Sunday, November 07, 2010

Desperately seeking urad…

It wasn’t until I began eating authentic Indian food prepared by the dada from the Ananda Marga center, who cooked lunch every day for the woman whose house I cleaned, that I even knew such a thing as urad existed. Urad is a small bean sort of thing that is used to make dal.

He complained to me one day that cooking authentically the dishes from home was difficult because they couldn’t find the right ingredients locally. They had to depend on a monk from Kansas City (about a 6-hour drive) to bring them supplies.

Some of the monks marched in the 4th of July parade several years ago.

I thought it was great.

I think we have become aware in recent years that cultures around the world grow and eat fruits and vegetables and other things that we have no clue about. Sometimes these strange fruits and vegetables show up in the markets.

Having grown up in the city of Gardena, with a very high percentage of Japanese American and Asian residents, I was aware of all of the exotic things from Japan that could be fashioned into wonderful meals. But Indian food was mostly a mystery until we moved here.

The last time Richard and I drove to California, we went to Little India and I came back with mass quantities of these small urads in various colors (but I did not top Richard, who in another previous trip, bought two 25-pound sacks of sticky rice from the Japanese market in Gardena that we hauled home.)

Fortunately, we don’t have to stock up any more on Japanese items and carry it 1,500 miles across country because in the last 5 years or so several Asian markets have sprung up in Springfield. In fact, when I stopped by the Asian market the last time I was in Springfield, I met up with a couple who I see here at the Y several times a week who were also stocking up (the wife is Vietnamese).

And now the urad is finally gone, and there still is not a source for Indian things in Springfield. I can make do with mung beans and red lentils for dal, but it really is better with the urad.

So. I will have to decide if (1) I am going to journey to Little India and by more urad, and (2) if I do, how much can I cram into a priority box to mail back home?


Oklahoma Granny said...

I'm ok with trying different beans, vegetables and fruits from other countries but that's as far as I could go. I have a blog friend that is currently living in Korea and they eat dog there. I have another friend from Peru and they eat guinea pigs there. I could never consider even tasting those things.

Donna said...

I love trying dishes from other countries. There's a contrast, something exciting to the taste buds, when you eat foods different that what you're used to. Thanks to blogs, I met a fellow born in Russia who loves to cook; he introduced me to borscht. Cliff and I can't get enough of it.