Of the 64 kalas or skills, cooking is also a kala with several facets to it, and preservation of food can be categorized as an important aspect of this skill. Assam, with its verdant glory and unique topography, is home to numerous exotic fruits and vegetables, many of which have immense health benefits because of their medicinal properties. Since these fruits and vegetables are not available throughout the year, our ancestors adopted the practice of preserving the produce following some very simple methods. The sun and salt helped them to preserve the seasonal fruits and vegetables for years and years. They cured their minor health issues using those preserved produce. It also enhanced their appetite by adding more flavour and taste to their dishes like curry, pitika (mashed), jalukia (black pepper flavour) etc.
Let us also adopt the healthy practices of our ancestors which have gained more and more relevance in the present world where mankind is afflicted with disease, troubles and worries.
By preserving some of the very common fruits and vegetables, we can be assured of better health, and with better health will come peace of mind.
Preservation methods handed down to us by our ancestors have only one over-riding norm, and that is– drying the selected fruits and vegetables well under the sun, storing the dried contents in air-tight containers, and keeping the containers in cool and dry areas.
Please check below for a few easy tips to preserve your choice of produce that are high in nutritional and medicinal value.
(Was published in the Assamese magazine Nandini)