The Earth's population will surge to EIGHT BILLION by 2025. With increase in population comes an increased demand of food. When this surging population consumes more food that it is able to produce, food prices skyrocket as it did last year.
While we balked at the rice price last year we also gradually became accustomed to it. It is not the same for all people though, higher food prices push more people towards poverty. A's nanny says in Bangladesh food prices are so high that it is hard for the middle class to feed themselves unless one member of the family works in the western world and thus earns high wages.
To meet rising food demand, intellectuals say we need another Green Revolution, the kind that doubled the grain production in Asia especially India during the 60s and 70s. Really ? Aren't theHigh-yield grain varieties, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and the works that worked wonders at the time showing there wrath now. Why do you think villages in Punjab, our one time 'bread basket' are suffering the wraths of cancer today ?
A Greener Revolution may work better says an UN Panel. Duh ? Sustainable farming methods such as composting, crop rotation and interplanting with legumes has been proved to better soil quality, increase yield and reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers.
An interesting low cost project in norther Malawi in Africa, SFHC (Soil, Food and Healthy Comunities project) distributes legume seeds, recipes and technical advice for growing crops like peanut, pigeon peas and soy bean which enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen while enriching the diet as well. Farmers there say, that by crop rotation they have increased yield and cut down fertilizer usage by half.
The projects hogging the limelight however are those by the big shot foundations which focus on bringing Green Revolution to Africa with subsidized farming programs, fertilizers and hybrid seeds. (Source: NatGeo)
Which model will prevail will depend on the powers pushing them. But whatever it is, the surging masses needs to be fed and if that can be achieved with a lower ecological impact planet earth will have few more years of survival.
I love my legumes, a bowl or two of Dal a day keeps me happy. While my favorite is the Red Masoor Dal I rotate my legumes to take advantage of all. Mator Dal or Split peas are the dried peeled and split seeds of Pisum sativum. They come in yellow and green varieties. They have been mechanically split so that they will cook faster.
They are very different from the Indian Toor Dal or Chana Dal though they look similar
Though this dal is relatively common in Bengal, my Ma seldom made it except for in a Tak Dal and consequently I never did. A friend introduced this to me. And it is she from whom I got both the recipes. These are the two ways I have made Mator dal(Split peas) one with veggies the other without. For indexing purposes they are two separete posts.
Check out Sabji Diye Mator Dal or Mator dal with Veggies. Both these dishes go to MLLA # 12 hosted by Annarasa and initiated by none other than Susan
This lovely earthy Mator Dal was what I packed for lunch with some Begun Bhaja and a roasted grape tomato garlic salad. I always love having a bowl of Dal rather than a thick soup. Completely satisfying for both the soul and the tummy. The roasted tomato salad and the eggplants gave the Dal the color and pizzaz that it was missing being earthy and all
The Begun Bhaja or Fried Eggplant is a very simple Bengali delicacy. I see a lot of recipes where the Begun Bhaja is prepared with lots of spices but the ones I have had in my home or other Bengali homes and eventually make are always the simple ones with absolutely no spice other than turmeric. They do soak up some oil so I fry the slender japanese eggplants chopped in mini rounds to have smaller portions of begun bhaja, the oven baked ones are no where near in taste.
Matar Dal/Split Peas
Wash and cook 1 & 1/4 cup of Yellow Split Peas in the pressure cooker with a little turmeric. You can cook in a pot too, it will take longer time though
In a deep bottomed pan heat 3 tsp Oil + 1/2 tsp Ghee
Temper with 1 tsp of Whole Cumin Seeds/Jeera, 3 cloves of garlic minced
When the spices splutter add half of a chopped red onion and 4-5 slit green chillies
Fry till the onion turns a nice pink and is softened
Add the cooked Dal and mix well
Add salt and desired amount of water. I think I added about 1-2 cups of water. Let the dal come to a boil
Just before taking off the heat add a little ghee and 1/2 tsp of Garam Masala powder
We enjoyed this simple Dal with some Begun Bhaja and a roasted salad.
Chop a good quality eggplant in thick rounds or cut vertically
Wash well, pat dry and smear with little turmeric and salt. Set aside for 10-15 minutes
Heat Mustard Oil to smoking.
Slide the eggplant slices gently into the hot oil and fry till golden. Take out with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel
To make the roasted salad, in a decent sized aluminum foil throw together 12-15 grape tomatoes, quarter red onion chopped, 3-4 cloves of garlic, olive oil in fair amount and sea-salt. Close the foil to make a pouch. Bake in oven at 375F till the tomato skins are wrinkled up and garlic is soft
For lunch we had just the Dal with this salad and mini begun bhaja
Trivia: The yellow Split peas is the legume used to make Pease Porridge as in the popular children's rhyme "Pease Porridge Hot"