Commonly known as Water Apple or Java Apple in the rest of the world, Bengal knows this fruit as the good old Jamrul. It originated from the region between Malaysia and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, where they grow as wild trees in the coastal forests. But it has now been introduced in many Asian countries including India.
This evergreen tree of the Myrtaceae family grows to a height of 5m to 12m. The fruit in itself is watery and slightly sweet. It has very thin skin with colorless juice. The fruit contains one or two seeds or no seed at all. The attractive fruits resemble bell-shaped berries.
When mature, the fruit will puff outwards with a slight concavity in the middle. The color of the fruits ranges from white to pale green. There are two types of Jamrul fruits one having white fruits and the other with pink fruits.
Java Apple must be plucked carefully, because bruised fruits rots easily. The fruits are generally served uncut and eaten fresh. In some places the fruits are used to make pickles.
Their astringent flowers are said to stop fever and diarrhoea and they have low energy value. The carbohydrate level in ripe Jamruls is about 4g per 100g but there is fair amount of Vitamin C in it.
The red hard wood of the Water Apple tree is used for constructing huts in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
National drink of India: Chai a.k.a Tea. Chai is ubiquitous in our country. It is served on every street corner and on crowded train stations at all times of the day or night. It is quite a sight to watch a street side vendor pour a cutting chai. They take one full glass of chai and one empty one. The chai is poured back and forth from one glass to another a few times from about 3 feet up and split equally between the two glasses. And amazingly not a single drop is spilled. This also helps to bring the chai down to drinking temperature.
How many of you agree with me that chai is national drink of India??
Bhutanese cuisine employs a lot of red rice, buckwheat in Bumthang, and increasingly maize in Eastern districts. The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, and lamb. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables, spiced with chilli peppers and cheese, are a favorite meal during the cold seasons.
Authentic Bhutanese Cuisines in Ama restaurant, Thimphu
Restaurants here can serve Chinese, Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian foods, which are very popular. Popular beverages include butter tea (called suja), milk tea (called ngaja), black tea, locally brewed ara (rice wine), and beer.
Indo-Bhutanese foods at Gangilokh hotel near Clocktower Thimphu
1. Ema datshi is a spicy dish made with large, green chili peppers in a cheesy sauce, which might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it.
2. Chicken Thukpa: Made of Rice Noodles and is very popular in Bhutan.
3.kewi datshi: Made of Potatoes, Onions,Chilli powder, Garlic Etc.,
4. Jasha Maroo: Bhutanese Spicy Chicken stew
5.veg cheese momos: No need of introduction 😛
Other foods include jasha maru (a chicken dish), phaksha paa (dried pork cooked with chili peppers, spices, and vegetables, including turnips, greens, or radishes), thukpa, bathup, and fried rice.
P.s: I don’t eat pork & beef. So I’m only mentioning dishes without it.. also don’t forget to try suja(butter tea) adapted from pho cha of Tibetan
Whenever I travel I put my special interest in trying local cuisines especially those foods which are sold on streets. I try street foods for a number of reasons, One is that they are reasonably priced and delicious than the foods which are sold in restaurants and other is to experience ethnic cuisines and also for nostalgia.
These pictures are taken in my recent trip to ‘Queen of Hill stations’ Known as ‘Darjeeling’. The time I spent in there was very less but still I tried some of the local street foods in chauk Bazaar Road, Darjeeling. Thought these are worth sharing.
The Laba Festival 臘八節/腊八节) is celebrated on the eighth (ba 八) day of the 12th month (la yue 腊月) and is one of the most important traditional festivals in Chinese culture. It is also a prelude to the Chinese Lunar New Year. This year the La Ba Festival falls on Jan 27.
The festival was originally a day of thanks for a good harvest and sacrifice to ancestors. The festival was used as commemoration of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment at the age of 35. Therefore, many customs of the Laba Festival are related to Buddhism. In the Qing dynasty, ceremonies for the Laba festival would have been held in the Yonghe Temple in Beijing.
Ancestor worship (祭祖jì zǔ):
The reason lunar December is called La Yue has a lot to do with the custom of sacrifice. First, the worship of ancestors and the sacrifice for the gods both frequently took place in the twelfth month, which led to the traditional name of the month: La Yue（腊月). Second, winter is the slack season for farmers so they have time to find things to burn in the sacrifice.
Laba Rice Porridge (腊八粥 là bā zhōu): There are several legends about the origin of porridge eating on Laba:
Siddhārtha Gautama (the Buddha) once attempted to find the right path to awakening by starving himself. One day, when he was starved and weakened, he met a village girl who gave him milk and rice pudding (congee) after mistaking him for a spirit who granted her a wish. He attained enlightenment not long after that incident. Some say the porridge, made of red beans, has the power to exorcise evil from little kids.
Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, used to live in poverty before he rose to power. He ate congee during those hard times. After becoming the emperor, he asked the people to eat congee as well. The custom of porridge eating has been well-known throughout history, from the royal court to common people. Almost every region in China has its own local recipe for Laba porridge. Eating hot porridge is great in cold winter, and the grain and nuts are considered healthy winter fare.
Laba garlic (腊八蒜 là bā suàn): It is an old Beijing custom to soak purple-peel garlic with vinegar and a little sugar for twenty days starting from the Laba festival. When the whole family gets together for the dumpling feast on Spring Festival Eve, they take out the Laba garlic which will be crisp, with a vinegary flavor and a green color.
Beating Spring Ox:
On the first day of spring the government would hold a ceremony called “Beating Spring Ox” with the purpose of encouraging farming. After the ritual of “Beating Spring”, people would compete in grabbing the scattered pieces of the earthen ox, which would dispel pests or ants, and bring them good harvest in farming and abundant production of silk and livestock.
1. The most authentic porridge is made in Northern China, especially Beiping (北平).
2. Customs of having La-ba porridge is preserved in Northeast China, Northwest China and Jiangnan but it has become rarer in Southern parts of China.
3. During the rule of Qing dynasty, ceremonies for the Laba festival would have been held in the Yonghe Temple in Beijing.
Source: Wikipedia & hujiang; Pic source: hujiang and google search.
Bing-tang hulu or Sugar-coated Haws is a popular traditional snack and also most authentic snack of Beijing. This candied fruit symbolizes happiness and reunion for most of the Chinese people. The traditional method of making candied haws is to string wild fruits on bamboo sticks and then dip them in malt syrup. The malt syrup turns hard as soon as it is exposed to the air, creating the crispy and sweet sugar-coated haws
The bright, lovely haws on the prod look like a string of small red lanterns, with a sweet and sour taste. The outer layer of sugar is crisp, but the haws are soft. When I was making a conversation with an old man he told me that previously there were only haws. Just a fews years back this candied fruit has took a turn with a touch of innovation starting sugar-coating strawberries, bananas, oranges, honey dates, cashews, bean pastes, chestnuts and chocolate. I like Sugarcoated haws and strawberries alot. I never even dared to taste other sugar coats because by the time I see these haws I get tempted to get it. So frankly speaking I never created an opportunity to taste them 😛
Health benefits: These sugar coated haws also helps in digestion, also rich in Vitamin C & E, carotene and other nutrients. These are also rich in dietary fibers. And is a good antioxidant rich food that can improves immunity. This lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure also.
Ups & downs of life:
Once upon a time I went to Gongzhuling to celebrate Mid autumn festival with my friend Mike’s family. On the eve we all went to a public park to see celebrations. While we were in the park aunty bought bingtang hulu for all of us. While eating, Houlin’s dad told us that he always remembers his childhood days whenever he eats this fruit. That sour and sweet taste represents the ups and downs of life. Sweet is compared to the ups and sour is compared to the down of life.
Now, when I was writing about this fruit, it reminded me of my college life which left both memorable and learning experiences, indeed both have their own footprint on me. My true friends lifted me up and helped me through all the bad/learning time. I’m missing them a lot as we don’t get a chance to interact with them as often as we used to during our college days. I should specially thank those who doubted me and hated me because they eventually made me grow strong.
Imperative thing is that many people around me have their own set of opinions on me, few accepted me what I am, few took me as a competitor and few intimidate me. All these people helped in molding me into a stronger person with a positive attitude. No matter where I will go I am going to miss the whole beautiful journey filled with jubilation and a tad crestfallen. This snack has definitely added life to my college days.
In this post I want to share the Foods which we tried in our last trip in China. Whenever I travel I put my special interest in trying local cuisines especially those foods which are sold on streets. I try street foods for a number of reasons, One is that they are reasonably priced and delicious than the foods which are sold in restaurants and other is to experience ethnic cuisines and also for nostalgia.
I personally liked Xi’an foods especially our first dinner in Xi’an was unforgettable. I have no words to explain my feelings on that meal. Every day in this city was a treat to our to tongues. I will never forget those foods which we tried in this beautiful historical city. You should also check this post where I’ve posted about the foods which we explored in muslim quarter near Bell tower and Drum tower
Foods which we tried in Sichuan :
This combines the cuisines from Chengdu,Emei shan, Leshan and chongqing.
Sichuan food has a great history that it has been originated in the Qing dynasty(1644-1911) books had systematically recorderd a total of 38 cooking methods like scald,wrap,bake,mix,stew and adhere,etc. it features pugent seasoning which were famed as 3 peppers (chinese prickly ash,pepper and hot pepper)3 aroma (shallot ginger and garlic). 7 tastes(sweet,sour,tingling,spicy bitter piquant, and salty)and 8 flavors(fish flavored sour with spice pepper-tingling odd flavor tingling with spice,red spicy oily,ginger sauce and home cooking..I got this info from my 1st year Introduction to china book.
I went to Sichuan with anxiety to try all the foods there. Because all the famous foods which represent China are from this Province. But I was kind of disappointed because I failed to try those foods which I planned to try.
Story behind the origin of Pineapple Rice:
There was once an elderly couple living in the city of Xishuangbann in the Yunnan Province. They tended the land for the feudal lord by gardening on a small island. One summer there came a severe storm that flooded the island. Even though the island had many fruits and vegetables, they were running out, and only had a small amount of rice as well. To stretch the rice, they decided to mix it with bananas, and mangoes. This didn’t taste very good, nor did they like the texture, so they decided to try pineapple. At first they chopped up the pineapple and mixed it with the rice.The pineapple tasted good, they had it several times. One day the old man carved out a pineapple first, and then filled it with rice. This was a perfect combination, so they continued with this preparation even after the floods subsided. These people called the Dai people were a hidden Chinese minority all the way up until the late 19th century. Today this has become a popular dish throughout China with only a few improvements.
Tips from my Trip :
1.Gong baoji ding-in chinese it is called gong bao ji ding; This is a tender chicken dish,tender as the meat is quickly fried flavored with peanuts,this is tasty and very popular.
2.Don’t forget to try foods in muslim quarter near the Bell tower and Drum tower especially Fomi zhongzi (sweet rice dumplings)
3. Yangrou paomo is one of the most delicious meal you should try it for sure.
4.Fried rice with pickled Chinese cabbage and little capsicum is extremely savoury.
While travelling in Maharashtra, I was amazed to see a fruit called ‘Ramphal’ while we were in the verge of exploring Daulatabad fort, Aurangabad. Since I never heard of it. I was bit curious to know more about it. So I flooded that vendor with many questions related to this fruit.
Me: “what is this fruit?”
Vendor:“Sir ji this is Ramphal. Don’t you know?”
Me: “What is the main season for ramphal ?”
Vendor: “during March – May”
Me: “How does it taste?”
Vendor: “It is sweet just like Sitaphal (Custard Apple). You should taste it and know it by yourselves.”
Me: “How to differentiate between ripe and unripe fruit?”
Vendor: “If the fruit is pale green or hard to touch and have shiny green skin then it is in unripe state. The ripe fruits are heavy and soft to touch. The ripe fruits are very sweet.”
Since we’ve a lot to travel, I thought of ending the conversation. So I asked him to select few good fruits for me. I bought some and went to my dad and showed him as if I discovered something 😉 then he told me that they used to eat this in their childhood. Perhaps these are found only in rural areas where they grow. May be they are seldom found in cities?
My Tastebuds exploded with Sweetness:
I have guessed that the taste of this fruit will be similar to sitaphal. And my guess was right. But this is more sweeter than sitaphal. It was very sweet indeed. But the second one was mildly sweet. Maybe the taste of the fruit depends on the fruit and its tree.When compared with Sitaphal, its texture was creamy yet slightly granular, especially nearest to the skin.It is smoother, butterier and the best part is that ramphals have fewer seeds.
With a pinch of excitement to know more about this fruit ,I have spent some time in browsing other forums to share the most about this lovely fruit with my friends and followers..
Origin of Ramphal:
Ramphal or Annona reticulata also known as bullock’s heart is originated from West Indies, Central and South America. However, It is naturalized in Southeast Asia, India, Taiwan, West Africa and Australia.
Health Benefits :
Health benefits of Ramphals is quite fascinating. They are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that boosts the immune system, keeps skin healthy and assists with repairing wounds and cuts.
It has potassium, which helps the body regulate its electrolyte balance, enhance muscle growth, and improves the body’s ability to process waste.
The leaves act as an insecticide, styptic, anti-helminthic, Anti ulcer and, when applied externally, as a suppurant (or, aids in the elimination of pus). The ripe and unripe fruits combat dysentery; the bark is a potent astringent and vermifuge. In Ayurveda and Unani, leaves are used as an aphrodisiac and emmenagogue(stimulates menstruation).
All the species of Annona fruit are named after Hindu Gods like Ramphal (Annona Reticularis), Sitaphal (annona Squamosa)and Lakshmanphal (Annona muricata). It is quite endearing that in Hindu mythology Ram is married to Sita and Lakshmana is Ram’s brother. Interesting isn’t it?