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.

Sev: The Crunchy Besan Snack That We Can't Do Without

The melting point of culture, heritage and history, Gujarat, impressed me the most with its lavish vegetarian spread. If India has earned global recognition for its rich range of vegetarian delicacies, Gujarat with its extravagant vegetarian fare has a lot to contribute to the fame. And one particular Gujarati dish has become my favourite. It is none other than their popular Sev-Tamatar Ki Sabzi. My love affair with sev didn’t end here. As I strolled down the streets, I spotted the crunchy delicacy in several snacks like Bhelpuris, Dabeli and Raj Kachoris.

 

In the book, ‘The Historical Dictionary of Indian food’ by renowned food historian KT Acharya, he reveals that the term ‘sev’ was first mentioned in the ‘Manasollasa’ a 12th century book compiled by King Someshwara, but probably the origin of the snack is much older. He writes, “Sev is the term for crisp-fried noodles of besan flour, extruded either thick or thin from a batter.”

 Sev: The Crunchy Besan Snack That We Can't Do Without

 

Sev is a noodle-like crispy snack made of gram flour or chickpea flour typically seasoned with turmeric and ajwain (carom seeds) before being deep-fried. The thickness varies from preparation to preparation. Sev is used in several Indian dishes and snacks as a main ingredient or mostly as a crispy garnish. Ratlami Sev from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, made from cloves and chickpea flour, is a renowned sev variety across the country.

 

Chef Sadaf Hussain, a contestant of Master Chef India in 2016, “Some say that the name ‘sev’ comes from ‘siv’ (thread) referring to sewing. Sev is one of India’s most popular munching snack. Some of these are spicy and thick, while others are very fine and unseasoned. Sev is quite famous in Indore, Ratlam, Bikaner and Gujarat.”

 

“Sev is very versatile. You can have it by itself or mix it on top of any street food or chaat and it will just elevate the flavour and texture of the dish. If you travel around Gujarat and Mumbai, you will find many different snacks that use sev. For instance, the Sev Puri, Ragda Patties, Dabeli Chaat and Katori Chaat. All of them will be incomplete without a sprinkling of sev. If you go up North towards Delhi and Jaipur, you’ll find chaat items like Raj Kachori, Pani Puri, Sev Puri and Aalo Chaat decorated with sev. In Madhya Pradesh, you will find locals relishing on Sev Poha or a snack of peanuts with sev,” he adds.

bhel puri

Chef Gurpreet Singh from Punjab Grill shares, “Different states like adding a their own twist to a the snack, say for instance, a Maharashtrian Sev Puri would use garlic chutney, while in North India people like to add potatoes to their Sev Puri while in Punjab, we add chickpeas.”

 

There are small manual machines available to make sev where you can feed the batter and it can help you extract uniformly fine sev. If you are making sev at home, make sure the oil is hot otherwise the sev won’t come out as crunchy. According to Chef Gurpreet, mustard oil are the best to fry your sev. Add a hint of spices like cloves, carom seeds and cayenne pepper to the batter to give it a spicy edge.

 

Here’s a lovely recipe of Sev ki Sabzi, you can try at home.

 

Sev ki Sabji
Recipe by Chef Aditya Bal

sev sabzi

Ingredients Of Sev Ki Sabji

  • 1/2 a cup of ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, julienne
  • 1/2 inch ginger, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 large potatoes, diced into cubes
  • 1 large daikon radish, diced into cubes
  • 4 tsp fresh yoghurt
  • 1 large cup of moti sev
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 lime
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  •  Salt to taste

How to Make Sev ki Sabji

 

1. Crackle the cumin seeds in hot ghee, add in the onions and saute for two minutes.

 

2. Add in the ginger and the green chilies, fry together with the onions for 5-7 minutes on a medium flame.

 

3. Mix in the turmeric powder, the red chilli powder, and coriander powder.

 

4. Deglaze the pan with a little water, Add salt and let the masala cook uncovered, on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes.

 

5. Add in the diced potatoes and radish, mix well.

 

6. Add half a cup of water, cover and let cook on a low flame for 15 minutes or till the vegetables are tender.

 

7. Stir in the fresh yoghurt, and continue cooking on a medium flame for 2 minutes.

 

8. Add in the moti sev, stir well to coat the sev with the masala.

 

9. Add in 3/4th of a cup of water, and let the sev ki sabji cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes.

 

10. Garnish with fresh coriander, and the juice of a lime

Soups For Monsoons: 5 Ways to Drive Away the Chill and Stay Strong

One look at the stormy showers outside the window, and the thought of piping hot pakodas, samosas and a hot cup of tea comes to mind almost instantly. And why not, after sweating it out for two months, binging on crunchy fried delicacies seems like the reward we all deserve and had been waiting for. But sadly, the damp weather also makes one susceptible to several diseases associated with the monsoon season like cold and flu, throat infections and tummy problems. Your immunity levels tend to be low during seasonal change and your body becomes vulnerable to catch infections. The excess of moisture in the air make it perfect for bacteria and microorganism to breed and this can hamper our ability to process foods and our metabolism tends to slow down. Due to this, our digestion and immunity is compromised severely.

To counter this, you need to fortify yourself from within with the maximum inflow of vitamins. A bowl of piping hot soup can come in handy to make you feel strong and at the same time it offers protection. It keeps your body hydrated and can also be a good source of protein. The flavourful toppings of of garlic, onions, and ginger impart a warm feel and keep you snug as the weather becomes a bit chilly. Talking about the health benefits of having soups, they may help to de-clog your nasal passages and also promote increased secretions which helps in flushing out bacteria and viruses.

Soups For Monsoons: 5 Ways to Drive Away the Chill and Stay Strong

Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood tells us, “Our immunity system tends to take a dip during this season. We are more prone to infections and therefore, our bodies need a constant flow of vitamins and minerals. Soups are great ways to load up on all the nutrition. However, I would advise to go for clear soups over the thick cream-based ones.” According to Meher Rajput, Nutritionist at FITPASS, “Mushrooms are loaded with vitamin D and antioxidants which play a role in building your immunity. You can use them in a hot mushroom soup. Also, chicken and mutton soups are good to derive strength as they are high in protein.” Here are a few healthy soup ingredients that you must experiment with.

 

1. Mushrooms: They are full of B Vitamins, Vitamin D and antioxidants. B vitamins have been linked with healthy immune functions. They are also rich in selenium- a mineral touted to alleviate the risk of severe infections. Mushrooms are a great source of proteins as they contain all 17 essential amino acids required by the body.

 

2. Meat and Fish: Whether it’s chicken, mutton or fish and seafood, all of them are rich in protein. Not only does our body need protein to build and repair its tissues, but it also plays a vital role in boosting white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections. Meat also supplies Vitamin B, zinc and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish and seafoods) is also an essential component in keeping up the body’s defense mechanism.

 

3. Dark and Leafy Vegetables: Leafy greens like cabbage, spinach and broccoli are high in vitamins A, C and E, as well as folate, antioxidants and fibre. Try and include them in soups with a hint of aromatic spices.

 

4. Spices: Load up on immunity boosting and anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, mustard, asafoetida (hing), coriander, turmeric, fenugreek (methi), cloves, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. They not only add a fresh flavour to your soups, but also boost your immunity and aid digestion.

 

Here are few interesting soup recipes you can try at home this monsoon.

 

1. Spiced Spinach Soup with Cottage Cheese Croutons Recipe
Recipe by Chef Vicky Ratnani

 

A good old spinach soup loaded with the goodness of fenugreek leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric powder and topped with crispy cottage cheese croutons.

spinach soup 625

2. Bhutte Ka Shorba
Recipe by Chef Kunal Kapoor

 

A nutritious and wholesome stew, packed with the season’s favourite – corn and a whole lot of aromatic spices.

bhutte ka shorba

Bhutte Ka Shorba

3.Seared Mushrooms and Chicken Broth Recipe
Recipe By Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee

 

A sumptuous broth made with the goodness of chicken and a great variety of mushrooms – button, shiitake, shimeji, enoki, and chanterelle. Wholesome and satisfying.

mushroom broth

4.Tibettan Chicken Broth
Recipe by Chef Aditya Bal

 

An authentic Tibetan broth, made with succulent chicken pieces simmered in a flavourful broth with fresh vegetables and spices.

chicken soup

5.Chimney Soup
Recipe By Chef Andy Sharma

 

Easy and quick to prepare, this soul-stirrer is a must try. It makes for an ideal light supper with the goodness chicken, fish and spinach.

chimney soup

Make these soups fresh at home and enjoy them on a chilly evening. Aren’t these the simple pleasures of life?

 

7 New Fried Desserts to Enjoy While The Monsoon Season Lasts

While the rain makes the weather breezy and beautiful, it also comes with an intense craving for fried foods. The change in weather prompts a change in our menu with summery snacks giving way to inventive and innovative fried food items. But why should we restrict ourselves to tea time savouries? There’s a lot out there to satisfy your sweet tooth too. The magnificent monsoon lends itself to a rainbow of the most delicious fried desserts. Crisp on the outside, moist and sweet on the inside, these desserts will leave you drooling and tempt you to run to your kitchen. Here’s a list of 8 unusual fried desserts that will satisfy your cravings instantly.

7 New Fried Desserts to Enjoy While The Monsoon Season Lasts

1. Chocolate Jalebi 

 

As the weather shifts from the scorching heat to pleasant skies, we all get that tingly feeling in our tummies craving for something hot and crispy. Since we’re surrounded by tons of sweets, how do we pick which dessert would be perfect for the season? It is next to impossible to resist the chocolate jalebi! A lovely combination of your favourite fried Indian dessert jalebi and chocolate.

How To Make: Add a cup of flour, one tablespoon baking soda, a cup of water and a little bit of color (orange) in a bowl, mix it well and pour it into a frying pan to make jalebis with the help of a cheesecloth. Once they’re ready, dip them in a bowl of melted chocolate and serve hot.

 

2.  Fried Ice-Cream

The epitome of soul food – ice-cream! Admit it or not, we all have a soft corner for ice-cream in our hearts. This time around, try the fried ice-cream. You are sure to get addicted.

How To Make: Scoop 6-8 balls of vanilla ice-cream and freeze it further for an hour. After freezing, dip the balls in whipped egg whites one by one and further cover them with some crushed biscuits. Deep fry the ice-cream and enjoy.

 

3. Deep Fried Cookie Dough

 

Deep fried cookie dough is one of the best fried desserts you could have asked for. Cookies always manage to lift our mood and trust us, fried cookie dough is even better. Every single bite will leave you craving for more.

How to Make: Add 1 stick of butter, ½ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 egg, 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup milk and lots of chocolate chips in a bowl to make the cookie dough. Mix them well to make cookie batter and leave it to freeze for an hour. For frying, coat the cough dough balls with corn flakes or bread crumbs and fry away.

 

4. Banana Balls

 

The great part about bananas is that they can be eaten with or without experimentation. To add a quirky twist to the fruit, we can fry the bananas pieces. Banana balls serve as the perfect snack for your evening coffee or tea.

How To Make: Cut bananas into small pieces and mix it with brown sugar to make a paste. Add a little bit of flour, cardamom powder, desiccated coconut powder and baking soda and coat the bananas with this mix. Make little balls and fry them for tea-time.

5. Cake Fries

What could be better than sizzling and crispy French fries? Well, nothing really but now you can enjoy fries for dessert! These fries are made with ingredients that are used to bake a cake. This is probably one of the most unusual and inventive desserts that can be served at your weekend gathering. Serve them with a dark chocolate dip or plain maple syrup.

How To Make: Add 3 eggs, 2 cups of milk, ¼ cup of granulated sugar, 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk everything together for a smooth batter. Add the batter to a funnel with a large hole in order to make funnel cake strands and fry these strands to have the yummy cake fries!

6. Fried Chocolate and Coconut Modak

Sweet dumplings but covered with chocolate? Now, that sounds exquisite. Usually, modak is eaten during festivals keeping us away from it for a long time. To satisfy your needs, this famous Indian dessert can now be made with a chocolaty twist.

How To Cook: Take a bowl and saute one cup of shredded coconut for about 7-8 minutes. In a separate bowl, melt ¼ cup of milk and chocolate side by side. Once its melted, add the chocolate to shredded coconut and keep it aside. For the batter, take a bowl and add 1 cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup of wheat flour, ¼ cup of suji, ½ cup of milk, 1 tsp oil, and a pinch of salt for tasting. Mix all of them together to make the dough and keep them aside for 20 minutes. Roll little puris, fill the chocolate and coconut mix in the center and shape them like a modak (tear-drop shaped) which can then be deep fried and enjoyed.

 

7. Fried Donut Holes

 

Donuts have been around for years. They are a beloved American snack but are enjoyed all over the world. These donut holes originate from donuts – the portion that is cut out to make the rings. These sweet treats can be easily made at home if one is in the mood to experiment!

How To Make: In a bowl, add 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoon cold butter, and ¾ cups of milk. Whisk them together to make a smooth batter. Make little balls and fry them into a pan. Once they’re out of the pan, roll them in a bowl of sugar. You can even glaze them if you like and serve with jam or caramel sauce.

 

8. Apple Fritters

 

This fruity dessert that can easily satisfy your sugar cravings. This dessert gives you everything that you are looking for to enjoy the nippy weather. They are best served warm and crispy and give you a beautiful fruity taste.

How To Make: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, ¼ cups of granulated sugar, 2 ¼ baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, whisk together ¾ cups of milk, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoon butter and ½ tsp vanilla. Gently fold the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Cut the apples into circular slices and dip them in the batter. Fry them in a pan for a few minutes and enjoy the hot and crispy fritters!
Alright, we know you’re already tempted to try them. So, get going.

Feed The Cold, Starve The Fever: Should You Follow This Advise?

Historically, medical practitioners believed that during a fever, the body must not be fed simply because it will direct its energy towards digestion rather than ways to fight off the fever, eventually leading to worsening your symptoms. This popular advise seems to have originated during the late 1500s, when it was assumed that a fever could be cured by fasting while a person suffering from cold must be fed because it occurs due to a drop in the body temperature.

Over the years, with numerous scientific studies that prove the phrase as inadequate and problematic, we have come to terms with the fact that starving a fever may not be a solution and could be potentially dangerous.

Feed The Cold, Starve The Fever: Should You Follow This Advise?

In line with common experiences, whenever we are suffering from fever, a visit to the doctor often concludes with an assertion to drink plenty of water in order to keep yourself hydrated and also eat lots of fruits and vegetables to replace the lost nutrients from the body. To prevent weakness, the body requires essential salts and fluids.

625 fever

Photo Credit: IStock

What you must do

We’ve grown up hearing “prevention is better than cure” and rightly so. Our immunesystem must be strengthened with antioxidants and foods that are rich in Vitamin C and Vitmain E that contribute to the healthy state of our body. Foods that are extremely rich in bioflavonoids must be eaten on a regular basis. These are found in yellow colored foods like lemons and bananas.

During a fever, the overheated state of the body burns more calories than usual and the metabolism becomes faster. This burden’s the body with an energy demand and thus, we must be sensitive to that. Therefore, it can be fatal to starve oneself during a virus.

vitamin c 620

Photo Credit: IStock

Even more crucial than eating is the need to drink. Sweating during a fever is a common process and it can lead to dehydration and fainting spells. A number of people complain of a loss of appetite and this maybe due to the fact that the body is involved in fighting off the pathogens and uses its energy for that.

Drink as many fluids as you can, a simple mixture of salt and sugar in water provides instant energy. Water enables the body to fight off the toxins with ease, facilitating the road to recovery. Incorporate rice and oats  in your diet, they enable healing. Adding garlic to your diet immensely improves the body’s fighting mechanism due to the antioxidants present in garlic. To combat high temperatures, warm milk with honey and saffron also does wonders.

Fact or fiction?

Next time you encounter somebody rendering these words of wisdom, kindly think twice and first, consult your doctor, before you decide anything for yourself. According to Nutritionist Dr. Simran Saini, starving yourself during fever is the worst thing that you can do. “It can lead to fainting. We usually suggest fluids that are rich in electrolytes. The patient must have shikanjee, lemonade and chhach. During a fever, the body is involved in burning energy and thus food, in the form of fluids is easy to digest and provides that extra dose of  energy that you crucially need. “Light foods like khichdi, dal and rice or porridge is recommended as they are easy to digest.”

chana dal

By fueling your body with nutritious food, you prevent the spread of bacteria. It can be hard to separate fact from fiction and therefore, the best thing to do is to visit your nearest doctor for advice.

6 Tips To Make the Most Perfect Sandwich

Let us take a moment and thank a British aristocrat and a passionate gambler who has been credited for inventing one of the best comfort food of all times – the sandwich. Food historians claim that in 1762, during a 24-hour gambling bout, John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich wanted his food to be prepared in such a way that it wouldn’t interfere with his game. In his excursions round the Europe, he had seen grilled pita breads and small canapes and sandwiches served by the Greeks and Turkish people and instructed his cooks to invent a similar no-fuss dish where he did not have to use forks or spoons. And then, what his cooks presented him is often helmed as one of Britain’s biggest contribution to gastronomy – the first ever sandwich.

Quick, easy to make, wholesome and filling – a sandwich is a dream come true for all those who are pressed for time and ingredients or those who don’t really boast of the great cooking skills yet want to treat themselves with something delicious. Keep it as simple as you want to or get creative and spruce it up with the most exotic ingredients, there are a number of ways to make a great sandwich. Just bung in your ingredients, sauces, herbs and seasoning between two bread or bun slices and you are good to go. You can rarely go wrong with a sandwich, but at times minute errors in arranging a sandwich can spoil your overall experience like soggy sandwiches or ingredients slipping out of the sandwich. Follow these easy tips and hacks to enjoy your sandwich in all its glory!

6 Tips To Make the Most Perfect Sandwich

The Six Rules of Getting Your Sandwich Right

 

1. Choose your bread right

This one is no rocket science. Anybody who has ever had a sandwich in their life can tell that the bread forms the basis of the sandwich. For moist fillings, use dry and dense breads. A nice and thick crust helps in keeping the stuffing from going haywire and prevents the fillings from falling apart. You can toast it, serve it grilled, warm it up or have it cold. Toasting the bread brings out the sweetness of the bread. There is an umpteen variety of breads available in the market from the traditional white loaf to its healthier brown counterpart. You can also choose to go exotic with baguettes, buns and pita bread.

brown bread

2. The importance of the spread

Sandwich spreads play a much more crucial role than just adding flavor. They perform the vital task of lending moisture and giving your sandwich a creamy texture. You can choose from BBQ, mayonnaise and other spreads or experiment with healthier alternatives like pesto, whole grain mustard, hung curd or homemade salsa.

butter bread

3. Avoid sogginess 

Spread the sauce, mayo, butter or cheese till the edges to the seal the sandwich. Also, use wet ingredients like cucumber or tomatoes separately. Add them in the end, right before you are ready to eat the sandwich. Use cheese or meat as a layer between the bread and ingredients with high water content (cucumber, tomato). Using toasted bread can also come handy.

4. Substitute traditional ingredients for fresh change

Traditional favourites like lettuce and tomato lend moisture, crunch and freshness and provide a foil for heavy, rich ingredients, but the high moisture content, and storing them for a long time may make the bread soggy.There’s perhaps no other food with which you can get as imaginative. You can skip the traditional tomatoes and try roasted peppers, sauteed onions or carrots for the crunch. You can also add a zest of fresh change by using spinach or cabbage instead of lettuce.

egg and cheddar sandwich

5. Avoid your sandwich from falling apart

Don’t you just hate it when you bite into the sandwich you just built for yourself by meticulously arranging the choicest of ingredients, and it immediately falls apart. A certain know-how of science can save you from the slippage. Your sandwich may have the best ingredients but it lacks friction. Relax, it is not as complicated as it sounds, it is all about the order of your ingredients. Identify the slippery ingredients like cucumber or tomatoes and keep them aside. Take the spread that you are using, say mashed avocados or marinara sauce and layer it on your bread slice, the next layer to come should be the rough greens like Arugula or Lettuce. Now, layer your slippery ingredients. Make multiple layers alternating between rough greens and slippery ingredients. Now, if you bite into your sandwich the friction between the rough greens and the slippery ingredients would save your sandwich from falling apart.

sandwich

6. Keep it simple

As imaginative as you may want to get with your sandwich, there is a point where you have to tame those horses running wild with creativity. It is always advisable to not over stuff your sandwich with too many ingredients or sauces. Sprinkle some herbs or seasonings to add the finishing touch. Balance out your flavours. If the ingredients are heavy, then you can use light sauces or maybe vinegar to bring certain evenness to the taste.

 sandwich

No Ordinary Cooks: The Rise and Decline of the Tradition of Khansamas

It is somewhat ironical that in this day of celebrity chefdom, khansamas, the original traditional professional cooks or chefs in many parts of the country, should have so totally disappeared. But this disappearance is perhaps inevitable. The khansamas were a product of a feudal India, of the British Raj, and while their legacy lived on for many decades post-Independence, and post the abolition of the privy purses which dealt a death blow to feudalism in many ways, in the post Liberalisation world, it was inevitable that this legacy would wane which is a pity because these were no ordinary cooks. They were master chefs who, despite being professionally untrained, cooked with an instinct for flavours and spicing that cannot be taught to students of Indian gastronomy.

Most of us who grew up at the cusp of Liberalisation can perhaps recall the last of the khansamas from old clubs in old cities. Some of us may even have been privileged to be part of extended families of some affluence and influence who employed these professional cooks. But how did the institution of the khansama-in the erstwhile dak bunglows, bureaucratic homes, Railways catering, army messes and elite clubs come about?

No Ordinary Cooks: The Rise and Decline of the Tradition of Khansamas

Much of it can be traced to Avadh – that glittering center piece of cultural and culinary evolution in the post-Mughal times. Abdul Halim Sharar (1860-1926), the best known chronicler of the lifestyle and culture of Avadh writes extensively about the Nawabi preoccupation with food and the exalted status enjoyed by cooks in their kitchens.

In Guzishta Lucknow, the finest narrative describing the Lucknow  of the past, Sharar not only talks about the splendours produced in the Nawabi kitchens-Rs 60,000 a month were spent on food apart from salaries of various cooks-where cuisine was raised to the form of art, but he also talks about the categories of cooks. While a bawarchi was an ordinary cook, cooking in bulk (that legacy has survived till today and you have bawarchis cooking up biryani, curries or working the tandoor for big fat Indian weddings), his profession was looked down upon by elite Lucknowwallahs

as being commonplace. Rakabdars, on the other hand, were the true master chefs, and highly regarded.

They only cooked small portions of food for the main aristocrats (and not the entire household) and devoted their time to refining dishes, developing preserves, procuring the best ingredients and artistically decorating plates! Somewhat like the head chef in a modern restaurant kitchen that runs on the French model. Instead of following a recipe, Rakabdars were instinctive geniuses who created novel dishes out of existing ingredients-a dry fruit only khichdi without dal and chawal, sliced aubergines, delicately spiced, put on trees, murabbas, rich desserts, you get the drift.

Since cuisine was entertainment and the entire culture favoured hyperbole and elaborate manners (as has been often caricatured), nazakat and nafasat – delicacy and elegance– were equally prized in the culinary arts too. Thus we have the legacy of paans fashioned out of just malaipulaos rather than robust biryanis and aromats in minute quantities to rev up kebab and kormas as well as paheli ka khana

— to trick your senses-much before the age of Heston Blumenthal.

After the Revolt of 1857, when the last Nawab of Avadh Wajid Ali Shah was exiled to Kolkata, capital of the British Raj, hundreds of cooks employed in the extended household traveled east with him. These were cooks of all categories. Some of them or their progeny, it is conjectured, found employment with the British clubs and in the homes of the memsahibs, some turned bazaar chefs, but all of them, no doubt, contributed to the inventive cuisine that we know today-aloo dum, mochar

chops, Calcutta biryani which is a take on the avadhi biryani and, well, smoked hilsa, that ultimate aspirational dish. The khansamas were inventing a whole new genre of food with newer influences married to local ingredients and spicing.

Before we talk further about the khansamas and their influence on Indian gastronomy, a peep into the legacy of another traditional Indian cook: the padayan. While the khansamas were at least originally muslim cooks proficient in old Mughalai khana, employed by aristocrats, bureaucrats, landlords given to entertaining and in clubs and messes of British India, padayans were also professional cooks, only more homely and matronly.

Most ordinary high-caste Hindu homes in UP and large parts of the Gangetic heartland employed these Brahmin women to cook in their inner kitchens. Padayans would make everyday fare, slaving over the fire, turning out hot phulkas and paranthe, ghee-laden dals and seasonal vegetables and curries. This was every day fare but the padayan ruled the kitchen with an iron fist. Economy was maintained, no meat (in some regions, fish was not taboo) was allowed into this inner space governed by religious rituals of cooking and eating.

The khansamas, by contrast, cooked fare meant for entertaining. Their cooking then was naturally more inventive and eventually became the basis of restaurant/club cooking in India, though of course, over the years some of the dishes became part of the “party” fare in homes as well. If there is such a sharp divide between home-style, “regular” Indian food and what we eat outside, it is also because of these differences in cooks.

If the Rakabdars in Lucknow-and similar cooks in other princely states-excelled in turning out exotic dishes with expensive ingredients, khansamas of the British Raj employed in dak bungalows and clubs in the boondocks invented with what they had. Dak Bungalow curries and the like come nowhere close to the refinement of a korma but the khansamas were no rakabdars and their context had changed. Still, that same instinct for invention and experimentation survived. That is exactly what defines Indian cuisines even today – this melange of different influences on our tables.

Eating Disorder in Women: Why the Husband's Good Looks Could be a Problem

Eating disorders are not uncommon in the modern world today. They could stem from a lot of issues without us even realising it. According to a new study done by Florida State University, eating disorder in women could result from dissatisfaction with life or inferiority complex, where they think that their husbands are more attractive than them.

The research showed that wives who crash-diet to slim down are often driven to do so because they felt that their husbands are better looking than them. The finding indicated that women’s risk of developing more extreme weight loss behaviours is linked to other forms of psychological distress – depression, anxiety, substance abuse and dissatisfaction with life.They also found that men were rarely motivated to do the same, regardless of how attractive they considered their wives to be.

 

Lead author Tania Reynolds said that if they understand how women’s relationships affect their decision to diet and the social predictors for developing unhealthy eating behaviours, then they will be better able to help them.”One way to help these women is for partners to be very reaffirming, reminding them that they are beautiful and loved at any weight or body type,” Reynolds added.

Eating Disorder in Women: Why the Husband's Good Looks Could be a Problem

The researchers explained that understanding the predictors that increase a woman’s risk of developing eating disorders and other health problems could lead to earlier assistance.

 

The team examined 113 newlywed couples – married less than four months with average age of late 20s and living in the Dallas area – who agreed to be rated on their attractiveness. Each participant completed a lengthy questionnaire focusing in part on their desire to diet or have a thin body.

Weekend without stress: Here’s our list of top studies that help you fight the blues

Stress is an inevitable part of modern life. Yet it can harm your physical and mental health and increase rate of mortality. Read on to find out what the harmful effects of stress and what to do about it.

Cycling lowers stress levels. (Shutterstock)

1) Cycling to work lowers stress levels in first 45 minutes of work.

A study suggests cycling to office can help reduce stress and improve your work performance. Results indicate that cycling to work is a good way to have a good day. “Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” the lead researcher says.

 

Stress can increase chances of death from cardiovascular illnesses. (Shutterstock)

2) Mental stress ups risk of death in heart disease patients.

According to researchers, people with persistent mental distress, including depression and anxiety, were nearly four times as likely to have died of cardiovascular disease and nearly three times as likely to have died from any cause.

 

Being religious is beneficial to health. (Shutterstock)

3) Religiousness leads to less stress and enhanced longevity.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University in the US found that adults between the age group of 40 to 65 years who attend church or other houses of worship reduce their risk for mortality by 55%. “We have found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health,” said the lead researcher.

4) Your stress levels may up ADHD risk in your child.

Stressful situations over a long period during pregnancy increases stress hormone, which may raise the risk of babies’ developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

 

Stress can be contagious for children. (Shutterstock)

5) Your children can ‘catch’ stress from friends and teachers in school.

New research suggests that if students and teachers of a school appear to be stressed, the chances of the same feeling percolating to a new colleague are quite high. “If you are surrounded by people who are downcast or walking around under a pall of burnout, then it has a high chance of spilling over, even if you don’t have direct contact with these folks,” said Kenneth Frank, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

Ditch the artificial sweetener. It may increase risk of obesity and heart disease

Artificial sweeteners are substitutes for sugar that provides a sweet taste like that of sugar while containing significantly less food energy. Previous research has found that consuming artificial sweeteners may up diabetes risk. Many believe that it helps you minimise your calorie intake, but it has also been proven that instead of cutting back calories, it makes you eat more. Now, new research has linked artificial sweeteners with long-term weight gain and increased risk of obesity.

The findings showed that artificial sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners may have negative effects on metabolism, gut bacteria and appetite. Thus, individuals consuming artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, may also be at risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease, the researchers from University of Manitoba in Canada, said.

The long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are not yet fully known.

According to researchers, the use of artificial sweeteners which is widespread and increasing is linked with the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases. For the study, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), the team conducted a randomised controlled trials involving 1,003 people followed for six months on average. The trials did not show a consistent effect of artificial sweeteners on weight loss, and the longer observational studies showed a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and relatively higher risks of weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.

“We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management,” said Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. “Caution is warranted until the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners are fully characterised,” added Meghan Azad, assistant professor, at the University.