Friday, March 22, 2013

Death of the Mustard Sauce !

I haven’t been subjected to too much of superstitions or any unnecessary traditional practices/rituals; may be its one of those perks of nuclear families, where parents think and act with more logic sans the pressures of  members who assume every tradition needs to be followed, which makes no sense. And let me fill in something here, there aren't many such members in my entire family. *Happy face*

Yesterday, dear destiny had a surprise stored for me. A few days ago, I came across a recipe of a Bengali mustard sauce, used in cooking delicacies, called Käsundi/Käshundi. My grand confession; I never liked the pungent sauce ever and with not having any other fan at home, the poor sauce never gained an entry into our household. (This confession must have shocked many bongs)

But the seducing pictures of the ingredients and the jar filled with the mustard hued sauce along with the dish cooked with it, stirred my taste buds to the point that I made up my mind to not only make the sauce all by myself but also cook chicken with it.
I with all the zing and enthusiasm of a kid in the candy store told mom of my culinary mission. A surprised pair of eyes stared at me for a few seconds and then I heard a little "Okay". As I said, there were no Käsundi fans in my house, but of course Moms are always supportive.

She then told me how Käsundi is not just another sauce prepared in the kitchen.
It’s a ritual. There is a domestic ceremony connected to the preparation of the sauce. I suddenly had a faint recollection of hearing about it years ago, and now both my heart and my brain welled up with questions. The hows… the whys surfaced.
What came next was fascinating; the sauce was prepared, on a particular day of a particular month, by one or two of the married ladies (who were not in their periods) of the house. After taking bath, the lady/ladies began the ceremony, the mustard seeds along with other ingredients except salt and turmeric were placed in a cloth, then washed under running water, while conch shells were blown by other ladies of the house. After the washing the mixture were sunned properly before pounding into a pulp till the sauce was ready.

I got the "How" part, but, the "Why" was still not answered. Why such a ceremony for making a sauce? What was so special about it?
But mom said, "You don’t have to do so much, no one follows it nowadays".
"Of course", I told myself, "Käsundi is found over the counter at any shop across West Bengal and the companies who make it definitely don’t go through so much of trouble." *Big Grin*

Later that day, I told my dad about my mission and how I was very keen to do it. With a very serious look he told me, "Your mom told me about it a while ago and I wanted to discuss it with you." (I knew, whatever that I was about to hear, is not what I wanted to hear). He said, "Your thaakuma (paternal grandmother), for some reason banned the making of Käsundi, in the household, and to this day no one in our family makes the sauce, hence, you can’t make it". I couldn't believe my ears, my dad, who always encouraged me for everything I wanted to do, was saying this to me. 
My rebellion side took over and I asked, "WHY?" to which, as I knew, there was no answer, he didn't know the reason; he just knew thaakuma had banned it. 
Dad held me and told me he would get the best of the Käsundi from the market and then I can cook with it, I… refused the offer.

I was disappointed... but I wasn't angry or hurt…. I had a new mission, to know my WHYs.
Why the ceremony? Why the ban?
I don’t know whether I will ever get my answers but I am determined to look for them.
Some day, maybe, I will make the sauce and who knows maybe in the traditional way following all the rituals.
*fingers crossed*


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