In the brave new world of their choice, many migrants often cling to their past and roots like captives in amber gems. Some surrender themselves to the ‘melting pot’ to become harmonious with the dominant culture. Yet others, and happily a growing majority, assert that cultural differences within a multicultural society are to be treasured and preserved. They choose to embrace the metaphor of a rich tapestry or a hearty salad bowl to denote a culturally and racially diverse society where people from different cultures mix, yet maintain their identity in their new domicile.
Last Sunday’s Superbowl was an exemplar of how so many of my Indian friends have embraced the traditions of their chosen homeland. My FB news feeds kept turning rapidly with friends, men and women alike, posting a minute-by-minute account of the happenings with enthusiasm and energy.
Also interesting was how my foodie friends on FB and in the blog sphere posted dishes from their own culture that they had cooked for their very American tailgating parties.
Tailgating parties I learnt, are usually held at the sporting venues, in the parking lots, with the tailgate of the SUVs drawn out and used as a counter to place the food. They are also held in people’s homes. The dishes are usually pooled in like in a potluck and are more often that not finger food with dips.
Learning about the culture of the game, the associated revelry and the good-natured rivalry, the food and drink connection and recipes specific to this game was fun, but what made a lasting impression was how Indian dishes fitted in- not melted in- but companionably rubbing shoulders with dips and buffalo wings.
Flipping through tailgating party recipes I came across a pumpkin dip with ground cumin, yoghurt and peanut butter and was struck by its similarity with the Maharashtrian pumpkin raita.
I didn’t waste any time making this raita for an event by my friend Preeti Deo, herself a migrant. Her event, the Ruchira Give Away features Marathi dishes presented on a modern table, or Marathi dishes created and styled to resemble another dish in a different cuisine.
An Indian migrant blogger in Australia discovers a dip similar to a raita while studying a very American game’s culture and decides to make it as an entry for an event featuring Marathi dishes hosted by another Indian migrant blogger from the UK.
It can’t get more multicultural, can it?
Raitas are condiments, which have been prepared by whisking raw rai or mustard powder into the yoghurt dressing.
1½ cup cooked and roughly mashed pumpkin- microwaved butternut is the best
2 tablespoons grated fresh or desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon fresh ginger paste
2 tablespoons roasted and roughly ground peanuts (optional)
½ teaspoon freshly ground mustard (increase the quantity if you like it!)
½ teaspoon roasted jeera powder
A tablespoon of chopped green coriander
A pinch of red chilli powder
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon sugar or substitute if the pumpkin is not quite sweet, to balance the sourness of the yoghurt
For the tempering (this is optional – I haven’t used it in this raita)
1 tablespoon oil/ghee
½ teaspoon of mustard seeds
½ teaspoon of jeera
A few curry leaves
A generous pinch of hing
1 or 2 green chillies, cut into small pieces, depending on how hot you want it!
Mix the cooked and roughly mashed pumpkin, grated coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger paste, roasted jeera powder, chilli powder, salt and sugar together. In another small bowl, vigorously mix the mustard powder and some of the yoghurt so that the mustard lets out its flavour. Add the yoghurt mixture and the rest of the yoghurt to the pumpkin mixture.
In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and jeera seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the chillies, curry leaves and hing. Pour it on top of the raita and garnish with the chopped coriander leaves. (As I said, this is optional.)
It’s a very easy dish and can be served as a side dish with practically any mains and rice or rotis.