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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Play Holi With Colors But Without Water

There is acute water shortage in Maharashtra. Water meant for industrial projects are diverted to private developers of real estate projects like water parks and golf courses. Providing clean water is going to be the biggest challenge for Indian states in the coming year

This morning, I was watching news channels and saw children of Maharashtra making a pledge of not wasting water during this festival of Holi. They will miss out the fun we had during our growing years. But then we didn't play in extremes. We never ordered water tankers to have rain dance and waste water. Anything that is used in excess becomes a curse. We have to set limits for use of water. The sooner the awareness begins, the better. Last week I had also seen kids of ‘Podar School’ walk down the street raising the awareness of water shortage. Imagine that! Five years young kids educating the public! They pledged to play Holi without wasting water. 

Holi is fun to play with colors, but we have to be careful in selecting colors too. Some of the colors are quite harmful and can bring permanent damage to the sensitive skin.



To play safe Holi, it is best to play with eco-friendly colors.

Colors are everywhere. You find them in fruits, vegetables and flowers. To play safe, it is best to make them at home.

Red colour can be obtained from tomatoes and carrots juice. This can be diluted with sufficient quantity of water to remove the stickiness. You could also use Pomegranate peels, boiled in water. Or, better still, you could soak red hibiscus flowers in water overnight get a red which also has medicinal value.

For dry red colour, you could take red sandal wood powder, known as Raktachandan/lalchandan or Pterocarpus santalinus. This is extremely beneficial to skin and is used in face packs.

For Yellow colour you could mix 4 teaspoon of turmeric powder in to two liters of water. This can be boiled to increase the concentration of color.

For dry yellow colour, you could mix two tablespoons of turmeric powder with four tablespoons of gram flour, these are extremely healthy for our skin. Flowers like Amaltas (Cassia fistula), Marigold / Gainda (Tagetus erecta), Yellow Chrysanthemums, Black Babul (Acacia arabica) yield different shades of yellow. Dry the petals of these flowers under shade and crush them to obtain a fine yellow powder. Mix appropriate quantity of the powder with gram flour or use it separately.

Green colour can be obtained by mixing a fine paste of leaves like spinach, coriander, mint, tomato leaves, etc. into water.

For dry green colour, you could use henna powder, separately or mix with equal quantity of any suitable flour to attain a lovely green shade. You could also crush the tender leaves of the Wheat plant or the leaves of Gulmohur (Delonix regia) tree to obtain a natural safe green Holi color.

Blue colour can be obtained by crushing the blue berries (fruits) of the Indigo plant and adding to water for desired colour strength. In some Indigo species, the leaves when boiled in water also yield a rich blue color.

For dry blue colour, you could dry and grind the Jacaranda flowers or blue Hibiscus to obtain beautiful blue powder.

Magenta colour can be obtained by soaking grated Beet-root in one litre of water, to get a deeper shade; you could boil it for ten minutes.

Saffron colour can be obtained by soaking a few stalks of saffron (kesar) in two tablespoons of water. Leave it for few hours and then grind it. Dilute with water for desired colour strength. Though expensive, it is excellent for our skin.

For dry saffron colour you could dry and powder the dried flowers of the ‘Flame of the forest’ (Butea monosperma), known as Tesu, Palash or Dhak in vernacular languages, which is the source of the wonderful, traditional colour for Holi

Brown colour can be obtained by boiling tea or coffee leaves in water. Also ‘Kattha’ (Acacia catechu), the one eaten in pan, when mixed with water will give a brownish color.

Black colour can be obtained from the juice of black grapes; you could dilute it with sufficient quantity of water to remove stickiness

source
Holi is all about playing with colour, singing and dancing to the rhythm of dholak and having bhang. The intoxication of bhang brings mischief to the party. This intoxicant that hits you slower than alcohol at first, could knock you off totally when it finally enters your system. It could keep you laughing or crying for hours together, as most people will testify from their experiences.


How to make Bhang

Ingredients

50 grams Poppy seeds
1 ounce marijuana (fresh leaves and flowers of a female plant preferred)
2 tablespoons whole black pepper
3 teaspoons Cumin seeds
3 – 4 pieces of cloves
70 grams Almonds
 20 strands Saffron
15-16 green cardamom
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
4 glasses of milk
2 cups of water
 12 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon rose water


Method:

  1. Soak poppy seeds overnight
  2. Bring water to rapid boil and pour it in a clean tea pot and brew the marijuana leaves after removing seeds and twigs from it.
  3. Strain out the leaves and flowers and save the water
  4. Crush the squeezed flowers and leaves with 2 tablespoons of milk in a mortar.
  5. Slowly but firmly grind the milk and leaves together.
  6. Gather up the marijuana and squeeze out as much milk as you can.
  7. Repeat this process until you have used about 1/2 cup of milk (about 4 to 5 times).
  8. Collect all the milk that has been extracted and place in a bowl.
  9. Soak almonds for 30 minutes
  10. Wash the poppy seeds, letting the dirt settle at the bottom
  11. Grind the poppy seeds, almonds, cardamom, cumin seeds, whole pepper and saffron and little water (that you had saved while straining the leaves) to a fine paste.
  12. Mix this fine paste with the milk that was extracted from marijuana
  13. Soak and strain with your fingers, squeezing the muslin cloth to extract the milk
  14. Tie the remaining paste in muslin cloth and pour cold milk over it
  15. Squeeze out the milk till the pulp is dry.
  16. Add sugar and serve cold.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Food Culture of Nigeria


The interesting part of the travel is to visit the cultural center of that city. This is where you get the insight of the place, their people, their art, their culture and their food.

During my travel to Lagos, I spend few hours at Terra Kulture center that focused on promoting Nigerian Art and Culture. There were beautiful paintings and artwork, mainly of bamboo works. I had even attended few classes of acrylic painting by a native, who taught me few brush strokes.



At Terra Kulture, we explored the art gallery, bookstore, theatre and finally came to rest at the restaurant. The winding staircase leading down to gallery had paintings on the walls. The wooden benches at the restaurant gave an artistic look and we decided to order the Pepe soup, the hottest that I had. I cried when I ate this soup, not because I was happy or sad but because it was incredibly spicy, intensely flavored and aromatic broth like soup made from the blend of native seeds and good amount of water with small cuts of chicken. The native seeds, like ulima, uda and calabash nutmeg, that are used in this soup, are really what bring this soup to life.



My cousin is the member of Ikoyi Club at Lagos, and that is where I tried Suya.



What makes Suya interesting is that meat is marinated with peanut paste, lime juice and spices, refrigerated overnight and then roasted on the charcoal.


I also tried charcoal grilled fish that was served with salad.

I had stayed in Lagos for more than two months, and in this long stay you begin to notice the local food habits of the people.


In Nigeria, Fufu is the national dish. It is not something that I could relish it but in Nigerian homes, if you haven’t eaten Fufu, you have not had dinner. It is served with a soup and eaten with the hands. It is dough of boiled cassava root (like a huge yam) and boiled plantain pounded in a large mortar.  This is done everyday. It’s like their daily bread.


And oh yes, rice, how could I forget that? In Lagos they have Jellof Rice. I did learn that ‘must-have-ingredients’ for any Jellof rice includes rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, salt and red pepper. Then you can be creative in your choice of meat or veggies. In Lagos, they serve with salad and banana chips.

Food is exceptionally tasty in Lagos, be it Chinese or Lebanese or even Indian…its something to do with water, i think? or maybe it’s the chefs?…..I need to understand that… 
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