Blogchatter A2Z 2021, FOOD, Knowledge Series, top post on indiblogger

How about a Date?

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It’s quite ok to have a date, whatever your age! Isn’t it?

Yes,  dates keep one  quite healthy and happy and one should try to include them in the diet. Confused?

We are referring to dates  also known as khajur in Hindi. 🙂

This being Ramadan month, dates is one of the most popular foods that are served as part of Iftars. They are natural sweeteners. Many desserts are prepared using them without any added sugar.

Dates are said to be  originally from Iran, though it is now available and consumed across the world. Date Palms are mostly found in the deserts and they usually grow in clusters. I am born and brought up in Haryana and remember seeing dates trees while crisscrossing the state. As a young child, I find them  similar to  coconut trees.🌴 

I had eaten or rather seen for the first time raw red dates when I had first shifted to Ahmedabad in 2003. I have ever since become fan of those sweet bright red coloured wonder fruit after taking my first bite. 

The Middle East nations ( Iran, Egypt,Southi Arab etc.) are top dates producing countries. In these countries, dates are considered a staple food . The dates cultivation seems to be from the 6th millennium BCE. There are different varieties of dates available in the market now and each have diffrent taste and texture.

Dates is a nutritious fruit, especially when dried. It contains a lot of fibre and essential vitamins and minerals which are good for our health. Many people eat it as a dessert and they really make a healthy dessert but only if taken in moderation!

Let us see why dates are said to be an excellent food?

 

Dates have always been known for the rich concentration of antioxidants in them and help us prevent and combat a lot of infections. 

These powerhouse of antioxidants  protects human body cells from damage to oxidative stress from free radicals. Also, the carotenoids  in dates help reduce eye-related disorders. They are also richly endowed with flavonoids  and Phenolic acid. The dates have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the risk of cancer and help with heart issues.

Dates are good for bones as they have Copper, Selenium, and Magnesium in abundance. They also are a rich source of  essential Vitamin K . Vitamin K helps in coagulation of blood which in turnt helps in bone metabolism. In post-menopausal women, the Potassium in dates is beneficial by protecting the bone mass. Hence, eating foods rich in minerals that provide bone strength and keep them healthy is important.

Anything sweet is supposed to be bad for diabetics. However,  sweet foods with low glycemic index can be safely eaten by diabetics. Low glycemic index  means is that  the absorption of sugar into the blood will be slow. Dates have a low glycemic index. They are  rich in fibre which slows down digestion. The fibre rich dates also aids in bowel movements and prevents constipation.

Interestingly dates  also help to increase the production of insulin in the body. Hence can also prevent  from getting diabetes as the sugar absorption rate in the intestines is reduced. Overall, it can be considered a diabetic-friendly food.

Every want to reverse ageing. Our super food Dates come with anti-ageing factors. The Vitamin C and D present in dates helps maintain the elasticity of  skin. Funnily, most dates  (especially the dried ones) come with wrinkled skin but may help keep  skin free from wrinkles.

Studies have shown that dates can lower brain inflammations which are found to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have also found that dates prevent the formation of plaques in the brain which cause to cognitive loss. This is mainly due to the anti-inflammatory properties mentioned earlier. The choline and Vitamin B in dates helps learning and memory functions.

It’s time to Date !

Dates being  good source of a lot of essential stuff that helps us stay healthy.

Come on, let’s go dating !

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Blogchatter A2Z 2021, FOOD, Knowledge Series, top post on indiblogger

VITAMIN D

Top Post on IndiBloggerVitamin D has come to the forefront in 2020 as it’s suggested to be helpful in the treatment of Covid19 and was found to be good to increase immunity. But this sunshine vitamin is an essential ingredient to keep the human body in good spirits.

The prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency is reported worldwide, both in sunshine deficient and sunshine sufficient countries. Still, it is the most underdiagnosed and undertreated nutritional deficiency in the world. However, various studies showed poor Vitamin D status irrespective of age, sex, and geography.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency: 

Vitamin D deficiency in India, a sunshine country has been a recent phenomenon but now Vitamin D deficiency is quite rampant in India. Apart from low intake in diet, people with liver, kidney and skin disorders also have Vitamin D deficiency. There are many reasons for it being so common in our country.

  • Increased indoor lifestyle, thereby preventing adequate exposure to sunlight. This is mainly in the urban population due to modernization.
  • Pollution can hamper the synthesis of Vitamin D in the skin by UV rays.
  • Changing food habits contribute to low dietary calcium and Vitamin D intake
  • Phytates and phosphates which are present in fiber rich diet, can deplete Vitamin D stores and increase calcium requirement
  • Increased skin pigmentation and application of sunscreens
  • Cultural practices such as the burqa and purdah system
  • Unspaced and unplanned pregnancies in women with dietary deficit can lead to worsening of Vitamin D status in both mother and child.

Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency: 

Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean a deficiancy of vitamin D deficiency. Even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:

Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Cognitive impairment in older adults
Severe asthma in children
Cancer
Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.
India being a tropical country has adequate sunshine. Most of the Indian population live in areas with adequate sunlight throughout the year and are expected to have adequate Vitamin D. Contrary to this, the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency is high in India.

Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency:
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves getting more vitamin D — through diet and supplements. Although there is no consensus on vitamin D levels required for optimal health  and it likely to differ based on age and health conditions.

If you don’t spend much time in the sun or always are careful to cover your skin (sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production), you should speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly if you have risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.

Educational programs are a must to create awareness about Vitamin D deficiency as it is the most underdiagnosed and undertreated nutritional disease. Both physicians and the public should be made aware of its implications.

School going children should be made aware about the need for Vitamin D sufficiency and healthy lifestyle. Let us take charge of our own health.

Foods rich in Vitamin D:

Cod liver oil, and fish such as sardines, trout, hilsa, salmon, sword fish, mackerel, and tuna, are good sources of vitamin D. Egg yolk (both chicken and quail are good too). Mushrooms are the only known plant food that naturally has the vitamin. Leaving them out, be in the sun for about 15 to 30 minutes increases levels of Vit D.

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FOOD, Knowledge Series

Quinoa – The Superfood

Quinoa pronounced as kinuwa has recently been acknowledged as “superfood”.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a pseudocereal, as this grain isn’t from grasses like wheat and rice. Quinoa is the seed of Chenopodium quinoa and is closely related to bathua which is Chenopodium album (goosefoot).These gluten free seeds are rich in proteins, vitamin B, dietary minerals and fibers. It is also a good source of antioxidants called flavonoids.

A native of South American continent (Peru, Chile and Bolivia) for thousands of years, quinoa formed the staple diet of the Incas and their descendants. It dates back three to four thousand years ago when the Incas first realized that the quinoa seed was fit for human consumption. Quinoa “was the gold of the Incas” because the Incas believed it increased the stamina of their warriors.

The UN named 2013 ‘International Quinoa Year’ in recognition of its high nutrient content. With twice the protein content of rice or barley, quinoa is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also contributes useful levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fibre.

Another advantage of Quinoa is that,it is the least allergenic of all the ‘grains’, making it a fantastic wheat-free choice. Like buckwheat, quinoa has an excellent amino acid profile, as it contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete-protein source. Quinoa is therefore an excellent choice for vegans.

Though quinoa is around for 1000 years or so, but it has recently attained a cult like status among foodies or health conscious people. Quinoa cultivation is one of the main livelihoods of Andean farmers, but now spreading to other parts of the world. In recent years, North America and Europe have taken up quinoa farming and India has recently joined in albeit on a smaller scale. Rajasthan, Andhra pradesh and Uttarakhand have taken the plunge, though not on a very large scale. I prefer to shop local varieties as they are fresher. I have procured my quinoa from very unlikely place – Beas, in Punjab.

When cooked, quinoa seeds become fluffy and creamy, but maintains slight crunchiness. It has a subtle nutty flavor and can be relished for breakfast (as a cereal), lunch (as a salad) or dinner (as a side dish). Since its bland in taste

I have added boiled quinoa in my salad and they perfectly gel with the taste. Lemon, salt and chat masala and lo, a tasty meal is ready in a jiffy!

Quinoa contains almost twice the fibre than most of the grains. More fibres means feeling full for a longer time, hence a favourite for weight loosers. Its suitable to give relief in constipation too. Fibre rich foods also lowers cholesterol and sugar levels, thus beneficial in heart disease and diabetes.

The iron in quinoa helps in healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin formation. It definitely is good for women, who are generally anemic. Iron carries oxygen to our whole body. The oxygen in blood helps in muscle contraction , brain function, regulation of blood temperature and energy metabolism.

High manganese, magnesium and B2 in quinoa improves tissue growth, alleviates blood vessels, detoxification, healthy bones and teeth and protects from injuries due to free radicals. So, overall a power packed performance from nutritional powerhouse !!

Besides adding it to salad, it can be used in the similar way, as we make milk – daliya by replacing daliya with boiled quinoa. It can be eaten in place of oats and can replace noodles in soups. Since quinoa is somewhat bitter in taste, it’s good to wash the boiled seeds under plenty of water before using in any of the dish.

I am sharing few recipe links below. They may help you in creating your own signature recipes. Quinoa is band in taste and hence will absorb the taste of spices of the dish.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2364643/spicy-tuna-quinoa-salad

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/one-pot-chicken-quinoa

Healthy cooking folks!!
 

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FOOD

Satvik 2018

SATVIK Traditional Food Festival by Srishti in Ahmedabad has reached an iconic status. It provides a platform to expose city dwellers to our traditional local rustic foods and allied organic products.

I have been a regular since I shifted to the city in 2013. Every year, its growing in terms of offerings and management.

I visited the Satvik Food Fest 2018, yesterday with my friend, Prabha. We reached around 12.30 and have plans to have our afternoon drink and lunch there.

The Ola cab took us there smoothly and saved us from parking hassles, though I was told that enough parking space has been assigned for the Satvik guests. Anyway, I like the cabs aggregators like Uber and Ola, which take us right upto the entrance. I am big fan of these services as they have really helped me to spread my wings with safe and speedy local transport without worrying about parking. 😊💜

After buying entry tickets of Rs. 40 each, we entered the venue to be welcomed by a coconut water vendor, selling at Rs. 20 while we get in city @ Rs.30. We by-passed him for kehwa by Vishwagram. A  clear concoction of kesar and elaichi with grated almond was too good. It was sold for Rs. 30 each. The golden colour drink gets all my vote.

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Kashmiri  Kehwa

The youngsters managing the counter were locals. I enquired how come they have put up a banner of J & K. The young pleasing Gulal explained the work these young people are doing in J & K. The kitchen is handled by kashmiri, hence the authentic taste.

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The Kehwa Shop

Warmed up with kehwa, we moved and found many interesting food items using traditional local grains and produce. We have shortlisted few eatables and then moved on to have a round of the mela.

The organic farm market for organic produce, honey, organic spices, cosmetics were huge hits. Some stalls of traditional prints of clothing were also seen.

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The Organic Produce Market

I bought some clay utensils. The clay potters have reinvented and survived the China crockery onslaught. I bought clay cups and 2 bowls with Worli paintings. They have ceramic inner lining and are microwave and dishwasher safe.

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The Clay Utensils Shop – Worli artist at work.

I had my evening tea in my new clay cups. The taste of tea has been enhanced with the aroma of mitti / clay.

After going around for about 2 hours and done with shopping, we came back to have lunch. We opted for raw turmeric vegetable and bajre ka rotla with ragi sheera. Seven grains  vada with garlic chutney and fries green chillies was the 2nd course of our lunch. There was so much to eat, but my stomach has its own limitation. My stomach was full and satisfied.

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Bajre nu rolta, kachchi haldi sabzi and sheera

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Me, Prabha and our local tasty rustic lunch 

We booked another uber and came back home.

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FOOD

Ahmedabad Food Bloggers Meet @Baraco Sizzler , 16th Dec, 2018

It all started by a message on Instagram  of “dil-vich_foodie“. Few messages were exchanged on Insta and then we shifted to whatsapp. The foodie at heart ( dil-vich-foodie) turns out to be Priti Gupta and the conversation was about the blogger’s meet she is organising. Since I am free on Sunday, I confirm my presence for the lunch meet at 2PM. The venue was The Cafe Baraco Sizzler, in Memnagar, opposite Memnagar Fire station.

An Uber cab took me to the venue in 35 minutes and I reached there by 2.25pm. The late arrival was never intended but there was some issue with the availability of cabs.It took me almost 30 minutes to get a confirmed booking instead of usual 15 minutes. I principally avoid reaching late and prefer to adhere the scheduled timings.

I have never been to any bloggers’ meet earlier and this is my first meet. My son has actually motivated me to attend as he says, these are good fun and good for networking (I never understood this digital marketing term). I have accepted the invite for two reasons. One, I found a connect with Priya immediately through messages and second I love meeting people.

As I reached the venue, I was received very warmly by Bharatiben from the Cafe Baraco . Bharatiben is very unassuming and warm person. After an initial introductory round, little gupshup, the food started pouring in. It continued for almost 2 hours.

Soups:

It started with soups. Two soups -“Thai leek cilantro” and “Mexican de beans cilantro” were served in buns. Thai leek cilantro soup was milder, less spicy while Maxican de beans cilantro was spicy, true to its origin.

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Thai Leek Cilantro Soup in a bun

Starters :

Soups were followed by starters. Crispy veg in chilli coriander sauce, Sunehra Mushroom, Cheese chilly kababs and peri-peri- focaccia sandwiches. 

The crispy veg in chilli coriander sauce has distinct and refreshing taste of every ingredient in the name  and  has crispiness in every bite.

The kababs have soft cheesy centre and tastiest when eaten hot.

Sunhera mushroom is an unusual starter. I am not a mushroom fan, but have fallen in love with mushroom in this new avatar.

This peri-peri focaccia is the best seller item of the outlet. The moment,you have a bite and you know, why it’s a winner.

Main Course:

Main course was a  mix of sizzlers and great Indian food.

Each one of steaming hot sizzlers were a complete meal in itself. With lots of stir-fry vegetables, tikkies,rice, salad and sauces …. their taste lingers on.

Indian spread consists of  vegetable lahori, paneer amritsari, missi roti, tandoori roti, tava roti and tandoori prantha. I never expected to have authentic north Indian food, popularly known as punjabi food at Cafe Baraco.

Desserts:

I wish, the desserts were calorie free, so that one can have them without guilt. The plating were equally exquisite as the desserts. Good to look at and great to eat. Apple tart is my weakness and they were just so good. The cinnamon- apple flavour was so heavenly.

Mocktails and Shakes:

The mocktails have very interesting names: Virgin Colada, The Passion Tornado, French Kiss, Orange Lime Relaxer and Safe Sex on the Beach.  🙂  😛

The shakes served were strawberry shake, blueberry shake, brownie shake and kitkat shake.

The cafe Baraco

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FOOD, LIFESTYLE, top post on indiblogger, Travel and tours

Lakhnawi Dastrakhan (Lucknow Food Trail)

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Lucknow is known for its food cuisine. I have come here  for 2 days,  which I know are not enough to explore the history or food trail of the city. Due to time constraint, I had listed some well known and old eateries of Lucknow.

Royal Cafe in Hazratganj was already on the list. My husband, RB had visited this place almost half a century ago as a young boy. “Bajpayi kachori” of Hazratganj was another eatery on the list. Sharma ji ki chai, bati chokha , Aliganj and a good local awadhi biryani. These were on my wish list or call it hit list. 😛

After spending around 4 hours in Residency complex, we chose to go to “Bajpayi Kachori in Hazratganj. It’s one place  everyone has recommended. “Everyone” – who has visited Lucknow or has belonged to Lucknow and is on any whatsapp group, of whom I am a member. 🙂

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Bajpayee ji ki Kachori stall and queue of customers

Again Uber was booked for Bajpayee ki Kachori. As we reached a shop named Bajpayee ki kachori, my husband recognised that we are not in Hazratganj. The Uber driver said, this was the location selected. We checked and found that it was our mistake. There are two shops of the same name and no one can tell us if this is an extension of the original or not.

Any way, by this time, we were awfully hungry. We booked another Uber , this time for Bajpayee ki Kachori, Hazratganj. We got down at “Ramasre” Sweet shop in Hazratganj, opposite to Bajpayee’s. RB remembered Ramasre for his food cart in Hazratganj on his last visit decades ago. His food was good and very popular in those days. Just opposite to “Ramasre”, we saw a hole in the wall kind of shop, which was “Bajpayee ki Kachori. Few tables were kept outside for people to eat their fare, bang on a very busy and narrow road. It has a long queue. I detest the idea of queuing up for food. There were few delivery men from swiggy and zomato. We decided to use technology and get them home delivered rather than wasting time queuing up.

We walked towards the Royal Cafe. Google maps are a big help in a new city. One can reach the destination without any human intervention. It gives so much  independence, freedom and feel of safety to travelers. 

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As RB has seen Hazratganj in it’s old glory, he was sad at the condition of the area, afterall Lucknow is his ancestral city.  Old heritage buildings were being demolished and converted into big showrooms. Work was on for the metro and whole area was in shambles.

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Royal Cafe, Hazratganj, Lucknow

We had “basket chat” from Royal cafe as it has samples of almost everything which is “chat”. It’s simply divine. Besides the food served, the tehzeeb of Lucknow is visible in every conversation, which I heard while in Royal Cafe or anywhere else. “Matar tikki” was another item, which we selected from the menu on the advise of the waiter. It has unique blend of spices, soft and “melt in mouth” type and very tasty. I wish, I could have eaten few more of their preparations, but my stomach was full. My heart was still longing for more. 

I am biased towards UP ka khana, being a kayastha. Who can ever forget the taste of “Aloo puri and jalebi breakfast” from the nearest corner shop? Every mohalla has their favourite and “best” “aloo-puri-jalebi” nashta. 🙂

We took a stroll in the hazratganj. Going to hazratganj in good old days was referred to as “Ganjing” . It was the most happening place then.

The “bajpayi ki kachori” was the next morning breakfast. 

The “Swiggy” aggregator for home delivery of local food came to our rescue from the queuing at the outlet. We booked and got the food delivered within 28 minutes flat. Hot and piping kachories and sabzi. 

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Bajpayee ki Kachori

We were expecting the soft urad daal kachories with hing wale aloo. What we got were thick maida ki poori with aloo-chana topped with kachcha pyaaz. Disappointed somewhat. But then checked the rating of Bajpayi ji. Some confidence there. 🙂 The first bite made some change in our opinion about kachories. The food was good. Very spicy though. From the look of the shop/ outlet, we were worried about the hygiene. Bajpayi ji passed the hygiene test too as none of us had any stomach upset episodes. RB’s system is sensitive and his system okayed the Bajpayee’s hygiene. The kachories were actually poories. There was no fillings. I ordered kachories and poories both, as it was there in the menu. Thick maida poories , not swelled but hard and crispy which may be acceptable in a remote panjab location but not in UP, where poori- kachori are swelled and thin. It was tasty but nothing like UP style poori, kachori and hing aloo. I guess, I am disappointed as my expectations were not met. But it  was tasty, very spicy.

The last dish on the list was awadhi biryani. It’s a difficult option for a vegetarian. For non-vegetarian foodies, there are vast varieties available. We decided that we will go for biryani, where ever we will be during lunch time. We were in chowk market to do some chikankari shopping. Chowk area is the  wholesale market and one of the recommended places for hand made chikankari clothing. We reached Chowk only at lunch time after visiting the Imambaras and surrounding monuments like ghanta ghar, Roomi Darwaaza etc. An electric rickshaw took us there in Rs. 50 and 15 minutes.

We looked around and zeroed in on “Aryan Family Delight”. It’s rating on Zomato was 3.5/5. A casual dining place with nice ambience. We ordered Awadhi Vegetarian Biryani and chaach. The biryani was delicious. It was served with raita. Masala chach was equally good. Biryani was very light, rightly spiced and less oily. The vegetables and rice quantities were balanced and aroma of herbs were inviting.

We also had matka kulfi at Aryans. It was mildly sweet, with saffron flavour and was different than the kulfi served here in Ahmedabad. 

After having our stomach full, we had enough energy for shopping and bargaining . Finally, with big shopping bags, we reached our guest house by late evening. We had our dinner in the guest house.

Awadhi Biryani Vs Hyderabadi Biryani

When we talk about biryani, comparison between awadhi and hyderabadi biryani is natural.
Both the biryanis are cooked in “dumpukht”style. In “dum” cooking style, rice and meat/ vegetables are cooked in a sealed handi on low heat.Their similarities end here.

Awadhi biryani is also known as paki (पकी) biryani or cooked biryani.  The meat/ vegetables and rice are cooked separately, layered and then baked in dum.This is less spicy, less oily and light on stomach. While hyderabadi biryani is known as kachchi/raw/uncooked (कच्ची) biryani.The meat / vegetables are marinated in a mixture of spices for a few hours and then mixed with the cooked Biryani rice.This is cooked in sealed handi in “dum” style.Hyderabadi biryani is more spicy and tangy.It has more oil as compared to Awadhi biryani and is not as light as awadhi. Actually, it’s heavy on stomach.

Whatever may be the style, biryani has made a special place in our plates. It was first introduced in India, when Mughals captured the region, and the Arabs introduced it to some parts of South India.

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Sunset at Gomti Nagar

With this, our time in Lucknow came to an end. A memorable trip came to an happy ending.

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