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Eid e Nowruz : The Persian New Year


The word Nowruz meaning New Day, is the most anticipated and favorite celebration for Persians. It occurs exactly on the Spring Equinox. This occasion has been renowned in one form or another by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia. Sumerians, 3000 BC, Babylonians, the ancient kingdom of Elam in Southern Persia and Akaddians in the second millennium BC, all celebrated this festival. What we celebrate today as Norooz (Also spelled Now Ruz, Norooz or Norouz) has been around for at least 3000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrians of the Sassanian period.

It’s no secret that Persians love any excuse to celebrate. But of all the many reasons to celebrate, Norouz, The Persian New Year, is by far the most important and dear in the hearts of Iranians around the globe. Literally translating to “A New Day,” Norouz marks the first day of Spring (March 21st) and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar.

Originally a Zoroastrian holiday, Norouz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years. The most significant aspect of Norouz is the fact that it is a non-religious and non-ethnic celebration. Norouz brings together several hundred million diverse peoples spanning from Iran to northwest China, India and Central Asian republics,Turkey and Eastern Europe, Iraq and westward to Egypt; all celebrating this joyous holiday which represents new Beginnings, and the start of Spring.

Sofreh Haft Seen

In harmony with the rebirth of nature, the Persian new year celebration starts on the first day of Spring, illustrated by a beautiful spread Haft Seen:

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A symbolic illustration of Norouz is the “Haft Seen” (Persian translation of “Seven S”), a ceremonial table spread, including at least seven items whose names start with the letter “S” in the Persian alphabet; hence the name “Haft Seen” or “Seven S”. The spread itself is usually a beautifully crafted and decorated fabric such as “Termeh.”

At the specific time of Vernal Equinox (when the sun is observed to be directly over the equator) which varies every year, the family gathers around Haft Seen holding hands. At the moment of transition into the New Year or “Sal Tahvil,” family members embrace each other and eat a sweet…for a sweet year! This is followed by exchanges of “Aydi” (cash gifts exchanged) and having the traditional new year dish “Sabzi-polo and Mahi” (herbed rice and white fish).

The Most Common Haft Seen Items: 

Sib (Apple): Red apples representing health and natural beauty.

Sabzeh (Sprouts): Wheat, barley or lentils sprouts growing in a dish,
symbolizing the fertility of the land in the Spring and the rebirth of nature.

Samanu: Common wheat sprouts are transformed and given new life as
this sweet and creamy pudding, representing the reward of patience.

Sir (Garlic): Displayed in beautifully decorated dishes, garlic represents
good health, and is believed to chase away evil spirits.

Sumac: A popular Persian spice used as a symbol to wish for some zest
in life in the new year.

Senjed (Oleaster): The Senjed or wild olives represent love and compassion.

Sombol (Hyacinth): Hyacinth is placed in the Haft Seen to signify the beauty
and fragrance of Spring, and the rebirth of nature.

Sekkeh (coin): Coins representing wealth and hopes for prosperity.

Serkeh (vinegar): The vinegar also placed in a beautiful bowl or decorative
container is a symbol for maturity, and the wisdom and patience that comes
with age.SONY DSC

Other items not starting with letter “S”, but included because of their symbolic
meaning and cultural significance include:

Mirror: The mirror is usually set at the top center of the Haft Seen,
representing self-reflection.

Candles: Lit candles are more commonly set on each side of the mirror
and represent enlightenment and happiness.

Gold Fish: One of the most fun traditions of Norouz is buying the gold
fish for Haft Seen. The gold fish are used to represent joy and movement.

Holy or Poetry Book: Religious families will often place their holy book
in the center of the Haft Seen. Others opt for famous poetry books such
as Divan of Hafiz or Shahnameh.

Eggs: Usually, one for each member of the family, artfully decorated eggs
are used to represent the human race, as well as, fertility.

Sweets: Traditional Persian sweets are another popular item for the Haft Seen.
The pastries are a symbol for a sweet life and are meant to be eaten
during the celebration.

Seville orange: Floating in a bowl of water, it represents the earth
floating in space.

(Credits: The above text and pictures are crossposted  from here: http://www.partybravo.com/Norooz-Persian-New-Year-Haft-Seen).

Other traditions of Nowruz:

Hajji Firouz:

Haji Firouz (Persian: حاجی فیروز / هاجی فیروز – Hāji Firuz‎‎) or Khwaja Piruz (Persian: خواجه پیروز – Xwāje Piruz‎‎),[1] also spelled Hajji Firouz, is a fictional character in Iranian folklore who appears in the streets by the beginning of Nowruz. His face is covered in soot, and he is clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat. He dances through the streets while singing and playing a tambourine, and is the companion of Amu Nowruz(“Uncle Nowruz”).
(Source & further details: here >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajji_Firuz).

Lyrics:
Beškan Beškan
Beškan beškan e, beškan! (It’s a snap-snap, snap!)
Man nemi-škanam, beškan! (I won’t snap, snap!)
Injā beškanam, yār gele dāre (If I snap here, this one will complain)
Unjā beškanam, yār gele dāre (If I snap there, that one will complain)
In siāh e bičāre če qad howsele dāre! (How patient this poor man is!)

Bonfire:

People traditionally jump over bonfires, shouting “Zardie man az to, sorkhie to as man,” which means “May my pallor be yours and your red glow be mine.”
The flames symbolically take away the unpleasant things from the last year.

Nowruz fire.jpg

Following is my favorite song  Nasim-e-Farvardin( The breeze of Spring) by Marzieh , an ode to arrival of  Spring:

Silky Creme Caramelle


Traditional Creme Caramel was the first  dessert I learnt to cook.

A favorite of my Papa’s, I saw my mother make it religiously on his birthdays. After he passed away in 1997, it became a ritual dish to celebrate his birth anniversary with his loved dessert.

I found this the easiest of desserts to make and with basic ingredients which were always there sitting in the kitchen-milk, eggs and sugar. Over the years I  tried several personalized modifications like baking with pineapples, with raisins and nuts, or  adding  flavors like coffee and chocolate. However nothing worked well except it’s old fashioned caramel flavor.

We all  loved the caramel top the most, and always reserved it  for the last bite. So in my greed for more caramel I thought why not caramelize the whole thickness for once. And the result was the following creme caramel.

My folks loved it, and now prefer it over the traditional creme caramel.

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar( or more if you like it more sweet),
1.5 liters full cream milk,
6 large whole eggs,
1 tsp vanilla essence.

For topping:
Soft fresh whipping cream ( lightly sweetened)
I tbsp Caramel sugar

Method:

Put granulated sugar in a thick base pan and keep on medium heat. Let the sugar melt slowly and then caramelize to golden brown. Remove the pan from heat and add on it 1.5 liters of full cream (4%) milk. Continue on slow heat till the caramelized sugar dissolves in warm to hot milk. Take it off the stove and let it get luke warm.
Break 6 large eggs in a plastic bow and whip them. Add them to the lukewarm caramelized milk. Add vanilla essence and whip thoroughly.

The key to a silky cream caramel is its next procedure of baking it in a bain-marie ( water bath).
{I take a pyrex rectangular dish way larger than the one in which the caramel is to be cooked. Add boiling water in it to half its height. Place over it the dish with the cream caramel liquid}.

Place the bain marie( water bath)  in the oven and cook at 180 degrees Celsius  for 60 minutes. Let it bake slowly in the bain-marie without bubbling. At the end check if the middle of the dessert is set by pricking it with a tooth pick. If it comes out clean, it has set well. If not, give it some more time in the oven.

Let it cool for a while, and then take out the set cream caramel. Refirgerate it overnight. Next day spread sweetened whipped cream over it, and then make a little caramel sugar again and drizzle it over the cream as shown in the picture.

Serve it cold ( unlike the traditional cream caramel which is served warm).

Its the silkiest of desserts your taste buds would have ever felt.

Happy feasting !!!

 

P.S. Would love to hear back how did it turn out? 🙂

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Ashure’ : Noah’s Pudding


Ammi called me early in the morning on Friday, the day of Ashura( 10th Moharram). Ashura commemorates the day of the battle of Karbala for Muslims.
I knew why did she call that early, as it has been a regular practice since years, I have lost count of
“One request beta.”
“Yes Ammi.”

I knew it but still wanted her to say it.
“Please don’t play music today on Ashura.”

This is all she expects from me. But she does a bit more than just not listen to music. One of her routines is to cook a pot of Khichra( Haleem) and not let anyone touch it, or munch any of the ingredients till the Niyaz is done.

South Asians make Haleem on Ashura, a complete food with multiple ingredients in one: whole wheat, lentils, rice, barley, and meat with a host of rich spices in a lengthy procedure.

Along the same lines, the Turks make a sweet Haleem, called Ashure or Noah’s Pudding. The ingredients vary from 7 to 10 to 12 varying from whole wheat, beans ( red and white), chick pea, to dry fruits including figs, peaches and nuts like almonds and raisins.

There are multiple legends associated with it.

It is cooked on the day of Ashura ( 10th Moharram) by all communities in Turkey across different sects: Sunnnis (Balkan Sufis), Shias, Alevis and Kurds.

Ashure is then distributed to all in the neighborhood in small bowls, after performing prayers for health and harmony.

Alevites fast for 12 days, and break it on Ashura with this special dish Ashure. Alevis prepare it with 12 ingredients in their version of the dish. They refrain from killing animals or eating meat in these days of fasting.

There is also a different but popular legend of why it came to be known as Noah’s pudding. According to the legend, it was the day when Noah’s Ark came to the banks of Ararat and Noah’s family cooked a dish from all ingredient leftovers in the Ark.

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As I asked a Turk friend to confirm my list of ingredients, she added:
“The most important ingredient is the ‘Intention’ and the ‘Will’ to make this dish. In Turkish we say ‘Niyet Etmek.’

Asure – Noah’s Pudding
Ingredients
(can be found at any Whole Food Markets or Middle Eastern Store) –
• 1 cup of barley whole wheat
• 1 can of chick peas,soaked & boiled
• 1 can of white kidney beans
• 3/4 cup of black dried currants & raisins
• 3/4 cup of almonds/pistachios
• 6 dried Turkish Figs – cut into small quarter
• 6 dried Turkish Apricots – cut into small quarter
• 2 cups of brown sugar ( or plain white sugar)
• 1 lemon zest or orange
9– 12 cups of cold water/4 tsp rosewater(optional)
Condiments: salt/cloves/cinnamon sticks
Garnishing: Fresh pomegranate

Preparation:
One day Before: Soak 1 cup of barley whole wheat in 3 cups of water the night before. This will allow the barley to soften.
Day of:
1. Drain the soaked barley, pour into a deep cooking pot fill with 8-10 cups of cold water leaving about 2-3 inches of the top. At this time add in, sprinkle some salt, add in the cloves and cinnamon sticks.
2. Over a medium to high bring the pot to broil fior 30-40 minutes. The barley will have cracked open and have become white and soft to touch and taste.
3. In the mean time into a small sauce pan, boil the black currants and in a cup of cold water. Once the color of the water turns dark, drain the currants through a sieve.
4. Once the barley has softened, add in the washed chick peas and kidney beans and stir.
5. Add in the rest of the ingredients – the drained currants, raisins, apricots, figs, and almonds, stirring each time you add in an ingredient. Let this mixture boil for 8-10 minutes.
6. To thicken fast, in a cup of cold water mix the 4 tablespoons of corn starch, leaving no lumps. Add the corn starch into the boiling barley mixture and give it a thoroughly stir. *the corn starch will act as a thickening agent.
7. Add brown sugar to your liking, and again stir thoroughly, continue cooking over medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve.
8. Finally add in the zest of the lemon or orange and the rose water and let cook for a 5-7 minutes.
9. Let cool for about 15 minutes, ladle into serving bowls. Top with cinnamon, nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Ashure can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.

Ashure is a vegan dessert too.

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Ashure served with a traditional touch:

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The King of Kebabs- Behari Kebabs


Behari Kababs !

Which meat loving South Asian  doesn’t relish them ? In fact, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has called them, the ‘finest’ kebabs in his food memoirs.

I grew up watching on very special occasions, my mother prepare and barbeque these Kebabs very diligently on and with much effort, on a charcoal grill. All I remember was that it was a great hard work. And hence, for many, Behari Kebabs is a delicacy to be eaten in restaurants, as cooking them at home is very cumbersome.

I too believed so, till once, I thought of experimenting them in the convenience of my kitchen, in the electric oven. I made them with wooden skewers, and the first attempt wasn’t bad at all. Second time, it was for a dinner party, and the guests could not believe they were homemade, till my husband showed them the oven, tray and the wooden skewers on which they were made.

I moved on, more confident. Got  custom made, iron skewers that fit my tray size in the oven. As I have moved cities, these iron skewers have obediently moved with me too.

Warning: Instead of red meat, I make them here with white meat, and instead of a charcoal grill, I grill them in an oven. Nevertheless, can assure you, they are a different delicacy in their own right.

Ingredients:
Chicken breasts 1 kg
( each sliced into 4 thin fillet)
Onions: 4 medium sized
Ginger : 100gms
Garlic: One whole,
(peeled into cloves)
Green Papaya: 100gms.
Spices: Cumin, coriander, and red chilli powders, and salt to taste.
Mustard Oil- 1 Cup
Fried Browned onions: 2tbsp
(P.S. Some add yogurt, but I don’t.)

Method: 
All the ingredients except the chicken breasts are made into a paste in the grinder. Pour the paste into a wide bowl, and mix in Mustard oil.

Add the chicken fillet in the paste and marinate them for preferably overnight to 24 hours.
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As they are ready to be cooked, spread out each marinated fillet inside a plastic bag, one by one.
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Once arranged 4-5 fillets, fold to close the open end of the plastic bag, And pound them with a wooden pound to make them softer, and such that the spice paste seeps into the fillet..

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Take them out of the plastic bag, one by one, to mount on the iron skewers. My skewers seen here are about a feet long, specially made to fit my baking tray.

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Mount the fillets on the skewers, piercing the iron rod, through the flesh of the fillets at 2-3 inches apart, then gathering them closer.

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Arrange the skewers on the baking tray adjacent to each other.

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When completed, place them in a preheated oven, at 225 degrees C for 30 minutes.
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Once ready, place a burning coal on the side of the tray, and douse it with oil to bellow smoke. Cover the tray, and close the oven, immediately, for the smoky aroma to be absorbed in the Kebabs.
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When ready, serve them hot, with pickled onions, yogurt sauce and chutneys. Naans and parathas go equally well with these Kebabs.

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The children are fond of taking the left overs to school, rolled in a naan as Kebab rolls.

P.S. The blog has been diligently made for a Kebab loving and Kebab cooking fellow Delhiite Parshu Narayanan. 🙂

Pizza Pakistania


Pizza is Italian and everyone knows it. However, as remarked by a cousin from Italy, what Pizza Hut and other pizza brands make are delicious foods, but they are not Pizzas. A typical Italian Pizza is extremely thin crust with a crispy base.

What is interesting are the legends associated with its origins. Not sure how authentic or true are they, because one does not find them documented in books.

One is that Pizza used to be a poor man’s food in Ancient Greeks, who made a flat loaf of bread and spread it with onions, garlic and herbs.

In the 1st century BCE, the Latin poet Virgil refers to the ancient idea of bread as an edible plate from his Latin epic poem, the Aeneid (trans. A. S. Kline ):
When the poor fare drove them to set their teeth
into the thin discs, the rest being eaten, and to break
the fateful circles of bread boldly with hands and jaws,
not sparing the quartered cakes, Iulus, jokingly,
said no more than: ‘Ha! Are we eating the tables too?’

Another is that in 1800s Italian Royality commissioned a cook to make Pizza, in honor of Queen Margherita. Out of the three, the Queen picked up the one made with tomatoes, olives and mozzarella cheese, because it had the three colors of Italian flag–red green and white. And so this is how it came to be known as Pizza Margherita. Not sure if Italy had the same flag then too.

Interestingly,  when you ask some friends who make pizza at home,  they share that they add many ingredients into the base including eggs, powder milk, baking powder, baking soda, butter etc. Yet many of them fail to make the necessary sponge, or the crisp the base made from shops get.

However, the recipe that a cousin shared from Italy was surprisingly simple, yet fail-proof. Never ever has my pizza base, after following her instructions,  failed to rise.

The ingredients are simple– flour, yeast, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon sugar, some lukewarm water and Olive oil. It is the method of making the dough that makes the real difference.

Fond of homemade Pizza, as it comes steaming hot from the oven with its appetizing aroma, the grown up kids,  take active part in custom designing the toppings. Having tried almost all the renowned and strange combinations, they are now fond of green and white topping which includes– pesto sauce at the base, baby spinach leaves, fresh basil leaves, green olives, feta & mozzarella cheeses.

Nostalgic with the green and white colors of the Pakistani flag, they call this (originally a Greek recipe) Pizza Pakistania.

Following is the making of the Pizza Pakistania from the scratch:

First and the most important step: To let yeast ( I teaspoon), a fist of flour( half a cup), and  sugar ( 1 teaspoon)  froth with lukewarm water ( 2 cups) for 15-30 minutes
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The kneading of dough. Add gradually the remaining  flour ( total 3 cups) , olive oil( half a cup) and pinch of salt. Knead it well and leave it to rise for half an hour in a warm place.

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Rolling out a leavened dough. The more leavened it is, the more it gets tough to roll out as  it keeps recoiling back:

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Base spread with Pesto paste, which if homemade needs basil leaves, pine nuts, fresh garlic made into a paste with  olive oil:
{Homemade Pesto sauce: Take a cup of fresh basil leaves(tulsi leaves), half a cup of pine nuts( chilghoza), half cup extravirgin olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic and salt to taste. Grind them coarsely in a chopper or a mortar}.

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Our fresh supply of basil leaves, which adds aroma to the pizza:

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Assembling together baby spinach leaves(2 cups), basil leaves( half a cup), feta cheese( 1 cup) and mozzarella cheese(1 cup):

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Bake it in a preheated oven at 225 degrees C, for 15-20 minutes, until cheese and the crust is golden brown.

Hot and crispy pizza, just out of the oven:

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And it took just a quarter of an hour for two pizzas to vanish from the dining table:

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Moral of the story: Its simple to make ( with less cumbersome toppings), loads of green healthy stuff, and a pleasant change of taste from the usual pizzas.

Don’t miss the close look at the fine sponge and the crisp of the base bread. 😀

How I wish, these Christmas vacations are forced upon us, every few months !!!

How to avoid Cancer !


What is cancer?
Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Cancer is a leading cause of disease worldwide (GLOBOCAN estimates that 12.7 million new cancer cases occurred worldwide in 2008).

The top 4 causes being:
• Lung (12.7%)
• Female breast (10.9%)
• Colorectal (9.7%)
• Stomach cancer (7.8%)
In all these four cancers account for 40% of deaths from cancer.

Although the incidence rate in developed countries is twice as high as the developing countries like ours, but the outcome ( in terms of death and disease) is much worse in the developing countries, owing to poor detection at early stage, and poor case management. However, the incidence of cancers related to infections like stomach, liver or cervix ( which can be prevented) are more common in developing countries.

GOOD NEWS is that about half of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer.
And even Cancer diagnosis is still not a death statement. If detected early can be cured.

Many reasons within our genes, our lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.

There are simple measures that we as ordinary human beings can take to prevent cancers to some extent.

Here are they :

Part 1

LIFESTYLE:

TOBACCO in smoke or chewable form TOPS the list.
Tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality worldwide, causing an estimated 22% of all cancer deaths per year.
Cancer that tobacco can cause are of lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, cervix and female breast.
About 70% of the lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone.
Second-hand smoke (SHS), also known as environmental tobacco smoke, has been proven to cause lung cancer in non-smoking adults.
Avoiding tobacco is best, however cessation of the use of tobacco, gradually reduces the risk, and in 15 yrs is as good as for non smokers.

ALCOHOL
Alcohol is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The risk from heavy drinking for several cancer types (e.g. oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and esophagus) substantially increases if the person is also a heavy smoker.
WEIGHT & EXERCISE
Obesity is a cause for most chronic diseases and cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney and endometrium.
A general goal of 30 minutes exercise every day and keeping the body weight in the normal range can avoid from a lot of cancer risks.

RISKY BEHAVIORS:
-Practice safe sex & do not share needles, sharps like nail cutters and razors. There may cause Hepatitis B, C or HIV infections which can then lead to Liver or other cancers. Cancers caused by infectious agents(viruses etc) are more common in developing nations e.g. Cervical Cancer, Liver Cancer and Stomach Cancer.

SUN EXPOSURE:
Light skinned especially should protection from sun by use sunscreen with SPF >30 between 10 AM and 4 PM. Skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinoma(BCC) or Melanomas. BCC are less aggressive but Melanomas are very aggressive and fast growing cancers & kill 75% of those who have them.

PART-2
FOOD

What makes some foods cancerous?
Refined sugars: They act as fuels for the growing cancer cells, as ready energy. Terms suggestive of refined sugars on food labels are: high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, sucrose, enriched bleached flour, white rice, white pastas, white breads and other “white” foods. Refined flour are also lacking in fibres which cause cancer.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils: Besides being a cancer factor, trans fats promote heart disease, interrupt metabolic processes, and cause belly fat(obesity) that in turn are again another cause of cancer.
Sodium nitrite (and nitrates): Added to give pink color to the meat. During the digestion process, however, sodium nitrite is converted to nitrosamine, and that’s where the cancer problems begin. Nitrosamine is a carcinogen. Nitrosamines are also found in food items that are pickled, fried, or smoked; in things such as beer, cheese, and fish by products, and tobacco smoke.
Saturated fats: Usually of animal origin which may cause obesity which is indirectly or directly related to certain cancers.
• Some chemical additives like coloring agents and flavouring agents have also been known to be cancerous.

Top cancerous Foods:
1. Soda pops, sweetened drinks: >2 servings per week increases Pancreatic cancer by 87%. Glucose and Fructose both feed cancer cells. Women who ate the most high-glycaemic-load foods were close to three times more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
2. Fried foods: French fries, hash browns, potato chips, samosas, pooris. – Apart from calories, they contain saturated fat and trans fat, they also contain acryl amides. They should be called “cancer fries,”
3. Processed meats and bacons: burgers, sausages, bacons. Nitrosamines are produced from fat at high temperature cooking, as in tobacco smoking. People who eat a lot of processed meat may be 50 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer, stomach cancer or pancreatic cancer.
4. Red meats: Beef. Researches show even eating twice a week, they raise a risk by 20% of cancers of breast, colon and prostate cancers.
5. Donuts, Cookies, chips and crackers: Refined sugars, refined flour and trans fats. They scream for themselves that they are cancerous foods.
6. Charred meats, smoked meats: Many studies including one from Harvard have shown a high link between charred meats and cancer of colon, stomach. Even delicious smoked meats are high in nitrosamines due to the nature of their cooking. Trick is eat them sparingly, if cannot avoid.

How can healthy eating prevent cancer?
The main principle is eat simple:
Eat unprocessed foods and base your diet largely on plants. Consume foods that have omega-3 fats and other essential fatty acids.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables; many common ones have known cancer-fighting properties.
Get regular vigorous exercise, since tumors cannot thrive in highly oxygenated environments.
Keep your blood sugar stable to avoid being an all-you-can-eat buffet for cancer cells.

Top cancer preventing foods:
Green leafy vegetables: These cute little green trees help to fight off stomach, liver, skin, lung, bladder, prostate, and breast cancers. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, an antioxidant that rids the body of cancer-causing toxins.
Hint: Cooked Brocolli tastes mushy, so avoid over cooking, leave it crunchy, or make stir-fry, or eat raw in salads.

Berries: The darker the berry the better still. Blackberry, blue berry, strawberry, raspberry. They contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that slow the growth of premalignant cells.

Garlic: Fights the nitrosamines in the red meat.
Clue: Add garlic to your tomato puree, sauce.

Tomatoes: contain lycopene, which has been shown to stop cancer cell growth according to research. The sure fire way to increase lycopene is by cooking tomatoes.

Walnuts; are the best among nuts for fighting both breast and prostate cancers. Adding just an ounce of walnuts a day will help to keep the cancer away. Vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) found in nuts and plant seeds may slow the growth of cancer cells.

Beans: Navy and black beans help delay cancer growth of breast and colon cancers. Add a half a cup to your diet a week, at least!

Coffee: Research shows that coffee may contain healing antioxidants as well, preventing colon cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. An alkaloid in coffee may even prevent cavities!
Studies also show that drinking coffee helps reduce muscle soreness and improves stamina
Harvard researchers are finding an intriguing link between coffee and the prevention of an aggressive type of prostate cancer. However, it’s too early to recommend boosting coffee drinking to men, although one cup of coffee might be helpful.

Green Tea: Antioxidants of green tea are also known to be cancer preventive.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS:
Many environmental toxins are blamed to be carcinogenic.

The topic of environmental carcinogens is vast and controversial. For details on each aspect and toxins see the link: Here

Part- 3

KNOW YOUR BODY:
Keep a regular check on your body- any moles on the skin, or your breasts ( in women) or testicles (in men), especially while taking shower, or changing clothes. If you feel any change in the shape size, or feel any lump, or feel any change in your body or symptoms which appear unusual to yourself, you must take doctor’s opinion. Please do not panic. This does not mean you necessarily have cancer or a serious problem. But even if it is, it will be detected early.

BE INFORMED:
Cancer Prevention and Early Detection strategies:
Certain cancers are known to be caused by viruses, and being infectious spread easily in developing countries. They can be avoided by using their vaccines:
Hepatitis B Virus: A set three vaccines given will prevent Hepatitis B which is a common cause of Liver Cancer
Human Papilloma Virus: A sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. A new vaccine against HPV protects 99% against Cervical Cancer.
Helicobacter pylori: For stomach cancer. Hence when detected, must be treated promptly by consulting a Gastroenterologist.

ALSO BE INFORMED THAT: There are certain cancers which can be screened and detected early and prevent complications and premature death.

Following two blogs shall explain in detail how to prevent or detect cancer early. There are specific screening tests and issues in men and women which shall be discussed in next two blogs: Early Cancer Detection in Women & Early Cancer Detection in  Men, respectively.

There’s a famous saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. The ( not so secret) apple for cancer prevention is:

Take home apple, oops message is: “Half of the cancers are preventable and can be avoided through healthy living and better awareness.”

Bread pakorey ki kasam



If seeing this ^^^ picture, your eyes twinkled, lips curved into a wide grin, your mouth began to water and it flashed back the awesome memories of your alma mater, please stand up !

And to those who find the above sentence a gross exaggeration, and cynical, I don’t blame you. For you are an alien to this experience.

To the first group, know you are a Delhiite and more specifically went to DU as a student. And you don’t even need to be explained what DU stands for. But for the latter, btw, it stands for Delhi University .

What fish n chips is to London, or hamburger is to Mc Donalds, this luscious snack is to Delhi. This is the  finger food we all relished ( I wonder if they still do) in cramped Delhi University cafetarias, without realising its awesomeness.

Being away from Delhi now for over two decades, the gold test for me to check whoever claims “I am from Delhi.” is the mention of the clue word “Bread Pakora”. If instead of a wide eyed expression screaming ‘wierdo’, the return expression is an instant wholesome grin, you know the claim is authentic. You don’t even need to double check them.

To give you another evidence of my cynical attachment to a bread pakora, it was only for the ‘Bread pakore ki kasam’ tag line, that got me watch, Band Baja Baraat twice.

In the good old simple days of limited pocket money, and even more limited options in the DU cafes, this large sized, yummy snack with a hot cup of chai came in handy and filling in the lunch hour, for an affordable Rs 5/-

Just as in some other part of the world, mustard compliments hotdogs, our austere bread pakora came proudly partnered to even more austere yet yummy Kaddu Ketchup (Pumpkin ketchup).  And the two stayed married to each other, no matter how much the arrogant branded ketchups belittled it , on TV ads of our days:
“Thora ketcup try karo?”
“Ketchup hota kaddoo bhara”
“Is mein kaddoo nahin zara,
Raseele tamataron se tayyar,
Volfarm .”
( If I still remember it correctly) .

Whenever I get into my “Ayy mere pyaare watan, tujh pe dil qurban” mode, all I do is take two slices of bread, spread one with hot chilli sauce, other with green mint coriander chutney, sandwich them with mashed potatoes, or even cottage cheese, cut them in two triangles,  coat each of them in a chick pea batter, and fry them. And with a steaming cup of tea, I transport myself back to the DU student days.

Find it weird? No worries, most of my family too, quietly radiates that subtle expression of Whats so great about bread pakora?”.

But I have learnt to not take notice of them, and not even take any offense.
They  know not what they are missing !

Believe it or not, I find it the awesomest finger food, for it carries with it a flavour of my past memories too.

Bread pakorey ki kasam !