EARLY MORNING PANAJI MARKET PAVEMENT SCENE-SCENARY: These last few hot steamy June days before the monsoon rain arrives there’s a flood of mangoes mancurad, alphonso, manghilar, malgoba, mussarad, kesar and many more, although we think the small wild mangoes called “ghotam” or “ghonttam” are a hot favourite with Goans for curry making, selling economically at Rs100 per dozen or less! (Inset) Piles of ghonttam mangoes to be seen currently everywhere. These days mango rice is a treat in many homes but few know that one may easily substitute rice with one of the little millets of foxtail, kodo, little and barnyard for better nutritional eating!
By Tara Narayan
HOPEFULLY, these are the last of the steamy summer and despite my efforts to boycott all kinds of cooked carbohydrates in my kitchen, I fail again and again. We vegetarians just consume too many refined carbohydrates regardless of whether they’re fried or processed to death – be it mostly white rice or white bread (these are of course industrially refined foods, although nowadays those in the know make an effort to eat ukda chaval (parboiled), local red rice or whatever rice they may get which is lightly manually refined and offers more flavour, bread too is either Goa’s traditional repertoire of morning breads…then I forget there is the black rice from the north-eastern states which is becoming popular with rice connoisseurs!
You cannot beat rice or bread for high glycemic carbohydrate eating and lack of fiber in the diet is one of the reasons contributing to premature or mature blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and the rest of the so called degenerative diseases ending in cancer, throw in one of the dementia afflictions where patients need caring with an attendant around all the time (except when it is time to go to catch some sleep).
Funny, how we keep hearing all around us that food is medicine, let food be your medicine – but few doctors of mainstream doctors can tell you which foods you may eat to have an easier time health-wise. Never mind that nowadays there are a growing number of alternative healthcare doctors ready to re-write your daily eating pattern for you – and they work but only if you stick to them lifelong! That’s where the rub is — most of us give up for some reason or another in despair or in depression.
This happens mostly to women who try to cater everyone’s spoilt demands in the family, with various members young and not so young refusing to eat this, that and the other and demanding they want something else made this or that way…of course, “no oil, no salt, no sugar for me!” Someone else will say no rice, no maida, no fryums… no, no, no. Okay, only if you’re using A2 Gir cow’s ghee or virgin grade coconut oil or olive oil…if you’re making me something to eat, “or I will catch a bite outside” or “order home something for myself!” Then the women of the home are upset and feel defeated and lose morale. Most of the fusspots are male mostly who don’t know the A to Z of food but will pretend anyway.
If something is not at home, buy it. In a household where there’s scant respect for those who foot the bill I have seen how everybody gets spoilt much to their own routine health failures. It is not enough if just one member of the household is health conscious and will love and care enough to tell you off if you eat nothing but bread, butter, cheese, jam in various creations morning, noon and night…sugary refined carbs stupid, you’ll become as obese as…oh, well, never mind, but you don’t want to be in that person’s footwear, “See half the time she is in a wheelchair and can hardly move out ….you want to get there?!”
OBESITY is a huge problem for even the children. There is so much weight management talk when it comes to children too! There’s no real nutrition and fibre in their eating habits and next, no running around outside the house either…today’s kids live such sedentary lives, unless they’re privileged enough to go to a good boarding school or in large households where loneliness is impossible. Cloistered urban living is the worst, but we’ve heard all that before.
The brief of lack of nutrition is so bad that even in well-to-do households you will get the case of a patient of tuberculosis. I had an aunt who cooked for everybody but ate miserably when it came to herself – table leftovers after the rest of the family had eaten, or out would come the “kachori” box from the cupboard for her daily fix. I don’t think she ever ate salad at all – no fresh enzymes, antioxidants, vitamin A, C, E…the vital ACE vitamins. Yes, towards the end of her life dementia caught up with her and I know my aunt had made the usual sacrifices many of our women make, caught as they are in patriarchal households where the word of husband, son, and male members and not to forget parents-in-law count most of the time.
Women more often than not follow the line of least resistance and forget about themselves. We see it only too often around us. The overworked housewife, today we call her homemaker but it translates to a slew of regrettable sacrifices at ground level…which others may or may not notice depending on how sensitive they are!
THEN again in the urban milieu women have come a long way although still at the mercy of men at home – I know a husband who would throw a dish at his wife if he didn’t like what was served up at the table for lunch or dinner! Most times he couldn’t eat without a meat or fish meal …well, his wife survived him by many years and I dare say she was relieved. Sometimes cooking for a man can be a horror story and most men do expect their women to cook for them…or else, what are they here for?
But to return to eating too much carbohydrate food in life – confectionary and soft breads I’m done with. Lately, I’ve taken to cooking one of the little millets which are lighter, foxtail millet is particularly welcome. Recently, Christobel of Ddhyana Wellness down town Panaji had what sounded like an exciting “Millets & Mango Festival” but I just couldn’t make it. It’s the kind of place in the heart of town which I love to drop in occasionally just to sip a hot turmeric tea while sitting on their little lawn, or eat their jowari phulka meal…can easily replace the white rice with foxtail millet!
Lately, I’ve learned that rice is oh so easily replaced by one of the little millets like foxtail millet. I just the soak the millet for a couple of hours and then cook it plain, it turns out nice and fluffy soft. Then one may do whatever one wishes with it. Stir it into a tomato/ spinach/mushroom gravy or a tamarind masala (the MTR readymade pulyodurai masala is very good). I’ve learned to do a quick fix curd mango millet rice, down south India they do call the little millets as “rice” and the millets enjoy a superior status to rice, or do they anymore? Seeing how rice was for the rich once upon a time while the poor ate millet and now the rich eat millets and the poor eat rice, tables can turn in nasty ways much to the benefit of the sitting classes and detriment of the working classes!
Postscript: Some folk also like to add Kashmiri chilli powder to the mango relish, or “taj-lavang” pinch or two, but I don’t for it clashes with the wonderful aroma of freshly roasted cumin powder!script: Some folk also like to add Kashmiri chilli powder to the mango relish, or “taj-lavang” pinch or two, but I don’t for it clashes with the wonderful aroma of freshly roasted cumin powder!
MY RECIPE FOR MANGO CURD MILLET RICE:
Ingredients: A cup or katori foxtail millet; two cups or katori mango puree; a cup curd; a teaspoon ghee for tempering, plus half tsp respectively of jeera/cumin, pinch hing/asafoetida, bunch of curry leaves. Salt to taste.
Method: Wash and rinse out foxtail millet, check for grit or little stones if you wish; soak for two hours. Cook over medium flame with a bay leaf in it and set aside. Puree your mangoes, leave one of the mango stones in the puree so that the mango ras doesn’t blacken or tarnish quickly. Set aside.
Give the cooked foxtail millet a tempering in ghee, jeera, hing, curry leaves, stir in millet quickly and off flame. Season with pink Himalayan salt as you wish. When a little cooler, stir in the curd first, then mango puree, garnishing with crushed caju is optional. Yo! You may serve mango curd millet rice with lemon or tamarind pickle on the side!
As described before down south India the small millets are called “millet rice.” These small or minor millets are said to offer more energy — more protein, better mineral values. Amongst the small millets are proso millet or panivaragu (Panicum miliaceum), foxtail millet or thenai (Setariaitalica), little millet or samai (Panicum sumatrense), barnyard millet or sanwa millet (Echinocholoa colona) and kodo millet or varagu (Paspalum scrobiculatum); rural and mountain folk have been using them as “rice” and the flours for various preparations; popping these millets has become a cottage business now.
The small millets don’t leave one feeling like a heavyweight stomach as refined white rice meals do! Check it out. I suppose one could make mango curd millet rice with green mango puree too. Steam-cook your green mango first before slipping skin of and straining out the puree, and use as recipe described above. I find a pinch of “taj-lavang” (cinnamon-clove) masala makes a millet rice come alive regardless of whether you use curd or some other gravy (but avoid if you are using curry leaves, flavor clashes).
THIS is to say make the most of mango season while it lasts. Prices are finally down to Rs300-Rs400 per dozen and Rs100 and less for the small wild “ghota” mangoes for quick tangy curry making. I find cut mango for breakfast very agreeable. It’s crazy how everyone who has a mango tree is busy harvesting and selling their mangoes – hiring small or large tempo vans and parking themselves at vantage places down town Panaji and especially near the market in the morning hours to do a few brisk hours of mango business! Mangoes are also being marketed frenetically online on social media sites. The organically cultivated and tree ripened mangoes are best naturally.
GREEN MANGO-ONION RELISH
BEFORE I close here’s one again my favourite mango green “chundo” relish recipe…
INGREDIENTS: A large green mango with more flesh than fibre (karel mango will do, or rajapuri, or ladwo); a large onion Turkish white or red onion; half cup grated jaggery; a tsp roasted jeera; salt as per choice.
METHOD: Wash, peel and grate fine washed, skinned green mango, also onion. Mix both grated green mango and onion mash together, season with black salt or salt of choice, roasted cumin powder, grated jaggery. Mix well, serve this most delicious tangy golden green mango and onion relish — in Gujarati “tajo keri-no-chundo” which my mother used to make oh so long ago, and I remember vividly the day I used it to stuff a cheddar cheese sandwich…absolutely to live for (but first squeeze out the sour tangy juices as much as you can or the sandwich will get all soggy and fall apart). Enjoy.