TENDER COCONUT WATER – NATURAL NECTAR

Anything that is natural is far superior to something that is man made. Tender Coconut water is nature’s gift to us. It is pure, infection free, nutritious and a wonderful coolant in reducing body temperature and fighting heat related ailments.The health benefits it offers are amazing since it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

On the health front tender coconut water is good for :
Keeping the body cool
Getting rid of intestinal worms
Keeping urinary infections at bay
Refreshing tonic for the aged [ under doctor’s advice]
Electrolyte content aids in quick absorption of drugs by the body
Treatment of Cholera & Diarrhea
Helps pregnant women in finding relief from constipation and heart burn
Excellent for the skin – for intake as well as external application.
Helps malnourished children regain health.
Recommended by doctors for feeding infants to cure them of intestinal disturbances.

On the culinary front tender coconut water can be :

Best had in its original form.
Can be mixed with other fruit drinks like pineapple & orange
Can be had topped with scoops of ice cream.
The pulp of the tender coconut can be used in various recipes like puddings, salads, rice preparations, sauces & sweet dishes.

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AKSHAYA TRITIYA – An auspicious day lost to commercial activity

Today Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated all over India. Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day in the Hindu and Jain calendar, has assumed importance of unimaginable proportions in recent times for all the wrong reasons. Akshaya in Sanskrit means that which is ‘ endless’ or ‘ does not recede’ It falls on the ” third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the pan-Indian month of Vaishakha”. Jains consider it very important as the day of offering of food to Jain Monks who live a selfless life as ascetics, keeping nothing for themselves, not even cooking their food and consume it only when offered by others.

For the Hindus this day has a lot of religious connotations attached to it:

Said to be the birthday of Sage Parashurama, the 6th avatar of Lord Vishnu.
It is said that Lord Ganesha began writing the Mahabharata dictated by Sage Veda Vyas on this day.
It is said that the Treta Yuga began on this day.
River Ganges, considered to be the holiest of all the rivers, is said to have descended down to the earth on this day.
Goddess Annapoorna is said to have been born on this day.
Dharma Raja’s son Yudhistra is said to have received the Akshaya Patra on this auspicious day.
Kuchela is said to have visited Lord Krishna with just a handful of ‘ Aval’ on Akshaya Tritiya day.
It was on Akshaya Tritiya day that Lord Krishna saved Draupadi’s honor by granting unending yards of fabric.
Adi Sankara is believed to have recited the Kanaka Dhara Stotra on this auspicious day to bless a poor couple who had offered him the lone gooseberry that they had when he went to seek Bikshai. At the end of the recital it is said that the poor couple were showered with golden gooseberries.

In earlier times this day was generally observed by fasting , offering poojas and giving away food and other offerings to the needy. Since it falls during the hot summer months it is considered very auspicious to offer curd rice or buttermilk to give relief to people from the harsh heat.Anything started on this day was said to prosper and grow. Many farmers still have the habit of beginning to plough the fields on this day, praying for a good harvest.

However in recent times this concept of growth and infinite theory has been used as a marketing gimmick by merchants to sell their wares and gullible people have been made to believe that any purchase done on this day is likely to multiply. Gold and silver jewelers ably supported by half baked astrologers have brain washed people into believing that buying gold on this day will ensure prosperity. Thus what was celebrated as an auspicious day of ‘doing good ‘ has now turned into one of commercial value and activity.

Aam Panna

Aam Panna or Panha is a very popular and sought after drink in Northern India especially during the summer months. Made from raw mangoes and spruced up with spices and fresh mint this drink is refreshingly tasty and healthy too. It can be made both by roasting raw mango over an open flame to give that distinct smoky flavor or by boiling chunks of raw mango in water, although the former method is preferred by most people. For most people living in North of India a glass of this tasty beverage is a must everyday.


Ingredients:

Green / Raw Mangoes – 2
Water – 4 cups
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Sugar – As per taste
Black salt/ rock salt / kala namak – 1/2 tsp or as required
Crushed Ice – Optional
Mint leaves – To garnish

Method:
Wash and towel dry the mangoes.
Heat over direct flame till the skin is charred. After it cools peel the skin and squeeze out the pulp.
Or alternatively cut the mangoes into large chunks and pressure cook them for 5 to 8 mins. Or boil them till they are soft.
Remove and cool. Blend the mango pulp in a blender along with roasted cumin powder, sugar, rock salt and a little water.
Sugar and salt need to be added in stages according to taste.
Strain the blended pulp if needed and add rest of the water and crushed ice. Mix well.
Serve chilled garnished with a sprig of mint.

Tips:

You can also get creative and add other spices and herbs to try new variations.
Ajwain [ roasted & crushed] and green pepper are a few other suggested options

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART – III

1.To get nicely roasted Colocasia or Seppankizhangu mix a little bit of Besan
[Kadalai Maavu] with sour curd and coat the curry to get the crispiness.

2.If you want the ladies finger pieces to be separate in a subji add a table spoon of curd or tamarind water while sautéing.

3.When you realize there is excessive salt in a dish that has to be reduced you can try any of the three following options: Add a tsp of sugar or a few pieces of potatoes or add a few pieces of raw papaya.

4.When you are left with excessive coffee decoction store the same after adding some sugar to it. It will be as good as new the next day.

5.If the holes in the coffee filter are clogged, clean and wipe the filter dry and show the pores over the gas flame for a few seconds. Tap the filter upside down and all the powder stuck in the holes will fall off, clearing the clogs.

6.While melting butter to get ghee add a little bit fenugreek towards the end will add an extra aroma & flavor to the ghee.

7.A piece of jaggery added to ghee will help preserve it longer.

8.While frying chips or other snacks if there is a danger of the oil spilling over it can be prevented by dropping a few curry leaves or a bit of tamarind into the oil.

9.During winter for quick setting of curds, you can add a small ball of tamarind along with a spoon of curd to the milk for speeding up the process.

10.If your idly or dosa batter has turned too sour just pour two or three tumblers of water to it and wait. After a while drain the water that accumulates on top and then use the batter.

Tips By: Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com