Monday, September 21, 2009
Here is what I cooked for dinner:-)
In stead of cooking meat, I decided to cook small round new potatoes with some of the spices tonight! I have been eating less meat these days... more I think and read about the meat and meant industry (not to mention the environmental damage to natural habitat) and all the chemicals in terms of hormones go in the meat production, I would like to less meat! But that does not mean I am a vegetarian or I will be a vegetarian in near future! In fact, in some ways we are lucky that there are good all the hormone free grass fed, free ranging organic pasture raised meat is available commercially in the market... I mean in alternative grocery stores such Whole Foods or some of your local food co-ops. However, given the economy in our household these days, I cannot afford to eat or buy those meat products regularly any more! Irony is that I cannot even go to a regular grocery store and buy meat, fish or any other animal products or even any produce! Now, some of you may argue about the chemicals that are sprayed on the plants or use in the soil as fertilizer for plants... what about those bad ones! It is true commercial production of crop has made us to alter the crop growth in many ways! In some parts of India they even soak the vegetables in colored water for the artificially bright looks! I bought moong dal from Indian store recently with extra yellow colors! It is the alternative of adding wax on the fruits and vegetables or food irradiation for longer shelf life in the grocery stores of 40 plus countries! It is probably worse because the toxic chemicals of the inedible colors are not known and there is no regulations by any authority like FDA! sure the crop production cause major damage to the local environment, changes soil composition, water level in the area and air pollution due to all the chemical spray in large commercial mechanized fields! So what is the alternative? Are there any? I guess, if you are are living in high density urban landscape in high rise buildings there are very little options for you! But if you are in a suburban landscape with some land around you...yes, you can! But it takes more effort and time to find fresh produce or grow them. Here in California and most part of USA, you can buy fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmer's market or local small grocery stores that may keep local produce! You can also produce your own some vegetables at home even if you have just a small piece of land! It is not difficult to do edible landscaping especially if you own your own house! We have done some backyard gardening in the last couple of years in our house and if I had an option in this rental property I would get rid of all the back and front yard grasses and try to grow my own food!!
Well, in effort to eat and cook more vegetables, I tried going to the local grocery stores and tried to buy fresh asian vegetables, but got out with out buying anything! Here goes my so called yuppie/ hippie lifestyle...as some of my friends would say! I just could not buy those nice, clean, glossy wax covered vegetables and fruits. However, eating healthy is perhaps the most important thing in our life (more than wearing fancy clothes or buying a nice big house)!! We used to be part of a local CSA where you could get organically produces greens and vegetables once a week! After doing that for four years, I got tired of eating only lettuce, various roots and other local faram produce of European origin! I decided to stop that for while and buy Asian vegetables that are organically grown! I know people in this country or in India who like to lead a luxurious life by fulfilling their dreams of buying a big house, more than two cars and of course fancy clothes... however, they would shop for food as cheap as possible! They do not bother to read the label of food they buy or chemical content like high fructose corn syrup ( in the US) or hydrogenated fat or rBEST hormones in the milk! Then you wonder why do they have to worry about all the diseases related to diet!!! In fact, I recently noticed that food in the fast food restaurants are not really cheap... even in McDonald's a kid's meal cost you over $3 and the chemicals that are in there!!!!!!!!! Thankfully, our kids do not like to eat at McDonalds and therefore do not have to bargain with them about which fast food place to go!
So what are my options to buy vegetables that are not expensive but organic! I started going to local farmer's market in downtown Fresno where farmers from small farms come and sell there produce! After talking to them and also from friends, I got to which farmers do not use chemicals or spray any pesticides! For some farmers buying pesticides and fertilizers are difficult since they are expensive!
We made chapatis and ate those chapatis with aloo dom and dal! I love the smell of new potatoes with thin skin and simple dishes that do not take much effort! This reminded me of beginning of winter in India when you can get new potatoes and especially the small ones! They are like Rasogollas... you can eat one at a time!
Here is the recipe:
Small potatoes: I counted 30 of them in 1.5 lb bag
tomato: i medium/big size roma tomato
peas : optional I use frozen peas
onion: chopped 1/4 of an onion ( optional)
green chili: 1
kalonji seeds: 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tbsp
coriander-cumin powder mix - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Cilantro leaves: few sprigs
bay leaf: 1
salt: as you need
Boil the potatoes separately ( in pressure cooker for two whistle). Cool them if you want to peel the skin, I did not remove the skin. In wok, heat oil ( You can use a mixture of mustard and regular canola oil if you want). Add kalonji seeds and a green chili (slitted) when the oil is really hot. Add the chopped onion ( again optional) Add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander -cumin powder mix, salt and let it cooked a little. Add the potatoes now fry them for 5 minutes and add water. LEt it get cooked well for about 10 minutes. When the water is thick and leass (depends on if you want it dry) Garnish with chopeed cilantro and you are done! You can eat it with chapatis, rice or totillas!