Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Great Recipe in the Immigration Debate

In California one morning, everyone wakes up to a startling discovery: All the Mexicans (one third of California’s population) have disappeared. In this movie, A Day Without A Mexican, directed by Sergio Arau and starring Yareli Arezmendi and John Getz, the people are at a loss when they realize that no one is left to do the work. With ironic humor, A Day Without A Mexican explores the real life perplexities of the immigration issue and gives us food for thought about what societal needs the immigration population is filling in American society. I won’t say any more about the movie for fear of being a spoiler, but I recommend that people view it on DVD.

At this point, the House of Representatives, in their usual modus operandi, is stalling on the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate. As the Nativists rear their ugly heads once again, let’s remember that except for those 5.2 million identified as Native Americans who still survive here, we’re all immigrants or their descendants. I’m glad that my great-grandparents left Russia over 100 years ago before our current laws were in effect.

And speaking again of food for thought, I continue to enjoy the plethora of foreign restaurants within a half hour ride of my house. I am also enjoying the various ingredients that are available for cooking that growing up I never even heard of. This week I tried another recipe from the ELL Parent Center’s cookbook, A Taste of Niles Township: Recipes from our Global Village. To order a copy, go to

Aloo Chaat came without identification, but I’m guessing that it’s from Southeast Asia. I found tamarind paste at a grocery store in the Asian Indian neighborhood on Devon Avenue in Rogers Park, Chicago. Aloo Chaat is good as a main vegetarian dish or as a side dish with fish or chicken. Preparation time is 20 minutes.


                                                Aloo Chaat

½ cups chick peas, drained
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ tsp mild chili powder
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
a pinch of salt
½ Tbsp tamarind paste
6 Tbsps water
chopped onion
Tomato julienne or pomegranate seeds (Lacking either, I used grape tomatoes.)

Boil the water in a pot. Add the potato and cook until a bit soft but not mushy. Remove potatoes from the heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, mix the water and tamarind paste. Add chili powder, sugar, coriander, and salt. Pour the mixture over the chick peas. Combine the potatoes, onions, and cilantro. Mix them and add salt to taste. Mix with the chick pea mixture. Add the tomatoes. Serve.   



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