My Days of Naan and Rices

It's a supreme compliment when a meat-loving husband says "you know, Indian may be the one cuisine that when you're eating it, you don't miss the meat." It happened to us as it has for so many. We met, we fell in love and food was a integral part of our story. Still is. We are the stereotypical couple that plans the next meal while consuming the current one. We get very excited by new food finds, whether it's Patel Brothers Indian market on Route 9 in Shrewsbury (forgive the iPhone pics, this one from moving car)



I had a blast going aisle by aisle looking at ingredients, wondering what the English name for this or that vegetable might be, and of course the Wall o' Dal was too hard to resist! wall_o_dal


With amazing self-restraint we came home with Curry leaves, green papaya, Indian cucumbers, fresh mint leaves, tamarind concentrate, masoor dal (the beautiful salmon colored lentils in the photo), Kabuli chana dal (chick peas) and toor (pigeon peas). I'm positively addicted to curry leaves - they're essential in my opinion for a fragrant, nutty nuance in curries that cannot be achieved without them. papaya_left_close green papaya, cucumbers (I think they're what we sometimes see as "Armenian" or "Persian" cukes in other stores),  mint in background and my beloved curry leaves in foreground)

I have written about my growing love for and confidence with Indian cuisine, thanks in large part to Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries (see, Cooking with Ghee and Gratitude). This book has helped us write a new chapter in our food history. We've added a few new dishes including this wonderful naan to our rotations. As our cholesterol and triglycerides begin to tick upward and our waistlines, outward, I am trying to find satisfying ways to incorporate less meat-centric meals. I'm sure to be relying on Raghavan's guidance through this book.

Another book which is due out soon is available on pre-order now at Amazon the indefatigable Kim O'Donnel has written the newly re-titled: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook (Da Capo Press). Having met Kim a year ago at IACP and followed her progress from WaPo to True/Slant and now soon-to-be published book author - I've been very grateful to have her guidance and support in my own quest to be published. I can tell you, we have lots to look forward to in this book.

Here's my green papaya salad which is more Thai or Vietnamese than it is Indian, but it pairs well with Indian dishes. green_papaya_salad


Another chapter opens with me trying to introduce other grains into our diet. White rice is something we both love and we have our comfort-food associations with "our" rice. We've had mixed success. Some really fine brown basmati rice worked well with curry. Pedal-powered, coarse ground polenta (technically not a grain, I know but used as one). Barley was a big hit. Millet, enh. Researching for a post on the Spoonful of Ginger benefit for the Asian American Diabetes Initiative of the Joslin Diabetes Center, I found even more reason to improve our diet.

  • Asian Americans are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as the general population—approximately 10 percent of all Asian Americans have diabetes and even more remain undiagnosed.
  • The rate of diabetes in Chinese Americans is notably higher than the rate in the Chinese population living in rural China.
  • Likewise, studies show that rates of diabetes are higher in Japanese Americans living in the U.S. compared to Japanese living in Japan, pointing to environment and lifestyle as an important contributing factor.
  • On the other hand, second and third generation Japanese Americans, who are well acculturated in the mainstream American lifestyle, still have higher diabetes rates compared with Caucasians, suggesting a strong role of genetics in the development of diabetes.

Read more about the Asian American Diabetes Initiative An Ounce of Prevention and a Spoonful of Ginger.

One of the fun discoveries of late is how wonderful and easy homemade naan is. See how, at Naan the Wiser - Master Indian Flatbread at Home. In this recipe, I subbed in about a half cup of wheat flour for white. It's a small step but lots of small steps add up. Plus, our Indian meals are full of good soluble fiber and much less if any, saturated animal fats. naan_in_bowl


More soon on the Spoonful of Ginger, bop over to Suite101 and see how the Naan thing goes. Check out Patel Brothers for Indian groceries and produce and start adding a few delicious, saucy curries, some naan, and maybe some brown rice into the mix. Remember, in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. Improving our diet, joyfully and deliciously, I'm shooting for both!