The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Of Beetroots and Broccoli

When I wrote the ‘Eternal travails of the vegetarian mind’, I instantly knew the vegetarian Mafioso would not take a liking to it. And how right was I. Friends from good vegetarian culinary households where I have enjoyed many a smashing meal, called up to say they had declared fatwa on me. The even more unkind lashed out a ‘Come home and I’ll ensure even a tumbler of filter coffee does not come your way’ threat. So I did a breathe in breathe out routine and decided what I had to decide - to mend my ways. Friends after all are not worth losing you know. And they are definitely not worth losing if the friendship translates to free lunches and what not.

So here I present, the completely organic, vegetarian (no slivers of hidden pink meat and all that) post on (what else) vegetables. But I wanted to make it a little different, so it’s about vegetables that are over hyped; it’s about vegetables that I do not like; it’s about vegetables that look brilliant in cookery books and Khana Khazana episodes, but end up tasting like WTF. So without much further ado, ladies and gentlemen, may I present……..

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If ever there is a vegetable that has a confused identity, one that makes it to the vegetable basket and yet hollers out to be called a fruit, it is this one. You stand in your kitchen desk and wonder where you’d accommodate him into the grand scheme of things. Blood red, attractive and a total let down. Add him to a curry and he’ll add colour and dampen flavour. Which of course is a double crime because all it ends up then being, is a visual con job. Now who for heavens sake will make him understand that it’s a goddamn curry I am trying to make and not a fuckin dessert. So what do you do with him eventually – you use him to make a decorative salad which can duly be thrown into the back garden (where he’ll germinate into many more of himself adding to future woes and ‘what do I make out of him’ moments in the kitchen) after the meal is over. Beetroot poriyal, did someone say. Can you please stand up while I load my revolver.

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The closest my family ever got to being Punjabi was when they christened me. And god bless them for that or I’d have been subjected to one of those uncontrollable laughter inducing Mallu names which are fun to listen to and painful to own. So what if I did have a Punjabi trace in me, I have often wondered. Food options for example would have meant washing down Puttu and Kadala breakfasts with a chilled glass of lassi. But not to forget, it would have also meant a constant sense of confusion as to whether it is parantha with a nasal ‘n’ or porotta with a big stress on the double ‘t’. But since Punjabi I am not (in myth or otherwise), I was pretty much spared the reason to lunch on mooli(radish) ka parantha or mooli ka whatever else. Our next candidate to make it to the Ignoble list of veggies, is also incidentally an underground root vegetable. (What the hell is wrong with them, I say?) One deceiving bite and the contorted expression on your face is already a priceless photographic moment.

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I’d come back home after waging war with the neighborhood kids to the smoky crackle of mustard seeds in hot oil. We were still debating the pros and cons of fitting an exhaust fan in those days and dad had promised mom that it figured prominently in the procurement list for the next five year plan. I’d rummage every empty container at home until hunger manifested into its not so friendly other form – anger. ‘Mee(Mom) whats for lunch’, I’d holler. And amidst the crackle she’d shout back – ‘Kaalan’. Now that is precisely what I did not want to hear. Anger would swell up like I were going to explode. An irresistible tendency to pull out the hair on my head inevitably mounted. Can I smash the showcase window? Can I do anything destructive at all please without being whacked? Kaalan – that yogurt based yellow curry with cubes of translucent yellow cucumber (read disgust). ‘Aaarhg’. I scream, venting out my anger at the fact that it’s Kaalan for lunch. Whack. Mom responds, venting out her anger of being in a smoky kitchen with no exhaust fan. And then there is silence. I don’t like yellow cucumber.

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I am a strong believer that we should leave the leaves for the four legged herbivores. I mean it’s only being fair isn’t it. Now despite all the culinary options you have, if you still compete with the bovines for all things leafy, then I’d classify it as outright cheap thrill, what else? (a little bit of lettuce on your burger is pardonable but anything more….). And of all things leafy, the one that is rated pretty highly on my despise list is Palak (Spinach). Now how bad can something be, when in its company even good old Paneer tastes a bit funny. And in case you’re interrupting me with the ‘it’s healthy’ card, then please note that I’ve already read about the 2006 E coli breakout in the US – all because of (hold your breath) Spinach. Imagine dying after eating Palak Paneer with roti one fine Friday evening. How sad is that?

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If you see a bonsai like floret jutting out of your ceramic ware, you are well advised to stay as far from it as the bubonic plague. It’s the one ingredient that can give your otherwise non-descript dish a continental tag. But that apart, its contribution from the gastronomic angle is pretty much close to zilch. Oh btw, if you are a pseudo upper class house wife with a penchant for anything continental, please do buy your broccoli. And then you can have conversations such as these:

‘Arre, I picked up a kilo of Broccoli from Namdhari’s today. It was coming at 80 rupees a kilo you know’

‘Oh is it? At Nilgiris it was hundred the last time I bought it’

‘Husband loves it ya. I made this continental dish they showed on the telly yesterday and it was so nice you know’


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Bon Appetit.

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P.S: Now since I have patched up, with all and sundry, lunch and dinner invites are expected. I can be contacted at pmpreeth@gmail.com. Thanks.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Penguin said...

How on earth can you NOT like palak da? How how how? I will call you home and make brilliant paalak ki sabji for you, and make you a believer. This is a promise, my friend!

November 01, 2007 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...Now who for heavens sake will make him understand that it’s a goddamn curry I am trying to make..." - quite funny dude.. ;-)

-Laxman

November 02, 2007 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mister Preeth

U r not uttering a word about Broccoli. Do u get that? Or else.... hmmm... Jeez how am I supposed to threaten u!

Anyways agree with ya on beetroot, raddish etc. they are awful!
But broccoli is good!!! its the besteshttttttttt!!! :-) Do u want me to send u a recipe( ok ok stop laughing!)

Cheers
S

p.s : Broccoli costs 75Rs/kg at the supermarket near my place:-D

November 02, 2007 10:59 PM  
Blogger Sudhindra said...

You can come home for breakfast/lunch/dinner anytime. Menu will be
Beetroot chutney
Radish sambhar
Majjige Huli(Karnataka's version of Kaalan I think)
Palak Paneer
Some salad with lots of broccoli in it

I yam loving it :D

November 03, 2007 11:10 AM  
Blogger Preeth said...

@penguin -> I shall drop in. But will you cook me something else as well?

@Laxman -> :)

@S -> Hehe.I know you got blasted for spending week long grocery budget on quarter kg broccoli. serves you right :)

@AIthal -> Now this is when I get the feeling that I have more foes than friends.

November 03, 2007 12:04 PM  
Blogger Bikerdude said...

Kindly not to be missing:

(1) Kovakka (Thondekai) or gherkin: Looks exactly like a cockroach turned over when sliced longitudinally

(2) Podlanga (Snake gourd):
Bleh.

(3) Sorekai (ghastly unnameable squash) : Glargh. Ubbbbb.

(4) Heerekai (ghastly unnameable squash with ridges on it): Perfect for a klingon death ceremony dinner.

(5) Seeme badnekai (or chou-chou): Go back to mauritius, you horrendous gnarled lurid green thing.

November 04, 2007 11:45 PM  
Anonymous A Passerby said...

How about a post on veggies that you do like...

Else the next time you sit down for a finger licking mallu sadhya the olan's, elisherry's and aviyals of the world will cry out for justice!

Your blogs make a good read.

November 06, 2007 10:43 PM  
Blogger Preeth said...

@Bikerdude -> lol. very true bredher. The seeme badnekai was the killer :)

@a passer by -> I like random passer by dropping nice comments like that. Please pass by more often :) But tell you what, somehow, the ona sadhya is an exception to the rule. I even go ravenous about cabbage thoran during the sadhya. But the kaalan nevertheless is let alone.

November 07, 2007 2:21 PM  

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