Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Myths about Indian Food

Food myths are part of every culture. Some are plain superstition: the idea that seafood, almonds and red meat have aphrodisiac properties is pure baloney.

It would be very funny too — were it not for the whales, tigers, sharks, rhinos and turtles nearly hunted to extinction for their "aphrodisiac" flesh.

Some food myths are dangerous because they have a smattering of truth in them. Here is an example: bitter gourd has a mild and transient blood sugar-lowering effect.

Here is another fact: most diabetics hate controlling their diet and taking insulin and drugs. This induces some diabetics to opt out of rational treatment altogether and substitute bitter gourd for treatment. Many diabetics have landed into diabetic ketoacidosis and mortuaries thanks to the bitter gourd cure.

Hot and cooling food

Another myth is regarding hot foods and cooling foods. There are no such things; despite all age-old notions it is to the contrary. Buttermilk is not "cooling". Neither is beer. Chillies do not produce "heat", at least not in any scientific sense of the term.

Chillies make you sweat because they induce pain and cause reflex dilatation of peripheral blood vessels and pumping of sweat. This is not equivalent to producing heat. If anything, the sweat cools the body.

For the same reason, alcohol does not warm you up. A brandy on a winter night might seem like the warmest thing in the world, but the effect is no different from the chilli effect: peripheral blood vessels dilate and cause the body to lose heat.

This is actually counterproductive to conserving body heat. Arctic explorers have died of hypothermia brought on by the drink.

Misconceptions about spice

Spicy foods cause ulcers. Not true. The intact lining of the stomach and intestines are impervious to pain and the acid produced by the stomach, and a bacterium called H.pylori is the most common cause of peptic ulcers. One landmark study involved injecting capsicum extract into the stomachs of volunteers - and even that did not cause ulcers.

If an ulcer has already disrupted the gut lining, then spicy food is not your friend. But that is a different issue altogether. After all, salt rubbed on wounds makes them smart, but that doesn't mean salt causes wounds.

Okra is not "brain food", limejuice will not burn fat and jowar is not more nutritious than wheat. Potatoes are not fattening, red meat will not make you more aggressive and there are no "spiritual" foods that help create a spiritual mindset.

Food myths are no different from astrology, myths about the universe, and dare I say it, religion. Believing is everything. But dying as a result of them isn't worth it.

Source: The Hindu

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tomato - ThakKaali - Tamatar

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The tomato, is one of the most important vegetables in most regions of the world. It is a short-lived perennial annual plant. It has vigorous tap root, extensive fibrous roots, solid, hairy stems and spirally arranged, mainly oval leaves. The fruit is a fleshy, round or lobed, smooth or furrowed, red, pink or yellow berry with numerous flat, slightly curved seeds.

The tomato originally as a small, wrinkled thick-skinned and seedy vegetable, much smaller in size and irregular in form. Many scientific methods were employed to bring it to its present shape and quality. It has now hundreds of varieties, many of which are smoothy and globular, with almost solid pulp.

Origin and Distribution

Tomato is considered to be a native of South America, probably the Peru-Equator. From there it was brought to Europe by the Spaniards in the early 16th century. But for several hundred years, it was grown only as a garden ornament and was called 'love apple'. Only in 1860, it was discovered that tomato was as good a food as any other fruits or vegetable. Soon after this discovery, it gradually became very popular all over the world. It is now grown in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines. Central, East and West Africa, tropical America, the Caribbean and throughout the tropics. It holds second place among the vegetables produced in the world, only exceeded by the potato.


Because of its low carbohydrate contents, it is very good food for diabetic patients and for those who want to reduce their body weight. It is said to be very effective in controlling the percentage of sugar in the urine of diabetic patients.

Eye Disorders

Being a rich source of vitamin A, tomatoes are a dependable preventive against night blindness short sightedness and other diseases of the eye caused by the deficiency of the vitamins. Tomato leaves are useful in optic nerve and eye weakness. A small handful of the freshly plucked leaves should be covered with soft hot water for 15 minutes. The water should then strained. It forms a good tonic for the eyes and optic nerve when a teaspoonful of this water is taken before meals three times daily.

Urinary Disorder

Eating a tomato early in the morning is found to be very effective medicine to prevent the formation of urinary calculi or stone by supplying sufficient quantity of acids and vitamins A and C. It is proved that deficiency of vitamins A and C and the recurrent urinary tract infections are among the most important factors in the formation of calculi i.e. stone. Tomato restricts the acid value of urine to 5.5 or less, thereby reducing the chances of infections by increasing the acidity of the urine.

Tomato Receipes from India

Tomato Rice
Tomato Pickle
Tomato Curry - Kerala Style
Tomato chutney Thakkali Varuval
Tomato Rasam

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lemon - Yelumichai - Nimboo

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Lemons are oval in shape and feature a yellow, texturized outer peel. Like other citrus fruits, their inner flesh is encased in eight to ten segments. While most lemons are tart, acidic and astringent, they are also surprisingly refreshing.

Why Eat Lemons?
While rarely consumed on their own, lemons make a major contribution to the flavors of many foods we eat. Although you wouldn't choose this tart citrus fruit for a snack, you might well squeeze some lemon juice over a fish fillet, add a wedge of lemon to your tea, or grate some flavorful lemon zest into your favorite cookie dough.

Nutrition Info
These flavour-packed fruits are loaded with vitamin C, a vitamin whose deficiency can cause scurvy. Aside from supplying substantial amounts of vitamin C, the main benefits of lemons relate to their seasoning potential. By adding tart fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to recipes can reduce the amount of salt needed to enhance the flavors in rice, potatoes, salads, and cooked vegetables--while adding no fat and negligible calories.

Storing Lemons
If you are planning to use lemons quickly, you can leave them in a basket at room temperature; they will keep for about two weeks without refrigeration. Lemons stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper will keep for up to six weeks. If you have extra lemons on hand and want to save them before they spoil, squeeze the juice into an ice-cube tray, then transfer the frozen juice cubes to a plastic bag.

Indian Recipes made from Lemon
Lemon Rice
Lime Pickle
Lemon Rice Noodles
Lemon Pickle without Oil