Skin flick

Vegetables often have these inconvenient biological barriers that need to be removed using advanced devices called peelers. There's obviously quite some tachnology involved, given the wide variety of different kinds of peelers in the market, but they all serve the same basic purpose - to strip certain kinds of veggies naked and fill up garbage cans. I cannot do too much about those naked vegetables, but Bengalis are sensitive about filling up garbage cans (possibly because of Kolkata municipal corporation's dismal record in emptying them). They have, therefore, come up with various options to avoid the trash can - many of which are ridiculously tasty. Here are two choices that I love. First is the potato. Peeling the average potato yields a fairly substantial volume of potato peel, and Bengalis wash them up, cut them into inch-sized pieces, add a touch of flour, dip them in a generous handful of poppyseed and deep fry them to the most delicious, incredibly crispy fries ever. Be careful - a lot of peel makes very little fry. Then there's lauki,or bottle gourd. We'll not go into its merits as a vegetable but if you lay your hands on some of its peel and some mustard seeds, you're in for a true bong dish. Pop the mustard seeds in hot oil, throw in the finely chopped peel, toss it around till you get bored - and you have "lau khosa" to be had with rice. Wonderful. Not to mention easier to clean up after.

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