Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Revisiting Good and Evil…

I saw a movie this weekend that left me with a lot of disturbing thoughts. The interesting thing is that this was a Telugu Movie, a language I am not familiar with and I mostly understood happenings through subtitles…despite this fact the movie had a deep impact on me  and it was humbling (JL, I won’t ever laugh over your tears for KKHH subtitles…I understand). The movie was Manirathnam’s famous (infamous) Villain which has also been remade in Hindi as Raavan with a famous actor son playing the lead role.
The basic premise of the movie is that ethics is very personal. As Aristotle put it,
When a person acts in accordance with his nature and realizes his full potential, he will do good and be content. At birth, a baby is not a person, but a potential person. To become a "real" person, the child's inherent potential must be realized. Unhappiness and frustration are caused by the unrealized potential of a person, leading to failed goals and a poor life. Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing in vain." Therefore, it is imperative for persons to act in accordance with their nature and develop their latent talents in order to be content and complete. Happiness was held to be the ultimate goal. All other things, such as civic life or wealth, are merely means to the end. Self-realization, the awareness of one's nature and the development of one's talents, is the surest path to happiness.
Our Indian Belief system however has very clear cut definitions of Good and Evil and it was inconceivable that what might be treated Good by one belief system could be bad in another…take for example Ramayana – Rama was absolute good vs. Ravan who was the epitome of bad. In reality, Rama lost a little bit of my respect when he distrusted his wife and asked her to go thru’ Agni Pariksha to prove her virtue…but how can the acts of a God be deemed Evil…yet by doing what he did Rama actually ensured that women were assured a lower place in the already firmly patriarchal society. The movie  strengthened my belief that there is no right answer on ethics – it is very personal and shaped by the way you have been socialized. To toast this discovery I want to share with you a very special recipe that I created this week…
Black & White Chili
Soak Overnight Black Beans (1 cup) and Canelli Beans (1 cup)
1.       In a pressure cooker or Dutch pot – Fry 2 finely chopped  Red Onions, 2-8 pods of crushed garlic (based on your preference), 1-2 Chilies ( Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano…or Habenaro depending on your spice tolerance level)
2.       When the Onions have browned, add three chopped tomatoes (you can add some veggies like Carrot or Celery but this week I decided not to add any).
3.       Roasted Cumin Powder, 3 crushed All-Spice (optional), Cardamom Powder, Turmeric  Powder (again optional and I use it for health benefits)
4.       At this stage add in ground meat if you are adding any for browning ( I usually skip this stage as I don’t add meats)
5.       I add the beans and Organic Vegetable Stock
6.       If you are simmering in Dutch Pot, let it simmer for 60 minutes to 90 minutes. If you are lucky like me and own a pressure cooker, let it go for 12 whistles on low to medium heat…trust me seems like a lot but it needs it.
7.       Let the Chili rest.  Stir add Salt to taste and squeeze in the juice of a lemon to taste.
8.       Serve with lots of chopped fresh cilantro and a piece of crusty bread
This dish is ALL good for you, with each cup of Chili giving about 15-18 grams of fiber (over 65% of DV) and 7-10 grams of Protein. I usually serve an easy tomato and cucumber salad with this chili. What beans do you have in your pantry? I currently have Dark Red Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Pinto Beans, Aduzki Beans, Black Beans, Black Eyed Beans, Black and Pale Garbanzo Beans…one of my tenets for simple living – Eat less meat, add more organic lentils and legumes as a good solid source of protein…

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