My biggest gripe during the Chennai rains was that Jagan was away for the most part of it. I would have loved to see him unarmed, unplugged and unwired – without his phone, TV and laptop, forced to turn around and talk to fellow humans. Result: He just doesn’t seem as moved and emotional about the whole Chennai humanity outpouring situation.
Honestly, my feel-good quotient is wearing out too and I think it’s time for people to get back to work. Muggings of volunteers, harassment of women volunteers and looting of relief material surely means everything’s back to normal. Too much of a good thing never is good. I am a pathological cynic. That explains everything. “Feel-good’ers”, don’t crucify me for this.
Since we’ve all already imbibed the life lessons that the Chennai rains have taught us that ‘money doesn’t matter but people do’, and since I am a cynic, and since I am no good at feel-good, I’ll restrict myself to the small day-to-day lessons that I have learnt.
1.I have been postponing composting at home because I haven’t found the right bin. Un-pardonable, I know. I know I am responsible too for the garbage bags that clog the dump yards. It’s time for me to start segregating the waste at home, to compost. Here is a wonderful presentation on composting that my friend Ashwin shared a while back. I am starting this week.You should give it a try too.
2.I am going to carry my own water bottles everywhere. I just haven’t done this consistently enough. Read the story of the bottled water here.
3.Choose sustainable at every step. Choose wooden tops and handmade toys over battery powered ones, use jute bags for your grocery shopping, take a cloth bag everywhere you go – you never know when you’ll need to shop, walk more – drive less. I am no undercover agent of United nations environment programme. I know nothing about climate change. I am far from perfect. I just know we can make small changes in the everyday things we do. And yes, they matter.
4.Wasting food is criminal. Make smaller portions if unsure. Upcycle, get creative. I did just that with this carrot beetroot chutney. Beetroot poriyal is hugely infamous in our home and has never been finished in its history. So I roasted yesterday’s beetroot poriyal along with some grated carrot and coconut, with channa dal for added body and flavour and ground it into a pretty chutney for this morning’s idlis. You could grind up your left over cabbage poriyal or carrot poriyal the same way too. If you’re combing veggies just choose veggies that go well together. Nobody guessed. And the chutney was gone.
You need advice to tackle inquisitive questions about your upcycled chutney? Just don’t tell anyone if you think people will fuss. Lie if you’re good at it. Or act like you didn’t hear. Or ask them an uncomfortable question in return. With my kids, I ask if they realized school re-opens on Monday, if they shouldn’t be revising their alphabet and numbers. They scamper away. With the husband, I just start “Your mother.. “ and he’s gone too. With the mother-in-law, I am usually gone.
Reach out to me if you need further advice on evading questions.
Whole dry red chillies – 4-5 (4 if you like it medium hot, more if you’d like it hotter)
Coriander leaves with stem – a handful chopped
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp
For the Tadka
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 4-5
Asafoetida – a pinch (optional)
Heat a pan. When hot, add 1 tbsp oil. Add urad dal, channa dal, garlic cloves, ginger and whole dry red chillies. Fry for a minute or two. Squeeze out the juices from the grated carrot and beetroot and add the squeezed veggies to the pan. Sauté for 7-10 minutes on low to medium flame till the vegetables are quite dry.
Add the grated coconut and chopped coriander fry for a further 5 minutes on low to medium flame stirring often to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn till the mixture is nicely toasted. Add another tbsp of oil to help along the way.
Let mixture cool down. Transfer to a mixie jar, add salt and grind without any water till the mixture is coarsely ground. Add water little at a time and grind to the desired consistency. I ground it to a slightly coarse structure. Pour the ground chutney into a bowl.
For the tadka, use the same pan. Heat oil. When hot add the mustard seeds and let splutter. Then add the urad dal, curry leaves and asafoetida and switch off when the dal turns golden and the curry leaves are nearly crisp. Pour the tadka over the chutney, mix and serve alongside idli, dosai or upma.
By Jayanthi Padmanabhan
Food Better Be Good http://foodbetterbegood.net/
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