You must have heard about Indo Chinese Chilli Paneer and now we cooked Chilli Chana in our kitchens recently. Chana is one popular pulse that seems to have crossed the northern frontier and made its way to other regional cuisines! Be it the small and red (kale chane) and large buff-coloured chickpeas (kabuli chane), these are essential pantry items in most homes.
One thing about delving into the exquisite world of easy Indian food recipes remains the same…that it is an exciting adventure of unbeatable flavours, some bequeathed by the connoisseurs of food, some distinctly evolved by the local settlers, all in all, a roller coaster ride of sugar ‘n spice!
A trip to the northern region of the country has one taking the states of Punjab, Haryana, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh as a rich tapestry of cuisines of the food lovers of yore, the Mughals. Delhi, the capital of India, is a little world on its own. With the ticking of time, each area has developed its characteristic styles and as the multicultural inhabitants enjoy both non-vegetarian and vegetarian fare, the food vies for attention in a constructive manner.
Punjab is placed strategically on the Indian border with Pakistan. Spread over around 50,362 square kilometers, most of it is gently sloping plains, with well watered and highly fertile alluvial soils.
The name of the state of Punjab is derived from the words ‘punj’ meaning five and ‘ab’ meaning water since the land is a confluence of five rivers. The five rivers that run through Punjab, having their origins in various small lakes in Himalayas, are Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej, Jhelum and Beas. Beas and Sutlej join forces and flow on to meet the Indus, the tributaries of which crisscross the state making it the most fertile land.
Punjab is called the “Bread basket of the nation” because it gives India the maximum agricultural output regardless the total amount of area it covers. Around 85% of the area is under cultivation. It produces wheat that can feed the whole of India and contributes around 2% of the world’s wheat produce.
From the bylanes of Punjab comes the piquant flavour of mustard oil and mustard greens, called sarson-da-saag. More help to make the farmers robust, comes from the quarters of diary farms as milk is abundant in this Land of Five Rivers. We move on with a variation of the famous yogurt based drink of Punjab called lassi, an easy Indian food recipe. The thick sweet beverage, it is said, justifies the need for a siesta! Have a taste of a popular stuffed layered bread called aloo parantha. Stuffed with seasoned potatoes and covered with wheat flour dough, it is fun to eat with a bowl of chilled curds and a selection of pickles, even for breakfast. This platter will give you a head start for the day!
Have you ever felt tired, absolutely bone weary? I am sure you have because we all feel tired from time to time. Usually, we know why we are tired. Then we take time off, rest and then off we are, back to work or school! But for some, tiredness can be a more serious problem. It may go on for a long time or can be so bad that the affected person is unable to do anything at all. Tiredness can stop us from enjoying and getting on with our lives.
Tiredness is different from prolonged fatigue. One in every five feel unusually tired, and one in ten have prolonged fatigue. Women feel tired more than men, and it can be a problem at any age, but is least common in the very young. If you want to work out how you became tired in the first place, it can be helpful to think about a) the things in your life that made you more likely to get tired ; b) the things in your life that triggered your tiredness; c) the things in your life that are keeping you tired.
These can be physical or psychological, or more usually both at the same time. The physical reasons for tiredness could be a) being overweight or underweight. If you are overweight, your body has to work harder just to do everyday things. If you are too thin, you may not have enough strength in your muscles to do everyday things without becoming tired; b) any serious illness can make you tired, especially painful ones. Some less serious illnesses, like glandular fever, can leave you feeling worn out; c) being unfit. If you feel tired, you do not do as much as you normally would. If you cut down the amount you do, your body becomes unfit. We know that just one week of resting in bed reduces your muscle strength by ten percent. The more unfit you get, the more tired you will be when you try and do something.
The psychological reasons for tiredness could be one or many: worries and stress, insomnia, depression, everyday difficulties, emotional shock, expecting too much of yourself, work stress….
There are some specific ways to fight tiredness. Sleep well regularly. It is also essential to handle the weight issues and get some exercise. Stop use of stimulants like tea and coffee at least for a three week period. It also helps to plan your schedule for the day and week so that you are not rushed at any moment. Look after the intake of proteins and foods rich in Vitamin B and iron.
And the long-term solution to the tiredness problem is to learn from it! Ask yourself were you demanding too much of yourself before you got tired or was there sufficient balance between work and play? The answers lie in these questions.
Have some energy giving foods!
Till I write again
Eighty percent of the world’s Bengal gram comes from India. In some regions of India where Bengal gram is grown it is frequently sold as the whole green plant from which the seeds are consumed fresh as a snack or the whole plant can be placed in a fire and the parched seeds eaten as a snack. These hare chane make many an excellent dish with paneer or potatoes.
In most western countries, Bengal gram is also available tinned, whole or as a purée. Bengal gram flour / besan though readily available in India as a staple food item is now also available in some other countries. Chickpea has been a staple in the Mediterranean for hundreds of years. In Italy bakers are known to often slip a pot full of chickpeas into the oven when they fire it up to bake bread and then sell them by the ladle, with some of their cooking liquid so the customer can reheat them at home.
From a nutritional point, Bengal grams are an excellent source of protein – proteins that are devoid of purines and are therefore ideally suited to those who suffer from gout. With respect to other legumes they have a higher fat content, which makes them more caloric; they are therefore not what one wants when trying to lose weight. However, they are quite rich in calcium, making them a good choice for combating osteoporosis, are also rich in iron and are an excellent source of fibre. They are sodium-poor, which makes them a good bet for those on reduced sodium diets. With the protein content of twenty percent, Bengal gram is an important meat substitute and good for children and expectant and nursing mothers.
Indian cuisine makes the best use chana dal and gram flour!
Till I write again