There is a vegetable commonly available in TamilNadu known as vellai pooosanikkai which translates to white pumpkin.
|Image credit: wikimedia commons|
Apparently it is also called Ash Gourd. In these parts like Singapore and Malaysia, we get slices of something called wintermelon at the supermarket which looks and tastes quite similar and that is what I use for the vellai poosanikkai recipes. I am not sure if they are the same, if not they are definitely siblings!
This watery vegetable is quite big and oblong in shape. We add them to our curries and even make halwa with them . ( a sweet about which I had spoken in my H post.)
Another use for this vegetable is in a non food context. The poosanikkai is extensively used to remove "kan dhrishti" or the evil eye! It is believed that when anything good is happening , or anything is functioning well as expected, the onlooker's thoughts or envy can cast an evil eye that may have repercussions. Babies, newborns, pregnant women, children, newly married couples, new job, new home, new car, wealth, health, fame,beauty..... the subject's list is limitless!
Thankfully for this belief, there is a counter system in practise. There are ways to ward off the evil eye effect. Some light camphor and move it in a circle in front of the family members especially children. Some do the same with red chillies and then throw them in the fire. Some apply a small black mark under the child's foot with kajal( a paste traditionally made with soot used for eye make up). Some tie black threads to the bonnet of newly bought cars. Some hang pictures of donkeys or demonic masks outside of their homes. This topic needs a book on its own and a post can't cover even 10%.
Coming back to the vegetable, it is a common practice to light camphor on this melon, move it in circles and then crash it on the ground to ward off all evil eye effect.
At a spiritual level some believe this to be related to aura etc. Some say that it is just a superstition.It is the belief system I grew up in and if you ask me if I believe it, I would be lying if I said Not at all! Its a deeply engrained part of our culture. I don't know if its true but no one proved otherwise! Anyone can tell me something is beautiful. Camphor or the wintermelon can handle the effect! Ha ha
Food from other lands:
I tasted wasabi flavored chips some time back. Its a Japanese condiment or paste made from a radish type plant as far as I know. It has a strong pungent flavor. Something that hits you on the head - that strong! Have you had wasabi before?
Food for thought:
DO NOT WASTE FOOD
There are people that have to walk miles for drinking water or struggling for a fistful of rice. Let us do what we can !
This post is written as part of the A to Z blogging challenge, an annual event in April when many of us bloggers all over the globe publish one post every day for each letter of the alphabet(except Sundays)