One of India’s biggest mineral reservoirs, The Chotanagpur Plateau covers the better part of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal. The place provides a home to the largest tribal population and to one of the most significant deciduous forests of East India. Still in touch with nature, this place boasts of a plethora of pagan religions, culture, and diet rooted in the seasonal cycles of a place located in the transition zone of tropical and temperate zones.
Locals make Khapra rotis in eponymous clay pots. Clay allows limited ventilation that helps the batter of rice and lentils take the shape of pancakes, There is no use of oil and it avoids the wetness of idli. The spongy, chewy rotis are a delight to eat with local mutton curries.
Dhuska is another delightful pancake of rice and lentils. It may also have assorted veggies, deep fried in mustard oil. Dhuska goes best with gram curries and is a must during festivals. The characteristic yellow color of our beloved Dhuska encompasses the season of plenty.
Rugra(Boletus edulis) is a type of edible mushroom endemic to the plateau, growing during monsoon.Jharkhandi kitchens heavily favor Rugra during the season. They have a number of health benefits and taste and appearance close to that of meat. They hype is expected, given that meat is traditionally avoided during the monsoon season ( “Rugra” – points for guessing why!)
Thekua is a major part of Chhat puja celebrations all across Jharkhand and Bihar. Crispy fried cookies made of wheat flour with jaggery in ghee, Thekuas make for a perfect winter snack. It has a rich taste and no refined sugar. Dry fruits are often topped or mixed with them. It is common to find families making tonnes of Thekuas during Chhat. They are an offering and also to enjoy them throughout the winters.
Tilkut is a simple sweet of sesame (til) seeds grounded (-kut) and mixed with jaggery. Like Thekua, this dish belongs to the festival of Makar Sankranti. Sesame and Jaggery keep body temperatures elevated as the body goes through the dramatic seasonal variation of spring. They provide immunity against seasonal disturbances. It is crispy and brittle, chewy, but melts in mouth after a while.
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