Updated: Mar 16
The idea of tracing back a place’s history through its cuisine is very fascinating. Folktales and cuisine are the same. They travel from one person’s heart to another, and while doing so they change a little, taking in fragments of the person. Let’s try to understand the history of Alibaug through the food we cook at Paisley.
For example, most of the dishes in our cuisine use ingredients that are readily available in coastal areas like coconut, kokum, and seafood. Meat is more of a celebratory affair. But if you look at mountainous cuisine, seafood is rather celebratory and meat is a part of everyday food.
Unlike contemporary food, traditional food requires basic techniques; the recipe is unrefined, and the curries don’t require fine pastes or flavoring agents. The trick is to extract the aroma and flavor from the natural ingredients. However, Pachkalshi cuisine like we know it today is a mix of all the people that set foot in Alibaug.
Ananas Amti, a pineapple curry that is a rare gem found in Alibaug, and a specialty at Paisley, might sound rather weird to people who have never tried it. In fact, even in Alibaug, this sweet ad tangy curry is quite rare. If we try to trace it back, the use of the word 'curry' gives away the colonial origin of this dish. Another example of this is Egg Curry. No matter how Indian it sounds, its origin can be traced back to the Britishers. The leftover boiled eggs from the
breakfast were used to make egg curry. Indians, before that, had a stigma around eating eggs, as it was seen as a source of life.
Pineapple Amti can be traced back to the Portuguese settlers in Mumbai and Alibaug.
Looking at the origin of different recipes is quite fascinating. We often assume that the food we at in our homes every day have their roots in India itself. But that is not true. From colonizers to migrants, we have taken bits and parts of every cuisine. Our conversations about colonial rule often start and end with freedom struggle but there's more to it. More often than not we skip the cultural and social changes, both good and bad. But for what it's worth, the different colonizers have given us some of the most delicious recipes that we devour today.
This is today’s folktale with food.
In the next blog of the series, I will introduce a Paisley recipe and tell you the stories etched on the ingredients.