Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spicy Drumstick stir fry

While addiction to fast food is considered bad and most everyone knows about it, there is one kind of addiction that is hard to detect - the kind me and my family are in the grips of. A habit that is 8 years and counting is got to be serious right? Yes! we are incurably addicted to 24, yes the very same mind numbing Jack Bauer show. Interesting this season, Anil Kapoor stars(the actor who acted as the quiz master in Slumdog millionaire, did not watch the movie then never mind, no worries). He acts pretty good actually, speaks well, acts well and does not hurt the eye, what more can one ask? Any other 24 fans addicts out there?

Addiction to TV watching or fast food is not half as bad as our government's addiction and promotion of GM seeds and crops it seems.

Dawn Sky - Picture by DD

The more I find out about GM seeds the scarier it gets. More than scary it is this uncomfortable feeling that there is more to know than anybody is letting on. Are you ready to learn a bit more about Seed Diversity?

Why is seed diversity important?
Seed diversity is as important to the survival of the human species as water and air. The diversity is what allows for natural selection that helps plant to survive extreme weather conditions like drought, pests and diseases.

Take corn for example there used to long, short, blue, yellow, white, spotted but today we are left with a very few similar tasting and most possibly in the US at least a GM variety of corn.

"Look at this beauty!" he exclaims. "Some are good for starch, some for popcorn. Some grow in the cold. Some are good fried, some broiled. The taste for each is completely different.

"Diversity is what makes us happy, gives us choice and keeps us free. And it's tragic because this is what we are losing."

Says Esquinas, a top official at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, has spent decades campaigning to preserve plants that are used for food, which are becoming extinct at an alarming rate.

More and more acres of land under large scale farming are dependent on a single type of genetically engineered seed with predictable yields but making them extremely susceptible to diseases which can wipe them out in one fell swoop. In, 1970 half of all the corn crop in the southern US was destroyed by a fungus because they were all grown from one seed type. Loss of entire food crops to a single disease or calamity, thereby putting a very large percentage of the world population to the risks of food insecurity is a very real possibility.

The green revolution of the 20th century and introduction of large scale, mechanized agricultural practices which depend on a very few but high yielding seed varieties which require liberal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have seriously put crop diversity in jeopardy. Repeated application of chemical enhancers, damages the soil and require even larger quantities of those chemicals for comparable yields.

GM and small farmers
Seed companies like Monsanto has been convincing everyone that GM and bio engineered are the way to feed the millions. But the harm they have done to small farmers in this country as well as farmers in poor countries is criminal.

When GM seeds are introduced into the farmlands in a country, it is big profits for a company like Monsanto which sells those seeds. Thugs are on the payroll to enforce patents. Pollination does not respect boundaries or patents, so when cross pollination between the GM seeds takes place with non-GM seeds, Monsanto has rights to demand patent violation. If this is not fucked up what else is?

These very same companies go to great lengths to explain how a tomato with an animal gene would not make it unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans. You have to take their word for it.

What is the difference between GM and BT?
You would not use GM to describe modified fruit and vegetable seeds but you would call hem BT as they are not genetically modified, instead the required traits are accomplished through breeding technology. Biotechnology is utilized to manipulate/improve the seeds at the gene level by introducing desired characteristics to the vegetable or fruit.

Unlike GM seeds, BT fruits and vegetables are still not very common. Even if there were we wouldn't know. There is no labeling requirement for either GM seeds or BT vegetables here in the US or in India, while labeling is required in the European Union.

Thanks Sra for this link, Monsanto announces plans for BT Brinjal that tastes like chicken Why not introduce some chili characteristics into the mix and make ourselves some chili chicken brinjal? While this is meant for laughs and is from fakenews (don't miss the related article), but it is no laughing matter.

Just after the whistle was removed from the cooker

What have governments done to control GM food?
Nothing. Short term goals always override long term objectives.

Governments be it a democracy or whatever is run by people and hence susceptible to big money. In India it is direct bribes, in the US it campaign donations which makes these companies bulldoze and pave way for regulations that make it legal for these patented GM seeds to make their way into the marketplace.

GM seeds are not new, they have been around since the 1970s, it is only now that we as consumers are even paying any situation to them.

Take for example the recent introduction of Bt Brinjal in India. The government found manipulated data to clear these seeds. It was left to activists and small farmers to agitate against its introduction.

Terming the approval of genetically modified brinjal in open market as the 'biggest disaster to hit the country after independence', PM Bhargava, who is the founder director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, said, "This release is nothing but a fallout of a nexus between the politicians, bureaucrats, MNCs and the US. The policy being chased is to become a satellite of the US."

Read the press statement from Navadanya founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva.

Threats due to loss of seed diversity
We all know the effects of inbreeding in humans, namely genetic defects due to shared common ancestry leading to increased mortality and morbidity. The shared ancestry amplifies negative traits caused by recessive genes.

It is same in the plant world as well, the vast majority of the seeds get extinct leaving only a very variety of seeds whose genetic characteristics are not enough to protect the plant from pests, diseases and adverse climatic conditions.

  • 75% of genetic diversity in agricultural plants has been lost in the last 100 years.

  • Farmers are increasingly at the mercy of big bio-tech companies from whom they have to buy seeds year after year.

  • Contamination of organic seeds by GM(lets equate them to alien)seeds and would make it impossible for GMO free crops to exist if not already.

  • Loss of small farmers and breeders who tend to grow traditional crops and the increasing reach of agro big business has directly contributed to the loss of biodiversity.

  • Traditional knowledge and seed saving techniques will be lost only exacerbating the already threatened seed diversity.

  • References
    Organic Agriculture and Seed Diversity

    Drumstick poriyal (stir fry)

    What can citizens do?
    Dr. Vandana Shiva is the leading voice in India in the fight to maintain bio diversity. She has single handedly kept the issues facing the environment, soil pollution, seed diversity in the conscious of Indians.

    Speaking in a protest in Copenhagen at the World climate summit,
    “It Is Time for the US to Stop Seeing Itself as a Donor and Recognizing Itself as a Polluter, a Polluter who Must Pay”

    Here in the US people like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters and several others have done a lot to keep the issue of food and how it is produced in the news. These issues have the misfortune of being portrayed as a yuppy feel good issue which is further from the truth. The back room deals made in smoke filled rooms between legislators, lobbyists and industry representatives affects the food supply and security of countries directly. More than oil, terrorism, health care - this should be an issue foremost on people's minds.

    While we are all worried about Haiti, lets not forget that US had a direct hand in the overcrowding of Port-Au-Prince. The US government pressured the already unstable Haitian government in accepting subsidized low cost food grains. The end result the local farmers could not compete and had to abandon their farms and move to the city to look for jobs.

    NAFTA did the same to Mexican farmers, subsidized corn robbed several farmers of their livelihood making them cross the border to work as illegal workers in farms in the US.

    If you had ever thought why vegetables have no taste but look beautiful, keep that thought and read this page. Being aware is the least we can do. These companies are rich and powerful but the politicians are dependent on our votes to get elected. Let use that power effectively.

    Award time
    Sayantani of a Homemaker's Diary passed on the Kreativ blogger award. Thank you. The election of a Republican in the almost one party state of Massachusetts it is politics that is on my mind. I will share the 7 facts in the next post, in the fear of making this one really long.

    Sra is talking about rasam and staple foods in this post. It brought to mind my food habits, for while now in the interest of eschewing rice I had forgotten my roots. The uppu paruppu, puli kuzhambu and poriyal that I grew up with was given a short shrift. Not anymore, the defect got rectified almost immediately. I set about making paruppu, rasam and poriyal and was thoroughly enjoyed.

    Drumsticks from the time I had known have always been a favorite. It is a rare occasion that we get fresh ones but the frozen ones we get in the store have filled that hole nicely. I use pressure cooker which ensures the drumsticks are evenly cooked.

    Simply the best - pachai paruppu (split moong dal), rice, moong dal rasam and drumstick stir fry

    Spicy drumstick fry
    1. 2 Cups of cut drumsticks
    2. 1/2 cup red onion chopped (if you have small onions they are the best)
    3. 1/2 cup cut tomatoes
    4. 5 cloves garlic sliced
    5. 1/2 tbsp sambhar powder (2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp coriander powder + 1/2 tsp cumin powder)
    6. a handful of chopped coriander leaves
    7. seasoning: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves

    1. In a pressure pan, heat a bit of oil and add the seasonings. When mustard seeds starts to pop add the onions and saute till translucent.
    2. Now add the garlic and saute for a minute followed by the sambhar powder.
    3. Add the tomatoes and salt and saute till the tomatoes are mushy.
    4. Add the drumsticks, 2-3 tbsp of water, coriander leaves, close the lid and let cook for 2 whistles.
    5. When cool open the lid and let cook for a few more minutes if there is moisture.


    if cooking on stove top, add water, close the lid and cook till the drumsticks are soft and cooked through (about 15-20 minutes)

    The drumstick was enjoyed with some pacahai paruppu(yellow split moong dal) and moong dal rasam rice.


    1. Pics are way too tempting.. love drumsticks..

    2. Murungaikai fry looks yummy ISG..A change from sambar or vathakozhambu..Will try for sure..

      Sukku, Milagu, thipili are the awesome trios, what you said is very true, sukkuku minjina vaithiyam illai.

      No comments on your organic seeds, farming and the article you wrote. Just going to read it and remember it. I should listen when I should so will do that when you write.

    3. Me first here today? I have been very slow in surfing this morning, Trisha and my nephew in Mysore caught me in chat at the same time and wouldn't let me go until I ran away! :D

      I DVRed 24. I loved the way Anil Kappor looks and acts in there but i must say he speaks with some weird accent, didn't understand many sentences in 24 until I rewinded it. When he had a interview with morning TV on NBC, he spoke perfectly well as he speaks in India. I am proud of him, they say this character was offered to many others and he got it in the end. good for him. I say bring his pretty daughter too to Hollywood, she is excellent in looks and acting.

      LOL @ "tasting like chicken". wonder what pure vegetarians think of that concept and taste!

      Drumsticks are my fave in Sambhar, never made Porial with those. Looks delicious with thick sauce.

    4. Drumstick curry looks spicy and yumm!

    5. I am not a fan of 24 could be that as i have only seen few episode, what we all love here at home is House MD, we are crazy for hime .
      Drumstick curry looks so like the one mom makes. Delicious.

    6. The curry looks delicious, Indo!One of my friends served the same/similar drumstick curry when we went to her house last month.We usually don't make curry out of it, its just in Sambar but this was truly tasty..I will try it out

      And 24!I am a big big fan of that.I also agree that Anil Kapoor is actually acting well.Although all the seasons are pretty intense,I think the first 2 seasons were definitely gripping than the rest.But yes, its a great show and I believe this year is the last season..Is that true?

    7. Indo, I'm very indignant that the government here is not committing itself to labelling GM/BT - my argument is, if you're claiming to do justice by all, why hide the fact - but of course, providing people with choices can be harmful, can't it? Even with all the modcons we live, a generation hasn't lived a lifetime through their use, so how can we say anything about how safe or unsafe they are - we just decide we can or cannot live without them and live with that choice, who knows?
      As for Asha's question about how vegetarians feel, let me tell you - in school in our town, you would stick out a mile and be whispered about if you brought non-veg food in your lunch box, but this was also the time paneer and mushrooms and soya nuggests were making inroads, and many vegetarians would excitedly say, "Oh, I believe non-veg tastes just like this!"

    8. I watch LOTS of TV but for some reason 24 is one show I have not seen a single episode of, but when I spotted Anil Kapoor while channel surfing, I did linger for a few minutes to watch a couple of scenes. Good for him!

      About GM, yes it scares me the way they bulldoze farmers, genetic diversity, food safety all in one fell swoop.

    9. Informative post of GM seeds. "chili chicken brinjal" sounds interesting!

      Scrumptious spicy drumsticks!

    10. hmm..24 is back in the news. i saw the first two seasons and now saw it just for Akapoor! its all the same though.:)the story lines, the acting..
      first time i am seeing so worked up.

    11. sorry, my previous comment got sent midway. don't these modified veggies taste yucky? soon, the food back home which tasted so good naturally will be taken over too.

    12. The drumsticks look yummy and nnow I cant wait to try this version after having tried drumsticks in all possible Iyer versions.

    13. The drumstick stir fry looks yummy. I cant wait to try this version after having tried all possible Iyer versions of it.

    14. Uh oh not a fan, never even knew about it ;-) until last Sunday, and then couldn't watch it

      Back home we make Drumsticks with potatoes and brinjal in a dry sabzi but that tastes best with the tender ones. The frozen ones I get here are a far cry from those slender things

    15. Very informative post, as always. GM scares me a lot.. particularly the fact that we don't have enough data on it to really know if there are side-effects or not. Its still too early to say IMO. What GM seeds manufacturing companies suing farmers is sad seeing as in a way you can say that nature/art of pollination is what is violating the GM patents, not the farmers.. I guess the question boils down to this big conundrum: is life patentable?

      Anyway, I have managed to stay away from 24 so far.. I know its very addictive! Drumstick frys look great!

    16. sounds good cant wait to try it

    17. Drumstick fry is lovely. Thanks for the lovely photo by DD! It looks serene! The plate of food looks a hearty kind which we eat everday and soul satisfying! We used to add a bunch of sliced brinjals (ennayil vathaki podanum) to this! They make a great combo with a rasam!

    18. I love love love drumsticks - in sambar and with baby brinjals is how I make it usually. This is even better - nothing to compete with! :)

      BT Brinjal is a travesty of free choice! Its literally going to be shoved down our throat!

      If you want to have say - please please do send your your full name, organisational affiliation or occupation/specialisation, city/town/village to


    19. Oh Indo those are some very scary statistics. all we think of these days is to do our bit to save the earth and make it greener but we never thought of these GM seeds. Thanks for reminding our responsibilities as voters.

    20. ISG, quick Q, leave it if you did't watch SM. But try the book Q and A. which is the movie's base..The book has many more stories and believable links compared to the movie..

      Im for sure gonna make this and eat it with rasam :)

    21. Delicious drumsticks. i seriously need to make some. DD1 LOVES it and takes hours eating the seeds and the outsides separately. I need to get the frozen ones. never get good slim fresh ones.

    22. wow..never tried frying drum sticks..looks very spicy..have alwasys used drumsticks in dals and sambhars.

    23. I'm drooling over it.... It must be the chatpata kind.... That makes the formality of lunch fun filled..... & look forward to kind.... The plate looks very inviting.... Saving this for my drum-sticks too....


    24. Drumsticks... oh my heart, be still.

    25. What to do ISG, cooking on our own, we gave up eating good healthy ones and listened to the taste that tongue demands..Can't remember the last time I made bitter gourd or sundaikai..Only aloo, seppen kizhangu, fried plantain chips :)

    26. I made this about 10 days back and it was wonerful!! I was looking for some way to incorporate this veg. into a meal. Thanks!!


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