Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Vegetarianism - Vegetables - Nutrition

**** Read after your lunch/dinner *****
BeetRoot Poriyal and Pakoda Koorma - read the South Indian menu in my office canteen. I bet half of those interested in taking SI meals would have backed off on seeing beetroot. I was equally depressed by seeing Pakoda Koorma, though was delighted to see Beetroot and Dosakai Dal (Cucumber) after weeks of Bhindi (Bendakaya/Okra/Ladies Finger) complimenting permutation and combination of Aloo (Potato), Patta Gobi (Cabbage), Gobi (Cauliflower) and Carrot (Gaazar) with a change in name - Mix Veg Curry, Veg Kurma, Veg Kadai, Veg Jalfrezi, Cabbage-Carrot poriyal.
For reasons like not having hygienic Andhra mess in the vicinity, well wishers’ concerns about the expansion of my pot-belly and the heaviness of the Andhra food at nights means that I generally visit a North Indian food joint for dinner. And the menu usually has a curry made up of one or more of Aloo (Potato), Mutter (Green peas), Rajma (Red Kidney Beans), Paneer (Cottage Cheese), Tomato and Gobi (Cauliflower) and occasionally with Palak (Spinach), Lauki (Sorakaya/Aanapakaya/Bottlegourd) or Methi (menti/Fenugreek) .

When I went to native for a week long Diwali vacation, I told my Mom to not include Okra (Bhindi), Potato, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Carrot and Tomato in any menu. And, what I had the following for a week – The menu commonly included one curry and dal supplemented with a freshly grounded chutney (noorudu pacchadi) with a vegetable or a leaf (Gongura, Pudina/Mint, Kottimeera/Corrainder), one or two pickles (preserved chutney/ooragaya) like Avakaya (Mango), Chintakaya(Imli/Tamarind), Usirikaya(Amla/Gooseberry) Nimmakaya (Nimboo/Lime) and a grounded powder like Gunpowder, Kandi podi (Toordal powder) or Palli podi (Groudnut/peanut powder).

Curry was from one of the vegetables of Dondakaya (Tindora/ Ivy Gourd), Vankaya (Baingan/Brinjal/Eggplant), Kakara Kaya (Karela/Bittergourd), Sorakaya (Lauki/Bottlegourd), Chikkudukaya (Large Beans with seed), Goruchikkudu (Beernis/Long thin beans used in Fried rice), Beerakaya (Turai/Ridgegourd)

Dal was either Toor Dal (Red lentils) or Moong Dal (Yellow gram) cooked with a vegetable from Tomato, Dosakaya (Cucumber), Mango, Sorakaya or a leafy vegetable from Palak (Spinach), Chukkakura (Sorrel spinach), Thotakura (Amaranthus), Bacchalikura (Malabar Spinach), Menthikura (Methi/Fenugreek).

I haven’t even got a chance to relish my favorite and Mom's special Chemadumpa (Arvi/Taro root) Vepudu (Fry). I haven’t yet talked about other root vegetables like Beetroot, Kanda (Yam), Potlakaya (Snake gourd), Aratikaya (Plantain), Gummadikaya (Pumpkin), Panasa pottu koora (Jackfruit).

There was no need/time for regular Sambar, Pulusu (similar to sambar), Majjiga Pulusu (sambar type of preparation with sour buttermilk), Menthi Majjiga (rasam type preparation with Methi), Rasam/Charu and Pachi Pulusu (Dry Soup).

Ok, enough of foodies, what I wanted to tell is vegetarianism is not always about Dal, Aloo, Gobi, Paneer and some pulses like Rajma, Chole and Chana. It is primarily about all vegetables, though not a daily dose of salads with raw vegetables and cheese as Americans think. Also, eating raw vegetables in India is not advisable sometimes due to high pesticide use.

Many people (irrespective of generation) like to eat only a few varieties of vegetables and face problems while eating anywhere outside their home. I pity them. The world is full of vegetables and I like to eat all of them, though I enjoy some of them at one or two levels up. Though recently, starting to hate Bhindi and Cabbage courtesy the FC caterers. Curries are not that boring if the vegetables are rotated and the preparation is tweaked.

My Mom (sometimes I too) can prepare a curry out of a vegetable in at least 3 different methods. Add to that you get excellent combinations when you mix two three vegetables (No, not talking about cabbage-carrot poriyal or Mix Veg Curry served in canteen).

Whatever I get at home is a proper Vegetarian Meal that provides nutrition as below:
Rice/Roti – Carbohydrates
Dal – Protein
Vegetables – Vitamins, antioxidants, Iron and other minerals
Curd/yogurt and Majjiga/Buttermilk/Chaaz – To cool down the stomach and improve digestion.

A Pakoda Koorma, a Malai methi chamn, some Kofta or Kadai (Besan/Bengal Gram Fluor + Buttermilk) and even Rajma/Chola/Chana would not give me same nutrition.

Note: It is not only about Andhra or South Indian. Most of the Indian menus have given due importance to all vegetables, though I would say the Andhra menu includes a higher number of vegetables.
P.S.: I am a vegetarian (lacto-vegetarian to be specific) with not eating egg (exception to birthday cakes).
P.S.2.: A caterer produced a new dish called 'Chola-Soya Ka Dostana' today!

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