The other day, I went for lunch buffet to Global
Fusion with my cousins, I noticed that they did not visit the salad station at
all, instead ordered steamed and stir-fried dishes.
With too many pesticides used during growing
vegetables, it is becoming more dangerous to eat raw vegetables. Yet, when I
went to this fitness chat with dietician Namita Jain, (I was invited by Nature
Basket to attend her session on ‘Healthy Eating for Healthy Living) she started the session with Pomegranate
salad using all the raw vegetables such as spring onions, carrots, capsicum,
cauliflower and garnishing with grated ginger, lime juice, dates and salt.
It tasted good. It had no high cholesterol dressing
like Mayonnaise or creams, but still I was hesitatant since all the veggies
were raw. Were they washed? How many hours before the session were they
chopped? I was not sure about that.
While we munched on the salads and orange juice, Namita started to discuss the 5-point program for staying fit.
Calories In equals Calories Out
First point to remember is that there has to be a
balance between calories that we take in and calories burnt out. If the balance
is not maintained then excess of undigested food is converted to fat.
Always eat light and exercise to burn the calories.
Calories are basically the energy in food, it is
not possible to calculate every single calorie that enters our body, but it helps to
remember that larger portions have more calories. So the easiest way is to eat
smaller portions, fewer snacks and healthy meals. It is much easier for body to
extract nutrients from cooked food than from raw food. For raw food you need to
chew the food properly in order to digest it.
Burning calories is not just jogging or spinning on
a wheel, they include other activities too. Almost all the activities that we
do during the day- time burn up calories. For example, cooking for an hour
burns 140 calories, taking care of elders uses 232 calories, gardening burns
298 calories, even playing cards/board games burns calories.
Point 2: Always
have a square meal.
Every square meal must contain carbohydrates, fat,
proteins and cereals. Actually our Indian Thali is such that it verifies the
concept of a square meal. There are three types of calories that we take,
active, semiactive and couch-potato calories.
calories are found in lean meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole
grains, beans and legumes.
calories are in fiber rich cereals, whole-grain, low-far dairy, soups.
potato calories from pastries, cookies, pies, cakes, fatty
processed meats, chips, pretzels, snack food, greasy fast food.
However, too much of anything is bad and undigested
food is converted to fat. The built up of fat in the arteries can narrow the
blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure. But too little is not good
either. Our body needs enough calories to give nourishment; or we will feel
tired all the time. On an average it is important to have more than 1200
calories per day.
During my last visit to Hong Kong, I had noticed
that Chinese ate several times a day and yet remained slim. I realized that it’s
not how many times you eat but what you chose to eat determines our weight. Research
shows that frequent meals prevent a high influx of fatty acids that contribute
to high cholesterol level.
second demo dish ‘Multi-grain Tortilla wrap’ was prepared and passed around. The
stuffing consisted of crumbled cheese, green onions, coriander leaves, chat
masala and chili powder. It was quite dry, even though I had it with
Point 3: Indulgence
There are times when we go for parties and we tend
to overeat at the buffet tables. In such times it is important to compensate
the next day by eating less. Actually it is important to detox once a week and
maintain good eating habits. For detox you could have soups, steamed
vegetables, fruits, milk and citrus fruits.
Point 4: Stop
before you are full and eat before you are hungry.
Eating too much can lead to acidity and
indigestion. Body needs fuel every 3-4 hours. You could eat small snack in
between meals like apple, grams, or cracker so that you are not starved during
the lunch hour.
Point 5: Self
Mind is powerful; it can be trained to think positive
for positive results. People don’t succeed because they believe that they
nut spread was being prepared at the cooking station while she informed us
about staying fit. Her assistant mixed the mashed banana with raisins, chopped dates
and chopped nuts and served on cracker.
There were question–answer
session after her talk, there was lots of interaction. The room had full
attendance of about 100 people.
Women complained that the media and ads publicized
the product too much, causing too much confusion and sometimes had adverse
effect on their health.
Namita Jain counseled that the new product be tried
in small quantities before including it in the regular diet because it may
agree with some and with others it might not.
To stay fit, she advised that water is very
important for our system and must be consumed at least 3 liters a day. One must eat light
food at the later half of the day because detoxification takes place in the
Exercise is important because it helps reduce bad
cholesterol. It is not advisable to go for walks immediately after eating. If
you get tired after exercise then you are not doing it right. Many youngsters
are overdoing it resulting in fatigue. She said that instead of taking advise
from gym instructor, it is better to consult doctors before taking any
On being asked what suitable oil to be used in
cooking, she advised that any unrefined oil can be used and brand of the oil
can be changed frequently.
There was nothing new that we learnt from these talk/demo
sessions, but it was worthwhile to attend it to refresh our knowledge and
re-adapt to live the healthy way.
Came home with a damage of 3k to my pocket because
although the demo is free, the bottles on the shelf are not, it is difficult to
resist the grocery shopping when the food is all around you.
I have happy memories of
Surinam. Whenever I think of Surinam I am reminded of the food that I enjoyed while I was there and the memories comes alive whenever I have
visitors from that place. We discuss food and relish the virtual taste,
sometimes exchanging notes. I used to love the street food the most, there is a different kind of pleasure while eating in the open air on the wooden benches.
Just next to my house (in Surinam) lived
a Javanese family who ran a restaurant. On the days when I was too lazy to
cook, I would order duck Bami with mixed vegetables from my balcony. She would
pack a large portion which would last me for two full days, full value for
The food in Surinam had a very peculiar
taste that I have never been able to find anywhere else. My favorite used to be
chicken roti. I have often asked my cousins (who live there) to pack me
the cooked Surinamese food whenever they make their trip to India but they just
laugh it off.
They do come and cook for me whenever they visit me, replicating the
taste as closely as they can but alas! It is just not the same.
The main taste of this
chicken gravy is in Surinam masala. I must ask my cousin to send me this
I asked my cousin to send me
the picture of Roti Chicken so that I could drool on it and she sends me this.
Well, this is not the way we
used to get back then. It used to be dhal roti brushed with the layer of chili
chutney and stuffed with chicken gravy, potatoes and beans, folded like a roll.
I came across this blog of Kayotic Kitchen and she explains step by step, the method of preparing this dish, which
is quite time consuming but very tasty. She has used potato stuffing for roti
pancakes but the authentic roti is the one made of dhal.
To make the stuffing of
Dhal, you need to soak split peas overnight then boil until soft. Place the
boiled split peas in a food processor, add cumin, onion, garlic and salt,
process until well-blended but not pureed.
A similar Roti chicken is
also sold at Trinidad roadside stalls, but the taste is a bit different. I
think the taste lies in the curry powder and how it is used. For example, in Tom’s recipe of Chicken curry, he has mixed curry powder and turmeric powder,
added water and stir fried till it becomes a thick paste and then added the
other ingredients. His chicken also has mustard paste in the marinate mixture.
But the results are equally good.
Some things are best enjoyed
when cooked by native chefs. Also the person who has tasted, can cook it too if
she has the right ingredients, maybe I can too, if I have the right ingredients….
Hello…you hear me?? My family in Surinam?? …So now you know what to
get for me when you visit me in India.
I have family scattered all over the world. During those years
when I lived in Tenerife and in Surinam, I was totally cut off from my family.
The only communication I had with my cousins was through snail mail. Whenever
we met, we met like strangers tying up the lost years, by the time the
familiarity set in; it was time to go back.
Social network has made it possible
for us to stay connected. Now we live like one-large-closely-knit-family, all
the conversation tapped under our thumb. We have a group on 'Watsapp messenger' where it is possible to stay connected with each other at all hours of the day.
Everybody communicates at their own convenience, at their own timings, sharing
their joys and pains, offering advice and solutions, there are long
discussions, or harsh arguments, but the presence of their closeness is felt
even in their silence.
There are jokes and forwards, audio and video clips.
If I complain that I have kidney stones, cousin advises. “It’s
very easy” she types “take a bunch of parsley and coriander leaves, clean,
chop, boil, cool, filter and store in the fridge. Drink one glass daily and you
will be free from all the accumulated poison”
Well, if I listened to all the advices on health and wealth, that are forwarded to me,
I would live to be 100 years, but I am lazy.
I belong to food loving family, so most of our conversation
revolves around food. We can peep into cousin’s kitchen, thousands of miles
Me at Mumbai, comfortable under cool breeze of a ceiling fan. My cousins in Manila, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Indonesia have a
pleasant weather, it is raining in Lagos, weather is good in Spain, it is
freezing in New York, Texas, Albany.
Everybody in their own comfort zone.
My cousin will not venture out in the
freezing cold unless she has to. It’s snowing in Chicago. She spends her time
doing what she likes the most…yes cooking. She shares her kitchen tips with us
as she cooks.
She is cooking Tuna cutlets.
We all are curious to know her recipe for fish cutlets. Everybody knows to make
it but everybody has their own method and we are always willing to learn to
make a bit different from the normal ones that we are used to.
She starts to post pictures as she starts cooking.
Dry the tuna on medium flame
Add ginger and cumin powder, salt and pepper
Add onions, green chilies, coriander leaves and spring onions
Add egg and mashed potatoes
The cutlets look good
We all are drooling. We decide to make it at our respective
kitchen in our respective town sharing with our families.
Cousin in Indonesia prepares the same day and thanks my cousin
in Chicago for the lovely recipe.
I ask my cook to prepare. Its awsum! I share my picture while I
munch. "Where is the Chutney?" asks my cousin.
well, who care? It tastes good just the way it is...there are enough chilies in it.
My cook has learnt a new dish, imported all the way from