Thursday, August 23, 2007

Indian food

This is a rambling post because I'm trying to knit several different ideas together, and it seems to have turned into a patchwork quilt rather than a woven spread. I was just reading a food blog I stumbled upon ( anything but work, right?) - A mad tea Party - and came across a post about the western standards and knowledge on food and how we should not apply it blindly to ourselves. One of the conclusions I have come to in recent times is that plain old home cooked Indian food can beat any other cuisine hands down in terms of both taste and health.

Our diet has a large quantity of vegetables - green and colourful, raw and cooked - at every meal. The dals are cooked with a minimal quantity of oil. We use whole wheat and therefore higher fiber flour for our bread than the maida that westerners use. All the spices that go into our food are recently being investigated by the West as health-enhancers, be it turmeric or cloves. Our recipes, particularly the traditional ones, have an innate balance between the ingredients for taste and health - rare is the potato bhaaji or chana daal dish that does not have ginger, for instance. Cultured yoghurt is a staple of every meal too.

I found out recently that different vegetables will taste different to people because of their genetic make-up. It would be only natural to assume that food also acts differently on people because of their DNA, so while I think basic common sense should apply to food choices ( i.e. if you eat fried food all the time you're gonna fall sick/ become obese, whether it's indian fried food or not!), we are broadly ok following our traditional food habits.

I also came across some research about cultural attitudes and how they are shaped by our Stone Age past - cultures which were based on hunting and gathering have very different attitudes to cultures which were based on farming - the former tend to be more individualistic and independent while the latter tend to be more socially oriented and interdependent. If our cultural attitudes are still shaped by something which happened so far in the past, isn't it likely that our reactions to food are also shaped by our past? That would explain why the west, particularly the Northern part of the West, would have health problems with a carb-rich diet whereas the east and the Southern part of the West (Italy?) - would lean towards more vegetables and carbs.

I'm off to have my healthy indian lunch now - sprouted moong salad.


half cup sprouted green moong
1 cucumber, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato if you like, chopped
Juice of 1/2 - 1 lime
salt to taste
Black pepper powder or chaat masala

Just mix everything up and let chill for an hour. If you're a garlic fan and not in office ( as I am unfortunately), you can add a bit of crushed garlic too. Enjoy on a hot summer's day along with a glass of majjige ( double-toned home made dahi blended with coriander leaves, salt and a green chilli, and water if you like it thin, and garnished with kari patta and mustard seeds tadka ).

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