Friday, 29 October 2010

Jackfruit / Kathal

English: Jackfruit

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Kathal

  • The Jackfruit is a species of tree in the mulberry family (Moraceae), which is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh.
  • In Bangla it is called as ‘Kathal’, in Kannada ‘Halasu’, in Malayalam ‘Chakka’, and in Marathi it is called as ‘Fanas’.
  • It can be eaten unripe (young) or ripe, cooked or uncooked. Unripe (young) jackfruit may be eaten whole. Young jackfruit has a mild flavor and distinctive texture. The ripe fruits are sweet, cooling, laxative, aphrodisiac and tonic.
  • Jack-fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which makes it a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon.
  • The seeds of the fruit are edible, similar to chestnuts in taste. They are sweet, diuretic, aphrodisiac and constipating. They contain starches and dietary fiber.
  • The Jackfruit is rich in antioxidant flavonoids like β-carotene and lutein. These antioxidants are found to be protective against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
  • It is one of the rare fruit that is rich in B-complex group of vitamins. It contains good amounts of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), niacin, riboflavin and folic acid.
  • The flesh of the jackfruit is starchy and fibrous. It provides food energy and is a source of dietary fiber.
  • The Jackfruit leaves are useful in fever, wounds and skin diseases. The ash of leaves, burned with corn and coconut shells, is used alone or mixed with coconut oil to heal ulcers.
  • Chinese consider Jackfruit pulp and seeds tonic, cooling and nutritious, and to be "useful in overcoming the influence of alcohol on the system."

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Phool Gophi (Cauliflower)

English: Cauliflower

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Phool Gobhi

  • Cauliflower is a vegetable belonging to the Brassica oleracea species, which also includes Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Kale, Broccoli and Collard Greens.
  • Cauliflower has a white compact head of undeveloped white flower buds, stalk and thick green leaves. However, the stalk and the leaves are usually discarded and only the head (white curd) is eaten. The thick green leaves that surround the head protect the flower buds from the sunlight. The lack of exposure to sunlight does not allow chlorophyll to develop. Therefore, color is not produced, and the head remains white in color.
  • Cauliflower is originated in the Northeast Mediterranean and is presently cultivated in most of the countries of the world.
  • Cauliflower can be had in the raw, cooked or pickled form, though it the raw form that holds the highest nutritional value.
  • The allicin in cauliflower is known to promote a healthy heart and reduce the risk of strokes. It has been associated with the maintenance of a healthy cholesterol level.
  • Cauliflower contains selenium and vitamin C, both of which work together to strengthen the immune system. Being rich in folate, it is known to help improve cell growth and replication.
  • The high amount of fiber in cauliflower improves colon health and can even help prevent cancer.
  • Recently, it was found that cauliflower contains ‘indole-3-carbinol’, a substance that can prevent breast and other female cancers.
  • The glucosinolates and thiocyanates, present in cauliflower, increase the ability of liver to neutralize potentially toxic substances.
  • To keep the flower head (white curd) creamy white, they should be protected from sunlight. This is done by tying the close-by leaves together over the heads when the heads are the size of a quarter. Over-maturity makes the heads get loose and grainy surfaced, and lose much of their tenderness.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


  • The Plantain (musa paradisiacal), belongs to banana family.
  • It is starchy, low in sugar and is eaten cooked rather than raw.
  • The peel of plantain is green, brown or black in color. The interior color of the fruit is creamy, yellowish or lightly pink. The flavor of the flesh is bland and its texture is starchy. As the peel changes to brown or black, it has a sweeter flavor and more of a banana aroma, but still keeps a firm shape when cooked.
  • A banana is ready to eat when the skin is yellow whereas a plantain is not ready to eat "out of hand" until hydrolysis has progressed to the point where the skin is almost black. The fruit is eaten at all stages of ripeness from green to black.
  • The sweet banana is very easily digested, but the plantain must be boiled, steamed, roasted, or deep fried to make it soft and palatable.
  • Plantain has the stinging, bitter latex, so the peel is removed with a knife and the pulp is soaked in salt water for 5-10 minutes before cooking.
  • Plantains are bigger than bananas, harder to peel (especially when green. Plantains are very versatile. They are always ready for cooking no matter what stage of ripeness - green, yellow or black, and plantains are used in different dishes from appetizers to desserts.
  • Plantain is eaten in most tropical countries of the world.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bottle Gourd / Lauki / Ghiya

  • The bottle gourd is a common vegetable in India. It is yellowish green, having the shape of a bottle. It has white pulp, with white seeds embedded in spongy flesh.
  • In India, it is known as lauki in Urdu or dhudhi or ghiya in Hindi, lau in Bengali, sorakaya in Telugu, dudhi-Bhopala in Marathi, sorekayi inKannada, and suraikkaai in Tamil.
  • The dried and cored thick outer skin has traditionally been used to make musical instruments like the Tanpura, Veena etc.
  • The bottle gourd is low in fat and cholesterol yet high in dietary fibre. It contains 96% water. It is rich in iron and also has vitamins C and B complex. It has sodium and potassium making it suitable vegetable for hypertensive patients. It is excellent for light, low-cal diets, as well as for small children, people with digestive problems, diabetics and convalescents.
  • This vegetable is very good for balancing liver function. It is often recommended by Ayurvedic physicians when the liver is inflamed and cannot efficiently process food for maximum nutrition and assimilation.
  • Bottle gourd is very valuable in treating urinary disorders. It serves as an alkaline mixture for treating burning sensation in urinary passage due to high acidity of urine. It carries the potential for breaking calculus (stones) in body.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Red Globe Table Grapes

  • The Red Globe table grape is a variety of very large, seeded red grapes with firm flesh and crisp ruby red skin.
  • It is almost round, similar to a globe and hence the name given.
  • The Red Globe is popular for both eating and decorating during the holiday season.
  • It is mildly sweet and flavorful, not as tangy as Flame or as sweet as Thompson, with plenty of juice.
  • It can be grown outdoors in very warm areas with long growing seasons such as California or Australia, but in most of the world it is strictly a greenhouse grape. The majority of Red Globe production in the US and Australia are exported to Asia.
  • This variety of grape is considered as good quality grape even though it is seeded.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Potato / Aloo

English Name: Potato

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Aaloo

  • The potato is the most popular tuber vegetable in the world. Potato tubers are thick, uneven shaped stems (tuber) that grow underground.
  • Potatoes have a thin skin that is usually red, yellow, or brown. Inside the potato is pale flesh.
  • Nutritionally, potatoes are best known for their carbohydrate content. The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: it provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage. The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods.
  • Potatoes contain a number of important vitamins and minerals. Potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
  • Potatoes are a traditional heart and circulation remedy, but can be used to soothe inflammations and encourage the healing of skin infections, dermatitis, wounds and ulcers. Potato juice can be used to relief indigestion, and constipation. Grated potatoes mixed with olive oil, is useful for sunburn, cracked skin and swollen eyelids. Slices of potatoes are great for sores, chilblains, headaches and migraines.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Carrots / Gaajar

English: Carrots

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Gaajar

  • It is a root vegetable; the edible part is taproot with a crisp texture when fresh.
  • In the North India, carrot is pink-red in color comparable to plum or raspberry or deep red apple in color (without a touch of yellow or blue). Most of the varieties of carrots in world are from orange to yellow in color, comparable to Halloween’s pumpkins.
  • Ever since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots (carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders) have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets.
  • The carrot gets its characteristic and bright orange color from beta-carotene.
  • Beta- carotene is believed to be a strong anti- cancer, artery protecting and immune boosting antioxidant. The beta carotene contained in carrots is converted to Vitamin A. This is said to be vital for healthy skin and disease- resistant mucous membranes, which is the reason why eating carrots is seen as important for the protection of lungs and helps keep the respiratory system in good working order.
    Beta - Carotene is believed to reduce the chances of acquiring degenerative eye diseases as well as suffering from chest pain.
  • It is also reported that consuming carrots increases the skins resistance to ultraviolet light, so it helps in protecting against skin cancer along with premature ageing. Carrots are rich in fiber and may help reduce blood cholesterol and are said to combat constipation.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Baingan / Aubergine

English: Aubergine / Eggplant

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Baingan / Brinjal

  • The eggplant, aubergine, or brinjal (Solanum melongena), is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum.
  • It bears fruits which are used as a vegetable in cooking. It is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to India and Sri Lanka.
  • The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain (an insignificant amount of) nicotinoid alkaloid, which is a close relative of tobacco. Eggplant is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant.
  • As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, chutney, curries etc. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name brinjal) as the 'King of Vegetables'.
  • It helps to block the formation of free radicals and is also a source of folic acid and potassium.
  • It is believed that Aubergine contains properties that may help reduce cholesterol levels, decrease high blood pressure and protect the heart as well as containing anti-cancerous properties.
  • Aubergine supply the heart protective nutrient, Vitamin E. Aubergine is also a very useful source of potassium, which helps keep blood pressure at normal levels. Aubergine contains Vitamin K, which helps promote blood clotting and stops bleeding.
  • Eating Aubergine is reported to counteract detrimental blood effects from fatty foods. It features antibacterial properties, which may increase the amount of urine passed. Aubergine, tomatoes and potatoes are all part of the nightshade family, which is reported to exacerbate joint pain.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Mentha / Mint / Pudina

English Name: Mentha/Mint

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Pudina

  • Fresh mint is a perennial plant which is cultivated in many regions of the world these days. The most common and popular mints for cultivation are Peppermint (Mentha × piperita), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), and (more recently) apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).
  • Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow. The leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams.
  • They have wide-spreading underground rhizomes and erect, square, branched stems.
  • The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Spearmint and peppermint are often the varieties of fresh mint that are used.
  • The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of Peppermint and Japanese Peppermint) and pulegone (in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint). The compound primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is R-carvone.
  • The tender leaves of the mint plant are commonly found used in Middle Eastern cooking, as well as Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It pairs well with lamb, vegetables such as peas, fruits, salads, and of course chocolate!
  • Peppermint has high menthol content, and is often used as tea and for flavoring ice cream, confectionary, chewing gum, and toothpaste. The oil also contains menthone and menthyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate. It is the oldest and most popular flavor of mint-flavored confectionery. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos and soaps, which give the hair a minty scent and produce a cooling sensation on the skin.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Red Chili / Lal Mirch

  • Chili is the universal spice of India. It is cultivated in all the States and Union Territories of the country. The important States growing chili are Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh alone commands 46% of the chili production in India.
  • Chilies have two important characteristic. One their color, because the pigment called Carpathian in it and two the biting pungency, because of Capsaicin. India is the only country rich in many varieties with different quality factors.
  • Red chilies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene ("provitamin A"). Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B Vitamins, and Vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in Potassium and high in Magnesium and iron. Their high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the uptake of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.
  • Indian Chilies are one of the famous in world and have huge demand in the overseas market. India continues to be the main producer and exporter of most verities of chilies like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Middle East and other countries.
  • Red Chili Powder or Lal Mirch (Hindi) Indian chili powder is made from ground chilies. This vibrant and tasty red chili powder imparts a rich flavor and color to the dishes it is used in. Used in Tandoori and other barbecue marinades. Mainly used in Indian and Pakistani curries to create the attractive red color
  • Indian Chili Powder is much hotter than the chili powder commonly found in most stores in the US which is mostly a blend of red peppers and cumin, coriander etc. The ground product ranges from orange-red, to deep, dark red.
  • Red pepper is a pungent, hot powder with a strong bite. Paprika is a mild form of the red chili powder.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Ivy gourd / Dondakaya

  • Ivy gourd or Coccinia grandis belongs to family Cucurbitaceae.
  • These are mainly grown in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Central Africa.
  • The fruit is commonly eaten in Indian cuisine as vegetable. These are elongated oval measuring only about two inches in length. Ripe ivy gourds are red, but only the unripe green fruit is eaten, despite the fact that they are somewhat bitter. They are eaten fresh or pickled, and the leaves and shoots can also be used as a vegetable.
  • In Karnataka, ivy gourd is referred to it as Tondekayi’. In West Bengal, they are referred as Toruli/Kudri’. In Maharashtra, they are referred as Tondli’. In Andhra Pradesh, Telugu speakers refer to this vegetable as ‘Dondakaya. Tamil speakers refer to it as ‘Kovakkai. In Kerala it is known as ‘Kovakka’. In Assam it is known as ‘Kunduli’.
  • In India, ivy gourd is often recommended to diabetics due to its low glycemic index and its possible ability to help regulate blood glucose.
  • In Hawai and the southern United States, among other regions, ivy gourd is considered an invasive plant.
  • Ivy gourd is rich in beta-carotene.

Green Chili Peppers

  • There are more than 200 varieties of chilies with 100 of them from Mexico.
  • Each of the three spellings- Chile pepper, chili pepper, chilli pepper, is recognized by different dictionaries as being correct. The Oxford English Dictionary shows "Chilli" as the primary spelling while citing both Chile and Chili as variant spellings.
  • Chile peppers are grown in different shapes, sizes, and flavors. From round to long and narrow, the pepper can range in size from less than an inch to over 12 inches in length. They can be round and globe-shaped or long and narrow with a pointed end. Some of the smallest varieties of peppers are round peppers that are often referred to as "ornamental" or "wild" peppers.
  • There are a variety of colors such as red, green, black, and purple readily available and can be used to add color or flavor to various dishes.
  • The intensity of their flavor ranges from mild to extremely hot. The heat in all chilies, whether hot or mild, is due to the flavorless, odorless, colorless chemical known as Capsaicin.
  • Some of the most common chili peppers are: Anaheim, Cayenne, Cherry pepper, Chilaca, Chipolte, Jalapeno, Jamaican hot, Italian frying etc.
  • The flavor and heat of a fresh chili is quite different to dried chili. Upon drying, usually in the sun, caramelization of sugars and other chemical changes create more complex flavors.
  • Dried chilies can be used whole in curries and almost any other kind of slow-cooked liquid, as the flavor seeps out and flavors the food. A variety of chilies are available to be used in a wide range of curries, sauces, pickles, chutneys and pastes.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Anardana / Pomegranate Seeds

  • Anardana is the dried seeds of varieties of pomegranate (Punica granatum). These are tangy and sour in taste.
  • Wild pomegranates are usually used as they are too sour to eat fresh out of hand, and the tree can be grown with almost no cultivation maintenance.
  • Most seeds are dark red but some can be pinkish white.
  • The seeds and the pulp adhering to them are used to make the spice.
    The seeds and the pulp dry together in reddish brown, sticky, clumps. Because of the stickiness and brown color it is sometimes called "pomegranate molasses."
    Though used mostly for vegetables and legumes, anardana also flavors Moghul-style meat dishes.
  • Grenadine, reduced pomegranate juice, is used in India to marinate meat, acting as a tenderizer because of the enzymes it contains.
  • Its tangy, sour taste is added to curries, chutneys and dals. This powder can also be used in tangy lamb and chicken dishes. Pomegranate eases flatulence and heartburn.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


  • Burghul is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat.
  • For human consumption it is usually sold parboiled, dried and partially de-branned. It has a light, nutty flavor.
  • Sometimes it is confused with cracked wheat. The difference between the two is that Burghul is parboiled while cracked wheat is crushed not parboiled.
  • Burghul is a common ingredient in Kudish, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Indian and Mediterranean dishes. In Indian cuisine, Burghul or daliya is also used as a cereal with milk and sugar. In the United States is often used as a side dish, much like pasta or rice.
  • Burghul is more nutritious than white rice, because it contains more fiber and more vitamins and minerals and has a lower glycemic index than white rice.
  • It can be found in natural food stores, Middle Eastern specialty grocers, and some traditional grocery stores.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Singhare Ka Atta or Water Chestnut Flour

  • Singhare ka atta is prepared from Singhara or Water Chestnut.
  • Singhara are floating annual aquatic plants, growing in slow-moving water up to 5 meters deep, native to warm temperate parts of Eurasia and Africa.
  • Singhara plants bear ornately shaped fruits that resemble the head of a bull, each containing a single very large starchy seed.
  • Singhara has been cultivated in China and India for at least 3,000 years for these seeds, which are boiled and sold as an occasional street side snack in the south of that country.
  • Singhara flour or Water Chestnut Flour is made from dried, ground water chestnuts. The nuts are boiled, peeled, dried then ground into flour. The nuts are also eaten raw.
  • The Singhara flour is bright white fine powder; it is actually a starch rather than flour.
  • Singhara flour is primarily use as a thickener. It is also used in Asian recipes to make batters for deep-frying.
  • Singhare ka atta is used in many religious rituals and can be consumed as a phalahar diet on the Hindu fasting days.

Jaggery (molasses)

English: Jaggery (molasses)

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Gur / Gud

  • Jaggery is a traditional unrefined sugar used throughout South and South East Asia. It is normally manufactured from either sugar cane or date palms, but recent trends in its manufacture have resulted in jaggery made from the sap of coconut and sago palms.
  • It contains the natural goodness of minerals and vitamins inherently present in sugarcane juice & this crowns it as one of the most wholesome and healthy sugars in the world. In Mexico & South America, it is also known as panela.
  • In traditional Indian medicine, called Ayurveda, this sugar has several purposes. It may be prescribed for use for people with sore throats. It has some use in the treatment of bronchial or lung infections, and in fact in research has shown to possibly offset some of the lung damage caused by silicosis, a disease of the lungs that occurs when people are exposed for a long time to silica powder.
  • In taste this unrefined sugar has been compared to brown sugar, and to other forms of raw sugar.
  • It is high in simple carbohydrates. It is rich in magnesium, iron, & potassium.

Kuttu Ka Atta or Buckwheat flour

  • Kuttu Atta is flour ground from Fagopyrum esculentum, known more casually as buckwheat.
  • It has a rich, nutty flavor and a very high nutritional value, making it popular in many nations, especially in Asia.
  • Buckwheat is not a cereal or grass. It is called a pseudo cereal to emphasize that it is not related to wheat.
  • Buckwheat flour is gluten free, leading people with gluten intolerance to seek it out as a flour alternative
  • The buckwheat is ground, typically with the outer bran, which is high in fiber and other nutrients. The bran turns the resulting buckwheat flour a rich brown color, with dark flecks. Then, the buckwheat flour can be packaged for sale on its own, or blended with other flours.
  • Most buckwheat is ground into flour and used for a variety of foods, including noodles in Japan and pancakes and breakfast cereals in the U.S. Russians and eastern Europeans make a wide range of foods with buckwheat.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Rose Water

  • Rose water or rose syrup is the by-product of the process of extraction of rose oil, which is obtained by steam-distilling the crushed petals of roses. This process was first developed in Persia and Bulgaria.
  • Classically, rose water is made using damask roses, many-petaled and fragrant. These were first grown in Iran and Bulgaria, but are now frequently found in Spain, Italy, and France. However, the Middle Eastern countries remain some of the largest producers of rose water because of the availability of damasks.
  • Rose water has a very distinctive flavor and is used heavily in South Asian, West Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Rose water is used to flavor food. It is sometimes used as a component in some cosmetics. Throughout Europe and Asia it is also used for religious purpose.
  • Traditionally roses have also been used for medicinal purposes. With more vitamin C than oranges, they contain vitamins A, D, and E and many antioxidants.
  • In Iran it is also added to tea, ice cream, cookies and other sweets in small quantities, and in the Arab world and India it is used to flavor milk and dairy-based dishes such as rice pudding etc. It is frequently used in Mughlai cuisines.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Bhagar / Samo Seeds

English Name: Jungle rice

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Bhagar/ Samo Seeds

  • Samo seeds or Mario seeds popularly known as Bhagar in India are seeds of a grass Echinochloa Colonum .
  • Echinochloa Colonum was described in 1833, as a type of wild grass which originated from tropical Asia. It was formerly classified as a type of panicum grass.
  • It grows amongst the rice paddy as it requires damp and moisture laden soil.
  • In Rajasthan in India the seeds are used as rice, hence its common name in English is jungle rice (wild rice).
  • The wild rice is prepared in different styles across various states of India. It forms a heavy and a filling meal and used generally by Hindus on fast days.
  • It forms one of the most essential Maratha cuisines and tastes excellent when prepared and accompanied with peanut curry.
  • With digestible fibers, high nutritional content and excellent nourishment, bhagar is immensely popular amongst the Indian majority.
  • Jungle rice is found in the Central Valley, San Francisco Bay region, western South Coast ranges, southern Sierra Nevada foothills, southwestern region inhabiting the summer-irrigated crop fields and other disturbed, moist sites. It germinates throughout the summer.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Badiyan (Sun dried ground Ivory White Lentil Dumplings)

These Badiyan are made of Urad Dal (Black Gram). These are also known as Masale Wali Badiyan because lots of spices are mixed in urad dal to make these.

Badiyan are available in Indian Grocery Stores. These can be made at home also but they need good sun light for at least 2-3 days.

How to make Badiyan at home:


  • 1 cup split and skinned black gram/Ivory white lentil (Dhuli urad ki dal)
  • 1” Ginger piece
  • 2-3 Green Chilies
  • ¼ tsp of Asafetida
  • 1tbsp coarsely crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp red chili flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper coarsely crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup grated cabbage


  • Soak urad dal overnight.
  • Drain it and grind it with ginger and green chilies to a fine paste without adding water.
  • Now add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Grease a polythene sheet or a steel thali (plate).
  • Pour 1 spoonful of the paste all over the sheet or thali and let it dry in the sun for a day or two.
  • When dried store them in airtight jars.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


English Name: Salt
Common Indian Name (Hindi): Namak

  • Salt is a dietary mineral essential for animal life, composed primarily of sodium chloride.
  • Salt flavor is one of the basic tastes, and salt is the most popular food seasoning. Salt is also an important preservative.
  • Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodized salt.
  • It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light gray in color, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. Edible rock salts may be slightly grayish in color due to this mineral content.
  • Chloride and sodium ions, the two major components of salt, are necessary for the survival of all known living creatures, including humans.
  • Salt is involved in regulating the water content (fluid balance) of the body.
  • Over consumption of salt increases the risk of health problems, including high blood pressure.

Here are some of the common types of salt:

Table salt: It is a fine-ground, refined rock salt with some additives to keep it free-flowing. This is the common salt normally found on every table.

Coarse salt: It has large crystals with jagged edges which make this a good choice for sprinkling on pretzels or corn on the cob because the edges tend to cling and the salt does not readily melt.

Iodized salt: Salt which has iodine (sodium iodide), added. Iodine is a mineral necessary to the body to prevent hypothyroidism and some countries actually require iodine added by law. For those who live in areas away from oceans, iodized salt is an easy way to get this necessary nutrient into the diet. Surprisingly, iodized salt contains a small amount of sugar (usually indicated as dextrose in the ingredients listing), without which the salt would turn yellow due to oxidation of the iodine.

Kosher salt: This is a coarser grind of salt with large, irregular crystals. It contains no additives. It is a favorite with not only Jewish cooks, but also professional and gourmet cooks who prefer its texture and brighter flavor. When substituting for table salt, you may need more to taste since it seems less salty.


English Name: Spinach

Common Hindi Name: Paalak

  • Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae.
  • It is native to central and southwestern Asia.
  • Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled.
  • It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach.
  • It is a source of folic acids (Vitamin B9), and this vitamin was first purified from spinach. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it. Boiling spinach for four minutes can halve the level of folate.
  • The minerals in spinach are highly alkaline, making it helpful in regulating the body pH. It supplies the same amount of protein as you would get from the same quantity of meat (a cheaper and healthier alternative to getting protein).
  • The high grade content of iron in spinach makes it a great blood builder. It regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells and supplies fresh oxygen to the body.
  • The high fiber content in spinach makes it a remarkable intestinal tract scrubber. It cleans out the system by removing the accumulated wastes in the digestive tracts by its mildly laxative effect.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Parwal / Pointed Gourd

English Name: Pointed Gourd

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Parwal

  • Trichosanthes dioica is also known as the Pointed gourd, parwal (Hindi), or potol (from Assamese, Oriya or Bengali).
  • It is widely cultivated in the eastern part of India, particularly in Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is a dioecious (male and female plants) vine (creeper) plant. The plant remains dormant during the winter season and prefers a fertile, well-drained sandy loam soil due to its susceptibility to water-logging.
  • The fruits are green with white or no stripes. Size can vary from small and round to thick and long — 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm)
  • It is a good source of carbohydrate, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It also contains major nutrients and trace elements (magnesium, potassium, copper, sulfur, and chlorine) which are needed in small quantities, for playing essential roles in human physiology.

Melon seeds

  • Seeds are viewed as being a powerhouse of various nutrients.
  • These seeds are said to feature essential fatty acids that are believed to be important for maintaining a healthy heart. Melon Seeds contain high amounts of antioxidants and are viewed as an excellent source of Folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc and protein.
  • These help in supporting both the immune and cardiovascular systems.
  • They are believed to help in regulating healthy blood- fat levels and provide vital nutrients that are thought to be essential for promoting wound healing.
  • The properties featured in melon seeds are believed to help sustain healthy skin, nails and nerves.

Sesame seeds

English Name: Sesame Seeds

Common Indian (Hindi) Name: Til

  • Sesame is an ancient spice, one of the first recorded plants used for its seeds.
  • They are tiny, flat ovals, measuring about 3 mm (1/8 in) long. Seed color can vary, though they are usually beige or creamy white when husked.
  • Sesame seeds are reported to help in strengthening the heart and cardiovascular system and to be good for the nervous system.
  • Sesame seeds feature lignans, which are said to be strong antioxidants.
  • They are believed to be an excellent source of Omega- 3 and Omega- 6 essential fatty acids, seen as good for sustaining a healthy heart.
  • They are often a great source of Calcium, iron, magnesium and Vitamin E.
  • They also contain selenium which is said to help in enhancing moods.
  • Non-culinary uses include its use as an ingredient in soap, cosmetics, lubricants and medicines. In southern India it is used to anoint the body and hair.