31-May-08 (Created: 31-May-08) | More in 'Recipes'

Eating Yogurt and other abnormalities

What I have noticed as I have gradually moved away over 30 years from a bucolic metropolis of over a thousand homes, sugar has replaced salt as a primary food additive, at least geographically. There appear to be a monetary incline in favor of being sweet. Wealthier a place is, sugar in proportion, its tenants seem to consume. It is my theory that this may hold true for households, communities, districts, and further, nations at large.

Growing up in our "palatial" home, only thing sugar was spent on, was in the morning coffee. It wasn't uncommon for kids, for dinner, to use hot rice mixed with hot milk as one, usually last, course of the meal. We used salt to this mixture to give it a taste. Not sugar. Hot milk brought out the subtle, but not overwhelming, sweetness of rice. Milk or not, Perhaps a Snack, or a Sweet, but it ain't no food unless it is eaten with rice.

Once in a while I would eat at a neighbors who are relatively well off and they used sugar instead of salt. That sure was a punishment. However across the region main meal rarely contained sugar. Sweetness is set aside just for sweets. Whether something is sweet or not. There is not a path in the middle. It was somewhat of an aberration to eat say "sweet and sour" chicken.

As I have started working in Bombay, some of the curries would be sweet. Of course by then no one has ever heard of eating milk and rice with salt. In fact there milk-rice-sugar is an accrediated desert.

As I have started working in US, it is a sugar paradise. Sugar is more common than water. In fact they appear to be inseparable. Then there is the sugar feast that starts a day off: cereals, pancakes, muffins, syrup, and on and on. You even have special pumps to dispense syrup at the downward squeeze of a finger. Between you and your belly fat nothing stands but a shaky resolve. Why would anyone want to be King when they could be a commoner and squeeze syrup at will while watching whale hunting in the kitchen TV furnished from COSTCO. Aren't modern times in America marvelous!!!

Having entered my vocabulary so late, I have the hardest time recalling "syrup" as a word as I ask my kids where I might find this "thing" in the pantry. I would say "where is that thing you eat with pancakes". In this linguistic crisis I start associating syrup to something that is squuezable and I end up calling "syrup" "lotion", although I haven't come close to putting lotion on pancakes.

Almost every chicken dish in restaurants here is deliciously sweet. In the neighborhood of "bucolic metropolis" salt and pepper would have taken that place. I suspect that I can no longer distinguish declicious from anything other than being sweet.

So I eat my yogurt with salt and rice

So If the point has already not been obvious, I would like to state that I eat yogurt with rice and salt. Although I have grown to be agreeable to eating pre-packaged yogurt cups filled with sugar, I don't prefer eating yogurt by itself from paper cups.

As a last course of my meal, when I have luxury of time, I take hot rice and pour half that portion of non-fat yogurt in a bowl add a touch of salt and mix them well. Nothing is more soothing.

hot rice, cold yogurt, cold buttermilk, salt

To the mixture of rice, yogurt, and salt, I add half or a quarter cup of buttermilk. It tastes even better.

You can add pickled lemon slices

To make it even better, you can take pieces of pickled salted lemons and slice their skins and add them to the mixture.

You can add bananas

You can also peel a banana and cut it into small circles and then add to the mixture. The sweetness of bananas and salt blends well.

You can add mangoes

In june and july when mangoes are in season you can add ripe mango slices cut into squares.


With my fickle mental constitution, I am glad I grew up in less wealthier and needier times, where by necessity I have chanced into some habits that are proving to be valuable. My kids just won't touch this concoction. It is a broth that is just "yucky" everytime they see it and never fail to be mentioned. I am not sure if I would try it if I had not been used to it. You won't call someone half of whose wardrobe contains white shirts adventurous. Half my shirts are white. However, those that are healthy-nuts and wrestle life here is a tradition perhaps you might grow to like.