Meal on a Plate

Update as of 10 November 2009

The great Indian meal is unlike any that is served in other parts of the world. The Europeans prefer a dish meal so that it is easily served and convenient to eat. They may have a salad or some potatoes to go with it. Not to forget the wine. The Americans have similar eating habits with large baskets of bread to accompany the meal – they don’t have the same taste for wine and so glug down their favourite aerated drink. The Africans are simple folks and eat frugally – so it is meat with some cooked maizemeal; or some mustard greens with tapioca. The Thais love their food spicy and varied but usually eaten all together in a single bowl. The Chinese are somewhat like Indians and have a multicourse meal, except that rice is reserved for the penultimate course while no breads are served before that. Indian food, like all the cuisines described above is actually not one type of food, but different regions, communities and religions add variety and novelty to what they bring to the table. But one thing is for sure – there will be at least 5 different varieties of cooked food served in a meal with flat bread, Chapati or rice and accompanied with some milk product – yoghurt, curd or buttermilk. And most of the times, these foods are served in pairs or at most in threesomes, unless it is a wedding feast. So if chapattis are served with a vegetable or two and maybe some pulses, the rice is definitely served with the pulse and perhaps a pickle. The rice is always served after the chapatti or puri (the fried bread) unless you are being served at a Chennai wedding reception – where rice is king and puri comes next. The spices vary from region to region and even from family to family, so first timers to this cuisine usually nibble their foods with loads of liquid refreshment for comfort at hand. Of-course the other thing that one finds unique with Indian food is the host – who will ensure that the guest’s plate is never empty; it will always be replenished with something or the other.

The D Street Boyz went on an Indian food eating spree today. They were delighted with the spread and the aroma and colour on their plate (thali) – translated into a happy and green SENSEX 170 points up. So their indulgence and enthusiasm was high at the start of the meal; but as they tucked into their chapattis, their plate got emptier and the hungry look stayed on their faces – pulling the SENSEX down to about 30-40 points above level. Fortunately for them, their Indian hosts noticed the empty plates and loaded it with the choicest rice dishes and the mood was upswing again – SENSEX rose accordingly. And when the Boyz were done with their meals at 1 pm, they settled down and perhaps because they had eaten much or was it the oil and ghee or the spices, that a snoozy feel overtook them. They lay flat – with the SENSEX besides them. Then the trouble started – their tummies rumbled and the bloated and made them feel sick – not sure if it was because of the over-eating (2 hour extended lunches would qualify), or the variety of food or the spices or the oils, but the colicky Boyz just could not stand straight. They had to be taken down to the Basement Medicine Room for a checkup – SENSEX followed – and with some antacids; they were beginning to feel better. The SENSEX regained level thereafter. That was when they were enticed by the desserts on D Street and the sweet-toothed Boyz indulged again, and the tummy troubles recurred – forcing them to just take rest. The Doc has advised them to stay clear of spicy, oily food for sometime – some soups (rasam) or light gruel (kanji) or maybe some light vegetarian kedgeree (khichdi) is what they should have. It is not a serious issue – just 58 points down to 16440. The Boyz should be better tomorrow if they follow the light meal advise.

The Indian penchant for sweetmeats after their meals is an addiction; and these can be varied – milk sweets, flour sweets, fried sweets, vegetable sweets, pulse sweets; practically anything that can be sweetened goes; the only taboo to this is meat products – these are not eaten sweet!



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