Traditional Bhojpuri words associated with cooking

Cooking and eating utensils were once referred to as bartan in the hindu community. They were cleaned with a lounda, a sort of scourer obtained from coconut fibres. People could also improvise one with rough grass or certain leaves. To ensure proper cleaning, ash was often used from the chulha or the fireplace. In pre-independent Mauritius, in the 50s precisely, gas and electricity were still a far dream. Cooking was done outside or inside the house on three flat stones on which the utensils could be conveniently placed. Imagine a square of four stones with one removed to provide space to feed wood into it to make fire.
People went to the river or wild areas and carried home faggots of dry branches on their heads.  An entrepreneur came in a lorry to sell goyaves de Chine wood and sticks. It was great fun for us children to give a hand to our parents and neighbours to collect the sticks and arrange them in order in the yard. People made sure that they had enough dry wood in stock as a precaution against the rainy weather.
Food was cooked in a dekti. To drain the maar (water in which the bhatt or rice was cooked), it was essential to use a maar pasawna or cloth to protect the hands from getting burnt. Kach kach referred to over-cooked food or when there was a liquid quality to it. People used their fingers to eat and liquefied rice may therefore not have been ideal. Half-cooked rice was adhpaku. Over-cooked or under-cooked, people had no choice than to eat the food. They had somehow conditioned themselves. They also could not afford to throw away any food. The family used to squat on the floor on a chattai or carpet with beautiful designs of peacocks and animals to partake food.  
Salted poisson snoek and salted poisson des îles were the staple diet of the poor. They could be prepared in various ways. When fried in the karahi or caraille, they were known as taral. Basmati rice came on the market much later. And even if it was available here and there, it was beyond the reach of the majority of people. Gro douri was for the common folks. It arrived to Mauritius in goni or jute bags.
Rice was sold in pounds. Women and children had to spend much time separating the khudi from the rice. The khudi was broken rice and was considered unsuitable for consumption. Kept over a long time, rice would start producing tiny crawling insect-like organisms. These could be a danger to health. So, one had to be extra careful in cleaning the rice. Husks had to be winnowed.  As water was not available to individuals, we had to fetch it from the public fountain. Nearly everyone possessed a drum in which water could be collected for use. Food had to be attentively covered or kept in a tin so as not to attract lizards, or chuwa (mice/rats).
Pickles were home-made. Mangoes were sliced and put in a thali or plate in the sun for several days before making anchaar (achard). It was delicious, especially with all the spices. I remember going to bed and sleeping soundly on merely a dish of rice and kutcha. The lota was for drinking water. It was also widely used in religious ceremonies. Curries were served in a katori. Tomatoes were usually put in the embers till they became soft. The skin was then easily peeled. They made excellent chutni when mixed with salted fish. Today, due to cyclones, and also development, the fruit-à-pain and the katthar or jackfruit are becoming rare. Earlier, they made memorable curries. Eating ripe jackfruit was a real joy. Nothing could tease the tongue more than a good imli or tamarind.  Our Sundays were incomplete without the inevitable ounde and poutou. These, too, are getting rare nowadays.
The fireplace was a meeting-place where children gathered in the evenings to listen to stories from grandparents and aunties. It was an ideal opportunity to share time with the family and be initiated to lovely tales based on myth, fairies, legends, folklore, and the scriptures.
To move, push or turn over a piece of wood, a cob of maize, or a sweet potato in the mild fire, we could use the chiounta/chimta or tongs. We used to grill peanuts in the warm ashes and it was delightful to listen to the crackling sound they made when split open with the fingers. Whenever the embers would start dying down, the phukni, a metal tube, was utilized to start up the fire.
A jharna was used to remove tipuris or cakes from oil. These were allowed to stay in the utensil for some time so that the oil would gradually drain away. It is still used to make gato pima and samosa. A long spoon or ladle was called the kalchul. Small pieces of dough rolled delicately between the palms of the hands and cooked in sugared milk were known as dudh pithi. Adults and children alike appreciated it. The layer of cream on boiled milk was called chali. Taken with sugar, it was a delight for the tongue.
Guava trees and peach trees were abundant and the old still used their twigs as datwan or toothbrush. One end of the twig was crushed to make it harmless for the gums. To whiten teeth, people used charcoal.  Masala was crushed on the sil lorha or the curry stone. Village elders saw in the curry stone a symbolical value: just like it takes two separate items to function as one to make a tasty masala or a finger-licking coco ke chutni (satini coco), similarly it takes two people to make a happy marriage. In other words, where there’s harmony, there are good results. And to crush spices into a paste, there was the okri mousar or the mortar and pestle.
Words come with pleasant and painful associations in our mind. The phukni brings to my mind, even now, vivid images of heat, smoke, coughing, sneezing, sweating, boiling milk overflowing the dekti and our getting severely reprimanded, mother desperately trying to cook something despite her illness, ash blowing into the eyes, or the fire suddenly flaring up, the sparks, the petrol, and the fatigue. When I misbehaved, I was given the impossible task of cleaning off the kareek or soot at the bottom of cooking utensils like the marmeet or marmite.
Sometimes I wish I could erase the words with painful connotations from my mind and thus forget the past. But words carry a profound cultural and emotional value. They are a heritage, a vital part of you. Some words, like scars, stay with you. The more you try to get rid of them, the more they take you back to your roots.