I love veggies. Always have. And it has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up eating not just a whole lot of vegetables, but also plenty of different types, made in myriad ways. Let me explain. What I mean here is that in our home, mom would not just make every possible type of vegetable she could get her hands on (often we would be told the name of the vegetable after we had eaten it), but make it in multiple ways and combinations too, and ‘ensure’ that we ate a good quantity of it each time. So we would fall in love with the vegetable eventually, without fail. Like I did when she made the spicy, achari karela (bitter gourd), after rejecting her earlier traditional versions like bharwan karela etc. And then when I ate her kadhukhas (shredded) karela stir fried with long sliced onions and tiny sliced potatoes and lots of rai seeds, a love affair began with this often derided vegetable, that continues till date. And it’s the same story with lots of many other not-so-liked (by others) vegetables. For me subzi is not a side dish, but in fact the star of my meals, and I can comfortably down a lot of it at a time. But yes, I agree it doesn’t usually come naturally to most people; it needs to be learnt/taught and practiced. A habit needs to be initiated and then set.
And that’s precisely why the early reports coming in about 2016 being a year when vegetables will be in the forefront and will finally get their due as the original (and humble) superfoods is Super-Good-News to my ears. Really, I couldn’t be happier. But that said I believe that it should be done right, minus any extremism, minus expecting (or advising) people to turn vegan or totally banning and demonizing meat. Instead, we must simply appreciate veggies more and move them to the centre of the plate and our meal menus. Some signs of this happening did begin in 2015 too, with cauliflower coming to the forefront and getting heralded as a super veggie, and also making it to the menus of some haute restaurants world over as part of their pricy dishes.
I remember reading (with a chuckle) interesting news about ‘steaks’ made from cauliflower (replacing rib-eyes) being sold for hefty dollars on prized plates. Lately, asparagus and cabbage too have become must adds, even to meat dishes, and some Indian celebrity chefs too have begun experimenting with the humblest of all vegetables like baingan (eggplant) and lauki (bottle gourd) while serving up some delectable dishes. Keep them coming I say!
Vegetable cookbooks have always been best-sellers in India, but here’s hoping they get a little more imaginative and help fuel this wonderful trend further. And finally, if you ask me which vegetables are predicted to be popular in 2016… I’d say forget the lists, just go visit the vegetable vendor, pick what fancies you and then try to make it in a novel, innovative way. Make it a habit and you’ll score high levels of fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, co-enzymes and phytochemicals … So go on, ride the trend and give vegetables a new lease of life. And it’ll give you one too, as without doubt including more vegetables in your diet is possibly the best habit change you can bring about in your life. One that’ll make you intrinsically healthy.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She is also the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico). She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan