COLOCASIA (Hindi : ARBI or ARVI), a “powerhouse vegetable” is one of the oldest vegetables of the Indian Subcontinent.  —————– Much before that nouveau upstart, the POTATO taking over the Subcontinent kitchens in such a comprehensive manner, COLOCASIA was the “preferred tuber.”  In fact, Colocasia is not just indigenous to India, but large parts of Eastern Asia as well.  In the Philippines, it goes under a name similar to our ARBI/ARVI ——– ABI, and is a popular veggie.  Besides, of course, it is most popularly used as TARO everywhere.

ColacasiaCOLOCASIA was always the go-to-veggie in homes.  The aloo-meat curry, one of the most basic ways of combining goat meat and potatoes in a spicy thin gravy in Northern India may be deemed “home-style” today, but it was quite likely to have been preceded by ARBI-MEAT curry as the original starch-protein combination.  Fried Colocasia fingers make for an interesting textural counterpoint in this style of gravy dish, popular in U.P., primarily in Muslim but also KAYASTHA homes.
The favoured way to cook the tuber is, of course, to FRY IT.  Since Colocasia is also a “monsoon ingredient”, this makes sense given the fact that the Indian kitchen, whose functioning was based in AYURVEDA, preferred a switch to “heat-inducing” foods gradually as the monsoon cooled the Subcontinent and to fried foods to keep diseases at bay.
That is also perhaps why ARBI & AJWAIN make for such a perfect marriage.  AJWAIN (carom) is known for its digestive properties, and a perfect recipe to use the “monsoon spice” (carom), warding off stomach infection, common this time of the year, to coat fried Colocasia.
Even the leaves are fashioned out into PATODE in UP, Bihar & Gujarat use a sprinkling of carom in the masala spiking gram flour (BESAN).  PATODE is a recipe for the rainy day : The leaves of the Colocasia need to be cleaned and washed, spread out and then coated with a thin batter of spiced gram flour.  They can be layered, folded and then rolled (like a Swiss Roll), before being steamed.  Cut into rounds and deep fry for a tea-time snack.  You may not find more exotic PAKORA anywhere.
Arbi Masala FryColocasia is an invaluable source of dietary fibre.  The CORMS have more calories than potatoes, and these come primarily from “complex carbs”, which are slow-digestive”, will thus help fill you up more and also help elevate blood sugar levels gradually —–unlike simple, easy-to-break- down carbs.
The leaves, on the other hand, have antioxidants beta-carotenes and a significant amount of Vitamin A that is good for your eye-sight amongst other things.  And the CORM has some essential minerals as well —- zinc, magnesium and potassium that help regulate heart rate and BP.  So, Colocasia is actually a “powerhouse of nutrients” ——- a “super food”  —– in its own right.
Colocasia is trending as an ingredient, especially at “modern” Indian establishments.  ARBI TUK, for instance, has suddenly made an appearance on many menus, including at “The Bombay Canteen” in Mumbai, pegged on local gastronomy and a re-invention of forgotten regional recipes.
Arbi dishesTUK is a Sindhi term, essentially for deep frying vegetables and then tossing them in dry masala.  For ARBI TUK, all you need is boil the Colocasia, flatten it and the deep fry till it is crisp and golden.  Then toss in a masala of dry coriander powder, red chilly powder and dry mango (AMCHOOR) powder.  This recipe is essentially the same as followed in many parts of UP as well, where, one other spice is added to the crispy ARBI / ARVI, and that is AJWAIN (carom).  It elevates the dish to another level.
In Punjabi-influenced cooking, ARBI may of course be cooked in a generic onion-tomato masala.  But its charm can be better appreciated if you use the spices discerningly and selectively.  Dried fenugreek (METHI) is another ingredient that goes well with Colocasia.  Pan-roast the tuber and then coat it with a masala that includes a whiff of KASOORI METHI.  You won’t forget the flavour.
———–Anoothi Vishal.    

Fat and fabulous

FAT. It’s a beautiful word made ugly in a “thin-inspired” world.  It is important to keep your fat consumption under control, but eliminating fats entirely results in eliminating an extremely key nutritional component your body needs.  It adversely affects your efforts at getting fit.  Your body needs a healthy combination of protein, carbs, vitamins and fats for you to burn fat., because “fat burning” is a high metabolic activity.  Simply put, YOU NEED FAT TO BURN FAT.
Some fats are bad for you, pile on the cholesterol and cause problems and some fats are good.  Fats like MUFA and PUFA and Omega-3 fatty acids aid your overall weight loss and weight management goals.  Include these fabulous fats in your diet. —-
(1) Fat : AVOCADO  Fabulous : Avocado is loaded with vitamins (vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E), fibre and antioxidants.  It is not alien to health and well-being and can be eaten in the form of a dip (like guacamole), in a salad or even on its own.  Go green
Avodaco(2) Fat : ALMONDS  Fabulous : An Almond is  a nutritional boon, combating health issues like high cholesterol and osteoporosis.  It’s also good for your heart, brain and immunity  Get a daily handful of this nutritious ninja (5-6 almonds per day if you are not on a weight loss programme)  to derive the best to offer.  Unsweetened almond milk is also a good  substitute for cow or buffalo milk if you are lactose intolerant.
(3)  Fat : WALNUTS.  Fabulous : Walnuts brim with nutrients.  Having 2 to 3 a day is enough to help your heart, bone health, mood and weight loss.  It also helps fight insomnia, gallstones, diabetes.
(4) Fat : FLAXSEEDS.  Fabulous : Flaxseed is an understated  power-packed fat.  Not only does it act as a natural laxative, it decreases cholesterol and has been known to put up an impressive fight against diabetes.  A teaspoon a day of toasted flaxseeds is all you need.
(5) Fat : GROUNDNUT.  Fabulous : Groundnut oil has a  great balance of MUFA & PUFA.  This oil is especially good because it has the antioxidant “resveratrol”, and is a good source of Vitamin E.  Those with peanut allergies need to avoid this though.
spanish-olives(6) Fat : RICE BRAN.  Fabulous : Another oily option is rice bran oil.  This is packed to the hilt with vitamin E and antioxidants.  It melds well with whatever you cook, be it Indian or Continental.  Its relatively low price makes it an extremely economically-viable option.
(7) Fat : SALMON.  Fabulous : Salmon fights heart disease, protects joints, improves mood and boosts cognition Cured or grilled salmon can be  apart of your plate in many different avatars.
(8) Fat : EGGS.  Fabulous : With just 16 calories per egg white, it is a 100% reference protein.  All the protein you get from an egg gets fully absorbed by the body, with none going to waste.  It is also cheap.  Eat it daily to keep your energy battery on auto recharge mode.
Baked Salmon(9) Fat : OLIVES.  Fabulous : Olives are great fats, and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.  Pop it in salads, slice it in pasta or just have it as it is.
(10) Fats : SESAME SEEDS  Fabulous : Sesame seeds not only work to give you the good fats you need but are also an excellent source of calcium.
Whatever you choose to eat, all fats should be kept to about 10% in total of your daily recommended calorie intake.  Remember —– Good fats are not always less calorific but they can nourish you like few other things can.
—— Pooja Makhija (Nutritionist)   

Some salad basics

Not all salad greens are equally healthy.  Just because there are fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy.
avocado-mango-salad-fgWe all know that Salad is health and well-being tossed in a bowl.  But how to get that right balance, proportion, colour and flavour out of your crunchy meal is a question that still daunts most of us.  Here are some “salad basics”. ——–
* THINK OUTSIDE THE BOWL : Give up on predictable staples like chickpeas and sprouts and spruce up your salad with new entrants every week.  Go for fresh herbs, beet slices, avocado, low-fat goat cheese or power-packed pumpkin seeds.  This will not only keep you interested in the salad regime, but also pack in different nutrients and flavours.
* DAKER THE BETTER :  Not all greens are equally healthy.  Iceberg lettuce is crunchy and attractive on a salad plate, but not very high on the nutrition metre.  Go for darker leaves instead, like baby spinach, rocket leaves, red and green leaf and Romaine lettuce or kale as they pack in more vitamins and minerals.  These plant-based wonders may help protect you from heart disease, diabetes.
*DON’T FALL FOR CRUNCH :  Adding those crispy noodles or croutons to your Thai or Asian salad might up the yummy spring pasta and chicken saladquotient, but it doesn’t favour your waistline.  Croutons are made from processed white bread, which equates to empty carbohydrates and high calories.  Walnuts or water chestnuts are a much healthier way to get the crunch you want.
* EAT SALAD FOR DESSERT :  There’s an on-going debate about when to have your salad ……….. before or after the meal ?  Well, in Italy and France, they have it after aperitifs and the main course.  Not bad, say health experts, since salad improves digestion after a long and heavy meal.  If your after-dinner snack is high in fat, it can lead to indigestion that makes it difficult to sleep soundly.  Salad, however, is lighter and is less likely to affect the quality of your sleep.
* DON’T PILE ON MINDLESSLY :  Keeping the ratio right, in a salad, is the key thing.  Try to take up about three-fourths of your plate with greens, so you’ll have less room for high-calorie stuff.
* MUNCH BEFORE A RUN :  Salad in the morning helps your body re-hydrate after a mad night-out and provides enough antioxidants and slow burning carbohydrates for a run.  ——— So, are you having your salad right ?

Teff: The world’s next super grain

At harvest time, in Ethiopia, farmers are seen using pitchforks and throwing dry grass (called LOVEGRASS) into the air in an ancient process known as “winnowing” to dislodge the seeds.  The seed or grain, in question, is called TEFF, the “world’s next super grain”.
MDG : Mounds of teff grain dry in fields in EthiopiaEthiopians have been growing and obsessing about TEFF for millennia, and it may become the NEW SUPER GRAIN (of choice) in Europe and North America, overtaking the likes of QUINOA & SPELT.
High in “protein” and “calcium” and “gluten-free”, TEFF is already popular on the international stage.  Yet, as TEFF is a staple foodstuff in Ethiopia, particularly when turned into a “grey flatbread (like a pancake) called INJERA”, the country currently has a long-standing ban on exporting the grain, either in its raw form or after it has been ground into flour.  Instead entrepreneurial Ethiopian Companies can, at present, only export INJERA and other cooked TEFF products such as cakes and biscuits.
injera-enjera-ethopian-teff-fermented-bread-r100However, the hope is that if Ethiopia can sufficiently increase its TEFF harvest, then exports of the grain itself may be able to start in the not distant future.  “We started from scratch, and are now introducing our traditional food all over the world,” says Hailu Tessema, founder of MAMA FRESH, Ethiopia’s 1st large-scale producer of INJERA.  6 days, every week, MAMA FRESH uses Ethiopian Airlines to fly 3,000 INJERA flatbreads from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to Washington DC, in the US.  INJERA is also flown to Sweden thrice a week, Norway twice a week and Germany thrice a month.
“Demand is increasing by about 10% every month,” says Mr. Tessema, 60, who does not see the ban on exporting TEFF seeds as a problem.  “It’s better to export a “value-added product” as that creates more jobs.”  MAMA FRESH employs more than 100 people, and plans to take on 50 more this year (2015).  It also works with 300 farmers supplying TEFF.  Mr. Tessema started the business in 2003 with 100,000 “birr” ($5,000, 225 pounds), operating out of a rickety shack.  The firm’s annual revenue now stands at around 17 million “birr” ($836,000, 566,00 pounds) and, in 2014, the business moved into a new factor.
teff grainInside the factory, blue barrels contain TEFF flour mixed with water, which is left to ferment for 4 days.  Afterwards, women pour small jug-size amounts onto heated-clay cookers to sizzle and become INJERA, ready for packaging and speedy onward flight to eager overseas customers, mainly diaspora Ethiopians. A “tiny grain, the size of a poppy seed”, TEFF, is ground into a flour which can also be made into “loaves” of European-style risen bread or pasta.
At London-based business TOBIA TEFF, they use US-grown TEFF to make various breads and a porridge.  “People are dreaming of TEFF, nowadays, after 1000s of years, it has become the “trendy thing” over here,” says Sophie Sirak-Kebede, the owner of TOBIA TEFF, whose sales have increased up to 40% during the last 14 months.  Even the UK’s National Health Service has become a customer to cater for “gluten-intolerant” patients.
The Achilles Heel —— Despite praise for TEFF’s nutritional properties, its previously sheltered existence, in Ethiopia, comes with a drawback.  “TEFF does not give much yield,” says Zerihun Tadele, an Ethiopian researcher at the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Bern, Switzerland.  “Very little research and investment has been done on the crop.”  The average yield, per hectare of TEFF, in Ethiopia, is 1.4tonnes, which is less than half as much as the global average of 3.2tonnes for modern varieties of wheat.  Mr. Tadele hopes that through research and improved farming methods, TEFF yields, in Ethiopia, can be raised to 5tonnes a hectare.  This improvement will not come soon enough, because recent TEFF harvests have failed to keep pace with Ethiopia’s increasing population, driving prices beyond many Ethiopian’s pockets, especially outside Addis Ababa.  This situation creates a dilemma, because TEFF is Ethiopia’s “backbone.”  A shortage of TEFF would be like asking as Ethiopian “not to breathe.”  But at the same time the Government should not squander a global opportunity that could benefit the more than 6 million farmers in the country that grow the seed, while also generating valuable foreign currency.
The Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agency is now focused on increasing TEFF production to at least match domestic demand, after which exporting seeds and flour may become possible.  “If Ethiopia’s TEFF export ban is ever lifted, I would want to buy land in Ethiopia to farm the crop for my UK business,” says Sophie Sirak-Kebede.  “Being of Ethiopian origin, I would prefer to get TEFF from Ethiopia.”  Who better than an Ethiopian farmer when it comes to TEFF ?  ——– THE QUALITY IS INCOMPARABLE.

Cold soups for hot days

A great and healthy way of staying cool in the summer is having a cold soup for lunch.  Instead of sugary beverages, opt for nutritionally rich and delicious soups.  Daniel Koshy, Executive Sous Chef at JW Marriot, has shared some contemporary recipes that use readily available local ingredients.
chilled-lemon-grass-8(1) CHILLED AVOCADO SOUP :  Use vegetable stock as chicken will overcome the flavour of the avocado
Ingredients : 2tbsp butter, 1-2 avocado, 3 potatoes (peeled and cubed), 3 leeks (trimmed and chopped), 4 cups vegetable stock, fresh coriander for garnish.
Method :  Melt butter in a large pot.  Add potatoes and leeks.  Cook for about 3mins, stirring until softened.  Add stock.  Boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20mins.  Puree, then let cool.  Stir in coarsely chopped flesh of one or two avocados before serving.  Garnish with chopped coriander.
avocado-soup(2) CHILLED LEMON GRASS & CORIANDER VICHYSSOISE :  Nutrition-wise it is a good source of vitamins A & C, folate, magnesium and calcium.
Ingredients :  4 thick stems lemon grass, 50gms fresh coriander leaves, 4 spring onions (finely chopped), 50gms butter, 2 medium onions (chopped), 275gms new potatoes (scraped and chopped small), 150ml milk, salt and black pepper.
Method :  First of all strip the coriander leaves from the stalks and reserve both the leaves and the stalks.  Remove the outer skin and chop the lemon grass quite fine.  Put all the trimmings (discarded lemon grass and coriander stalks) into a saucepan with some salt and 850ml of water and simmer (covered) for about 30mins to make a stock.  To make the soup, melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the chopped lemon grass, onions (reserve the spring onions till later) and potatoes and keeping the heat low, let the vegetables sweat gently (covered) for about 10mins.  After that, pour in the stock through a strainer, discard the debris, then add the milk about three-quarters of the coriander leaves.  Season with salt and pepper, bring the soup up to simmering point and simmer very gently for about 25mins.  Allow the soup to cool a little before pouring it into a food processor or blender, then pour it through a strainer into a bowl.  Chill thoroughly till you are ready to serve.
cold soup(3) CHILLED BUTTERMILK SOUP WITH CORN & POBLANO CHILLI :  You can substitute poblano chilli (a Mexican chilli) with jalapenos.
Ingredients : 1tsp oil, 1/2 yellow onion (finely chopped), 1/2 poblano chilli (seeded and finely chopped), 1 large garlic clove (minced), 1tsp coriander powder, 1/2tsp cumin powder, 1/8tsp turmeric powder, 2 and 1/4 cups corn kernels, 3 cups buttermilk, 3/4tsp coarse salt.
Method :  Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, poblano chilli and garlic, sauté for about 5mins.  Add coriander, cumin, turmeric and cook for about 2mins.  Add corn and sauté for about 5mins.  Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.  Transfer 1 and 1/2 cups corn mixture to the bowl of a food processor and add buttermilk and salt, puree till mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl, stir in remaining corn mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until soup is well chilled, at least 2 to 3 hours.
————– Shivani Kagti


AIOLI is a Provencal sauce made of garlic, olive oil, usually egg yolks and seasonings.  The proper recipe did not include lemon juice, though many people add it.  There are many variations, such as the addition of mustard.  It is usually served at room temperature.  The name AIOLI comes from Provencal ‘alh’ (garlic) (Latin — allium) + ‘oli’ (oil) (Latin — oleum)


AIOLI is like mayonnaise, an emulsion or suspension of small globules of oil and oil-soluble compounds in water and water-soluble compounds.  Egg-yolk can be used as an emulsifier, and is generally used in making AIOLI today.  However, mustard and garlic both emulsify oil and some variants, such as Valencia allioli omit the eggs.
Egg yolks, garlic and seasonings are whisked together, then the oil and the lemon juice are added, initially very slowly, whisking to emulsify, once the emulsion has started to form, the oil can be added faster.
 In Occitan cuisine, AIOLI is typically served with seafood, fish soup and croutons, in a dish called MERLUCA AMB ALHOLI.  In the Occitan Valleys of Italy, it is served with potatoes boiled with salt and bay laurel.
In Provence, AIOLI or, more formally, LE GRAND AIOLI, also designates a complete dish consisting of various boiled vegetables (uniformly cut carrots, potatoes and green beans), boiled fish (normally soaked salt cod), and boiled eggs usually served with snails, with the AIOLI sauce.  Other commonly used vegetables are cauliflower, courgettes (zucchini) and raw tomato.


There are other forms of AIOLI :
(a) ALLIOLI —– from “all I oli”, Catalan for “garlic & oil”, is a typically paste-like cold sauce of Catalonia, Balearic islands and Valencia.  It is made by pounding garlic with olive oil and salt in a mortar until smooth.  It is often served with “arros a banda”, from Alicante, with grilled lamb, grilled vegetables and arros negre, and comes in other varieties such as ALLIOLI de codony (allioli with boiled quince, not the preserve) or allioli with boiled pear.
(b) AILLADE —– is the name used in Southern France for 2 different garlic-based condiments.  In Provence, it is a garlic-flavoured vinaigrette, while in areas such as  Languedoc – Roussillon, it is the name given to AIOLI.
(c) TOUM —– is a garlic sauce common to the Lavant & Egypt.  Similar to the Provencal Aioli, it contains garlic and salt, olive oil or vegetable oil and lemon juice, traditionally crushed together using a wooden mortar and pestle.  There is also a variation, popular in many villages, such a s Zgharta, where mint is added  —— this variation is called ZEIT and TOUM (oil and garlic).  TOUM is used as a dip, especially with French fries and chicken, and in Levantine sandwiches, especially those containing chicken.
(d) MUJDEI —– is a spicy Romanian sauce.  It is made from garlic cloves crushed and ground into a paste, salted and mixed energetically with water and vegetable oil (sunflower oil is almost always used).  Depending on regional preferences and the dish it is served with, vinegar or other ingredients may be added.  The result is a white sauce with a very strong garlic flavour, varying in consistency from a thick paste to a very runny sauce.  In some parts of Romania, MUJDEI is made out of cream, ground garlic and some salt.  It is served with a variety of dishes including fried fish, fried or grilled chicken or pork, rasol, even fried potatoes.  The word is derived from “must de ai” that is “must of garlic”.
(e) SKORDALIA —– in Greek also called “aliatha” is a thick puree (or sauce, dip, spread) in Greek cuisine, made by combining crushed garlic with a bulky base ——- which may be a puree of potatoes, walnuts, almonds or liquid-soaked stale bread —— and then beating in olive oil to make a smooth emulsion.  Vinegar is often added.
OVERVIEW :  Variants may include eggs as an emulsifier, while omitting or reducing the bulk ingredient, which makes for a result similar to the Provencal aioli, Catalan allioli and so on.  In the Ionian Islands, cod stock and lemon, instead of vinegar, is usually added and SORDALIA is eaten as a main dish.
SKORDALIA is usually served with batter-fried fish (notably salt cod), fried vegetables (notably eggplant and zucchini) poached fish or boiled vegetables (notably beets).  It is, sometimes, used as a dip.  SKORDALIA is a modern equivalent of ancient SKOROTHALMI.  The name, on the other hand, may be pleonastic compound of Greek “skoroo” (garlic) and Italian “agliate” (garlicky).

Oils that can heal

Using an adequate amount the right kinds of fats and oils, can play a pivotal role in slowing down the ageing of your body.  Good fats provide the body with fuel alongside the feeling of fullness.  These can also stimulate fat burning.  Studies show the value of supplementing our diet with additional essential fats to prevent and treat a broad spectrum of diseases.  Distinguishing good fats from bad fats can be tricky, so here are some healthy fats and oils, reports


(1) BORAGE OIL : Borage seed oil has one of the highest amounts of linolenic acid and is widely used as an anti-inflammatory support for a number of conditions including eczema, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis  It can be hard to track down, so try taking it in supplement format.
(2) COCONUT OIL : It has rightly earned the title of a ‘super food’ and it is consumed in large amounts by some of the healthiest populations around the world.  It is also good for those looking to lose or maintain their weight.  The fatty acids in coconut oil have been shown to speed up overall metabolism, helping people expend more energy compared with long-chain fats.  It can also help with neurological disorders and can significantly benefit common skin issues.  It also helps in reducing scars and marks on the body.
Coconut-Oil-550x300(3) HEMPSEED OIL : Hempseed oil is obtained by pressing hemp seeds.  It is named to be nature’s perfect food due to its balanced concentrations of Omega fatty acids 3, 6 and 9.  Studies have shown it can help support heart health and promote proper cardiovascular function.  It has a beneficial effect on hair, skin and nails, with people who regularly use and consume hempseed oil reporting thicker and shinier hair, softer skin and stronger nails.
(4) FLAXSEED OIL : This oil contains the highest concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids and the right amount of consumption has been shown to improve cardiovascular health as well as exhibiting chemo-preventive effects against colon tumour developments.
(5) PUMPKIN SEED OIL : A great one for both men and women, research has found that it can significantly help remove prostate health due to its richness in zinc, and also help women with menopause as it can decrease blood pressure, hot flushes, headaches and other menopausal symptoms.
(6) AVOCADO OIL : This is known for its skin-boosting effects.  In addition to its nourishing, moisturising and protective fats, it also contains significant levels of antioxidants, such as Vitamin E, which help keep skin supple and smooth.
(7) OMEGA 3 FISH OIL : Arguably the best type of fat, the fats produced by oily fish contain the highest concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids which is proven to make a positive difference to heart and brain health as well as improving the skeletal system.
(8) OLIVE OIL : It is an integral part of the traditional “Mediterranean Diet” which is associated with  vitality, longevity and low incidence of chronic disease.  Olive oil is prized for its health-promoting properties and is particularly helpful in promoting optimal cardiovascular function, maintaining good blood low and bettering cognitive function.