Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saapida Vaanga - Indian cooking has meaning!!

நம்ம விநாயகரை மற்ற நாட்டுல என்ன பேருல வணங்கறாங்க தெரியுமா??பாருங்க இங்கே!!

Coming back to the topic how did people in yester years take care that they are not affected too much by diseases and defects and why not us? Please take a while to go through Indian angel's post which neatly talks about all the factors (pollution. genetic make up, excess work load, poor mind and body) that make us stay unhealthy. Definitely, these play a vital role!!

Well, the most important thing we forget is 'We lack the knowledge of health science - in simple words, we do not know what is good for our body and what/ when it has to be eaten to stay healthy and how to get/cook them etc." All we learn as science (biology) in high school is just physiology, agriculture, vitamins/ minerals that we should have etc. Its all based on english medicine. Lets talk about this after a while!!

Makkale, Have you observed how our parents/grandparents used to decide the receipes everyday at home. They had a norm for cooking and consuming... I think they can all fit into 2 broader categories (classified as per my thoughts).
1. The norm of 'when to use what' ( I wish to call it as Time)
2. The norm of 'how/ how much to use' (
Let's call it as Balance). If you think there can be another category, feel free to classify and discuss. Let us see with examples:

1. Time : If its a no moon day/ Dwadasi/ Ekadesi - specific vegetables / grains / pulses are cooked and some are specifically avoided. They are based on astronomical calculations and health deteriorating factors predetermined by our ancestors. Another example as Vasudevan rightly pointed out in his comments in the previous post " Pregnent women were on a diet consisting predominantly of pepper for the first three post-natal months because pepper is proven to stimulate milk production and de-toxifying the blood stream "

2. Balance: Infact, variety food is cooked in a way that we dont have too much of anything. When we have dal (protein) today, tomorrow we will have less dal and more of vegetables (minerals).Once in a week, we will have pepper rasam, bittergourd curry, Vepam poo, Manathakaali, Sundaikkai and things so that if 'some thing' bad (let us discuss that something later!!) has accumlated too much over a period in our body causing harm, such receipes can antagonize the effect of that 'some thing' (that causes gas/ heat/ stress etc) that is in excess in our body .We might not even know what is that something but our body is taken care by just those recipes that had llots of herbs !!!

Taking up Vasudevan's examples again "The food for festivals was designed taking into account the climatic conditions and the energy needs; Neer more & Paanagam for Raama Navami to cool the body off in the scorching summer while the latter half of the year when it was wet/cold, there were oily items like seedai/thattai for Krishna Jayanthi "

Also, there are eating habits designed to serve a specific purpose.. When I sit to eat a full course meal at home (with paruppu sadam, sambhar sadam, rasam sadham and thayir sadham in the order), I actually would pester my mom to add some curd when I eat parupuu sadam (weirda???). She used to refuse and I used to question why not??. She never knew the reason why I should not have but she will say " apdi saapdardhu illa maa..vendaame" . Later (at lexington), I found from my Jain roommate that it is religiously wrong to mix curd with dal and also in ayurveda (she is a doctor) it is not alllowed it seems.. So there is a meaning and purpose even in maintaining the eating order and in making combinations !!

The knowledge of health science was passed through within families (wondering from where???!!) and it remained okay (with a minimal loss) till last century and now it has deteriorated at a higher pace!! Grandmas and grandpas (or a generation before that) not only knew the concept of time and balance (my terminology to refer the health science) but they also knew 'what the food does to the body and what the body does to the food'. In pharmacy, we call them as Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics respectively w.r.t drugs. But our parents just knew the concept of time and balance and not the etiology related to its actions. We ????? Yeh sad to say.. we don't even know the health science to the extent to follow it blindly!!!

Thanks for patiently reading such a long post...Let us see what is that ' something' , & 'from where' in the next post and further more on how we know these things etc... !!!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saapida Vaanga- Why to cook?

அடுத்த கேள்விக்கட்டு இங்கே!!

Hey all,

We have been toiling ourselves just by cooking. If somebody cooks as nice as like home made food why do I have to cook?? Just buy!!” “We can be more productive in other things by saving this time instead of just cooking everyday” We would definitely tend to think on these lines!!!! Some of us may even feel “Food is to fill our stomach and appease our hunger and taste buds !! I have so much to do in life!!! ” One of my dear friends sighs 'Nalla poshaakaa samachu saapdu!!!’ when he sees me soaking chana and making sundal / chole instead of using a canned one.

Makkale, when we think of how things are in India, we can see that our moms spend 60% of their time in cooking and they take care that we eat fresh, good and healthy food. You may feel ' Poor lady, she always stayed at kitchen. Never she thought that its not my job and its boring etc'. Agreed.!!! Its her greatness!!! Though she has many other things to do, she did prioritize cooking and that was not doing something foolish!!! After all, she has had the greatest responsibility of taking care of our health. .. man!! Trying to put ourselves into her shoes….Any diarrhoea..any cramps.. any health issue in the family - her conscience must have been disturbed…Its so much of a responsibility. In fact, she willingly accepted it. I admire her sense of responsibility at home. Infact, she has been socially responsible as well!! Wondering why I say this?? ..

Read ahead!!!

Makkale, we are all health concerned...We have bothered to be diet conscious… We work out and try to stay fit…Some of us eat more natural,uncooked stuff. We regularly check up our body. We take lots of extra vitamins, minerals and proteins as pills. We think 'all we can do is this’ and if something else happen to us, it’s unavoidable. But we are NOT doing the basic thing.... we never bother to get to learn the science of having good health by wise cooking from our own family members/ ancestors. Infact, it makes perfect sense to learn this from our own family ancestors as every family has its own food habits which are created/designed to suit their genetic make up!!

Our mom and grandmoms not only satisfied our taste buds but also gave us a well balanced, nutritious food!! Knowingly or unknowlingly they prioritized cooking and thereby paid attention to their family’s health. Kudos to their sense of responsibility (and of course, their care and patience) that has given us a decent health !!

People... We can't assume that our or the next generation will be as healthy as our parents and grand parents!!! The PRIMARY THING THAT DETERMINES OUR HEALTH IS THE FOOD THAT WE EAT!!! Other factors like pollution, exercises, usage of modern gadgets and things are secondary. I think the responsibility of producing healthy individuals to the society has drastically deteriorated in the last 15 years. People are born with all symptoms/ deficiencies right from the childhood!! What is the point in giving birth to a baby which has a deficiency right from childhood ?(which remains unknown for years).. We need to have good health to give the same to our children !! Its a joint effort to be responsible.. Indeed when our priorities are not food, we tend to be socially irresponsible in producing healthy individuals.

Let me tell you why I wished to talk about this food stuff!!! I started feeling that many of us do not take food as a serious issue now a days. I totally neglected to care about what I ate for a few months when I was in trouble with my research and lab . Infact, many people do it as they think something else is always in priority than thinking about what they eat... What are people trying to achieve by prioritising some thing else ALWAYS and not paying attention to health in the right way (through food) which is the basic thing???!!

We discover lots and lots of new diseases/ syndromes and we also try to identify a drug for it - naturally or synthetically. Irkardha vittutu parakardha pidikarom!! Science buisness!!!
If we look at any of these diseases (say like cancer/diabetes..anything..), they come from constant deficiency/ excess of a specific protein/vitamin/mineral which is due to lack of balanced diet !! And being a pharmacist, I tell you, none of these external supplements will have an effect on us for more than 5%. Beware!!! Research is just re- search. There are so many other factors that are essential to have a good health that remain undiscovered through modern science

How were these be taken care by our ancestors ? Why there are many diseases cropping up only now?? Why not in olden days? What can WE do about it?? We shall discuss that in the next post!!! Please feel free to share your opinions here !!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Saapida Vaanga - Do you know to cook??

யாரின் பிரியம் எதில்??? இங்கே பார்க்கவும்!!

Hey all,

It has been a while and here I am to continue our talk on cooking !!! I will try my best to post more frequently than before to keep the topic lively and in continuity !!

Do you know to cook??

Wondering why am I asking this?? If you ask this question to a 25 yr old girl a decade ago in India, she would look be like “what??? Of course, I do” or perhaps, she might get offended.
But, now, this question is perfectly acceptable and most of the times you would hear ‘I am learning!! ’.

Listen!!! There are many new girls out here from India for doing Masters…Oh my Goodness!!! I was shocked to hear things happening at their girl is so scared of the cooker whistle noise that she runs and stands near the bed room door while cooking rice. Another is like ' Do I have to use the gasket always while using the cooker?' and the other girl asks ' At what time point, I have to use the whistle?'.

There is an area called kitchen at home which was just occasionally visited by young girls at their homes back in India. Man,,,, girls will have to look for a place called "kitchen" using 'google maps' in the future :)-

While the scenario of modern girls’ knowledge about cooking is not too good, let’s try to think of how the guys were - a generation before!!!. In general, knowing to cook was not within every guy. I don’t think my father knows anything other than just boiling milk. But, now, guys coming abroad are much better. They cook as good as any other girl out here. Guys back at home seems to have improved little more than the previous generation, though not too much,as still, moms are too nice to them. It looks like they help out the family members by cleaning utensils, doing some shopping etc. Still many guys don't know the difference between 'chily and green chilies' or 'fenugreek and cumin seeds' !!!

Makkale! let's look at the various aspects of the question ‘Why to cook?’ in the next post - the question that seems to appear stupid or silly!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Oatmeal in ilupachati !!

சிவபெருமானின் நடனத்தை எண்ணி மகிழ்வீர்களா?? !!அவர் எதற்காக எந்த நடனம் எங்கு ஆடினார் எனறு தெரிந்து கொள்ள விரும்புவீர்களா?? இல்லை, உங்கள் ஊரின் அருகே தான் என்ன தாண்டவம் ஆடினார் என்று தெரிந்து கொள்ள இச்சையா?? இங்கே பார்க்கவும்!!

Finally... I have got internet connection at this new place..Will continue on writing about food very soon!!

Wondering why is this title? U know what???!!!! This is how I had my breakfast. As I have recently landed down at El Paso, I dont have much utensils and no microwave as well. I am cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner with just the 2 utensils I have ..Thats why..

But the title is not just for my breakfast. I see that its also the way people live here. 99%of the people are mexicans who share a very similar culture and food habits like indians. But as they are in U.S they have the previlege of enjoying modern things which they have incorporated in their culture...

Things I see here but not at other U.S cities :

Rocky stony mountains, Lizard, flame gas with no auto ignition, people next door come and borrow one vengayam/ one thakkali / one cup rice etc., many places/shops work on saturdays (half a day/ full day), corruptions, bargain in everything.

Still, they do all this with american comforts and way of life - now, do you get what is 'oatmeal in ilupachati' ?

One thing I am really liking here is their friendly nature. People are very friendly!! Anyways...
let me go for work !!!