It’s Raining Momos! Head To Kamla Nagar To Binge On Manchurian Fried Gravy Momos

It's Raining Momos! Head To Kamla Nagar To Binge On Manchurian Fried Gravy Momos

  • Chalte Firte Momos in Kamla Nagar is known for its fusion experiments
  • It serves a wide variety of momos
  • One of its stellar dishes is manchurian fried gravy momos

Momo lovers, raise your hand! If you happen to be one of those momo enthusiasts who can eat momos in almost all forms, then here’s a bit of good news for you. Located in Kamla Nagar is a quaint little cafe, Chalte Firte Momos, which is known for its fusion experiments with momos. From Afghani momos to mozzarella cheese fried momos, this place has it all. One of its stellar dishes that is being loved by people across the vicinity is the manchurian fried gravy momos. Slathered in rich manchurian gravy, these momos are an absolute must-try. We see you slurping, already!

 

Be it steamed, fried or sauteed, there’s no dearth of momos here. The manchurian fried gravy momos are quite different from the entire lot, both in terms of taste as well as preparation. This delectable delight is first deep fried to perfection and then cooked in manchurian gravy. The gravy is what adds to the texture and flavour of the dish. It is rich, flavourful and delicious at the same time. This dish has a bit of smoky flavour, which enhances the overall culinary experience.

The serving portion of this delight is suffice for two people and won’t burn a hole in your pocket since it is reasonably priced. The one’s who have a special penchant for all-things-spicy, manchurian fried gravy momos are sure to impress their taste buds as it is a bit high on spice quotient.

So, the next time you are around Kamla Nagar, head to Chalte Firte Momos and savour on this mouth-watering delight.

What: Chalte Firte Momos & Special Foods
Where: 32, UB, Jawahar Nagar, Bangla Road, Kamla Nagar, New Delhi
When: 11:30 AM – 10 PM
Cost For Two: INR 300
Speciality: Manchurian Fried Gravy Momos

Can a Test in Your Teens Predict Your Alzheimer’s Disease Risk?

In 1960 a group of nearly 400,000 American high school students took an aptitude test. Today, researchers say the results of that test could predict Alzheimer’s and dementia risk.

How students scored on that test nearly 60 years ago was compared with Medicare data from surviving members of the group to look for correlations with Alzheimer’s. The study further lends credence to the notion that there are early predictors of the disease that can be identified.

Students who performed better had a lower risk for developing the disease, while those that did poorly were associated with increased odds of it.

“The concept that overall cognitive ability is associated with Alzheimer’s risk is not novel,” said Dr. Marc L. Gordon, chief of neurology at the Zucker Hillside Hospital, and professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. “This study however goes beyond to look at specific attributes that were tested and seeing how that might affect risk.”

The study, published this month in JAMA Network Open, included a diverse sample of participants from the original test, known as Project Talent, including 43,014 men and 42,749 women now between ages 66 and 73.

Other studies, like those alluded to by Gordon and cited by the researchers, include the Scottish Mental Health Survey, which associated lower mental ability in children age 11 with increased risk of dementia.

Differences between men and women

The new study goes further by looking at specific testing criteria and how particular types of knowledge are linked with Alzheimer’s and dementia risk rather than just cognitive ability in general.

Areas of cognitive ability on the test included:

  • memory for words
  • reading comprehension
  • mechanical reasoning
  • abstract reasoning
  • clerical tasks
  • creativity
  • visualization in three dimensions

Although there was plenty of crossover, researchers identified certain areas distinct to men and women that could be used to identify greatest risk.

For men, lower scores in mechanical reasoning — questions concerning physical forces such as gravity and basic mechanisms such as pulleys, wheels, and springs — indicated a 17 percent increased likelihood of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

For women, verbal tasks such as memory for words were more indicative. Women who scored lower in memory for words had a 16 percent increased likelihood.

“Women traditionally have better verbal abilities when compared to men, so it may be that if women start off with lower verbal abilities when they are young girls, then as they get older that area that is weaker becomes more apparent in earlier testing,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi, an attending neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital and specialist in memory loss.

However, both Devi and Gordon, neither of which were directly involved in the study, urge caution in rushing to conclusions about the ability of the test to accurately predict Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life.

“This I think could very easily be misconstrued,” said Gordon.

The significant gap between the testing phase and the collection of Medicare data means that there are plenty of other factors at work in the interim: lifestyle and health choices, education level, and socioeconomic status can all play a role in the development of disease.

“One takeaway I would not have is that this is, as I said, something like a fait accompli, or something that is necessarily unmodifiable,” he said.

For her part, Devi largely praised the study for having a robust cohort but took issue specifically with the use of Medicare data for Alzheimer’s disease.

“They didn’t actually go back and look to see if the older adults had Alzheimer’s; they were kind of correlating it with Medicare data. Therefore, it’s probably not reflective of the actual number of patients who had Alzheimer’s,” she said.

Could early intervention help?

The final question raised in the study is: what exactly should be done with this information? Even if low cognitive ability in children is associated with potential risk later in life for Alzheimer’s and dementia, what should be done about it?

The authors suggest that at-risk individuals could benefit from prevention or intervention efforts, although what exactly that means is unclear.

“I think we don’t know yet if any particular intervention would be efficacious in terms of mitigating the risk — you know whether we should be directly targeting the factor of educational attainment as a risk factor or whether that would interact with other risk factors,” said Gordon.

What is clear though is that even at a young age, brain development and cognitive ability are likely to have a real effect on risk for these diseases, and paying attention to academic problems in kids is likely worthwhile.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that kids performing poorly need to be whisked off to tutoring either.

“[The study] is interesting in terms of the idea that our brain is more resilient if we had a better brain to start with,” said Devi. “I think the truth is that we are far more at risk of Alzheimer’s later in our lives and that the intervention should start in our 40s or 50s. But to think about intervening very, very early in life to me seems a little premature.”

The bottom line

Researchers have found that test scores from a 1960 aptitude test may help predict whether people will develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Researchers identified certain areas distinct to men and women that could be used to identify greatest risk. For men, lower scores in mechanical reasoning indicated a 17 percent increased likelihood of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Experts said it’s too early to have a test determine definitive Alzheimer’s risk and that the findings need more research.

6 Best Restaurants For Kerala Cuisine In Chennai

It’s tough to keep track of the number of Onam food promotions in Chennai. Each year more restaurants join the bandwagon and yet it’s still not unusual to spot crowds waiting in line to sample the quintessential Kerala Sadya (banana leaf meal) at popular restaurants like Ente Keralam. Until the 2000s, you had to choose between dining at upscale South Indian restaurants like Dakshin or Southern Spice that were the preserve of luxury hotels or opt for a shack-like experience at eateries like Nair Mess that enjoyed a cult following with Chennai’s large Malayalee community.

6 Best Restaurants For Kerala Cuisine In Chennai

Chennai’s IT/ITES and engineering boom has seen a whole new generation of Malayalees move to Chennai. The city’s changing food culture has also seen a growing band of evolved foodies keen to dig into authentic Kerala cuisine. Ente Keralam became one of the restaurants that bridged the gap between luxury hotels and hole in the wall establishments that began to mushroom across the city. More recently, Kappa Chakka Kandhari has raised the bar for Kerala cuisine in Chennai with its focus on authentic home-style ‘Nadan’ recipes. We round up some of Chennai’s finest Kerala cuisine restaurants:

1. Kappa Chakka Kandhari: The restaurant takes its name from three ingredients almost unique to Kerala cuisine – tapioca, jackfruit and the Kandhari chilli. KCK is built on a simple philosophy – put the spotlight on dishes these promoters enjoyed back in their childhood and make it relevant for a whole new generation. The promoters travelled across the different culinary regions of Kerala to put together a voluminous menu. Almost all the ingredients used in KCK are sourced from Kerala to retain the authenticity of the flavours. It’s certainly paid off. This is one of the finest Kerala restaurants in Chennai. Their Kottayam-style idiyirachi (beef fry) and chenna (yam) fry are the pick of their small plates. The menu has quite a few surprises – even for true-blue Malayalees. Try the Ramasseri Idli, a unique culinary tradition that is still being kept alive by four families near Palakkad. These flat idlis are cooked in jackfruit leaves in earthen pots and served with a flavourful Palakkad-style sambar or a chicken curry. The Kappa biryani (with tapioca and beef) is an absolute must-try.

Where: Haddows Road

(Also Read: A Food Trail In Chennai’s Sowcarpet)

2. Ente Keralam: Almost since its launch in the 2000s, Ente Keralam set the benchmark for stand-alone Kerala restaurants in Chennai. The restaurant has not just found the balance with a menu that brings together culinary specialties from the state’s many regions and communities but also keeps bringing culinary experts from Kerala for well-executed food promotions. One of my favourite menus here was a Toddy Shop promotion that put the focus on scrumptious cuisine from central Kerala’s toddy shops, now a magnet for locals and gourmands alike. Their ‘set meals’ and platters are a great way to explore their exhaustive menu. Do check out some of their signatures like the vazhapoo (banana flower) cutlet, the erachi ularthiyathu (Syrian beef fry), Thiruvananthapuram-style chicken fry or the ever popular Karimeen (Pearl spot fish) pollichathu.

Where: Kasturi Rangan Road

3. Kalpaka: This place has survived the test of time largely because of a couple of signature dishes that regulars keep coming back for. The interiors haven’t changed much and the pricing is still quite affordable. The restaurant’s popular dishes include the Malabar parotta, beef fry and egg roast.

Where: TTK Road

4. Kumarakom: It is one of Chennai’s best-known Kerala restaurant brands, spread across multiple locations. The chain finds a balance between food quality and value for money, one reason why Kumarakom tends to get quite busy during weekends. This is one restaurant that gets their appams usually right. Regulars swear by their duck roast, roast beef and karimeen polichatthu.

Where: Multiple locations including Kodambakkam High Road, Velachery and Perungudi.

5. Nair Mess: This place is tucked away in one of Triplicane’s many narrow alleys and is not far from Chennai’s iconic MA Chidambaram cricket stadium. For long, this was the ultimate comfort zone for working professionals from Kerala who craved for the flavours from home. Today, almost every area in Chennai has a similar eatery. Old timers still swear by their meals, fish fry and fish curry.

Where: Mohamed Abdullah Second street, Chepauk

6. Ikkakas: This new, casual eatery puts the focus on Malabar-style snacks and signatures. The menu has some traditional North Kerala snacks like the unnakaya (stuffed banana) and the kallumakaya nirachathu (stuffed mussels). Seafood is a recurring theme in this menu and the Malabar-style biryanis are a major draw here too.

Where: Cenotaph Road

So whether you’re looking at going the ‘whole hog’ with a large Kerala Sadya or a light snack for dinner, head to one of these restaurants for your Kerala cuisine fix in Chennai.

Therapy Dogs Can Help Kids with Speech Difficulties

For some children, learning language can be very challenging, making speech therapy sessions stressful and not much fun.

But all that changes when Pita, a lovable Labrador-golden retriever, is involved.

“My students love playing Jenga and the Honeybee Tree games with Pita. They are encouraged to say a target word or sentence and Pita will pull out a game piece with her mouth,” said Jennifer Yost, a speech-language pathologist in Orange County, California, who works with Pita.

Pita is a facility dog from nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence. She’s part assistant, part cheerleader, and all-around talented dog.

With over 60 commands under her furry belt, Pita can open and close doors, pick up fallen objects, and even play dress-up.

“She dresses up in numerous outfits,” said Yost, “and children are encouraged to create narrative stories to work on sequencing, perspective taking, and expressive language.”

She’s also part of a growing number of programs that use therapy dogs to help children improve their language use and comprehension.

One of these is the Pawsitive Play Program at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where therapy dogs encourage kids during physical, occupational, and speech therapy. The dogs that work here even have a badge and get a lunch break, just like other hospital workers.

In Ottawa, Canada, the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program pairs children with canine reading companions. The dogs can’t read, but they’re great listeners, giving the kids a chance to practice their oral language skills.

As any dog lover will attest to, having a dog around makes any activity more enjoyable. But therapy dogs are more than just fun.

They can motivate children to work harder or help kids relax when speech therapy gets too challenging.

“There have been numerous times when a child was struggling to produce a sound or shut down during a difficult task,” said Yost, “and Pita instinctively relieved their stress by nudging their hand or rolling on her back as if to say ‘It’s OK if it’s hard for you. I’ll still love you if you pet me.’”

Yost said Pita’s skill as a nonjudgmental listener allows children to practice speech and language without fear of being criticized or made fun of.

Researchers study benefits of therapy dogs

A small number of researchers have been studying the benefits of having a therapy dog in speech therapy sessions.

One recent study found that therapy dogs like Pita might make speech and language therapy sessions more effective than therapy alone.

The study, which was published September 19 in the journal Anthrozoös, included 69 nursery-school children with developmental dysphasia.

This condition affects a child’s ability to form words, communicate, and understand what others are saying. Like other speech and language problems, it can affect a child’s quality of life both now and as they grow.

Children in the study participated in either traditional speech therapy or speech therapy with Agáta, a female middle-aged Peruvian hairless dog. Researchers followed up with children 10 months later to see how their language use had improved.

Researchers found that when a therapy dog took part in the sessions, children were better able to mimic communication signals. This included copying facial expressions such as narrowing the eyes, shutting the eyes, filling up the cheeks with air, and smiling.

Children were also more motivated and open to communicating when Agáta was present. And they displayed authentic, natural expressions when interacting with her.

The researchers said in a press release that more research is needed, especially with a larger group of children, to know how beneficial therapy dogs will be for helping kids with language.

Other studies, though, have found some benefit of therapy dogs for helping adults with language problems and children with developmental disorders. These studies are also small.

Children of all levels and abilities may enjoy having a dog reading companion, but those who need more help with language may benefit the most.

Yost said that Pita has greatly impacted some of her students on the autism spectrum.

“While children with autism may have difficulty engaging in eye contact with adults or peers,” said Yost, “they often engage in eye contact spontaneously with Pita.”

Pita can even respond to commands from electronic communication devices that provide language help for children with speech difficulties.

Much of Pita’s magic, though, happens without the kids even noticing.

“Often, the child thinks they are just playing with their buddy Pita,” said Yost, “but in reality, we are addressing all of their goals within naturalistic play.”

These Unique Sizzlers At Mystery Of Spice Will Make You Crave For More

These Unique Sizzlers At Mystery Of Spice Will Make You Crave For More

  • The joy of gorging on hot sizzlers with a smoky aroma is above all
  • Mystery of Spice in Noida dishes out some exciting varieties of sizzlers
  • These sizzlers come with a touch of north Indian flavours

This one’s for all the sizzler lovers out there. The joy of gorging on hot sizzlers with a smoky aroma is above all. If you are tired of having those regular chicken steak sizzlers or fish sizzlers and wish to surprise your taste buds with something quirky, then we’re here to help. Located in Noida’s sector 104, Mystery of Spice is one restaurant that is dishing out some exciting varieties of sizzlers that have a touch of north Indian flavours. Read on to know more about them:

1. Soya Chaap Takatak Paratha Sizzler

If soya is your thing, then this sizzler is apt for you. Made with minced soya chunks and a melange of Indian spices, this delight is served over a sizzling hot base and is paired with warqi paratha, which is crisp to perfection. The soya chunks are evenly coated in the masala mixture and have a smoky flavour. Pair it with coriander chutney and you’re done for the day.

 

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The soya chunks are evenly coated in a masala mixture

2. Paneer Khurchan Rumali Roti Sizzler

Paneer lovers, raise your hand! This appetising sizzler is too pretty to look at and tastes equally good. The minced paneer is generously marinated with hung curd, and is then cooked to perfection with a host of spices. The dish has a subtle taste of cardamom, which adds to its flavours. The delight is served with soft rumali rotis that are quite filling.

 

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The minced paneer is generously marinated with hung curd

3. Chicken Tikka Khurchan Rumali Roti Sizzler

For the non-vegetarians, there’s chicken tikka khurchan sizzler, which is also served with rumali rotis. The chicken tikka has a smoky flavour, which is sure to tantalise your taste buds. It comes with the same hung curd marination and has a bit of tang in it.

4. Brownie Sizzler

End your sumptuous meal with another sizzler and satiate your dessert cravings. Brownie sizzler comes with brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. The base has sizzling chocolate sauce, which complements the brownie in the perfect way.

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Brownie sizzler comes with brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce

So, the next time you happen to be around sector 104, Noida, head to this place and savour a sizzler of your choice! However, be careful while handling all these sizzlers as they are quite hot.

What: Mystery of Spice
Where: First Floor, Kesari Plaza, Sector 104, Noida
When: 12 PM – 11 PM
Cost For Two: INR 1,000
Speciality: Sizzlers

There Aren’t Many Benefits to Low-Dose Aspirin for Healthy Older Adults

Starting in 2010, and continuing for four years, the latest trial enrolled more than 19,000 people in Australia and the United States who were 70 and older, or 65 for African-American and Hispanic participants, because their risks of dementia or cardiovascular disease are higher.

None of the participants had cardiovascular disease, dementia, or a physical disability.

About half of participants were given 100 mg of low-dose aspirin while the rest were given a placebo.

Aspirin had no effect on whether people would be diagnosed with dementia or a disability.

About 90 percent of the people who took aspirin survived and had no persistent physical disability or dementia.

The same was true of about 90 percent of people on the placebo.

However, researchers discovered that people taking the aspirin showed a higher risk of bleeding, such as hemorrhages.

John McNeil, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in Australia, said in a statement that the study had useful findings.

“These findings will help inform prescribing doctors who have long been uncertain about whether to recommend aspirin to healthy patients who do not have a clear medical reason for doing so,” McNeil said.

“The take-home message of such a complex, large, placebo-controlled study is that healthy older people contemplating how best to preserve their health will be unlikely to benefit from aspirin,” he added.

But bleeding, a well-known side effect of aspirin, was borne out by the study, with a small increase (3.8 percent) in cases of serious bleeding among aspirin takers versus (2.8 percent) in those who took the placebo.

“It means millions of healthy older people around the world who are taking low-dose aspirin without a medical reason may be doing so unnecessarily, because the study showed no overall benefit to offset the risk of bleeding,” he said.

While aspirin remains a relatively safe medication, it’s not benign and patients should follow the advice of their doctor about daily low-dose use, McNeil concluded.

“This study shows why it is so important to conduct this type of research so that we can gain a fuller picture of aspirin’s benefits and risks among healthy older persons,” explained Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, in a statement.

The study was led in Australia by McNeil and associate professor Robyn Woods, from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine based at the Alfred Medical Research Precinct.

The U.S. component of the study was led by Dr. Anne Murray, a professor, and Brenda Kirpach from the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research in Minneapolis.

Breastfed Babies Have Lower BMI Than Formula-Fed Infants

When it comes to ensuring your child ends up at a healthy weight, breast really might be best for feeding them when they’re infants.

That’s the finding of a study released today that examined the relationship between infant feeding practices and weight gain during the first year of life.

The researchers found that breastfeeding was linked with a lower body mass index and also a reduced risk of weight gain considered excessive in an infant’s first year of life.

The benefits of breastfeeding on BMI of infants have been well-established, but this study is the first to find that the length of time an infant is breastfed makes a difference.

“The beneficial effect of breastfeeding is stronger with longer and more exclusive breastfeeding, meaning that any is better than none, and every feed counts,” Meghan Azad, PhD, lead author of the study and a research scientist at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, told Healthline.

“I think this is a positive and important message for moms. I was surprised to find that the method of breast milk feeding matters: Our results show that feeding breast milk from a bottle is not equivalent to direct feeding at the breast (although it was still superior to feeding formula). Very few studies make this distinction — it is an important finding that raises new questions for further research,” she said.

Azad and her colleagues studied 2,553 infants between 2009 and 2012. Ninety-seven percent initiated breastfeeding, and the median duration of breastfeeding was 11 months. Seventy-four percent of infants were given solids before six months.

Babies who were partially breastfed, given some expressed breast milk, or exclusively given formula had a higher BMI at age three months than babies who were exclusively breastfed directly.

It was found that the benefits of breast milk differed between breast milk delivered directly from the breast and milk expressed and given in a bottle. Azad says this was a surprising finding.

“There are several possible reasons. First, the bioactive components of breast milk could be degraded during the routine steps between pumping and feeding breast milk — i.e., pumping, freezing, and thawing,” said Azad.

“Second, feeding at the breast might promote better self-regulation because breastfed infants learn to stop feeding when they are full, whereas bottle-fed infants, regardless of what is in the bottle, are often encouraged to empty the bottle, and do not regulate their own milk intake.”

Azad said over time this may make it more difficult for infants to regulate how much food to take in when they’re hungry.

“This could lead to poor self-regulation and higher weight gain even after weaning,” Azad explained. “Feeding at the breast also promotes mother-infant bonding, which has important health and psychosocial benefits.”

Rising obesity numbers

In the United States, the number of children and adolescents with obesity has tripled since the 1970s. One in three children is overweight or obese, and Azad says most of those are already overweight before entering preschool.

“It is clear that obesity prevention strategies must focus very early in life,” she said.

Dr. Joan Younger Meek, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Breastfeeding, says breastfeeding can be a part of a helpful foundation for an infant’s healthy development.

“There is no question that breast milk is more beneficial to a child’s overall health and development than formula,” she said.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization unequivocally state that exclusive breastfeeding is preferred for the first 6 months of life, with continued breastfeeding after the introduction of complementary solids for at least one year (AAP), or for at least two years (WHO).”

Meek pointed out that infant formula can be a helpful alternative to breast milk, but isn’t equivalent.

“There are many protective factors, growth promoting factors, hormones, and even whole cells in human milk not found in infant formula,” she told Healthline.

Breastfeeding not only helps infants develop the ability to feed when they feel hunger and stop feeding when they are full, it can also help with cognitive development, and plays a significant role in a healthy gut as well.

“Breastfeeding promotes optimal development of the bacteria that inhabit the baby’s intestinal tract, the microbiota, which protect against infection and inflammation,” said Meek. “Breastfeeding promotes optimal cognitive development.”

Options for moms who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed

Dr. Jaime Friedman, a pediatrician at the Children’s Primary Care Medical Group in California, says the decision to breastfeed or use formula is a personal decision that may be influenced by a number of factors, and that women who don’t breastfeed can take steps to ensure their child is healthy.

For moms who are unable to breastfeed, she says it’s important to not overfeed.

“It makes sense that expecting a baby to finish a bottle, regardless of contents, may lead to overfeeding compared to allowing them to decide when they are finished at the breast without knowing how much they have taken,” she said.

Friedman said new mothers can take clear steps to keep their child healthy, whether or not they decide to breastfeed.

“New mothers have enough to worry about. Many already feel sad or guilty if they are unable to breastfeed,” she said. “The important thing is to avoid overfeeding or encouraging a baby to finish a bottle if they are no longer hungry.”

The bottom line

Breastfeeding is associated with a healthier body composition during infancy.

This benefit was found to be stronger for infants who were exclusively breastfed for longer and was found to be weaker when milk was expressed and fed from a bottle, and weaker still in infants who were given formula.

Japanese Curry Is Nothing Like Indian Curry. Think Twice When In Japan

Japanese Curry Is Nothing Like Indian Curry. Think Twice When In Japan

What is the first dish that comes to your mind when you think of Japanese food?

Sushi, you say?

What else?

Sashimi? Ramen? Miso soup? Tempura? Yakitori?

What about curry? Intrigued?

Well, Japanese food writer Makiko Itoh had the following to say in her article titled “Curry. It’s more Japanese than you think,” which was published in the Japan Times in August, 2011:

“The quintessential spicy dish in Japan is curry, which is so popular that it’s regarded, along with ramen, as one of the top two national dishes – ahead of sushi and miso soup.”

When I landed in Japan on a holiday earlier this month I realised what she meant. There seemed to be curry everywhere I looked!

In all major train stations to start with, be it Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, come lunch time and you would see that the restaurants serving curry there were the ones most packed.

The clientele? Entirely Japanese. As was the staff. Chefs and waiting staff both.

Restaurants in Japan have plastic mock ups of the food on offer showcased in the shop front to help customers decide on what they want to eat. The shop windows of the curry shops have an array of white plates on display. Half of each plate shows rice. The other half appears to be covered with a uniform brown layer, with some meat or seafood perched on a sea of brown. This rather monochrome brown is the house colour of the curry shops of Japan.

In fact, it is not just the curry restaurants of Japan that offer curry. You will find curry in its traditional coffee shops too. I am not talking of the many Starbucks and the Tullys and the Dean and Delucas here, but the coffee shops that serve drip coffee and not cappuccino, and offer an array of food too. You would see replicas of a curry rice dish standing proudly among those of plates of egg fried rice, ramen, pasta, veg au gratin and caramel custard in the front window.

Curry features prominently in Tonkatsu places too. Tonkatsu refers to pork cutlets and is not to be confused to with ‘Tonkotsu’, the name for the creamy, and dreamy, pork bone broth based ramen. The famous Japanese dish, katsu curry, refers to cutlet (katsu) served with rice and curry. You could even have a chicken katsu curry and not just pork.

 

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When I asked my Tokyo based food-writer friend, Yukari Sakamoto, whose book Food Sake Tokyo was our Bible during our time in Tokyo, about her views on curry then she had the following to say, “Curry? I love to eat it. Both Japanese style and Indian”.

Yes, the two curries, Japanese and Indian, are not considered to be the same by locals and rightly so.

The primary association with Indian curries in Japan is that it is ‘hot’ (chilli heat). Thanks possibly to a curry known as the Nakamuraya Curry if one goes by the interesting

back story to this curry which Japan based Bangladeshi expat writer, Probir Bikash Sarkar, spoke of in an interview to the Sunday Telegraph in September, 2013. Starring in this story is the late Rashbehari Bose, an Indian freedom fighter who had taken refuge from the British in Japan in 1916. He then married a Japanese lady named Toshika who unfortunately passed away due to tuberculosis in 1925. His father-in-law, Aizo Soma, ran a bakery called Nakamura Bakery which was earlier owned by the Nakamura family. Two years after his wife’s demise, Bose told his father-in-law that he wanted to sell chicken curry and rice in the bakery. They then set up a restaurant called Indo No Mone to sell the curry. Bose used his own recipe for this and the result was a curry which was different from what was prevalent in Japan then. It was called the Indo karii or Indian curry.

Indian curry? But aren’t all curries ‘Indian’?

Well it was not so in Japan till then.

Curry was introduced to Japan during the Meiji era (1868 – 1912) it is said, by the officers and cooks of the British Royal Navy. Emperor Meiji, who ruled Japan then, was instrumental in transforming the Japanese from an insular feudal society to one open to Western influences. This also meant that Western dishes such as pasta, bechamel sauce-based bakes, cakes and puddings and custards began to enter the Japanese culinary space. You still have restaurants in Japan offering these dishes. These are similar to the classical 18th and 19th century French-influenced fare that you will still find in restaurants such as Mocambo and Peter Cat in Kolkata, the United Coffee House in Delhi and Gaylord and Gallops in Mumbai. Memories of the British empire that lingered on long after it was disbanded.

Curry in Japan was a seen as a western dish at that point. Till Bose spiced things up a bit with the Nakamuraya Indo Karii. Trust a fellow Bengali to fight back with food, one could wryly say. Offshoots of the original Nakamuraya Cafe still exist in Tokyo today, though the ownership is said to have changed. Their curries are packaged as well and are available in super markets now. I did not come across the Nakamuraya curry in my short trip I am afraid, but this is what Yukari had to say on the brand:

“I have been a few times to Shinjuku Nakamura for curry. There is a branch at Takashimaya department store near Shinjuku station. It’s kid-friendly and there are plastic food samples in front of the shop making it easy to decide what to eat. The curry is a bit hotter (spicier) than Japanese-style curry and goes well with a cold beer. The Nakamura curry packs are sold at our local supermarket. We always keep both beef and chicken on hand in our home. For packaged curry it’s surprisingly delicious and is easy to reheat at home.”

So, do think twice before you go running into the nearest ‘curry’ shop when in Japan looking for ghar ka khana (Indian food). You might be better off going to the token Indian restaurant, which every big mall in Japan seems to have, instead. These places hawk chicken tikka masala and saag paneer and bear names such as ‘Taj Mahal,’ ‘Jaipur’ or ‘Saffron’, as most Indian restaurants located in tourist spots across the world seem to be. There are more Indian restaurants tucked in the lanes of the cities which locals would be familiar of. We rarely eat Indian food when travelling abroad so I will not be able to tell you much about them, I am afraid.

I did try out a few Japanese curries during the trip for the sake of ‘research’.

The first was at the Edo Museum in Tokyo. The complex has an outlet of a restaurant named Misaka Kaikan, which traces its origins to 1925. We tried the seafood curry there. What struck me about the curry was that it seemed to have a very distinct ‘Parsi’ aroma. Let me explain what I mean. The dominant taste memories that the curry evoked in my mind was that of the Parsi sambar masala which is not to be confused with the sambarof south India. The curry was rather thick and seemed to be a cross between theParsi dhansakand kaala masoor dalin terms of both texture and colour.

There could be a reason for this. Curry spice powders exported from the UK were key to the original curry culture of Japan. This to me explained the similarity that I felt between the Japanese curry that I tried and Parsi dishes that I am familiar with. The Parsi sambar masala and curry powder have a lot of ingredients in common, after all.

The thickness of the Japanese curry comes from the use of roux, a flour and fat based thickener used in French cooking. This makes the curry far more viscous than the curries that we are used to in India. Interestingly, Misaka had a dish called ‘Indian chicken curry’ in the heritage section of their menu.

The next curry that I tasted was one that I spotted at the breakfast buffet spread at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo. This was a vegetable curry, the taste, texture and smell of which reminded me of the bhaaji (of the pav bhaaji) of Mumbai. That would be the curry powder at work again, one could say. I had a few bites of it and then went back to the scrumptious signature eggs benedict at the hotel, which uses crab meat instead of the standard ham or bacon and features avocado in the Hollandaise sauce, instead. That is closer to my idea of a good breakfast, though curry is a popular breakfast option in Japan I am told.

My last curry exploration took me to a curry shop named San Marco at the Osaka station. The aromas that greeted me when I stepped into the shop took me back to the Bangladeshi run ‘Indian’ curry shops in London’s Brick Lane. Curry powder, garlic, red chillies being the dominant notes. Yet, when you looked around, there were only Japanese folks in the restaurant. No Bangladeshis or British, and definitely no Indians.

(Also Read: 5 Famous Varieties of Ramen You Must Try in Japan)

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San Marco at the Osaka station

We tried two curries at San Marco. The first was beef curry. I was offered a plate split equally between a portion of sticky rice and an equally sticky curry. The latter infused with a touch of chilli heat. It had a few miniscule pieces of tender meat in it. The sort of carb heavy, economical food that makes the world go around. I wondered if the chilli heat in this curry was a hat tip to the late Mr Bose.

My wife wanted to have a chicken curry, but without rice. The chef and the staff looked at each other perplexed on hearing this and even giggled politely for a few seconds. This was the only time that this happened to us on the trip. The Japanese do not judge you otherwise, even when you ask for forks instead of chopsticks. However, ask for curry without rice and you leave them baffled, it seems. The most common way to have curry here is the kare raisu. Raisu is rice, a short grained sticky rice variety. Kare is how kari is spelt and pronounced in Japan now that they have made the curry of the West their own.

The Japanese are very polite, of course, and once the chef got over the shock of our asking for a curry without raisu, he added some vegetables to the mix and offered my wife a rather pretty plate.

How was the chicken curry? Sweet. Very sweet. Asha Parekh in Love in Tokyo sweet.

The sweetness comes from the use of fruits such as apples (!) in the curry. Yes, we can blame the British for that.

And thus, ended my curry adventures in Japan. I decided to leave the curry for the Japanese from then on, and immersed myself in copious bowls of ramen for the rest of my trip.

Healthier Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Directions

Image result for Healthier Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eight muffin liners in a muffin tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, sugar, yogurt, and lemon juice and zest until fully combined. Add egg and vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in two additions, stirring until just combined. Fold in chia seeds.
  5. Pour batter into muffin liners, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Top Ten Nutrition Tips for Everyday Health

Here are my top ten favorite tips for healthy eating all year long, with lots of amazing links to more helpful information from Reboot.  This is by no means a complete list of guidelines but a few key things to get you started or keep you moving forward on the path toward healthy eating as a lifestyle.

1.) Drink plenty of water.
Our bodies are about 60% water – with muscle mass carrying much more than fat tissue!  We need to drink water to keep our body systems running smoothly, optimize metabolism, boost energy levels, and promote good digestion, just to name a few.  Besides water, electrolytes are important especially if you exercise.

2.) Eat plenty of plants.
These colorful gems provide essential phytonutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes – all of which are just as important for your health as the macronutrients we often hear about (think carbs, proteins and fats).

3.) Eat and drink often throughout the day.
The jury is still out on whether 6 small meals or 3 meals is best so try to figure out what feels right for you.  But overall, having high quality small snacks, “mini meals” or fresh juice during the day can help to boost energy and prevent over-eating.

4.) Eat mindfully. 
Limit distractions and take time to experience eating and engage your senses. Up to 30-40% of nutrients may not be properly absorbed if you are distracted while eating.  Like walking, watching TV, typing, working – all very common eating activities these days.  Digestion begins in the brain so by looking at, thinking about and smelling your food, you can help your body benefit from the wonderful nutrients locked away in that meal while enjoying the experience even more!

5.) Limit processed foods.
Read labels carefully. Make natural, homemade versions of store-bought foods.  Like hummus or granola bars, yum!

6.) Seek local foods often and organic foods sometimes.
Local eating not only has more nutrients it can also save you money.  You don’t have to get everything organic if that isn’t feasible, for some items it matters more (like apples and strawberries).

7.) Include healthy fats in your diet.
Eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat!  Many immune supportive vitamins, like Vitamin E or beta-carotene and hormones, like Vitamin D require some fat in the diet for absorption.  Pass the avocado, please!

8.) Include healthy protein rich foods, including plant-based choices.
Protein rich foods can help to reduce reflux and keep blood sugar levels stable while supporting healthy muscles and your immune system. If you want to add more protein to your juices, chia seeds, hemp seeds, spirulina or the Reboot with Joe Protein Powder are great choices.

9.) For weight management focus more on inclusion of healthy foods and less on restriction of portions.

10.) Enjoy eating !