Friday, November 4, 2016

Palaw and Kebabs from the Afghan Cuisine

This article discusses about the Afghan Cuisine. Check this article, to know more about the food preparations and the main ingredients that could be included in our choice of foods.

The chief crops of Afghanistan were wheat, maize, barley and rice. Also the main liquid sources were through milk. Thus the food preparations that came into being were derived using the above ingredients. Milk was made use of to have Yoghurt, whey. Fruits and vegetables were produced in abundance and thus the most popular preparations of Afghan cuisine had the above in them, as a mandate.

To name a few, Kabuli Palaw, Seekh Kabab, Tandoori chicken, Mantu are popular preparations of Afghan cuisine.

Some of the other popular items from Afghanistan and thus in Afghan cuisine are Pomegranate, grapes and Melons, which are the size of a Football and are very sweet to taste.

Afghan dish of mantu

Breads in Afghan Cuisine

In this paragraph, we will discuss about the main types of breads being prepared in Afghan cuisine.

Naan

Naan is a oval/round shaped bread which is made of white flour or even whole wheat and has various toppings. Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sometimes multigrain spreads are used on the Naan.

Obi Non

Obi Non is another type of bread which is derived from the Uzbek style of cooking wheat.
These Obi Non are thicker than Naan and are made with White flour.

Chapati

The Chapati, also known as Sapati or Dodi, are thinner and more flat than Naan and are more popular in the Pashtun tribal areas of Afghanistan area.

Pan armenio en el mercado de Yerevan

Lavash

These are probably the thinnest of the breads and are served along with meat and stews.

The above breads are served with:

Torshi

Torshi is a mixture of pickled fruits, vegetables which are mixed with spices and vinegar.

Chutney

Chutneys are sauces, again made using vinegar, fresh cilantro, chilli peppers and blended in tomato, usually in paste form.

Rice preparations in Afghan cuisine

Rice was the most important part of Afghan cuisine and Afghan cuisine has numerous preparations of rice. These are again with multiple types of rice from white rice, brown, black rice and rice of different variants were grown in the Afghan region.

Some of the popular preparations are mentioned below:
Challow
The Challow preparation of rice makes use of white rice. The rice is parboiled, drained, then baked with oil, butter and salt in the oven. This preparation typically looks fluffy, each rice grain separated from the other. Such preparations are served with stews, curries and kormas.

Palaw

Palaw is prepared using the same method as for Challow, but meat and stock is added before the baking process. This meat and stick gives different colours to the rice. They also get different flavours and aromas from which they get their names.
Sometimes, caramelized sugar is added to give the rich taste to the rice.
The different types of Palaw are:

Kabuli Palaw

It has meat and stock and topped up with raisins, carrots and pistachios, Kabuli Palaw is the national dish in Afghan cuisine and Afghanistan.

Yakhni Palaw

Meat and stock. Has a brown colour.

Zamarod Palaw

Zamarod is another name for green emerald. In this preparation, spinach kurma is added before the baking process.

Bore Palaw

Lawand Kurma is added. This gets a Yellow colour.

Bonjan-e-Roomi Palaw

Tomato puree is added to the rice before the baking process, It gets a red colour.
Palaw

Serkah Palaw

This preparation is Takhni Palaw with Vinegar and spices added.

Sherbet Palaw

In this preparation, fresh dill, raisins are added.

Narenj Palaw

This preparation is a sweet preparation with saffron, orange peel, pisachio, almonds and chicken.

Maash Palaw

This preparation is for vegetarian people, or for people who like vegetarian preparations. This contains mung beans, apricots and wheat. This Palaw has sweet and sour taste.

Alow Balou Palaw

This Palaw is another sweet preparation. Cherries and chicken go into the dish before the baking process.

Korma

Korma are stews which are cooked slowly in the oven and are made into a gravy. The gravy can be very thick to pasty consistency. Onion is the main ingredient for Korma. Due to the rich sources of food items, more than 100 kormas are available in Afghan cuisine. Some of the popular kormas are given below:

Korma Alou-Bokhara wa Dalnakhod

This korma has onion base wiht plums, lentils, cardamom as spice and chicken from animal proteins.

Korma Nardoo

Onion based with lotus roots, cilantro, lamb and coriander

Korma Lawand

Onion based with yogurt, turmeric, cilantro and either with chicken, lamb or beef.

Korma Sabzi

Korma with spinach and other green vegetables with lamb.

Korma Shalgham

Again onion based with sugar, turnips, sugar with lamb.

Pasta

This is not the Italian Pasta! But known as Khameerbob and takes the shape of dumplings. They need a lot of time to be prepared and thus are now a rarity. There are two forms of Pasta in Afghan cuisine: Mantu and Ashak.

Mantu

Dumplings with onion with ground beef or lamb in it. It is topped with tomato based sauce and yoghurt or Qoroot based sauce. Mantu are dressed with dried mint and coriander.

Ashak

These are specially from Kabul They are filled with chives, topped by garlic, mint qoroot, garlic yogurt sauce, sauted tomatoes, kidney beans with meat mixture.

Pasta, when served in noodles form, are known as Aush and are served along with a soup.

Kebabs

Kebabs are native to Afghan preparations and are usually served with Naan or rice. These are soft meat which is fried and made into a patty.
Kebabs are also made from chops, ribs, ground lamb or beef or chicken.
Chapli kebab is a Pashto variant of the kebab which is a mixture of meat with flour and are lighter to taste, less expensive.

Quroot/Qoroot

Qoroot are prepared from dairy which is being reconstituted. The residue that remains after preparing butter (known as beri in Indian languages). This is not kept at room temperature for a few days, treated with salt and shaped into balls. It has a very sour taste and hard in consistency. It can be eaten directly and is served with cooked dishes like Ashak and Mantu. 



These and many other preparations make the Afghan cuisine and are very popular in the world.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Basic equipment required to start practicing Yoga

Practice of Yoga has been a age old practice. It began in the age of saints and rishis and they developed the practice while living in forests and then later building shelter huts amidst the forests.

What this tells us is that Yoga does not need anything as such to practice and anyone can practice Yoga, either through guidance or by self study.

Yet there are now certain things that can help to begin practicing Yoga in a more easy manner.
Here are some suggestions that can help improve your Yoga practice:
1. Find a Yoga teacher in your local area. 
The Yoga teacher could be someone who has a studio, or goes to a studio or can come to your home at the times possible for you.
Remember the third option of the Yoga practitioner coming to your home and at the times possible for you will always mean more costly class than would be while visiting the Yoga studio.

2 Buy some Yoga books
Books are ultimate friends and go a long way while learning and practicing Yoga.
Search on Online shopping websites with keywords like Yoga for dummies, Yoga for beginners etc.

3. Buy some DVDs and CDs.
DVDs and CDs help to listen and repeat the same steps until you are confident with the steps. DVDs give visual support. Go to your local store or check online.

4. Buying a Yoga mat
Yoga mats help give a non slippery base and support when you are learning Yoga. It gives confidence as well to practice Yoga. There can be a Classic mat which is usually thin. While a thicker mat gives more support.

5. What clothes to wear while doing Yoga?
Loose and stretchable clothes are best to practice Yoga. A loose kurta and pajama are good to start with and you probably have them in your cloth collections.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Top 10 brands of Green tea in India

With green tea becoming more and more popular, there have come up many manufacturers of green tea. Each of the manufacturer has put up their own blend, taste and colour of green tea. The effect of the re-introduction of green tea to the world is that it is being used more and more and more so as the main cups of tea being drunk through the day.

India, being one of the main producers of tea, has many brands of tea and this list (adopted from stylecraze website), gives the 10 best brands of Green tea in India.


  1. Organic India - Organic India are known to provide green tea in as ethical and original tea as possible. They provide green tea in loose leaves and also provide in tea sachet bags with infusion from tulsi or basil. Because Green tea does not have any strong taste of its own, they have also been infusing flavours which vary from Lemon-ginger, earl grey, jasmine and pomegranate.
    The good things are the tea given by Organic India is organic, is available everywhere through India and has a good taste and smell. But because they are infused with Tulsi, not everyone would like its taste.
  2. 24 Mantra - 24 Mantra is a recent make of Organic produce of green tea. Again like Organic India, these are not expensive and are also widely available. The difference with 24 Mantra is that they keep the leaves very fine and small. Due to this, the tea will leave a residue in your cup, even after filtering it.
  3. Basilur - Basilur green tea is imported from Sri lanka. The tea comes in different blends and packed in tin or cardboard boxes. While it tastes good, it is expensive. 2016 prices for Basilur green tea is in between INR 900 to 1000.
  4. Typhoo - The re-introduction of Green tea happened a century ago and Typhoo was one of the brands from the time and present even till now. Typhoo is a British brand of Green tea and was introduced in India in recent times. Being a century old brand, it is widely available and comes infused with different flavours. It is easily available and in the price range of 150 to 200 INR.
  5. Golden tips - Golden tips Green tea is a produce from Darjeeling. The specificity of Golden tips green tea is its loose leafed variants and comes in brocade attractive packing . The company gives unique flavours as well. This produce comes in the expensive category and may be a good choice to gift someone.
  6. Twinings - Twinings has been around for 300 plus years. They have flavoured green tea and original classical green tea and in tea bags and in loose sale as well.
  7. Happy valley - Happy valley green tea is grown in Darjeeling. Being organic in its produce without any pesticides and by using bio-dynamic practices, the Happy Valley Green tea comes in the expensive category. 2016 prices for Happy valley green tea is around 550 INR range.
  8. Lipton - Lipton green tea is also well known in India and is available everywhere through the country. Easily available, comes in the FMCG inexpensive category and has no additives to it. Just plain green tea leaves. Now because it has no additives, the tea bag/loose green tea should not be steeped for too long. 3 to 5 minutes is more than enough. A packet of Lipton green tea is priced at INR 60. And it is not organic.
  9. Tetley - Tetley was one of the first brands which launched green tea in India. Tetley green tea comes in both with and without flavours. The down side of it is that it can have the bitter taste and has a few variants.
  10. LaPlant - LaPlant is a Mumbai based startup and offer exotic blends of Green tea. As of 2016, they are available online and in multiple variants. While all the variants are yet to become available at a regular frequency, they are quite good at their products and also inexpensive.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Top 5 benefits of drinking Green tea

Tea has been a drink savored by everyone ever since it was known to us. Over the centuries, tea has been known more than its invigorating benefits and quite recently, Green tea is known more for its benefits of metabolism and more so as is popularly known, for fat burning.

So how does Green tea help in reducing weight? What are the benefits of Green tea?

Green tea is not recent and is not something that is known for now. Green tea has been consumed in different civilizations and has been known to many cultures around the world. The main areas where Green tea works is weight management, helps to boost energy, and also reduce stress.
While we know in general as to how Green tea works in general, let us go into more detail about how it works for each of the mentioned goals.

  • Weight loss with Green tea

Research has shown that Green tea increases the fat oxidation and thus burning of fat to produce energy and to produce calories. When made properly, and for a considerable amount of time, the polyphenols in the green tea are able to help reduce body fat percentage, especially around the abdomen and the buttocks.

  • Manage Diabetes with Green tea

Calorie burning property with the polyphenols in the tea is the key to managing sugar levels and preventing excessive insulin spikes in the blood.

  • Good teeth with green tea

Green tea has the ability to improve the immune system and also kill the local bacteria in the mouth. This effect is gained from the catechins in the tea. Green tea can also help inhibit viral infections, reduce plaque formations in teeth and also lower down the risk of caries. It can also help reduce bad breath.

  • Alzheimer and Parkinson

There have been multiple studies on green tea effects on the brain. They show that the catechins compounds in the Green tea have been shown to help rejuvenate the neurons and maintain the neurotransmitters which prevent onset of these neurological disorders or at least help slow down the process.

Continued consumption of Green tea has shown improvement in brain processing abilities and regulation of blood pressure and reducing depressive state of mind.

  • Cancer care with Green tea


Given the way green tea is prepared, preserved and brewed, green tea can be very rich in antioxidants or can be completely devoid of them leaving only the colour. It depends on how the leaves are brewed or how long the tea is brewed. But because of the antioxidants, green tea is able to help the cancer cells reduce on their function and also help the good cells increase on their number.

Top 8 benefits of eating by hands

Eating is a necessity and a part of our basic goals of life. Food, clothing and shelter are required for a human being to live and thrive. As human civilizations grew and spread through the world, they were exposed to different climatic environments and thus came up the different styles of eating and living. Some civilizations would eat food hot, some would prefer cold eating and others would blend with spices while some would prefer bland.
Ethiopian food
By Richard from kansas city, united states (grab it and then eat it) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Accordingly the eating habits developed. When the food was soft and lushly, it was easier to eat by hands. While when the food was not tender, and would require support to eat, it was being eaten by using instruments which could help to hold, cut and pull the food morsel.
Eating by hand had its own good things as well. As civilizations grew and changed to empires and then to modern day countries, rather into modern “civilizations”, food eating habits were also prominent in different cultures.

Here are some of the key benefits of eating food by hand:

  1. Your hands can sense the temperature of the food. It thus helps you understand whether it would the right time to eat the morsel.
  2. Your hands can also feel the texture of the food. Through the millions of nerve endings carrying the texture and temperature sense, you actually start to enjoy the food even before you have the morsel in your mouth.
  3. Through your hands you can feel the whether the food is cooked correctly or not. This comes through years of experience of eating food with your hands. Your eyes along with your hands become your first friends in understanding whether you should eat the food or not.
  4. Another interesting benefit is to squeeze out any excess oil, if present on the food. Thus it gives you some benefit on reduce cholesterol.
  5. Here is one additional benefit which is suitable to multi-tasking people of today. Because you are eating food with your hands, you cannot multi-task. You cannot type on the computer and you cannot use your cell phone – surely you do not want to put oil and other food and long lasting smell on your devices!
  6. When it comes to eating meat and fish with your hands, it is always easier to use your hands to separate the bones and eat the flesh. With the number of small bones and muscles that one has in the hands, it is able to twist and turn in multiple directions and can loosen and strengthen the muscle capacity as required. Even a modern day sophisticated robot cannot do this! Thus when your hands are such an important machine in itself, why to reduce the strength by using a fork or knife, when the same effect can be gained by hands and teeth!
  7. Now here is a point of debate. Some people say that cutlery can be washed, cleaned and sterilised by chemicals which cannot be used on hands. So they are cleaner than your hands. But on the other side of the debate, people do say that they can be sure whether their hands are clean or not. And yes, your body immune system is there to take care of the rest.
  8. Eating with hands is yet another form of meditation. Surprised? Did you think that Meditation can only be done in a Yoga room and with breathing? Only to find your mind racing on many different things, leading to a complete – go-away from the meditation? Well, here is your wonderful option. Eat food by hands and meditate!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How to get good sleep with Savasanna Yoga Pose

Have you been finding yourself awake through the night? Or getting up too frequently in the night only to find that your mind is frequently racing  and thinking over long projects or irritating thoughts? Is your partner finding it difficult to sleep because of his or her concerns and thus making you feel restless?
Here are some yoga tips that you could try to help get good sleep and improve on energy levels.
By Joseph RENGER (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


How does Yoga help to improve on sleep?

The basic purpose of Yoga is to bring your body first and then the mind at ease and relieve tensions through the body. Sounds ideal, right? Well, with a little bit of effort, this "ideal" can become your reality.

Following poses can be done for 3 to 5 minutes to bring the ease feeling and improve your sleep patterns.

Savasanna - Corpse pose

The Savasanna pose is most useful for calming down your body and bringing your mind at ease  and thus help relieve stress. Follow the bullets below to understand how to get into Savasanna pose.
  • Sit on your Yoga mat and then slowly lie down
  • As you lie down, spread your feet comfortably apart, could be to the ends of the mat. Allow your feet to destress and the toes to drop down
  • Arms could be on the sides and allow the palms to face up
  • Relax your hands and fingers could be facing upwards
  • Observe your neck which is straight and long with the chin tucked in slightly
Place a cushion underneath your knees or neck if you feel tension building up over these areas.
Now slowly bring your attention towards your inhalation and exhalation and focus on the tip of the nose. As you focus, feel your breath and be a bit more conscious if your are breathing more than is actually required. 
Slow down a bit, relax your forehead and eyebrows and let the feeling of relaxation flow through your body.

If you are practicing Savasanna in the afternoon, then allow yourself to relax with your eyes closed.
If you are practicing Savasanna at bed time, allow yourself to continue in the stance and you could gradually fall asleep.

Monday, October 10, 2016

How to perform Jalneti

How to do Jalneti?
How to do Jalneti?

This is a cleansing and immune boosting activity, wherein a specially designed pot is used to cleanse the nostrils with warm saline water.

Benefits of Jalneti
The benefits of doing regular jala neti are as follows:
Helps clean the nostrils and nasal passage of dirt and mucus.
Helps in relieving symptoms of sinus congestion, nasal blockage and inflamed adenoids.
Helps relieve headaches due to congestion of the sinuses, thereby promoting sleep and relaxing the mind.
On a more pathological plane, jala neti also helps in treating lung disorders (asthma, tuberculosis, bronchitis) and has been found to be effective migraines, depression and even epilepsy.
It helps in activating the ajna chakra by acting on the olfactory bulb located above the sinuses

Process of doing Jalneti
1. Fill the neti pot with lukewarm saline water – this mimics the pH and temperature of the nasal passages
2. Insert the neti spout into the left nostril.
3. Gently and slowly tilt the head to the right so that water enters the left nostril.
4. Please keep your mouth open so as to be able to keep breathing.
5. The water flows through the left nostril and comes out of the right nostril – provided the head tilt is at the correct angle.
6. Allow the water to flow freely through the nostrils for about 15 seconds.
7. Remove the neti spout and gently blow the nose.
8. Repeat the same process this time with the neti spout in the right nostril and the head tilted towards the left.
Jal neti should ideally be done in the morning on a daily basis; frequency can be increased when one is suffering from cold and sinus congestions.