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How to Fry Eggs

Eggs can be fried over relatively high heat, and the cooking can be accelerated by covering the pan. Doing that requires some vigilance to avoid overcooking the yolks, however. There is also the option of flipping the nearly set eggs over for a short time to create eggs “over easy,” rather than leaving them unturned “sunny side up.”

  1. For 4 eggs, heat 1–2 tbsp butter, oil, or lard in a skillet. Break each egg into a saucer, then slide it into the hot pan. Baste the egg with the hot fat to help cook the yolk, and season with salt and pepper as it begins to set.
  2. Cook until the egg white is set and the yolk runny or set, according to your preference. For a firm egg white, cook with the pan covered.

Roti: Kneaded and Loved

The scent of a roti on a hot griddle transports me, nostalgically and swiftly, to the weekends when I was a girl with knobby knees and tight plaits, and would visit my grandmother’s house every Saturday.

Entering through the back door, we would invariably find her sitting on a wooden stool near a stove on the floor, making small rotis with speedy precision. My sister and I would plant ourselves firmly at the dining table, and slather the freshly-made rotis with butter, sprinkling them generously with large crystals of sugar. Rolling them up, we would bite into the piping hot ensemble! It was a time of relief for my mother who was sick and tired of our finicky food habits.

how to make roti/chappati/phulka

The scent — whether of the dough while it’s being kneaded with water or that of the flattened bread rising on the hot skillet — is one which tickles the growling tummy some more. Today, when I make rotis for my children, next to a steaming tawa, flexing my arm muscles as I knead, struggling to get a perfect sphere as I roll, it helps me recall my own mother and how for granted I took this truly tedious chore.

According to the Oxford Companion to Food, the origins of the roti can be traced back 3,000 or 4,000 years ago, to the arrival of the Aryans in the Indus Valley. Over centuries, this food form has survived the test of time and changing cultures.

Today too, the making of the roti is a ritual followed in every Pakistani and South Asian household in its own distinct way, with its own set of nuances. Every household has its own stamp of roti — a variance in size and thickness. Some prefer to cook rotis on an upside down tawa, others over non-stick skillets and even in roti makers. Some fashion large, tissue-thin rotis, others roll out small round ones lathered with ghee, while a few are even inclined towards square ones.

In several households the scent of fresh rotis wafts into your nostrils in the mornings for breakfast or for the men’s lunchboxes before they leave for work. In others, the rotis are made in the afternoon awaiting the weary children’s arrival from school. It makes any mother’s heart soar with joy as the fresh rotis — a healthy food option, in today’s age of junk food and fast food — are devoured by the young with unmatched fervour.

In a few homes, the rotis are made deftly at night for dinner, the one meal when the entire family comes together. The fresher the roti the faster the food will disappear and the meal will be a relished one.

Not only is roti a filling meal, enjoyed with a meaty savory dish, curry, vegetables or even just yogurt, but also a staple diet which is healthy to the core. The trick is to opt for a wheat flour roti as this grain is resplendent with vitamin (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9), iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.

Dr Nilofer Safdar, Program Director, Nutritional Sciences School of Public Health, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, too is a big fan of roti and argues that its nutritional value is beneficial in many ways.

“Roti is a staple diet for most Pakistanis therefore it is a good nutritious option to get energy, some protein and B- vitamins. If roti is made of whole wheat or without being processed too much, it’s a good source of dietary fibre which can prevent many diseases,” says Dr Safdar. “It can be consumed by people of all ages and can be introduced to a baby for weaning diets as long as it can be broken / blended into a proper consistency.”

Dr Safdar also endorses the notion that roti is an ideal break-time snack for growing children, “If you add oil / ghee the nutritional value of the roti can be increased to benefit children and can be a healthy and convenient snack for children if you use it to make a roll with chicken, vegetables or cottage cheese, etc.”

Even if you are watching your weight, a wheat roti coupled with a salad, yogurt or oil-free chicken will boost your energy, increase blood circulation and keep away the pangs of hunger. Not just that, it helps combat obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin E, soluble fiber and selenium present in roti works to reduce the risk of cancer in the body. Making roti a part of your meal aids digestion and prevents constipation.

The beauty of freshly kneaded and cooked rotis is how healthy they are as compared to other fermented breads which are high on calorie.

Even the ancient Ayurvedas believed in the goodness of a roti which helps balance the vata (which controls all movement in the body, including breathing, digestion, and nerve impulses from the brain ) and pitta (which monitors digestion, body metabolism and energy production) dosha.

It may come as a surprise that the popularity of the roti even permeates the Caribbean where “Roti shops” are abundant in Trinidad and Tobago and the wrapped roti is a staple street food.

Today, even in the West, many Pakistanis and Indians have Roti houses or Eastern food joints where expats and others come to enjoy a roti coupled with other Eastern delicacies.

The best element of a roti, however, is the love with which simple, wholesome and readily-available ingredients like flour, water, oil and salt come together in the hands of the woman of the house to make a delightful home-made bread which adds tremendous value to any meal. It is this maternal love which makes every morsel priceless and keeps the fabric of the home firmly knitted.

May it be a dastarkhuwan, a dining table, a wedding buffet or restaurant — the roti is one food item which is simply, irreplaceable! No matter how many breads, wraps or crepes may come our way, no matter whether you call it a roti, chapatti or phulka — this ancient food, will remain one-of-a-kind.

Benefits and uses of Orange Peel for your Health & Beauty

We are all familiar with the nutritional value of oranges and wait for winter to bring in the tangy flavored fruit. Though, ironic as it may sound, while the inner fruit is a healthy sweet and sour treat, most of the benefits are in the orange skin itself which we discard without a second thought. It’s time to acquaint yourself with the benefits and uses of orange peel so that instead of dumping it in the garbage you can actually benefit from it.

Benefits and uses of Orange Peel for your Health & Beauty

An abundant source of vitamins

Orange peel is a valuable source of calcium, vitamin A, C, B5 and B6. It also contains many other minerals such as potassium, iron, etc. The peel can be consumed in a number of ways: eat it raw, grate or grind into powder form, boil in water for a drink, cook it with sugar for toppings in cakes or simply use the grated peel for garnishing.

A natural skin treatment

Orange peel can act as a highly effective natural scrubbing agent and bleach for the skin. The peel extract when mixed with milk or curd and applied to the face brightens the skin, cleanses the pores and protects the skin from harmful UV rays. Orange peel or orange peel powder can also be applied directly on the skin to prevent acne and premature aging.

  1. To control excessive oil and to tone oily skin, mix two teaspoons of orange peel powder with one teaspoon of milk and one teaspoon of coconut milk to form a paste. Apply to the face and rinse off after 15 minutes.
  2. To help remove skin blemishes, mix two teaspoons orange peel powder with one teaspoon honey and one teaspoon yogurt to make a thick paste. Apply on the face and leave it till it dries out and then wash it off with lukewarm water.
  3. To get rid of pimples, apply a mixture of two teaspoons orange peel powder, one teaspoon oatmeal and one teaspoon baking soda. Leave it for 15 minutes and rinse off with cold water.

A natural treatment for dandruff

Apply on your hair a mixture of ground orange peel and water and leave overnight. It not only reduces dandruff, but also conditions and cleanses the hair.

Acts as an air freshener

For a nice tangy smell in your house, boil a handful of dried orange peel with cinnamon and cardamom in water. The light fragrance also helps in reducing headache, anxiety and depression.

A means to weight loss: Orange peel is high in fiber content. The use of orange peel tea helps reduce metabolism rate which in turn helps burn body fat.

Cancer prevention

Studies have shown that consuming orange peel on a regular basis can help lower the chances of skin or lung cancer. It also helps control the growth of cancer cells.

Treats bad breath

Chewing small pieces of orange peel is an effective means of controlling bad breath. It also helps fight cavities and ensures fresh breath for a long time.

Boosts energy

If you need a shot of energy to relieve you from insomnia or stress, boil some orange peels in water for about 15-20 minutes and drink it like tea. While it will give you a good intake of natural vitamins and minerals, it will lift your mood and give your body a stimulating boost.

Helps in digestion

Orange peel has anti-inflammatory properties that can help in digestion by reducing chances of constipation, diarrhea, heartburn and acidity.

Reduces blood pressure

Orange peel stimulates blood circulation which in turn helps in lowering cholesterol level in the body and controlling blood pressure.

Fights flu and cold

Loaded with Vitamin A and C, orange peel strengthens the immune system and helps fights germs and viruses.

Insect repellent

Orange peel is an effective insect repellent so drop a few pieces of orange peels in your garden to get rid of ants and mosquitoes.

Great fire-starter

Dried orange peels are great fire-starters for bonfires or camping. They not only help in kindling a fire, but also give off a nice pleasing fragrance.

So till the orange season lasts, savor the taste of the fruit, while storing the peels in ground or dried form to reap its valuable benefits.

Red or green, chilies add flavor and spice to most dishes

With temperatures climbing daily, this month is perfect for sowing lots of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit which thrive in hot, hot and hotter weather. And where better to start than with the very essence of Pakistani cuisine and a fruit yes fruit not vegetable which without sufficient heat throughout its growing season, will not add that much loved, lip-numbing zap, to dishes such as biryani, nihari and even the traditional pakistani daal recipes. Come on gardeners, let it be chilies by the basket full on a daily basis and don`t forget that any excess can be preserved by sun-drying, turning into mind blowing pickles or achars. Or, depending on how the electricity behaves of course, they can be tossed in the freezer where they will keep, this may surprise some of you, for a full year or thereabouts before passing their expiry date; plus, sharing with friends, family and neighbors is a heartwarming, in this case quite literally, thing to do.

Grow your own Green Chilies

Grow green chilies at home

Chilies require a growing position in full sun, soil / compost that is rich in organic material and is well drained. They are perfectly at home grown directly in the ground or in pots and containers of any description, provided that drainage is catered for. These pots and containers, even hanging baskets can be used to optimize space, can be placed on sunny balconies, verandas, rooftops or wherever you happen to have space. Pots / containers can be no more than six inches deep unless, that is, you happen to be growing an exceptionally tall variety which will need a soil depth of nine to 12 inches to allow for root development: tall plants may also require supporting. Dwarf and medium-sized plants should not need any support. If the plants, irrespective of variety, show no sign of bushing out once they have reached a height of approximately six to nine inches, nip out the growing tips of the tallest stems to encourage side shoots to form.

The bushier the plant, the more chilies it has the capacity to bear.

Chili seeds can be started off in prepared seed beds, seed individually sown at a depth of a quarter of an inch and spaced three inches apart, or in seed trays or pots. Be careful not to saw seeds too close or else the emerging seedlings will have to compete f`or soil nutrients, water and sunlight and may use up all their energy doing this.

Overcrowded seedlings often grow faster and taller than correctly spaced out ones, thus giving the illusion that they are doing well when they are actually rapidly outgrowing their strength, such seedlings rarely produce decent plants.

With seedlings it is a matter of` carefully and slowly does it.

Seedbeds / trays / pots should be kept moist, not wet. If too much water is applied, humidity increases beyond tolerable levels and seedlings are then susceptible to fungal stem / root rot or what is more correctly termed `damping off` and it is not at all nice to go out one day and discover that your seedlings have suddenly degenerated into black slime. Watering seeds / seedlings, lightly, just once a day preferably in the cool of the evening is sufficient.

Seedlings should be transplanted out into their final growing positions when they are three to four inches high: handle them with care as they are surprisingly brittle and break easily.

If growing in the ground, space plants at a distance of 12 inches apart for dwarf varieties, in rows also 12 inches apart and 15-18 inches apart for larger growing varieties in rows also 15-18 inches apart. If growing in pots / containers, then one plant per 10-inch pot is enough and if in larger containers then, depending on the soil / compost surface area, you may be able to put in two to three plants or even more.

Water well after transplanting the seedlings, then water, in the evening, every other day until the plants are established, at which stage watering can be reduced to every three to four days depending on the ambient temperature.

Allowing soil / compost to completely dry out in between watering and then flooding the plants, can cause blossom to drop without setting any fruit so please do not let this happen: if you do, then both the plant and yourself will suffer.

Chilies can be harvested when green as everyone knows and harvesting them green encourages the plants to produce a larger crop than if you leave the fruits on the plant until they are fully ripe and red. Seed taken from green chilies is unripe and will not germinate. If you want to harvest your own seed for future crops then the chilies must first be allowed to ripen fully.

The most common chilies are green ones ripening to red but there are other varieties too: some of these start off yellow, as does Hungarian yellow wax` before turning red, others such as `Italian white wax` remain a creamy white throughout and yet others, `Piripiri` for example, produce green, yellow, orange, red and black fruits all on the same plant at the same time.

Capsicum peppers belong to the same family as chili peppers but are sweeter and milder tasting than red hot chilies. They are cultivated in exactly the same way but have a longer growing period as they can be started off earlier and will fruit longer. Plants may be much larger than chilli pepper plants and will therefore need correspondingly larger planting distances and depths. Capsicums also start out green before ripening to red, orange, yellow, purple or black and there are pure white varieties too; plus, the writer understands but has yet to taste one, there are chocolate colored capsicums which taste of chocolate too!Vegetable seeds to sow this month include: lady`s finger, tomatoes, cucumber, sweet potatoes (Tubers / cuttings), aubergines, radish, spinach, leaf beet, lettuce, cauliflower, loose leaved cabbage and even some last minute pumpkins, zucchini, courgettes, marrows and tindas along with loki.

Grow leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, leaf beet and cabbage, in the shade over the summer months.

Herbs to sow now: basil, borage, coriander, summer savoury, chives, garlic chives, calendulas and ginger.

Fruit: sweet melons and water melons.

Flowers: Amaranthus, celosia, coreopsis, cosmos, sunflowers, gompherena, portulaca, petunias (single ones are more heat tolerant than doubles), marigolds, tithonia, nicotiana, gaillardia, matricaria, tagetes and zinnias.

Types of Kitchen Knives

There are many different types of kitchen knives for various uses, so question is which knife is right for you?

kitchen knife types

Salmon Knife
Flexible, slim knife with a straight cutting edge. Great fir cutting fish into wafer-thin slices, particularly smoked salmon (hence the name).

With a broad and blunt blade, the Spatula is great for cooking omelette and pancakes. The rounded tip also helps when spreading icing or dough.

Granton Slicer
A granton knife has air pockets along the cutting edge of the blade to prevent food from sticking to it. Ideal for slicing fruits, vegetables, pastries and cakes.

Country Loaf Knife
This knife is particularly good for bread that has a strong or curved crust, as it has a long, curved blade that shortens towards the tip.

Chef Knife
One of the most popular knives, the chef’s knife has a strong blade and is heavy to hold. Your workhorse knife, this can be used for all chopping and slicing tasks.

Bread Knife
A serrated, long and strong blade that allows for cutting of bread with clean slices. Can also be used for slicing many types of soft foods such as tomatoes.

Santoku Knife
The santoku knife is the Japanese version of the chef’s knife and is excellent for meat, fish and vegetable preparation. It has a wide blade to scoop up chopped food and a curved end which helps the rocking motion used when chopping.

Filleting Knife
Flexible boning knife perfect for filleting and preparing fish and meat. A long, slim blade with flexibility allows ease of movement.

Carving Fork
A long, two pronged fork this is used to hold roast meat whilst slicing it with a carving knife. It is also used for lifting and turning larger pieces of meat and for serving the slices.

A generally rectangular sturdy bladed knife used for splitting large cuts of meat and spare ribs.

Chinese Chopper
NOT to be confused with a cleaver. These are larger rectangular bladed knives used for general food preparation but are usually not suitable for chopping through bones or frozen foods.

Boning Knife
Characteristically a thin, curved blade with a straight edge. Great for removing meat from the bone. Flexible versions are perfect for fish and poultry.

Utility Knife
An all round versatile, smaller knife suitable for chopping and slicing fruit and vegetables and smaller cuts of meat as well.

Tomato Knife
A small serrated knife that has a forked tip for picking up pieces of fruit and a sharp edge for cutting through tough skin.

Slicinh Knife
Most popularly with a serrated edge although also available with a plain blade. A versatile knife for precise cutting, for example smaller cuts of meat.

Steak Knife
The steak knife is well known for its slim and strong characteristics, and has a straight cutting edge. As the name suggests, its widely used for cutting and chopping steak.

Decorating Knife
A defined blade that offers a pronounced point for carving intricate patterns. Great for fruit and vegetables.

Vegetable Knife
As the name suggests, this type of veggie knife are great for cutting smaller fruit and vegetables with its strong straight edge and sturdy tip.

Paring Knife
A great everyday knife with a slim, fine blade, fine cutting edge and firm tip. Peels potatoes, fruit and vegetables. Also suitable for trimming off any unusable pieces.

Peeling Knife
A curved blade perfect for peeling fruit and vegetables and with a short, sturdy handle, thin cutting blade and firm tip ideal for removing the eyes from potatoes.