Of India and Pakistan, attachments to food and other existential problems…

Weeks of post-operative recovery and then a bad virus have left me with a distaste for most foods –  for the very first time in my life that I can remember! While I do normally have food preferences, being brought up by parents whose philosophy where food was concerned was “if it’s gone through any/some/all of the processes of washing, cutting, agni-pareeksha, then it’s good enough to grace your plate, not to mention your stomach!”. I’ve never been a fussy eater… except for now…

…when I find myself turning my nose up at “wet” foods, blanch at the sight of overcooked rice, feel sick at the very thought of Italian herbs, turn my face away at the mention of eggs (yes i know i blogged these yesterday but i couldn’t face them!) …at this last, my daughter K tells me, “Amma, you must be really ill – if you can’t stomach eggs!” True – normally one of my favourite foods – I will eat them in almost any form…

Trying to figure out what I actually can stomach and want to eat is quite a job – considering that I have to ask some one else to make it for me! Come to think of it, this is probably why I’ve always recovered so quickly from various ailments and surgeries earlier – because I want to get back to making stuff that I like to eat and feed people! Ah well, there is definitely a Buddhist lesson in what I am going through now – teach me to be so attached to the pleasures of the palate.

For the past few years, have been doing some serious amount of reading on Buddhist philosophy and finding it very consoling… then I came across this piece on life in a Buddhist monastery. The monks – both novices and senior monks – all eat in silence – in mindful contemplation of their food – that works for me! But… get this… the food is deliberately made unappetising so that the monks do not get too attached to its taste! That does not work for me at all!

At which point, I decided, like a good Oriental, to get around the problem by shelving it for the time being, moving on to other areas of the philosophy that I do understand and can accept and coming back to this conundrum later! I have a sneaking feeling though, that I will not be able to shove it aside forever – no matter how Indian my mind is! Rather like Pakistan-India relations – let’s bond over everything else – Samjhauta Express, trade links, cricket matches, Hindi films and Pakistani serials, even a Coke ad – watch this clipping… click here to watch – but let’s ignore the elephant in the room that is Kashmir! We can’t shelve it – same way like I’ll have to face up to my attachment to food sooner or later… i guess!

Right now, it’s going to be later 😉 (i’m taking a lead from our politicians here!)

And while I’m on the subject of figuring out what I’d like to eat, have a craving for one of those very basic comfort foods – a mixed rice… a very specific one, as a matter of fact!


  • Raw rice – 2 cups
  • Raw mango – grated – 1 cup
  • 2 green chilies
  • 6 red chilies
  • 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 3-4 sprigs coriander leaves
  • 5-6 tsp fresh coconut – grated
  • Grated jaggery – 1 tbsp or sugar 3/4 tbsp
  • 3 tsp dry coconut powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp methi seeds
  • Boiled peas to garnish – 1/2 cup (optional)


  • Sesame oil – 1 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds /jeera 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal and chana dal – 1 tsp each
  • Peanuts – 2 tbsp
  • Cashew nuts (optional) – 2 tbsps – broken into halves
  • Asafoetida – 1 pinch
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt


Cook the rice in your rice cooker  (preferable) or pressure cooker. Spread it on a flat plate and separate the grains. Let cool.

Dry roast red chillies, curry leaves, methi seeds, mustard seeds, and dry coconut.

Grind this dry masala.

Next pulse the grated mango, grated coconut, green chilies, jaggery and the dry masala above till just blended.

In a pan, heat oil. Fry cashew nuts till golden yellow, remove from the pan and set aside.

Then add peanuts and let them roast till crisp. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, asafoetida and turmeric. Let the dals roast for a minute.

Add the coconut, green chili and mango paste.

Fry for a few more minutes.

Now add the rice, salt and cashew nuts and carefully fold together all the ingredients.

I swear this will help you ponder on existential problems like India-Pak relations and o’erweening attachments… to food or anything else!