Happy Vaisakhi

April the 13th marks the birth of the Khalsa, and the celebration of a New Year for farmers in Northern India – a day of double celebration for Sikh families with an agriculture background (like mine). I’ve often joked with friends that I’m “just a farmer’s daughter, but it’s an expression I really take to heart.traditional punjabi thali{A traditional Punjabi thali perfect for my Vaisakhi dinner table!}

Both my father and mother’s families in India were involved in agriculture. They grew the food they ate on their own land, and sold the excess. They survived and thrived by working hard on their farms and growing everything from wheat, corn, and sugarcane, to cotton pods which would be spun into yarn.

Many Punjabi farmers immigrated to Canada from the early to mid-1900s and worked as labour on farms, in lumber mills, and on construction projects. These pioneers paved the way for the thousands of immigrants that would come to Canada from the 60s – 90s and once again work in the farms of Canada. I take great pride in being a farmer’s daughter, and the granddaughter of a simple man from Punjab who worked the cranberry, strawberry, and blueberry fields of BC when he immigrated here in the early 1980s.punjabi thali

For me food keeps people connected to their culture, and is a very important part of our legacy. My mother often tells stories about how hard it was to find dal and atta anywhere in Victoria when she first moved to Canada in 1974. For weeks on end she survived on peanut butter and toast until another family member told her you could buy lentils at an Italian grocery store nearly an hour away in Nanaimo. It’s hard for me to even imagine that there was a time when it was so hard to source the ingredients to make a traditional Punjabi meal, when there is an abundance of options at a mainstream grocer like Save-On-Foods these days. authentic punjabi dinner

punjabi thali pink chai livingOver the last two weeks I’ve shared a number of authentic, homestyle recipes you could cook for a Vaisakhi dinner tonight. However, I’ve also learned over my years as a food writer, that cooking from scratch is important, but not as important as connecting over the dinner table. If you are short on time or unsure of your skills in the kitchen, visit your local Save-On-Foods and pick up some ready to go Indian from the grocery aisles or freezer section and serve up a traditional meal tonight or on the weekend. punjabi thali

While you are at it, open a discussion with your kids about what Vaisakhi means to you. At our house we’ll discuss the religious significance, but we’ll also talk about gratitude. Gratitude for our forefathers, our parents that made the trek across the oceans to Canada and left behind their comfortable lives to build new opportunities for us, and a big thank you for the farmers here in Canada that grow the food we eat.

And of course, because it’s Vaisakhi and we are Punjabi; we’ll get dressed up, play some dhol beats, and party all night long (or until 30 minutes after bedtime because we are responsible Canadian parents too).

This series was brought to you in partnership with Save-On-Foods. Visit your local location for all your South Asian grocery needs, and be sure to share any special finds with me! All opinions are my own.

 

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