2 min read

Two peas in a pod

Two peas in a pod

Bihari Style Peas and Potatoes

(for Individuals and Collectives)
Recipe loosely adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Easy Vegetarian
Serves 4 to 6.


1 device for streaming the video series The Century of the Self
1 reference copy of Individualism And Collectivism, by Harry C. Triandis (optional)

2 ½ cups shelled peas
1-2 medium red potatoes, par-boiled, cooled, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped, including the seeds
½ teaspoon lime juice

2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh coriander leaves for garnish


  1. Stream an episode of The Century of the Self while shelling the peas with a friend or two. Continue to discuss with gusto as you prepare the dish.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a sauté pan, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add onion, stir and fry for five or six minutes, until transparent.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic, serrano chile, coriander and turmeric, and stir for a minute. Add the peas, potatoes, salt and pepper and stir and cook for two to three minutes, sprinkling with a little water if the peas get too dry. Serve with an extra squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of coriander leaves as garnish.
  4. Enjoy the meal while discussing the relative merits of Individualism and Collectivism.

Some food for thought...

There is a Promethean tension between a Western construct of individualism (resource-intensive, alienating, and ultimately unsustainable) and an Eastern sense of collectivism (crowded, ego-constraining and confining). Such an East/West divide is of course a terribly sweeping generalization that reflects the related problem of categorizations, which has a same-but-different tension.

There's a Bedouin saying:

Me against my brother; My brother and I against my cousin; My cousin, my brother and I against our neighbours; All of us against the stranger.

Spock expressed the view:

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

An argument could be made that the cult of individualism that has woven itself into a social fabric that rewards narcissism is the artifact of a runaway production economy that successively fragments a collective mind to generate individual consumer units.

The Balkanization of the Self?

  • Does it ever feel to you like we are complicit in a balkanized race to the bottom?
  • Do you ever feel your sense of self might have been colonized and appropriated for other purposes?
  • Comments work now!

The Inner Selfie project at the AGO, by Maria Lantin and myself, was featured in an article published in the July issue of Interalia Magazine. The exhibition at the AGO closes at the end of August – after a 14-month run!

Bon Appetit!