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”
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
There are a number of recipe pages on the internet. For example the following link.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
India produces so many spices like Black pepper, Cardamom, Ginger and Turmeric. Many expedition in the Europe were undertaken for establishing a foothold in India particularly Kerala for procuring its fabled spices. Vasco da Gama was first to reach India in pursuit of the spices.
Turmeric is one spice which is an integral part of Indian cooking. It is given as a suspension in the hot milk to persons who have sustained beatings and internal injuries to relieve pain and swelling because of its powerful antibacterial properties. It contains yellow pigments called curcuminoids. One member of a curcuminoids is curcumin. It has been suggested that curcuminoids may have a beneficial effect in some cancerous conditions, when applied externally. Other experimental studies suggest curcumin may have protective effects on the liver.
India alone produces about 94% of the world’s turmeric. It belongs to the ginger family. Its rhizomes are the source of a bright yellow spice and dye. Turmeric is only known as a domesticated plant and not found in the wild. Its origin is in South and Southeast Asia, and prior to being used a s a popular spice may have been first used as a dye.
Some studies suggest that components of the essential oil, such as ar-tumerone, have anti-snake venom activity. The essential oil is also reported to have some insect repellent and insecticidal activity.
As a dye, its color varies depending on how it is processed. If mixed with alkaline fluids it turns bright red, but when mixed with acid it produces yellow. This property makes it an indicator of acidic or basic nature of a solution.
Extracts have been added to creams for use as a colouring agent and traditionally women would rub turmeric into their cheeks to produce a golden glow. The yellow pigment in turmeric is a compound called curcumin.
Turmeric has traditionally been used to counteract many conditions including the aging process in Ayurvedic medicine. In India, turmeric is associated with fertility and prosperity, and brings good luck if applied to a bride’s face and body, as part of the ritual purification before a wedding. Turmeric roots may be given as a present on special occasions, such as a visit to a pregnant woman.
Turmeric powder is also sprinkled on sacred images. The use of turmeric is prohibited in a house of mourning.Yellow and orange are both special colors in Hinduism, yellow being associated with Vishnu, and as the color of the space between chastity and sensuality. Orange signifies sacrifice and renunciation and courage. Originally associated with the sun and as part of solar symbolism, the colors were absorbed into the mythology of Hinduism.
In Hindu wedding ceremonies brides would rub turmeric over their bodies. Newborn babies had turmeric rubbed on to their forehead for good luck and they would be given a turmeric necklace to wear to keep away evil spirits. Pieces of the rhizomes are added to water to make an infusion that is used in baths. It is reported that washing in turmeric improves skin tone and reduces hair growth.
Chocolates have been found good for health in moderation. They contain cocoa which is storehouse of thousands of chemicals which are good for human health.
It contains organic chemicals called poly-phenols. These chemicals have been proven to reduce the bad LDL Cholesterol and boosts HDL Cholesterol. This is good for our heart and arteries.
The benefits of these poly-phenols do not stop here. They are very active compounds and catch the free radicals which are very harmful to our body. Free radicals are atoms, compounds which have free unpaired electrons on them and are very reactive and can oxidize many useful compounds in the body and cause diseases like cancer, Alzheimer and other deadly diseases. These phenols render them ineffective and harmless.
Similarly chocolates contain a chemical called “Anadamide” which boost the mood and removes the gloominess. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word “Ananda” which means bliss.
Chocolate acts as a stimulant. It contains two compounds namely Caffeine and Theobromine which are stimulants. They also contain poly-phenols a class of chemicals called Catechins. These compounds help in reducing the risk of stroke in humans.
It contains Cortisol a chemical which boost the morale and reduces the stress levels. 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of chocolate per day for two weeks have been found to do the trick.
But chocolates have a downside to health. They contain a lot of sugar which is bad for health. Many other foods also contain many of these useful compounds but not as many are present in this single packaged. So in moderation chocolates are good for health.
Man always desires delicacies in every sphere of life. It is a passion of mankind to search for delicacies and for this adventure, it is ready to take risks that can cost the life. After all, it must have been a matter of hit and trial for the early man to discover what is edible or what is not.
The taste of eating is uppermost in humans and this has led to myriad varieties of culinary arts and methods.
In this category is a fish called “Fugu”, which is delicacy is Japan. It is very costly and but at the same time very dangerous delicacy. Certain parts like intestines, ovaries and liver contain tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide and among the most powerful poisons found in nature.
In the past, it is said that if a person in Japan was frustrated with life and did not want to live, he committed Harakiri by eating this fish.
The Japanese poet Yosa Buson expressed some of these feeling in a famous as follows,
“I cannot see her tonight,
I have to give her,
So I will eat Fugu”
Only trained Chefs have license to prepare the fish. This show that taste can even beat the danger of life in humans.
An intersting story about Fugu
There is interesting story in Japanese about the Fugu. Three persons prepared Fugu but were apprehensive about eating it for the fear of being poisoned, though they had removed the poisonous parts during dressing. So they offered a dish to a beggar and waited to see the fate of beggar. They found that even after many hours they had given the dish to beggar, nothing happened to him. So, assured, they partook to delicacy.
In reality, the beggar was very intelligent and he hid the dish somewhere but pretended to had it eaten. He was waiting for the reaction of dish on the three fellows who had given him the dish. When the beggar saw them hail and hearty after two three days, he ate the dish. This way he had fooled the fellows who wanted to test the dish on him.
While doing a crossword, I came across this word Leipziger. It is in Germany. Lerche actually means Lark in German language. The hint was the famed Pie which used actual Lark as one of the ingredients. It was a very popular delicacy.
I was shocked that humans didn’t leave alone even the smaller birds for using them in their food. Man in his initial days was a hunter and hunted in groups the big game. Slowly he discovered that many plants- like grasses contain the seeds like precursors of wheat are edible. This diverted them from hunting towards farming but eating the animal flesh is a part of the food.
From the bird lists of Germany, three types of Larks are found there. These are Crested Lark, skylarks and one another variety but the most abundant is Crested Lark. The name Lark is given to this family of birds because they sing in very sweet voice. Here I am producing a picture of Crested Lark found in our area.
The tradition of consuming Larks dates back to Middle Ages. Although it was consumed in France, Italy and Germany, but Leipzig was the foremost. References say that the Larks in this region were most perfect and succulent and needed no butter for cooking. Cookbooks say that these were cooked in many ways like pan fried with diced apples, ginger, peppers and sugar or simmered in beef stock with raisins and beer.
Craze for these innocent birds was such that over 404,000 larks!!! were sold in the year 1720 alone within Leipzig, with over 1 million more being caught in the surrounding area and sent to other German cities and towns or even as far as Spain and Russia
Practice went on till 1876, when the king Albert of Saxony made it illegal to hunt the birds as these were helpful to the farmers because these birds feed on the insects which harm the crops.
The pastry is still made under this name but without the Larks. Instead other ingredients are used.