Sunday October 22, 2017

Cling to Hing: The secret weapon spice of Indian Cuisine

'Hing', popularly known as 'asafoetida' was introduced in the Indian subcontinent by the Mughals of Middle East in the 16th century.

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Asafoetida, popularly known as Hing. Image source: herbfinder.tattvasherbs.com
  • ‘Hing’ or ‘asafoetida’ forms a basic component of Indian spices
  • ‘Hing’ was brought to India by the Mughals of the Middle East in the 16th century
  • ‘Hing’ is used in traditional Indian medicines to minimize, control and cure kidney stones, bronchitis digestive problems, and ulcers

Indian spices have always attracted buyers and admirers from across continents over the years. Many would consider the mixture of different civilizations and cultures as the reason behind the country’s exquisite cuisine, which actually stands true for the special condiments of spices enriching the ingredients of Indian food.

As one who is introduced to Indian cuisine for the first time, it would be easy to guess that the dishes contain about four to six different spices inadequately measured quantities. These spices help create aroma and taste of the food which normally isn’t the case with other styles of cuisines. Where it’ll be natural to guess the presence of cumin, coriander and turmeric in an Indian kitchen, but it will be extremely surprising to discover ‘hing’ as an important ingredient.

An Indian spices market Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
An Indian spices market. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Known popularly as “asafoetida” in the English language, ‘hing’ is made from the resin of huge fennel plants in Afghanistan and Iran. Where Europeans usually refer to it as the “devil’s dung” because of its strong smell of sulfur and onions, it forms a basic component of Indian spices, said an NPR article.

In ‘The Book of Spices’, John O’Connell attributes the Mughals of Middle East as those who brought the ‘hing’ to India in the 16th century. Since then, ‘hing’ is preserved and used in varieties of Indian dishes. Due to its pungent odour, it is often stored in airtight containers.

A newbie would find it difficult to believe in the power of ‘hing’ as a basic Indian spice, but a little amount of experimentation would help to create a giant belief in its strength to turn tastes from good to better.

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“For a Western palette, hing can be shocking,” says Kate O’Donell in her book ‘The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook.’ It is further explained how the pungent smell of the spice mellows to a milder leek-and-garlic flavour when cooked in a balancing manner.

The Indian 'asafoetida' or 'hing' as powder forms a special part of Indian spices Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Indian ‘asafoetida’ or ‘hing’ as powder forms a special part of Indian spices
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vikram Sunderam, a James Beard Award winner and chef at the Washington, D.C., Indian restaurants says that he “adds hing to lentil or broccoli dishes.” But his usage of the spice is done efficiently, depending on what he is cooking.

“Hing is a very interesting spice, but it has to be used in the right quantity,” he warns. “Even a little bit too much overpowers the whole dish, makes it just taste bitter.”

According to the NPR report, a huge number of Indians use hing as a substitute for onions and garlic. Gary Takeoka, a food chemist with the U.S Department of Agriculture, after studying the volatile compounds in hing feels, “A major proportion of hing’s volatiles are sulfur compounds.”He further adds, “Some of these are similar to the ones found in onions and garlic.”

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Other than cooking, hing in India also finds a place in traditional medicines. It is believed that the spice is powerful enough to minimize, control and cure kidney stones, bronchitis, whooping cough, digestive problems, and ulcers. The same is used for medicinal purposes in Afghanistan and Egypt.

While hing forms a definite material in Indian kitchens, it is also markedly present in Middle Eastern dishes. However, experts in international food find it hard to believe how hing hasn’t reached the international stage in this age of global fusion of cuisine styles.

It might trigger protests from the elder members in the family if a Slovak were to add chilli or cumin to their food in place of the traditional salt and pepper, but a tiny dash of hing is worth experimenting with!

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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10 Tempting Desserts You Won’t Believe Are Sugarless!

People often eat less dessert for the fear of gaining unnecessary calories. However, We have brought to you a list of desserts which are sugarfree and thus there is no need to suppress your desires to have desserts.

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Desserts - Pixabay

Who doesn’t like a tasty dessert which melts in your mouth after dinner? A Dessert is a must after a dinner. But the sugar used in them leads to unnecessary calories in our bodies. If you have a sweet tooth and you are conscious about the unwanted calories, then these desserts are perfect for you to cconsume.

We have got the perfect list of desserts you won’t believe are sugarless, here for you so that you don’t have to give up on your dessert cravings. 

Here is the list of the Desserts which you won’t believe are Sugarless

Strawberry Blueberry Cake – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Blueberry pie

Many will be surprised to hear of a pie without sugar. Sugar is supposed to be the main ingredient in a pie. But it’s true that this pie is made without sugar. It is sweetened by the use of fresh blueberries and strawberries. This recipe is given by Chef Seema Chandra.

  1. Fruits With Silken Tofu

It is a simple yet splendid dish. Place some chopped fruits in a bowl along with some pureed tofu to turn it into a pudding dish that is amazing in taste. You can have as much as you want without having to fear about gaining calories. This recipe is given by Chef Bakshish Dean.

  1. Pumpkin Oats Cake

This dessert is best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea. This is not only healthy as it is made by pumpkin, oats, nuts, and jaggery but also is delicious. This recipe is given by Purva Vivek Sawant.

Coconut Laddoos – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Ragi Coconut Laddoos

These laddoos can be made and stored for satisfying sudden sweet cravings. These wholesome and sweet laddoos are not healthy but they are equally tasty. They are made up of coconut and ragi. In order to sweeten them, jaggery is used. Jaggery is good for warming the body during winters. The recipe for this dish has been given by A. Shanthi.

  1. Mocha and Prune Cheesecake

This is a creamy cheesecake with a flavor of coffee. The bittersweet taste of this dessert makes it an extra special one. In order to make it sweet, prunes are used. The recipe of the dish is given by Chef Vicky Ratnani.

  1. Fig Mousse

This is one dessert which leaves a tinge of sweetness in your mouth even after finishing it. The sweetness is given by the natural sweetness of the figs in the desert. The recipe of this amazing dessert is of Niru Gupta

  1. Hot Paneer Sandesh Pudding

This pudding just tastes heavenly with the freshly poured raspberry sauce on top of it. This is an innovative dessert made with the help of cottage cheese with a combination of warm spice like cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. To give it natural sweetening, fresh fruits are added.  This is a dish given by Chef Seema Chandra.

  1. Custard Apple Kheer

This dessert is perfect to sweeten your festive mood. Made with a combination of custard apples, jaggery, coconut milk and nuts, this sweet dish is specially made for those who have a sweet tooth. The dessert will leave you wanting more. The recipe is given by Chef Sanatan Jojo South regional chef at Barbeque Nation.

Nutty Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream – Wikimedia Commons

  1. Nutty Chocolate Cake

This cake is full of honey and lots of crunchy dry fruits which gives it a sweet yet crunchy taste. This rich and moist dessert is extremely easy to make and better than the cakes found in the market. The recipe is given by Chef Vicky Ratnani.

  1. Sugar-Free Rice Pudding

This is a dish that has the sweetness of the coconut milk and juicy pineapple to make it sweet. This dish is so tasty that it leaves a mark every time it is eaten. This recipe belongs to Chef Vicky Ratnani.

-Prepared by Saloni Hindocha 

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)