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Jains and Food


Brad S
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Even today in India, there are many practicing Shwetambari Jains (robed in all white attire), and these monks sweep the ground on which they sleep, sweet the path ahead of them as they walk to remove any living things and also cover their noses and mouth with muslin to ensure they inhale no living organism.

They dispose of waste in a certain manner to ensure that in doing so, they do not bring harm to any other organisms.

The idea behind all of this has been the principle of complete non-violence. It is the idea to avoid injury to any life whatsoever. Intentional or unintentional.

Jains would normally never eat after sundown.

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Jains will not eat pickles as readily as other Indians would outside t heir homes. Jain pickles are prepared fresh and kept for no more than 2-3 days. This keeps them from becoming host organisms for any other organisms.

For a similar reasons, many Jains will not eat fruits and grains with seeds till they reach maturity. They fear that the seed pod, when immature would be a nesting ground for micro-organisms.

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JAIN BHEL POORI

Crunchy Indian Snack with Fresh Tomato, Cucumber and Potato

Serves 3 to 4

This is a snack eaten by Indian kids and adults that completely astonished my American palate the first time I ate it. It’s based on a packaged snack food called bhel mix (a combination of puffed rice and chick pea noodles) that is stirred with chopped fresh tomato, onion and boiled potato, if you have it on hand, and then flavored with coriander and tamarind chutneys. The closest western association I have is a sort of crispy, spicy Indian bread salad, but that certainly doesn’t do it justice. It’s very quick to put together which is fortunate because Suvir has friends calling him from the street asking if he’ll make it for them on the spot. Homemade chutneys make this taste really spectacular but jarred chutneys are absolutely fine, too; both are available in Indian supermarkets and some specialty food stores, as is the packaged bhel mix itself.

1/2 package (400 grams) bhel stix

1 small cucumber, chopped finely

1 medium tomato, cored and chopped

1 medium boiled red potato, peeled and chopped (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons Spicy Green Chutney

2 tablespoons Sweet and Sour Tamarind Chutney

Fold everything together in a large bowl and serve immediately (the bhel mix will get soggy if you wait).

Add more chutneys to taste.

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Suvir,

Although I can't keep up with all your writings I must say Education is the truest teacher of humility.

I sence you have mastered that nuiance.

I think after reading this Indian board it says more about someones nature to share more than ones actual embodyment of knowelage,but to possess both is a gift.

Many thanks Suvir for your teachings

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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Moon Chilke Waalee Daal

2 cups moong chilka (split green moong beans)

4 cups water

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

3 whole red chilies

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon asafetida

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons dried mango powder (amchoor)

2 teaspoons salt

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, red chilies and turmeric and fry, stirring, until the cumin starts crackling, about 1 minute.

2. Add the asafetida, lentils, cayenne and mango powder and stir-fry 1 minute.

3. Add the water, cover and cook until the lentils are starting to fall apart, 15 to 20 minutes.

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Suvir,

Although I can't keep up with all your writings I must say Education is the truest teacher of humility.

I sence you have mastered that nuiance.

I think after reading this Indian board it says more about someones nature to share more than ones actual embodyment of knowelage,but to possess both is a gift.

Many thanks Suvir for your teachings

Thanks! You are rather generous and kind. It is fun to be able to share that little which one knows.

In doing so, it becomes even more fun when people such as yourself and the many other wonderful members take time and post and teach others and me their own wisdom.

The collective knowledge seen at eGullet is what makes it most wonderful and special.

While it would be easy and selfish to take credit, it would be most foolish if I were to forget the efforts of every member that takes time to post on this Indian forum. While we certainly do not have the many stars and glitter associated with our threads as some of the other wonderful forums and threads are privileged in having, we have done our own work to keep this board as thriving as it can be in a not so lustrous setting as the simple Indian sub-continent.

How right you are about education being humbling, it is nothing but that. To be able to teach means to be able to learn. In my classes, I realize how much I learn every time I give one. I actually come home feeling guilty that I was paid for having experienced what I did. Every student, even those that are least interested in what they are learning, leave me with a great wealth of experience and educate me like no textbook ever could.

I only hope that the day I stop learning as I teach, is also the day I stop teaching. What a shame it would be to teach with arrogance and thus not really teach.

This was a great thread you started. Jainism is fascinating for it's unique and very worthy take on non-violence. I admire greatly all those women and men that even today, with all the hurdles set for people who observe any ritual, find it in them to continue to observe their religion even somewhat traditionally as is possible. It is no simple task and takes a great mind, great determination and will to do so. I congratulate each of them for being so strong as to be able to continue traditions, which to many of us seem vague, out of place and old.

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Potatoes and Peas

Achaari Aloo Matar

Potato and peas are one of the most popular north Indian dishes. Every mother, home cook and professional chef has their own version of this. I have used achaari masala (pickling spice mix) in this recipe to create a wonderfully flavorful and very light sauce. The sauce is fragrant and light and spicy and fresh. It is perfect with rice and served with some dry lentils and also a perfect match for pooris or bhaturas for a special meal.

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch squares

10-ounce package frozen green peas

1/4 canola oil

1/8 teaspoon asafetida

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons achaari masala

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped into large pieces

3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped and then pureed in a blender or food processor

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon dried mango powder (amchoor)

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and the asafetida and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Cover and cook on low flame for 5 minutes. Stir gently once to ensure potatoes are not sticking.

2. Add the turmeric, achaari masala and green chilies and cook for another minute. Add the tomato puree and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the oil forms a glaze on the surface, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the peas and the water and mix. Simmer until the peas are cooked and the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Take a few tablespoons of the sauce and mix the mango powder and the garam masala into it. Then pour into the sauce and mix well. Cover and cook over low heat 5 more minutes.

5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with most any meal.

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Achaari Masala

1 tablespoon coriander seed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all spices together. Place in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Grind into a fine powder and store in an airtight container.

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So high starch content is the key for achaari masala.

I wonder how plantians would work.

Also, I can't think of the root used in many latino dishes that has an enormous starch content

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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So high starch content is the key for achaari masala.

I wonder how plantians would work.

Achaari Masala is the name for the spice mix. I gave the recipe above for it.

Achaar is the hindi word for pickle. Masala another word for mix.

The spice mix had no starch. You can use it for different recipes. Meats, vegetables or poultry.

Plaintains work well in these recipes. I often boil them for a while. IN their skin. Then peel them, slice them and deep fry them.

They are great prepared for any sauce that way.

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Kele Ke Parsinde

4 plaintains, unpeeled

1/4 cup canola oil, plus extra for deep frying

10-ounce package frozen green peas

1/8 teaspoon asafetida

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons achaari masala

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped into large pieces

3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped and then pureed in a blender or food processor

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon dried mango powder (amchoor)

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the plantains, unpeeled, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then peel the plantains. Cut each in half crosswise and then cut each half in half again lengthwise. Flatten as much as you can without breaking them.

2. Heat the oil for deep frying to 350 degrees F on a deep-fat thermometer in a medium wok or kadai or a large saucepan. Add as many of the plantain pieces as will fit comfortably and fry until golden brown and crisp all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

3. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the fried plaintains and the asafetida and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Cover and cook on low flame for 5 minutes. Stir gently once to ensure plaintains are not sticking.

4. Add the turmeric, achaari masala and green chilies and cook for another minute. Add the tomato puree and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the oil forms a glaze on the surface, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the peas and the water and mix. Simmer until the peas are cooked and the plaintains are tender, about 15 minutes.

6. Take a few tablespoons of the sauce and mix the mango powder and the garam masala into it. Then pour into the sauce and mix well. Cover and cook over low heat 5 more minutes.

5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with most any meal.

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Strictly following the Jainist principle of not taking life has certain problems in the face of modern science. My father once knew a medical missionary to India who had worked alongside a Jainist spiritual leader. Learning of the principle of reverence for all life, he showed the Jainist a drop of water under a microscope, thus revealing that he could not even take a drink without killing thousands of minute life forms invisible to the naked eye. The Jainist was fascinated and offered the doctor an enormous amount of money for his microscope. Knowing that he could buy several new microscopes with the money he accepted. Whereupon the Jainist took the microscope out into the courtyard and smashed it.

It’s a common reaction to unpleasant information which persists to this very day.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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The Jainist was fascinated and offered the doctor an enormous amount of money for his microscope. Knowing that he could buy several new microscopes with the money he accepted. Whereupon the Jainist took the microscope out into the courtyard and smashed it.

It’s a common reaction to unpleasant information which persists to this very day.

How interesting John. Thanks for sharing this. I think this could be true for most of us and for any of us t hat have any beliefs. We often tend to ignore what may be fractured about what we believe in, but can see clearly every fault, even the most minuscule in another.

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