A couple of months ago, we took a friend who was visiting Seattle, to see some of the iconic sights. After a stroll along the Olympic Sculpture Gardens and navigating the crowds outside Pike Place market, we went inside to see the fishmongers. It was there, opposite the famous fish stall and next to the flowers, that my hay fever allergy started. I’d never had allergies before so I thought I was coming down with something until the food allergies also kicked in. For the first time in my life, eating an apple made my lips swell up and my throat burn. And oatmeal (at least I think it is oatmeal) made me feel ill.
So my list of Things That I Cannot Eat grew from just dairy to include gluten, sugar, oatmeal, apple, pear, alcohol and some nuts among other things. I’d already been on a cleanse so while it wasn’t as hard as you might think, I’d sometimes scratch my head in despair trying to figure out what to cook. This has all been a bit of a bizarre experience especially since I ate pretty healthy to begin with. The allergy test results will be back in a few weeks and I’m crossing my fingers that some of those foods will come off the list.
I’m taking this as a challenge and an exercise in creativity. While I miss some familiar things like rotis, naans and chapatis, I can still make ragi rottis. Instead of white rice, I’ve switched completely over to brown and red rices and don’t miss white rice at all. Desserts? I’d given up sweets a long time ago anyway. What do I miss? Granola. Oatmeal with banana. A glass of wine with dinner. Samosas. Pasta. Parmigiano. The simple things in life really.
BUT there are still so many things that I can eat. For instance, I had slices of avocado with freshly ground pepper, Thai style egg curry with Sri Lankan rice, and this lovely mung bean salad from South India for lunch today. While my food needs to nourish my body, it still needs to taste good to nourish my soul. And this lunch hit the spot. It is crunchy, full of flavor, filling, and allergen free!
It’s not quite summer yet but I’m sure most of you are eagerly awaiting it. I know I am. I can’t wait to trade in boots for sandals and to stop carrying around an umbrella. In the meantime, I’m declaring it summer at home.
So here’s my recipe for Kosambri or mung bean and cucumber salad from Karnataka. I’m sorry to say that there is no more salad left. The husband couldn’t get enough of it last night which made me very happy.
The ratio of ingredients is approximate. Feel free to vary to your taste.
- 1 cup mung beans, rinsed and soaked for 2 days or till it sprouts.
- 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 green chilis, sliced lengthwise (optional)
- Salt to taste
Mix together all the ingredients except for the salt and toss well. Add salt to taste just before serving so that the cucumber stays crunchy.
I used whole mung beans although the original version of this salad uses split mung beans. Sprouted beans have more nutrition and are easier to digest. Plus I love how mung beans look.
I defrosted frozen grated coconut. If you don’t have access to an Indian store, you can sometimes find dessicated unsweetened coconut flakes in regular grocery stores. Rehydrate the flakes in warm water for 10 minutes.