Slowly, silently now the moon…

Posted: June 3, 2012 in Blogs

Slowly, silently now the moon...Like many devout Hindus, my mother is a vegetarian. During the full moon days, which Hindus call Purnima, she will remind me – a hopeless carnivore – to stick to a vegetarian diet.

If she does decide to cook, she abstains from using onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes and any other vegetable that grows beneath the soil, what I think is pretty much a Jain diet.This is pretty much her Monday list of taboo ingredients.

I happen to love the forbidden roots and the pungent aroma of garlic and onions simmering in puddle of oil, especially as a flavoursome garnish in lentil stews, or what Indians call  ‘dhal’ dishes.

What Indian culinary wonders could there be without an onion-garlic-ginger fusion?

Quite a few, actually. Mung beans flavoured with curry leaves or cilantro, mustard seeds, tomatoes, green chillies, with a sprinkle of coriander powder, and of course, salt.

A split chickpea stew simmered with cucumber chunks, french beans, and other vegetables with mustard seeds.

The Jains have perfected the art of cooking without these sinfully savoury ingredients.

The Jains, followers of Jainism, respects the divinity of all living things as possessing a soul. Strict Jains would not hurt the smallest of creatures, and maintain that the smallest of insects are sentient beings possessing knowledge, power and consciousness.

Living creatures attain higher forms of consciousness through their Karmic evolution. Jainism advocates  non-violence to all beings as one of their key precepts. As tubers ,bulbs and roots contain the possibility of life,  they are not ‘kosher’ in strict Jain recipes. Additionally, some vegetables are not to be consumed at certain times, and a schedule exists for that purpose.

While it is not one of my favourite cuisines, I do feel a sense of being ‘detoxified’ , cleansed, when I partake of my mother’s  somewhat Jain-like cuisine. Her cooking is light, there are no heavy sauces, food digests easily and is super-low cholesterol and healthy. I hope I score some good Karma points, too. Boy, I do need them.

P.S.

Here are a couple of links you might want to peek into to get an idea of the Jain cuisine:

Jainuniversity.org

Tarladalal.com (the website of a celebrity chef in India, and I have tested some of her recipes. Yummy stuff!)

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