APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH!

A WORLD OF SALADS FOR SUMMERTIME… famous salads are Russian salad, Greek Salad, German potato salad, Waldorf salad, American coleslaw salad, Lebanese tabbouleh salad, Malaysian gado gado and more, some are veg and fruit combo salads like the Malaysian rojak. Salads are a meals in a class of their own and rich in vits (vitamins), mins (minerals) and nutris (nutrients), make for ideal summer food!

BY TARA NARAYAN

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

DON’T know about you my dears but whoever it was who said April is the cruellest month was right! This April more than ever I feel like I’m living in a humidly hot mist of perspiration and thinking of all the khaas aadmi who live perennially from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned offices to air-conditioned restaurants, never mind that living in air-conditioning is bad news for eco-friendly lifestyles.
Wish the rest of us aam aadmi could at least depend on an naturally air-conditioned world of cool gardens of paradise with grand trees, flowers and fruits …er…the moment we step out of the house or home! Do you sometimes like me think that as our outsides become hotter our insides become more frigid in mind, body, heart and soul? By the way, “April is the cruellest month…” is the first line of American poet TS Eliot’s famous poem The Wasteland’ (April is apparently the cruellest month because it’s the annual deadline month for filing income tax in the USA). IT’S a long time since I visited the Panaji market but last week it was a scene to see with piles of mangoes overflowing with every fruit vendor — why are mangoes here in April??? Early mankurad is selling at300 kg! Afoos, badami are also around as is totapuri but I refuse to buy mangoes in April, I will wait for May till prices come down.
One fresh fruit I love to buy is the fresh dainty kokum but a woman vendor was offering me six of the green-tinged maroonish beauties for 20 and I said she could go fly a kite…(sigh)…these hot days of April nothing quenches thirst like a chilled glass of fresh kokum water. Just wash and quarter one or two kokum fruit and dunk in a glass of water or a jug of water and watch the water turn faintly aromatic pink, tastes mildly tartish sweet, redolent of roses…the more it soaks, the stronger it gets. Pour out, chill and sip on the rocks if you love. Absolutely thirst-quenching and to live for. Wish I had a kokum tree of mine though, I’d give the fruit away for free (but not for sale)! Coconut water, tender coconut water is going for40 now. Lots of love apples to be seen, greenish ivory or pinkish ivory. Watermelons, of course; and jamun and jamun juice which everybody sells you as an anti-diabetic juice… jackfruit, banana, pineapple, papaya, guava, oranges, sweet limes, etc. We have a real tropical fruit paradise and maybe one summer day’s meal should be just a fruit salad! Not that fruit is not starchy or carbohydrate rich…if you’re on the obese side the nutritional advice is to go easy on hogging fruit and even dry fruit, but I think it is wiser to eat fruit or go on a day’s fruit salad diet then to hog on oily, spicy, junkyard food in summertime.
As usual come summertime I’m obsessing about losing weight! I notice at Magson’s hymart (both at mall and Taleigao cold storage) they’re doing both veg and non-veg salads; Navtara too has an agreeable paneer or cottage cheese salad…for 80-100 one may pick up a salad. Navtara’s paneer salad is also packed with chunky tomato, cucumber, onion, capsicum and sometimes radish, wish they would also include fresh coconut cubes…ever thought of coconut cubes in a salad? It adds a wonderful milky sweetness, plus coconut is good for everything.
I relish most salads I buy but wish they wouldn’t come with the salt-black pepper-lemon juice mixed in, makes for a bit of mess while opening the parcel. Instead just pack a couple of wedges of lemon in pack and I’ll do the squeezing on my own at time of eating! The Magson’s packed salads are also very good and come with moong sprouts and pomegranate seeds, salad dressing is tucked in a little plastic pouch. So far I don’t know of any restaurant or eatery offering salad/soup combo lunch for the summer, why not? Almost everyone I know is hell bent on knocking off weight come summer time! Creativity in salad-soup combo meals is really hard to find.
AND it is true that when I start eating rice-wheat roti and fryum meals my knee arthritis acts up! This is because I cannot resist a sour-dough bread slice smothered in Amul butter sometimes on a hungry evening. Well, the race to knock off ten kilos is on this summer (it may or may not happen). One of my favourite reads come summer time for inspiration to turn over a new leaf — if I don’t want to kick the bucket any day soon — is Vithaldas Modi’s `Nature Cure for Common Diseases’ (Orient Paperbacks, very old print). Freedom fighter, philanthropist and naturopath Vithaldas Modi was one of the earliest to be alarmed by the monstrous influence and effect of industrialization of food in our eating habits and largely thanks to him I’m convinced that when it comes to healing systems Naturopathy (followed by Ayurveda) is the best vis-à-vis preventive healthcare…slow and steady and with fabulous side effects.
Alas, our AYUSH money is going down the drain because even in Goa at primary health level one may not go anywhere for gratis yoga and pranayama lessons and inputs of massage at nominal cost for aam aadmi. So where are all AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik’s funds going? In setting up institutions and research, basically nothing by way of practical gifts to aam aadmi at ground level…wish there were AYUSH centres attached to all gyms, where one could pop in for some yoga-pranayam workouts, rest and recreate with massage…in-house Ayurveda pharmacy, health conscious snacks and drinks available and so on! It will never happen, for that you need an aam aadmi vision.
To return to Vithaldas Modi I’d like to reiterate here that he was one of the country’s foremost pioneering naturopaths and for decades ran his famous Centre of Naturopathy in Gorakhpur in UP, since 1940…he also had a popular nature cure magazine Arogya. He’s gone with the wind now and I’m not sure if his centre is being run by his children, it’s called Arogya Mandir and run by a Dr Vimal Kumar Modi. Things must have changed a lot since senior Vithaldas Modi passed on.
In the good old days these Gandhian-minded naturopathy establishments doubled as sanitariums of the very best economical kind and ideal for summer time escapades from the heat to sort out chota mota health problems. Annually, friends caught up with each other’s stories during their naturopathic retreats while being massaged, doing a hip bath, or having a mud bath, or working out in a therapeutic pool. Meals were always spartan: May be breakfast of dalia porridge/fresh milk (not pasteurized), lunch of millet roti/colourful salads and chutneys/buttermilk, pat of white butter, knob of golden dark grated jaggery/honey, etc. Herbal tea whenever one felt like it. Fruit in plenty and occasionally someone would be going on a month-long grape diet to give body beautiful a holiday!
ON the subject of weight loss, says Vithaldas Modi in his bible of naturopathic cures, “Corpulence is like constipation: Just as waste accumulates in the gut, matters which should have been thrown out of the body tends to gather in the form of fat on the various organs. Skin being stretchable, fat accumulates in layers upon layers under the epidermis. One would agree that not to become fat is better than reducing when you have attained a certain degree of corpulence…the battle against obesity has to be fought with courage and fortitude. Weight could be reduced by fasting in a limited time but that is not always advisable. Sudden and total fasting may help the poison accumulated in the body to attack it. Fasting has to be gradual and controlled. The best course is to make fruit and boiled vegetables the mainstay of your diet. A diet of fruit and vegetables will give you the vitamins and the mineral salts for the sustenance of life, but would tend to reduce the amount of fat that has already been accumulating. The other method of reducing the fat is vigorous exercise. Foods tending towards acidity like meal, fish, eggs, refined flour, lentils, fats, polished rice, should be totally banned in the case of obesity. Whatever the patient eats should be bland, because seasoning and condiments tend make the food more palatable increasing the danger of over eating. The fruits recommended are oranges, pineapples, raspberry, tomatoes, apples, pears, papaya, musk melon and melon in that order. The vegetables should be greens of all type, cucumber, gourds. Tuberous edibles should be avoided. Only carrot may be taken with advantage. ”
He goes on, “After a fortnight of the diet prescribed above, the patient can be allowed to take whole meal bread, a pat of butter and milk. The first thing in the morning that the corpulent should take is a glass of water to which a lime has been added. Salads should be permitted provided that salad oil or eggs have not been added. The best reducing agent in the present author’s experience has been the juice of cucumber, gourd (bottle gourd — lauki) and tomatoes to which a lime and spoonful of honey has been added. In between meals, snacks should consist of cucumber and tomatoes in any quantity.”
Of course, the best season to start slimming in Indian and other tropical conditions is the summer “when a large variety of stresses help in the reduction of fat in the body. The appetite is reduced because heat makes you thirsty all the time. You take a little bit of food and are eager to slake your thirst. And then it is during summers that the body has a natural tendency to shed fat.”
All that, all that. Do it on your own or go look for a naturopathy establishment which is affordable. My resolution this summer is to lose enough to get back to my teenage weight of 55kg!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 + = 15