Pakghar means kitchen in Assamese. It is literally a place where you find good food and happy memories.
But for an Assamese, it is not just a kitchen. It is a feeling, a tradition, a belief that hearth will always have a place for us.
Pakghar is an integral part of our life. Pakhghar is the place where all the siblings’ fights come to an end.
Pakghar is the place where we try to make something for our dear ones or where something is made for us with pure love.
Pakhghar is the place to getting together where all of you sit and sip cups of tea while relaxing and indulging in each others’ presence.
Assam is one of the states situated in the northeastern part of India. It is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and the Meghalaya Plateau and washed over by the Brahmaputra and the Barak.
Abundant with natural resources, the state is home to various ethnic tribes which have contributed to growing the greater Assamese society.
We, Assamese, are a bunch people occupying a tiny part of this great cosmos. Our language is different and so do our culture and traditions.
We juggle between tribal and Aryan customs and have developed our own cuisine. We are the proud nation that stopped the mighty Mughal invasion in this part of India for 17 times.
We are one of the eldest inhabitants of India and our culture has endured several millennia. Assamese cuisine is known for its simplicity and flavours that are symmetrical to nature.
We use lots of herbs, vegetables and fishes in our cuisine. It is one of the lesser-known branches of Indian cuisine that has yet to gain popularity among the masses. But still, there is Chef Vikash Khanna, who cooked one of our signature dishes called Khar for the His Holiness Pope!
For us, Pakghar symbolises hope and security. Although modern equipment like stove burners, piped LPG, OTG or Microwave Ovens have entered our kitchens, we still long for that chauka or earthen stove.
Luckily for us, your grandma still has her pair of chauka in our country home. In our ancestral home, the Pakghar has two parts, perfectly depicting the perfect transitions between technology and traditional practices.
The modern part has all the kitchen appliances we need and the other part has a perfect traditional Assamese Pakghar with chauka, dhuwasang and everything a Pakghar should have.
P.S. Here’s a picture of your grandma’s kitchen I found in my gallery after searching for several hours!
Do you see the walls? It is made of bamboo from our own bamboo groove. We Assamese are so self-sufficient! And you see the cut logs overhead? The tree was thrust by thunderstorms, so it ended up there as the fuel.
The place where the logs are kept is called dhuasang. It is a place over the chaukas where it works like a storage to keep, fish, vegetables, logs or anything that needs to be preserved.