Making a Case for Humble Hummus
“YOU DON’T NEED FORK FOR GOOD FOOD”
Can it be truer for the humble hummus, one wonders!
Hummus is a creamy thick spread made with chickpeas and just a handful of other simple yet healthy ingredients.
Hummus is believed to have been first consumed by the Egyptians as early as 1300 B.C., using nuts instead of the tahini. But then, the issue of hummus’ origin has always been a subject of controversy within the Arab world, with Lebanon emerging as the prime contender to claiming the crown to the popular dish. Hummus is prepared and served in many variations across most of the Middle East and North Africa (including Morocco). It can be found in most grocery stores in North America and Europe.
Hummus plays a major role in the Middle East. So much so, there is intense competition between, chiefly, Israel and Lebanon as to which country can hold the world record in preparing the largest batch of hummus. In May 2010, the Guinness World Record for the largest dish of hummus returned to Lebanon, dethroning Israel. This hummus weighing in at a staggering 23000 lb, made by 300 cooks in the al-Fanar village of Lebanon included eight tons of cooked chickpeas, two tons of tahini, two tons of lemon juice, and as much as 154 lb of olive oil.
Basic hummus contains 5 healthy ingredients: chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini, besides a hint of salt for taste.
1. Chickpeas being the main ingredient provide quality protein and fibre.
2. Olive oil, a great source of healthy fats and fatty acids.
3. Garlic for its strong pungent flavour, besides its many health benefits. Garlic is known to fight bad cholesterol, is anti-inflammatory, and promotes overall wellbeing.
4. Lemon juice, helps to increase immunity, improves digestion, helps to keep blood sugar level stable, and is a great source of vitamin C.
5. Tahini, made with sesame seeds having beneficial properties that reduce risks associated with insulin resistance, heart disease and cancer.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food”
The saying applies only too well for hummus. Scientific studies have shown that the ingredients of hummus combined together produce a well-balanced and rich amalgam of healthy fats, carbohydrates and the daily proteins, having a low glycemic index which when consumed gives a feeling of satiety for a long duration, thus effectively eliminating the need to resort to gorging on junk food.
Hummus is so very versatile also in its uses. It can be relished as is for its rustic base flavours or had as a part of the mezza (a traditional Lebanese platter of mini meals consisting of a variety of lip smacking finger foods and a hearty artisanal salad along with some kind of pickled veggies thrown in for good measure). It is also a great dip to dunk in your choice of crackers, or morsel sized wedges of toasted pita bread (Heavenly!). The possibilities are endless.
How to make your own hummus, you ask! It’s ridiculously simple and straightforward. Just Google search for hummus recipe, use your intuitive sense and pick one of the results from the page, and just follow the instructions to make your own hummus from scratch. Any home cook worth their salt will soon find ways to tweak the recipe and experiment with different ingredients and spices to come up with their own masterwork to flaunt.
Before I bid goodbye, here’s a shot of the hummus I cooked a week back (it turned out so delicious that it was gobbled up the same evening between the four of us family, the entire batch that I had intended to savour over the full week!).
Parsley – Nature’s Powerhouse of Nutrients
Like a great poet, nature is capable of producing the most stunning effects with the smallest means. Parsley is a good example here. Though mainly used as a herb, other parts from its plant are used as spice and vegetable. The terms spices and herbs are commonly used in our daily life and both are used as vital ingredients in the many dishes that we make, but do we ever stop to think the essential difference between the two? They add flavour, aroma, colour, texture and even nutrients.
Although both are food flavour enhancers adding a distinct aroma and colour to the dish, the herbs come from the leafy and green part of the plant while the spices are parts of the plant other than the leafy bit, such as the root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds. The focus here is the herb bit of garden parsley or, simply, the parsley. It is the one ingredient that every cook should learn to use and every kitchen must have a ready stock of it at all times. Fresh parsley can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, that is, if it has had a thorough cold water soak/wash before putting it loosely in a clean zip bag.
Parsley comes from Greek words meaning rock and celery. It is mainly a biennial Mediterranean crop which has been cultivated for more than 2000 years. Though it was valued for its medicinal uses in the early days, the culinary importance of the plant was discovered only later. Parsley is now an important part of the world’s top healthy cuisines such as the Mediterranean, European and the Middle Eastern. For example, parsley is a key ingredient in several Middle Eastern salads such as Lebanese tabbouleh and artisanal fattoush salad.
Due to its wide recognition as a natural powerhouse of a variety of potent vitamins and age-defying antioxidants, it is now gaining acceptance in even traditional Indian kitchens and other parts of the world. A small quantity of parsley is packed with vitamins like vitamin K that aids in bone health and vitamin C that makes for a quality immune booster. Parsley is also packed with countless other curative properties.
While consuming parsley on daily basis, one may find lasting relief in joint pains due to the anti-inflammatory properties present in the herb. Parsley tea is very popular nowadays for its prowess in relaxing the tired muscles besides aiding the digestive system. Parsley, when consumed with lukewarm water early in the morning, helps in draining the toxins out of the body.
High in iron, parsley is recommended for patients suffering anaemic conditions. A daily regimen of just a couple tablespoons of parsley will help persons with iron deficiency. Lastly, before I sign off, please don’t wait for someone else to plant parsley for you. Grow your own parsley and enjoy the bliss of using it in your everyday salads and soups, and benefit from its many health properties.
All that a man needs for health, healing and the general wellbeing has been provided by God in mother nature itself. It is for man to discover them and unveil the incredible beauty about them to the world at large. Finally, time to offer our gratitude to the divine and bountiful nature for providing us with everything that we need!
Prasadams of India
Mahadeva Temple, Thrissur: This is a Shiva temple where, instead of an edible prasadam, books, CDs, tapes and content to increase spiritual knowledge is handed out. This, according to the temple, is the highest form of Prasadam.
The Laddoo of Badrinath: In Badrinath, one is given a huge laddu as big as a cricket ball to eat and enjoy. Sometimes, one can also get dry fruits in them. Jaggery, Boondi, Dates and Rice are some of the typical prasadams offered at most temples in India. Boondi from Hanuman mandir is a must.
Dhandhayuthpani Swami Temple: Here, a unique prasadam is made out of five fruits, jaggery and sugar candy. The preparation is a kind of a jam called panchamitram and is very sweet and famous for its taste.
Shri Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha: Near Thiruvananthapuram, a special prasadam called payasam is offered to the devotees. This is a prasadam made out of milk, rice and sugar, and is made in the most traditional way as passed down by generations.
Azhagar Kovil, Madurai: This is a Vishnu temple where devotees offer grain to the board which is collected and distributed back to the devotees as crispy dosa. Yes, dosa is the prasadam offered in this temple.
Kamakhya Devi Temple: The temple, situated in Assam, offers a unique prasadam to its devotees. During the festival of Ambubachi, the temple is closed for three days and on the fourth day, the devotees are given a moist cloth as prasadam. This is the menstrual fluid of the goddess.
Khabees Baba Temple, Sitapur: This temple, situated 80 km away from Lucknow, has no deity or priest but is there to hound a baba who lived 150 years ago. Here, alcohol is offered by the devotees to the dead baba.
Karni Mata Mandir, Bikaner: This temple is famous for its rats. Rats run riot inside the temple complex and they are offered milk. After the rats have had some of the milk, it is given to devotees as prasadam. The belief is that rat saliva brings good luck.
Jagannath Temple, Puri: Most popular for its ‘rath yatra’, this is the most frequented temple in India. It serves 56 types of cooked and uncooked food dishes stored in large earthen pots which the devotees can purchase from a stall.
Srivenkateshwara Mandir, Tirupathi: The laddus of this temple are very famous and enjoyed immensely by the devotees.
Vaishno Devi Mandir, Katra: Here, devotees are offered sugar balls, puffed rice and coconut as prasadam. A thriving market of rudraksha sellers is also prevalent near the mandir.
What is Food Blogging?
This is a focused kind of blog which has food as its central theme. Here, food recipes, pictures and videos related to food are shared on social media. Recipes from various corners of the world, street food especially restaurants, canteens, hawkers, tribal food and much more are talked about and discovered. Herbs and spices used, cooking time, the type of utensils and appliances used to make these mouth-watering delights are shown and various different techniques are highlighted. You can cook, boil, bake, broth, freeze, grind, mix, steam and even smash your food, like we do with potatoes. A whole new universe of colourful spicy flavours opens up to us through the eyes and palate of the food bloggers.
Cakes, bakes, cookies, biscuits, desserts, smoothies, savouries, soups, shakes, broth and what not, the list is just endless. One can use videos to enact the drama in the kitchen in order to woo a larger audience.
Food Blogging Tips
Be Authentic: You have to be true to yourself and your passion. What you write about and photograph should be authentic and real. It should have come out of your direct experience which is the most important. You should have made your recipes and perfected them in your own kitchen. Your photographs should also show the dishes the way the look when it’s all set and ready to eat.
Engage Your Audience: Chat about your recipes, discuss the history and heritage of the food you blog about. Answer queries from your followers and always have something new to deliver them.
Videos and Photos: Food blogging is 70% visual. If you take attractive and high-quality photos and videos of your stuff, people will love it. They would want to eat the dish you have just shared. So, visual appeal of your blog recipes is a must.
Food Heritage: It is important to give the background of the places where your dish has come from. Why are certain spices put in it? What effect they have on the body? What was the gharana of the cuisines you are talking about? Is it Chettinad or Awadhi cuisine or something that you get in the north east? It is important to talk about the history of the food.
Be Creative: You can name your recipes and give them a brand new identity like your own personal trademark. Change flavours and spices to give the recipes a new twist. Explore different garnishes and ways to present the food in a dish so that it looks appetising.
Seasons: People in different parts of the hemisphere, due to their climate, land and water conditions, take different kinds of food to keep them healthy. The food from a hilly region will be different from the food in the coastal region. Add these titbits of trivia and information when you talk about a new food recipe.
Inputs for Other Food Bloggers: One should be in touch with other food bloggers so that one can share recipes and insights from them and get better at the blogging activity.
Welcome to a new channel of Tikku’s Travelthon. This one is called Travel Bawarchi! It is, yes you guessed it, a channel related to food and recipes. Here, you will get all the amazing recipes of foods from places that I sample as I go along my travelthon. From Punjab to Delhi and to the south, you will be showcased with mouth-watering delicacies and their ingredients.
A 2-minute YouTube channel will play one recipe at a time with photographs and full display. These recipes have been perfected over time by Chef Sunil Kwatra whose passion for food and cooking is well known in circles around the city. He has previously successfully managed a Lebanese restaurant and also, a few other eateries around the area. His zeal for picking the best ingredients and a heightened sense of hygiene makes sure that the food served is not only tasty and healthy but also presentable.
He has been serving me his tasty delights over the years and now, it is my opportunity to highlight his talent on my blog. So watch out folks for some serious gastronomical delights.
We value your feedback and suggestions.
Contact Sunil Kwatra at +91-9953937117 or email at email@example.com
Murg Makhani Butter Chicken
Methi Malai Murgh
Kashmiri Dum Aloo
Methi Malai Paneer