Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Indian Vegetables

I can't stand the V8 ad that's been running lately.  There's a man and a woman sitting in a very nice house, at a very nice dinner table, eating a very nice meal, and they clearly love each other (no problems so far) but then just as the man is about to eat a brussels sprout, he hides it in his napkin, excuses himself to the kitchen, and chugs down some V8. Do you know the one I'm talking about? This irks me in so many ways.

What couple doesn't know their partners vegetable likes and dislikes? Maybe if you got married after a one night stand in Vegas there would be a slight learning curve, but I don't think the people in this ad fit that description. They are clearly very successful and deliberate in their choices, and I'm sure had a nice long courtship followed by a big, blow-out wedding. So, why would this woman serve her husband brussels sprouts, and expect him to delicately chew-and-swallow like a six year old girl at a tea party?

If however, she believes he adores brussels sprouts, when in fact he has been lying to her for years, filling up decorative vases in the dinning room with uneaten vegetables, what does that say about him as a husband? Why does this guy feel the need to hide the fact he doesn't like brussels sprouts? Is his wife going to beat him? She looks very nice. His self-infantilizing behavior is so two weeks ago. 

V8, I know I'm busting your balls, I get that this guy is just trying to be polite and not hurt his wife's feelings and that he also cares about his health and eating enough vegetables, but let me just put out there, drinking a processed, sodium-filled-vegetable-drink-from-a-plastic-bottle may give you your four servings of vegetables, but I have serious doubts as to whether it can really improve your health, especially if you're drinking it every day and especially if you have or think you may develop high blood pressure. Yes, you are a company just trying to make a profit in this rag-tag world we live in, and your product is not the worst thing out there. I like a V8 now and then, and it certainly beats a soda and some fries. My problem is with the way you reinforce stereotypes of male/female relationships and give whole vegetables a bad rep. Why attack the brussels sprout?! They're on your team!

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, it's always good to have a few vegetarian cookbooks around. Especially if you're not too fond of vegetables. I like steamed broccoli but not every blessed day thank you very much, and a cookbook for vegetarians is going to have plenty of variations to keep it interesting. Think outside the box please.

If everyone's daily food intake was made up of 3/4 vegetables, we would all be in better shape and maybe passing health insurance wouldn't be such a Sisyphean act. Vegetables aren't just good for you, they are the difference between developing a laundry list of diseases, ailments and cancers, and living a long healthy life.

Eat your vegetables.

Here are three Indian style vegetable dishes adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook, World of the East: Vegetarian Cooking. Chris and I had them for dinner last night, and they did not inspire any napkin spitting.

Potatoes with Onion, Garlic, and Ginger 

4 medium sized, waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed in 3/4" pieces
1 tbs. fresh, grated ginger with juices
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (don't substitute)
1 medium size onion, minced
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Boil the potatoes until tender and drain. Heat the oil in a medium hot pan and cook the onions until clear. Add the ginger and garlic and cook a few more minutes. Then add the turmeric and cayenne and finally the potatoes. Cook for about five minutes. Turn the heat up an continue to cook until the potatoes get slightly brown. Salt, cook another minute, and serve.

Spinach Cooked in a Bihari Style

1 1/2 lbs. spinach, washed
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
2 cloves grated garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. minced cilantro
1/2 tsp. mustard oil (substitute a minced green chili)

In batches, drop the spinach into boiling water just until it wilts and turns a bright green. Remove with tongs and squeeze out any excess water, place into a bowl. Add to the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and with an immersion blender pulse until all the ingredients are combined but not completely pureed.

Yellow Squash with Onions, Tomato, and Cumin

1 medium sized onion, minced
2 yellow squash, peeled and cubed
2 tomatoes, seeded and cubed
1 tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. salt
1/16 tsp. ground black pepper
juice of half a lemon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tbs. minced cilantro

Heat the oil in a skillet and when hot add the cumin seeds. Let them cook until they get a few shades darker and then add the onions. Cook for another two minutes. Then add the tomatoes and after a minute or two add the squash along with 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook about 10 minutes. When the vegetables have softened and the tomatoes begun to melt, add the rest of the ingredients, mix together, cook another minute or two and serve.


  1. What an interesting woman Madhur Jaffrey is; award winning actress, fabulous cook, writer . . . I would also recommend her cookbook "Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking". Erica, do you remember the great sushi we used to make from that book? It's about time I made that again!

  2. oh brother, that commercial drives me nuts. i look forward to the day when i get to eat this dish!

  3. This looks so delicious, and yes, that commercial is so obnoxious!

  4. I finally made all this for dinner tonight. Every dish was delicious! I halved each recipe with perfect results. The recipes were very easy and perfectly seasoned. They will be on my list of regulars from now on. Thanks my dear!

  5. Anyone who doesn't want their brussels sprouts, I'll eat them for you.