Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 21, Tuesday May 27, 2008



Beat the heat
With the mercury levels reaching an all-new high, we are all certainly feeling the heat. Over the years, the development of technology has given us many gadgets like the air conditioner, which we diligently use in heat waves such as this to keep ourselves cool. Today I would like to share with my readers some simple, easy and most importantly, home made, methods of keeping cool. So far, I have limited myself only to culinary delights for my readers, but for this issue I will attempt to venture into the fashion world and share a few “cool” titbits. This latter will not only leave your skin looking clear and healthy, but is a sure way of beating the heat. For the benefit of my readers, I have supplied recipes containing absolutely elementary ingredients, which can be easily located in your kitchens without much trouble.

Green-papaya brightening mask
½ cup unripe papaya, diced
1 tsp plain yoghurt
1 tsp honey
Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Apply to clean skin, using fingers; leave on for 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse off using cool water and pat dry. Finish by applying a gentle moisturizer.

Here's why it works: Unripe papaya contains natural alpha-hydroxy acids and high levels of papain, an enzyme that helps dissolve dead skin cells. Yoghurt adds lactic acid (another alpha-hydroxy) and gives the mask a creamy texture, and honey helps skin retain moisture. When left on, the mask should tingle slightly; if you have sensitive skin or prefer a gentler exfoliation, use ripe papaya, which has less papain.

Homemade fresh ginger ale
Suitable for diabetics
Calorie: 0
4 cups water
2 cups fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 strips lemon peel (about 4 inches each), yellow part only
12 cups club soda, chilled
sugar substitute (according to taste)
ice cubes
Place ginger, lemon peel, and 4 cups of water in a 16 cups saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer at a low heat until reduced to about 3 cups.

Place a fine wire strainer over a large bowl. Pour in ginger mixture to separate solids from liquid. Discard the lemon peel. The strained cooked ginger pieces may be reserved for other uses (good with vanilla ice cream or yoghurt).

Cool the ginger mixture and pour into a glass container. Seal tightly and chill. It can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

For serving: For each cup serving, mix 2 tbsp ginger mixture with ½ cup cold club soda and sugar substitute according to taste and pour over ice. Additional ginger mixture and/or sugar may be added to taste.

Iced pineapple tea
Suitable for diabetics
40 calories per cup
4 cups water
4 tea bags
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
additional sugar substitute if needed
ice cubes
In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add tea bags. Let stand until cool. Discard tea bags.
Stir in the pineapple juice, lemon juice and sugar. Refrigerate overnight for the flavours to blend. Serve over ice cubes.

Iced mint tea
Suitable for diabetics
Calorie: 0
14 cups water
6 tea bags
1 cup green mint leaves
sugar substitute (according to taste)
ice cubes
lemon or orange slices (if desired)
fresh mint leaves, to garnish
In a saucepan, put mint and 2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a separate pan, boil 12 cups of water. Remove from the heat and add tea bags. Let stand until cool. Discard tea bags.
Strain boiled mint water into cooled tea. Add sugar and refrigerate. When cold, pour into tall glasses with ice cubes. Garnish glasses with slices of lemon or orange and sprigs of fresh mint leaves.

Cooking could be interesting!

When I got married I had no clue about how to light a stove, let alone cook. Back then, we had Nurir ma, the epitome of the ultimate domestic help. Nurir ma is quite a character and needs a separate column to write about. While she was around, I didn't have to lift a finger, let alone a spoon or a mop to cook or do any housework. But one fine day, she just walked out of our house taking her son with her.

It seemed as if the sky had fallen on our heads. My mother-in-law was the best cook ever but she was old and needed help. And 'little ole' me wasn't much of one. But I tried to be what a lokkhi bou should be. I tried my hand at cooking. In the meantime, maa had to go out of town leaving me on my own. I took up the reins of the kitchen in my capable (?) hands. I called up my mother and asked for instructions and cooked my first meal, which consisted of chicken curry and rice. While cooking the chicken, I added water according to the instructions I got. Who knew it would be a tad too much? I tried to dry up the gravy, stirring it enthusiastically. The poor chicken could not withstand the vigorous stirring and began to come off in shreds. It was a mess with all the meat resembling some sort of bhorta and the bones sticking out like twigs in a mud pie!

Next, I concentrated on the rice. I took out two cups of rice from the first tin I laid my hands on and boiled it. Luckily I had remembered to wash it. When it was done it seemed so sticky that I couldn't dish it out with a spoon and had to use my hands to scrape it off the spoon. My husband figured out it was biroin chal or sticky rice, a particular delicacy of Sylhet and eaten with molasses and thick, creamy milk or scrumptious fish fries!

Eid was around the corner and the night before Eid I decided to try my hand at cooking maa's famous shemai. She fried a little vermicelli in ghee and cooked it on slow fire in a huge pot full of milk, stirring it continuously till the milk became a quarter of what she had started with. Now, I had seen the finished product most of the time and not the hard work that went behind it. So I took the huge pot and mixed some water to some powdered milk and added the vermicelli. It didn't look like maa's - and why should it turn out perfect without all the effort that was supposed to go with it? So I took the powdered milk tin and turned it upside down over the pot. I had a pot full of watery milk vermicelli with enormous lumps of solidified powdered milk!

By Fahmeena Nahas


The healthy alternative to coffee

People have been drinking green tea for centuries. In fact, Buddhist monks began consuming it regularly due to its medicinal powers as a beverage. Recent research has supported their early claims, as more and more benefits have been found.

There is actually a difference between green tea and the two other varieties: black and oolong. In fact, green and black teas actually come from the same plant. Green tea is the only one that is not fermented though, so it keeps a lot of the antioxidants that are usually lost in processing the other two types. When prepared, green tea leaves are steamed or baked when still fresh, therefore retaining their natural green colour.

Researchers have discovered green tea is loaded with antioxidants, specifically polyphenols. This type helps to fight against free radicals. Free radical molecules cause “bad” cholesterol to form plaque on the inside walls of the body's arteries. Polyphenols are said to stop this, as well as to relax blood vessels. Therefore, green tea is also effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Additionally, many people feel these antioxidants help to slow down the aging process, as well as boost the immune system. Furthermore, recent research from Case Western University has found drinking green tea regularly can prevent or reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis. Lastly, green tea has been found to fight the ever-raging battle against cancer. It has been found, for example, that men who drink green tea on a daily basis reduce the risk of prostate cancer by two-thirds.

Just like “regular” tea, green tea is brewed. It can be served hot or iced, before, during, or after a meal. It is a great replacement to coffee in the morning, as it has much less caffeine per cup. Or, use it as a great after-meal counterpart to dessert.

By Zubaida Munny

News Flash

Kay Kraft's Summerfest'08

This year, Kay Kraft will be organising their 10th Summerfest, which is to be inaugurated on Friday, 30th May, at their outlet in Banani, road 11, house 26. The Summerfest'08 will be highlighting their latest collection for summer. This year, the materials mostly used for the collection are hand-woven cotton and endi and the colour themes used are based on light, pastel, summer shades such as torquoise, peach, lemon and white. The exclusive collection includes everything from tops, shalwar kameez and sari for women, as well as fatua and panjabi for men.



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