Hi! I’m Nonee!
Little girls in Chhattisgarh are randomly referred as ‘Nonees’ especially if they are affectionately addressed. It can be compared to being called as ‘missy’ or ‘young lady’. So if you are a girl who happens to visit Chhattisgarh and are referred as nonee by elders then you know that you are among your well-wishers and can even earn a favor with your smile!
So, Nonee here can be any little girl from Chhattisgarh who has a story to tell, a moment to live, an opinion to make, a recipe to share, and wants to cherish the life back in Chhattisgarh. I’m the Nonee of Chhattisgarh.
Story behind Nonee Cooks
This blog is dedicated to recipes and stories from the incredible region of Chhattisgarh and beyond. It is difficult to explain the real reason for writing this blog without telling you all a small story. I’m not really a very good writer neither am I a fantastic chef or a photographer. Yet here I am writing a blog on Chhattisgarhi cuisine and culture because of the following incident that compelled me to do so.
I’m from Chhattisgarh and was raised on typical Chhattisgarhi food until it was time to leave the nest for things like studies, work and marriage. For years I was away from the simple, healthy yet lip smacking Chhattisgarhi cuisine, tasting it only during holidays. I was never a homely girl who likes to be around the kitchen making perfectly round, fluffy chappatis. However, I’m a foodie and like to cook once in a while. Initially, my cooking was mostly restricted to some recipe searches on the internet, baking and some pasta dishes. So my mother (maa) did most of the cooking at home.
Once maa asked me a question – “How will you manage if you are married in a very Chhattisgarhi (at least cuisine wise) household and if your hubby would only want Chhattisgarhi food? Pat came my reply – I will search for Chhatisgarhi food on the internet!
We forgot about this conversation and I was married to Hubby Dearest who is also a foodie and loves all types of cuisine. So, there was no panicking for me about the authentic Chhatisgarhi recipes until I had to cook a welcome meal for his family! 😛
Excited, I created an elaborate menu:
Aloo Munga Mutter
Chousela and so on…
Elated with my thoughtful menu I sat with my laptop and searched-
“Aloo Munga Mutter” – No results 😮
“Khatta Kumhda” – No results 😮
“Zimikand Masala” – Some obscure recipe…obviously not authentic!
“Phara” – Again some experimented…modified recipe 😦
I was in tears…more than myself I was feeling bad for my Chhattisgarh and its cuisine…frustrated and bugged I called maa and told her what had happened.
Maa laughed and told me all the recipes but also expressed her worry about not being able to pass on the simple but authentic Chhattisgarhi recipes to her grandchildren and beyond.
I cooked the welcome meal as per maa’s instructions and all went well. But I was not quite at peace. I decided to compile her recipes and write about Chhattisgarhi culture as soon as I got some time off from work. Few years have passed ever since this incident happened. But yet I felt the pinch of not doing enough to protect the cuisine of my state and maa’s recipes. I have been ever since jotting down recipes and clicking pictures to be shared with the world. I want to assure all the fellow Chhattisgarhis that they will definitely find Chhattisgarhi recipes on the internet from here on!
What to expect from Nonee Cooks!
Through this blog I intend to share Chhattisgarhi recipes along with some musings, memoires, anecdotes, poems, folklore and pictures.
Now, if you have come to this blog then you obviously know something about Chhattisgarh. However, let me tell you what my Chhattisgarh is like. Chhattisgarh is the 28th state of India and is a mélange of many cultures form all its neighboring states. It has the original tribal communities and other communities that have migrated from various states of India. The varieties of culture and people have influenced the Chhattisgarhi cuisine to a great extent. If you taste a Chhattisgarhi dish you might feel it to be quite close to some of the Bengali, Oriya, Bihari, Marathi or even South Indian dishes. Yet, there is a distinct simplicity in all the Chhattisgarhi dishes.
Most dishes from my state are minimalistic and simple. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and healthy cooking. You will hardly find a dish that is overtly spiced or elaborately cooked. There are lot many types of curries and sauces which are mostly made out of fresh produce, rarely using synthetic preservatives. Most dishes are cooked out of seasonal produce, mostly greens, and have a thoughtful blend of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. You will learn more about Chhattisgarh and its culture in the posts to come, in the form of trivia and memoirs.
I hope this blog is going to help all my friends who want to know more about the food of Chhattisgarh, who want to learn Chhattisgarhi recipes and who want to be glad that they found something on the internet when they searched for Chhattisgarhi food!