Kashmiris have hogaad, (ho- from hoakh – dry, and gaad – fish), tiny dried fish that are cooked with vegetable or greens to up the nutrient quotient, or simply fried in oil to a crisp and served on the side. My mother would add tiny amounts of hogaad to the bags of other foodstuff we would carry back to Delhi from what used to be annual summer visits to Srinagar. The hogaad was out of pure nostalgia I am sure. To my credit, I did taste it every time she cooked some. I wonder how I overcame the stink.
A year ago browsing around in the market in Munnar I saw piles and piles of all kind of dried fish and other sea creatures. I was struck by the same nostalgia. So I ended up buying a 100 grams of medium-sized dried fish. As you can tell, I cannot tell my fish. I only know big, small, medium or tiny. I gave some to my mother to cook, who is now a vegetarian. She cooked it out of love (and nostalgia) for me and my dad. My dad does not care for hogaad; never did. I tasted some of it and couldn’t figure out why we bother. I have been looking at my portion of dried fish in the jar…for awhile.