A friend of mine and I decide to catch up over lunch.
It’s over a decade that she had been out of the country, just returned lock, stock and barrel, that there are loads of things to catch up on is a mere understatement.
My place, I sternly insist, and almost as an afterthought add, well, what would you love to eat ?
The response comes in a flash. Mati Mahor Dali, Aloo Pitika and Masor Tenga.
I am not surprised. Not at all.
The gastronome from Assam (and it would not be inaccurate, would it, to extrapolate this to all the eastern states, Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam) travels the world but returns home to his (or her) dal, aloo chokha / aloo bhate / aloo pitika and maacher jhol / masor tenga.
Piping hot rice, a dal, accompanied by the humble mashed potato and a squeeze of lemon is the closest to food heaven, (and I am confident that all of you from the east would be unanimous in agreement) that one can possibly be.
Humble and unpretentious it may as well be, but no Assamese meal is complete without a mustard oil redolent Pitika.
Aloo aru Bengena Pitika. Mashed potato. Or the equally addictive oven-roasted egglant. Finely chopped onions. Some fiendish green chillies. Some coriander leaves if you love the heady aroma. A generous drizzle of mustard oil.
Soul food !!!!