Living away from ‘home’ means different things to different people. Opportunities, better prospects, better standard of living, better comforts etc might come across as Pros of living outside one’s country. But where there are Pros, there are bound to be some Cons. Staying away from your family, specifically parents in most cases, missing all those lovely festivals being celebrated in their true form (grandeur & all), being away from your friends back home, not to mention the food!
But once you have kids, the list of Pros & Cons starts getting longer. Again better opportunities for the kids for overall development as opposed to the stress & pressure of competition, the ability to give them a better standard of living in terms of facilities, hygiene & cleanliness etc maybe the Pros. But the Cons are not far behind. S, for example stays away from her grandparents & other relatives & only interacts with them through voice chats & webcam (Thank god for them!). Of course many kids living in India do not stay with their grandparents either & only visit them during their vacation, but somehow it feels like a bigger thing when the physical distance between them also is so huge.
Then there is the matter of exposure to our culture. How will they get to know about our ‘roots’ if they stay away from it. Yes, we can replicate most of it at home but are we able to give them that environment to understand the importance of all that?
Wondering why I am going on about these things today? Well, an incident at S’s toddler group triggered my thoughts and I haven't stopped thinking about it since then. It was her Music class & they were ‘exploring’ Indian music.
It was introduced as traditional Indian classical music & they played Hindi film songs, not exactly classical music if you ask me(Hindustani or Carnatic). While most of the activities involved playing a particular instrument (bells, maracas, drums etc) on any of the Hindi film songs, they played ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ for one of the segments. Thats when I realised that my daughter will never understand the importance & significance of this song as well as I do. I understand because I associate the song immediately to Mahatma Gandhi & the happenings of the whole freedom struggle right from the first Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 to the day of 15th August 1947 come flooding to me. Apart from being a Bhajan, there are those sentiments attached to the song that are very difficult to convey even to grown ups who do not know the importance & significance of this song. If she was in India, she would study about these things in her curriculum & eventually know & understand everything, the way I did.
Maybe I am wondering in vain. Maybe as she grows up she will be in a better position to understand and appreciate things of her own country. Maybe when she is old enough, I can tell her stories about the freedom struggle, make her realise the role played by all those who brought us our independence. But till then, I am sure the list of things that she is & will be missing will keep increasing, with me realising that there is so much that we take for granted.
Anyway, when I was not thinking of the above, I was thinking about the Red & Yellow Peppers lying in the fridge. The original plan was to use them in Fried Rice or a salad. But having cut down on the carbs, rice was not something I readily wanted to make. And salad, well the less said the better. We are somehow not ready for a meal of Salad only.
Finally this was our dinner yesterday night. Having contemplated making Stuffed peppers for a long time, I took this opportunity & made do with whatever was in hand. I followed this recipe loosely and adapted it as per the ingredients available with me.
- 2 large Peppers (Any colour)
- 1 cup couscous
- 3-4 Tblsp Ricotta Cheese
- 1 tblsp Olive oil
- 2-3 tblsp Spring onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, mashed & minced
- 1/2 tsp Chilli flakes
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 4-5 Baby corns, cut into small rounds
- 2-3 Tblsp Walnuts, roughly chopped
- Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters
- Salt & Pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200 deg C.
Cut off the tops of the Peppers & scoop out the seeds.
Arrange them on a baking tray & bake for 10-15 min. Remove & set aside.
Mean while for the stuffing, heat the olive oil in pan & add the chilli flakes.
As it begins to sizzle, add the garlic & spring onion. Sauté until the onion starts to soften.
Add the baby corn and mix well. Add the oregano and a bit of salt. Cover & cook on low flame till the baby corn is cooked.
To cook the couscous, take 1 cup water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Switch off the flame & add the couscous, mix and cover and leave aside for 3-4 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
Fluff up the couscous with a fork and then add a tsp of olive oil & salt and mix well.
Add the cooked couscous to the baby corn-spring onion mixture and mix well on a low flame. Adjust the salt & season with some pepper.
Turn off the heat and mix in the Ricotta cheese.
Fill this mixture into the part baked Peppers and arrange them in a baking dish upright. Cover the peppers with Aluminium foil & bake for about 20 min. After 20 min remove the foil and continue to bake for another 5-10 min till the Peppers start to char. I had to turn the grill on for this.
My Notes: I also had half a red pepper & I filled it with the couscous mixture without Ricotta cheese but we realised that the ones with Ricotta cheese were much better since it helped to bind the couscous together.
The original recipe had Feta cheese but since I had Ricotta, I used that instead, will definitely be trying it with the Feta soon.
PS: I am quite happy with the Music Class by the way, where else can Shreya be exposed to instruments such as the Dholak, Ghunghroo etc!