Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 16, Tuesday, April 19, 2011



Summer fruits

Just as winter brings with it an array of vegetables, summer ushers in an assortment of fruits. The hot climate of the region and the fertile soil favour the production of various fruits. Being situated on the Tropic of Cancer bestows on Bangladesh a generous amount of sunshine and its location beside the Bay of Bengal results in a hot and humid summer for the major portion of the year.

A glass of green mango juice, served with ice will replenish anyone fatigued by the oppressive heat. Apart from mangoes, collective national favourites in terms of fruits are blackberries, jackfruits, watermelons, grapefruits, bel (wood apple). On a visit to any fruit stalls in the bazaars, one can find bangi, sofeda, ata/sharifa, coconuts, papayas, pineapples, sugarcanes and so on.

Each of these fruits is juicy, delicious and priced relatively reasonably.

It does not matter how these fruits are consumed; whether as a juice or in their original form, the taste is something to cherish. Serving guests with lemon juice or green coconut water is a time honoured Bengali tradition.

Nutrition expert Dr Tahmid Ahmed of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), said, "Our everyday diet should be a balanced one. When there is a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, it is called a balanced diet. Fruits should be an integral part of our normal diet. It is a must-have in your everyday menu, because they contain micro-nutrients, water and minerals. Micro-nutrients are a combination of various kinds of vitamins and minerals. These are essential nutrients which we have to take every day from external sources.

"Every fruit has its own food value. As most fruits are sweet, they are rich in sugar and hence provide energy. However, fruit juices not only provide an extra burst of energy but also replenish water lost with sweat," said Dr Tahmid.

"Within a short time jackfruits will be available in the market," continued Dr Tahmid, "this is highly nutritious and especially good for children and pregnant mothers. On the other hand mangoes are a good source of Vitamin-A. Guavas, which too will soon be widely available, are a good source of vitamin C."

In conclusion Dr Tahmid said, "Nowadays people are deterred from having fruits because of the fear of consuming toxic chemicals used during cultivation. However, the best way to deal with this is washing fruits thoroughly and preferably buying from a reliable vendor or store."

By Mahtabi Zaman


Getting by without a maid

Having domestic help to lend a hand in household chores has long been our way of life in Bangladesh. Commonly referred to as the “Bua” in our country, these women are there to do every chore of the house starting from cooking to dusting to washing clothes and so much more. Be it a part-time maid or a live-in one, having a maid has been an indispensable part of every household in Bangladesh for years.

Almost 40-50 years ago, employing one maid to do all the work was not enough given large, extended families. “When we were children we used to have 3 live-in maids and a part timer too. Back then having multiple maids was very normal” says Nasreen Ameen.

That was when the allowances for these women were very minimal. A few maids were so loyal that they stayed with the same family for decades. These women were almost like family members and changing their workplace from one house to another was, most of the time, something they could not even think about. However, in the last two decades that trend has changed.

Shrinking families and the gradual increase in the number of garments factories over the last two decades initiated the change from the age-old tradition of having multiple maids. Rural and poor women had an alternative opportunity of earning a living by working at these factories, causing the salaries for maids to shoot up, rendering it impossible for a family with a normal income to afford more than one maid. While this problem was not as widespread during the early 90s it has become a big problem by now.

“My mother never even had to visit the kitchen. She would have never thought that I would cook. Yet, I have had to cook for many years because of this chronic maid crisis,” is how Mrs. Ameen puts it. Due to the recent introduction of micro-credit and yet more garment companies entering the market it has become even harder to find a maid these days and soon a time may come when the trend of having a maid at home may completely die out.

For the time being, raising their pay, treating them well, letting them watch their favourite television serials and giving them frequent leaves may help retain maids but even that may not help in the long run. With more and more women having a career nowadays, managing work and a house without help is not anybody's cup of tea. So instead of fretting about it there are many things that one can do to make life easier.

Cooking itself may not take much time but, the subsidiary chores associated with it may. Bangladeshi food needs a lot of spices and pastes. Making garlic and ginger paste has always been the duty of the maid. With the absence of a maid the best alternative is to acquire a food processor. Blenders make pastes easily, and that too in a short time.

It is a habit of Bangladeshis to heat bread on the tawa, which is quite time consuming. Opting for a toaster will make life a lot easier. Also when one does not have much time to make breakfast for the family before going to office the more one opts for electrical appliances the faster food will be on the table.

Electric kettles, coffee-makers and sandwich makers will definitely save one's time and energy. Moreover, one should opt for less complicated breakfast menus such as cornflakes. Availability of frozen parathas, nuggets, samosas also add variety for easy-to-make snacks options.

Instead of cooking every day, cooking a large amount of food twice a week and keeping it refrigerated could also help reduce the load. Microwave ovens are a great help for heating cooked food. One can also relieve oneself from chopping vegetables by buying diced mixed vegetables which are available nowadays in all department stores.

Long-handled mops are widely available in the market and these can be used to wipe the floors during weekends. Feathered dusters are the best tools for dusting furniture tops. Dusting of different rooms can be divided between two, three days instead of doing all the rooms in one day which takes a lot of time and effort.

There are various surface cleaning sprays available in the market that can also be used for faster, more effective cleaning. Another thing that is helpful is to cover sofas and television sets when not in use, this will save the pain of dusting them.

Washing dishes after every meal is surely tiring. Buying a dish washer will obviously take that job off your hands. Instead of using the dish washer after every meal all the dishes can be put into the dish washer after dinner. Obviously it does not need to be mentioned that for washing clothes, washing machines are available!

The trick is how to make washing more efficient. Instead of washing every day choosing a particular day or two days in a week for washing clothes will make things easy. What can be done is to put the laundry in the machine and do some dusting while the machine does its work.

Choose a cleaning and maintenance schedule that suits you and with time, the absence of domestic help will not seem so bad at all.

By Karishma Ameen


Quick and handy kitchen tips

Your refrigerator stinks: Just cut a piece of lemon and place it on any corner of the racks.

Apples turn black too soon: Do you need to save apples for later use such as pies or salads? Dip the apple slices in vinegar and store them in an air-tight container or jar.

Meat takes a long time to soften: If you are cooking a meat curry for a while and the meat isn't soft in time, just cut a raw papaya and pour its milk on the meat curry; it will soften the meat quickly.

Too much salt in the gravy: Just make a few wheat dough balls and put them in the gravy for at least 10 minutes to absorb the extra salt.

Does custard powder clot in milk while making a dessert: Yes it does! Just mix the powder with water and then put the liquid in the milk.

Sides of breads a waste: Not really! The next time you make sandwiches and cut off the sides of the bread slices; don't throw them away with a guilty feeling, just save them; then toast them or harden them by tossing them in a dry fry pan on low heat, then crush them to make bread crumbs!

Don't have self rising flour at home: No worries at all! It's the simplest thing ever. Just mix regular flour and baking powder and sieve together; it will work.

Overcooked rice: If you think the rice is already overcooked and will turn lumpy, then before draining just turn the heat off and pour in a cup of ice cold water and squeeze half a lime. Put the lid on for a few minutes.

To make sure rice does not stick together: When boiling rice and wanting to make sure they don't stick together, adding 1 teaspoon of vegetable or olive oil keeps the rice separated

Sinking cakes: If your cake sinks in the middle just cut out the center and fill it with fresh fruit and cream or ice cream and sprinkles (life's too short to not add sprinkles!). If you have children they will be thrilled to help you "clean-up" the left over center!

Quick burn solutions: Grow an aloe vera plant on your kitchen windowsill. When you burn yourself snap a bit off and squeeze juice on burn. It really takes the heat out and is very good for skin too.

Preventing milk spillages: When using a milk jug dab a small amount of butter or margarine under the spout, this will stop any milk from running down the outside of the jug while pouring.

Onion and garlic odors: The smells of onions and garlic are especially difficult to get off your hands. Surprisingly, just putting your hands under cold running water without rubbing them together, no soap, just cool water for 10 seconds works like magic.

The perfect egg: When cooking eggs, add ½ a teaspoon of salt to the water before putting the eggs in -- that way, should they crack, the whites won't run out into the water.

Grated cheese: Grate your cheese for sandwiches, salads and the likes with a very fine grater (what you would use for zesting), it looks voluminous and is actually much less than you realise and probably as much as you really should have.

Compiled by Sharmeen Rahman and LS Desk


Piran's new outlet

Piran has opened its third outlet at Plaza AR, Dhanmondi on April 8, showcasing apparel for men, women and children, accessories and home collections.

The opening ceremony was attended by guests and fashion enthusiasts, while Khushi Kabir, Co-coordinator of 'Nijera Kori', an NGO, was the Special Guest. But the star of the evening was none other than the boutique itself.

Speaking at the launch, Hosna Banu, CEO of Piran said “We are pleased to open the third branch of Piraan in Dhanmondi. The boutique offers a wide range of exclusive collections that will appeal to people of all tastes.”

The architectural concept represents the local motif and its collections and weaves are very well linked to the local heritage.

The latest collection at the boutique houses the line that was showcased at the recent Boishakhi collection. The entire collection across categories is flamboyantly synchronised.

Hosna Banu started her professional career with Aarong. She and her husband Shamim Ahmed established Piraan in 2002. Style, craftsmanship, quality and refinement are the defining symbols of Piraan's apparels. Her collections attempt to invigorate ideas towards replenishment of both traditional and contemporary Bangladeshi life.

The owner and designer Hosna Banu tries to give her own touch. Decorated with block print, sequins, appliqué, screen print, kantha stitch and dyed in chic colours, saris are available in cotton, half silk and silk fabric.

Piraan's fashionable range of shalwar-kameez sets, dopattas, blouse pieces and unstitched shalwar-kameez pieces have been crafted out of unconventional fabrics.

The Men's Wear segment presents panjabis (Tk 550-Tk 1600) and fatuas (Tk400-Tk900).

Piraan's jewellery line (Tk170 to Tk450) consists of bangles, chokers, rings, hair pin (Tk60 to Tk120), and earrings made from metal and terra cotta.

You can also choose a wide array of colourful mirrors (Tk 125), terra cotta masks (Tk200), rickshaws (Tk120-Tk650) and lamps (Tk400-Tk2000). You can also pick up bed covers (Tk 800-1300) and curtains (Tk600-Tk900).

By Farizaa Sabreen


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