Chicken Tikka Masala

The man who is said to have invented the dish died on 22nd December 2022 at the age of 77 years. His name was Ali Ahmed Aslam and he was a Glassgow restaurateur. He migrated to Britain when he was 16.

Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam

He belonged to Lahore and his family was into farming. His uncle was in Britain doing tailors shop. But Ali was ambitious and soon opened an eatery in Glasgow serving typical tandoori food of Indian subcontinent. With time and exceptional success it became a restaurant with name Shish Mahal.

How did he invented the recipe which became the National dish of the Britain? Well, he says that one driver came to his eatery and asked for Chicken Tikka. But he said the dish was too spicy and dry. As he is not feeling well, he wanted something mild and sweeter. Mr Ali took the chicken tikka and added to it tomato puree and cream. Thus was born the iconic dish which became a rage in Britain.

www.spicezone.com

There are hundreds of restaurants across Britain who claim to serve the authentic dish. There are modifications as are in every food preparation.

Many people in India claim that dish was invented in India long back in 1947. But it was Mr. Ali Ahmed Aslam who got the credit.

Stinging Velvet Beans

Mucuna Pruriens known by common names such as Stinging Velvet Beans, Cowitch and Madness Beans.

The bean seeds or legumes are used in many medicines. Legumes are rich in L-DOPA which is an amino acid. It is the precursor of Dopamine which is a brain neurotransmitter.

The beans are also calm inducing and boost testosterone levels in the males. Mucuna Pruriens legume helps in calming the mind. In comparison to many legumes, these beans contains higher levels of proteins. The beans are used in the treatment of snakebites.

The beans vine comes in two varieties. One is domestic and other grows in the wild. The vine is a nitrogen fixer in the soil and is thus planted to enhance the organic content of the soil and fertilise the soil.

Th wild variety bean shell which is velvety in texture is very harmful to skin touch. It gives the affected person acute itch and pain. This is caused by the mucuna protein which induces allergy.

I happen to spot the vines at few places in a forest near our home. I took the photos for reference.

Bitter Melon!??

Karela aka Bitter gourd is bitter but it is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. Bitter gourd contains iron, magnesium, vitamins, and potassium. The calcium and potassium content in it is twice that of spinach and banana.

https://www.organicauthority.com/live-grow/why-bitter-melon-needs-to-be-in-both-your-garden-and-your-kitchenter
Bitter Melon

Are you surprised to know that it is not a vegetable but a fruit. It belongs to the family of Melons which are known for their sweetness and are popular all over the world. It is called “BITTER MELON

melonshttps://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2021/07/19/melons-tips-watermelon-cantaloupe-honeydew/

Karela is a native of Indian subcontinent and now it has been established that it contains a insulin like compound polypeptide-p which helps in regulating the blood sugar.

Karela contains potassium which helps to reduce the blood pressure by replacing some of the sodium responsible for increasing blood pressure.

It improves the skin and hair. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C.


Even USA is going to take its farming in a big way recognising it’s benefits.

https://sakasaka.net/bitter-melon-juices-7-health-benefits.html

Perhaps when God was distributing goodness to the family of Melons, all the sweetness was bestowed upon its brothern. It was feeling sad as it’s taste was very bitter and it was ruing the fact that due to the bitter taste nobody will like it.

But God blessed it and said “My son, I can’t make you sweet but i will bless you with so many nutrients and medicinal properties that you will outshine all your siblings and become a darling of the human beings”

Carbs: All are not Bad

When the humans were evolving they didn’t know the art of agriculture. So they didn’t know to grow the edible plants. At this stage their diet was obtained from killing the animas. Thus their diet consisted mainly of fats and proteins. When agriculture was established, then humans added the carbohydrates into their food menu.

Carbs or Carbohydrates have become much maligned food from sometime. Many people say they are not good for health. These are mostly sugars. Sugars they say lead to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

Carbohydrates are one of the three essential categories of food along with fats and proteins. Carbohydrates provide energy to the body, fats also provide energy and fat and proteins build the bony structure of the body.

What are the carbohydrates?

Chemically carbohydrates are compounds made from Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are many categories of the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are synthesized in nature by plants and trees by a process called photosynthesis. This way they convert carbon dioxide and water into Glucose which is the starting material for making higher or complex carbohydrates like disaccharides, starches and cellulose. Human beings can’t digest cellulose.

https://pharmeasy.in/blog/know-everything-about-carbohydrates-its-food-sources/amp/

Monosaccharides

Monosaccharides are the simplest sugars. Two of the most popular ones are Glucose and Fructose. Whereas Glucose contains only sugar, Fructose contains vitamins and minerals alongwith sugar. These are derived mostly from fruits. Thus Fructose are better than glucose.

Disaccharides

Disaccharide means their skeleton is made of two Glucose units. Examples are Sucrose, lactose and maltose.

Starches

Starches are very complex molecules made from large numbers of Glucose units joined together. These are obtained from grains like wheat, barley and maize etc. Due to their complex structure, they are slow to breakdown into human consumable monomers.

How Carbohydrates provide energy?

Carbohydrates are like fuel in a vehicle. Carbohydrates are oxidised by Oxygen we inhale. During oxidation energy is released alongwith water and carbondioxide which are exhaled and again caught by plants and trees for making sugars for themselves and humans and animals.

Why body prefers carbohydrates than fat?

Fat provides about thrice the energy than same amount of carbohydrate. Even then body prefers it especially for giving instant energy to the brain. The reason is the ease with which carbohydrates can be broken down into energy. Also the byproducts are easy to get rid by the body.

Complex carbohydrates like starch take much longer to get hydrolyzed. First of all when we eat them, an enzyme called Amylase which is present in our saliva catalysis the starch breakdown in the belly. Thus the breakdown is slow and not instant and sustained over a longer period of time thus providing lower but sustained amounts of energy.

So in the nutshell the whole foods grains are better and useful to be taken. Carbohydrates from these are not harmful but useful.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is one of the most expensive oils. It costs around $300 for a liter of this oil. It is extracted from the ripe fruits of Argan tree which is endemic to Morocco only. That’s is why it is sometimes called “Red Gold”

https://www.feedipedia.org/node/54

This tree is the saviour of Moroccan people. It’s fruits are used to make oil which is used for culinary purposes like sprinkling on the salads. The oil is used now worldwide as a cosmetic products for skin and hair. The tree fights desertification by providing stability to the soil. It is a hardy tree which can tolerate harsh arid conditions.

https://www.travelawaits.com/2549853/things-to-know-about-argan-oil-in-morocco/?amp

The oil contains mostly unsaturated fatty acids along with Vitamin E which is good for skin and immunity. It also contains carotenoids.

The oil is extracted by traditional manual methods in vogue for centuries. In this method the self fallen fruits are collected and the flesh is removed. Then the kernels are dried in the Sun.

After drying the seed shells are delicately broken to take out the oil bearing seed. It takes a woman, who traditionally do this work, 24 hours labour for producing 1 liter oil. The seeds are grounded in the traditional method. After this the powder is hand pressed to extract the pure oil. This is also one reason for its high cost.

The leftover cake is used as a feed for the cattle especially goats and sheep. There was another technique that was used sometimes. The goats were left for climbing on the fruit laden tree. They will eat the fruits and the seeds were collected from the droppings. But this is used these only for tourists who enjoy the goats climbing on the tree branches.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132751-tree-climbing-goats-spit-out-and-disperse-valuable-argan-seeds

To meet the heavy demand from cosmetic industry more trees have been planted. This also serves the purpose of soil conservation. Women have been organised in cooperatives for increased efficiency.

Eggs Kejriwal: Dish

EGGS KEJRIWAL topped NY food critic’s list in 2017. Surprised?

It has nothing to do with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal although the marwari connection is very much there. Kejriwals belong to the Bania caste. They are astute businessmen. Mostly they are vegetarians. Many young people from the community eat non vegetarian food clandestinely.

The said dish was invented by Devi Prasad Kejriwal a businessman from Mumbai. Being a conservative marwari in he didn’t take eggs at home. But he enjoyed it after golf.


Good thing about the dish is easily available three ingredients Eggs, Cheese and Green Chilli. It hardly takes any time to prepare.

Picture from New York Times


He would tell the waiter how to make it with a slice of cheese, a fried egg and, being a Marwari, he liked green chillies,“ says Ajay Kejriwal, his nephew.

How did it get thus peculiar name?


It got its name because other members began asking the waiter to give them the same what Kejriwal is having.

The dish topped New York Food Critic’s list. One reason cited is the commonality of the ingredients and easy way to prepare.

Tea Eggs!!

Tea is the most popular beverage all over the world. Although tea is grown mainly in China and India, it is relished by people all around the globe.

Many variations of traditional steeped variety exist depending upon the innovations done locally. For example, in India people like to drink milk tea. Then there are spicy teas lik ginger tea and cardamom tea.

Tea

Tea has been said to be good for health as it contains many antioxidants like flavonoids. Beverage is addictive in nature that’s why whole world craves for it in the morning.

Now Eggs.

Eggs are also consumed all over the world. Mostly hen eggs are eaten. Eggs are very nutritious full of protein, calcium, vitamin A, iron and phosphorus. They are very easy to prepare even by a novice. These are eaten in many forms like simple boiled eggs, omelettes, in egg curry. Eggs are in essential ingredient in various cake preparations, coatings of food, trapping air in many preparations to give volume and fluffiness.

What are Tea Eggs then?

These originated in China as evening snack. The are also called Marble Eggs. In most simple terms the boiled eggs with small perforations in the shell are steeped in tea liqueur. Many other ingredients like Star Anise, Ginger, soy sauce, cinnamon are also added to spice up.

Tea Eggs

The steeping liquor is made by boiling these ingredients in water and cooled down.

The eggs are hard boiled which take about 7 minutes time. They are removed from hot boiling water and immediately put into freezing bath to stop further cooking.

When these are at room temperature, the eggs are tapped at different places lightly with a spoon to create cracks avoiding the detaching the shell portions. After these these are soaked in the tea liqueur prepared earlier.

After about 24 hours, the shells are removed. The eggs become dyed with the liqueur color. They look like marbles. And are ready to be eaten.

Recipes:

There are a number of recipe pages on the internet. For example the following link.

https://images.app.goo.gl/CSwpPJEgLv1gB7am8

Boba Tea

Tea is the most popular beverage over the world. Its origin is from China. After China comes India in the production of tea. British are responsible for tea cultivation in India.
Use of tea leaves to make tea are diverse. From simple steeping of the leaves and drinking the liqueur to adding milk and sugar, there are a number of variations all over the world. Spicy tea is which contain crushed ginger and cardamom.

Then there is a this Boba Tea which has taken the world by storm. It is known by other names like bubble tea, bubble milk tea, tapioca milk.

Boba
https://images.app.goo.gl/iwXKnt1n2dpB3gFW7

The basic ingredients in this tea are milk tea to which tapioca balls are added.

Boba is a slang word in Chinese which means the voluptuous breasts of a woman. The balls represent that. Balls are chewy and milk makes it creamy. The tea originated in Taiwan in 1980.

The Hanlin Tea Room of Tainan claims that bubble tea was invented in 1986 when teahouse owner Tu Tsong experimented by adding balls of tapoica in milk tea.
Tapoica is a root of the plant in contrast to being fruit or a vegetable. It’s origin is from Brazil. From there it spread like other things to Taiwan and rest of the world.

Tapoica contains a lots of starch. In the powdered form it is off white colour and is used in many preparations like puddings. For Boba Tea it is turned into spherical balls. Some organic colours are added to make the balls black.

When a product becomes popular, the innovative people start making improvisations. Boba is not an exception. Many variations exist. Like the picture below.

Variations in Boba Tea
https://images.app.goo.gl/Etm83nXnpK9vCZPo8

Escargots

Snails are called Escargots in French language. Escargots is a dish made from land snails. In France this dish is eaten as starters. You might be thinking humans can eat such a thing.


But the snail dishes have been eaten since ancient times. In fact, Romans prized this dish as the dish worthy of Gods.


In addition to France, snails are eaten in Nagaland of India. Cyprus, Malta, Crete, Tunisia, and many other countries where escargots are eaten.


Not all the snails are edible. For example in France the species Hellix Pomatia is used. Escargots are very rich in proteins and very low in fat. These are used in food and fashion industries. The slime has healing properties and is used in cosmetic industry.

Snail dish from Nagaland India


You will be surprised to know that consumption is considerable and snails are reared in snail farms. The art of the raising the snails in commercial quantities is called Heliciculture. In these facilities, snails are fed in a way so as to make them edible

A Visit to Goa

We went to Goa, once upon a time Portuguese dominion, and now a state within Indian Union. in 1510 Portuguese who were in India for trade took control of Goa and ruled it for 450 years.

It is admixture of Konkani and Portuguese cultures. Everyone knows that alien powers came to India for its resources like fabled spices of Kerala where Vasco da Gama set his foot and set the process of rat race for the natural wealth of India.

Spreading Christianity was the another motive, although it was never their intention to treat the converted locals as their equals.

The inhabitants of a region who are content and happy with whatever the nature has bestowed upon them. They are not adventurous. This was what the people in different regions of India were.

The outsiders easily took control of the resources and subjugated the original people. All the European adventures came in search of spices, minerals, cotton and so many other resources available in India. Goa was taken by Portuguese.

But Portuguese also carved the Goa which is now a days entirely different from other places in India. It is a favored destination of tourists from Europe and USA. Many places in Goa do not give you any indication of being in India. For example, Palolim which has a very beautiful beach, is full of white people. They live entirely a life of complete abandon.

They also gave the world a unique cuisine which is blend of Portuguese  and Konkani food. Usually everything is cooked in the coconut milk. Coconut which grows in abundance in the region.

While traveling in the train, one can see a solid wall of coconut trees. Another item on the food menu is sea food consisting of dishes made from prawns, crabs, fish and mollusks. Many dishes are prepared using pig meat.

The cashew nut trees grow abundantly. Portuguese invented an alcoholic beverage from the cashew nuts called “Feni”. Although it does not tastes great and generally not liked by most Indians outside of Goa, I found it to be good. I gargled my mouth with it and my toothache was soothed. It also seems good for body in moderate amounts.

We started for Goa from the Panvel near Bombay by train in the early morning. The train is called Satabadi Express and runs quite fast. It takes about 7 hours to cover a distance of about 700 kilometers. It is a single track meaning trains running in both the directions run on the same track. The trains which are ordinary coming from the opposite end have to wait on the spare track on a railway station till the faster train crosses that station. Thus the time taken becomes inordinately long.

Konkan railway track from Mumbai to Goa is a marvel of technology. The track has been made by cutting through the hills, making numerous tunnels and bridges on the many rivers emptying themselves into the sea.

All around are lush green woods, dotted with fields and houses. There are coconut trees, some of them bending towards the river waters as if to touch the river. There are hills. Some tunnels are so long that it seems that train will never come out of them. Suddenly you see the light and train is out in the open but only to enter another tunnels. From this pattern, it is clear that there are parallel rows of hills and track is running across them. The trend continues till the train reaches Madgaon station.

Our company has a training institute located at Betul. It is situated on a hillock. Because we had booked the rooms there, we took a pre-paid taxi for traveling a distance of about 20 kilometers to reach the place. The road is very narrow and sinuous and it seems that people live only along the roadside.

There are churches in every locality. Also there are small statuettes of Christ and Saint Xavier encased in the glass boxes. Taxi crossed many rivers small and big and then began the steep rise of 1.5 kilometers leading to the hostel. We checked in and being exhausted waited for evening tea time and after taking the tea and snacks, rested in the rooms and took the dinner at nine o’clock in the evening and retired for the night.

Next day after taking the breakfast, we went out to the gate of the institute and guards told us that there are buses available for going to Betul or Madgaon. There are some shops serving snacks nearby the gate.

Strong smell of Feni were issuing behind these shops. Toddy in bottles was kept on the wine shop counter. Bus arrived after a short while and we boarded it. The bus made great noises as its windows rattled. Loud music blared inside the bus.

There were passengers inside the bus who made signs of cross every time the bus passed a church or Christs statute. The must be the Christians. Since they don’t resemble the Portuguese people, their forefathers must have adopted Christianity during the Portuguese rule.

After about an hour the bus reached the bus stand in Mudgaon. By this time at about 11 o’clock, it became very hot. We again boarded a bus to go to Palolim beach which is in the extreme south of Goa bordering Karnataka. This bus was very slow because as soon as it left a stop the bus conductor blew a whistle to stop for another.

Interestingly we saw the bus waiting for passengers to come out of house and lazily board it. So after 2 hours it reached the beach. The beach was full of foreigners and women attired only in undergarments were lolling on the beach. They were soaking there sun starved bodies lying on the sand.

Along side the beach, there are shops offering wooden platforms for lying down in the sun and watch the beach. The steamers owners pester you and tell for taking a ride in the boat. After bargaining we boarded a boat propelled by an diesel engine.

The pilot took us into the deep blue sea surrounded by the rocky mountains. He had promised to show us the dolphins which he did and we could see three four of them diving in and out of water. Then he took us further away to a place called butterfly mountains so called because of its shape resembling a butterfly. There we saw a kite which was holding a snake in its talons and flying away to a tree in the rocks where its chick was waiting for the food.

The guide also pointed to a very small beach  in front of the rocky hills and told us that it is called honeymoon point. Eventually we returned and somehow jumped out of the boat on the shore. After this we searched a shop for the lunch. In Goa if you order vegetarian fare, it will take a long time since most people eat the sea food. We return by similar kind of bus we had come in. Again it took 2 hours. Then again we caught the bus to return to hostel at Betul.

Since it was evening and night fell soon, the bus was crammed with people. The bus conductor see to it that not a single corner remains unfilled. Again the loud music. There were fancy lights every where on the way as if some festival is permanently on. We reached the hostel tired and exhausted. After taking the dinner, went to sleep and rejuvenating for another tiresome day.

Next morning we left for Madgaon by the same bus and reached Madgaon bus stand. There is a bus service called Shuttle bus service to Panjim, the capital of Goa, which is really very good. No standing and no stops on the way.

The road is NH-17 which goes to Bombay via Panjim. There are hills on the way running parallel to each other and bus road crosses each across each of it. The route is very beautiful. There are fields of paddy dotted by coconut palms. As such there are dense palm groves. Bus passes through an industrial area. The bus arrived in bus stand of Panjim.

From there we caught a local bus to market and alighted in front of the Mandovi river. There were barges ferrying the huge amounts of sand from the old Goa side. It was pleasant. We tried to hire a self driven car for visiting the interesting place near Panjim but the plan did not materialize.

It was lunch time so we entered a hotel which was doing extremely good business and we have to wait for 1/2 an hour for the table. We took the Goan thali which consisted of prawn curry in coconut milk, mussels, crab in coconut curry and a big piece of fried fish called surmai (king fish) and rice.

After this we roamed around and visited the local vegetable market. On the walls were sketches made by the Goan painter Mario Miranda depicting the life of Goa vividly. As he is a cartoonist, he does not draw the figures exactly but exaggerates the points he wants to emphasize.

For example, there is a fisher woman carrying a basket of fishes. One of the fishes is trying to jump out of the basket with its open mouth with teeth visible. Crows are sneaking in and pilfering the smaller fish. Similarly there are women with elongated breasts.

We sat on the banks of Mandvi river. Sun was shimmering in the water. There was a partial moon hanging in the sky and it seemed to waiting for the Sun to hide away in the West. It did not know that by the night will be there, it will also have traveled away from the sight. There were three or four ships which have been converted into Casinos. They come alive in the night.

After this we decided to go to old Goa to see the Basilica of Bom Jesus. It is about 10 kilometers from the Panjim. The roads runs along the river with small ships faring on the water ways. It was all in haste. First we went to the side of museum but it was closed that day.

But we saw the big hall where the large sculptures of saints are placed. There is a artillery piece of olden times outside the museum building. So we took few photographs and proceeded towards the church where the body of the saint is kept. So many people kept clicking the cameras.

The church has been declared World Heritage Building by UNESCO. It deserves to be the one. Credit goes to the Goa government for keeping the place in spic-n-span condition. In many states of India many heritage buildings are in the ruinous condition and may be lost forever.

The saint who spread Christianity in the Goa performed many miracles. The local people were awe stricken and many of them adopted the christian religion. He died in 1552 at Sancian from fever. His body was brought back to India. One of his arms is displayed in a reliquary in Rome and other was intended for Japan but was kept at St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum of  Colane island. The saint is called “Goencho Saeb” by the local people in Konkani language.

The saint is accused of heading the Goa inquisition which was established to punish the heretics especially the new converts which were believed to be reverting the practicing their old faith customs.

In a hurry to go to Madgaon and Betul we left the place and followed back in same route buses. Next day, we called a taxi for which we have to inform the receptionist a day before, for going to railway station for catching a train for Ratnagiri.

Again, there were sketches by Mario Miranda at the station. The train rolled out of the station and I was left with a sense of unfulfilled desires because I could not see many places of interest in the short time. If you go to such a place as Goa where things are spread across a large area and you have a short time then you have to buy the time with money otherwise most of your time will be wasted in the journey only.

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