Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shub Diwali

My workplace is, to say the least, highly diverse when it comes to religion. We have Christians of course; we have lots of Hindus, quite a few Israeli Jews, and a sprinkling of Muslims and Buddhists. One would think management would try to tippy-toe around holidays, but the opposite is true. The company deals with diversity by celebrating everything. Rosh Hashanah, Christmas, Chinese New Year, you name it and we throw a party for it.

One of my personal favorites is Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and it just so happens to start this Friday. Tables will be spread with Indian food brought in from up north (the local samosas evidently are only good enough for every day) and during the afternoon there will be a cricket match.

Diwali is an excuse for the many Americanized employees to wear traditional dress. It’s usually too cold here in the fall for saris but the salwar-khameez are sure to be dazzling. I think salwar-khameez are the most comfortable and the most becoming things ever designed for women. They look good on any figure and they can be as spectacular or as low key as you wish. They are ideal for hot sticky climates; my Indian colleagues always look cool and pulled together in them on the muggiest Midwest summer day.

While on a business trip to India this summer to I bought three sets, two for everyday and one for dress-up. None of them, alas, are warm enough so I will be in my traditional native dress; jeans, running shoes, and a grey sweatshirt with MARINES on the front.

Since the prediction for Friday is cloudy and 50 degrees, I will be making the following recipe, adapted from one I saw on an Indian website, to fortify me. It is a great quick supper dish and without the rice makes a good low-carb breakfast.

Beans and Eggs

One medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 T oil
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
¼ t. red pepper flakes
(I sometimes substitute Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning for the red pepper flakes)
¼ t. turmeric
1 can diced tomatoes
Pinch sugar
4 eggs
Pinch salt

Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat until golden. Add the pinto beans, the red pepper flakes and the turmeric. Stir and cook for about two minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with juice and a healthy pinch of sugar. Stir and cook for about five minutes longer.

Make 4 depressions in the simmering mixture with the back of a ladle. Break an egg gently in each depression. Sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook for five to eight more minutes until the eggs are set.

Serve over rice. If it were earlier in the year I’d make mint chutney to go with it but we’ve already had two heavy frosts and the mint is wimping out on me. Otherwise I would put two big fistfuls of mint leaves in the food processor with a heaping tablespoon of dried coconut, a dollop of homemade yogurt, a very small jalapeno, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Buzz it up to a thick paste and add more yogurt if needed.

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