Congee with Chinekamini rice with a quick chili-scallion sauce

6:58 PM

Most of us associate the food congee to China but if you look closely then you would find that similar food is available all through the world, albeit in different names.  The basic dish is called gruel where some kind of cereal is cooked with water or milk and depending on the thickness and grains used in the dish, it changes it's name.

Going back in history reveals that Gruel came into existance as a baby food once human learnt farming. Before that in the time of hunting and gathering when the group were mobile the mother had to breastfeed the infants till he or she was able enough to eat foraged food or meat. but the process made the mother stay away from conceiving again and hence the tribe wasn't growing much. After farming came into existence, the mush cooked with grains and cereals were easier to feed the babies and made the mother to conceive again and increasing the size of the tribe much faster.

But hardly anybody knew of it rather it had always been considered as the food of the have not. It was much easier to imagine hungry peasants or as Charles dickens vividly portrayed in his Classic -Oliver Twist, famished orphans eating this very basic mush of grains and water. More so because even broken damaged grains worked better in such concoctions, cooked in the most simplest of form for sustenance and keep one full for long.

This made Gruel popular all over the world.  Depending on the region and its climate the grain changed from pinhead or ground Scottish oats to cheap variety of rice, maize meals, broken corn kernels, millets and even broken wheat, wheat flour and stale bread.  Literally everything that the riches would turn their nose down on were fit to be cooked down with water to a big bowlful of gruel for sustenance. It's that part of the history that no one ever wanted to take notice as not until recently we ever wanted to explore what was on table for the under privileged.

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