A Bohra-style lunch

The Bohras are Gujarati Shia muslims, largely involved in business. My gateway to their food was the Bohra biryani and the many sweets, but then I discovered so much more. As the Bohra new year approached, the beginning of the month of Muharram, our thoughts turned to this cuisine. The Family dug into her contacts list and talked to a few Bohra caterers and decided to get the typical food with which you break the fast of Muharram; we broke tradition and had it for lunch. You see in the photo a box of khichda, a meal by itself, to be accompanied by a kadhi (in the bowl), kolu (pumpkin) and chauli (amaranth leaves). The meal ends with a halwa. I realized later that we got the food on the 10th of the month, the specially holy day of Ashura for Muslims.

The khichda is one of my favourite foods from the Bohra kitchen: a mixture of rice, broken wheat, four dals (chana, masoor, tuvar, and moong) soaked and pounded to a paste before cooking with mutton, served with a sprinkling of deep fried onion ribbons, ginger and garlic, and fresh mint leaves. The kadhi was mildly sour, the kolu was sweet and the garlicky chauli bitter. Its a great combination of tastes.

Mono culture

taazia

In a little room near the so-called Picture Gallery in Lucknow I saw this man labouring away at a piece of cloth which would be used once half a year later during a Shia muslim procession called the Chup Tazia. This ceremony has its origins in the later nawabi era of Lucknow, but has spread through India and Pakistan. This silent procession which marks the end of the mourning period of Muharram for Shias has been the cause of strife between Shia and Sunni muslims. The administration of Lucknow takes this very seriously, as you can see from this newspaper article from last year.

So does this man, cooped up in a small room. Is it faith which drives him and others, or is it livelihood? Is there even a difference?