About Cholesterol, Do We Know Enough!

Picture credit, heart foundation New Zealand

Cholesterol has been a bad word. It has been used as the single most important measure of our heart strength!

But off late, there are murmurs about it and doubts about if the doctors are right.

Statin, the ‘go to’ medicine when the cholesterol reading is above 200 may be a worse word, considering the side effects. Especially when it’s used without understanding when cholesterol is bad.

Apparently 200 is just a number. What adds upto 200 is more important.

Moreover, proven techniques like intermittent fasting can give us good markers on cholesterol, without statin and the likes.

I watched a video by my favourite wellness practitioner and thought I should share it with my friends.

Please watch this video for a detailed explanation.

About Cholesterol, Do We Know Enough!

Life Goes On. Rummikub Plays A Role

Covid is taking it’s toll for people’s activities also, the second year in running. 2021 World Masters Games to be held in Kansai Japan was postponed to 2022 (it’s a once in 4 years event like Olympics). And we were in lockdown most of 2020.

Right now, in 2021 it looks like the same and definitely much worse in India. Activities are severely curtailed and vaccination process is slow.

On activities, the only silver lining this year, was the state level masters swimming which the organisers managed to hold in an excellent manner. And us winners were supposed to be competing in National meet in June in Hyderabad.

Now it’s canceled and the announcement said it’s treated as a zero event. 2022 national will be at the same venue in February. And Swimming pools are all closed.

To make matters worse, the Cricket extravaganza IPL is postponed when the Covid bubble created burst and players got infected.

There’s nothing to do, we’re all forced to be indoors as no one knows which way the virus will enter!

That’s when Rummikub is coming to the rescue. We have a fantastic wife-husband bonding, playing this game which apparently combines the properties of Rummy and Mahjong. It challenges the brain adequately, not excessively and thus perhaps less boring as Chess.

Putting it in perspective, Chess has no jokers, but Rummikub has two.

Life Goes On. Rummikub Plays A Role

Chakkakuru Mezhukkuvaratty

Jackfruit and it’s seeds (Chakkakuru) used to be abundant to the point that many were wasted in Kerala. Not anymore!

It’s difficult to get the superfood jackfruits and the seeds are to be dried and stored differently.

But when it comes to making a dish with jackfruit seeds, the mezhukkupuratty is the default solution.

Removing the skin is difficult. So I pressure cooked the seeds for four whistles, took them out and removed the skin. and cut them into medium sized pieces.

In a vessel, poured 2 tbsp of coconut oil and allowed to heat well. To the boiling oil a tsp of mustard seeds were thrown in. When it crackled added ten sliced shallots, one tsp of turmeric powder and the steamed and cut jackfruit seeds.

Allowed the mix to cook for 5 minutes and added 1 1/2 tbsp of Kashmiri chilli powder, and salt.

Now I did an innovation. Added half a grated coconut and some water for further cooking for 5 minutes. Curry leaves were thrown in and cooked on reduced heat till it turned semi dry.

Delicious Chakkakuru Mezhukkuvaratty is ready.

Chakkakuru Mezhukkuvaratty

Tamarind Balls. We, in Conversation!

When I made Tamarind Balls last time I mentioned about using dates to bind them together. Took the powder with that idea, but entered into a conversation with my ingredients.

Tamarind Powder (TP): Make sure to roast me well. And Grind the roasted rice (Rice) too.

Rice: Hmmm I have been the staple food. Now the newcomer TP is telling what to do with me. Anyway use Nutribullet to powder well.

Cranberries (Cranbe) from the fridge: Hey I have sitting here in the cold for long. Try me instead of dates. Use Nutribullet to prepare me.

TP and Rice: Good idea. Will give a tangy feel.

Grated Coconut (Coco): I am ready to go in.

Me: I am mixing all of you. But a bit dry still.

Chakka Varatty (CV): I am here. The best of best.

Me: Come on in. But why are you not mixing.

CV: Mixing, I am like the queen bee. The super food and your favourite. Let them all join around me. Woooohaahaa.

Cranbe: No way, I am the imported one. You paid in dollars. I am the superior.

CV: Remember your daughter said in London. Cranbe is for old people.

Rice: He is not old. Look at him. And the mind is of a teenager.

Me: But CV, when you’re there, I will have to eat all. You’re Sautan (other wife) according to her. She may refuse to eat.

CV chuckles. And by then the 69 balls ( laddus) are ready.

Tamarind Balls. We, in Conversation!

Michelin Star Feel. Bangalore’s Own Donne Biriyani.

I have done it, always wanted to make the Donne Biriyani which my wife Sunu likes very much. I am adding this to the Adiga Sambar which again is Sunu’s favourite and Thai Green Chicken Curry (which is our favourite) for the Michelin Star feel items.

The recipe is from YouTube channel ‘Cook With Tabu’, of the instagramer @cook_with_tabu.

The YouTube video is in Hindi. But very easy to follow as long as you can understand the names of the ingredients. Of course the pictures are shown.

The modifications I made were to start with pressure cooker and steaming for 4 whistles when the marinated chicken was added.

Another was to use a rice cooker which stops automatically when the added water gets over. So I added 31/2 cups of rice and 5 cups of water so that rice is cooked 70% only.

The third modification was to do the elaborate Dum. For this I used 1/2 cup hot milk, pinch of saffron, little turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp ghee and two teaspoons of Rose Water.

And the modification I like is roasting cashew nuts and kismis and spreading them on top.

The only thing missing is the Donne, the boat shaped serving plate made of the bottom part of the areca nut tree leaf.

Sunu loved it, I too love it.

Thank you Tabu for the recipe. Her channel is:

Michelin Star Feel. Bangalore’s Own Donne Biriyani.

Enth, a Cycad and a Challenge for the Traditionalist!

When I made Chakka Ada, some friends got it confused with ‘Poocha’, a traditional kumbilappam (bottom right) made in Edana, the Indian bay leaf (bottom left).

Traditional poocha of my childhood was made with enthanga (top in picture) powder, processed from the seeds of enth trees in our land.

Enthapana, the Malayalam name for the tree suggests that it is a palm. But google tells me that it’s a cycad, trees of the Jurassic age, unevolved over the ages. Apparently no relation to date palms, which is termed a palm, though the look etc are the same.

Like in date palms, enth also have male and female trees. Male ones grow a big cone shaped flower while a certain type of bees transport the abundant polen in the cones to the flowers of female enth to produce bunches of enthaga.

The ripened seeds are washed, dried, skinned and powdered for exquisite use for poocha, porridge, sweets etc. By the way it’s also called sago.

Enth is declared as endangered. And the solitary tree in my land will not bear fruit or produce pollen, even if I am willing to do a manual polination.

The tree has rings, denoting each year of it’s life. So even if I plant some, it will be years before we can see fruits/ seeds. But at least it’s a pay back to future generations.

In the meantime let me make poocha with chakka varatty and rice powder, as I have edna leaves in my land.

Watch this space.

Enth, a Cycad and a Challenge for the Traditionalist!

Chakka Ada. An All Natural Delicacy.

Those of you who follow my posts must have seen my recent one where I made Chakka Varatty (the reduced overripe jackfruit). I mentioned making Chakka Ada using it and here it is.

I took a cup (slightly bigger coffee mug) of roasted rice powder. Boiled some water in a vessel and added the powder mixed with a tablespoon of pure cow ghee and a pinch of salt. Mixed well into a soft consistency and kept for cooling down.

Took a good helping of chakka varatty from the fridge and mixed well with grated coconut of half a coconut. Please note that I didn’t add any preservative or jaggery or sugar in the varatty. It’s sweet with the sweetness of jackfruit.

Took some banana leaves and washed them. It was then moved along open fire of the stove. This serves two purposes. 1. The leaves become mailable and won’t break easily. 2. Any unwanted things not cleaned in rinsing in water get destroyed.

Cut the leaves into almost squares. I took five such cut parts. Greased the leaves with some pure cow ghee. Took the cooled down rice mix and spread it on the leaf after making into a ball and spreading with hand on the leaf. Put the chakka varatty- coconut mix on the middle of the ada and folded the leaf covering the chakka with rice mix on both sides.

Steamed them well in an Idli steamer. The all natural yummy chakka ada is ready to enjoy.

Chakka Ada. An All Natural Delicacy.

Yellow Water Melon. Red Inside

It was stacked up attractively in the new hyper market store near us. I thought it was winter melon, but the name said water melon.

We have plenty of green and dark green watermelons in demand especially during summer. But yellow ones are totally new to me.

Sylcon is a new store with ample parking. All the essentials are available with loudspeakers reminding shoppers of the Covid protocols.

Most attractive perhaps is the live kitchen where we get the best kappa vevichathu (tapioca dish), fish curry, meat of many varieties, vegetable items and Chinese cuisine. All freshly made.

Returning home, cut the water melon, expecting yellow or white inside, but it’s just red and very sweet.

Colour matters!

Yellow Water Melon. Red Inside

Something Special For Vishu. Chakka Varatty.

The jackfruit I got was a bit overripe to eat fresh. And then it’s Vishu and what is a better day to make something good and traditional.

Chakka varatty, the top picture and in process is reduced jackfruit flesh with pure ghee and a spoon of dry ginger powder. When done a little more, it’s an apt filling for Chakka ada or can taken with Puttu and the like. In fact when layered with rice powder for making Puttu, the steamed output will taste better.

The balls below are chakka undas made in the summer of 2018. They are still intact even after these 3 years and I enjoy them occasionally with fresh coconut slices. For unda consistency the Chakka varatty is to be cooked and reduced for another 6 hours.

The varatty I am making is without jaggery. Jaggery is recommended for making undas as it acts as a preservative too.

Happy Vishu

Something Special For Vishu. Chakka Varatty.

Restaurant Review- Donut Factory.

After 21 hours into intermittent fasting, appetite is never a problem when wife suggests eating out. The usual suspects are sumptuous vegetarian thali places, fish specials or biriyani houses.

But Chinese, Thai or those fast food joints are always in focus. So decided to go Chinese, but the place in mind was under renovation or moved out. That’s when I suggested ‘burger’.

‘Where’s the Beef’ may be a TV commercial slogan in USA against rival fast food chains. But it’s a fact in Indian fast food outlets. But not so in Donut Factory in Kerala Kochi.

Donuts, yes when we used to visit Dunking Donuts in USA at breakfast time, it’s for their egg muffins. Similarly we didn’t think about cheesecake when we visited Cheesecake Factory in Kuwait. But then the Kuwaiti outlet makes delicious everything else, but the cheesecakes are to be imported from USA.

A good thing about Panampally Nagar is that one can park the car easily. The factory is frequented by students and youngsters. That’s not a problem as mentally we are no older. There’s advantage price to suit the target audience.

We had mint- lime juices, big prawn Tempura, me a huge Burger with plateful of potato wedges and wife a juicy steak with lots of mushroom, bell peppers, zucchini etc. We were so full that the planned ‘sizzling brownie ice cream’ was given a pass.

Of course, it’s a habit not to eat donuts in donut outlets.

Fabulous place, tasty food, good price and variety. Staff very friendly, but as usual some training on soft touches could do wonders. Highly recommended.

Restaurant Review- Donut Factory.