This piece is purely inspired by my culture, eating habits and my recent recovery from my monsoon sickness. When I visited my doctor to cure my fever a few weeks back, the doctor advised, “Dahi chura khanus.” The doctor’s advice of Dahi Chiura – yoghurt with beaten rice - which is linked to 15 Ashad, made me wonder about the connection between monsoon and the food.
Before monsoon arrives, the heating of the soil creates other conditions suitable to wake bacteria from dormant state except for moisture. With the onset of monsoon, the moisture requirement is fulfilled and the bacteria multiply in number. For a nation of farmers, one can very well imagine the scene in fields around monsoon a few hundred years back. While seeds would be germinated in one part of the field, the rest would be readied for transplanting the seedlings. That meant having to play in a lot of mud and at the same time being in good shape for the hard work. And this would be the time a lot of people died due to gastro intestinal problems and dehydration.
Let’s move to beaten rice, a unique example of preservation of rice in our culture. Beaten rice is produced through steps – boiling, draining, beating and then drying – a practice that removed the starch and destroyed the bacteria. Curd, which is a result of bacterial activity – the useful ones – derives from processes termed multiplication and fermentation.
The processes of making curd and beaten rice are both supreme. The added sugar in Dahi Chiura protects it from bacteria. Although it may seem like a very simple food, this indeed is a heritage handed over to us by our ancestors. Curd contains special bacteria that reside in our mouth and digestive tract and fight harmful bacteria. The beaten rice soaks up moisture once consumed and gives a bulkier feeling later. Eating chirua saves time as it satisfies the appetite with a small amount.
You may have missed 15 Ashad if you didn’t go for rice plantation. But it’s not too late to prevent sickness this monsoon. If you hate chiura, then you can substitute it with muesli – eaten all over the world with fruits and curd as breakfast. Now you know, the tradition of consuming Dahi Chiura is actually supported by food science. !