It’s always great to have the sukul bhoj (I still have to search what the locals call these phenomenon) but I love this. Sukul bhoj is always exciting, astonishing and boring at the same time. Exciting in the sense that it has really good variety of food; one food is followed by another sequentially and each of them has a meaning and benefit to the body but boring in the sense, we all have to start the eating at the same time and we are tend to finish at the same time and this sometimes make us boring while waiting for another dish once we are done with the given.
Yesterday was my second sukul bhoj and I love it. Don’t tell me that the liquor facilities has just attracted me but in actual it is just more than that. Both of them were in the marriage ceremony. Last one was for our friend N. brother’s marriage ceremony and this time on Friday was for friend S.’s marriage ceremony.
It was brilliant to hear that your love story (college friends) finally became a real husband and wife and want to wish long live your married live Mrs. S.; your marriage let us to have the sukul bhoj for the first time for some of us but second time for me and it was wonderful. Thanks for keeping culture and tradition alive. We almost have forgotten it.
These days we seldom do the marriage at home. We feel easy to handover all the pressure to some party palace/banquet/marriage management office and give them money instead and in return the guests of the marriage just get some restaurant cooked food. Just go to the marriage say hello to bridge and groom, say Namaste to their parents if they are meet on the way; take some chef cooked food and say bye or most of us don’t say bye but just vanish from the marriage event place after taking food. These days these marriage ceremony has become a reason to travel with heavy dress up and make up; place for taking some cool snaps and having so called quality food; the bride and groom will doing their work, who cares!!. I don’t mean that the party palace marriage is to be decreased but mean to say that we should keep our culture alive wherever possible.
The sukul bhoj of last Friday evening was wonderful; As per some of reader who don’t know the contents of sukul bhoj here is the one with their importance.
If we are having sukul bhoj then we have to sit in cross legged on a sukul (a narrow, long straw mat rolled out to accommodate hundreds of guests and usually 18 to 20 inch wide and 15 to 20 feet long is used in these feast). Now, the contents comes, the contents may differ slightly with the family and local area but a generalized menu is almost same in all the places. Here is the sequential oder of the foods that comes in front of us after we sit crossed legged in sukul.
The food items in Bhoj are sequentially served to signify the harmony between food and our body. We can rarely say no and/but the food comes coming: P
Bhoj starts by laying a leaf plate (laptey) in front of each seated guest by servers who are known as Bharin. The feast is served in a laptey, these plates are handmade by stitching together leaves of Sal (botanical name Shorea Robusta) tree by blunt needle-thin bamboo sticks into a shape of about 14-inch round plate. The science behind this is first it is no need to waste water and energy to wash it secondly it is biodegradable.
Thus, now we all of us are sitting down in a long line on a hand woven paddy straw mat on the floor. Then the first eatable item comes
- Baji (Chiura or beaten rice)
Bharins start Bhoye by putting Baji (Chiura or beaten rice) on the leaf plates.
Here is one interesting factor,
we cannot start to eat once the food are in our plate. Usually one Bharin brings one food item followed by another Bharin with another food item and one Bharin put same food to all the guests. So there is sequential of persons getting the food with the sequential food items 🙂
and read thoroughly to know when to start eating 😛
- Aaloo (potato salad)
Next, Achar is put on the plate next to Baji. Achar is a salad made by mixing diced boiled potatoes (Aaloo) with small green peas, seasonal root vegetables such as radish, carrot. It is seasoned with ground sesame, chili, lemon juice, oil, turmeric, salt and fried fenugreek seeds.
- Meat /Dayakugu Laa
The third item served is curried stewed of buffalo meat called Dayakugu Laa. Dayakugu Laa with its gravy is served over the Baji. The rich gravy soaks Baji with its umami flavors as well as softens the crispy Baji.
Often meat pieces that is sacrificed to the gods during the puja/event is shared to the guest as prasad (a piece of offering that is said to have been blessed with the gods power), and as a Prasad we were provided the sheeps meat ;).
There is a choice in alcoholic beverage between thhwno: or chhyanng (a sweet, muddy white, home brewed liquor made from fermented rice), and Ayela (clear, strong, home brewed liquor made from millet or broken rice grains).
In between the first and second rounds, usually ladies of the host family line up and start to lay Salicha (small earthen bowl) in front of each guest. Salicha is a round clay glass about 2 inches in diameter that is used for serving liquor (Chhyanng/Ayela)from a special long vase-like container called Aanti. The ladies pour Ayela/Chhayanng slowly starting close at Salicha and gradually lifting up to the waist level to aerate the alcohol similar concept as aerating the wines.
After serving of Dayakugu Laa/ liquor, guests may begin to eat.
Then the food starts to come nonstop 😛
- Boo Bo (Geda Gudi or mixed beans)
The buffalo stew is followed by Boo Bo (Geda Gudi or mixed beans), which is served as the fourth item. The Boo Bo consists of different types of beans such as Mee Kegu (Methi Kerau) is a mixture of soaked fenugreek seeds mixed with small green peas simmered in aromatic curry. It is seasoned with garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin, chili, vegetable oil, and cilantro. Kegu (Kerau or yellow peas) and Simpu (Simi or white beans) are two other beans made in the similar way as Mee Kegu. All three Boo Bo are put on the side of the same leaf plate next to Baji by three different Bharins.
- Kauli (cauliflower)
The next item served is a seasonal vegetable curry, usually for this season the famous is Kauli (Cauliflower) sautéed with garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin, chili, oil, cilantro and tomatoes.
- Achar(Chatni/ pickle)
The fresh vegetables and, or fruits are ground together with spices to form a loose paste. These days most common achar is of tomato or raddish.
- Aaloo Chwon (Aaloo Tama or potatoes and bamboo shoots)
Immediately after the seasonal vegetable, another Bharin serves Aaloo Chwon (Aaloo Tama). Aaloo Chwon is a stew of potatoes, sour bamboo shoots, and black-eyed peas or green beans. It is seasoned with lots of chili, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin, oil, cilantro and tomatoes.
Only in few cases Achar or Aaloo tama is served in a separate leaf bowl called Bhota, which is 3 to 4 inches bowl made similar to the leaf plate.
- Khashi ya Laa (goat meat) or/and Kha ya Laa (chicken meat)
Next Bharin comes with a meat dish called Khashi ya Laa (goat meat) or/and Kha ya Laa (chicken).
These meats signifies the higher social and financial status of the host.
- Choila/Chunlā (marinated and grilled meat )
It is prepared from the small pieces of buffalo meat by boiling, treating it in water and putting it in fire smoke. In other words it is buffalo meat marinated in spices and grilled over the flames. It has spicy taste mainly salty and chilly.
- Puk Laa (Bhuton or offal)/Senlāmu
By this time another Bharin comes to serve Puk Laa (Bhuton), which is fried internal organs of buffalo or goat or even chicken in some cases() seasoned with some spices and salt.
Till now we have eaten all the veg non veg item with emptying Sachila several times now its a bit greeny time 😛
- Wauncha (Saag or green leafy salad)
After finishing second servings, Bharins begin serving cooked seasonal green leafy vegetables called Wauncha made usually from spinach or mustard leaves.
We are to eating a lot, the chiura should never end in our plate. So each vegetable or food item is followed by the Chiura and the guests are well observed by the Bharin so that our plate never gets empty of any dish. We can even ask for the addition of the item we just had but most of us usually don’t because in the first time they have just put enough for us to eat and we are eating small quantity but enough food. We are getting drunk as this loquir comes non stop as soon as our bowl gets empty, and as the supplement to it the plate never gets empty, there is always chiura in our plate(actually we should not put our plate empty there should be at least some chiura left in our plate everytime).
We have eaten a lot and its time for changing the taste buds (actually we are changing every time as new Bharins came to give us food) but this time a little different
- Paun Kwa (Amilo or sour soup)
Immediately after serving leafy vegetable, a sweet and sour soup-like dish called Paun Kwa (Amilo) is given to cleanse the palate. Paun Kwa is served in the empty Bhota previously used for Aaloo Chwon or in empty Salicha that was used for Ayela. Paun Kwa is made of fruit called Aamli (Lapsi – botanical name Choerospondias axillaris ).
This is really great liquid; seems a bit sour but its really helpful as it firstly removes any dizziness if you are feeling if you have eaten more liquor second it helps in the digestion of all the meat items easily.
- Dhau/ Dahi (sweetened yogurt)
Once again the Bharins come around serving sweetened yogurt. This time the Baji is meant to be eaten with Dhau (sweet yogurt) as part of dessert.
Often a tika (a symbolic circular pattern drawn on the forehead ) is put in the guests forehead of yogurt before giving Dahu, but don’t get confuze they are not from the same plate 🙂 one Bharins put tika while the other give the dahu. And still don’t know what is the science or logic behind this, may be it is easy for to reflect that s/he has taken the food or may be any other reason(still searching)
- Sisabusa (diced vegetable salad)
In the end Bharins serve Sisabusa with a pinch of salt. Sisabusa is mixture of vegetables and fruits such as diced carrots, radishes, cucumbers, soaked small green peas, peeled pieces of oranges or any other seasonal fruits and vegetables.
After the serving of Sisabusa, the Newah Bhoye officially completes. Despite the completion of the Bhoye, the seated guests do not stand up right after finishing. Everyone waits until the elder member stands up, as a sign of a respect towards the elders.
Additionally, depending on the economical status or caste of the host a sweet snack called Lakhamari is also given to the guests as a favor to take home.
More science and sense are apparent with servings of Sisabusa, Paun kwa and Achar, these are served with the intent to help digest our food. As said earlier the alkaline content of the Paun kwa helps cut the fat in the food while the dahi (sweet yogurt), mithai (milk based sweets) and fruits at the end make for a refreshing dessert.
It took us nearly two hours to finish all the food. The addition of more liquor added more enthusiasm, laugh and food. But as everything is bounded in the bhoj we eat and drank socially this is the beauty of the bhoj.
Final ingredients just made us fresh and good.
Finally we have to leave as another group of persons were waiting outside to have their sukul bhoj. We said byebye to the bride or friend and leave for our home
Oh how can we forget Mr. N. for letting us sit/sleep in the home so that it helped some of the friends to finalize on the topic how the country should be reclassified (:P)and thank you all my dear friends for the wonderful constitution and huge discussion so that we were able to make the constitution of the country :P..
http://nepaliaustralian.com/ http://prakriti-ewariculture.blogspot.com https://www.withlocals.com http://drgrub.com http://web.comhem.se/~u18515267/CHAPTERIII.htm https://www.withlocals.com http://ecs.com.np
images are taken from google/image