Posted in Daily, Food

Flavoured Hot and Spicy

“Great cooking is about being inspired by the simple things around you – fresh markets, various spices. It doesn’t necessarily have to look fancy.” G. Garvin

The Latin root “spec” became Old French of espice or epice, what we now commonly call as “spice”. Add to it the original Nahuatl “chilli” of today and voila, we are ready for the International Hot and Spicy Food Day tomorrow. The origins of both happened quite exclusive of each other, although when we blend the hot and spicy, a whole new palatal feast is experienced.

“Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.” Erma Bombeck

Spice trade had developed in Middle East, South and East Asia as early as 2000 BCE with predominant use of cinnamon, black pepper and herbs. As the Egyptians practised mummification, the constant demand for imported spices and herbs kept the “spice trade” alive. The earliest written records from the Egyptian, Chinese and Indian cultures connect spices with magic, medicine, religion and tradition. On the other hand, capsicum and chilli peppers were originally in wide spread use in the Americas primarily, Central and South America as well as Mexico around 6000 to 7500 years ago. With the advent of Portuguese trade and spread of the chilli peppers to Asia around the 15th century, the cooking of hot and spicy food took onto newer shores.

“A good spicy challenge strikes a balance between flavour and fear.” Adam Richman

For every food enthusiast, celebrating ” International Hot and Spicy Food Day” ( January 16th) is different every year as each spicy cuisine ranging from the Indian masala to spicy Mexican tortas or Vietnamese Bun bo Hue to Cajun cooking and so on; no cuisine mimics the taste of the other. As for those who have been challenged to enter the hot and spicy waters on this day, keeping the spice to low numbers as per the Scoville scale ( the spiciness or heat scale) helps to ace the test. An additional tip would be to keep starch rich food like bread or “naan” with cold water to combat the heat and spice. Hot and spicy can be tuned to one’s own taste bud, for the beauty lies in experience, experimentation, fun and art of cooking and dining.

“From a young age, I understood the idea of balanced flavor – the reason you put ketchup on a hamburger. I was that kid who wouldn’t eat something if there was something missing. I never really understood it until I began cooking professionally, balancing acids, sweets, spicy flavors and fat.” Michael Mina

Advertisements
Posted in Christian, Daily, Life, Photography Art

Flexible through the Winds

In the areas where the winds are mighty, the tall palm trees often grace the landscape. Though there are hardly any oaks or similar tall stately trees to be found around. The strength and beauty of the tall palm trees to survive through the huge storms or strong gusts of wind lies in their ability to be strong and flexible. They sway with the wind, bending almost down to the ground at times and that ability allows them to survive the forces of nature.

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. Tony Robbins

The Word of God teaches us to be resilient and pliant when we face the powerful winds that are part of life. When we put our complete faith and trust in His Word, we would be able to adapt to anything that comes our way. As the destructive forces and thoughts push us; lean to adapt keeping our principles and Faith strong so that we can be flexible to plan our sway according to the Lord’s Will. In fact, in doing so we learn to use the force of the winds to make us even stronger and sheltered under the Lord’s wings.

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Confucius

Have you ever observed children as they learn new things ? They don’t have any fixed notion or ideologies. They listen to what is told, the first words and sounds they say are what they hear when we as adults say them. When a child begins to learn to write and does not know what is expected of him, their hands are completely flexible and obediently controlled by the hand of their parents and teachers mother; as soon as they imagine what they understood and comprehend, tries to “help”, everything goes at random: that’s what I mean when saying that the power of God is accomplished in weakness.

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family. Virginia Satir

Like the sails of the ship, the wind can fill it so that it will carry the whole ship – just because the sail is flexible; if instead of a sail you put a solid board, then nothing will come out. One of the many things that God constantly tries to teach us instead of the imaginary, insignificant and anarchic “strength” that we hold to is fragility, flexibility, complete surrender to God.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.’ James 4:13-17

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Drowned by Expectations

When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on. LL Cool J

Life is known for its’ curve balls, treacherous routes and sudden rides. When we start our journey, we were given a blank slate. Over the years, with the lessons that we have learnt, instances that we have witnessed and experiences that we have gone through, we start filling in the spaces. Somewhere along the way, when we use the colour of expectations too much, we discover the fallacy too late. For every adversity has its’ own way in and way out, but the path clears when we remove our blinders, lower our expectations and use our common sense to put our faith, trust and intelligence to good use. Although the “drowning man” had blind faith, if we are unable to discern that “His Grace and His Faith” can also show us the path at the right time when we look for it, then we need to cement our Faith with insight and common sense. Else this will cost us our blessings from His Grace, His Love and His Mercy.

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?” (Various versions of this parable can be read online and has been quoted in different works like Beck, Joko; Smith, Steve (1989). Everyday Zen: Love and Work.)

“However desperate the situation and circumstances, don’t despair. When there is everything to fear, be unafraid. When surrounded by dangers, fear none of them. When without resources, depend on resourcefulness.” Sun Tzu

Posted in Daily, Food

Origin of “Curry”

On experimenting with various recipes, one interesting fact I had realized that there are so many things about “curry” that we take for being true or ascertained facts, when they may not be so.

Curry applies to dishes with gravy, spicy origins and can range to a variety of South Asian as well as South East Asian dishes, based on the type of spices. Curry technically is not a word actually used in most vernacular Indian languages. Each of the Indian states have their own terminology for “curry” ranging from “shaak” of Gujarat to “saaru” in Karnataka and “jhol” of Bangal. Historians noted that the word had been into common use when the British had tasted and brought the South Asian dishes to the west.

Curry is not a spice but a mixture of spices (often sold grounded as curry powder, mostly of turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilli and ginger) which can used with a variety of vegetables or meat, even seafood to make a variety of dishes, each having their own name in the region. Depending on the addition of water, milk or even curd, the base can be liquid or kept dry.

Curry powder has been one of the world’s oldest medicinal and cooking mixtures ranging back to Mesopotamian era (1700 BC). Although the roots of curry powder may be traced to Asia, documents and books on English cooking as early as 1300s mention the use of this concoction.

“Curreier” vs. “kari” The word “curry” has different meanings when used as a verb and noun. The Vulgar Latin “conredare”, Middle English “currayen” or Old French word “correier” had given roots to the Anglo-French “curreier” which later gave rise to the verb of “currying” meaning to seek favour by flattery or attention. Whereas, the noun “curry” was derived from Tamil “kari” (or a cognate word in a Dravidian language) as states in the Marrian-Webster dictionary. Another derivation I had read online was that the word curry was derived from a South-Asian word “Kori”; a sauce with cooked meat or fish.

Another reasoning behind everything “stew based being called curry” was based on the first English cookbook. In the 1300?s, King Richard II had summoned several cooks and philosophers to produce the first English cookery book known as ‘The Forme of Cury’ (1390). The old English word “Cury” was used to describe cuisine based on French ‘cuire’ meaning: to cook, boil or grill. The word “Cury” became associated with stew.

Either way, “curry” has come a long way especially with the advent of trade and later on travel, led to the exchange of cuisines, culinary ideas as well mixing of flavours with local available ingredients. Soon the indigenous recipes became globalized. Whichever dish it may be especially today as National Curried Chicken Day (January 12th); for an exotic, spicy and different blend of curried chicken; try making the sauce with ghee (clarified butter), onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric powder with a dash of ginger or just add the right amount of “curry powder” and get the taste buds going.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Random Thoughts

Words To Remember By

The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them… Whether you find satisfaction in life depends not on your tale of years, but on your will. Michel de Montaigne

As Ralph Marston had said, “If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.”

Are we important ? 

We often stumble across this thought at our various stop points or crossroads in our life. Sometimes the feeling that we are of no importance in this world engulfs us. Yet despite the pep talk we give ourselves, there will be days where the feeling that “we are not worth a story” haunts the inner recesses of our emotions. That is when we have to remember a few things.

When we may think that we are not at all important in this world. Remember that someone drinks coffee every morning from their favorite cup which you gave them.
Someone heard a song on the radio that reminded them of you.
Someone saw a picture or message from you and smiled.
Someone read the book you recommended to him and plunged into it.
Someone had chuckled to themselves while waiting at a traffic light thinking of their good times with you.
Someone remembered your joke and smiled, returning in the evening from work.
Someone keeps the notes you have written, the messages you had sent, the emails that you had forwarded or archived the conversations and emails for rainy days, to live the hope they recieved on reading them.
Someone now loves themselves a little more, because you had given them a compliment.
Someone thought of you while shopping in the grocer’s knowing how much you loved their cookies.
Someone misses the good old days where you were a part of their circle.
Someone suddenly remembers the parking space, the directions or guidance that you had given without a second thought.

There may be many more instances that we may not even be able to think of, where others have often thought of us even we may have merely met them just once in our lifetime. Never think that we don’t have an influence on anything.Our traces, which we leave behind, even with small acts of kindness can never be erased.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. Saint Basil

Posted in Daily, Food, Personal Musings

All in Moderation

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates

One of the most conflicting emotions that often run in the mind, especially the woman’s mind is whether one is fat or thin ? To be honest, fat is essential to diet and all products or diets that state to eliminate fat is dangerous. Besides being good energy sources and cushioning the internal body organs, certain fats are essential to the brain cells, nerves as well as to fight infection and inflammation. The key lies in moderation and to recognize the bad fats namely “trans-fat” and “saturated fats”. Besides these highlights to look for in the food labels, remember that the more processed, the more sparingly we should eat it. Yet that doesn’t mean we have to avoid the occasional splurge once in a while, not daily.

“These small things – nutrition, place, climate, recreation, the whole casuistry of selfishness – are inconceivably more important than everything one has taken to be important so far.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

When the USDA declared January as the “fat free living month”, it was a little weird decision to make as we can’t live without fats. Yet we can regulate the fat intake especially the bad types. Unfortunately weight loss, fad diets and abstinence from fat doesn’t solve our problems unless we find out what makes us unhappy or dissatisfied or triggers the emotional eating binge.

“Weight loss is not the key to your dreams. The truth is there is no lock and the door is flimsy.” Golda Poretsky

We are all beautiful the way we are. Healthy doesn’t mean thin sized nor does it mean running between the goalposts of diet and binge eating. The easiest way to healthy eating is to be mentally happy and enjoy the food. Food serves to sustain and to revel in the tastes offered, but too much of anything honey or salt spoils the beauty.

Posted in Christian, Daily, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Jump With Faith

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ( Luke 12:25-26 (NIV))

When we always enter unknown territory, from being simply new at the workplace gatherings to high school reunions or settling into a new town to relocating to a new profession or hearing bad news in the hospital; the feeling of wariness transcends in all of us. In those times, there is nothing more comforting than having someone familiar or something familiar to lean on to. The pillar of support can range from family, friends, our church or community to our memories of good times, our old comfort blanket or even our treasured memorabilia. Yet what we often fail to realize is that the strongest comfort comes from none other than Our Father in Heaven. The gentle calmness in the restless mind, the sudden peace that flows through us, the strength to brave the new day and the hope of the new dawn are what we get when we read and understand His Word. Through centuries, the Word of God has withstood the test of time. Yet of all the things fickle in this world, His Word will never change like the weather nor will His Hope ever leave us when we put our entire trust and faith in Him.

“..But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

One day late in the evening a fire broke out in one of the houses. The whole family – the father, mother and children, shocked by what was happening, ran out into the street and watched the fire flare up. And suddenly everyone understood that among them there is no youngest member of the family – a five-year-old son. Most likely, he, frightened by the flame and smoke, instead of going down, climbed the stairs to the very top. One could not even dream of finding him. Suddenly, a window opened and a child’s distorted face appeared in it. In desperation, the father shouted: “Jump!” The kid, seeing only smoke and flames in front of him, shouted, “Dad, I can’t see you!” His father replied, “But I see you, do not be afraid, jump now!”
The boy, having gathered his courage, jumped and found himself right in the arms of his father. It is this faith that God expects from us!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Like the times when we cast our hope on our firefighters, emergency personnel and technicians, when the going gets tough and shoulders are overburdened; the sooner we cast our cares on to His Shoulders, the lesser will we be troubled and the lesser the hardships will seem For just as the song goes, “our God is an Awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, With wisdom, power, and love, Our God is an awesome God”, so will we be able to face what life throws at us.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” ( 1 Peter 5:7-10)