Sitaphal Kheer

Sitaphal (Custard Apple) Kheer

 

 

Dussera got over last week after a glorious Navaratri celebration all over the country. Navaratri in Tamil households involves lots of preparation from arranging and decorating the Golu to making prasadams (bhog) every single day – twice daily.

We make lots of Sundals (which is a dry salted salad-type preparation with different lentils) as prasadam. People also make different sweets to induce some variety to the prasadams. This time I tried Sitaphal (Custard Apple) Kheer as part of my prasadam. This is the season for custard apples and I got quite tempted to try out this recipe. It turned out to be pretty good and I am sure people who relish kheer would love this one.

 

Ingredients:

1.5 lts whole milk

18 tsps sugar

pulp of 5 custard apples

Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, Raisins for garnishing

Method:

Boil milk in a large pan/bowl. After the first boil, add sugar and stir it occasionally till the milk starts reducing. Extract the pulp from all the custard apples by removing the seeds-its quite a task..:). Grind the pulp to a smooth paste and keep it aside.

Once the milk reduces to half its quantity, it will turn light pink in colour. Turn off the gas, add the fruit pulp and stir well. Finally you can garnish it with almonds, pistachios, cashews and raisins, roasted in ghee. This kheer tastes great when served chilled.

Now that fresh custard apples are available in abundance during this season, this recipe is definitely worth a try!!

Cheers!!!

-Bhuvana

 

 

 

Mango Kheer

Mango Kheer

 

 

Our favourite fruit, Mango, will fast dwindle away in the next 2 weeks with the summer passing and the arrival of Monsoon. Many sweets, salads and dals are made out of different varieties of Mangoes. The Mango Kheer is a unique dish which tastes excellent, especially when served chilled. Let’s take a look at this easy recipe.

Ingredients

Pulp of 2 ripe Mangoes (preferably Alphonso)

1 ltr whole milk

11 teaspoons of sugar

1 tbsp rice

Cashews

Almonds

Raisins

1 tsp ghee

Method

Boil the milk on medium flame. Add sugar. After adding sugar when the milk starts boiling, add the raw rice. Let the rice cook in the milk. Keep stirring till the milk starts reducing. It will turn to a very light pink colour. Turn off the gas and cool it to room temperature. Blend the mango pulp into a smooth puree. Add this to the cooled milk and mix well. This recipe turns out to be mildly sweet. You can adjust sugar according to your taste even at the end. Garnish with a few almonds, cashews and raisins roasted in ghee. Serve this kheer chilled.

Enjoy the Mango Kheer before the season of Mangoes end!

Cheers!!!

-Bhuvana

 

 

Aam Panna

Aam Panna

 

 

Summer is here in full swing and you can see people gathering at Lemon Juice stalls, Coconut water and Cucumber stalls to quench their thirst and also cool their bodies. It is very important to keep ourselves hydrated in order to avoid heat strokes. Aam Panna is one such cooler which helps in hydrating and also cooling our body.

Here is a recipe worth trying…

Ingredients:

3 Raw Mangoes

Rock salt

4 tbsps Jaggery

3 cups Water

1/2 tsp Roasted Cumin seeds powder

Few Mint leaves

Method:

Peel the raw mangoes and slice them into small pieces. Cook the slices in 3 cups of water. When the mango slices become soft, add the jaggery and switch off the flame after 2 minutes. The jaggery will dissolve in the hot mango solution. Now add rock salt, roasted cumin seeds powder and the mint leaves. Cool it by refrigeration. Add water and ice before serving. You can also add cardamom for flavour.

Enjoy this delicious drink  and cool off the summer..:)

Cheers!!!

– Bhuvana

 

 

 

Why are the farmers marching? Part 1- Water

Why are the farmers marching? Part 1- Water

Here is a simple question: If farmers produce food and food is a basic necessity, why are they not getting a fair price for their produce?

Therein lies a conundrum. Those who produce the most basic things needed for our lives: food, shelter and clothing are the ones that have the worst lives in our country. Sure, we can be ashamed, we can beat ourselves up, or we can, as CM Fadnavis did, form a six man committee to ‘study the problem’.  Let’s first understand the extent of the challenges in the a few posts and then bring the possible solutions to these in the following posts. Bear with me when I take no pleasure to say ‘it is complicated’.

It is complicated

If you plan to get onto the farmers’ case saying they cannot be bailed out all the time, I would suggest you get off this blog and read about tax holidays, land and money that our government and financial institutions have poured into the hands of beacons of capitalism. Start from the techies and proceed towards the diamantaires. We will keep those rants and woes for another place and time.

A farmer needs water and seeds to begin with. Push the seed into the soil,  water it and watch it grow. In six months, harvest it and sell it at the market. Go home and have a great holi. Life looks simple from the outside. But we have already dropped too many words. Water, Seeds, Soil, Market. That’s what a farmer needs to grow. We’ll just talk about water in this post.

Water – The demand

There is no water. We are running out of it. Each of us needs 100 litres of water a day.  That is 125 billion litres of water a day for 1.2 billion people in India. To give you  an idea of what that is, a litre is held in a cube of 10 cms to a side.  A billion litres will need a tank that is about five kilometers high, five kilometers wide and five kilometers long.  125 billion litres is just one day’s water. That’s bheja fry for sure.

You protest and say, I barely drink a litre and bathe in another 10 litres, that makes it 11 litres. Did you forget to tinkle after you sprinkle? Each toilet flush releases 20 litres of water, go and calculate. Then add the water that your dishes take to get washed, your laundry, cooking, gardening, car wash.. I suppose you get the picture. Probably, even the 100 litre figure is quite conservative for us, the urban middle class. And remember: electricity needs water, every material we use on a daily basis needs water as a basic commodity in its manufacturing.

What’s worse is that we haven’t yet counted water required for farming and for industry. So, here goes : 1 Kg of rice can and usually does take 1200 litres of water to produce. Meat requires even higher amounts of water.  It would be mind boggling to imagine the shape of a water tank that is needed to grow all the rice that the country needs.

Even worse. Our current ways of chemically dependent farming need far far more water than organic farming needs.

In a nutshell, we are more mouths to feed than before, we are eating more water intensive foods than before and we are growing them in ways that need more water than before. It is a perfect storm.

Water – the Supply

Have you heard of water farmers? No, silly, not the ones who grow food with the help of water. Water farmers are folks who decided that as water is the most precious input into farming, it makes sense to just sell their water off. Tankers come in, fill up water from their bore-wells and head to the cities to fill up the sump tanks of apartments and bungalows. Water is becoming more expensive than grains.

How has that come to pass? We can all hazard a guess. My guess is that many of us are willing to pay the price for more water. We are the most water consuming society that ever lived.. and we live in times of the greatest water scarcity ever.

So, when we need so much water, given that rains are erratic and they are bound to get even more erratic in the future, the only way to get more water is to draw it out from the earth. Dig a well, drain the water out. The well goes dry, dig deeper, keep going. The deeper you go, the older the water. Typically the water in the bore-wells of Hyderabad is 6000 years old. It took 6000 years for that water to accumulate. What happens when we dry them out? Guess!

So, what is happening now?

Urban lakes that served urban water needs have been reclaimed. Cities are drawing water from rivers and irrigation reservoirs.

As water table sinks lower and lower, farmers need more electricity to draw water from their wells because the wells have gotten deeper. The local ponds have dried up. All this while, we want more of rice and meat and other water heavy foods on our tables because we can afford it.

What’s the solution?

Yes there are solutions, they are hard. Water is just one challenge as I had written above: soil, seeds and market are the other challenges. If we take a good long view of these four together, solutions emerge. Many are already working on these solutions, we will explore these in the next few posts.

– Farhan

Read more:

 

Capsicum Rice

Capsicum Rice

Rice, being such a staple Indian diet has so many variations one can think of. Just add a few veggies to it and it becomes a pulao, a biryani, khichdi, etc..the list can go on. A quick preparation is always welcome when we don’t have too many options.

Two capsicums were literally suffering to be let out of my refrigerator for almost a week. I was tired of making capsicum sambar or using capsicum in my North Indian dishes; the idea of making a simple recipe with capsicum took over.

Here is the recipe…

Ingredients:

 2 Capsicums, finely chopped

1 cup Basmati Rice, soaked in water for half an hour

1-1/2 cups water

1 tsp Jeera

1 tsp grated ginger

1 split green chilli (you can add 2 if you want your rice to be spicy)

6-7 curry leaves

1-1/2 tbsp oil

1 tsp ghee

salt according to taste

Optional Seasoning:

2 tsps ghee

Cashews

 Preparation:

1. Heat oil in a kadai, add jeera and let it crackle, now add grated ginger,green chilli and curry leaves.

2. Once these turn a little brown, add the capsicum and saute till the capsicum turns soft. Add little salt so the capsicum does not taste unsalted when the rice is added.

3. Strain water from the rice, and add it to the fried capsicum, add ghee and saute for about 2 minutes.

4. Now add water and required salt, cover the kadai completely and let the rice cook for atleast 10 minutes.

5. Check to see if the rice is cooked and there is no water left in the kadai. If you find the rice still a little uncooked, you can add some more water accordingly and cook.

6. Heat ghee in a seasoning spoon and add cashews. When the cashews turn a little brown, add it to the cooked rice.

The rice is done when you get a very nice aroma of capsicum mixed with ghee!  You can serve this rice with a bowl of Raita and some papads.

This is a very quick recipe and can be made when you are bored and have nothing more interesting to cook at home.

Cheers!!!
– Bhuvana

How to Beat the Exam Blues

How to Beat the Exam Blues

Happiness they say is your last exam paper! March is the month for exams for most students in India. Nearly one and a half crore students are appearing for board exams in India this year after a gap of seven years. It is a highly stressful time. Revisions, portion, tears, meltdowns, night outs, burn outs – conversations revolve words like these in most homes. Parents are busy helping their children stay motivated and confident.

We all know that what you eat can affect your mood, alter stress levels and promote calmness. We tend to go on food binges under pressure and students are no different. Under the influence of examination stress there will be significant increase in food intake, and a tendency for high fat and sugary snacks. This can be counter-productive as unhealthy meals can add to stress levels.

March is the month when the temperatures begin to rise in our country. This is good for bacterial growth and so the chances of getting an infection are very high. It is also the time when measles and chicken pox are rampant. To begin with give only fresh, homemade food to your children. Avoid all food from outside to safeguard them from any stomach bug. Water should be fresh and filtered.  Don’t make any fried food items as these tend to make the stomach heavy. Avoid food that will give a sore throat and goes without saying, no carbonated drinks and ice cream please.

When children are studying food gets digested faster and they tend to feel hungry often. Give smaller meals more frequently rather than three large meals. Make whole grains and pulses a part of every meal.  Add plenty of greens to meals and snacks. (How does palak dosa sound?)

Add a fistful of nuts, plenty of fruits and fruit juices to the diet to provide extra energy and keep them active. Tea and coffee can be had in moderation. A glass of milk in the morning and at bedtime will be good. This will give good sleep at night. This is as far as physical health is concerned.

To make sure that children are mentally composed and not having panic attacks due to exam fears, help them maintain a proper study routine. Give tips on how to revise and write the exam. Keep them off television, Internet and social media as far as possible as they can take the mind away from studies. For rest and relaxation they can play board games or any light sport. Music is also a great stress buster. Yoga helps improve concentration, apart from helping relax the muscles.

If your child is going for tuitions or combined studies along with friends, make sure he/she is not coming under peer pressure as it can be detrimental to his performance or hit his self confidence. Research has shown that 30% students going for board exams get into substance abuse (cigarettes, alcohol and even drugs) due to the stress.

Keep the house well ventilated. Put your essential oil burner to good use now. Lavender, rose, ylang ylang and vetiver oils give out wonderfully soothing aromas to calm the mind. Most important, be there for your child as a friend and guide. This is the time they need you the most to help them do their best.

Sujata C

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