Do you like Indian food? I have a heart for the people of India, and I really enjoy good food of all types, but I have a confession to make: Indian food is not my favorite. I will eat it (and indeed like some things), but I guess my palette just prefers other flavors that are more common in the United States. However, as I sought inspiration for this blog post, it occurred to me that maybe readers would be interested to know what the Bethania kids eat. So this is my feeble attempt to give you a “taste journey” to South India, courtesy of the Mysore Cafe in Rochester, Minnesota (please excuse my amateur photography).
While I am certainly not an expert, I think I can make a few general comments about South Indian food. First, like many other cultures of the world, rice is a staple ingredient. Many dishes are vegetarian and based on dried lentils, chickpeas, beans, and potatoes. You may find chicken and lamb, occasionally beef, but many practicing Hindus do not eat meat because cows are sacred in their religion. When I visited India I did not find much variety in the foods, and I’m sure this is due to the availability of ingredients in the region. It certainly made me more appreciative of all that I can enjoy in the States. So here is a short introduction* to some of the food that the Bethania kids are likely eating:
Idli and Sambar: This is a popular breakfast dish. Idlis are steamed cakes made of rice and fermented black lentils. Sambar is a vegetable stew made of pigeon peas.
Dosai: This is very similar to a crepe. They are thin, crispy, rolled up, and taste slightly sour. Sometimes they can be really long! Fresh off the stove and served on a banana leaf, these are really good.
Dahl and Rice: My guess is that the Bethania kids eat this on a daily basis. I ate this quite often when I visited India. Dahl is another vegetable stew (similar to sambar) made of lentils or beans. It is a meatless form of protein that can be prepared in multiple ways, depending on the base ingredient.
I can tell you with confidence that the children are well-nourished, and the cooks are good stewards of their grocery budgets. I recall eating lunch with a day care center on my last visit, and it was explained to me that the children are all given small portions at first. If they are still hungry after finishing their food, they may have seconds. But they are very careful not to waste any food. This was a good, humbling reminder when I consider the enormous plates served at many American restaurants.
So the next time you find yourself at an Indian buffet, or picking up frozen Chicken Biriyani at Trader Joe’s, I hope you’ll be reminded of the Bethania Kids. It is due to the generosity of so many donors that these children are healthy and thriving, even if what they eat daily isn’t necessarily what stocks my refrigerator.
*Wikipedia.org was helpful to me in preparing this blog piece.