Celebrating World Vegetarian Day with Gandhi and Lemon Rasam

Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

In our house we live by Michael Pollan’s addage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  This week we’re going one step further, invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s strict vegetarian diet in honor of World Vegetarian Day (October 1st). While most people think of Gandhi as a famous pacifist, he also had a lot to say about eating a pant-based diet, led in great part by his compassion and respect for the lives of even the smallest creatures. Not one to mince words, Gandhi wasn’t afraid to puts his beliefs in black and white:

 No flocks that range the valley free
To slaughter I condemn
Taught by the power that pities me
I learn to pity them

– Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Our daughter Ava has been eating mostly vegetarian for a while now, so she was particularly happy to celebrate World Vegetarian Day with a new-to-us dish.

recipe.Lemon.Rasam.img_6529

What to eat for World Vegetarian Day?

While we have hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes from around the world, I thought it’d be fun to try a dish Gandhi might have enjoyed during his lifetime. There’s quite a bit of information about his diet since he wrote extensively on the subject. According the Gandhi foundation and other sources, he generally avoided milk (except for goat milk later in life), partook in numerous raw meals, and (as a nationalist) had a soft spot for the cooking of his heritage (he was born in a small town called Porbandar in Gujarat, India).

Gandhi smiling at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. (Photographer unknown).

Gandhi smiling at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. (Photographer unknown).

For my research I looked to the Ganapati South Indian Kitchen, located in the UK. Ganapati is one of the few restaurants that specializes in serving up what are thought to be Gandhi’s favorites (along with some creative interpretation to allow for inaccessible ingredients). In fact, they have a special called the Mahatma Thali (a 12-item meal served on a banana leaf).

According to [Gandhi], a model meal for Indians should include goat milk, brown rice, dry cereals, seasonal raw fruits and vegetables, jaggery, pulses and pure ghee (in small portions).

The Mahatma Thali serves up everything from chutneys, pickles, and raw cabbage salads to curry, moong dal, red rice, and lemon rasam (a soup that can be seasoned many ways, including with lemon, as the owners suggest). More information about the restaurant and Gandhi’s favorite food is available in the Times of India, Mahatma on the Menu.

A recipe to clear the sinuses

After studying their menu I was inspired to serve lemon rasam to my family – a pure, brothy soup that’s perfect for the changing seasons and – thanks to the lemon, turmeric, and ginger – a highly restorative meal. Any illness you’re fighting should be tamed after a bowl or two of lemon rasam.

Lemon Rasam topping

Though distinctly seasoned with cumin, coriander and mustard seed, the juice of a whole lemon carries the high notes. To balance the staggering citrus be sure to add plenty of salt and as much chili pepper as you can stand. The spicier the Rasam, the healthier!

Rasam goes beautifully with long grain rice, like basmati. Though we were out of brown basmati and red rice – Gandhi would have preferred these… so if you have them, all the better.

Lemon Rasam

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1/3 cup yellow split peas (toor dal)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium tomato, diced
1-4 hot green chilies, sliced (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
One lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt

Garnish:

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
a couple teaspoons ghee or vegetable oil
cilantro leaves

Method:

Simmer the split peas along with 2 1/2 cups water and the turmeric in a covered pot until tender (30-45 minutes – times will vary depending on the age of the dried peas). Set aside.

Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Meanwhile, add 1 cup water to a small pot, the diced tomato, the hot chilies, and fresh ginger. Simmer covered until the tomatoes are tender and the broth is fragrant – about 10 minutes.

Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt. Add the reserved tomato and cooked split peas (and their broth) and remove from heat.

recipe.Lemon.Rasam.img_6461

In a small skillet, toast the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds in a little ghee or vegetable oil. When they pop, pour the mixture over the broth.

Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Garnish with a generous handful of cilantro leaves and serve with rice.

Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes

Enjoy with a smile in your heart and love for life!

xxoo

Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Celebrating World Vegetarian Day with Gandhi and Lemon Rasam
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Where in the world are all the vegetarians?

  2. Valerie says

    I dunno, but this sure sounds interesting to me! We just had an Indian grocery store open in town–right across the street from my favourite store–the Asian grocery store, so how lucky am I? By the way, lovely website! Ava is a very lucky little girl–so important to introduce multicultural experiences to little ones. I grew up on Italian, Ukranian, and Asian fare made by lovely nonnas, and of course Mom, and slurped and enjoyed every minute of it!

Leave a Reply