Monday, April 23, 2012

Vegetable Vermicelli

I was on a two week vacation in Yemen and returned last week.  When asked about my holiday, I am sometimes at a loss of what to say or how to describe it.  We met the family, which was nice.  We met friends, ate and had fun – which was all very nice.  We even went to a private beach every day.

Holidays are sometimes about running away from your daily routine and engaging in a new one to charge up when you get back.  Holidays are about relaxing and eating and having fun.  I did get all of it during my vacation in Yemen.  Then why can I not say I enjoyed my vacation when asked about it.  Why am I at a loss of words?  Should the lawlessness we observed be ignored since we were on vacation?  Should the poverty be overlooked?  Should the fact that schools were converted to asylum centers for the homeless not really be my concern since I was only on a vacation?  The fact is that we did have a good time but what we saw could not be ignored.  The plight of the children brought up in a zone where the army and tanks were everywhere, the extremes of poverty and wealth witnessed amongst the population, the fact that people rely on generators rather than electricity, where planning makes no sense as you have no idea if the roads would be open tomorrow or you could fill your tank with gas or if the airports could be closed. 

I asked my children aged 13 and 10 what they thought would improve the situation of the country.  My son very wisely answered, “Educate the next generation…this generation is a lost one”.  I wish his words were not true – what would happen to a nation who has lost an entire generation.  But as the days went by and our vacation came to a close, I thought his observation was accurate.  

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6


500 grams vermicelli
3 medium sized potatoes
3 medium sized carrots
100 grams French beans
8 florets cauliflower
1 medium sized green capsicum
1 medium sized red capsicum
½ cup green peas
2” piece ginger
2 medium sized white onions
1 green chili
8 curry leaves
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 teaspoons black gram split (urad dal)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste


  1. Peel, wash and cut potatoes and carrots into one centimeter cubes.   String, wash and cut French beans into one centimeter pieces.  Wash cauliflower florets. Wash, halve, deseed and cut capsicum into one centimeter cubes.   Wash and drain green peas.  Peel, wash and finely chop ginger and onion. Remove stems, wash and slit green chili.  Wash and pat dry curry leaves.  
  2.  Boil potato, carrot and cauliflower in 4 cups water till nearly done.  Add the French beans and peas and boil further for five minutes.  Drain and cool.  
  3.  Heat 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add vermicelli, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Cook for one minute or till slightly underdone.  Drain, refresh under cold water and keep aside.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a pan, temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves.  Add black gram split, ginger, onion and chili.  Saut√© till the onion turns light brown.   
  5. Add the capsicum and turmeric powder and fry for another five minutes.  Now add the cooked vegetables and continue to stir.   
  6. Add the cooked vermicelli, salt and stir gently. Cook for another five to six minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix lemon juice and serve hot.

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