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Special recipes

Savouries for Shab-e-baraat

Do you want to impress your mother-in-law with your culinary expertise this Shab-e-baraat? Or perhaps, you'd like to make your annoying neighbors jealous? Or maybe, you're just plain bored with the same old traditional halwas every year? Why not step off the beaten track this Shab-e-baraat and try out some of our new and unusual halwa recipes?

Apple Halwa
"Carrot Halwa, Lentils and Bean Halwa, Wheat Flour Halwa and Semolina Halwa are all popular desserts. Apple Halwa can be made the same way and it has an interestingly sweet and tart taste. A form of milk cooked until all the water has evaporated-known as khoya is used. Condensed milk is a nice substitute".

3 lbs apples, grated, best made with tart crisp apples
6 tsp sugar, juice of 1 lemon, 8 tbsp ghee or clarified butter, 2 inch cinnamon stick
6 cloves, 8 tbsp condensed milk, 2 tbsp raisins, 2 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp calvados, almond slivers to decorate, silver or gold foil.

As soon as the apples are grated, sprinkle them with sugar and lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Mix well.
Heat the ghee in a heavy based saucepan, add the cinnamon and cloves and after 30 seconds the apples. Sauté for 10 minutes or so over high heat. Add the condensed milk and raisins and sauté
for a further 8 - 10 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan.

Glaze with the butter. This dessert should be served hot. Heat the calvados for a few seconds in a small pan and pour into the halwa.
Garnish with almonds if using.

Note: You can also use silver or gold foil to garnish the halwa and sprinkle ground toasted pistachios or walnuts and serve the halwa with vanilla ice cream.

Raisin Halwa
1 stick butter, 12 fluid ounces of milk, 12 fluid ounces of sugar,12 fluid ounces of cream of wheat (sooji), 1 teaspoon cardamom or other spices (optional),1 handful raisins or dried berries (cranberries are good)
1 small banana, sliced

In a medium saucepan, throw in the stick of butter and spices. Cook over medium-high heat until the butter melts and all the water boils off. At this point, the butter will pretty much stop boiling. All this time, the spices will be cooking in the butter, infusing it with flavor. Continue cooking the butter until it slightly browns. This adds a nutty flavor.

At this point, quickly stir in all of the cream of wheat, and roast the mixture in the pan. You might need to reduce the heat to medium, since this mixture tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Constantly stir to prevent burning.

As the mixture roasts, the cream of wheat will turn browner. This enhances the flavor, but can take a few minutes. The longer you roast the cream of wheat, the better the result.

Once you have gotten tired of stirring, cautiously add the milk. Stir quickly to spread the milk throughout the cream of wheat. Most of the milk will appear to boil off immediately, but it will actually have been absorbed by the sooji. Stir for a minute or so, making sure the sooji does not burn.

At this point, add in the sugar and stir some more. The sugar will draw the milk back out, and the resulting mixture will be thick and have a glaze. At this point, mix in whatever fruit you have to the mixture. The consistency of the mixture will be somewhere between that of jelly and peanut butter.

Take the pan off the stove, cover it, and let it cool for about 30 minutes. Once it hardens a bit, it's ready to eat. Serve warm, no garnishing necessary.

Pista Burfi
4 ozs. Pistachio nuts,2 tbsp water,2 ozs. castor sugar (confectionery sugar)

Soak , peel and grate pistachios finely.
Prepare syrup with sugar and water and boil till it has thread consistency.
Add grated pistachios and stir till they are thoroughly mixed up and dried.
Spread the mix over a greased plate and shape in a rectangle.
Cool and cut into shapes.

Courtesy: Suvir Saran website


Say NO to Cholesterol

Okay, with Shab-e-baraat coming up, there will be a lot of sweet halwas to sample. After indulging yourself to your stomach's content, get ready to put on your running shoes, to work off the mountain of cholesterol.

High cholesterol is an issue that has now prompted a greater number of people to take a fresh look at their lives; some are trying hard to change their eating habits and lifestyles to protect themselves from the disastrous aftereffects of high cholesterol.

Saying No to cholesterol will save you from innumerable health ailments especially coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attacks. Once you come to know about the maleficent outcomes of cholesterol, you too will be inspired to consume foods that have low cholesterol constituents.

Cholesterol is an important normal body constituent, used in the structure of cell membranes, synthesis of bile acids, and synthesis of steroid hormones.

For a rough idea, try to bear in mind that there are 4 types of cholesterol. They are known as HDL (High-density lipoprotein), LDL (Low-density lipoprotein), Triglyceride and Total cholesterol. Among these, HDL is safe for health and is known as "good" cholesterol because a high HDL level seems to protect against heart attack. The opposite is also true: a low HDL level indicates a greater risk. A low HDL cholesterol level may also raise the risk of stroke.
On the other hand, Tryglyceride and LDL are highly injurious to health, contributing acutely to increased risk of cardiac diseases. If too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up on the walls of the arteries feeding the heart and brain. That's why LDL cholesterol is called "bad" cholesterol.

There are two ways in which a person's body receives cholesterol. Firstly, the body itself generates cholesterol through the liver, usually about 1000 milligrams a day. On the other hand, a person gets cholesterol from food.

However, high and "bad" cholesterol can be kept out of our way if we become a little conscious about our daily food intake. Foods rich in cholesterol include boiled egg, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, butter, ghee, liver, beef, mutton, skins of duck and chicken, kidneys of animals like cattle, seafood, bone marrow of animals, lobsters, coconut, fish eggs, animal lard, sponge cake, ice cream etc. Avoiding these diets will enable you to fight the nonessential accumulation of cholesterol in your body. Vegetables which are devoured with their peels, such as okra, long beans, seem etc are also good to lower the volume of fat in our body. It's also healthy to have pulses like chickpea in our diet every day, if possible in all the three meals. Include fruits like mango, banana and ripe papaya in your diet.

Moreover, cholesterol is present in all types of foods from animal sources, so shun them from your table if your body already has a high cholesterol volume. Also opt for fat-free and low-fat dairy products for a healthy life.

You know what? Regular exercise will generate HDL (good cholesterol) in your body, which assists in the reduction of risk of coronary diseases. Exercises will also help you to regulate your diabetes, weight and blood pressure. Even moderate physical activities like walking, jogging, dancing, gardening and housework keep a heart in good condition and avoid untimely death.

Today Lipid tests are performed to calculate the level of cholesterol in a person's body. In simple words, this is a test, which measures the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in serum (a part of the blood). All the renowned diagnostic centers in Dhaka undertake this test. However, BIRDEM, National Healthcare Network, which is an enterprise of the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh, Medinova, CMH, and Popular Diagnostic Centre are some of the best places, which can guarantee to make an accurate measurement of cholesterol in your blood.

At National Healthcare Network (NHN) and Z. H. Sikder Women's Medical College and Hospital, a lipid profile is prepared for Tk. 700. On the other hand, Popular Diagnostic Centre charges about Tk. 767 for a lipid profile. The cost of a lipid test is around Tk. 700. One can perform this test in order to measure the level of cholesterol. It will give you a clear idea about whether you should keep your diet and cholesterol in a check.
High cholesterol contributes to certain types of cancers and also diabetes.

Alcohol worsens the mass of cholesterol in our body. Increased consumption of alcohol results in health hazards like alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, cancer, suicide, etc. If you think you can't do without alcohol then consume liquor according to your physician's advice.

Tobacco not only creates bad breath, yellow stains on fingers and pollution, but it is also one of the major causes of heart disease in every corner of the world. Smoking lowers the presence of good cholesterol in your body, contributing to acute coronary diseases.

A little awareness can help us fight cholesterol, and prevent many heart diseases. It's your responsibility to maintain a body free from fat and disease. While some diseases are beyond the command and reach of mankind, there are some like coronary diseases, which can be prevented with our conscious effort. By controlling cholesterol we can avoid a series of deadly heart ills and premature deaths. So let's work towards putting a check on Cholesterol.

Special thanks: Dr. M. A. Halim, Medical Officer, NHN, Uttara.

By Wara Karim


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