From a Street Food to an Exotic Dish: The Interesting Tale of Sushi

A night out at the most exquisite fine dining restaurants in the city, we are always compelled to order a portion of sushi. With a multitude of options available, one or the other kind always manages to occupy a place on the table. These rice rolls are not only healthy; they are scrumptious and addictive too. The popularity stems from the fact that it is a simple dish with raw seafood and rice, yet manages to attract so much attention.

sushi 620x350Photo Credit: The Leela Mumbai

The inception

 

Did you know that sushi was first created with a purpose to keep meat fresh in the absence of refrigeration? By keeping raw fish folded in rice, its freshness could be preserved for over months. This was the main purpose when sushi was invented in Southeast Asia back in the second century A.D. It is hard to believe that preservation of seafood was the main aim of this rather exotic dish. By allowing the fish to ferment in rice over a period of time, it was made edible. The rice was then thrown away, while the fish was eaten. Just like all things ancient, the origin of sushi is not free of old wives tales and folklore.

How did sushi get its name? Tracing its trajectory is as fascinating as the name sushi itself is. It is believed that the word sushi literally means ‘it is sour’ which is used to describe the ancient process of making sushi,with raw seafood rolled into rice along with salt for facilitating the fermentation process.

Gradually, the preservation method was discovered in China and Japan, where Japan went a step further. Today, Japan has the most exciting night life and back then, there were significant transformations taking place. With Edo as the Capital of Japan, entrepreneurs developed quicker ways to prepare the sushi. Vinegar aided the process. The Japanese began eating the rice along with the fish. It was Matsumoto Yoshiichi of Tokyo who began to add vinegar in his sushi to sell it. This allowed the customers to eat it immediately rather than waiting for the process of fermentation to start. This why the sushi kitchen is called tsuke-ba or “pickling place.” The process of fermenting the rice releases acid that allow the fish to last longer.

The evolution

Hanaya Yohei is known to be responsible for the shift in the way sushi was originally presented and prepared. Before him, in the 1820’s, chefs used raw fish in their sushi, known as ‘Edo-style’ sushi. This is the style you will find in most sushi restaurants. Then, Yohei began a method where by rather than wrapping the fish in rice, he began to place the fish on top of the roll and that is exactly the way we eat Japanese sushi today. It is also commonly referred to as ‘nigiri sushi’. At his time, it was a fast food available on the streets. He set up his stall on the banks of the Sumida river, this meant that sushi could be prepared within minutes rather than hours or days. You could be on the go and fill yourself with a box of freshly prepared sushi. It was slowly being favored and is now one of the most widely ordered dishes.

sushi 620x350

Photo Credit: Istock

How did it make its way into fine dining restaurants?

The aftermath of the World War 2 and a massive earthquake in Tokyo in the 1920s changed the scenario in Japan. Land prices decreased significantly. You would no longer get sushi on your casual stroll across the street. It shifted to fine dining restaurants that desired more formal clothing and few more hours of your time. The earthquake also displaced numerous chefs to set up their bases across the country, increasing the popularity of sushi.

 

Transcending geographical boundaries for the art that sushi making has become, the west slowly adapted the artistry. The booming post-war economy could support mass refrigerators, better transportation of seafood and fine dining restaurants that allowed the sushi industry to thrive.
Today, Japan’s iconic street food, has become a sophisticated and unique dish globally. Upscale sushi restaurants are creating fusion forms, inventing and innovating at a rapid rate to meet customer needs.

sushi

Photo Credit: Istock

Chefs across the world attempted to embrace the sushi culture. With western influence, cut rolls that have been wrapped in seaweed or soy paper have become extremely popular. Vegetarians too have no reason to complain with toppings and fillings like mushrooms, cucumbers, avocado and asparagus.

 

The Japananse pay a lot of attention to the presentation of food. The presentation is almost as important as the taste itself and that’s what makes sushi an art and an experience. Owing to the mysterious, yet elusive background of sushi,  Yohei’s contribution is credible and unforgettable. In the absence of advancement of technology, his foresightedness is believed to have transformed the world of sushi. We can now state with conviction that sushi is here to stay.

Off the beaten track: Children from upper primary school in Varanasi get lessons from District Magistrate

The district magistrate of Varanasi dons a different role every Saturday when he reaches the upper primary school in Orderly Bazar to teach students.

DM Yogeshwar Ram Mishra adopted the school on June 27 and decided to teach children from classes 1 to 8.

“I adopted the school to improve the quality of education. As a part of the initiative, I teach students for about an hour every week. There is tremendous improvement in the knowledge and confidence of the students,” he said.

Mishra teaches arithmetic, English and science in an interactive manner. He enters any classroom randomly and asks students what they would like to study and teaches them whatever they ask for.

District Magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra taking class in Varanasi.

“Improving quality in primary and upper primary schools may be a challenge, but is not impossible. It can be improved with little efforts,” Mishra said.

He also discusses with students the importance of plants and trees in environmental conservation and asks the students to plant saplings on the school premises.

Children have a friendly interaction with Mishra. “Children interact with me and sometimes ask questions related to cricket and history. It is great to see that my effort has boosted the confidence of the students,” he said.

He said many students wanted to speak English. Mishra is also planning to take the children to a movie in a week or two to provide them exposure.

The school has just nine children each in classes 6, 7 and 8. As many as 44 students are enrolled in classes 1 to 5.

The school has poor infrastructure. After Mishra’s initiative, a corporate company has come forward and showed interest in improving the infrastructure of the school under its corporate social responsibility.

It would whitewash the school’s walls and would beautify the building. At the same time, Mishra is making efforts to equip schools with facilities like a mini-lab and projectors.

Malaria medicine shows promise in reducing Zika virus transmission from mother to foetus

A drug already in use to treat malaria and certain autoimmune diseases in pregnant women has shown promise in reducing transmission of Zika virus from mothers to their foetuses, according to a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher.

The drug, Hydroxychloroquine, works by inhibiting autophagy, a process by which cells remove toxins and recycle damaged components to generate energy. Researchers showed that Zika virus may manipulate this process in the placenta to infect the developing foetus.

In a study published online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the researchers, led by Indira Mysorekar from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, showed how the drug appeared to reduce transmission of Zika virus from pregnant mice to their foetuses.

“Zika virus infection during pregnancy can lead to a devastating array of birth defects, including microcephaly, abnormal reflexes, epilepsy, and problems with vision, hearing and digestion,” said Catherine Spong, Deputy director of US National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the work.

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“This study suggests that treating Zika-infected pregnancies with autophagy-inhibiting drugs may lower the risk of these abnormalities, but more research is needed to confirm these findings,” Spong added.

Previous research had established that autophagy plays an important role in the placenta’s defence against bacteria and other disease-causing agents.

In the current study, the researchers demonstrated that Zika virus infection activates autophagy in lab cultures of human placental cells and in the placentas of mouse models of Zika virus transmission.

The researchers administered hydroxychloroquine, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug known to inhibit autophagy, to Zika-infected pregnant mice.

Mice treated with hydroxychloroquine have lower levels of detectable virus in their placentas and less placental damage, compared to untreated mice, the findings showed.

The treatment also restricted Zika infection in the foetal head and led to a larger foetal body size, suggesting that the drug limits cross-placental transmission of the virus.

From Khoya Paneer to Bharwan Aloo

Baklava by Subrata Debnath, executive chef, Vivanta by Taj – Gurgaon

Ingredients
100g – Crushed cashews
100g – Crushed almonds
100g – Crushed pistachios
50g – Butter (softened)
100g – Breakfast sugar
10g – Cinnamon powder
5 – Filo sheets
500g – Sugar
300ml – Water
2 – Cinnamon sticks

Method
* Brush the filo sheets with butter on one side.

* In a bowl, mix the crushed nuts, breakfast sugar, cinnamon powder and 30 gms of butter until well combined.

* Lay the filo sheets on a baking tray and apply a thin, even layer of the sweet nut mixture.

* Roll the sheets and brush the rolls with the remaining butter.

* Cut into 1½ inch pieces.

* Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees until golden brown.

* Make a syrup using sugar, water and cinnamon sticks.

* Apply a layer of the warm syrup on the baklava.

* Garnish with crushed pistachio.

* Serve at room temperature.

Khatta Meetha Kaddu by Cafe, Hyatt Regency, Delhi

Ingredients
400g – Red pumpkin
2 – Red chillies (sliced)
3 tbsp – Oil
1/2 tsp – Fenugreek seeds
A pinch of Asafoetida
2 – Green chillies (chopped)
Salt to taste
½ tsp – Turmeric powder
1 tbsp – Coriander powder
1 inch – Ginger strips
1 ½ tsp – Red chilli powder
2 tbsp – Sugar
1 ½ tbsp – Lemon juice
2 tbsp – Fresh coriander leaves (chopped)

Method
* Peel the pumpkin and cut into pieces.

* Heat oil in a kadhai. Add fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, green chillies, pumpkin pieces and mix. Add salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, ginger, red chilli powder and mix.

* Add a little water, cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 mins and then add sugar, lemon juice and coriander leaves to it.

* Cover and cook further on medium heat for 10 mins. The pumpkin pieces should get mashed. Serve hot.

Green Goddess Salad by Ravindra Choudhary, executive chef, Fio Cookhouse

Ingredients
50g – Lettuce ice berg
20g – Lettuce rocket
20g – Leaf lettuce
15g – Cherry tomato
20g – Blanched snow peas
15g – Boiled corn kernal
50g – Green apple
8g – Roasted peanuts
15g – Soaked fig
20g – Hung curd
15ml – Lemon vinaigrette
15ml – Lemon juice
2g – Rock salt
30ml – Olive oil
1g – Lemon leaves

Method
* Wash and clean the lettuce, and put it in ice bath for 15-20 mins so that the leaves get crisp.

* Cut the figs into half and soak them in warm water.

* Cut the green apple into half and discard the seeds.

* Arrange the lettuce in the serving plate, drizzle a little dressing.

* In a salad-mixing bowl, add corn, green apple, snow peas, cherry tomato and figs.

* Mix all with remaining dressing and arrange over the dressed lettuce.

* Sprinkle the roasted peanuts over the salad and serve.

Khoya Paneer by chef Gurpreet Singh, Punjab Grill

Ingredients
1 cup – Cashew nuts
½ cup – Khoya
500g – Paneer (cubed)
2 tbsp – Desi ghee
¼ cup – Curd
½ inch – Ginger (chopped)
2-3 pods – Green cardamom
2-3 – Green Chillies (chopped)
Salt to taste
2-3 sprigs – Green coriander

Method
* Wash, boil and grind the cashew nuts.

* In a pot heat desi ghee, add chopped green chillies and green cardamoms, allow it to crackle.

* Add the cashew nut paste, beaten curd, salt and cook for 10 mins.

* Once done add grated khoya and paneer cubes, stir for a while, adjust seasoning.

* Garnish with coriander leaf and serve.

Bharwan Aloo with Maple Sesame Glaze by chef Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent

Ingredients
For Potato Barrels
4 – Potatoes (medium size)

For Filling
25g – Cashew (whole)
15g – Raisins
Sendha salt to taste
2g – Turmeric powder
2g – Yellow chilli powder
5g – Chaat masala
2g – Roasted cumin, crushed
2g – Garam masala
5g – Ginger (finely chopped)
5g – Green chillies (chopped)
20g – Fresh pomegranate
15g – Processed cheese
5g – Coriander chopped

For Maple Sesame Glaze
50ml – Maple syrup
15g – Toasted white sesame seeds
20g – Butter

Method
For Potato Barrels
* Take medium sized potatoes and peel them. Using a potato scooper, empty out the potato carefully giving it an appearance of an empty barrel. Save the trimmings of the potatoes so that you can use it later in the filling.

* In a deep cooking vessel, bring water to boil. Add a teaspoon of turmeric. Blanch the potatoes in this water. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes.

* Once done, take out the potatoes and pat dry to remove any moisture.

* Deep fry the potatoes in oil at 160 degree celsius until light golden and crisp from the outside. Keep aside so that the extra oil drips away.

For Filling
* Deep fry the potato trimmings in 160 degree celsius until it turns light golden and crisp. Roughly chop them.

* Fry the whole cashews as well until crisp and light golden in colour. Crush them slightly.

* Place a non-stick pan over a gas stove. Add little ghee and saute the ginger, green chilli and turmeric powder. Add the potato trimmings, whole cashew nuts, raisins, yellow chilli powder, garam masala, chaat masala and roasted cumin powder.

* Cook over medium heat for 7-8 mins, adjust the seasoning and remove it from heat. Let the mixture cool.

* Add grated cheese and chopped coriander to it.

For Maple Sesame Glaze
* In a non-stick pan, reduce maple syrup to syrupy stage.

* Emulsify with butter. Once emulsified, keep aside in a warm place.

For assembling the potatoes
* Once the mixture is cool, fill the empty barrels with the potato mixture.

* Cut the stuffed potatoes lengthwise and pan grill on a non-stick pan.

* Once done, cut them in to quarters and arrange on a black slate.

* Drizzle the maple emulsion on top of it.

* Sprinkle some chaat masala and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.

From Oik to Apong: On a gastronomical journey in Arunachal Pradesh

Starting with the locally-famous “achin pinam” (spiced rice) to smoked beef platters, or the “amin” made out of rice cake and chicken, every dish cooked in Arunachal Pradesh’s Basar town gives out a flavour of the hills and wilderness that surrounds the place.

The quaint hill town at the centre of the northeastern state, which boasts a breathtaking natural backdrop, also entertains its visitors with a rich culinary experience — and to top it all, the food cooked in bamboo containers and served on plates made out of local leaves, surely gives urban gastronomes a taste of uniqueness.

Locally grown rice — boiled with herbs — garden fresh vegetables and boiled fish caught from the streams also regularly feature on the menu. Anyone feeling thirsty after walking through the serpentine roads can feel rejuvenated by sipping the Apong rice beer, served in exquisitely-made bamboo containers.

“Beef is our main non-vegetarian platter. Everyone in the village has Mituns (a unique bovine species) and we use that as our main source of meat. The beef is cut into small pieces and grilled on sharp bamboo sticks (skewers) both as a starter and the main course,” local resident Bekar Basar told this visting IANS correspondent.

“We have pork too. Roasted and grilled pork is a delicacy here. However, hunting deer or other wild animals is banned in the region,” he said.

According to locals, the meat recipes are mostly served dry. The use of spice is limited to local herbs and unlike the dishes from other parts of India, the food here does not consist of any gravy.

Rice, being the staple in the region, has its presence in a majority of the main course dishes. Apart from the simple boiled rice, the local platter also consists of achin pinam, in which the rice is mixed with okko leaves and cooked on a high flame inside a bamboo container.

While most of the non-vegetarian cuisine is centred on beef, bamboo, which grows in abundance in the region, plays a significant part in the vegetarian dishes. Soup is made out of bamboo shoots while epa, or bamboo sprout powder, is used as a spice for various dishes. The powder is often mixed with water to create a paste known as eku and added to dishes like boiled fish for a distinct taste.

Vegetarians coming to Basar can also indulge in dishes like oik, a platter made out of leaves boiled with spices, and raro — a unique vegetable dish that first originated from the Galo tribes.

“Among all the dishes we have, I like amin the most. It is a dish where rice cakes are added with tiny pieces of chicken and stirred heavily in boiled water until it is fully mixed. A touch of pepper is added before serving. The dish has a distinct taste and is generally served after the main course,” a woman shopkeeper said with a smile, otherwise friendly, but who declined to give her name to a stranger.

After pampering the taste buds with the wide variety of food, one can take a sip of Apong to feel refreshed. Apong is made in almost every household in Basar and is a local favourite, much like in the rest of the northeast. The dark coloured drink with a sweet, malty taste is a total delight for beer lovers.

“First the rice husk is roasted till it turns black. Then the rice is mixed and kept in the open for nearly two weeks for fermentation. This is then mixed with water and brewed in a conical-shaped bamboo container and served in bamboo glasses,” Marto Amo, a Galo youth who often makes Apong at home, explained.

There are two variations. The stronger brew is called poda, while the relatively lighter one is called pori.

“In Basar, everyone drinks Apong. It is not highly intoxicating but relaxes you after a hard day’s work. We drink it almost every day after work or while partying,” he added with a smile.

Heaven On Your Plate: From kebabs to biryani, food is serious business in Lucknow

Lucknow’s famous poet Ghulam Hamadan Mushafi (1747-1824) is not the only one to use a kebab simile to describe the anguish and fire in a lover’s heart. So engrained has the kebab been in the lives of the people of Awadh, that it is difficult to think of Lucknow without it.

However, Awadh wasn’t just kebabs. It was about refined tastes, tehzeeb o adaab or etiquette, hospitality and its syncretic culture. From the setting of the dastarkhwan which would have duas for blessing the food and house printed on it, the laying of rakabis, as plates were called in our childhood, with qalai katoras for drinking water cooled in surahis, the waiting for the eldest in the house to take his/her place at the head of the dastarkhwan and start the meal with a prayer; to us, youngsters, saying “adaab” if some elder passed on a dish to us and being blessed with a “khush raho” — the meal was a way of life which has all but vanished.

I grew up in Lucknow, imbibed this culture and try my best to keep it intact. Now, we eat on dining tables and not dastarkhwans, but we have tried to maintain many of the other customs in our home. We wait for the eldest to say “Bismillah kijiye” (start in the name of God), do adaab every time someone passes on a dish and wait for the khush raho. We keep an open house on both Eids and our friends come over to join in our celebration. I love to cook and even though I prefer vegetarian food, I am better at cooking meat dishes.

(Source: Rana Safvi)

Our friends look forward to murgh musallam, raan musallam, korma, pulao, biryani, shami and galawat ke kebabs alongwith qiwam ki siwai and phirni on Eid in our house, just as much as I look forward to all the delicious sweets and delicacies on Diwali and Holi in their homes. In fact, so fond am I of gujiya made on Holi, that the year I got married and moved to Jamshedpur, Singh Aunty, my mother’s friend, sent me loads of gujiyas, saying, “You may not get it there.”

Awadh is the land of sangam, where the rivers Ganga and Jamuna meet. It’s also here that many cultural streams met and got the unique “Ganga-Jamuni” identity. The cuisine reflects a melange of Persian influences that came with the Nawabs of Iran, the influx of people who came from Delhi after the attacks of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali, which mixed with the existing culture of this rich Indo-Gangetic plain. For instance, the kebab was eaten with a parantha — inspired by fried puris, an intrinsic part of Hindu cuisine. Even today, if you visit the narrow galis of old Lucknow, you will find puri-kebab and puri-aloo ki sabzi being sold, along with samosa and jalebi.

When I was studying in Lucknow, I remember exchanging my tiffin box packed with kebabs and rotis for my best friend Neena’s tiffin, with parantha-sabzi in it. She still loves kebabs and I still love parantha-sabzi. I share so many similar memories with my septuagenarian friend, Anil Chandra, who grew up in Lucknow, too.

(Source: Thinkstock Images)

Mr Chandra lived in a joint family and they didn’t eat meat regularly, but he says, “non-vegetarian food was preferred on the table of a large number of Hindu families across cultural lines. Among Kayastha and Thakurs, a fair number of ladies ate meat too, possibly due to Westernised education and frequent inter-cultural interaction.” Mr Chandra’s mutton curry, which he perfected as a stress buster much later in life, is to die for. I perfected the galawat ke kababs which are much sought after, though I use only six spices. In my family, that’s the most popular kebab variant, made with raw qeema, tenderised with raw papaya paste and spices. However, the most famous galawat ke kebabs from Lucknow were the Tunday kebabs, which used 160 spices. It is the secret recipe of Haji Murad Ali, who had one hand (it earned him the nickname of Tunday).

As a child, I remember passing by his small shop in Lucknow’s chowk, but in those days, ladies from genteel families didn’t eat on the roadside. So, my first taste of those heavenly kebabs was when I was much older and such etiquettes were no longer a part of society.

Seekh kebab was refined in India from the shish kebab of the nomadic Mongols, who carried marinated meat in their saddle bags and cooked them on shish or skewers at night, and introduced it to India during their invasions. The shami kebab is said to have been invented for a Nawab sahib of Awadh by a Syrian cook, as the toothless Nawab sahib found it difficult to chew meat. Kakori kebab’s creator, most likely, was the rakabdar of the Nawab of Kakori, Syed Mohammed Haider Kazmi — the story goes that a British officer, a guest at his table, criticised the rough texture of the seekh kabab. His cooks came up with a softer version of the seekh kabab by taking the meat from the raan ki machhli — a cut from the leg of mutton — and then adding khoya to it.

(Source: Rana Safvi)

Cooks were veritable artists who rose to the occasion and came up with various innovations to please their patrons. One cook made khichri using pistachio nuts and almonds, shaped as the dal and rice — it looked exactly like khichri but the taste obviously was very different and difficult to forget! Another invented a pulao that resembled pomegranate seeds by colouring half the rice grain ruby red and left the other half white.

Pulao was the more favoured preparation over biryani in Lucknow. Though that name is used indiscriminately today, there was a fine difference back then. Pulao was meat cooked with rice, and with very delicate spice flavours. Biryani was usually layered rice with meat, and used far more spices for the delicate Awadhi palate. There were many famous pulao variations born in Lucknow, as the prolific Lucknowi historian Abdul Halim Sharar mentions: gulzar, nur, chameli, koku and moti. The method of preparing the “pearls” for the moti pulao was laborious. Two hundred grams of warq or silver foil, and 20 grams of gold foil were beaten into the white of an egg. This mixture was then stuffed in a chicken gullet, tied with a fine thread at short intervals, and heated slightly. When this was opened, shiny well-formed pearls would emerge, which were cooked with the meat of the pulao and used for garnish. Some chefs made these pearls with cottage cheese and covered them with foil. That’s the method I use by covering tiny meatballs for non-vegetarians and paneer balls for the vegetarians with silver foil.

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On another note, King Ghaziuddin Haider’s chef, as the story goes, made six paranthas for him daily, in 30 sers of ghee. One day, the king’s wazir decided to check exactly how it was made. He saw that the chef put in five sers of ghee in the pan to cook one parantha and threw away the rest. He admonished him and instructed him to use only one ser of ghee to avoid wastage. The result? Paranthas with diminished taste and an enquiry from a displeased king on the deteriorating quality. On being told about the strictures, he ordered the wazir to stop practising economy. Food is serious business for someone from Lucknow, irrespective of religion.

From the Royal Kitchens

Culinary secrets from Rampur have crept their way into the kitchen of Taj Palace’s Masala Art in Delhi. Together with five khansamas who claim to have inherited their cooking legacies from their forefathers who served the royalty of Rampur, the staff of the restaurant have conjured up an array of dishes from a cuisine that is gradually being pushed into obscurity. “We have travelled across India and internationally to bring the essence of Rampuri cuisine to a larger audience. The cuisine, unfortunately, remains unexplored to this day,” said Suroor Khan, one of the visiting chefs, who is also a local caterer in Rampur.

The food served at the restaurant includes a rich reduction of lamb stock with a layer of fat floating over the curry, called Gosht taar korma; Dohra kebab; Kachche gosht ki tikki, the Indian cousin of the Afghani chapli kebab; and Adrak ka halwa, made using age-old techniques. The festival also features easily overshadowed delicacies such as Dum aloo in a tangy bukhara gravy, a halwa made from an assortment of vegetables and a Satrangi subzi.

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The heavy-handed use of whole spices — cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, khus roots and sandalwood — lend the courtly cuisine a distinctive aroma. But it is hard to differentiate from the Mughlai and Awadhi fare, as proximity of their places of origin ensures both relatedness and comparison. In 1774, Nawab Faizulla Khan established the town by ousting the Rohillas with the help of the East India Company. In return, the Nawabs remained acquiescent to the British, thereby making Rampur safe for artists, chefs and poets, including Mirza Ghalib. This perhaps explains its similitude of flavours with other cuisines of the region.

Even as Khan spoke of the food of his hometown in exalted terms, he shied away from sharing techniques of preparation, attributing the subtle taste and melt-in-the-mouth meat to a sleight of hand. However, after much cajoling, he divulged, “We slow-cook our food in clay pots and use ginger and onions to make the gravy. Unlike the food in Lucknow and Delhi, our gravies rarely use tomatoes as the base. Our kebabs such as Dohra or Kachche gosht ki tikki are soft because more time is spent on gilawat. We use bottlegourd and raw papaya to tenderise the meat before cooking it.” The peeli mirch or yellow chilli, a local favourite, is used liberally in all dishes though the cuisine is not for the fire-toothed.

The use of varq or silver leaf too began in Rampur’s kitchens. “The varq ensures that the food remains moist. It replaced the traditional parda (coating of flour) way of serving food in the Mughal courts,” added Khan.

From Kabul’s Table: Afghanis recreate home in Delhi

As the last bit of orange disappears from the sky, sherbet along with dates, both in plastic ware, are perched on tabletops at Afghan Darbar, a restaurant tucked deep in the bustling bylanes of Lajpat Nagar II. Almost instantly, the languorous restaurant morphs into a teeming joint as immigrants from Afghanistan gather for iftar.

As the patrons of the three-year-old restaurant bite into the ancient icon of the Middle Eastern world to break their day-long fast, the belief that binds them together is almost palpable. “It is recorded in the hadith, that the prophet always broke the fast with dates. We follow because it is tradition, but dates also provide a boost of energy and work the appetite after a long day of fasting,” says Fayaz Amini, who has come to Delhi from Panjshir, Afghanistan, for medical services that are not available in the war-torn land.

Delectable platters of aromatic kebabs, koftas and the Afghan naan, a fat, flat bread, straight out of the tandoor, rally out of the kitchen. Kebabs form the nucleus of the multifaceted Afghan cuisine. The restaurant replaces the popular shami, shish and lola kebabs of Afghanistan with generic names of mutton kebab, chicken tikka and fish fry. But in taste, the skewered kebabs, spiced with black pepper, roasted cumin and cardamom, are milder than their Indian cousins. Minced meat koftas float in rich, yet muted tomato gravy, traditionally made using a dazzling array of spices — coriander powder, cumin, fennel seeds, sumac and saffron.

Abdul Wali Khan from Paktia in Afghanistan, came to Delhi in 2014 for his MD training at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Rajendra Nagar. “It’s hard to cook for oneself with a demanding job. So, I come here for iftar. They’re particular about the iftar timings and I am certain that their meat is halal,” says Khan, asserting that the food at Darbar mirrors the iftar feast back home. “The only dish amiss are the chaplee kebabs, flat, round cutlets of ground meat,” he says.

A few metres away from Afghan Darbar is Kabul Delhi, established seven years ago by Irshad Ahmed, a Delhiite and Hashmat, Kabul. The name of the restaurant bears the stamp of their commercial union. A favoured dish here, is Mantu — steamed dumplings of spiced minced lamb and onions, served with garlic yoghurt and rajma or kidney beans, garnished with sprigs of coriander or mint leaves. Its vegetarian counterpart is known as Ashak. The dish iterates that the cuisine is not just a delicate interplay of flavours but also temperatures. At Afghan Darbar, rajma is replaced with chana dal or split chickpeas. That’s the beauty of eating at restaurants that don’t take themselves too seriously. You may go back for one dish but be served a variation depending on what is available. Yet, never compromising on delectability.

On Sabir Shahrukh’s plate, at Kabul Delhi, the fragile dumplings split easily into halves that he shares with his friend Ismail Kharimov from Tajikistan. The latter is in the city for his sister’s medical treatment. The two exchange words in Persian and move swiftly on to the main course. The fragrant Qabuli Uzbeki, is a variety of pilaf mixed with raisins, chopped nuts and carrots, heaped over chunks of meat, undeniably the most popular dish of Afghanistan.

Lesser-known delights are accommodated in the vegetarian section. Sumptuous preparations like Sabzi Palak or spinach stew, and Borani Banjan, a rough puree of roasted eggplant with a dash of garlic and chilli pepper open the window to a simpler interpretation of the cuisine. But at these restaurants, barely anyone ordered a vegetarian dish. “We eat a lot more meat during Ramzan to stave off hunger the following day but our vegetarian dishes are tasty too,” says Shahrukh, who moved to Delhi in 2013.

“The Taliban killed my brother four years ago. And then, they came after me. I escaped with my wife and children,” says Shahrukh, digging into the Dopiaza, chicken pieces in a rich curry made with a generous amount of onions, as the name suggests. But the culinary skills of the restaurants’ chefs, he insists, don’t compare to the magic his mother can stir up in the kitchen back home. “Can anyone cook better than your mother?” he asks.

More women join IIM Lucknow this year, 3.4% up from 2016

Lucknow: The new postgraduate programme batch at Lucknow’s Indian Institute of Management (2017-19) has more women than previous years. Some 30.4% students (156) out of the batch of 451 this year, are women as compared to 27% last year.

The batch of 2013-2015 had 38% female candidates, an official said.

IIM believes this will ensure diversity without compromising on merit. “This is a good sign. More participation of women students brings diversity and adds different perspective as well,” said IIM Lucknow director Ajit Prasad while talking to HT.

IIM-L said that the institute was looking at having a class with a broad base in terms of diversity – gender wise, background wise and also in terms of prior work experience. An official said they were happy that to some extent the institute had been successful in this objective, but there were still many steps to be taken to create an ideal diverse environment.

Induction programme at IIM Lucknow.

The average work experience of the newly induced batch has also risen from 11.3 months to 16.6 months, with 74% of the new batch having some work experience.

IIM-Lucknow recently concluded the induction programme for its incoming batch of postgraduate students in management and agri- business management.

Over the last two days, the eager crowd of over 450 students was addressed by the guest of honour, Niraj Seth, executive vice- president, naukri.com (formerly chief marketing officer Intuit and Cleartrip); and noted IIM Lucknow alumnus Lakshmi Narayan, chief endowment officer, Azim Premji Foundation.

Endo Pulls Opioid Opana ER From The Market After FDA Request

Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. has agreed to withdraw their opioid painkiller Opana ER from the market following the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) request. Though they still believe in their product’s safety, their decision to pull the product was made after careful consideration and coordination with the agency.

Voluntary Withdrawal From The Market

In a press release, Endo Pharmaceuticals announced that they will be removing Opana ER to combat abuse and misuse of the product. As a result, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. is expecting to incur approximately $20 million in pre-tax impairment charge for the second quarter of 2017.

Endo stresses that their decision to voluntarily remove Opana ER from the market is not a result of any findings indicating that the product is either ineffective or unsafe even when taken as prescribed. In fact, the company remains confident in their product’s safety and efficacy.

The voluntary withdrawal is a result of the FDA’s early June request to Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., asking them to remove the product based on the concern that the drug’s benefits no longer outweigh the risks of addiction.

Opana ER Limitations

In the same press release, Endo also gave a wide description of the product that they are about to pull from the shelves. In it, they state that because of the high risks for addiction and overdose, Opana ER is a drug that is reserved mostly for patients in whom alternative treatments have proven ineffective or inefficient.

Going further into the risks of misuse and abuse of Opana ER, Endo acknowledges that the product may lead to addiction even among patients using the product at appropriate doses.

Further, because Opana ER is an extended-release product that contains oxymorphone, the risks are even greater for overdose and death, especially when used in a manner for which it was not intended such as snorting or injecting the crushed or dissolved product.

Withdrawal

When discontinuing the use of Opana ER, especially since the company has decided to remove the drug from the market, Endo recommends a gradual decrease in dosage to ease in and lessen the withdrawal symptoms. A sudden discontinuation of using the product is not recommended.

Opioid Epidemic

The country has been battling the opioid epidemic for years, and it has been recently found to possibly have stemmed from a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1980. In it, drug specialist Dr. Hershel Jick and graduate student Jane Porter disregarded the possible addictive prospects of opioid painkillers.

Though this letter didn’t directly and immediately lead to a widespread opioid abuse, it did lead to a surge in opioid prescriptions in the last 20 years and an epidemic that the country continues to face.