03 August, 2021

Rainbow On A Thali

Instead of depending on just two flavours—the sugary and the salty, traditional food employed a combination of tastes.

Rainbow On A Thali

Salt can make meagre fare like roti and raw onions palatable. The more we eat this magic ingredient, the more we crave it. Though home-cooked food also has sodium, we managed to ward off its ill-effects till a few years ago. In fresh home-cooked food, salt was added only to complement the natural taste; and we actually celebrated the taste of the many ingredients in our kitchen. Nobody used the ‘one taste fits all’ strategy now adopted by our food industry. Our food basket had more choices and we made the most of local biodiversity.

Traditional food is all about the individual and what she likes to eat. The staple thali has a mix of chawal, roti, dal and sabzi. A variety of accompaniments—pickles, chutneys and papad—are by the side, and you take only bite-sizes. The dahi (curd) is best enjoyed bland. Salt is never used to mask the bitter taste of karela. If the food tastes bitter, the thali has a sweet for you to dig into. A green chilli is always at hand to tweak the taste a little. Instead of an overemphasis on salt, a variety of spices are used...

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