Blooming Bright

calendula

Modern Western medicine has changed our lives with its clinical approach to diagnosis and treatment of disease. Along the way it became the mainstream approach with older systems getting the tag of alternative medicine. Of course, there are reasons to encourage and protect this mindset.

Practitioners of Western medicine, while finally admitting to the efficacy of meditation and yoga in keeping ailments such as hypertension (and many others) in check, find it difficult to explain how with their empirical scientific methods. Yoga, or homoeopathy also have no negative side-effects. Unlike much of modern medicine. (And you must check out this definition for homoeopathy! Seriously!)

Naturally, the winners of the no-side-effects approach are patients – not drug companies, not insurance companies. Patients find it hard to finance such ‘alternative’ treatments in the current arrangement between medical practice-drug companies-insurance agencies.

nasturtium yellowBri, a fellow food blogger, would like to do just that – explore other “alternative treatments” to fight breast cancer. She has been looking at various options in addition to chemotherapy. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her.

Jugalbandi, with the June edition of Click, has organised a fundraiser to help Bri finance one year of such treatment that is not covered by her insurance. The theme for the month is Yellow, a colour that has come to be associated with the fight for cancer.

The deadline for participating in Click is June 30, while the fundraiser will continue till July 15, 2008. Details on how to participate and contribute here.

The beautiful flower at the top is Calendula, a popular annual in our winter gardens here. Of course, it is edible! You can use the petals in soups, scrambled egg, or make your own healing balm! And it is my entry for this special edition of Click!

Update, June 16: Flowers, even edible ones, were inadmissible!  The Khandvi picture at the bottom is the Click entry!

fruit sellers
Some more yellow for you.

khandvi

(You want to know how to make this delicious nutritious almost-fat-free snack? Here’s the recipe! 😀 )

Moongre ki Subzi (Radish Pods)

radish blooms

I seem to gravitate towards strong tasting vegetables – the pungent and very-brassica smells and tastes my husband likes to categorise as oogra. Nothing brings out the link between all the diverse members of the brassica family (such as broccoli, kohlrabi, haak, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, mustard, kale, and collard) like their flowers and seeds. All of them have the characteristic four-petal blooms (thus the name crusiferae – from ‘cross’ – for this group of plants, also collectively called the mustard family) and the brown-to-black oval-spherical seeds borne in tapering bean-like seedpods (a silique). Maybe now Nabeela will see why I first identified the mustard pods in her quiz as radish pods. The flowers vary in colour from white or cream to lavender or yellow, and are all edible! Continue reading “Moongre ki Subzi (Radish Pods)”

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose!

rose

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” spake the great Bard, though he may not 🙂 have been alluding to the flower at all. And there are many magnificent rose hybrids today that are a lot of show, but hardly any legendary fragrance.

R is for Rosa. The Indian desi Gulab or musk rose (Rosa moschata), a very fragrant rose variety, is closely related to the Damascus rose (Rosa damascena) that originated in Persia. It produces small flowers (2 to 3 inch across) with red or pink petals. The petals retain their delicate fragrance long after drying, which makes them an ideal ingredient for potpourris. The desi gulab is grown on a large scale for the ayurveda and cosmetic industries.

Rose oil is an essential ingredient in itr, oil-based Indian perfumes. Rose water is used in the preparation of many Indian and middle-eastern dishes. A hint of fresh roses is what makes the rasgulla taste so refreshing. Gulab ark (rose extract) is also a key ingredient in Hamdard’s ever-popular summer drink Rooh Afza. Milk shakes made with Rooh Afza are part of my childhood memories – what a deliciously pretty pink that milk shake is!

Gulab, along with the fragrant mogra (Jasminum sambac), is (was?) the flower of choice, to decorate a newly-wed couple’s room (a bed of roses?). Some of the rose petals strewn on our bed got into the gaps of the mattresses and delicately perfumed the bed for months!

Continue reading “A Rose is a Rose is a Rose!”

Rose Hip Tea

tea

Going back to those rose hips

Most of us grow roses for the beautiful flowers. And those of us who have little interest in things wild may not even know that there is more to the wild rose than its fragrant flowers. A rambling shrub rose still looks beautiful when its flowers fade. The stunning brilliance of its fruit, the rose hips, is as arresting.

rose hips

And the beauty of the rose is not skin deep either. We are all familiar with the culinary, medicinal, as well as cosmetic uses of the rose extract. There’s still more. The rose hip is one of the best sources of natural Vitamin C! Apparently, it has 20 times the vitamin C of most citrus fruits. It also has vitamins A, D and K, in addition to antioxidant flavonoids.

During Word War II when Britain faced a shortage of citrus fruits, rose hip syrup made with wild rose hips collected from hedge rows became an important supplement. In the days before the vitamin C pills, rose hips were also part of standard sailors’ rations.

All these qualities makes the pretty rose hips good candidates for a wonderful cup of tea!

Continue reading “Rose Hip Tea”