I remember, as a very small child, tending to think about things that puzzled me and – there were many of these – trying to figure out explanations for the bits of the world that worried me. With both parents away at work, adult explanations are not always forthcoming when you need them. We are plentifully supplied with dictionaries and encyclopaedias and atlases at home (people tend to underestimate the parental function of information-supplying hugely!) but some questions are just too difficult to find answers to…
Till about the age of nine, I had a very clear picture in my mind of what the inside of the human body looked like. My picture was based completely on observation. So we ate, food went in somewhere and then some was wasted. There had to be a connection – there just had to be! And so having seen many pipes – large ones, lying around by the roadside waiting for one of those interminable government-run projects in India to take off – the solution – so simple and so beautiful, it just had to be true, presented itself to my mind. Plus I had heard of something called a food pipe. There was a pipe – a broad one – connecting the mouth to the unmentionables! Food went in, slid straight down whoosh and finished up elsewhere!
Then we come to class five. And we are introduced to the human body… by way of the digestive system… and the alimentary canal… aka food pipe! It curves all over… it has parts… there is a stomach – a pink, bulbous organ, many intestinal things – in grey and blue… each part does different things… there is no simplicity… alas there is no beauty! Bang go the ideals of childhood!
It is disappointing – but I get used to it and begin to figure that maybe it’s not so bad after all – the pink bits and the grey bits and all the other little bits hang together and do a sort of synchronised dance. I’ve got it – it is simple and beautiful, after all! The joy lasts for a few months… till we move into class six and suddenly, all the bits I knew have disappeared from the picture in my textbook! Instead they are all replaced by other bits – hard bits – bony bits – the musculo-skeletal system! Several months later, more complications are added in the form of arteries and veins and other soft tissues! Now, we have to throw out all the previous bits and learn new bits! No one tells us how these are all related – we are, for some strange reason, expected to figure it out for ourselves! We do – about two or three years later… by which time some of the class has decided that Math is easier to deal with and decides to leave the biological sciences by the wayside!
Not me though – I am quite, quite hooked by now and decide I want to learn more about this and want to go to med school. Ah well, that was not to be but I learn as much as I can anyway… so much so that my dear father-in-law’s sobriquet for me was “nambaathu arai korai doctor”! (the half-fledged doc in our home!)
And so, here’s a “healthy” snack for all the bits – the pink and grey ones, the hard ones, the soft ones, the blood ones and everything else. Super as a teatime snack when you really want those bajjis or bondas but know that the pink bits will protest!
Recipe courtesy my younger daughter Kanchana – idea, execution, consumption- all hers!
- Zucchini – 2 – grated and drained. Don’t discard the water. Squeeze a little lime or lemon, add a bit of chaat masala or pepper and crushed mint and chill for a healthy ‘juice’
- Besan/chickpea flour/senaga pindi – 2-3 tbsps- enough to bind the zucchini together into a semi-soft batter
- Dhaniya/coriander powder – 1/4 tsp
- Jeera/cumin pwd – 1/2 tsp
- Black salt or chaat masala – 1 pinch
- Garlic – 1 flake – crushed – optional
- Green chili – 1 – crushed
- Ginger- grated -1/4 tsp
- Mint or ajwain leaves – crushed – a few
- Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Mix everything except the oil together into a dropping consistency batter. In a non-stick pan, pour a few drops of oil, drop spoonfuls of the batter and pour a little oil around each. They should be little, flat discs.
Cook till golden, flip over and cook again.
Serve hot with chutney or ketchup and the zucchini juice for a guilt-free teatime snack.
The pink bits will thank you!