Plain Rice with Complaint Curry

25 Nov

I don’t like rice.

Yeah, I know – sacrilege! Bring out the pitchforks! As a South Indian I should be consuming it by the handful, disguised as dosa and puttu for breakfast, drowned in curd and sambar for lunch, and soup-style kanji for dinner. It is the holy food of our sainted ancestors. It is the green in our wallet and the brown in our toilet.

Thing is, I think it sucks. I don’t mind it so much when it’s pounded into another form – although! Yo, puttu! Why must you settle in my stomach like lead? Really tasty, sawdusty, good-for-bowel-movement-I’m-sure lead – but rice on its own tastes kind of cold and sour. Maybe it’s psychological but that’s always how it hits my taste buds. Bleh, I say.

This means I’m that fifth-columnist of Onam, the Benedict Arnold of the Cauvery, the traitor of Madurai, the Brutus of Kuchipudi that the true believers have always warned against. Whatever. You’re still not making me eat that stuff.

Unless I’m offered some, that is. What? I’m not going to march into someone’s house and sniff at their food. If they cooked rice and want me to eat it, I’ll bloody well eat it. If I can drink lassi to be polite (it came at the end of a very nice Jain meal and took me within two. seconds. of projectile vomiting. And there was an end to my dairy-related nobility for all time), I can choke down some rice.

It’s not that bad. Just, you know, not my favorite thing. It’s like fish – kittens of the sea have nothing to fear from me at all, but if one were to end up on my plate, it’s going to win a one-way ticket to my tummy all the same because that would be the polite thing to do.

In my family, my freakish refusal to chow down on this beloved bounty of our janma-bhoomi when offered a choice is seen variously as an eccentricity, uppity nonsense and an outrage. Especially when it is seen that I will eat our ancestral food only if it is untouched by curry.

That’s right, people of the world. I like virgin rice. For those of you not in the know, this means I’m a pervert.

My aunt, a much more indulgent version of my mother with plenty of freakish dietary habits of her own, is probably the most sympathetic. Instead of spending hours railing against the tastes of a toddler with a princess complex and a stubborn chin, she figured out a solution early on – she cooked the rice till it was almost glue, poured the leftover broth on top of it and served it with either chicken or shrimp, both fried to the consistency of rubber. Tasty, burnt, caramelized, beyond-hope-of-reanimation or reincarnation rubber.


I have no idea why I love it so much. Maybe it’s because she fed me herself – an indulgence my own mother would have laughed to bits – or maybe it’s just that good. The closest I can recommend to you sad people without access to my auntie and her delicious kitchen is eating sticky rice with Hibachi Yakitori. Kinda unusual and not really the same but I think of it as a second cousin.

To my mother this is all nonsense. And that’s easy for her to say because she doesn’t give a damn. After nearly forty years of life with three very picky eaters, she couldn’t care less who was eating what in which way as long as everybody was eating something without chewing her ear off. I believe most mothers come to this position sooner or later in their lives. The rest can be found sedated in their rooms.

It is my father who is most offended by my tastebuds. It’s as though he sees it as a judgment on his parenting. Like I grew up into a wheat-chewing foreigner while he was busy at the office.

“We are South Indians,” he tells me patiently. “We eat rice. Look at your mother. Look at me. Look at your grandparents. Your uncles and aunts. We eat rice.”

“That’s nice,” I reply, struggling for the same tone of “Listen Retard” that he achieves without even trying. “But I don’t want it. Thanks.”

Because it never hurts to be polite. Eventually, after days of his inspecting my plate and passing occasionally silent yet potent judgment on it, I finally bow down and load my plate with rice. You’d think that’d make him happy. That would be a “no”.

“What are you eating with that? Let me pour this fish curry over it,” he says helpfully.

“Thanks,” I say politely as the fish stare smugly back at me from the curry (speaking of, whatchu staring at sea-kitty? I’m not the one chewing your bones. Fish are unjust). “But I don’t want any.”

He blinks at me. “But we live on the coast. We eat fish. I eat fish. When your mother isn’t being a religious fanatic, she eats fish. Your grandparents ate fish…”

Oh lord. Take me now. Finally, because I do not feel strongly enough about fish to stage a satyagraha against it, I give in and spoon some of it dutifully onto my plate where it stares at me with its cold fishy eyes some more. STFU, fish.

“What is this?” comes my father’s voice on cue.

WHAT, GODDAMMIT? “Yes?” I ask politely.

“Why aren’t you eating more rice?”

I look at my plate which has the exact same amount of rice my mother eats for lunch. I look at my father’s plate which has roughly triple the amount. “I’m fine, thank you,” I tell him.

“For such a big body, you must eat more,” he informs me kindly.

Sure, Daddy, calling me a giant tub of lard is going to make me head right for that big bowl of carbohydrates on the table. I glare at him.

He looks at me with complete innocence. By a complicated set of elimination and deduction (okay fine, Ma told me) I realize he’s been leafing through my mother’s magazines and is now worried I might have an eating disorder.

Oh, for the love of…!! No. I just don’t like rice.


Posted by on November 25, 2009 in Personal


18 responses to “Plain Rice with Complaint Curry

  1. buddy

    November 25, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    so you rice to the occasion only when required?

  2. pitu

    November 25, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    WIN!!! HAHA

  3. pitu

    November 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I hate rice too! I don’t like sada rice, any manner of fried rice, biryani, khichdi, pulao anything! The only rice I like is Minnesota Wild Rice cause of the nutty flavor. I do so love dosas tho! Good thing is, not liking rice is no biggie among us wheat eaters. I go thru Golden Temple durum atta like nobody’s business. The real problem though is my hatred of coconut. Have you eaten Marathi Koknastha food? We put coconut in koshimbir (raita), on top of snacks, in dals, in curries, on top of vegetables, in chiwda, in sweets, in rice… it’s an endless parade of coconut. At least we don’t fry in coconut oil, thank the Lord. In fact my huband calls us Coconasty Brahmins :mrgreen:

    I think if I had been born Keralite, I’d have starved to death. Rice + Coconut = EWWWW!

  4. sachita

    November 25, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    “It’s as though he sees it as a judgment on his parenting. Like I grew up into a wheat-chewing foreigner while he was busy at the office.” – haha coz that is how my dad reacts to some other behavior.

    Thankfully, my mom isnt reading any of the magazines so no chance of dad reading it, coz i am a socialist when it comes to food. I eat rice, roti, naan, pasta, bread, salad – yes everything, all with equal affection:) surely that must be some sort of disorder!

    God feared for cows, birds so ensured i was born into a vegetarian family, otherwise…

    I would have typed coconut as I am not too fond of it in kootus but then had a konkani roommate and she used this coconut-redchilli mix on some curries – divine. I like even oatmeal, brown rice these days 🙂 may be it is all the effect of eating my own cooking!

  5. fromherewegosublime

    November 25, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Id eat rice three times a day if I could.

  6. apu

    November 26, 2009 at 12:39 am

    You traitor, you!

    (Having got that out of the way)

    I had a Sardarni friend who was a total rice freak…her family cribbed about having to make rice “specially” for her while everyone else was chomping on their parathas…. maybe you guys got exchanged at the hospital?

  7. Gradwolf

    November 26, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Lol I was proud of my flexibility with rice/roti in a family full of ardent rice eaters(who frantically went looking for idli/dosa/rice stuff on the streets of Ajmer once). And then two years of frozen-roti-from-Indian Store-heat-on-tawa-and-eat-with-pickle-from-India ritual in grad school, I came home to my aunt’s place in NJ and hogged on some sambar, rice, mor kozhambu and stuff for 3 months! But yeah, good thing, I can live with it!

  8. nsfw

    November 26, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Wah, wah! You MUST share this with your father. :p

  9. DewdropDream

    November 26, 2009 at 5:42 am

    I’m with you there! I don’t really like rice all that much and I’m South Indian too. Thankfully the family doesn’t crib about it because we’re all about balanced meals in the family (chapati, sabzi, daal, side-dishes, rice and dahi … every single meal). ‘Course, now that I live on my own I’d rather make chapatis than make rice … rice is for those days when I cannot be arsed to cook 😀

    Btw, rice+methkoot or rice with salt, ghee and wee bit of lemon … incomparable!

  10. Nita

    November 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I think not liking rice is healthy! Nothing can be as unhealthy as white polished rice! I guess your body is telling you to keep off junk food! My body though craves for junk, including white rice! 🙂

  11. Srinivas

    November 26, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    God..even I would eat rice three times if I could. Yeh kya hain Amrita? How can someone “not like” rice :)???

  12. Broom

    November 26, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I wish I hated rice.

  13. bollyviewer

    November 27, 2009 at 1:11 am

    hahaha Sounds like me and my family in reverse. I crave rice – like three times a day. And this, in a family where rice more than once a week was rice too often! My father would anxiously scan the family genealogy to finds traces of South Indian or Bengali blood somewhere to account for my strange preference for rice over roti/paratha. The best part of not living at home anymore? I can eat rice as often as I like and NEVER have to eat roti/phulka/paratha EVER (unless I want to – and that never happens more than once a year). 😀 we were both born in the wrong families!

  14. Amrita

    November 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Buddy – I’m so gonna steal that line :mrgreen:

    Pitu – Bwahahaha @ Coconasty Brahmins! We’re pretty coconasty at our home too. I don’t mind so much if the coconuts are fresh and if I can’t smell the coconut oil. I draw the line at omelettes made in coconut oil the way my mother tries to make me eat. I have had Koknastha food and I thought it was yummy but then I don’t have to eat it everyday 😀 The one thing made out of coconut i WILL NOT eat is coconut barfi. It’s more of a barf, less of a barfi.

    Sachita – I only ever learn to cook things I like to eat so when I’m cooking there’s a lot of peace in the house. 😀

    Fromherewegosublime – you can have my share!

    Apu – no wonder my taste in movies is so screwed 😀

    Adithya – “sambar, rice, mor kozhambu” holy cow, that’s my trifecta of barf. Oh yes, I’m a sambar hater too. When the revolution against Aryan hegemony comes, I’ll be in the first tumbril to the guillotine.

    Nsfw – I ahred it instead with my mother who then greatly enjoyed sharing it with my father 😀 My mommy is twice as evil as me.

    3D – well anything with a little salt, ghee and lemon is an automatic win where I’m concerned! 😀 My favorite chinese noodles are butter noodles: noodles tossed with butter, maybe a dash of garlic and a spritz of lemon to perk them up. I could eat it by the ton and it always freaks my mother out.

    Nita – well if my body is telling me to stay off the junk food, it’s not doing a very good job listening. 😀 My diet would shock you.

    Srinivas – *hands head in shame, goes to sit in corner*

    Broom – tsk tsk, rice eaters!

    BV – HOW my family would love you!

  15. Food Fate-ish

    November 28, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Hey Ms. Eggs Benedict! Given the utter improbability of this scenario, I’m tempted to go the Apu/BV route and suggest that the odds are high you were switched at birth. 😛 (Pa and ma know already but are in denial… ok, ok, theories, theories.)

    But does that stop me from loving this sweetly sentimental rant against rice? Hell no! (I savored every bit of the (W)heat you give saadham here, not to mention that exclusively South-Indian dad-daughter/son dynamic.)

    And like Sachita, I’m an equal-opportunity lover when it comes to food. Pasta, rice (brown or white), bread (wheat or rye), what not…bring it on. (Except on Sunday afternoons when I much prefer the house favorite, growing up — sambar saadham with chepankizhangu roast, topped off with thayir saadham. Sound familiar, Sachita?)

    BTW, I may have a new best friend here…buddy! (Who I’m betting is either Punjabi or Tamil — two of the world’s front-runners in kadi, don’t you think?!) 😀

    • FF

      December 1, 2009 at 3:27 pm

      p.s: For some reason today, I’m hooked on your golden oldies. So bear with me while I put forth a pronouncement: I hereby reunite thee, dear AntiFood Article, with your rightful family… in time for your second birthday!

      And I absolutely gagged on the wild-card veggie on the list, #6:

      “But – but – the potato! That doesn’t taste bad. It tastes good!” You’re darn right it tastes good. Too good. There’s reason in everything, people and there’s no need for a veggie to taste this good. In fact, this one tastes so good, it does the very opposite of what a vegetable is supposed to do and can actually be bad for your health. That’s how good it is. Incendiary! I have this instant craving for garlic fries now (freezer, oven, here I come!). 😛

      • Amrita

        December 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

        Dammit, now I’m hungry.

  16. deej

    December 3, 2009 at 7:02 am

    HAHAHAHAHA! Your poor long suffering parents. I feel their pain. Esp since Princess Mint! gah.

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