Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 26, Tuesday, June 28, 2011



Knocking on a virtual door

My dear child, I am ignorant about the virtual world you live in, kindly enlighten me.

My query is simple and very basic: what is a society? What does it comprise of? Is it just the computer and you? Does being social mean staying online every waking hour of the day or night, and is it all about the beeping boxes on the taskbar repeatedly consoling you that you are connected to the wider world?

It beats me, I don't know.

Obviously, I am just not fond of these social networking sites. Did you notice how unsocial these sites are making you?

You are doing everything possible to know what our friend in Dhanmondi or Gulshan is doing or what your uncle in America had for dinner, but you have no clue how your neighbours down the alley are doing?

Maybe that is a bit too farfetched, I mean, who actually cares for neighbours or community nowadays? Well then, let me re-phrase that; do you know how your grandmother or mother is faring just a block away or in the next room? Of course not, you are busy maintaining your social engagements elsewhere in some virtual world; the real world is not your concern.

You are a very busy person in your virtual world, reading news and fan fictions, watching movies, listening to songs, poking friends, slaying demons and mutants and making the wastelands of Fall Out a better place, or being engaged in some ghostly battle in Monkey Island with your buddy Guy Brush.

It has become difficult for you to hold a conversation with a person face to face. You twiddle and wriggle your way out if you have to meet and chitchat with real people. You just don't know what to say or how to engage with someone in conversation. There are times when you are grinning to yourself, laughing out loud and rolling on the floor but I can't hear you. I am not a part of your world out there. On top of that it seems to me that I am a complete stranger. I am so aggrieved.

I miss us in this real world; I miss our random tea parties, our watching a movie together, our fights regarding how scary exorcist is or how mushy Julie & Julia is. Most importantly I miss dressing you up; the world where you tread in does not need you to comb your hair, or put on a decent top, or apply lip gloss. There, an old torn hand-me-down tee from your father is more than enough. No one is there to see you and compliment you on your new hair style. Even though you are connected to your friends on the other end they don't necessarily need to know about your unkempt state.

Staying awake till the wee hours of the morning and chatting with classmates online may be the coolest thing to do right now, but once you step into the real world social skills will be all about your ability to talk and communicate with fellow beings. It will certainly not be about how cool you are online.

The real world, for your kind information my child, is not online, here connectivity means being impressive face to face.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Getting started

By Karim Waheed

Be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup...Water can flow or it can crush. -- Bruce Lee

The most daunting part of getting into shape is getting started. A lot of people contemplate starting a training programme along with a good diet. While some get sidetracked, others (like me in the past) are involved in a frustrating cycle of getting into and out of a routine.

And here's how the abovementioned Bruce Lee quote makes sense: You should understand, to be in killer form, you need to embrace working out regularly and making better food choices as a lifestyle.

Set a goal, don't limit yourself; if you have an underachieving state of mind, chances are you're a quitter. Aim high and be ready to endure soreness and a lot of sweat. I strongly believe in “if you're not feeling it, your workout isn't really working.”

However, do consult your physician before embarking on this new lifestyle. There are many different workout programmes to help you reach whatever goal you are striving for. You could build muscle mass, you could tone the physique you already have, you could lose body fat -- whatever the goal, there is a programme for you.

Once you've set up your goals and decided on a fitness programme, 'live' and 'breathe' that programme, 'be' that programme.

As you can imagine there's so much information that I could put into this column, but I don't want to overload and spook you. Always keep in mind that getting (and staying) fit is an endless journey of learning. I'm still learning myself.

Don't take what anyone (not even I) says as the last word. The Internet is truly a blessing; utilise it; join online fitness forums/communities; read; research. Get as much information as you can; build your knowledge of the topic; try different techniques; tweak programmes and have fun learning about your body.

Start conditioning yourself. Not everyone is fit enough to just drop and do 20 (real) push-ups on the first day. But you'll get there. Take baby steps. Start the conditioning process with walking; if you don't have bad knees, I suggest you jog, or even better, run.

Start with at least 30 minutes of walking/running three times a week. If you can do it four/five days a week, awesome! After two weeks of conditioning, start doing push-ups.

The beauty of working out at home: no one's watching you. By all means wear your favourite raggedy t-shirt and shorts; as long as they're comfortable and they breathe, they're good.

Apply logic: Think about how uncomfortable you would be, jogging in the park, if you were wearing jeans instead of shorts or sweat pants. Yes: sweat pants, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, comfortable shalwar kameez (for women), running shoes. No: formal shirts, trousers, denim, flip-flops/sandals. Grey area: sari.

Exercise mats: starting at Tk1050; weight lifting gloves: starting at Tk180; free weights (dumbbells): starting at Tk250 (per kg). [Source: Body & Sports, Dhaka.]

Never settle for anything less than your best. Be confident in everything you do and grab life by the horns. You must first crawl before you can walk. You must walk before you can run. I have led you to the stairs -- all you have to do is take that first step.


Mango delights


We are pleased to bring to our readers a new recipe column, The Melting Pot, from Chef Abdullah Tareq who will provide a international flavour to these pages. Even though the recipes are foreign, the ingredients can be found locally. With the onset of the rainy season and the abundance of mango, the favourite fruit of the Bangladeshi, we start off with some great mango recipes. Enjoy!

I have chosen a few recipes which are great for summer. The ingredients are also readily available. Mango is chosen as the key ingredient in today's recipes simply because it's everywhere and also because it tastes great.

Mango sorbet
The first recipe is mango sorbet. Sorbet is similar to ice cream but doesn't have air whipped into it. It's also a healthier alternative because it generally doesn't contain any fat.

(Serves 8 to 10)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
4 large ripe mangoes
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 egg whites

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and let cool. Peel mangoes and chop the flesh. Puree mango flesh in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add cooled sugar syrup and lemon juice and process until combined.

Pour into a shallow metal tray or any freezer-proof shallow dish and freeze until almost set. Transfer partially set sorbet to a food processor or blender. Add the egg whites and process until smooth. Refreeze until firm. Serve scoops of sorbet after letting it sit in normal temperature for a few minutes. This allows it to soften up.

Chicken and mango salad
Generally people in our country tend not to mix fruit with meat. But this combination should be a pleasant surprise for those willing to experiment. It's a nice simple salad which tastes really good and smells like summer.

(Serves 4)
4 (about 120g each) chicken breasts, fat trimmed
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly shredded
1 small red chilli, seeded, sliced
2 mangoes, peeled
200ml light olive oil
1 cucumber, very thinly sliced lengthways
75g fresh coriander leaves
6 shallots (spring onions), finely sliced

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and pan fry them in very light oil for 8-12 minutes. Check if they are ready by inserting a skewer into the thickest part. If the juices run clear, it's ready.

Shred chicken and place in a bowl. Place the ginger, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, kaffir lime leaves and chilli in a bowl, add the chicken and stir to coat. Kaffir lime leaves are available in supermarkets like Agora and Meena Bazaar these days, but if its not available, lime zest can be used. Set aside for one hour to marinate.

Place the flesh from one of the mangoes in a food processor or blender and puree, then add the oil and process until smooth. Thinly slice the remaining mango and set aside. Drain the chicken, reserving the juices of the marinade, and return the chicken to the bowl with cucumber, mango slices, coriander and shallots. Stir mango puree into the reserved marinade and drizzle over the salad.

Mango Gazpacho
Another dish suitable in this summer heat is the Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold soup which is very popular in countries like Spain, Latin America and Portugal. Gazpacho is traditionally a tomato based vegetable soup but there can be many variations to it. I've chosen a Mango Gazpacho for today's column.

(Serves 6)
2 cups, ¼-inch-diced fresh mangoes
2 cups orange juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 seeded cucumber, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 small red capsicum, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small green chili, seeded and minced (optional)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and ground black pepper

Process mangoes, orange juice and oil in a blender or food processor until pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This soup is extremely simple and can be made several hours before serving.


Proper nutrition is the basis for optimum health and well being. Holistic nutrition is a modern, natural approach to developing a healthy balanced diet while taking into account the person as a whole. It is considered to be part of holistic health. Beginning this week, nutritionist Nahid Ameen will be answering queries related to food, diet and good health. Feel free to ask questions related to Ayurveda, another of Ameen's forte. Questions should be sent to lifestyleds@yahoo.com

Dear Nahid,
In the past Bangladeshis widely used mustard oil which has now been replaced by soybean oil. Some health conscious individuals prefer eating olive oil and other 'healthy' substitutes. Can you please elaborate on these issues? Bangladesh cuisine relies a lot on oil; how can we maintain good health eating such oily treats?

Oils are used for cooking in almost every culture. Depending on individual needs or family needs you can choose your oil. Oils help build our tissues, make our bodies stronger, soothe bodily membranes and to some extent activate digestive fibre.

Mustard oil is highly pungent in taste and is heating in nature; it is a traditional ingredient in chutneys and pickles. This oil is great for people who have a hard time gaining weight or are underweight. To use for cooking first heat the oil to a smoking point (until you see a bit of smoke coming out of the pan) and then cook in it.

Soybean oil can be considered as healthy oil provided that it is not hydrogenated and it is certified organic. Trans-fat is a by-product of hydrogenation. Hydrogenation also distorts the "fatty acids," which are naturally present in the oils.

All oils have different nutrient profiles, including the types of fats they contain. Soybean oil would be especially helpful for a diet that was missing Omega 6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. Walnuts, eggs and fish are also good sources of Omega 6.

However, from a cooking standpoint (especially high heat cooking) soybean should not be used, because any oil containing Omega 6 is generally less stable and more susceptible to structural damage.

Olive oil is one of the world's best choices in oil. This is not because of its fat profile rather because of its unique phytonutrient profile. Olive oil contains a variety of polyphenols that have rich health benefits.

However cooking with this oil or heating this oil will damage this rich mix of polyphenols therefore we lose all valuable nutrients. This defeats the purpose of using the oil for its nutrients. The best way to use olive oil is in your salad dressings or directly on your salads.

I prefer using other oils for my cooking -- ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil and sesame seed oil. These oils will not raise cholesterol if used sparingly. I have read numerous books, journals and studies on "fats" and today in North America every health food store sells coconut oil and ghee.

They can stand a very high smoke point and stay stable during the cooking process which means the fatty acid composition stays the same. Ghee can be heated up to 116 C, sesame seed oil 210 C and coconut oil 177 C.

Coconut oil is particularly my favourite oil, as it contains medium chain fatty acid, which means that the body can easily digest this fat and it does not get stored in our body easily, unless consumed in excessive amounts. Coconut oil is also sold as a supplement in Canada and USA for thyroid condition, fighting yeast infections etc.

Ghee is used in Ayurvedic cooking for its medicinal properties. Our bodies can digest 1 tablespoon of ghee easily per day depending on other aspects of your diet.

My advice for oils and ghee is simple - if someone is either overweight or has a hard time losing weight they should use any cooking oil sparingly. Steam your vegetables and then use oil or stir fry your vegetables using very little oil.

However if someone is quite the opposite (finds it hard to gain weight or is underweight) then oils are a wonderful addition to their diet.

Do not take away oils or fats from your diet completely as it is essential for our organs especially the brain. Know the difference between good fats and bad fats. We Bangladeshis are fortunate as we can enjoy fish in our diet abundantly. Many of these fish are rich in essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6) and Vitamin A.

If you are eating out then you have no control over how much fat is used or the quality of the fat. If you are eating processed, packaged and dehydrated foods you are most definitely consuming trans-fat. However when cooking at home you are in control of what kind of fat/oil you will be using and how much.

Just remember you are what you eat -- so get the facts right on food.

By Nahin Amin



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