It is a well known fact that the musical score for the song "Jai Ho" in the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" won the Oscar for its creator, A. R. Rahman. But it wasn't just the musical score of the song that made it so popular. It was also the fact that the words of the song were so apt. The word "Jai" (pronounced with a "J") means victory. The song bursts onto the screen as the hero of the film, Jamal (pronounced with a "J") wins the million rupees and his girl. And my name "Jaya" is a derivative of the word "jai". Again, pronounced with a "J"!
It was only after my arrival at the US, I realized that some people, especially those of Mexican origin, either didn't seem to have a "J" in their alphabet or wrote "J" when they actually wanted to say "H". And so it was not Jose, but "Hose' ", not Jesus, but "Hesoos" and now I learned, that it is not "Jicama", it is "Hee ca ma"!
Well, I sure am amenable to saying "Hose'", "Hesoos" and "Heecama". Only don't call me "Haya"! Indian languages do have a "J" so I am still "Jaya"!
Jicama is a tuber that is mostly grown in Mexico. The great thing about this vegetable is its low calorie count and very high Vitamin C. It is tasty, crunchy and flavorful. Although some sites mention that Jicama lasts about 2-3 weeks, my personal experience has been that it doesn't seem to have a long shelf life, so try to use it up as soon as you buy it. I read that it is generally eaten raw in salads, but I wanted to experiment with it and see how it tasted in a variety of dishes. So I combined it with fresh mint leaves and made it into really flavorful, fantastic tasting cutlets.
In these days of recession, you can still eat healthy without affecting your pocketbook too much, if you buy local produce, eat most of your meals at home and reduce the frequency of going out to eat. These cutlets that I made cost just under $2. And I made enough cutlets to feed a family of four. Place the cutlets between two slices of whole wheat bread, top with lettuce, tomato and mayo, and Voila! You have a healthy value meal. Sure beats McDonalds!
Here is what you need:
1 large Jicama
1 cup breadcrumbs (make your own and save money: see instructions below)
4-5 sprigs fresh Mint leaves (chopped fine)
1-2 green chilis (chopped fine)
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
3/4 tsp salt
Oil to shallow fry
1 egg white
Here is how you make this:
Wash, peel and grate the Jicama with a hand grater. The tuber is soft and will grate easily. Squeeze out the juice. I hate to waste any food, so I used the juice in my lentil soup.
To make breadcrumbs: Tear 4-5 slices of whole wheat bread into small pieces. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast for about 5-7 minutes until the bread pieces are crisp. Remove from the oven, cool and place in a blender to powder fine.
Add 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, chopped mint leaves, chopped green chilis, salt and red chili powder to the grated Jicama. Mix well. Shape into cutlets. Beat the egg white with a fork. Dip the cutlets into the egg white and then coat with the remaining breadcrumbs.
Heat a non-stick pan on the stove. Place the cutlets in the pan. Drizzle olive oil around the cutlets. Cook until crisp and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and serve hot.