Lessons from the past – The Chinese connection



‘To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk’ Thomas Edison the inventor of the light bulb once said. In this series of ‘lessons from the past’ blog posts we talk about inventions that were even beyond the imagination of the creator himself. After the likes of chicken tikka masala, pepper, buttermilk and tea it’s time to talk about chopsticks.

Chopstick culture

Eating with chopsticks is like riding a bicycle – it can be tricky at first, but once you get a hang of it, it’s hard to forget. The history of chopsticks is as interesting as the experience of eating with them.

Chopsticks were discovered way before people actually started using them to eat in 400 AD. Initially they were used to stir around food while cooking. It was during the time, when the population of china was on a rapid increase that cooks in China needed to begin cost cutting. To save on cooking time and thus fuel, they started cutting food into small pieces before cooking. These small bite sized pieces of food could be eaten directly with chopsticks, without the need to use knives at the dining table.

Furthermore, the teachings of Confucius said that sharp objects like knives should not be present during meal times which should be peaceful and calm. Confucius’ disdain for knives at the dinner table increased the popularity of chopsticks. Eventually chopsticks were the preferred traditional method of eating food in China, Japan, Korea and several parts of South Asia. The earliest chopsticks were like tweezers, joined at one end. They were made of silver, bamboo or wood. Over the years they got modified and are now like the way we know them.

In China, chopsticks are also associated with several myths – it is said that if you drop your chopsticks during a meal it brings bad luck and you may end up missing your next flight, train or cab. Researchers say that eating with chopsticks helps improve memory and finger reflexes and also helps to learn the Chinese written script faster. I don’t know about that, but they sure are fun to eat with!

If you are just learning to eat with chopsticks then use wooden or bamboo ones as they are easier to use as compared to plastic or metal chopsticks. Practice with simpler dishes first and then graduate to the more difficult ones. As long as you can manage to get food from the bowl to your mouth you can use chopsticks effectively!

How about some coffee?

Why do people enjoy coffee so much? Is it because of caffeine being a stimulant to the nervous system, an instant energy provider or just a great mood enhancer? The bitter sweet taste of coffee is unique to the tongue and the scintillating aroma of the coffee beans is irresistible.

All the coffee lovers can thank a man named Omar from Ethiopia and the random expedition of, his search for wild berries. After discovering cherries with distinct seeds, he decided to boil them. With the assumption of being able to consume them, they in fact became hard and left a concoction behind. He had never smelled or seen anything like this, and decided to drink the caffeine infused liquid. The revitalized energy that he gained was spoken about, and soon the information about coffee spread all over. Countries went gaga over the effect; taste and aroma of the coffee bean, and there began the trade, from Ethiopia, to Europe and gradually the whole world. These are how most of the greatest inventions are made, with just a random stroke of luck!

The first of the two kinds of coffees, is called Arabica, and is grown in the hot and humid climate of the middle-east. This strong scented bean, has a milder flavor with sweet undertones. This is the finest form of coffee and is consumed by 60% of the world’s population. Where- as a lot of people prefer the taste of the sharper and bitter kind, called Robusta. Largely grown in Vietnam, and is used in production of the ever famous instant coffee and cappuccino. Everyone has their days where they want to just enjoy the soothing taste of coffee; mood for Arabica, and also a day where they need a kick start to their day and mood with strong caffeine; mood for Robusta.

Coffee is famous all around the world, and majority of the people start and end their day with a nice cup of coffee. And with the widespread use of coffee, it has reached beyond the consumption of just as a beverage. A substantial rub of flavorsome coffee on steak is something unusual but very tasty, a popular additive in various bakes like brownies, cakes and the ever famous Tiramisu, and also an ingredient in vinaigrette for the dressing of salads. Isn’t it great, how the flavours of coffee can be tampered with, from extreme bitter, to flavorsome and also sweet enough, to satisfy all the ends of the palate?

When a bean is in such high demand, one wonders what the benefits are. Many will be surprised but the consumption of coffee reduces physical pain, stress and the chances of heart diseases. With the abundance of many antioxidants and nutrients, it aids in boosting the immunity and energy levels.

With so many health benefits and ways in which it can be cooked, coffee remains one of the best inventions in the world. Because no one needs an excuse to have coffee, it’s a mood enhancer, conversation starter and stress reliever. As the say, you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee and both are pretty much the same.

How to bake a Sugar Free cake..!!

What if we told you get all that awesome sweetness and rich buttery flavour of a pound cake without any of the calories and ill effects that come from using sugar? Well, where there is a -whisk there is a way and where there is SugarFree you can indulge your sugar cravings without any worries every day!


First things first – measure out one cup of Sugar Free Natura Diet Sugar. Then heave a sigh of relief knowing that your cake is going to be a deliciously sweet one, but minus any calories and ill effects of sugar.


Mix it in with 1 cup of butter…..


And blend away with an electric whisk till the mixture is light and fluffy and has gone a shade lighter than what it originally was.


Add a total of 3 eggs – one at a time and whisk well till it is well incorporated in the creamed butter sugar mix.


Next, it’s time to bring in the dry ingredients – 1 cup of refined flour and a teaspoon of baking powder sifted into the wet ingredient mix.


Fold in the mixture carefully with a spatula ensuring the air that you so carefully whisked in, doesn’t get out. This keeps the cake light and fluffy.

Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence to get rid of any ‘eggy’ smell and add a hint of flavour also a little milk in case you need to adjust the consistency of the batter.


Pour it into a greased baking tine and your Sugar Free cake mix is ready to go into the oven. Bake it at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20-30 minutes. Till it goes from this…


……to this


Cool on a wire rack, cut into wedges and serve.

Now that your basic pound cake is ready you can serve it up just like that with a light sprinkling of Sugar Free Natura Diet Sugar or serve it up with a delicious berry compote or just fresh fruit and whipped cream.

This recipe is one of the easiest ways to indulge your sweet tooth without any guilt of the harmful effects of consuming sugar.

Check out more recipes made with Sugar Free Natura Diet Sugar, the latest international zero-calorie sweetener on sanjeevkapoor.com