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Delicious bakery products hold special place in Kashmir cuisine

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Kashmir cuisine
Freshly baked Kashmiri 'bagel bread' Tilwor, also known as Chochwor. Image source: blogspot.com

Srinagar: Kashmir’s cuisine speaks for itself. Although it brings to mind Kashmir’s famous multi-course meal Wazwan, connoisseurs believe there’s a mind-boggling variety of traditional bakery products available in the state.

Very few outsiders would know that the Valley bakes products, known for their unique taste, prepared in a traditional tandoor by bakers called “kandhurs”.

These professional bakers are in the trade for generations.

For instance, there is choatt, flatbread with thick edges and furrowed surfaces, and lavaasa, a lighter variation of pita bread which the locals enjoy with a salted tea called noon chai.

Kandhurs prepare bread in tandoors, imprinting their fingertips on the dough before putting it in the oven. They use long iron rods to pluck out the hot choatt from the tandoor’s inner surface.

Lavaasa, being lighter and thinner, is prepared by placing it on a round mound of cloth filled with cotton, a round, pillow-shaped surface. The lavaasa is stretched upon it and then pasted on to the hot oven.

“Lavassa is a paper-thin blistered naan. One can also apply butter or jam to it before eating,” Ghulam Muhammad in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, better known as Gull Kandhur, told reporters.

Some lavassas are soft while others are crisp. It is also eaten as a wrap around barbequed mutton.

Chochwour, a bagel-like bread, generously daubed with sesame seeds and given a glazy look by rubbing it with pasteurised butter is another favourite of Kashmiris and is preferred with afternoon tea.

Other delicacies include British-era puffs, patties, cream rolls, pastries, stuffed kulcha (oven baked), mittha bundhh (sweet bun) and bundhh (salted bun).

“There are many types of traditional breads like baqerkhani (more like puff pastry, baked in layers and often served with the famous Kashmiri saffron-flavored kehwa), katlam (usually crispy and thin) and sheermaal, a dry, crispy bread with a long shelf life,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, a seventh generation traditional baker who runs a bakery shop in Chadoora town of central Kashmir.

Besides these breads consumed on a regular basis, Kashmir’s bakeries are also famous for specialties like kulchas, modur kulchas, telvarus, khamira rotis and khatais, most sought after on various occasions.

Kashmir, in fact, has a bread and bakery product for every season and every occasion, be it a wedding or a birthday celebration.

“There are nearly a dozen versions of sweet, salty or bland kulchaas (small, hard dry, crispy bread, usually round in shape decorated by placing a peanut in the centre) which are served on special occasions, including during mourning. Kulchas will always be in demand” said Gulzar Ahmed Sofi, who runs both a traditional and a modern bakery in Budgam.

Sofi said traditional Kashmiri bakeries are irreplaceable when it comes to special occasions in the Valley.

“Modern bakeries just won’t make the cut. You cannot serve chocolate pastry and stuff like that during Kashmiri weddings, or any other ceremony for that matter,” he added.

The roath (Kashmiri dry fruit cake) is a delicacy, usually prepared on auspicious occasions such as Muharram.

The evolution of the Kashmir bakeries owes itself to historical influences.

According to local historians, the rulers of Central Asia brought along a change during their reign in Kashmir when different varieties of baked products were introduced in the Valley.

“It was during the golden era of Kashmir, when Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin, known as ‘budshah’ ruled, that bakery touched its zenith,” poet and oral historian Zareef Ahmad Zareef told reporters.

Thus, while modern culture has touched and changed almost every aspect of life in Kashmir, the traditional bakeries have withstood the onslaught of modernity and held out against pizzas, burgers and pastries as well as sweets from other parts of the country. (Shamshad Ali, IANS)

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Women Who Consume Food Late in The Evening Likely to Suffer Heart Disease: Study

Data from the food diary completed by each woman was used to determine the relationship between heart health and the timing of when they ate

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Heart Health
Researchers found that, after 6 p.m. with every one per cent calories consumed Heart Health declines, especially for women. Pixabay

Women who consume a higher proportion of their daily calories late in the evening are more likely to be at risk of Heart Disease than women who do not, researchers have warned.

For the study, the research team assessed the cardiovascular health of 112 women using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 measures at the beginning of the study and one year later.

Life’s Simple 7 represents the risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health and include not smoking, being physically active, eating healthy foods and controlling body weight, along with measuring cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

A heart health score based on meeting the Life’s Simple 7 was computed.

“The preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behaviour that can help lower heart disease risk,” said study lead author Nour Makarem from Columbia University in the US.

During the study, participants of the study kept electronic food diaries by computer or cell phone to report what, how much and when they ate for one week at the beginning of the study and for one week 12 months later.

Data from the food diary completed by each woman was used to determine the relationship between heart health and the timing of when they ate.

Heart Disease
Women who consume a higher proportion of their daily calories late in the evening are more likely to be at risk of Heart Disease than women who do not, researchers have warned. Pixabay

Researchers found that, after 6 p.m. with every one per cent calories consumed heart health declined, especially for women.

These women were found more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term control of blood sugar.

ALSO READ: Women Who Consume Food Late in The Evening Likely to Suffer Heart Disease: Study

Similar findings occurred with every one per cent increase in calories consumed after 8 p.m.

“It is never too early to start thinking about your heart health whether you’re 20 or 30 or 40 or moving into the 60s and 70s. If you’re healthy now or if you have heart disease, you can always do more. That goes along with being heart smart and heart healthy,” said study researcher Kristin Newby, Professor at Duke University. (IANS)