The vegetables - Nutritional Information
Aubergines are not high in any vitamins or minerals but are a very filling vegetable and provide few calories and no fat. Its meaty texture provides a perfect vegetarian main dish choice. In Yarlpanam aubergines or Katharikaai as it is called is grown locally and is available in plenty. It is cooked practically every home then and now. It is cooked in various forms as curry, kulambu and sambal or even fried. In the West aubergines are also widely used in cooking and various dishes are prepared from this vegetable. When cooking aubergines, it does not matter if cooked for a long time as there are no vitamins to be destroyed; in fact this vegetable needs to be cooked well for it to become softer and edible.
Aubergines can be cooked with or without their skin and the cap and portion of stem is removed before cooking. We cook with the skin except in the aubergine sambal where the skin is peeled away after baking it.
When you fry the diced aubergines, it is sometimes better to sprinkle salt onto the diced pieces and place in a colander for about half an hour. Then when you rinse and squeeze the pieces, the moisture in the aubergines will be removed and this has fewer tendencies to absorb oil while frying.
Bitter gourd is a tropical and sub tropical vine widely grown for its fruits. The fruits are bitter and in Yarlpanam this eaten for its bitter taste. This is eaten generally two or three times a week with their meals. They cook these as curries or fried and are an accompaniment with the main meal. This is cultivated in Jaffna and the long variety is generally grown.
There are two varieties - one grows to about 20 cm long and pale green in colour and the other a smaller variety less than 10 cm long and dark green in colour. Both varieties have seeds and the smaller variety is bitterer.
They are very low in calories but have plenty of nutrients. It is a good source of vitamins B1, B2 and B3, Magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorous, manganese and high dietary fibre. It is also rich in iron, calcium and potassium.
Bitter gourd contains a unique constituent - plant insulin which lowers sugar levels in blood and urine.
Bitter gourd is one of the best vegetable that helps improve diabetic and toxaemia conditions.
It is claimed that bitter gourd juice is beneficial for treating blood disorders like boils and itching toxaemia. It is also claimed the juice improves the stamina and energy levels.
There are many more claims which cannot be listed here.
Unripe and ripe tomatoes
Tomato is a fruit but categorised as a vegetable. Tomato plant is an herbaceous plant and a close relative of Aubergines and potato. It is grown very commonly in Yarlpanam and a favourite vegetable too. People cook the raw fruit as well as the ripe fruit in the form of curries and tomato sambal using only ripe fruits. Ripe fruits are also eaten raw.
This contains very little carbohydrates, dietary fibre, protein and vitamin. Almost 95 percent of each fruit is water.
Ladies Finger- Vendikai - Okra -வெண்டிக்காய்
Another common vegetable much cultivated in Yarlpanam and this vegetable is also like many others much liked by all. It is the immature fruits that are cooked and they are cooked as curry, kulambu or fried. When cut, this releases a sticky substance which has thickening properties and is used to thicken soups etc. Even in curries, this sticky substance remains and due to this sliminess some people do not like it but when fried the slimy nature disappears.
This provides 30 Calories of energy and carbohydrates, dietary fibre, Vitamin C, Calcium and magnesium.
Potato is a starchy tuberous crop and is the world's fourth largest food crop after rice, wheat and corn. Potato is cooked all over the world and forms a staple diet in many Western countries. Potato is used in Yarlpanam and is grown locally as well as imported. People cook this in many forms and form a part of their diet. It is much loved vegetable.
100 grams of potato provides 80 Calories of energy. It has 15% of starch and 2.2 %fibre. There is 75% water and 2 % of protein. There are also Vitamin B1, Riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium.
Nutritionally potatoes are best known for their carbohydrates content and the predominant form is starch. During the digestive process the starch in potatoes are resistant to digestion by the enzymes in stomach and small intestines and so reaches the large intestine intact and provides health benefits of fibre - provides bulk, protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The amount of resistant potatoes depends on cooking them.
Potatoes contain vitamins and minerals. It has Vitamin A, B6, D and C, potassium and traces of thiamine, riboflavin, and magnesium, phosphorous and iron. The skin contains more of fibre. The small amount of protein available is under the skin and peeling this skin removes this valuable protein. So potatoes should be boiled and skin peeled to preserve the protein.