My vent on carb counting Pakistani food

December 30, 2007 at 12:30 am (Culture, Personal)

I have actually started to take care of my diabetes the way I should. That means counting carbs, because the number of carbs in a meal will determine how much insulin I should inject. (Before this, I just guessed how much would work. Now I actually have a formula.)

The problem is that there is a ton of information on Western food. If one tries, one can get the nutritional information on practically any item by anyone and even information on how to determine the carb content of non-professionally-made stuff (such as at home) where such information may not be available from corporations or websites. (Mom doesn’t slap on a nutrition label when she makes something, does she?) But very little exists for a Pakistani cuisine.

Now, information exists regarding, and therapists and educators and specialists are aware of, Indian cuisine. But I don’t eat Indian cuisine. I eat Pakistani cuisine. Or, rather, northern Indian Mughal-inspired cuisine (especially that from Lucknow). There’s a difference.

So, I cannot buy a book, for example, entitled Carb Counting Pakistani Food. And even what information exists for Indian food, so as to try to tailor it to a Pakistani cuisine with my family’s help, is scant. Indeed, often such information exists in an appendix of a book dealing with food in general or with Western food.

The reason, of course, is demand. Western people eat Indian food as a treat or rarely. They don’t eat it every day. And those who do eat it are not as motivated as Western people to engage in such things as carb counting. As long as they can get by, they’re fine. (This frenzy of preoccupation with minutiae of health is characteristic of the West, I have found, which is seen as amusing and useless by some of us who are more Eastern in culture.) Plus, Indian and Pakistani cuisines are different when compared to Western cuisine with regard to mixing: we mix lots of stuff to create a dish, and not only spices. A meat dish might have papaya or yogurt. Or whatever. It’s difference than sauce, which is often added later and can be somewhat quantified: how does one calculate when carb-containing elements are a part of a dish but not quantifiable? How does one determine how much yogurt is in a serving? Am I going to ladle out the meat and then measure the saalan or sauce or gravy?

So how do I find out what the average carb content of pasanda, qorma, Frontier gosht, qeema, gosht biryani, bheja/maghaz, nehaari, paaya, sheermaal, taaftaan, tanduri naan, roghani naan, chapaati, stew, bihaari kabaab, seekh kabaab, chapli kabaab, chicken tikka et cetera? I don’t eat papadums or idlis or whatever else other Indians eat. (And every specialist mentions these Indian foods: I don’t even know what they are!) And we don’t eat many vegetables. And what we do eat is hardly nutritious anymore. Sure, we eat dal, like other Indians. (And why is it always spelled “dhal” in Western sources? It’s dal or daal in Urdu and Hindi!)

If I become stinking rich, I’m going to establish a foundation or fund whose sole purpose will be to remedy this deplorable lack of information. Maybe I should go to the Democrat Party, seeing how this lack smacks of ethnocentrism. Think they’ll fund me my Crusade to Rectify the Enthocentric Disbalance of Information on Carb Counting for Pakistani (And Not Only Indian) Cuisine? Although I shouldn’t use “crusade”…”jihad” maybe?

Feh. I’m going to go and eat now.

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