Bright slivers of blush pomelo star in a sharp winter salad; a dressing of sugar, chili, and sesame seeds provide crunch and kick, while coriander paste offers a grounding nuttiness. The recipe for this citrus centric salad is just one of the seven featured on Bhuli, an online platform promoting the local art, food, and culture of the Northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.
Bhuli began as a passion project between two childhood friends who noticed the lack of effort—and interest—placed on preserving the culture of their home state. Tanya Khotnala and Tanya Singh partnered to ameliorate the vacuum of tradition they both found so troubling.
“There are almost no souvenir shops in Uttarakhand, our eateries serve chhole bhature and the traditional art and attire is hardly given any attention,” Kotnala, a fashion designer and illustrator, told Scroll.in. “Over the years, the culture of the state has diminished.”
So in efforts to revive interest in and archive the culture they both hold dear, the two women launched Bhuli (which means little sister in Garwhali), a multipronged storytelling venture that dives deep into tradition, recipes, narratives. They situate their project's ethos firmly in an ethic of Swadeshi, the practice of promoting local economies brought into action during the Indian independence movement.
The accounts, on Facebook and Instagram, are multicolor digital mosaics and have amassed around 3,000 and 5,000 followers, respectively. In deep oranges or vibrant blues, Kotnala will illustrate the region’s costumes or paint scenes that portray the way of life they want so badly to preserve.
For National Nutrition Week, Bhuli featured seven recipes centered around important local produce. As Singh told Scroll.in, “Our objective was to pick and choose local crops that have memories associated with them, but also those that are high in nutritional value. Like the pomelo – that is a great source of Vitamin C. It is a winter fruit and was mandatory for us to eat when we were growing up, because it helps to fight colds and the flu.”
The platform’s founders stress the emotional importance of seasonal, regional produce and see their series as a compendium of not only recipes, but stories as well.
Which recipe from Uttarakhand does Bhuli compel you to try? Try your hand and let us know in the comments.