A foodie with a passion for baking desserts and experimenting with local dishes, Pari Hazarika from Assam has been cooking and baking since her childhood days, “I have always loved cooking as a kid, but it was only after I moved to Pune, that I recognized this passion of mine as a calling. I was going through trying times and I found solace in cooking for myself and my friends 🙂 I’ve always been very interested in learning about local ingredients and culinary techniques, but it took a while and some travelling before I could manifest my curiosity in that area.”
As an inspirational figure for all those who follow her food journey, Pari also enjoys traveling and exploring the beauty of nature – which in turn fuels her food experiments. Here she shares an adventure of picking “stinging nettle leaves” (a medicinal plant often taken to detox, improve metabolism and immunity etc.) on a recent trip with her friends to Jibhi, a village in the Banjar Valley of Kullu in Himachal.
“During my recent visit to Jibhi, a village in the Banjar Valley of Kullu, I set out with my friends to collect nettle growing wild on the riverbank. Equipped with whatever vessel we could gather from the guesthouse kitchen, we went about gingerly snipping the leaves and shoots of the plants.”
Come spring, and the Himalayan foothills are blessed with straggles of stinging nettle that can look intimidating to unsuspecting passers-by with needle-like hairs sprouting from their leaves and stems. But,to the locals who use it in their cuisine, this plant is valued for its medicinal role in detoxification and treatment of respiratory issues among other health benefits.In the villages, stinging nettle is had in the form of chutneys, soups and tisanes.
“Once we had gathered enough, we brought the nettle leaves to the chef in the kitchen who suggested that we try it as soup along with some plain rice. The needles dissolve once they are cooked or blended. So that evening, we had a traditional dinner. The thick soup was earthy and filling perfectly paired with rice.”
“Then we wanted to try something different so a few days later, we went out to look for fresh nettles again. This time, we asked the chef to add chunks of paneer to the soup. Hence, was born ‘nettle paneer’ which we enjoyed with chapati in the evening.”
“In my book of food-love, the beloved palak paneer now had a worthy contender.” Follow Pari on Instagram (@cressandclove) to find inspiration through her food journey!
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