INA Market, Delhi's melting pot, on last day of 2019

INA Market, the melting pot of Delhi, is busiest on the last day of the year. This market in south Delhi is the only place where you get the original ingredients to make any food local to any place in India. That’s one of the reasons why you see hundreds of people from the south, the north-east and elsewhere in the country crowd this place a day before the start of a new year. It’s time for celebrations, and food occupies a big place in any celebration.

Fish and pork – the two foods that do not belong to Delhi – are available at INA Market. The people of the north-east love pork, and those who are from down south, more towards the coastal side, come here for fish. Most restaurants in the national capital source their meat from here. If you ordered pork at a restaurant in Delhi, chances are that the meat came from INA Market.

The vegetables they stock up at this market are not the regular stuff. Many of the vegetables have been flown in from the places where they are natives. Naga mirch (Nagaland) or bhut jolokia (Assam) or oo-morok (Manipur), lotus stem (thambou, Manipur), dalle chillies (Sikkim), to name a few.

Some of the vegetable guys at INA Market speak the language of the place from where they sourced the stuff. Don’t be surprised if one of them suggested, in Nagamese or Bangla or Meiteilon, to buy a certain strange-looking vegetable just for kick. Try everything, you live only once, even if you are the type who believe in rebirth.

Food is a serious subject. So let’s get one thing straight here. The meat shops at INA Market are not to everybody’s liking. Orthodox vegetarians may close this page if the photos are not funny. Meat-eaters who don’t like seeing their food before they are cooked are also politely excused.

Going to the core of the topic, when you disagree with someone’s choice of food for whatever reasons, you deny the existence of a culture. Because food is linked to memories, home, childhood, festivals, celebrations, togetherness, and even identity.

Ever wonder why people say they miss their mother’s cooking, or they remember home, or a festive time when they were small, when eating certain foods? Everyone has heard this-food-reminds-of-home comment.
What it means is when you deny food to a person who has grown up eating it, you deny the existence of their memories, and by extension, the validity of their culture. In a way it is to assert one culture as superior to another.
Which is a pile of bullshit.

Eat whatever you like.

Happy New Year everyone. May you kick ass next year.

Oo-morok in Manipur, bhut jolokia in Assam and Naga mirch, as it's mostly known in Delhi. They are the same variety of chillies with different regional names. They are also among the hottest in the world.

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