Sunday, 13 July 2014

The birth of potato peel chutney!

Avni was in a hurry to finish her day’s work and rush back home. It had been a rather busy day at office. She was waiting to step out of office, share her cab with three other strangers until she reached the railway station.

Avni was a thinker and she wondered how there were enough strangers to fill the empty taxi spots every day. It was close to three years now and very rarely she bumped into known faces.

She probably was not a stickler to timing or Mumbai was home to many! Just as she reached the taxi stand, she saw the last taxi leave.  

Some days are just not yours, Avni! she thought to herself.

After what seemed an eon, a cab pulled up. She took the seat adjacent to the driver’s. On an average day an empty taxi would get filled within minutes during peak hours. But as I said, it was not Avni’s day.

After a further delay of 10 minutes the cab began its journey station-wards. But after grudgingly carrying five ruthless human beings, the four wheeled mechanism came to an abrupt halt!

Was it the rains, or the age of the taxi, Avni did not know at that point in time. The passengers shouted. Though their gaze was fixed on the driver, he seemed unaffected. After they all left in search of an alternative way of reaching the station, the driver looked at his cab and was heard consoling her.

“They are ungrateful. Have they ever thanked you on those days that you have reached them to the station at the right time? Don’t mind their abuses,” the cabbie empathised with his machine-mate!

Avni was further delayed as she chose to depend on her legs to reach her to the station. Her lack of luck seemed to be shadowing her, as she saw an empty train leave the platform. The next train was crowded and Avni did not mind it.
As they say, ‘it is better to stand inside the train than outside, waiting for it!'

Finally Avni reached home, a good 40 minutes later than she had wished for! 

She washed her legs, threw her duppatta on the sofa and occupied her favourite place, the kitchen. The kitchen de-stressed her and she knew nobody would disturb her when she was in the kitchen.

If you don’t trust me on this
 one ask Avni about it. Even when she visits the rest room, her family had something to talk to her about, or they had to ask her for instructions on how to complete the household chore assigned to them. Neither did the topic of discussion change, nor did the questions!

But when Avni was in the kitchen the other members of the family knew that they would be fed shortly and Avni was a good cook.

As Avni began cutting the vegetables, she was unusually perturbed! She had left something behind and could not place a finger on what it was. She had peeled the potatoes and cut them into fine bits, when she realised that she had left her umbrella behind in office. Not that it shielded her from the rain. The Mumbai rains lashed relentlessly and people used umbrellas to protect them from the slash of speeding vehicles!

When she returned to her kitchen from her thoughts, Avni realised that she was washing the potato peel. The peel was clean and looked at her in anticipation. She searched the kitchen platform for the finely chopped potato bits. They had vanished!

She had peeled the potatoes and cut them into fine bits...
Gingerly, she opened the door below the sink and found them safely lodged in the trash can!

For a minute she felt weak at her knees. At moments like these she always trusted her daughter’s words! Avni called out to her daughter. Avni showed the potato peel and the trash can to her daughter.

“Mom, think of what you can do with the peel and I will manage the rest,” her daughter was an angel. Avni became her confident self once again and began roasting Urad Dal and red chillies.

She then sauteed the peel on the tawa. She added a few pieces of coconut and a few leaves of tamarind to the roasted Urad Dal and red chillies. She added asafoetida, curry leaves and salt to the peel before grinding all the ingredients into a chutney. She decorated the chutney with finely chopped coriander and curry leaves. She cut a piece of lemon and decorated the chutney in an attempt to make it more appetizing.

Avni's attempt at making the chutney more appetizing was a super hit!

As she laid the table she heard her daughter call out to the rest of the household.

“Mom has made something exotic today. If we cannot find out what ingredients it is made of, she says we need to clean the table and kitchen."

Just then the neighbour rang the door bell. Avni's daughter opened the door to find the neighbour standing at her door.

"Is your mother there? Is there some sauce that I can borrow. I got some potato sticks, but forgot the sauce and my son is refusing to eat it without the sauce," the neighbour looked desperate.

Avni's daughter, promptly brought the chutney and asked her neighbour to use it as a dip for the finger chips!

After dinner Avni's daughter drew the family's attention to the empty bowl, that hitherto had served as the dwelling place of the potato peel chutney!

"Folks, the chutney you just tasted is Mom's ingenious solution to the environmental problem, the world faces today. We as a race produce a lot of potato peel and are thinking of ways of disposing them. Mom decided that every time you make a curry out of potato, you must also do something with the peel. Thus was born the potato peel chutney. It is healthy and nutritious too," concluded Avni's daughter, hugging her mother!

The entire household stood up and clapped in unison!

It has been proved that potato peels contain a number of nutritionally and pharmacologically interesting compounds such as poly phenols and glycoalkaloids. These find uses as natural oxidants and precursors for steroid hormones respectively. They also contribute as dietary fibre.