3 Spices To Help You Through Allergy Season
There's nothing like the beginning of Spring. After this past Winter the warmer air and sunshine is as welcomed as a childhood friend visiting after many years apart. While most of us enjoy the nicer weather there are some who dread what else it brings, seasonal allergies. Stuffy/runny noses, sneezing, itchy, water eyes...its enough to make you go insane! There are lots of over-the-counter medicines to help relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies, but I like to rely on the healing power of food to develop the bodies defenses against allergens. There are many spices that I use in my cooking that have allergy-fighting properties and I want to share 3 common and readily available spices with you.  
Sliced Turmeric

Curcuma longa - Turmeric

Turmeric

Found in curry powder this wonderful spice has anti-inflammatory properties, and since allergies are really just inflammation of the mucus membranes this miracle spice can really bring some relief.        
Garlic - Allium Sativum

Allium sativum - Garlic

Garlic

Garlic is not only good for allergies, but is a natural antibiotic. Add it to your morning smoothie every day and it will naturally boost your immune system. Don't like the smell of garlic? You can opt for supplements, but these just don't work as well.

 

 

 
Capsicum annum - Cayenne Pepper

Capsicum annum - Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaisin, its what gives spicy foods that hot, peppery taste. When you eat foods with lots of pepper your nose begins to run. This helps to clear your nasal passages of allergens like dust and pollen.                   I hope these simple tips bring you some relief. If you have tried any of these or have some tips of your own please include them in the comments below.
 Sources: Images from Wikimedia Commons
Wonderful India, As I See It Now :-)
Delicious lunch in Rajpur, West Bengal.

Delicious lunch in Rajpur, West Bengal.

Dear Friends: I am in India now, and enjoying every minute of it. Next week, I'm returning to New York, with new cooking recipes, new ideas, and new energy. πŸ™‚ It is hard to describe India in one or two short articles. India is a very beautiful, but complex country. The geography is complex. The food habits are very different from place to place. The cultures and lifestyles and languages are also very different. It's an enormously diverse country. You travel one hundred or two hundred miles in any direction, and you feel like you've come to a different country. That's how complex it is. Yet, in spite of all the diversity, there is an underlying theme of unity, whether you are in Calcutta on the east (where I am now), Delhi on the north, Bombay on the West, or Chennai on the south. Then, there are so many big cities and small towns and big villages and tiny villages across India: Bangalore, Agra, Jaipur, Amritsar, Puri, Darjeeling... In all these places, however, regardless of the language, religion or food habits, people show some strong, bonding features that tie the country together. Care for the elderly parents at home is one such feature. The presence of a real society is another such feature. Cooking food at home and eating together at least once a day is perhaps a third feature. There are more. Recently, my husband and I had an opportunity to visit one of his surviving maternal aunts in a village-like small town called Rajpur. He went back there after four decades, and I went for the first time. A sister in-law and an uncle in-law took us there. It was such a wonderful experience that I cannot describe in words! Before going to her place, we visited a famous nearby Hindu temple of Goddess Chandi. Even though I went there for the first time every in my life, and my husband went back after so long, never we had the feeling that we were away from them. They embraced us so warmly that it felt as if we never left India. The love and affection were so real!
Her own artwork :-)

Her own artwork πŸ™‚

The aunt, a widow for many years now, lives with her two sons, their wives and children. She has her own little room on the upper floor where she makes her own artwork, and writes her own poetry. She took me to her room, and displayed all her sewing, fabric work, and kantha (cloth) stitches. Incredible! I am sharing a photo here. She opened her iron trunk which was tucked away underneath the bed, and showed me the annual diaries she wrote for many, many years. All with a tender, affectionate smile for this daughter in-law she had heard of, but never seen! And then, she divulged some of her cooking secrets. Now she is very old and can't cook herself, but teaches her daughter in-laws how to cook her phenomenal dishes. The pulao (scented fried rice with raisins and garam masala), the fish curry, the lamb curry, the lentils with coconut, and a number of vegetarian dishes (Hindu widows are strictly vegetarian). Absolutely delicious! If I had the time, I would definitely go back to her at least once more, to ask some follow-up questions. But this time, it was not possible. I hope next time though, I return to Rajpur to sit down for some time with this wonderful woman, and learn from her secrets of Bengali and Indian cooking. Feel blessed. I shall tell you more when I come back. Sincerely, Mukti Mukti's Kitchen
Rajpur, a small town near Calcutta.

Rajpur, a small town near Calcutta.

A Dream Dinner Abroad
RomeIf you could have dinner in another country, where would it be? My dream dinner abroad -- it would have to be Rome, Italy or maybe even Paris, France since I don't believe Indian food is as popular in those regions. I would consider England, but the Brits, they know Indian food better than most Indians! We'll keep that off the table, so to speak. More...
Annual Trip to India
Photo Courtesy: charmingasiatours dot com

Photo Courtesy: charmingasiatours dot com

My dear friends, The time has come once again for my annual trip back home to India. I always make an effort to return home to learn new dishes and techniques to bring back and show my students. I also feel like going home recharges and rejuvenates my mind and spirit. More...
Happy New Year from Mukti’s Kitchen
Happy New Year to all my friends, students, supporters and sympathizers. You have made a difference, and Mukti's Kitchen a big success in 2014. Thank you so much. I'm suggesting a quick recipe here, given it is now getting really cold, and we need to do all we can to fight off the adverse weather and the ailments that come with it. Can we prepare some quick dishes at home that can help us to fight back against the cold and flu? I have already suggested one dish in December. Here is one more. I'll keep posting more recipes in the coming weeks: recipes you can try easily at home, perhaps without any hands-on training. If you need hands-on help, though, please do not hesitate to contact me. My cooking classes are open, and you can register for any of them online, from the website.  More...
Fight the Flu with Indian Food — Part 1

Indian food has some very special spices that are known for their health properties. And if you know how to use them in the best possible way, you can stay healthy, and fight off many seasonal illnesses.

Come this winter and come this flu season, you can try a couple of Indian dishes that will help you to fight against the flu. I'm NOT advising against taking the flu shot or any other precautions you may take, but these dishes are also very helpful in keeping healthy and strong especially during the coldest months of the year: December, January and February here in the U.S.

Indian spices

Indian spices

More...

Squash the Thanksgiving Myth :-)
squash varieties

It's a fun title. 

No, I am not advocating squashing the Thanksgiving celebration. In fact, I am encouraging you to celebrate it with full dignity and honor. I'm only using the word squash as pun. Squash the Thanksgiving Myth: I'm asking you to get out of the box, and find out more about how to use the squash. Can you make anything other than the usual dishes with it? Squash is such a beautiful, healthy and nutritious vegetable. There are so many varieties of it. And if you think about it, not too many Americans know how to make non-traditional dishes with it.    More...
Indian Vegetarian Korma – A Great Fall Recipe
Fall is here and nothing says good healthy food like this very popular vegetarian Indian dish. This is a simple and delicious Indian recipe and a great way to put that Autumn squash you got from your local farmers' market or CSA. Squash is very tasty and is loaded with Omega-3s and beta-carotene which are great for the immune system.  More...
Celebrate Diwali Today :-)
Goddess Kali the Demon Slayer. Art melts with religion.

Goddess Kali the Demon Slayer. Art melts with religion.

Celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights. This year, it's on Thursday, October 23. Be festive, be merry. Decorate your home, school and work place with lights. Small lights. Big lights. Anything that can lighten up and illuminate. Anything that can make the day bright and full of smiles. And then, celebrate the happy occasion with Indian food. Happy and healthy Indian food. And if you like sweets, have Indian sweets. πŸ™‚ More...
This is a Very Sweet Time :-)
Indian SweetsThis is really the time for sweets. Indian sweets. Bengali sweets. Punjabi sweets. Delhi sweets. Bombay sweets. You name it. The time between Durga Puja in West Bengal and East Bengal (now Bangladesh) -- in early October -- and Diwali in Punjab, Gujarat, Delhi and others parts of India -- in late October -- is the time when people visit their friends and relatives. We touch the elder's feet in reverence. They bless us by putting their palm on our forehead. Men and women of equal age embrace each other in affection and love. More...