Falgun, the month of happiness. As we brace for the sweltering summer heat and floody monsoon, our mothers and grandmothers are busy ensuring that our meals remain delicious in the terrible weather. They are the ones who make sure that the taste of our childhood memories never fades away.

For me, spending this month at home is like taking a portal into my childhood. It reminds me of the long hours we spent on rooftops guarding the Kohdauri, aaloo papad, aaloo chips, sukha muli, and gobhi against crows and pigeons. It was a time to sit with friends and siblings and enjoy long chats, games of Ludo, and so much more. The nostalgia that overwhelms me during Falgun is indescribable.

This is what Falgun has always meant to me- a season of togetherness and joy. In a traditional Awadhi household, the fragrance of Kohdauri masala and different vegetables like radish, cabbage, cauliflower, and Khabaha or Kupindo (Ash gourd) fills our corridors during this month. It is a beautiful scent that takes me back to my childhood and makes me feel like a kid beaming with excitement to try this delicacy.

Seeing my mother gracefully preparing the Kohdauri is indeed a sight to behold.

I am always in awe of her expertise. For someone like me, it will take years of practice to be able to do it with such perfection. But my mother does it with effortless ease, just like she has been doing for years.

So what is Kohdauri?

Kohdauri

Kohdauri is similar to “Vadi” or “Mashyaura”. It is more than just a delicacy for us, it is a symbol of our culture and heritage. It is a classic technique of preserving winter vegetables for the other seasons. The process includes fermentation and drying of these vegetables facilitated by heat and spices. Hing or asafoetida plays an important role in preservation, hence, it is added in high amounts. Interestingly the making of Kohdauri aligns with the harvest season of some of the dals, which are perfect for the base.

The Preparation

Usually, the preparation requires three things.

  1. The base of a dal (Chana dal, black urad dal, moong dal etc)
  2. Vegetable of choice (usually cabbage, cauliflower, radish, white pumpkin, green peas etc.)
  3. Spices. The spices vary depending on the vegetable chosen and the choice of the community. My mother likes to keep it simple, so she uses jeera (cumin), kali mirch (black pepper) and hing (asafoetida). But people also use black cardamom, cinnamon etc.
Khabaha/Kupindo/Ash Gourd

The preparation of Kohdauri requires a lot of care and patience. The process usually starts with soaking the dal overnight (in case of black urad). Then it is ground into a paste. In that paste go the spices along with the grated vegetables.

Before adding the vegetables, it is ensured that their extra water is removed completely. This is especially important for Ash gourd/Kupindo/Khabaha as it contains a lot of water.

After properly mixing them, which requires a significant amount of effort, they are made into small kohdauris.

Kohdauri, ready to dry

Traditionally, we use a bamboo “sipola” or “supo” to dry them. Then it is promptly taken for drying.

Sun drying kohdauri

After the kohdauri is fully dried, they are collected and stored away. The shelf life of the kohdauri depends on the vegetables used. In terms of taste also, they vary quite a lot. I personally prefer cabbage kohdauri as it has a bit of umami flavor in it.

Great Taste and Good For Health Too

Along with great taste, Kohdauri promises many health benefits as well. It is rich in proteins and considering the vegetables get fermented in the process, it also is good for our gut health. The spices are easy on the stomach and make digestion easy.

A reason for coming together

In the rural areas, Kohdauri making is more of a community effort, something like how Kimchi preparation is for the Koreans. The women of the neighborhood gather and engage in the mass production of this delicious delight. It is a space for them to share their challenges and stories and support each other.

In conclusion, as I sit here experiencing the joys of Falgun and the delicious Kohdauri that comes with it, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and warmth. This traditional dish has been passed down through generations and has brought our communities together for ages. It is not just a simple vegetable curry, but a testament to our rich cultural heritage and the love and cares that our mothers and grandmothers put into every meal.

I invite you to experience the magic of Kohdauri for yourself. Next time you are in the terai region, visit an Awadhi or Maithil household and taste this masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Let it transport you back to a simpler time and connect you with the love and warmth of our communities. I hope we continue to honor and preserve our cultural heritage, one delicious dish at a time.

Written by Ms. Poonam Shukla, Co-founder, Sattva Nepal

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