Indian Daily Food

The Basic Indian Food

Suppose you are an Indian in the year 1960. You get up at 0600 am, and have breakfast at 0900, before walking 4kms to your workplace. You carry lunch with you, which you eat at 0100pm. You walk back home around 0630 and eat dinner at 0800, and go to sleep at 1000pm.

For most of the Indians, this was a routine for many many years. Till Pizzas and Burgers invaded us.

Supper as a word was unheard of. Evening tea existed only for the rich (and how many were rich….nearly none). Tea itself was non-existent. Snacks were available, mostly fritters, or similar; but again not a daily affair. BECAUSE cooking was done on burning coals, and the fire used to take a long time to start, and to put out. So, it was used only twice a day.

No wonder all the walk, physical labor and simple food kept people healthy. Cholesterol as a word was not in the dictionary. Everyone used to eat tonnes of saturated fat, and trans-fats……… still!

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So what was this breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Roti, with Sabzi and daal in breakfast, Roti, sabzi and daal at noon, and Roti, Sabzi and daal in the evening. I presume all these words are from Persian language, which percolated in the North Indian lingo with the armies invading India.

Roti is flat wheat bread (described in yesterday’s blog), Subzi literally means ‘the greens’ in Persian or Arabic, therefore cooked vegetables. Boiled Potatoes with gravy was a favorite Sabzi, though it is not a green by definition. And daal is anything that is the seed of a bean; split in half. For hundreds of years, Indians have torn a small portion of Roti by hand, used it like a spoon to pick some vegetable, or daal, and dunked it in the mouth. Three or four Rotis or Chapaatis (synonyms) with 100 gms each of “cooked watery daal” and Sabzi was enough for a guy.

Some of my blogs show examples of what we know as sabzi or dry vegetables. I will do a detailed blog on a zero-oil daal soon.

You will love to read it and then cook it, and eat it. The basic Indian stuff, generic term for food is “daal-roti” in India.

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Without oil, another Indian Vegetable

Trichosanthes dioicaThe entry in Wikipedia is….Trichosanthes dioica is also known as the pointed gourd, parwal/parval (from Hindi),Kovakkai(from Tamil) or thonde kayi (from Kannada), or potol (from Assamese, Sanskrit, Oriya or Bengali (পটল) pôţol) “Paror” in Maithili, “Parol” in Magahi and “Parora” in Bhojpuri, Urdu and Awadhi.

It is called Parwal in Hindi.

In 1960s the rich Delhi-wallahs used to eat this vegetable because it was expensive, or the other way round 🙂 Today the poor eat it, also the quality available in my market is a little extra ripened having a yellow core and the seeds as hard as the teeth.

I thought of a little innovation, removed the core, boiled with some water and strained to remove the hard seeds. I used the liquor so obtained as the base for the vegetable. Because the core has taste and gives body and aroma, I did not discard it wholesale. Remember “Baby with the bath water?”

You are now to see the process in the photos below, the Parwal is peeled, ends discarded, and cut in halves.

Peeled Parwal
Peeled Parwal

With a spoon, the yellow inside core is removed and boiled. Then handheld blender does the blending to remove the stone-like seeds. Some were having white cores, I did not remove the cores and used as such.

White core
White core

After dicing the Parwals, Tomatoes and masala that is turmeric, coriander, green chillies, salt, ginger and cuminseeds were added alongwith the parwal in a pressure cooker, heated till first whistle and allowed to cool on its own.

Final act is to add Garam masala (curry powder). No oil….none at all, no tadka like we usually do, no tamaasha, all taste.

Minimal masala, low on spices high on health. At Rs 20 (third of a $) for a Kg, very inexpensive.

The photos show 1Kg preparation, good for 5 persons for one time.

When I ate it I realized that the dish can be improved in color, texture and taste. Next time there will be some crushed boiled potatoes to add body, and the tomatoes will be in a skinned avatar. Skins irritate. 🙂

Diced stuff
Diced stuff
Cored Parwal
Cored Parwal
yellow core
yellow core
Seeds discarded
Seeds discarded
Straining the liquor
Straining the liquor

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The Curry powder (Garam Masaala)
The Curry powder (Garam Masaala)

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Close-up
Close-up
Final product
Final product
With a Roti (chapati)
With a Roti (chapati)

LONG LONG AGO

Those were good old days. Cities were small. ISBT had three buses, one going north to Sonepat, another going west, to Rohtak, and one going south, to Gurgaon. ISBT was located at Westend cinema, in Sadar Bazar, Bara Tooti.

Water for all purposes (including drinking) used to be a 24 hour supply, pressurized to reach ground floor and the first floor. There was no need to store water. Trams were comfortable, from Subzi Mandi to Red Fort, and then there were Horse Tongas.

Chilgoza
Pine Nut

Mosquitoes were not a menace, it was really a good night under the stars (not the “Good Night” fumes in closed doors of today). Pine nuts (chilgoza) were available and eaten by children. Loquat was not extinct. Falsaa, khirni and Shahtoot were a plenty.450px-Eriobotrya_japonica3

Loquat fruit (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eriobotrya_japonica3.jpg)

Children used to talk (person to person) not through SMS, and whatsapp.

Was not Delhi “smart” in those days?

DELHI ROADS, 80db+ NOISE LEVEL

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These plugs are life saving devise for anyone who travels by an auto rickshaw (we Delhiwallahs call it a “three wheeler”. Good plugs cut out the noise substantially. The tired feeling after 20 kms of travel is mainly because of the noise.

You get to your destination fresh. Half of the noise is due to your own “Three Wheeler” 🙂

Another life saver is a gas mask…………the exhaust pipe of buses and trucks are designed to belch their output directly into the three wheeler, and your driver manages to keep it that way, for fun and kicks.

Killing me softly with your smog

If you have a heart attack, and God forbid, you are a smoker; your Doctor will tell your family a few facts, and next day onwards you see a new type of hatred in the eyes of your near and dear ones. You have brought this upon yourself being a smoker!

If you dig Churchill’s grave, who died at ripe old age, he has been buried with his cigar still dangling from his lips.

Everyone in Delhi smokes 10 packets equivalent of fumes a day. Thank you Mitali for posting this piece in Business Standard, my pain is a little relieved.Happy Diwali, pass the nebuliser please

Everyone in Delhi breathes equivalent of 10 packets of cigarettes a day, more if one travels on a two wheeler or worst, jogs. So another packet would be a marginal dose, you agree. Those who travel by three wheelers are perennially facing SUV and bus exhausts in traffic and can’t do a thing.

This Diwali gift yourself a gas mask (sorry Mitali for copying and modifying your last lines).