Taste of  tradition

The tradition of eating hot rice mixed in the same dish where the pickle was made evokes nostalgia.
Taste of  tradition

HYDERABAD : It feels great to celebrate traditions that have been with us since childhood. In South India, we cherish special events that frequently occur in our lives. One such event is the making of Avakai, a tradition passed down through generations, complete with stories about the process. Recently, Onamalu organised a traditional Avakai-making session hosted by the well-known actor, artist, and teacher Geetha Bhascker Dhaassyam at the Culinary Lounge.

Speaking about how she learned to make Avakai, Geetha says, “I was born and brought up in Chennai and didn’t know much about pickles. After getting married and moving here, my husband, who loves Avakai, insisted that I learn to make it. He was very particular about the Telangana style, which includes ginger garlic paste. I learned from one of his aunts and have been making it every year, distributing it to guests and keeping some for our home.”

When asked about turning Avakai making into an event, she shares, “My father-in-law was against cake cutting during celebrations. Instead, we used to break a coconut and make something from it. I began making pickles at home and eventually curated a pickle party. My son would invite friends, and we’d have 20 to 30 people sharing rice mixed with pickles. I even celebrated the one-year anniversary of my art course with a similar event. At Onamalu, people talked about my biryani, but since it was pickle season, I decided to start a pickle party. This led to the first documentation of a pickle party at Onamalu.”

The tradition of eating hot rice mixed in the same dish where the pickle was made evokes nostalgia. Geetha reminisces, “It was a wonderful experience. My grandmother, and probably yours too, would make mounds of rice and curry on the terrace and feed us. It was so tasty, especially eating it with others and receiving it from her hand. Today, people might be concerned about hygiene, but the warmth and connection from hand to mouth made it special and tastier. Despite modern practices, the way our grandmothers lived, many reached old age happily. I am 65 and still follow these old habits, which bring me joy.”

The event featured traditional Telugu food, various cultural programmes, and the highlight — Avakai mixed with hot rice, a taste that attendees will long remember.

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