The fast-food giant McDonald’s was recently issued a show-cause notice for disparaging the ghiya tori veggies in one of their ads. FSSAI, India’s food regulatory body, has taken this issue quite seriously because it believes that such advertisements work against the national-level efforts and programmes to promote healthy eating, especially among children.
In the light of this incident, it’s worthwhile to reflect on why these veggies are liked little, and are commonly referred to in derogatory terms. I believe there are two reasons for their lack of appeal. We, as adults, tend to obsess over ghiya and tori as if they are unparalleled in their nutritive worth.
Children are often put off by excessive pressure to eat particular foods. Pressure and reprimand at best work in the short term but never as a long-term behaviour change strategy.
Instead, one should focus on trying to be a good role model by enjoying ghiya and tori preparations. This way, the kids are bound to take notice and follow suit.
The second reason for its unpopularity among children is the way in which it is usually cooked. The typical Indian mushy style of preparation is not one that is liked by most kids (and adults, incidentally). Here are some things to keep in mind:
■ Keep it crunchy. Do not overcook and make it gooey. Overcooking these veggies also robs them of their heat-sensitive nutrients.
■ Try out non-traditional ways to serve these veggies. Yogurt blended with cooked ghiya or tori puree, along with appropriate flavourings of garlic, can be used as a dressing, dip or raitas.
■ Add grated ghiya to the batter of pancake, cheela or paratha.
■ Prepare tori fritters. Alternately, the sliced tori can be dusted with besan, spices and a little oil, placed on a baking tray, and cooked in the oven.
■ A salad with chopped ghiya, peanuts and fruit (orange or watermelon, as per the season) is yet another interesting preparation.
■ Give these preparations interesting and catchy names. This kind of strategy seems to work well for fast food retailers.
Every single vegetable and fruit offers a very unique nutrient profile. Ghiya and tori are touted for their high moisture content of over 90 per cent, making them the ideal food for the summer months. These veggies are also rich in Vitamins B9 (folate), Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, and phosphorous, potassium, selenium and zinc.
From the carotenoid family, these contain lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin, all valuable nutrients essential for our well-being.
Unlike veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts and bitter gourd, ghiya and tori don’t have a bitter aftertaste. While there are certain techniques to overcome the taste sensitivity in the case of bitter veggies, it’s far easier to incorporate ghiya and tori into one’s diet. All it takes is a little bit of ingenuity.