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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Cooking with Ama

In the little village, Parakashpur, cooking with my homestay Ama (mother), Yasoda, has been an absolute delight. The first day I arrived, she signaled for me to follow her into the kitchen where a pan was already heating up oil and a pressure cooker was sizzling with daal. Yasoda showed me how to carefully place the vegetables into the extremely hot frying pan. She started with chopped onions and then added tomatoes, potatoes, crushed garlic, garlic leaves, turmeric and chile powder. It was the most delicious smelling dish, called chyau aalo. We paired the chyau aalo with Daal bhaat, which is rice and daal, and puri, a type of fried bread.

Sitting on a dark blue rug on the floor, we ate with our right hand, taking in the flavorful delicacy and laughing about the electricity suddenly turning off during our meal. Ever since I helped prepare that first dish, I have been really into cooking and learning how to make traditional Nepali dishes. I have made dishes with potatoes, usually accompanied by mushrooms from the garden and cauliflower or broccoli from the fields across the road. Food is such a big part of Nepali culture and I am lucky to have been able to learn first-hand from one of the best cooks in the terai! I will certainly miss these dishes, but will try to recreate them back at home.