Category Archives: Food

Leipziger Lerche or Songbird Pastry

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.

crested lark

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. 

Advertisements

Giloye or Tinospora cordifolia: A wonderful Herbal Vine!!

Giloye as its called in India is a vine. Its scientific name is “Tinospora cordifolia”. Common names are Heart-leaved moon seed, guduchi. It is an herbaceous vine of the family Menispermaceae indigenous to the tropical areas of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

Giloy vine : source wiki

If you happen to see a Giloye vine climbed on a tree and claiming the branches, you will think that ropes are entwined over the branches. No leaves. But these are beautiful ripe fruits on it. Most of the time it shows no leaves. Usually it entwines the trees and creeps up. It grows up abundantly in dry regions of North India. The berries are ripe in May June.

These is a forest near our home which has it growing abundantly. Parrots like its ripe berries. I think they know its benefits better than us.

Parakeets enjoying the berries

It is sometimes called Amrita which means “Forever Alive” because it can live for ever. Even if you think that the vine has dried up, it shows up leaves in a surprising manner.

This herb is of great medicinal value in Ayurvedic Medicine. It has been found very useful in the treatment of fevers, digestion and increases the platlets in the blood. It increases immunity and eases the respiration. More details of Its health benefits are highlighted in the auyurvedic website.

Note: First image is taken from Wikipedia. Rest of the images are my own

A Symbol of Hope

During intense winters, plants and trees go into a dormancy a period of stagnation. They withdraw the chlorophyll -a pigment responsible for green colour and a must for photosynthesis– from the leaves because they know that Sun is not going to come up strongly for photosynthesis to happen and food making process to start. The leaves change color to yellow, orange and mixture of these colors. Because besides chlorophyll which overpowers the colors of other pigments there are Xanthophylls which are yellow pigments, and carotenoids (the pigment which imparts the beautiful color to carrots, papaya, and mangoes and so on) which give leaves an orange color.

Slowly the leaves die and begin falling down. The tree branches become nude. But tree is not dead. It is waiting patiently for the tough time of winter to be over. As soon as the winter starts receding, the new leaves begin coming forth. The new beginning of life. At first, due to the absence of chlorophyll, the color of other pigments shine. Leaves are beautiful translucent. As the sun starts coming regularly with renewed force, chlorophyll starts building up masking the color of other pigments. Soon the leaves become intense green shade.

Thus the the new leaves are a symbol of Spring and new hope of brighter future. Let us hope and pray to God this also happens to the world….

Ashure or Noah’s Pudding

Every living things requires energy to be alive. Our bodies continuously spend energy to do work. Food which consists of carbohydrates, Oils and Fats, Proteins are primarily food classes. There are other categories of food like fruits and vegetables which provide micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. All of these are required for a normal body to be healthy.

When these items are available, human beings evolved recipes to make the food more tastier and delicious. Different regions of the world have produced different kinds of categories depending on the ingredients available there.

Those recipes are even better which contains maximum nutrients. These are wholesome foods. One such recipe is Ashure or Noah’s Pudding. It has its origin in Turkey. Noah’s name has a story related to it. It is said when Noah’s ship landed with survivors they didn’t have much left. They had some grains like whole wheat, chickpeas, and the like.

The recipe consists of boiling the whole wheat and keep it submerged in the boiled water. Wheat is rich in carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins, Legumes which are rich in proteins are soaked and then boiled. These are then mixed with the boiled wheat in water. A thick pudding results, sweetener like sugar or jaggery is added and then dry fruits and nuts are added. The finishing is also done by topping with dry nuts, coconut powder etc.

The ingredients like legumes and dry fruits and nuts can very depending upon the availability.

This dish is a specialty during Muharram and totally vegan. This pudding is distributed in the community and is considered auspicious.

Many videos are available on the YouTube for preparing this recipe. It is very nutritious.

It’s nutritional value is given in the link

Nutritional Value of Ashure

And here is one link of recipe on YouTube.

Note: The picture of dish and links are taken from Google and YouTube.

Drupe!!!!!

here are many fruits and nuts which have a stone or pit inside which has a hard shell and encloses the seed inside and fleshy outer part. Such fruits are known as Drupe. While in some of them we eat the fleshy part and discard the stone, while in others fleshy outer part is discarded and the seed is edible. This way the tree does not expose the seed to the world. Examples of the first category are avocados, mangoes, peaches, apricots, and plums, etc. Nuts fall In the second category called Nuts which the world loves for their nutritional value. They are full of energy and minerals. Examples are almonds and walnuts. Some pictures of Drupe. Please note that pictures have been saved from the Internet for illustration purposes.

Drupe Examples: We eat outer flesh.

Drupe: Of which we eat the seed or nuts

Goji Berries

Gojigoji berry, or wolfberry, are popular as super fruit for dieting celebrities. Like many other fruits which are considered as super, claims by sellers are surrounded in controversies.

It has become popular since 2000. It was mainly produced in China and exported to the other countries. It is native to Asia and have been long used in traditional Asian cuisine.

To add as a proof of its magical properties is the story of a chinese man named  Li Qing Yuen, who was said to have consumed wolfberries daily, lived to the age of 256 years (1677–1933) some say 190 years.

This claim apparently originated in a 2003 booklet by Earl Mindell, who claimed also that goji had anti-cancer properties. The booklet contained false and unverified claims.

Goji berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamin C, fibre, iron, Vitamin A, Zinc and antioxidants. These berries are part of cuisine in Asia.

Love Handles!!!

The term “Love Handles” refer to the extra flab around the belly. Health conscious people try to cut this to look slim and healthy.

There are many explanations for the use of this term.

Young unmarried people are very conscious of their figure because they think that looking slim is attractive. But after they are married, their competition ends and happy couples gorge more food leading to obesity.

The term was popularised by actress Debbie Reynolds. Although she was not fat, her mother was. His father liked her mother as such.

She said in an interview

“My mother is—well—rather plump, but my dad likes her that way. He calls the excess ‘love handles.’ As a matter of fact, he’s always saying to me, ‘The trouble with you, Debbie, is you’ve got no love handles.’”

“Daddy says a woman should have curves, which he calls, in the idiom of the Southwest, love handles. Isn’t that sweet, love handles?”

Lazy Susan

According to Wikipedia, A lazy Susan is a turntable (rotating tray) placed on a table or countertop to aid in distributing food. Lazy Susans may be made from a variety of materials but are usually glass, wood, or plastic.

An example of Lazy Susan

Simple interpretation is that the lady at home must be very lazy and didn’t like to move around serving the food going from one chair to another. So this was invented to avoid this. Eaters could rotate it to scoop out the food.

During earlier times, it was also called a Dumbwaiter. Both Dumb and Lazy parts have almost similar connotations. But where from the name Susan came? It is an english name. When this contraption was invented, the name was hardly popular. So the name origin is still debatable.

Incidentally, it is very popular in chinese eateries where it made the Dimsum eating very simple.

Baker’s Dozen

Everyone knows that a dozen contains 12 items. But a baker’s dozen consists of 13 items. Baker adds 1 extra loaf to the bread. Perhaps the tradition continues from a law in medieval England. The law “The Assize of Bread and Ale”, passed in the reign of Henry III, regulated the price, weight and quality of bread. Any baker found overcharging customers was subject to harsh punishments, including fines, jail and beatings.

Since at that time bakers simply used loaves instead of scales for weight, they had to ensure they gave enough bread for the cost, so chose to add a bit extra, such as a whole loaf, to their dozen – preferring to take the loss than be flogged.

Spiritual importance of Coconut

Coconut is a miraculous fruit. The water loaded with minerals and micronutrients is so refreshing. It is a life saver as it hydrates the dehydrated body. It gives nourishment without side effects.

This magical water is enclosed inside the shell, which is so tough to open, if one doesn’t have the proper tools can frustrate you. Here you have the food but still it is so far away. It teaches that one has to toil in order to achieve the success.

As the fruit matures a layer of fat begins depositing on the inner wall of the shell. Quantity of the water reduces but its sweetness increases.

Coconut grows in abundance in the coastal areas of India. It loves salty water. In fact coconut holds a place of prime importance. It’s oil is used in cooking, rubbed in the hair for shine, its outer fibre is called coir which is used in mattress making. Dry empty shells are burnt for fire in hearth.

In addition to being a food, coconut is present in so many religious ceremonies in India.

The three ‘eyes’ of the coconut represent the three eyes of the great Lord Shiva. An earthen pot or pitcher, called a Purnakumbha is filled with water and mango leaves and a coconut is placed on top. This Purnakumbha is used in the ritual of worship and adoration of the gods, called puja. It is placed as a substitute for the deity or by the side of the deity. The Purnakumbha literally means a ‘full pot’ in Sanskrit. It represents Mother Earth, the water the giver of life, the leaves life itself, and the coconut divine consciousness.