Saturday, June 25, 2005

Going Corny

The average Indian is acquainted with far, far more veggies than any Western man. It could be my imagination but vegetables - when referred to with their Indian names - conjure up a completely different meaning.

Say, cauliflower and peas. To the Western palate that would be a side-dish made edible with salt, pepper and butter. A form of par-boiled punishment.

Alu-gobhi on the other hand, is warm, fragrant and inviting on a chilly winter afternoon in north India. Though it does evoke a 'not again!' feeling when you open your school tiffin box... at times.

Beyond potatos, peas, carrots spinach and aubergine, Western man has alternatives like asparagus, leeks and artichokes. The Indian has bhindi, kaddu, lauki, tindli, turai, methi, karela...
But off late, says Rashmi Bansal, Indians are going corny over firang vegetables, especially American sweet corn.


Sherri said...

Hehheh, the attitude toward veggies tends to be regional in the US. in the midwest, where most arable land is turned over to beef cattle and grains, veggies are (at least when I've seen them there) pale, pitiful things. in New England and along much of the northern Atlantic Coast, they are boiled to death (a heavy English influence, I imagine).

In the south, however, and along the West Coast, veggies are fine and varied. I know the most about the South -- Southerners will eat most parts of a plant in some manner (sometimes because it's breaded and fried, but that's really the only decent thing to do to Okra). Lots of food once only eaten by poor people are now common, and that included a ton of vegetables. Tomatos, cucumbers (technically fruit, but treated like vegies), at least two dozen types of peas and beans, all sorts of root veggies (Vidalia Onions, mmm MMM!) peppers, and greens. When I was a kid, it seemd that any root that had greenery on top could be boiled and seasoned and served on a plate as "cooked greens". Herbs and various leafy greens that aren't cooked are popular now, too, because you can buy them already washed and bagged (arugula and I do not get along).

It's fun to eat at restaurants serving dishes from other regions and countries as well, but I'm always cautious about anything I can't pronounce or that doesn't smell like "food" to me. Veggies are usually my friends, tho (except beets. I hate beets)

mandar talvekar said...

I think what Rashmi is also pointing out in her post is the method of preparation of vegetables in the west. Most Indians do find western food very bland (as Rashmi says most us feel that the vegetables are just boiled and some salt and pepper added) - used as we are to spicy food. I think the point (and this might be a wrong perception that we have of the west) Rashmi is making that non-vegetarian fare is primary in the west. In India, the majority has non-veg food once in a while. Completely vegetarian fare rules the home dining tables largely.