One thing we were particular about was having a time and place for eating. Noshing throughout the day was uncommon.
That was the first thing that caught my eye when I first came to the US. I was very surprised that people ate all the time. While driving, they munched on not just easy to eat with one hand kind of foods but even foods like chicken wings. Compared to the stuff that people do while driving these days eating is probably is one of the least offenses anyway. One other eating habit that shocked me was the constant munching that people did while working. Jars of candies, cookies and pretzels(I hate those) jostled for space on the desk.
In India eating is a communal affair even at work. Let's say a packet of potato chips was opened, it most definitely would be shared with everyone on the team. (Have things changed now?)
On the other hand in the US eating food has no such restrictions. It mostly is a lonely affair which perhaps is what encourages indiscriminate eating. I have never seen a society that is so conflicted about food and looks for benefits in everything they eat but still ends up eating the worst kinds of foods.
Why did I suddenly have these deep thoughts about the eating culture of the two countries? Two reasons.
1. Mark Bittman's article Is Junk Food Really Cheaper made the point that social acceptance of eating anything anytime is another reason for the indiscriminate eating and the whole array of problems it brings about.
2. The news that the inventor of Doritos passed away. The invention that ushered the snack age. Marion Nestle calls Doritos as the prototypical junk food born out of no natural ingredients but an array of engineered ingredients. Read the article here. Doritos you will all agree is the ultimate loner snack. Mostly because it is hard to share as they are addictive. The main reason I do not buy Doritos. My kids fight over them :(
I have lived in the US for a long time now that I have also learned some of the bad habits regarding food and eating. I was a junk eater even in India. The difference being they were home made with whole grains and not engineered ingredients. So I just took to the junk eating culture like a fish to water. Me who hardly gained an extra ounce with all that eating in India suddenly found it that it was not all that hard to pack on the pounds.
Now on to the recipe,
Ridge gourd was one vegetable I was not particularly fond of back home. My attitudes towards a lot of foods have changed since leaving home. Ridge gourd has gone through that cycle and when cooked this way is a great side for dosais or idlis or even mixed with rice. Ridge gourd is not available all the time but Zucchinis believe it or not makes a good substitute. My mother made it once and now I am a big time convert.
1. 2 Zucchini diced
2. 1/2 onion chopped
3. 1 tomato diced (optional) 4. 4-5 green chilies
5. a pinch of cumin and 1/4 tsp pepper coarsely ground
6. seasoning: few mustard seeds and curry leaves
7. salt to taste
8. 1 tsp ghee
1. In a pressure cooker add the ghee and when hot add the seasonings. Add the onions and green chilies and saute till the onions are soft and translucent
2. Mix in the cumin - pepper powder. Add the tomatoes if using and saute for a few minutes till they soften.
3. Add the zucchini and salt , close the pressure cooker and let cook for 2 whistles. If cooking on a stove top sprinkle a bit of water (1 tbsp or so) and let it cook till it completely soft and falls apart.
4. Cool and mash with a back of spoon.
Goes well with idli or dosai or mixed in with rice.