Vegetable Of The Week

Ayesha's Kitchen
Ayesha's Kitchen

Apium graveolens is a plant species in the family Apiaceae commonly known as celery (var. dulce) or celeriac (var. rapaceum) depending on whether the petioles (stalks) or roots are eaten.

Uses

Apium graveolens is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp petiole (leaf stalk) or the fleshy taproot.

In temperate countries, celery is also grown for its seeds. Actually very small fruit, these “seeds” yield a valuable volatile oil used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries. They also contain an organic compound called apiol. Celery seeds can be used as flavouring or spice, either as whole seeds or ground and mixed with salt, as celery salt. Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots. Celery salt is used as a seasoning, in cocktails (notably to enhance the flavour of Bloody Mary cocktails), on the Chicago-style hot dog, and in Old Bay Seasoning.

Celery, onions, and bell peppers are the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. Celery, onions, and carrots make up the French mirepoix, often used as a base for sauces and soups. Celery is a staple in many soups, such as chicken noodle soup. Celery is an important ingredient in Indian cuisines including in Indian Curry.

Celery is widely eaten by guinea pigs, dogs, horses, birds, squirrels, and small rodents.

Nutrition

Celery is valuable in weight-loss diets, where it provides low-calorie dietary fiber bulk. Celery contains androstenone. Bergapten in the seeds can increase photosensitivity, so the use of essential oil externally in bright sunshine should be avoided. The oil and large doses of seeds should be avoided during pregnancy: they can act as a uterine stimulant. Seeds intended for cultivation are not suitable for eating as they are often treated with fungicides. There is a common belief that celery is so difficult for humans to digest, that it has negative calories because human digestion burns more calories than can be extracted. Celery seeds are also a great source of calcium, and are regarded as a good alternative to animal products.

Allergies

Celery is amongst a small group of foods (headed by peanuts) that appear to provoke the most severe allergic reactions; for people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. The allergen does not appear to be destroyed at cooking temperatures. Celery root—commonly eaten as celeriac, or put into drinks—is known to contain more allergen than the stalk. Seeds contain the highest levels of allergen content. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis may be exacerbated. An allergic reaction also may be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously processed celery, making avoiding such foods difficult. In contrast with peanut allergy being most prevalent in the US, celery allergy is most prevalent in Central Europe. In the European Union, foods that contain or may contain celery, even in trace amounts, have to be clearly marked as such.

Recipes:

Well till now I haven’t used celery too much in my dishes, but will update soon.

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Fruit Of The Week POMEGRANATE

Ayesha's Kitchen
Ayesha's Kitchen

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to between five and eight meters tall. The pomegranate is native to Southwest Asia and has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, India, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, the drier parts of southeast Asia, Peninsular Malaysia, the East Indies, and tropical Africa. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is in season from March to May.

About 760 different local varieties of pomogranate have been reconized in Iran. These varieties have been collected in Agricultural Research Institute, Yazd, Iran. The most famous varieties are Soveh, Sioh, Rabob, Aghaei, Ardestony, Shisheh cap, Shirin Shahvor, Bajestony, Malas e Daneh Siah, Touq Gardan, Khazar, Shecar e Ashraf (Behshahr), Alak, Arous, Farouq, Rahab, Khafar e Shiraz, Ferdous e Khorasan, Bi daneh Sangan.

Etymology

The name “pomegranate” derives from Latin pomum (“apple”) and granatus (“seeded”). This has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages (e.g., German Granatapfel, seeded apple). In early English, the Pomegranate was known as “apple of Grenada” — a term which today survives only in heraldic blazons. This was probably a folk etymology, confusing Latin granatus with the Spanish city of Granada. The genus name Punica is named for the Phoenicians, who were active in broadening its cultivation, partly for religious reasons. In classical Latin, where “malum” was broadly applied to many apple-like fruits, the pomegranate’s name was malum punicum or malum granatum, the latter giving rise to the Italian name melograno, or less commonly melagrana.

A widespread root for “pomegranate” comes from the Ancient Egyptian rmn, from which derive the Hebrew rimmôn, and Arabic rummân. This root was given by Arabs to other languages, including Portuguese (romã), Kabyle rrumman and Maltese “rummien”. The pomegranate (‘rimmôn’) is mentioned in the Bible as one of the seven fruits/plants that Israel was blessed with, and in Hebrew, ‘rimmôn’ is also the name of the weapon now called the grenade. According to Webster’s New Spanish-English Dictionary, “granada,” the Spanish word for “pomegranate,” could also mean “grenade.” According to the OED, the word “grenade” originated about 1532 from the French name for the pomegranate, la grenade. La grenade also gives us the word grenadine, the name of a kind of fruit syrup, originally made from pomegranates, which is widely used as a cordial and in cocktails.

Culinary Uses

After opening the pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. Separating the red arils is simplified by performing this task in a bowl of water, wherein arils sink and pulp floats. It is also possible to freeze the whole fruit in the freezer, making the red arils easy to separate from the white pulp membranes. The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness. The pomegranate juice can be very sweet or sour, but most fruits are moderate in taste, with sour notes from the acidic tannins contained in the aril juice.

Having begun wide distribution in the United States and Canada in 2002, pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, India.

Grenadine syrup is thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice used in cocktail mixing. Before tomato arrived in the Middle East, grenadine was widely used in many Iranian foods and is still found in traditional recipes such as fesenjan, a thick sauce made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, usually spooned over duck or other poultry and rice, and in ash-e anar (pomegranate soup).

Wild pomegranate seeds are sometimes used as a spice known as anardana (which literally means pomegranate (anar) seeds (dana) in Persian), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine but also as a replacement for pomegranate syrup in Middle Eastern cuisine. As a result of this, the dried whole seeds can often be obtained in ethnic Indian Sub-continent markets. The seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10–15 days and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry production. Seeds may also be ground in order to avoid becoming stuck in teeth when eating dishes containing them. Seeds of the wild pomegranate daru from the Himalayas are regarded as quality sources for this spice.

Making pomegranate juice at a stall in TurkeyIn the Caucasus, pomegranate is used mainly as juice. In Azerbaijan a sauce from pomegranate juice (narsharab) is usually served with fish or tika kabab. In Turkey, pomegranate sauce, (Turkish: nar ekşisi) is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat, or simply to drink straight. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and sometimes as garnish for desserts such as güllaç. Pomegranate syrup or molasses is used in muhammara, a roasted red pepper, walnut, and garlic spread popular in Syria and Turkey. Pomegranate wine is produced in Israel and Armenia.

In Greece, pomegranate (Greek: ρόδι, rodi) is used in many recipes, including kollivozoumi, a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins, legume salad with wheat and pomegranate, traditional Middle Eastern lamb kebabs with pomegranate glaze, pomegranate eggplant relish, and avocado-pomegranate dip. Pomegranate is also made into a liqueur and popular fruit confectionery used as ice cream topping or mixed with yogurt or spread as jam on toast. In Cyprus as well as in Greece and among the Greek Orthodox Diaspora , ρόδι is used to make kolliva, a mixture of wheat, pomegranate seeds, sugar, almonds and other seeds served at memorial services.

Recipes:

Whenever pomegranate will be in season in western Australia I will definitely upload lots of recipes.

Home Made Biryani Masala

Avoid using commercial spices because they contain artificial colours and preservatives which are sometime injurious to health, they can be a cause food poisoning and direa. So try to make these special masalas at your place …

FOR 1 kg meat and 2 cups of rice

Ingredients:

POWDER

  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbspns red chilli powder
  • 1 tbspn ginger powder
  • 1 tbspn garlic powder
  • A handful of fried dehydrated onions
  • 2 tbspns of cumin seeds
  • 4 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tbspn nigella seeds (kalonji)
  • ½ tbspn turmeric powder
  • 2 tbspn whole dry coriander
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 tspn methi dana
  • 1 piece of cinnamon 4cm
  • 6 – 8 cloves
  • 1/2 tspn amchur powder

WHOLE GARAM MASALA

  • A piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamoms green
  • 1 star spice
  • 4 black cardamom
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1 bay leaf

FOOD FLAVOURS

  • 4 tbspns Lemon juice
  • Few drops of Kewra essence
  • Few drops of aniseed essence

Procedure:

-Combine all the ingredients give for powder in a spice blender and blend into powder.

-Now combine this powder and whole garam masala and use.

Chef’s Advice:

I will advise you to keep powdered masala and whole masala separately, because whenever I cook Biryani, I add whole masala first into oil to infuse all the flavours and then powdered masala when cooking my tomatoes.

Lemon juice can be used as citric acid, obviously you don’t have chemistry lab at home. And kewra is the special kind of essence that is used to give a unique Biryani flavour. So don’t forget it.

In all my Biryani recipes, I have written Whole garam masala, if you are using this recipe of biryani masala then avoid that one.

This is a very simple biryani masala, you can adjust the hotness by adding red chilli flakes or red chilli powder.

This recipe is for basic biryani, more biryani masala recipes are now there.

Aalu Pakoras

Aalu Pakoras are lovely and one of the Famous street Foods of South Asia, do try them and let me know your remarks …

Ingredients:

  • 2 potatoes sliced thinly
  • 2 cups gram Flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • Some salt
  • Some red chilli powder
  • ½ tspn turmeric powder
  • 1 tbspn cracked dry coriander
  • ½ tspn cumin seeds
  • ½ onion sliced
  • 2 green chillies sliced
  • Oil For Frying

Procedure:

-Combine all the ingredients except oil in a bowl and make Fine mixture.

-Keep aside For 20 – 30 minutes and heat oil.

-Take 1 tbspn of this mixture and deep Fry

-Take out on an absorbent paper and serve immediately.

Outcome:

Tasty aalu pakore are ready to be served.

Ayesha's Kitchen
Ayesha's Kitchen

Tips:

-Avoid lumps and do not make thin mixture.

-Adjust salt and pepper according to your will.

Servings:

This will serve 3 -4 persons easily.

Aalu* Bengan* Ke Pakore (Potato Eggplant Fritters)

Aalu Bengan ke Pakore is a South Asian vegetarian appetizer, do try this and let me know your remarks …

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of gram Flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbspn red chilli powder
  • ½ tspn turmeric powder
  • ½ tspn cumin seeds
  • 1 potato sliced
  • ½ egg plant sliced
  • 1 – 2 green chillies sliced
  • Oil For Frying
  • ½ tspn cracked dry coriander
  • ½ onion sliced

Procedure:

-Mix all the ingredients given except oil and mix well.

-Keep aside For 20 – 30 minutes.

-Heat oil. Now take a tbspn of this mixture and Fry, try to use your hands to make Pakoras.

-Take out on an absorbent paper and serve hot.

Outcome:

Tasty potato eggplant Pakoras are ready to be served.

Ayesha's Kitchen
Ayesha's Kitchen

Tips:

-Do not make very thin mixture.

-Avoid lumps.

-Slice potatoes and eggplant into thin slice.

Serving:

This will serve 4 persons easily.

Fruit Of The Week APRICOT

Ayesha's Kitchen
Ayesha's Kitchen

The Apricot (Prunus armeniaca, “Armenian plum” in Latin, syn. Armeniaca vulgaris Lam., Armenian: Ծիրան “Tsiran”) is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation, but most likely is India.

Description

It is a small tree, 8–12 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter and a dense, spreading canopy. The leaves are ovate, 5–9 cm long and 4–8 cm wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The flowers are 2–4.5 cm diameter, with five white to pinkish petals; they are produced singly or in pairs in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 1.5–2.5 cm diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface is usually pubescent. The single seed is enclosed in a hard stony shell, often called a “stone”, with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side.

Cultivation And Uses

History Of Cultivation: The Apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC. In Armenia it was known from ancient times – it has been cultivated there so long it is often thought to be native there. An archeological excavation in Armenia found apricot seeds in an Eneolithic-era site. Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great,  and the Roman General Lucullus (106-57 B.C.E.) also exported some trees, cherry, white heart cherry and apricot from Armenia to Europe. Subsequent sources were often much confused over the origin of the species. Loudon (1838) believed it had a wide native range including Armenia, Caucasus, the Himalaya, China and Japan. Nearly all sources presume that because it is named armeniaca, the tree must be native to or have originated in Armenia as the Romans knew it. For example, De Poerderlé asserts: “Cet arbre tire son nom de l’Arménie, province d’Asie, d’où il est originaire et d’où il fut porté en Europe ….” (“this tree takes its name from Armenia, province of Asia, where it is native, and whence it was brought to Europe ….”) There is no scientific evidence to support such a view. Today the cultivars have spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. Apricots remain an important fruit in modern-day Iran where they are known under the common name of Zard-ālū (Persian: زردالو).

Egyptians usually dry apricot and sweeten it then use it to make a drink called “‘amar al-dīn”.

More recently, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries. Almost all U.S. production is in California, with some in Washington and Utah.

Many apricots are also cultivated in Australia, particularly South Australia where they are commonly grown in the region known as the Riverland and in a small town called Mypolonga in the Lower Murray region of the state. In states other than South Australia apricots are still grown, particularly in Tasmania and western Victoria and southwest New South Wales, but they are less common than in South Australia.

Cultivation

Although often thought of as a “subtropical” fruit, this is actually false – the Apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters, although it can grow in Mediterranean climates very well. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30 °C or lower if healthy. The limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, around the time of the vernal equinox even in northern locations like the Great Lakes region, meaning spring frost often kills the flowers. Furthermore, the trees are sensitive to temperature changes during the winter season. In their native China, winters can be very cold, but temperatures tend to be more stable than in Europe and especially North America, where large temperature swings can occur in winter. The trees do need some winter cold (even if minimal) to bear and grow properly and do well in Mediterranean climate locations since spring frosts are less severe but there is some cool winter weather to allow a proper dormancy. The dry climate of these areas is best for good fruit production. Hybridisation with the closely related Prunus sibirica (Siberian Apricot; hardy to −50°C but with less palatable fruit) offers options for breeding more cold-tolerant plants.

Apricot cultivars are most often grafted on plum or peach rootstocks. A cutting of an existing apricot plant provides the fruit characteristics such as flavour, size, etc., but the rootstock provides the growth characteristics of the plant. Apricots and plums can hybridize with each other and produce fruit that are variously called pluots, plumcots, or apriums.

Apricots have a chilling requirement of 300 to 900 chilling units. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. Some of the more popular cultivars of apricots include Blenheim, Wenatchee Moorpark, Tilton, and Perfection.

There is an old adage that an apricot tree will not grow far from the mother tree. The implication is that apricots are particular about the soil conditions in which they are grown. They prefer a well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. If fertilizer is needed, as indicated by yellow-green leaves, then 1/4 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer should be applied in the second year. Granular fertilizer should be scattered beneath the branches of the tree. An additional 1/4 pound should be applied for every year of age of the tree in early spring, before growth starts. Apricots are self-compatible and do not require pollinizer trees, with the exception of the ‘Moongold’ and ‘Sungold’ cultivars, which can pollinate each other. Apricots are susceptible to numerous bacterial diseases including bacterial canker and blast, bacterial spot and crown gall. They are susceptible to an even longer list of fungal diseases including brown rot, Alternaria spot and fruit rot, and powdery mildew. Other problems for apricots are nematodes and viral diseases, including graft-transmissible problems.

Kernels

Seeds or kernels of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet that they may be substituted for almonds. The Italian liqueur Amaretto and amaretti biscotti are flavoured with extract of apricot kernels rather than almonds. Oil pressed from these cultivars has been used as cooking oil.

Medicinal and non – Food Uses

Cyanogenic glycosides (found in most stone fruit seeds, bark, and leaves) are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. Laetrile, a purported alternative treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. As early as the year 502, apricot seeds were used to treat tumors, and in the 17th century, apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers. However, in 1980 the National Cancer Institute in the USA described laetrile to be an ineffective cancer treatment.

In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and were used in this context in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as an inducer of childbirth, as depicted in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi.

Due to their high fiber to volume ratio, dried apricots are sometimes used to relieve constipation or induce diarrhea. Effects can be felt after eating as few as three.

Research shows that of any food, apricots possess the highest levels and widest variety of carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, reduce “bad cholesterol” levels, and protect against cancer. In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst.

Some claim that the kernels also have healthy properties, including toning the respiratory system and alleviating a cough. However, the tip of the apricot holds a concentrated amount of the chemical laetrile, which can be upsetting to the system. The tips of the seeds should be removed and consumption should be limited to no more than five a day.

Recipes:

Will be Updated Soon.