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Actor Adil Hussain remembers his mother’s Iftar food, pumpkin Halwa on Eid

Tripti Nath/New Delhi

Bollywood actor Adil Hussain says that although he grew up in a lower-middle-class Assamese family, during Ramzan, his siblings and he looked forward to Eid as it meant new clothes and a lot of food. He recalls that Ramzan was a huge festival for them as it meant meeting people and enjoying a variety of homemade sweets for Iftar.

Recalling his growing years with his family members in Goalpara, Assam, the 60-year-old internationally acclaimed actor, says “My mother who is now 94, would break her fast with Daal pakode. The Iftaar included boiled chana cooked with onion; we would make Guguni and paranthas. That was an extra meal for family members who were not fasting.”

However, Eid, says Adil who is the youngest of seven siblings, was something that all the children looked forward to,

“My mother’s family, who had a huge property in Jaleshwar, sent us a live chicken. It was the only day that my father, a school teacher, saved up to buy quite a few things. That was the only day we would eat mutton and chicken.’’

“Eid meant new clothes once a year. We would look forward to new clothes. A few days before Eid, we would go take our dad to the shop, find the cheapest fabric, and have it stitched. On the day of Eid, all of us would wake up in the morning to go and offer Namaz. 

“Throughout the year, our breakfast was tea without milk and ‘sookha roti’ (dry homemade bread). Eid was the only day in the year that my mother made a lot of sweets. It was also the only day that we ate meat and chicken.”

He remembers that although he had a very frugal upbringing, his parents were generous. “On Eid, my mother’s kitchen was open to everybody. My non-Muslim friends would come and eat. Every Eid, we had Chicken Korma, Chicken jhaalpyazi, Chicken jhol, broken chickpeas daal. She would make a lot of meetha. (sweets) Only on that day, she would make all kinds of Meetha including pumpkin halwa. My favourite was my mother’s pumpkin halwa. Of course, Sewian was there and we had a sewian machine, a small device that I used to make Sewian. All Muslim households had these machines.’’

He says that fish was regular as the family sourced it from the pond behind their house.

Adil who has acted in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Norwegian and French films, began theatre by playing roles in a local theatre group Bhayamama ( a political satire group) in his hometown, before joining the National School of Drama. 

“I was inspired by Dhrubajit Kishor Chaudhary, a friend of my immediate elder brother, Ajmal Hussain. Dhrubajit, a dramatist and a comedian, was very fond of me. Bhayamama was Dhruabjit’s nick name. Ajmal acted in school plays and was an accomplished sprinter. Of course, I was also inspired by Dharmendraji and Mr Bachchan. My brother later got a job in ONGC because of his sportsmanship”. 

He says that he grew up in an extremely liberal family. “My father was a devotee of Rabindranath Tagore. So, you can imagine. In 1975, my eldest brother, Azhar Hussain married a Hindu Brahmin who was the grand-daughter of Pramotesh Chandra Baruah (known in the film fraternity as PCB) who acted and directed in the original Bengali film Devdas. My father told my eldest brother that he could marry anybody he liked. My brother never asked his wife to convert to Islam and she continued with her name My wife, Kristen Jain. Her father is a Jain and her mother is a Greek Orthodox Christian.’’

In recent years, Adil has been going to meet his mother in Goalpara almost once every month. Seven years back, he managed to persuade his mother to live with him in Delhi but she began missing the pond in her house, he says with a roar of laughter.

ALSO READChildren should be allowed to read all religious texts: Actor Adil Hussain

The biggest takeaway of the conversation was that Adil promised to teach this correspondent how to make Pumpkin Ka Halwa one day.

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