Tuesday, February 7, 2023

WHAT IS CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA? CHONG - OUR UNIDENTIFIED 'VEGETABLE': HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA: CHONG WITH NEW MINCED BEEF RECIPE

 

JUNE 12, 2011

WHAT IS CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA? CHONG - OUR UNIDENTIFIED 'VEGETABLE': HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA: CHONG WITH MINCED BEEF RECIPE


CHONG, CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA
Chong or perhaps chonga is used as a vegetable where we are in Pakistan, although it is not well known in other places it would appear. It is a strange-looking thing when you first see it sitting in a greengrocers, or at leas, we thought so. Neither of us had any idea what it was, so the vegetable seller kindly informed us that this was chong (in Urdu). Apparently it is called danda thor in Punjabi. I wanted to taste it, whatever it was, so my husband spoke with the greengrocer, who called his wife to ask her how to cook it. Her recipe is given below.
  We have been trying to find out what it is called in English for about a year, and finally discovered that it is a succulent cactus, having found photographs online. We know what it is used for here in this part of Pakistan, but were surprised when we discovered that it is used for weight loss in the West. A friend told us that when he was younger he would pick this plant and eat it raw as he was walking as it stopped his hunger and quenched his thirst too. I later found that tribal people have used it for centuries to quell hunger on a day’s hunt.
  Our greengrocer says that it is good to purify the blood when it is eaten as a green vegetable (although it is bitter like karella or bitter melon, so the juice needs to be removed prior to cooking) and it is also good for skin problems and diabetes. It can be made into a pickle or chutney, but we have only eaten it cooked, as the juice is very bitter.
  It is a member of the Asclepiadaceae family, so is a relative of Indian sarsaparilla, and has star-shaped flowers which are unpleasantly pungent, but which are very attractive as they can be purple, black, yellow, tan maroon, red or black. Here they grow on the mountains although in India they grow more freely it would seem, on any patch of waste land. We didn’t see them in other parts of the Punjab, but that may be because the people of Lahore think they are too sophisticated to eat what other websites say is “famine” food. Here it is sold at the greengrocer’s when it is in season and it is expensive as, like kachnar buds and falsa it is picked by hand and those that pick it might have to spend a long time looking for spots in which it grows.
  Studies have been done which seem to prove that little chong is a great aid to weight loss diets, as it contains HCA10 (hydroxyaltrate) which has been proved to contribute to weight loss without stimulating the central nervous system as some weight loss drugs do.
It contains pregnane glycosides which appear to block the activity of citratelyase which is an enzyme that builds fat in the body and also it may block the activity of Melonyl Coenzyme A which means that fat formulation and build up is also blocked, so the body is compelled to burn off the fat reserves it has accumulated so speeding up the body’s fat loss. Furthermore these glycosides may inhibit the hunger sensory mechanism which is found in the hypothalamus, a “primitive” part of the brain.
  Chong also combats fatigue, so you can use it without feeling a loss of energy and you get lean muscle mass by eating it regularly. Trials reported weight loss after 1 month of taking capsules containing Caralluma fimbriata. Hopefully, when this is proved, people will start growing their own chong as I wouldn’t want to be deprived of this vegetable because it is a weight loss product for obese Westerners.

CHONG WITH MINCED BEEF
Ingredients
½ kilo chong
1 tbsp salt
½ kilo minced beef
onions, finely chopped
tomatoes, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely shredded
6 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ajwain or thyme
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
salt to taste
1 cup oil


Method
To prepare the chong: -
Wash the chong very well and separate the pieces, discarding the root. Pound it a little but not too much, then put one tablespoon of salt over it and rub it into the pieces of chong with you hands, so that it is well mixed into it. Leave this for half an hour to remove the bitter juices.
After half an hour, squeeze the chong to remove the excess juices. Then wash it in cold water two or three times so that all the bitter juices are removed. Put it in a strainer or sieve and leave to drip.
Cooking
Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, ginger, black peppercorns and cumin seeds, and fry them for 30 seconds then stir in the onion and fry this for 1 minute. Add the minced beef and green chillies, stir and fry for 5 minutes.
Pour in 1 cup of water the turmeric, ajwain or thyme, chilli powder, coriander seeds and salt to taste. (Remember that some salt will have remained on the chong, however well you washed it.)
Cook this until the water is gone, then add the chong and tomatoes, stirring well to mix. Cook this still stirring for 5 – 7 minutes.
Add 2 glasses of water the lemon juice and the garam masala, stirring to mix.
Cover the pan and let it cook for ½ hour over a low heat or until all the water has gone and the oil floats to the top.
Remove from the heat, and then add the fresh coriander, cover for a few minutes so that the flavours mingle and settle and serve with naan or chapattis.
To get the best out of this dish, serve with natural yoghurt.
This has Taste and is a Treat.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

How to make pakoray!

 

PAKORA:what is pakora?

PAKORA
These are popular snacks in Pakistan and northern India, and are easy to make. People serve them to unexpected guests washed down with cups of tea, as the ingredients are readily available in subcontinental kitchens. You can make them with aubergines (eggplants), or potatoes, but the most important ingredient is the chickpea flour, or besan as it is called. You can grind your own from dried chickpeas if you can’t buy it at your local supermarket.
People enjoy eating these while sitting on their verandahs or balconies, and watching the rain in the monsoon season.


Pakora
Ingredients
250 gr chickpea flour (besan)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
100 gr spinach, washed thoroughly, dried and finely shredded
6 green chillies, very finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala (see our recipe)
1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried mint
1 handful fresh coriander leaves, finely shredded
1 tbsp dried pomegranate seeds, soaked in water for 5 mins before using
¾ cup water
salt and pepper
oil for deep frying


Method
Put the chickpea flour along with the vegetables, spices and herbs into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the water and knead until everything is evenly mixed. If you feel you need a little more water add some, but not too much.
Heat the oil in a frying pan or deep-fryer and when it starts to bubble, take a tbsp of the mixture and drop it into the pan. Continue doing this until you have a layer of Pakora and fry until they are lightly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain on absorbent paper while cooking the next batch. Keep warm (in a preheated oven) until they are all cooked.
Serve with our mint and yoghurt sauce and the traditional cup of tea.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SHEPHERD'S NEEDLE - USED BY THE ANCIENT PHYSICIANS OF MYDDFAI: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF SHEPHERD'S NEEDLE


SHEPHERD’S NEEDLE, LADY’S COMB, SCANDIX PECTENS-VENERIS
Shepherd’s Needle is native to Scandinavia, Britain, Europe and the Mediterranean region through to the western Himalayas. It is a member of the carrot or Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family of plants and as such is related to caraway, dill, fennel, sweet Cicely, anise, lesser and greater burnet saxifrage, cow parsley, parsley,  water dropwort or water fennel, hemlock, lovage, Alexanders, and Thapsia among many others.
  In Britain it is now confined to Suffolk and some other parts of south-east England, and is Critically Endangered there. However in other parts of its native region such as Pakistan it is thriving. In Britain it is being threatened by agricultural methods and loss of field margins, as it is a plant that used to thrive on arable land.
  It grows to heights of around one foot eight inches, with umbels of white flowers appearing between April and July. The young stem tops are edible and can be added to salads or eaten in soups and stews, or simply used as a pot-herb to flavour these.
  The plant contains carotene and vitamin C so was good to protect against scurvy in former times. It is also rich in minerals containing iron, phosphorous, sodium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium and nickel. It also contains the fatty acids, palmitic, stearic, linoleic and linolenic and is a source of Omega-3 although not very much. It provides dietary fibre, protein and carbohydrates and could be a useful addition to human diets, as it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  Nicholas Culpeper, writing in the 17th century had little to say about the medicinal virtues of this plant, but this is what he wrote:-
  “Government and virtues. This little plant is under the government of Venus. When taken as a medicine, it operates by urine, and is good against obstructions of the viscera.”
  The names Scandix in ancient Greek means “chervil” and pectens-veneris, comb of Venus, although calling it “Lady’s comb” meant that the pagan reference to a Roman goddess was transferred to the Virgin Mary, (Our Lady). The plant probably gets its name from the needle-like structure of the seed pods.
  The ancient Physicians of Myddfai found uses fro the Shepherd’s Needle, suggesting that it was fairly plentiful in Mid-Wales during their time. This is what they wrote and their remedies using Shepherd’s Needle in combination with other herbs (the notes in the brackets are mine):-
“ISSUES AND SEATONS.
. Viper's garlic, and shepherd's needle. The juice of the roots will form an issue (liquid would flow from a wound or lesion on the skin), that of then leaves a seaton. (Cyst or fistula, now seton)”
  Here is their remedy for “pneumonia” and other lung diseases.
  “There are three kinds of lung disease; — simple pneumonia, white pneumonia, (bronchitis) and black pneumonia, (phthisis) which is marked by pain below the mamma, under the armpit, and in the top of the shoulders, with (hectic) redness of the cheeks. And thus are they treated. Let (the patient) take, for three successive days, of the following herbs ; hemlock, agrimony, herb Robert, and asarabacca, then let him undergo a three day's course of aperients. When the disease is thus removed from the bronchial tubes, an emetic should be given him (daily) to the end of nine days. Afterwards let a medicine be prepared, by digesting the following herbs in wheat ale or red wine: madder, sharp dock, anise, agrimony, daisy, round birthwort, meadow sweet, yellow goat's beard, heath, water avens, woodruff, crake berry, the corn cockle, caraway, and such other herbs as will seem good to the physician. Thus is the blessed confection prepared. Take of May butter, a she-goat's suet or a doe's fat, the shepherd's needle, and as many as may be desired of such herbs as may be suitable for the purpose. A wounded lung is the physician's third difficulty, for he cannot controul it, but must wait for the will of God. By means of the herbs just mentioned, a medicine may be prepared for any one who has a pulmonary abcess (empyema.) He should let out (the matter) and support (the patient) as in the case of a wounded lung, till he is recovered. But most usually, he will have died within the year.”






Monday, July 2, 2012

MOUNTAIN LAUREL NATIVE TO USA: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF MOUNTAIN LAUREL


MOUNTAIN LAUREL, CALICO BUSH, SPOONWOOD, KALMIA LATIFOLIA  
Mountain laurel is indigenous to the north Eastern parts of North America. It is an evergreen shrub which usually doesn’t exceed ten feet in height, although it can grow to tree size and achieve heights of forty feet with a diameter of two feet. It is the only one of the Kalmia genus which grows to tree size. It is known by several other names including Sheep laurel and a synonym for the species is Kalmia lucida. It is the state flower of Pennsylvania.
  The mountain laurel is a member of the Ericaceae family or heather (ling) family of plants and as such is related to the trailing azalea, yellow bird’s nest, wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), the strawberry tree and the Greek strawberry tree, as well as bilberries, blueberries and cranberries.
  Its glossy green leaves closely resemble those of the European laurel or bay tree (Laurus nobilis). However the leaves and indeed the whole of the mountain laurel is poisonous. The wild variety of mountain laurel usually has pink flowers which turn to white. They flower between late May and June with the brown-tan fruits appearing just after the flowers fade, and it ripens in September.
  The plant is an attractive one and so has been cultivated with many cultivars and colours of flowers available if you want to have it in your garden. It is toxic and can be lethal to animals, although it would seem that deer are unharmed by it. People have apparently suffered ill-effects in the past after eating pheasants which had fed on mountain laurel. There is also a documented case of poisoning in the USA in 1790 according to Neltje Blanchen in Nature’s Garden, which was published by Doubleday, Page and Co in 1900. In that book it is related that there were fatal cases of poisoning after people had eaten wild honey. It was traced back to the Mountain laurel.                                                                                                                   
   The expressed juice of the plant or a decoction of the leaves is believed to have been used by Native Americans to commit suicide in the past. It is hardly ever used in modern herbal medicine, although it is used in homeopathy to cure the symptoms which a large dose can provoke, for example vertigo, nausea, headache, loss of vision, and a number of other ailments. It is also used for rheumatism, or at least the pain of that complaint.
  An infusion of the leaves has been used externally for skin problems, and inflammatory problems. This was also used to clean wounds and to get rid of external parasites such as lice and tics. Internally an infusion of the leaves was used for its astringent and sedative properties, to stop haemorrhages, for diarrhoea and dysentery, for fevers; neuralgia, angina and syphilis.
  A salve made from the expressed juice or sap of the plant is topically applied to rheumatic pains.
  A yellow-tan dye can be obtained from the leaves of Mountain Laurel, and the plant can be used as a living hedge. The wood is, or at least was, used for fuel and can be used to make small items such as tool handles. The roots were used to make spoons, giving it one of its names- Spoonwood.

WHAT IS CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA? CHONG - OUR UNIDENTIFIED 'VEGETABLE': HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA: CHONG WITH NEW MINCED BEEF RECIPE

  JUNE 12, 2011 WHAT IS CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA? CHONG - OUR UNIDENTIFIED 'VEGETABLE': HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF CARALLUMA FIMBRIATA: ...