How did they feel when they landed on lands that were so alien to what they had seen their entire life? Were they forced to leave their home country because the far off lands promised them a life that their home land could not afford? Was life back home so miserable that they readily boarded a ship to cross an ocean they had never seen? Was it the spirit of adventure, the innate human curiosity to see and experience things that were new? What ever it was, we were absolutely unapologetic about it. We went everywhere, where ever we went, we took a part of homeland and made a new land our new home. So people in Trinidad still eat what their ancestors remembered for their meals back home albeit with new ingredients and substitutions for ingredients that were hard to find. That is why curry is so pervasive all across the populations descending from the south Asian stock. (I meam the broader sense of curry, the subzi,bhaji, saaru,kari, all together)
As I think of all these people, I think of myself an expat too. I also think of people who came to the States about thirty-forty years ago, who ended having and raising kids here. The first time they set their foot in this country of skyscrapers, underwater tunnels, cable bridges and other engineering marvels! of 24 hr electricity, metaled roads, cars...coming from a country that had a handful of airports let alone metaled roads or 24 hr electricity or TV! When I set foot here for the first time, it was just another place. I was used to almost 24 hrs electricity, back up power, broadband internet, car and a pot holed but still metaled road. There were a few cultural surprises but I was not surprised that buildings could indeed be so high. All I could marvel was the time they were constructed. Just around the time when my great grand father as a police officer rode a horse all night long across tiger infested jungles to attend a status meeting with his British bosses!
As I try to incorporate more seasonal produce in my menus, the more I Indianize, just like our forefathers elsewhere did, to please our palate. So here goes a sort of Vangibhath styled Brussel Sprouts rice. Please do not go in search of Brussel sprouts if it is hard to find. Just substitute any leafy member of the cabbage family.
Rice 2 cups cooked and cooled
Brussel sprouts 2 lbs washed cleaned
Peanut oil 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 15-20
Green chillies 2-3 (Adjust according to taste)
Hing a dash
Chilli powder 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Dhania powder 2 tsp
Jeera powder 2 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste
- Spice the brussel sprouts length wise and chop the halved into thin strips (julienne). Set it aside.
- Heat oil in a wok. Once hot, throw in the mustard, Jeera and Hing.
- Once the spices stop spluttering, thrown in the curry leaves and the slit green chillies. Once they stop sizzling, throw in the powdered spices. Saute the spices for a few seconds till aromatic and throw in the brussel sprouts.
- Saute the sprouts till tender crisp. Keep moving the vegetable, we need it nice and tender not steamed and mushy.
- Adjust salt and remove from heat.
- Stir in the cooled rice, adjust lemon juice and serve warm with yogurt on the side.