Bhikshatana-Soup for the Soul


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

We live in times where begging is a sign of abject poverty or perhaps laziness coupled with lack of self respect. It is generally looked upon as the last resort of an individual who possibly refuses to lead a procreative life.

Yet going on Bhikshatana or a tour of begging was a part of student life and that of the men who belonged to the Brahmana sect of the ancient Indian society. A little trip down our traditional society will reveal that the practice finds its roots in the Varnashrama system that was propounded and followed during Vedic age.

Those were times when people contributed to society in which they lived on the basis of their physical and mental capabilities. The students and Brahmins who expended their time in rites and rituals, research, learning and disseminating knowledge, had little time to take care of the daily logistics of life. Hence, society took it upon itself to sustain such members in their community as and when their help was sought.

Thus, Bhikshatana or seeking of alms came into practice. The seekers of alms would arrive at the doorsteps of their potential donors and call out loudly and humbly for their requirement. The charitable household would take stock of their situation and then the lady of the house would give away one or two items. Usually it would be some food grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts or a length of cloth according to their financial strength.

Rarely though, there were times when the seekers of alms would receive very little or face rejection or derision from the public in general. This experience taught the seekers to accept discourteous or negative response without feeling offended or judgmental. They learned the valuable lesson of humility in the practical way.

Moreover they imbibed the value of curtailing the impulse to save up or hoard for a future time. In other words, Bhikshatana served as soup for the soul to evolve as a mature personality.

Indian culture introduced and included the practice of Bhikshatana variously, with the intent of inducing charitable and humble traits in our society.

Hing _ The Adopted Child of Spices


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

know your ingredient

 

The asafetida or the Hing as it is known in most of India happens to be a happy by product of the silk route. Long, long ago when Arab merchants traded with our continent, they enslaved our olfactory senses and taste buds to the gummy resin. Ever since we adopted this alien spice as our own and incorporated it into our choicest dishes to make them more eclectic.

Given its numerous therapeutic and curative powers, this spice is also referred to as the ‘Food of the Gods’.  Or it is known as  devil’s dung avoided by people who adhere to satvik food.

You can buy this resin these days off the shelf in three different forms. Though it is essentially the same ingredient and is used in more or less the same way for the same purposes, if you pay attention to the way it should be used, it can give optimal results.

The solid form is the best for it retains the flavour intact. There are two ways to use it. You can soak it in hot water and use the syrup to knead it into the dough.

One of the ground rules of using Hing is to strictly avoid using the ingredient if the dish uses onion or garlic mandatorily.

The granulated form of Hing can bestow its best  on liquid foods like buttermilk, rasams etc or semi solid foods like Sambhar, gravy, vegetable kootu etc taste best when granulated Hing is added to the seasoning of the recipe at the very end.

The powdered form of Hing can give optimal results when added as additional flavoring in salads, kosambari , raitha, pachadi etc. Heat a little oil or ghee and toss powdered hing into it before adding it to the dish.

Golu 2018


These are some of the pictures from our Golu 2018 captured by some of my dear friends and well wishers. The theme was FLORA. Natural plants, arts and crafts of a varied range have been worked on and have been used to depict the world of flowers and explore its overwhelming global presence in mythology, history , literature and architecture.

Of Mint Condition


https://www.deccanherald.com/living/food-fiesta/mint-condition-695741.html

Our very own Pudina or Mint probably has the distinction of being the ubiquitous herb in Afro Asian, European and Australian cuisine alike. The gaily green leaves which lend a sense of freshness, besides lending its unique smell and taste have made it a universal favourite.

If you follow certain thumb rules while using mint leaves, you can extract the best out of it. Did you know that cutting the leaves is a complete no-no for it can destroy its intrinsic goodness? You can crush the leaves with your fingers while garnishing juices, smoothies, salads and raithas to get the best effect. If you are planning to use the greens to flavour chutneys, gravies or curries make sure that you sauté the whole leaves before adding it to the main dish. If your recipe expects you to grind mint leaves along, remember that fresh leaves can alter the taste just heat the leaves on a tawa or in a pan so that it loses its moisture content and then grind the same.

Though many people add mint leaves to fried snacks like pakodas or sundried Pappads and Khakras, your discerning taste buds must have realized that the Pudina neither smells nor tastes as you expect it to. That is because; the herb loses its flavour when exposed to extreme heat. If you really care for mint then avoid using the leaves to flavour the mentioned dishes, instead you can eat them with Pudina chutney.

Sometimes we may end up buying more mint than we need. One of the best ways to preserve Pudina is to wrap the leaves in a newspaper and leave it in the refrigerator. Make sure that you discard the yellowed or blackened leaves for they can play spoilsport to your star dish.

Pudina leaves added to flavour your tea, lime water, rasams and even your water can not only tickle your tastebuds but can comfort your tummy too!

Genuine Thirst for Knowledge


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com

Genuine thirst for knowledge

There was a time when people who thirsted for knowledge went to great lengths to acquire it. The passion to learn helped them to overcome distance, hardships and challenges without an iota of hesitation.

Once the students became erudite, they safeguarded knowledge fiercely with great care and awkwardness and passed them on selectively to some trusted disciples for reasons best known to them.

A story in the Upanishads records how Indra, the Lord of Devas, once initiated sage Dadheechi with divine knowledge like Pravarga and Madhu, because he was excessively impressed by the sage’s severe penance to learn the same. Since it was niche knowledge, he categorically told the sage that his head would be cut into 100 pieces if he passed on his learning to anybody else.

The Ashwini Kumaras, who happened to eavesdrop during the last segment of the conversation, were tempted to learn the special subjects. They did not want the sage to pay with his life. So, they cut off the sage’s head and hid it in a secret place and placed a head of a horse on the sage’s torso. The sage was awed by their genuine desire for knowledge, humility and the willingness to take such a huge risk for the love of learning. Dadheechi imparted the Vidya to them. At the end of the session, Ashwini Kumaras wanted to transplant the original head of Dadheechi on his person. They thought that even if Indra decided to carry out his threat, the head of the horse would be mutilated.

In the meanwhile, the enraged Indra decided to take the twin Devas for a ride. Indra took the original head of the sage into his custody. The nervous twins were forced to confess. Indra recognized their genuine thirst for knowledge and returned Dadheechi’s head which was duly fixed. The Lord of the heavens realized that it was impossible to hold back learning if the teacher and the taught were enthusiastic about gaining mastery over the subject.

Today we have come a long way. Just about every subject under the sun is available to us at the click of a button. The opportunities to learn and expand our mental horizons intellectually are infinite. Despite the immense and easy facilities, we find that most of us are not serious takers.