes best.
One can never match up to the flavour and aroma of homemade Barabar achar. As the name suggests, yam or jimikand (oal) achar is popularly known as Barabar achar since all the major ingredients used in this pickle are equal in quantities or proportions.
Bharwan lal mirch achar (stuffed red chilli pickle) is an integral recipe of any Bihari household. The market is flooded with this bright red delight during the winter months. What makes this pickle extraordinary is the tanginess of dry amchoor powder and the mild bitterness of mustard powder topping it with loads of mustard oil added as a pickling agent.
A mixed achar is one of the best Bihari pickles passed on from generation to generation with everlasting memories. Mostly fresh winter vegetables such as potato, brinjal, ginger, chilli, radish, carrot, cauliflower, and flat beans are blended perfectly with spices and mustard oil giving a tangy, zingy flavour. It needs to be soaked in the winter sun before it can be pronounced ready for consumption.
Lahsun ke patta ka achaar is another popular homemade Bihari pickle, enhancing the taste of the simplest food with its strong aroma and flavours. That’s the magic of green garlic!
How can one forget Amla (Indian gooseberry) achaar, which is nutrient-rich, loaded with iron and vitamin C in abundance, and easiest to prepare. The ingredients are simple too – amla, carrom seeds, turmeric, salt and oil to prepare. It is a must-have in winter to keep the cold at bay.”
“In Bihari pickles, we use a fine blend of roasted spices and oodles of mustard oil to ensure the pickle’s longevity. This delicate balance of spices and oil will make a fantastic pickle that will last for the whole year and not spoil.
Bihari pickles have a consistency close to a large rough chunk of the featured spices/ vegetables smothered in tangy (mostly mustard) oil and stained yellow colour from the inclusion of ground turmeric (haldi).
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Among many Bihari families, pickles are a complete substitute to various recipes, as it requires no refrigeration and is ideal for long-distance journeys.
I love Bihari pickles as a side to most dal dishes and rice. Winter is the time to conjure up some sweet, spicy, sour and tangy pickles to accentuate any meal. These homemade pickles are good to eat and so easy to prepare that you will wonder why we ever buy them from grocery stores. There is something good about how pickles are prepared in Bihar and Jharkhand. The tartness combined with the spiciness is just perfect.”
A bite can tickle, be it a jar of pickles for your taste buds or love for your life.
The last you would have heard of a well’s wedding was in the folklore of Tenali Rama. Once upon a time, it had so happened that King Sri Krishnadevaraya and his wise advisor Tenali Rama had a spat over some trivial issue, following which the King banished him from the royal court. After this episode, Tenali Rama left the kingdom and moved to a nondescript village. Soon, the King realised that Tenali Rama was, in fact, correct, and he was keen to have him back in his court. But his special advisor was nowhere to be found. To look for him, the King had to use his wits. An announcement was made saying that the King had organised the royal well’s wedding in his capital Vijayanagar on the full moon night, and the village panchayats in his kingdom were cordially invited to attend the same with their wells in tow. The King wouldn’t tolerate any defiance, and if the villagers failed to bring their wells along for the wedding, they would be penalised 100 gold coins. The harried villagers sought Tenali Rama’s advice. He suggested that they meet the King the following day and tell him that the village wells would attend the wedding for sure, but only if the royal well comes and invites them personally. The King knew that it could be only his witty courtier Tenali Rama, who could give the villagers this suggestion to outwit the King’s proposed well’s wedding plan, and well, eventually both won the battle of wits in equal measure.
Taking a leaf out of this folklore, a quaint neighbourhood — Vikas Nagar — in Ward no 8 of the Barh subdivision of Patna district organised a wedding of its well with great pomp and show on November 28, 2019.