Traditional Hindu Foods, oil painter Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, India, Art

Oil Painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar of Aji Nirmala Kelkar

Post Munja (Thread) Ceremony in Pune, India, Anand’s maternal grandmother (aji) was sitting at the table that was laid out with a feast of traditional Hindu foods. She had waited for the ceremonies to be over so she could see us in our fancy dress and watch us eat the classic Brahmin food that had been specially prepared for the feast over the last three days. Before we sat down to eat, she insisted that Anand’s mother and my “Indian foster mother” who were already exhausted from their early morning efforts, put rangoli in a colorful and decorative design around our plates that we were going to eat from.

Aji got the nickname of “Kitchen Terrorist” from me after we realized that she had driven all the hired help to quitting, and her own children crazy with demands from the kitchen, the pantry, appetizers and meal requests that were out of season and out of the question. In her heyday she had been the most awesome cook according to her family and friends. After she broke her hip and had some other health issues that prevented her from standing up, she became a bedridden dictator much to the sorrow of everyone near and dear to her.

It took me under three minutes to quickly taste my tiny portions, which Anand’s mother thoughtfully placed on my plate, knowing full well that I wouldn’t like or want to eat any of it. My problem with the food in India is difficult for me to explain. I don’t like heavily sweetened foods, especially fruit; I have sensory aversions to the smell and taste of curry leaf and heavy saffron flavors; additionally I do not like lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, okra or eggplant; and at the time I was doing my best not to eat carbs like rice, flour, potatoes, refined grains or other root vegetables. Take a wild guess what traditional Brahmin food is loaded with? Sugars and starches. Aji was at a loss to understand me and why I would not partake in her traditional Hindu foods.

Traditional Hindu foods are used on holy days. They abstain from strong herbs and spices, such as garlic, onions and chilies as they are too stimulating when one is to be in a meditative or prayerful state.

This oil painting is on canvas and measures 12″ x 16″.

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