WEEKEND THOUGHTS # 14

CHAKRA

Namaskar,

In her unique style, the writer turns a seemingly uninteresting topic: "Food", into an interesting article. Hope everyone of you enjoys this nice little article.

On another note, I have always considered Oriyas to be among the most scientific people in the world. Let me tell you why. When the summer is terribly hot and the sun scorches up the earth, we have "Pakhala bhaata", "daahi", and "piyaja" to cool us and protect us from the heat. The fact that it makes us lazy and unproductive is a different issue altogether. The closest thing to this is the "curd rice" which South-Indians love. So after the Oriyas, the second most scientific people are our brothers and sisters from the southern part of our country. ;-)) Today even big multi-nationals are packaging our "Moodhi" as cereals and what better way to preserve fish for times of scarcity than drying it and adding salt, to make "sukhuaa"!!

Enjoy,


Bio-Data

Name              :  Chitralekha Hota
Profession        :  Software Engineer

Academics         :  +2 at Khallikote College,
                  :  B.E (Electronics and Electrical)
                     Birla Institute of Technology
                     and Science(BITS), Pilani (June 1992)
Married to        :  Rajiv Hota

FOOD...



'Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man' said Francis Bacon and the Duke of Sheffield used to say 'Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well'. I'm sure they never had me in mind when they postulated their theories, else I am sure these famous words would have definitely sounded different!! When I was asked to write for ORNET I just could'nt think of any appropriate, sensible topic to write about..

I was slowly chewing my food,rummaging through my minds database for a suitable theme over supper, exasperated I gave up. Then came an exclamation from my hubby..Food! that's it. I thought he'd gone berserk (with the heat!!) or there was something wrong with the food I had served!! Goodness! its the salt in the curry! Oh! no not again! (I thought!) while speaking out loud in an unassuming tone (which is my forte!) 'is something wrong with the food?'

Oh! no, 'I think I know just the thing you should pen', he said. 'You could write about food and food habits of people world over', he said triumphantly.

His penchant for food is so palpable I used to find it very heartening and amusing during the first few months of our marriage. He prides himself as a connoisseur of food, much to my chagrin, because, the more he appreciates good food the more imminent it is for me to enhance my culinary skills!!

In retrospect,it certainly is an interesting topic..considering food as an intrinsic part of every human life..an essential ingredient for sustainance..

Food is as varied and diverse as the assortments of culture across the globe. Call it 'Chow','Khana' or just plain food it still is the sweetest sounding word I know of especially, when I'm famished!!

Did you know, like physics or biology food has become a science by itself !!

Food Science and Food technology is the discipline in which biology, physical sciences, and engineering are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of their deterioration, and the principles underlying food processing.

Food varies because climatic conditions vary and nutritional needs are directly proportional to the climate. Only in India do we find that come hell or high water dal-roti-rice-curry is welcomed all year round, only the ingredient in the curry changes with the season!

Westerners are appalled by the amount we eat and the amount of importance we give to food! The trend is true all over India but is especially true for Orissa. Our world revolves round food. I cannot imagine life without the roasted and fried gastronomic delights. ('ArisA pittha', 'Kakara', 'manda' and 'magaj laddu' to be more specific!).

A cold meal would not entice even the hermits of India and I sometimes wonder how people in cold countries survive on cold meals!

Of the known cuisines, Indian in perhaps the most well appreciated. Its richness and variety beats others by far. Can you ever dream of eating boiled vegetables with a dash of salt and pepper when you can make lip-smacking vegetable Jal-frazie and mouth-watering Kadai vegetable, or plain old 'Santhula' out of it?

People feel its a waste to spend so much of one's valuable time in cooking or eating. I strongly disagree. In this world where everything is so uncertain and full of stress, a warm meal amidst family and friends is perhaps the panacea. It's a pity that most people don't find the time for this little luxury in today's busy world. Even as a child I used to speculate the menu for dinner and ask by mother, only to be told 'you will know when you eat'. It was a beautiful psychological trick, if I didn't know what's cooking, how could I decide whether it would be to my liking! That was Mother's way of ensuring we kids have a good appetite!! I sure will follow it for my kids!!

What Croissants are to french, Pasta to italians, Smore Brod to the Danes, Bacon and eggs to the English, Hot Dogs to the Yankees, Dal and Curry is to the Indians.

I am yet to meet a true Indian who doesn't relish home-cooked delicacies and doesn't savour Dal and Curry with gusto.

Science has proved it beyond doubt that in colder regions of the globe diet should include food rich in fat whereas in and around the tropics the food should be low on fat and oils, low on spices as they induce heat and rich in vitamins and minerals to compensate for fluid loss due to sweat and fatigue. Going by the little geography I had learnt in School, India should fall into the tropical category thereby rich, oily and spicy food should be a banned for us!! Well, going by standards of the average Indian this is definitely a far cry!! But, then who cares, Life is too short to be wasted on counting calories and nutrients. Going by Murphy's Third Law: 'Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong'so why worry'!

The traditional Oriya breakfast of "Chuda-Dahi-kadali", "chhatu" or "Muudi-Dahi-Guda" have now taken diverse forms as "Rice crispies", and cereals et al., packed delectably and marketed all over the globe!! The only food I can't find a parallel to is "Pakhal BhathA", Oriyas love it especially in summer but it certainly is a very embarrassing thing to offer a guest in any place other than in Orissa!!

I had a tough time explaining it to my Danish friend, I tried calling it "cold-rice-broth", served with yogurt, fried potatoes, Aubergines and deep fried fish!! It sounded very tempting and continental-ish to her and she wanted to try it!! I had warned her that the real taste comes only if you use your bare hands instead of spoons, as expected the main dish("cold-rice-broth") was a failure but the accompaniments (fish and chips!) were well appreciated!!

"Thick-lenthil soup with vegetables" a la "Dalma" was well appreciated by her. She found it to be a "complete meal" and it tasted great with toasted bread!! My mother would shiver at the thought of eating bread with "Dalma". It sure tastes good, you guys could sure give it a try!!

I think I could go on and on about the virtues of Indian cooking and food, do I see panic on the face of my readers.. Rest assured this is quite a mouthful!!!

Bon Appetit! Buon Appetito! L'tay Avon! Guten Appetit! Priyatnyi Appetit!


Review by Sujata Pradhan

A nice and delectably light (diet?) article. And it was further delightful to find an Indian woman as the author!

I am sure all the great men and MaharshIs in the world advised us to eat so that you can live. But life sure is a lot more palatable when you eat (not gorge - mind you) because you are alive!

I agree with the author when she says food is "an essential ingredient for sustenance". But I also think that a food, particularly Indian food, is also a lot about taste. And taste buds are one of the greatest gift of God to mankind. Just imagine the world had He decided to put a zipper in our stomach instead!

So I agree with the author. As long as we can keep the difference between a Glutton and a Connoisseur straight in our heads - we should enjoy this great gift of god instead of counting calories. Que sera sera. Heck, we have got only one, and as the author says - a very short, life to live!

And you have got to agree with her that nothing comes even close to titillating your taste buds the way Indian food does. I do not have to enumerate the particulars to you all, especially after this article.

Tearing myself away from the subject matter now, and moving on to style -- I will have to say - a very nicely composed, skillfully worded interesting article.


Your comments are always welcome...

Chitralekha Hota
Chitralekha Hota


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