Saturday, January 27, 2018

From our village kitchen...

It is always a proud moment when the kids in the family make you go "wow". This Magh Bihu ( The harvest festival that coincides with Makar Sankranti) this is exactly what happened. These days when  your family and it's extended members are connected on social media, it is only natural that you get to know of things through such medium. We saw this post about " Akholor Juti " / Flavours of the kitchen rather Flavours of my kitchen on Gunjan's Facebook page. Gunjan is P's kid cousin ; his Mama's son from Tezpur , a beautiful town in Assam. 

The love for food runs in the family and it is heartening to see youngsters trying to revive traditional and forgotten cuisines.This bihu a bunch of childhood friends Bibhakar Sharma ( Gunjan) , Debojyoti Dutta, Rahul Kashyap ( who made the posters) came up with Akholor Juti with the hope of serving the people of their howetown some "not too common" but very authentic Assamese flavours like Bahor Sunga t diya Kukura or Chicken cooked inside a bamboo. Gunjan's mother and our Maami Mitali Sharma joined them too. Another friend Riya Masoom came on board to help with marketing and promotions. And thus begun the Flavours of the Kitchen or Akholor Juti.

Going by the response of their clients on Social Media, we could guess the result of this endevour.

Here's what these enterprising bunch of young faces behind Akholor Juti have to say about their venture.  

Q1) How did Akholor Juti happen. Who are involved in this?

It happens often when some ideas simply keeps piling up inside our mind and we hardly do anything about them. Well, Akholor Juti was one that broke the pile of thoughts. Starting up something was always there at the back of our mind, but what to start and how to start was not lucid. Than this idea of starting a food delivery chain suddenly followed up. The idea was to bring something to the people of our hometown who were lagging in terms of these types of services. This followed up with number of conversations with family members and close friends and ended up as an initiative which would never have been this overwhelming if it were not for the people of my town, Tezpur for their immense support. When the plan took a firm turn, we knew this for sure that our people have missed something huge in their food choices and that's when the idea to add ethnic flavours in our dish popped in. Moreover , we wanted to do it in a time where the prevalence of the dish is at its peak and what could have been better than Magh Bihu? So, without much ado, we planned the further details and thus, 'Akholor Juti's happened and our prior aim was to serve happiness at the doorsteps with flavours they have missed for long.
Bahor Sunga / Bamboo hollow

Q2) Did you already know the recipe ? Do you have any helping hands in the kitchen?

Yes, the recipe was already known to us, as it was the result of some further experimentation which we have done back in our kitchen, mostly during the wintry nights of December and January.The recipe was always simple,but bringing in something new in the form of ethnic Assamese tradition and to amplify the taste buds of the people was always our sole motive.

Yes,there were a handful of people involved in the kitchen which helped us turn this idea of serving ethnic Assamese cuisine to doorstep a reality.

The Bamboo Hollows getting cooked

Q3) How was the response?

When we started of with the idea, we were reluctant of the fact that will people actually be on the same page as that to us in terms of the quality and the taste we have promised. To begin with, the responses were limited, but as more people got the opportunity to taste our cuisine, responses and good wishes flooded up in the social media which was our portal of marketing and eventually we ended up drop-shipping over 120 orders in just 2 days .What was most satisfying for us was the fact that we were able to create a goodwill and brand image and thereby create a bond with the people that we aspired of through Akholor Juti.
The cooked chicken

Q4) Were you prepared for this kind of response?

To be frank ,we never expected the responses that we have been getting, as Akholor Juti started of as an initiative we took to put a small foot forward in realising our idea of serving people with succulent cuisine ,right at their doorstep. The responses that we received will only motivate us and keep us in good shape to work hard on our ideas in bringing up something new, which we as consumers always fancied of. More than the responses,we were actually happy about the changes that we were able to bring in this dynamic food –chain market.


Q5) What are the future plans for Akholor Juti?

Future plans are actually very hard to pen down as we are working in a very dynamic and versatile market .But with the love and support that people have shown for Akholor Juti, we are only planning to turn Akholor Juti into a complete package of fusion cuisine with the taste of both modern and ethinic food to serve the people with cuisines that will not only bring a change in their taste buds but also leave behind that lasting change. Akholor Juti has been a learning curve for us and we can promise that better days are coming in terms of all the food enthusiastic people of Assam. Here, we can promise that our plans will be very much concentrated to our people as we wish to maintain our cordial relationship with them. We will always be customer centric and will always work for the betterment of our cuisines as well our services.

DISCLAIMER : All the images are provided by the team of Akholor Juti on my request. All images are copyright protected.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mekhela Chadars and Sarees - My To Do in 2018

Guilty Guilty - Of being THIS lazy that my last blog post was in September 2017. I know; extremely shameful. I have noone else to blame but I, me and myself for this. This year I promise to be more regular. Ok now, does that sound like a resolution? I did not intend it to be though. But this year i.e. 2018 I hope to do somethings that I always wanted to do; but never actually did.

One I already mentioned about try and being more regular with my Dear Diary. The other is, this year I will bring out the Sarees and Mekhela Chadars out of the suitcase and almirah and WEAR them. Yes, enough is enough. I have to wear them before they get "damaged" lying there or before I leave the world and cry in front of Yamraj that I could not even wear this saree or that mekhela chadar. By the way mekhela chadar is the traditional dress from Assam. It looks like a saree but this is not a saree of course. For easier understanding ; it is a two piece saree comprising of a mekhela ( the long skirt) and a chadar ( the long dupatta type cloth worn over the mekhela).

So going towards that "resolution", I have worn mekhela chadar twice in a month. Yay, am I happy or am I happy. I know it sounds stupid, but I am ecstatic. The other day I saw a small AV of Anju Maudgal Kadam one of the 2 ladies behind the massive 100 Saree Pact . This AV was made for promotion of Poorna, the film and it featured Rahul Bose. Though I knew about the 100 Saree Pact, I never had the time to really find more about it. But that AV intrigued me and my respect for the 2 ladies ; Anju Maudgal Kadam and Ally Matthan grew. They managed to create a movement and many women took the courage to bring back the sarees lying in some corner of their closets. It is very simple actually; you have to wear a saree 100 times a year. I don't think I am ready for that yet. But still a small step to bring back my sarees and mekhela chadars from oblivion.

The First One :

This is a black and blue Assam Paat silk mekhela chadar. This was actually a gift by a very dear friend. That was hers but since she hardly wears mekhela chadars; she decided to give away some. She gave me 3 saying " I know you will wear them." Now that's a lot of expectation. After I think 5 months of the gift, I found an occasion to wear that. It was the Navjote of my boss's daughter. I had never been to an Navjote function before. So I had to find out from my other Parsi friends about the dress code. He suggested " Wear a saree". My colleagues also decided to go with sarees. Thus I wore that wonderful pair of mekhela chadar and rocked the dance floor too. What to do; I cannot stop whenever DJwale babu plays some oh so danceworthy numbers!

The Second One :

This pair of Mekhela chadar is a cotton one. This is again a gift. My sister in law gifted me this one about 8-9 months ago. What happened was I saw her wearing a very bright pair of mekhela chadar in one of the family functions. I complimented her as I really loved the mekhela chadar and she was looking very nice too. The next time I visited Assam was when my nephew was born and sister in law was at her parents house. I went there to meet them and I came back with this pair of mekhela chadar. So in Mumbai , when I received an invitation to a Malayalee wedding, I brought out this one. Even though I have one Kerala Kasavu saree, I wore this simple white and red mekhela chadar because that was my kind of tribute to the Kerala Settu Mundu.

Just twice I wore traditional wear and I am writing a blogpost. Is wearing the traditional drape makes my mind think and write more? Hmmm something to ponder for sure.

Tell me what do you think.