Thursday, December 22, 2011

Vegetarians and Jains

"Jab tak samosa me aloo hoga,
Tab tak Bihar mein Laloo hoga."

You must have read and or heard this.

That is all very well in Patna but, God help you if you are a Jain.

I have another problem. There is this pig headed belief that vegetarians and especially Jains have, of serving North Indian food. Let’s set out some principles:

·         You are free to practice Jainism and therefore not eat ginger, garlic, onion, potato and any mammal or bird or fish [cow, buffalo, pig, goat, chicken et al].

·         You are free to be a vegetarian and simply not eat any mammal or bird or fish [cow, buffalo, pig, goat, chicken et al].

·         A lot [not all] of North Indian food especially Mughlai is made with the holy trinity of browned onions and ginger and garlic paste. It’s the base of any curry. Similarly, a lot of the food has meat.

Why, for God’s sake, does a Jain serve you a Biryani, or Black Daal? Can someone please tell me? A biryani with no meat, no ginger, or garlic or onion or potato? A black daal, not simmered for hours on a dying tandoor, without onion and ginger garlic paste, and whisked together in a pressure cooker? Why, why, why? Does normal vegetarian food or Jain food not have preparations indigenous to that cuisine? Why for f**ks sake do you have to murder a perfectly decent non vegetarian dish and then heap insult on injury and serve it at a party?

The other day a Jain told me she made Roesti for dinner. I choked on my pork belly. Roesti, I squawked? Are you not a Jain? How on earth are you making Roesti which is a classic Swiss dish of a potato pancake enriched with bacon? She replied as if I was mad, and said that she makes Roesti with raw Banana, to which she adds a `tadka’ of Jeera [Cumin] and Green chilly. I give up. How can you call something Roesti when it does not have a single ingredient that a Roesti contains, barring salt?

A few weeks ago, while channel surfing I caught the end of the hot new reality program “Masterchef India” (I am addicted to the Australia and USA versions, but that is a story for another blog).  The episode culminated with a very short man winning Rs 1 lakh by making a sushi (or `susi’ as it was called on the show) of Rawa Upma wrapped around Kolaphuri fish!!! Why call it `susi’? Find another name for God’s sake!!

Yes I know that many of you will say that why can the vegetarians not have a biryani or Roesti? Listen guys, vegetarians have never eaten a meat biryani and Jains have never eaten a Roesti. So why muck about, make something bizarre and pretend that it’s the real thing?

But we soldier on. Vegetarian parties are getting very stressful. HRH the Queen of Kutch complains that I am getting unbearable anti social and don’t want to meet anyone. Is not social intercourse something convivial, with libations and decent food? I can’t handle another Limboo Sharbat and Pani Puri.

Sorry folks, I am checking out.

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