Did you have to be bribed with idli and sandwich smileys when you were younger so that some nutrition could be forced into you? What are those, you ask? Oh, you know, that's when you put pea eyes, tomato mouth and carrot nose on a nice, white dumpling to get the tiresome kid to eat a sensible breakfast, never mind that YOU're losing all YOUR nutrients in the process!
I often have this problem with The Spouse who is rather opposed to "food that's good for you". However much I dress them up, most vegetables stay firmly away from his plate, unless they're served to him in other people's houses - I recently saw him gush over yam, chunks of it, in tamarind gravy at his aunt's place, something I'm willing to bet he wouldn't even recognise at ours. And there's no point talking about brown rice, he will simply "perish the thought!" The only reason he tasted my tomato upma, I suspect, was because it was on his aunt's table and that huge plank of wood must have added to its appeal. I have almost given up making him give up on ghee supplied by some fond and rustic relatives, rice and ghee added to senaga karam (chana dal powder) supplied on request by his fond and urban mother-in-law, rice and ghee added to red chilli pickle supplied by loving aunts and cousins and sundry goodies supplied by ourselves. But the thought of being defeated - and the amount of waste all those leftover supplies make for - make me keep trying.
A while ago, I bought a small packet of something called 'low-carb' rice. It looked normal enough but when I finally cut it open, I realised I'd been looking at the wrong side of the pack - there WAS a transparent patch at the back and it was very distinctly light brown.
Now, had he not seen me open it and pour it out into the pressure cooker, he may have eaten it - but I think the sequence of events was that he did, made a face several times and sulked but ungraciously conceded he would try it because "it doesn't seem to be like the usual brown rice I know you don't like" (said in a loud and earnest tone). Unfortunately, the pack instructions failed me - and it was hard and remained brown. He may well have gone to bed angry and hungry, I really don't remember.
I couldn't eat it either. (I was never very good at self-flagellation.)
It stayed in the fridge for a few days till I began to suspect something was wrong with it because it wasn't going bad. So I dumped it.
Then came about some circumstances where, for over a week, we were eating at someone's place everyday and I too began to contribute to those meals. As it was a hectic and difficult phase, I could not even shop for supplies but had to make do with what was available at home. For once, I had had potatoes, some carrots were withering in the fridge as usual and I had just exhausted my supply of peas. I didn't know if I had run out of Basmati and I didn't want to find out. Some black chickpeas were turning to speckly white dust in their container.
Some of our meal companions wouldn't eat onion and garlic, it had to be quite a big amount (to serve about a dozen people) and it needed to be something I could make swiftly so that once I woke up the next day and finished with it, I could try to snooze again, find time for Yoga, social networking and lunch before I set off for work. Not to mention having a bath, of course!
One of the cookbooks I love is Tarla Dalal's Gujarati cookbook. I haven't made all that much from it but I love to flip through it and look at the pictures. It's seen me through many a sleepless night. So I chose the Vagharelo Bhaat which seemed pretty swift and straightforward.
I doubled the quantities and made my substitutions: Brown rice for Basmati, kala channa for green peas, and some oil added to the ghee. (Mine is organic, again bought to lure The Spouse away from what could be some hormone-ridden one.)
If he reads this, he will find out it was the brown rice he once so violently rejected, rendered so palatable by soaking, oodles of ghee, the potatoes, other bits and pieces, and, of course, the communal (as in 'community', not 'religion', lest you wonder) nature of the occasion.
Brown rice: 3 cups (soaked for at least 30 minutes, then washed delicately several times, and drained)
Potatoes, diced: 3 cups
Kala channa/black chickpeas: 1 cup, soaked overnite, cooked till soft
Carrots, diced: 1/2 cup
Cinnamon: 1-inch blade
Cumin seed/jeera: 1 tsp
Asafoetida/Hing: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Chilli powder: 2 tsp
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Ghee: 5 tbsp
Oil: 1 tbsp
Hot water: 6 cups
In a large pot/pressure cooker, heat the ghee, add the cloves, cinnamon, cumin, asafoetida and fry for half a minute.
Add the vegetables and salt and stir for about four minutes.
Add the turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and rice and stir again for five minutes till well and evenly mixed.
Add six cups of hot water, cover and simmer till the rice is cooked. If you're using a pressure cooker (like I did), put it on simmer for about five minutes after three whistles. It was perfect.
I did not hesitate to use so much ghee and oil because this meal was spread across many people and I'm hoping none of them ate more than their recommended allowance of fat and starch. A happy consequence was that I didn't have any charred and crusty residue at the bottom of the pressure cooker.
Rice Vegetarian Vegetables Potatoes Humour