This article first appeared in The Hindustan Times’ Brunch magazine on Sunday, April 2, 2008.
She says tomato, I say… succulent, juicy steak, and don’t hold the sauce.
Among the many things couples argue over at the dinner table, my wife and I have added vegetables and hunks of meat. You see, ours is a divided household — my wife upholding the virtues of vegetarianism, while my daughter and I separate the pieces of meat in the bowl and discard the rest.
As with most things that have gone wrong in my life, I blame my parents. I was raised on a Bohra diet: trotters (paaya, for those who only know it by its Indian name) and ‘cocktail kababs’ (mince, onions and other unidentified frying objects padded together and eaten before better sense ruins your meal) for breakfast, mutton or chicken curry with rice for lunch and more flesh for dinner.
Also, a Bohra social function is incomplete without at least two drowned-in-gravy savouries (even mentioning veggies could result in excommunication), two sweet dishes and oil-soaked biryani or pulao. The oft-repeated joke at the thaal (the large metal plate around which Bohras gather for a meal) is, “Bay khaaraas, bay mithaas, pachhi bypass.” (Two savouries, two sweet dishes, then a bypass.)
But I’m unapologetic about it. You need to understand what a well-made rogan josh can do for your soul (let’s not think about what it does to your arteries, though).
Why don’t I do vegetables? This quote I read on the internet describes it best: “I feel wise after drinking tea. After eating vegetables, I just feel hungry.”
As for healthy eating, I once read a line delivered by a character in the 2005 film Kicking and Screaming: “I take a vitamin every day. It’s called a steak.”
I guess the non-vegetarianism is hardwired into my DNA. So, go ahead, call me what you want — “meat freak” is among the more polite things I’ve been branded.
I don’t care. I’ll just dig into my prawn curry and the world will seem just right.