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Planning weekend meals

By Rukhsara Osman

Breakfast Masala dim
This is the simplest, yet the most delicious egg recipe that I know. I crave this and since my mother is not always around to make it, I learnt it rather recently. You can have this with 'ata rooti' or porota.

1 cup sliced onions
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tbsp oil

Heat the oil in a fry pan and add the onions. When the onions become slightly translucent add the spices. Fry the onions till they are slightly crunchy, and remove them on to a plate.

In the same pan, with the same spiced oil break the two eggs. Slightly move the eggs around so they don't stick to the pan. Fold the white part of the egg over the yolks to cook further. You want the yolks still running so as soon as you fold the whites over the yolks you should take the eggs off the heat and on to a plate.

Serve immediately with the fried onions on top.

Cabbage porotas
300g atta
250g white cabbage, grated
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Half inch ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ajwain seeds
2 tbsp oil
10 tsp oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, put all the ingredients bar the extra oil for frying. Using two tablespoons of water at a time, mix the ingredients into a solid dough ball. Now knead the dough for a couple of minutes, punching it with your knuckles and making it as smooth as you possibly can.

Stretch the dough into a long fat sausage and break it into 15-16 even-sized balls. Flatten a ball of flour in between your palms, dunk in the flour and with a rolling pin make a moderately round shape.

First timers: the trick is to roll in one direction, then shift the 'porota' clockwise and roll again, until you get an odd but round shape. On a medium heat bring a flat non-stick pan to heat. (I use a pan especially built to fry 'porotas', but you could just as easily use a frying pan.)

Dry roast the 'porotas' on one side, then flip over and drizzle half a teaspoon of oil around the 'porotas' on the pan. Each 'porota' only needs about two minutes in total; you'll see little dark spots appearing and the 'porotas' taking on a translucent texture.

Lunch Kajoli mach
½ kg Kajoili mach
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
3 medium-size onions, sliced
Hand full fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
5 green chilli, slit in the middle
3 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp salt

After cleaning the fish, mix them with the chilli powder and turmeric powder and set aside for 10 minute. In a pan heat the oil. Add the onions and green chillies. As the onions start to become translucent, add the fish. The fish will take a maximum of 2 minutes to cook and change colour. Right before taking the fish off the heat add the fresh coriander, stir. Serve hot.

Tomato chutney
1 kg tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp oil
4 cloves
4 black peppercorns
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ mixed garlic and ginger paste
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp sugar (you can also use 'gur')
1½ tsp salt

Heat the oil in a pan; add the cloves, peppercorn and cumin seeds and sauté till fragrant. Remove spices from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the onions till light brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till soft.

Make a fine paste of the fried onions and tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, sugar, fried cloves, peppercorn, cumin seeds and salt. Serve.

Long beans (borboti) and shrimp bhorta
½ kg long beans
1 tsp salt
2 green chillies
1 clove garlic
½ kg shrimp
1 tbsp mustard oil

Cut the long beans into 1-inch pieces. Boil the long beans and shrimp separately. Use a blender to blitz all the ingredients together. Serve.

Tea Masala chai
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 cups water
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ cup milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp black tea

In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon, or use a coffee grinder. Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add the water, ginger and pepper and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.

Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the tea. Cover and let steep for 3 minutes. Stir the 'chai', then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups.

Spicy rolled pitha
1 cup prawn
1 cup cabbage
1 cup sliced onions
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp chopped green chilli
1 cup Kissan cheese
1 cup sliced coriander leaf
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
A pinch of sugar

Mix all the ingredient together except the ghee, milk and flour. In a pan heat the ghee and sauté the mixture of all the ingredients. Set aside to cool. In a bowl take the flour and add milk to it slowly. Mix well to make a dough, which you should knead to a smooth texture.

Roll the dough out, so that it's thin. Cut the rolled out dough into 3 by 5-inch rectangles. Put 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the middle and make a parcel. Steam the pithas for 5 mintues, or till they look done. Serve.

Dinner Honey chicken
340 g chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1-2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Marinate chicken in soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar for about an hour.

Mix flour and cornstarch and place in a large bowl. Drain chicken and add to flour mixture. Shake gently to coat. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To make sauce, mix chilli sauce, ketchup, honey, oyster sauce, soy sauce and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil then simmer until sauce begins to thicken. Toss sauce with chicken pieces, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Hakka style noodles
1½ cup plain egg noodles
¾ cup finely cut cabbage
1 carrot shredded
½ capsicum shredded
1½ tsp tomato chilli sauce
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil

Cook noodles as per the instructions given in the pack or boil 3-4 cups of water and cook noodles for 3-4 minutes. Make sure it's not over cooked. Drain water and wash it to remove the excess starch and add 1 teaspoon oil and mix well to avoid sticking.

Heat a pan with oil and fry white part of the spring onion. Add the veggies one by one frying each for half minute. Add the sauces, salt and pepper. Give a quick stir. Add the drained noodles and mix well. Add the chopped spring onion and stir well.


Feeding is exercise

Quote of the day: If they get hungry, they will eat… in a day or two.

There are three things that give fathers of little kids a difficult time. One involves when the kid asks about the birds and bees. Because birds can sometimes be as nasty as bees and attack without warning. I have once been attacked by a crow that I was trying to hit with a slingshot.

Second difficult time is when the toddler asks for the car keys. The little runts aren't tall enough to reach the accelerator pedal while adjusting the music volume, never mind driving.

The third difficult task involves feeding them. Kids above four are easy to deal with probably. Bribe or threaten them and they will eat. Toddlers are a different category. They are like computer programmes for the computer illiterate. They function but not always and not necessarily with the same commands. Only the mother knows the commands.

I regularly baby-sit my baby (no, not my car). Unfortunately that involves feeding. And the kid is a fussy eater. Sure, there will come a day I will have to lock the fridge to prevent him from polishing off my favourite cake. But that day is not today. Today I want him to take my cake and eat it too. Except he's busy running. Or hiding. Or screaming at the top of his lungs. So what's a father to do? Well, I tried everything. I let him sit on the dog, when the mother wasn't around. I let him paint on his grandmother's recently painted non-Facebook wall. I let him jump in a puddle. I let him taste hot sauce. And all this was something new that kept his hyperactive mind busy while I stuffed his face with food. It works, sometimes. This involves a lot of running sometimes over chairs, tables, sleeping dogs and bicycles/scooters/pedal cars. You run back and forth and suddenly realise this is the only exercise you're going to get. Let's face it -- most of us fathers love our chairs. We love the comfort of our worn driving seat. Some of us don't even drive. Turns out having a baby is a great way to stay in shape. You run, jump, play. Try feeding a sneaky little kid who knows your every move and your exercise routine just amps up. Gym? Meh. Feed a kid. And if you actually get the kid to eat, you're the man. You get to show off a bit too. If you have a fussy kid, the trick is to do something new every time. Even if it means letting them taste hot sauce.


Planning meals for your little one

Children can be picky when it comes to meals, especially between the budding ages of 4 and 10. When we adults ourselves tend to sidetrack the boons of a healthy, balanced diet and indulge in junk food fests, we cannot really blame children for succumbing to the fancies of their taste buds. Parents are at times unaware of the calorie needs of their children and the combination of the basic food groups that provide the vital nutrition must-haves for healthy growth. So the trick is to keep the children happy with food that is tasty enough and does not get them bored, while keeping the nutritional aspect intact.

To start with the basics, we first need to identify the five food groups that need to be present in your child's daily meal chart. The first is the grains group, which include foods like cereals, bread, rice, crackers. This should comprise half of a major meal provided to your child.

Next: vegetables like peas, carrot, spinach, broccoli and it is imperative that there is at least one serving of a dark green or an orange vegetable each day. Fruits provide strength to fight infections and contain necessary vitamins and minerals. Fruits are usually loved by children and can be a healthy snack option.

The dairy group contains items like milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, which is a source of protein that is essential in building muscles. Proteins should comprise at least 30 per cent of the daily food intake. The other protein source, and the biggest one, is the meat and beans group which contain items like fish, beans, nuts, chicken, beef and should be present at every big meal of the day.

Try to incorporate variations in your child's meals. Having the same thing everyday can reduce their appetite and hence all your efforts of providing proper nutrition will go in vain. Try alternating fish and meat at lunch and dinner. Buy a variation of cereals and snack items so that they find a different thing to eat everyday. School tiffins need to be both wholesome and tasty, so give it some thought. Try asking your child what he/she likes taking to school and add in that suggestion to your meal plan.

Another trick is to sneak in items like veggies and whole grains into the meals. Your child won't be able to tell that their macaroni and cheese is made with whole grains. There are many whole grain products on the market to experiment with -- like whole grain waffles, crackers and pasta. These are items that children crave and will not be able to spot the difference.

A good way to serve veggies can be in the form of veggie dips. Keep serving veggies at meals but also try them at snack time. Kids like to dip veggies like carrots, zucchini and cucumbers in tasty dips like hummus or ranch dressing. A recent study showed children age 4 to 10 prefer crunchy veggies.

Even the way you garnish the meals and make it look can do magic to your child's appetite. So just keep the meals wholesome, colourful and tasty to ensure that perfect nutritional balance in your child's daily meal plan.

By Afrida Mahbub


The Art of Nakshi Kantha

Dear Raffat,
This refers to the article 'The art of nakshi kantha' by M. H. Haider. I am shocked to see that Mr Haider has reduced the outstanding traditional craft of Nakshi Kantha of Bangladesh to poverty and 'poverty-stricken women' In fact it was an unique art form of recycling old fabrics to create beautiful objects, from the small 'batua' to the large quilt called 'lep' or 'sujni'. Women used old cloths, torn or otherwise, because of their softness and value, not always because they couldn't afford new fabric. This exquisite craft was made by women of all levels of society; while undoubtedly poor women made quilts for their families, others from solvent or affluent backgrounds made them for family and honoured guests. There were simple ones for everyday use and elaborately designed pieces for special occasions or purposes.

May I also point out that the best Kanthas were made in certain areas of Bangladesh because they happened have the most skilled embroiderers and had nothing whatsoever to do with the poverty of those places; all the best crafts flourish in specific places because there are specially skilled artisans for that craft form in those areas. Historically crafts have never flourished because of poverty, though they may flourish in spite of poverty.

It is essential for journalists to do their research before writing an article. Living Blue is doing a good programme in Rangpur but they selected it for its indigo crop and CARE Bangladesh's indigo revival project. This should not relegate Bangladesh's rich Kantha craft tradition to poverty.

Best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
Ruby Ghuznavi.

Our reply

The research of this article was based on a presentation report, called Nakshi Kantha, which was made by Arshad Siddiqui, technical coordinator, CARE Bangladesh. The write-up was written based on that report, but your point is also well taken. And we take responsibility of any errors made; we should have taken into account more sources. We will keep this in mind. Thank you again for sending us feedback.

--LS Desk


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