What Not to Do When Eating at Indian Restaurant

Khushbu Shah wrote . . . . . . .

Indian food is the best food in the world. With a name like Khushbu Shah, I might be slightly (OK, extremely) biased, but there is still no denying that it is sublime. No one can accuse it of being flavorless (unlike your aunt’s tuna noodle casserole) or boring (unlike your uncle who adores your aunt’s tuna noodle casserole). And as someone who is Indian American, I really love seeing non-Indians indulge in samosas and aloo gobi with as much glee as I do.

But, there are some rules to game if you want to feast on Indian food properly. So grab a mango lassi and study what not to do below, so that next time you hit up your local Indian restaurant, you won’t have to worry about your brown friends being too embarrassed to dine with you.

You’re afraid to eat with your hands

Unless your name is Edward and you literally have scissors for fingers, eating with your hands is a pleasant experience and not a revolutionary idea. We didn’t always have forks, and most Indian food is actually designed for eating sans utensils. Sure, you can awkwardly cut your flatbreads and stab vegetables with the prongs of your fork, or you could use your hands to tear off a piece of roti and perfectly scoop up everything from creamy kormas to spiced chickpeas. It’s a good way to get people to take you seriously in an Indian restaurant, not to mention eating with your hands is frequently more efficient.

You order a “chai tea”

This is only OK if you are also someone who orders “cheese queso” and “shrimp scampi.” But you don’t want to be this person. “Chai” literally means “tea,” so ordering a chai tea is saying you’d like a “tea tea.” And frankly, if you can’t get that right, you don’t really deserve a cup of that masala-spiked goodness.

You say “naan bread”

Like the aforementioned “chai tea,” you look just as linguistically clueless if you ask for an order of “naan bread.” Naan is a very popular type of Indian flatbread that is cooked in a tandoor oven until it is fluffy. Therefore, naan is great with some tandoori chicken, and “naan bread” is not.

You don’t realize there are more bread options than just naan

India is really good at having a lot of things: a lot of people, a lot of movies, and a lot of bread styles. While naan is ridiculously good, you aren’t living your best life if you never try paratha (a flaky, layered flatbread), puri (a magically round and puffy bread), rotis (thin and chewy), and bhatura (a carb lover’s deep-fried dream). You can still order a side of garlic naan too, we won’t tattle.

You only order chicken tikka masala

It’s not difficult to hear the siren song of chicken tikka masala (or what my family likes to call “CTM” for short). It’s creamy, with just the right amount of heat to make your tongue happy but not sucker punch it. It might be hard to hear, but there are actually better dishes on most Indian menus. Sure you could eat saucy chicken, but why skip over things like pav bhaji, essentially vegetarian sloppy Joes, or malai kofta, vegetable dumplings in a tomato-y sauce, or Goan shrimp which is made with lots of coconut and seafood? Plus, it should be noted that chicken tikka masala isn’t even an Indian dish, but was actually invented by the British (which is weird considering most actual British food is terrible). How about that, mate?

You think everything is a curry

Guess what? The term “curry” is another invention for which you can thank the British. Curry is simply an (inaccurate) catch-all term for everything from meat to vegetable to lentil dishes that are both saucy and dry. And not every dish actually contains curry leaves, even though the term curry might lead you to believe that. In fact, many, like the popular “curry” saag paneer, are never made with curry leaves or powder. And if you head to a South Indian restaurant, there is nary a curry to be found on the menu.

You treat chutney like a dip

Say it with me: Chutney is not hummus! Naan is not pita! The little bowls of chutney Indian restaurants frequently lay out on every table is not a dip situation, as tempting as it might be. Think of chutney more like ketchup, mustard, and Sriracha — condiments that help amp up and balance out the flavors of a dish, but not things you want to scoop up with a chip.

You order just one entree for yourself

Whoever said variety is the spice of life probably came up with the phrase while eating an Indian meal. The cuisine isn’t set up so that everyone orders their own entree and then offers people at the table a bite all while hoping no one will take them up on the offer. The best Indian meals include a little bit of everything on the table — a good balance of vegetables, lentils, meats, rice, and bread. Your plate should be full and varied. There are few times in life where you can have everything you want at the same time, so take advantage of that and make sure to order family style.

You eat the colorful sugar-coated fennel seeds before the meal

The little bowls filled with colorful sugar-coated fennel seeds near the entrance of a restaurant are not there for you to snack on while you wait for a table, they are more like very colorful after-dinner mints. The seeds are a popular style of mukhwas, which are various types of seeds and nuts that are used to freshen your breath. They are also said to help aid in digestion, so don’t skip out on a spoonful on your way out. They’re better (and tastier) than gum or those weird cling-film-like Listerine strips.

Source: Thrillist

Indian-style Spicy Lamb with Gentle Sweet and Sour Flavour

Ingredients

1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
5 tablespoons olive oil
2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
6 cardamom pods
2 lb boneless lamb from the shoulder, cut into 1- to 1-1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons sultanas
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Put the yogurt into a bowl and beat lightly until smooth. Add the salt, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, lots of black pepper and the fresh coriander. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Put the oil into a wide non-stick pan, and set it over a medium-high heat.
  3. When it is hot, add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cardamom pods. Quickly put in the lamb pieces – only as many as the pan will hold easily in a single layer – and brown them on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl. Brown all the meat in the same way.
  4. Put the onion into the oil left in the pan. Cook, stirring, until it turns brown at the edges.
  5. Return the meat to the pan, along with any whole spices that are still clinging to it, plus the yogurt mixture and the sultanas. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.
  7. Uncover the pan and turn up the heat. Cook over a high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick and clings to the meat pieces.
  8. Stir in the sour cream, sprinkle the ground cardamom over the top and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Foolproof Indian Cooking

In Pictures: Decorative Roll Sushi

Kazari Maki Sushi

A Chicken That Grows Slower and Tastes Better

A slow-growth chicken, left, and a conventional one

Stephanie Strommay wrote . . . . . . .

The chickens in one pen were, for the most part, doing what they usually do toward the end of their lives on a factory farm: resting on the floor, attacking the feeding pan, getting big fast.

But in the next pen over, smaller, leaner birds of the same age ran around, raising a ruckus as they climbed on haystacks, perched on roosts and gave themselves dirt baths.

“We’re going to have to come up with a sturdier water line,” said Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, a veterinarian and senior vice president of Perdue Farms, as he watched two of them swing the tube that supplies water to the pen.

The frisky birds and their more sedentary neighbors here in a barn on the Delmarva Peninsula are part of an experiment that could help change the way Americans eat, and think about, poultry.

Perdue is trying to find just the right slow-growth breed, and it has a strong incentive: A fast-growing cohort of companies that buy vast quantities of poultry, including Whole Foods Market and Panera Bread, are demanding meat from slow-growth chickens, contending that giving birds more time to grow before slaughter will give them a healthier, happier life — and produce better-tasting meat.

“We want to get back to a place where people don’t have to put a marinade on their chicken to make it taste like something,” said Theo Weening, who oversees meat purchasing for Whole Foods and recalls how his mother bought chicken by breed in the Netherlands, where he grew up.

Mr. Weening is realistic, though. “We have to figure out how can we make this happen so we’re not ending up with a chicken nobody can afford,” he said.

That is the big challenge for chicken producers. Dr. Stewart-Brown, of Perdue, said it cost about 30 percent more to feed the Redbro birds; the expense can run even higher for other slow-growth breeds, some of which can take as much as twice as long to reach full weight as conventional birds.

Differences in their musculature may cut into a producer’s profits as well. The Redbro chickens, for instance, have skinnier wings than their conventional cousins, and wings command a high price by weight.

Birds of Different Feathers

How the slower-growth chicken compares to the conventional broiler.

“I don’t know that we’ll be selling any of these kinds of birds in pieces,” Dr. Stewart-Brown said.

Consumers would also have to accept some trade-offs: While the new chickens have a fuller flavor, their meat tends to be distributed differently over the body, with more generous thighs and smaller breasts than the chicken most Americans are used to.

Perdue has been testing different breeds for about the last 18 months, using insights it has gained since it acquired Petaluma Poultry, a boutique business that produces slow-growth, pastured and organic chickens. Perdue expects to start selling a slow-growth chicken in grocery stores sometime in the next few years.

There are already several smaller companies selling such chickens, including Emmer & Company, Pitman Family Farms, White Oak Pastures and Crystal Lake Farms, which was bought in February by the meat supply company West Liberty Foods.

But Perdue appears to be the first, and so far the only, major chicken supplier to test slow-growth birds. The other four big producers have expressed little interest, though Tyson Foods, the country’s largest chicken producer, owns Cobb-Vantress, one of three large genetics companies that maintain a sort of library of bird types that they continue to tweak in response to demand from chicken producers. (It sells eggs or chicks with the genetic components for slower-growing chickens.)

Last year, Bon Appétit Management, which supplies many college kitchens and runs a chain of restaurants, announced that by 2024 it would sell meat only from slow-growth chickens.

“The reaction I got from the mainstream chicken suppliers at that time was kind of deadpan,” said Maisie Ganzler, who is Bon Appétit’s vice president for strategy. “They essentially said: ‘Well, it’s interesting that you want to go in that direction. We don’t.’”

Since then, Bon Appétit has been joined by companies like the Compass Group, which owns Bon Appétit; its competitor, Aramark; Nestlé; Starbucks; Chipotle Mexican Grill; and, last Friday, Subway, the nation’s largest fast-food chain.

The Global Animal Partnership, which sets standards for the welfare of animals raised for meat, said that by 2024 it would give animal-welfare certifications only to slow-growth chickens, a move that would affect some 270 million broilers, or about 3 percent of the nation’s flock.

The chicken industry, fearing that the string of announcements might force the kind of rapid changes that snowballed in the egg business after companies demanded eggs from cage-free birds, quickly produced a report that predicted dire consequences if there was a similar move to produce slow-growth chicken. Compiled by the animal medicine division of Eli Lilly & Company, it estimated that a shift to slow-growth production would require more land, water and feed. The industry also contends that without the efficiency of today’s chickens, which pack on more pounds with less feed over fewer and fewer days, the world will be unable to feed its growing population.

Today’s conventional broiler chickens have been bred over the years to produce the most amount of meat in as short a time as possible, reducing a farmer’s costs and increasing profits. In 1935, the average broiler chicken reached the slaughter-ready weight of 2.86 pounds in 98 days, according to the National Chicken Council. Today’s broilers are an average of 6.18 pounds at the time of slaughter, when they are about 47 days old.

Food is the largest cost for chicken producers, and the Redbro birds don’t eat as much as the two conventional chickens Perdue is using for comparison, Dr. Stewart-Brown said. “They’re bred to put on as much weight as possible in as little time, so they have quite an appetite,” he said of the conventional chickens.

But because the Redbros take longer to mature and are far more active than the conventional birds, they will eat more to produce each pound of meat, he said. And because they are more active, they need more space, which Dr. Stewart-Brown estimated would mean limiting the population of a chicken barn to 22,000, or about 3,000 fewer birds than is standard with today’s breeds.

The Redbro birds stand taller and drink less water — “I like that,” Dr. Stewart-Brown said. Their higher activity levels also help aerate the litter that covers the floor of chicken houses; drier pens, he said, are less likely to create food-safety problems.

Conventional birds need larger feet and shorter legs to support the fast development of their musculature, which is the meat. Their muscles grow faster than their skeletons, so by the time they are slaughtered, they cannot move around easily for long and end up nesting in litter, which can lead to sores on their sternums, and foot and leg problems.

“The breeding companies have done a great job of giving their customers, the chicken producers, what they want, which has been fast growth with lots of muscle tissue,” said Anne Malleau, the executive director of the Global Animal Partnership. The group is working on a protocol for assessing genetics so that it can then establish a list of breeds or standards that will qualify as slow-growth.

Mike Cockrell, the chief financial officer at Sanderson Farms, a large chicken producer, noted that it’s already possible to produce a conventional bird with a longer life span. Sanderson and other chicken companies produce what are called “big birds,” conventional chickens that weigh roughly nine pounds when slaughtered at about 56 days.

“So is that a slow-growth chicken?” Mr. Cockrell asked. “Of course we’ll respond to customers, but I’m not really sure we know what we’re talking about here.”

In marketing slow-growth chickens, Perdue and others will have to make consumers understand why they are paying a higher price. Emmer, for instance, sells two 3.25 pound birds for $59 on its website, while the suggested retail price of a Sonoma Red (from Perdue’s Petaluma Poultry) that weighs four pounds is $16.

Shoppers often say they want better welfare for the animals they eat, then balk at the cost that adds to the price of a pork chop or chicken breast. Ms. Malleau said she believed, however, that a growing number of consumers were diversifying the proteins they ate.

“As a society, we’re going to be making different choices than we did 20 years when it comes to protein in our diets, and in some ways, this move to slow-growth chicken is a gamble on that,” she said. “We’ll see how it turns out.”

Source: The New York Times

Sunscreen May Cause Vitamin D Deficiency, Says Study

Honor Whiteman wrote

Sunscreen is considered key when it comes to protecting against skin damage. A new study, however, suggests that there may be a significant drawback to using sunscreen: it could lead to vitamin D deficiency.

Researchers say that sunscreen can reduce the body’s production of vitamin D-3 by 99 percent.

The research suggests that sunscreen use and chronic diseases – such as diabetes, celiac disease, and other conditions that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food – contribute to nearly 1 million cases of vitamin D deficiency across the globe.

Study co-author Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer, from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California, and colleagues recently reported their findings in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Vitamin D is important for bone health, as it helps the gut to absorb calcium. The vitamin also aids muscle and nerve function, and it helps the immune system to stave off infection.

Vitamin D deficiency – generally defined as having a serum 25(OH)D concentration lower than 20 nanograms per milliliter – may lead to loss of bone density, which can increase the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.

According to recommendations from the Food and Nutrition Board, adults should aim to get between 600 and 800 International Units of vitamin D every day.

While some foods contain vitamin D – including fatty fish, beef liver, and fortified breakfast cereals – these are usually in low amounts. Exposure to sunlight is considered one of the best sources of vitamin D; sunlight penetrates the skin and converts a vitamin D precursor, called 7-dehydrocholesterol, to the active form of vitamin D-3.

However, the risks that come with sunlight exposure – such as sunburn and skin cancer – cannot be ignored, and sunscreen is considered one of the best ways to protect against such harms.

In their new review, however, Dr. Pfotenhauer and team suggest that individuals should avoid sunscreen use when exposed to midday sun for up to 30 minutes twice weekly, in order to increase and maintain normal vitamin D levels.

The researchers came to their conclusions after conducting a review of clinical studies investigating vitamin D deficiency.

The team used this information to determine the scope of vitamin D deficiency worldwide, as well as risk factors for the condition and what can be done to boost vitamin D levels.

From their review, the researchers conclude that sunscreen use and diseases involving malabsorption of vitamin D – including Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease – play a part in almost 1 million cases of vitamin D deficiency worldwide.

According to the team, using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can reduce the body’s vitamin D-3 production by 99 percent.

To boost and maintain optimal vitamin D levels, the researchers recommend spending around 5 to 30 minutes in midday sun twice each week, without the protection of sunscreen.


“People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.

While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D.”

– Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer


The researchers add that vitamin D supplementation is also a good way to boost vitamin D levels, as it does not pose the risks associated with sunlight exposure. However, the authors recommend consulting a physician before taking vitamin D supplements.

Source: Medical News Today


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