Speech Competition – Why Education goes beyond books!

speech competition for kids

Here is a speech on Why Education Goes beyond books, for children from grade 6 and beyond. I wrote it for my son. The speech duration is of 10 minutes and it is composed of 1030 words approximately. Please feel free to use it for educational purposes.

Why education goes beyond books

Introduction

Picture this! A teacher is describing the ancient stone sculptures of Ajanta and Ellora to a class full of curious students with the help of a textbook. The kings who commissioned the construction of these caves, the intricate stone carvings and the exact location of the caves, their relation to ancient Indian history – all these facts are being explained from the text book. Students are listening to her, trying to grasp all that she explains. But the students may still wonder about so many facts! How tall are the sculptures? In an era when there was no electricity, how did they even manage to carve out rocks in the dark? What about cranes and lifts? How did they move huge boulders?

On the other hand, when students actually visit the site, they get spellbound by the enormity of the stone sculptures, the mathematical calculations behind the perfect alignment of the body, hand and facial features of these sculptures, the stories behind the wall paintings at Ellora, etc. The children get an idea of the immense efforts put in by the skillful craftsmen of an era gone by, who did not even live to enjoy the credits of their exquisite art work.

The imagination of every child is limitless like the universe. He will have many questions several of which may remain unanswered if there is limited interaction with the subject at hand. So it is indeed safe to say that Education extends beyond books and in fact beyond the classroom too.

Body

All over the world, there is a growing feeling that our education systems need to be mended. Technology is moving ahead at lightning speed. Books cannot cope up with this information overload. The environment around us is constantly changing. Sadly revised editions of books are not released as often. Books merely summarize and encapsulate a lot of information in a nutshell often leaving out important facts which have to be grasped by observation or interaction. Books give us a brief idea of the subject at hand. More often than not students memorize these facts and appear for exams, scoring good marks. But they do not understand the practical aspects of what they learn thru books. Consider this extremely simple principle of colour theory – Our art book states that when blue and yellow is mixed we get green colour. But unless you try it out yourself, you will not know the exact proportion in which blue and yellow colours are to be mixed to get that perfect shade of green.

Education can be procured from the unlikeliest of places. It can be obtained from local guides at historical sites shedding light on facts that have not been documented before. You can learn the importance of maps by asking for directions at a local shop. You can learn about unknown wild fruits and medicinal herbs from local farmers or tribals. These different sources of knowledge are constantly educating us.

You can teach a child stories on generosity, courage and many other moral values. However, unless the child comes across a situation where he is supposed to help somebody or protect himself from harm, he wouldn’t be learning these valuable life lessons in a correct manner.

Today’s education system needs a 360 degree approach that would contribute to the holistic development of a child or even an adult for that matter. This can be achieved in so many different ways. Movies, documentaries, audio visual clips, field trips, involving students in project work, group discussions etc. can all go a long way in extending education beyond books.

Another interesting fact is that not all students learn by the read-write method. Some are visual learners, some are auditory and some are kinaesthetic learners. It would be extremely uninteresting for such children to read books for gaining knowledge. This lays stress on the fact that education must encompass knowledge gained via means other than books without which a child would be like a frog in the well, with extremely limited knowledge.
It is often seen that many children hate maths. Such kids will fare poorly if they are made to simply solve problems from a textbook. However if you educate them about the usefulness of maths outside school, they would love to do Maths. For e.g. ask a child to calculate the cost of ten packs of his favourite biscuits. In the car, ask him how long it would take to reach a particular place if the speed is so and so and the distance is so and so kilometres. Ask him if his pocket money would be sufficient to buy a certain toy. Ask him to design a house on paper using geometrical patterns.

Conclusion

Education must enable a child to keep humanity knitted together. It should teach children to strive for a better world. The best example is that of Malala Yousoufzai. She would not have known the importance of courage, peace, humanity etc. if she had just read about courage from text books. A tryst with a militant’s bullet almost proved fatal for her. This militant organization expected her to succumb to fear and give up learning. But she was determined to prove them wrong. She left her home, her country and continued her education. Her book ‘I am Malala’ is one of the best selling works of this century. She was able to pen the book based on her experiences and not by reading another book on how to write a book. Do you think she would have accomplished so much by reading books alone? No.

Education needs learning using different audio visual media, interaction with the society and environment, exploring places, trying out different cuisines and a lot more. Only then can you soak in knowledge like a sponge does. Of course books are needed to get your basics in place. However they do not mark the end of the road to education and knowledge. Hence, we must all accept the fact that Education is and will always go beyond books.
Thank you.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Camp Noel Resort, Munnar – A Perfect Holiday Destination

camp noel resort review

 

Camp Noel Resort, Munnar – A perfect getaway from home

camp noel resort review

Every year we plan a get together with close friends and family to not so oft-visited places. This summer was no different. We zeroed in on Camp Noel, a solitary mountain resort located in the serene wilderness of Western Ghats at 7000 feet above sea level, in Idukki district, Kerala. I was in for a minor disappointment though when I heard of route and accessibility details. As it is we were to drive all the way from Karunagapally to Munnar, covering at least 600km, taking 8 hours. This place is a further 2 – 3 hour journey from Munnar town, near Pazhathottam village. It is advisable to travel in your own private vehicle instead of a tourist bus. Also note that, Idukki is not connected to other parts of Kerala by rail. We had a good lunch at SN restaurant at Munnar before going on our way.

national_park_pambadum_shola

mattupetty dam

The drive from Munnar to Camp Noel is breathtaking! You can get scenic views of tea plantations, the river along Mattupetti Dam, Kundalae Dam and the final stretch right through Pampadum Shola National Park. Roads are in good condition, except for a couple of turns with slopes when you reach Camp Noel. Make sure you get your vehicle refuelled at Munnar itself as this place is isolated and it takes you a good 2 hour trip downtown for fuel refill.

Camp Noel, Finally!!!

camp noel munnar, review
I looked around in awe and soon felt that the place was worth every effort taken to reach here. It took a few seconds to let the immense feeling of peace and calm sink in.

Camp Noel is definitely unlike the typical Munnar hotel, teeming with tourists. Here you can actually listen to the sound of silence! There are well furnished 8 double bedroom and 4 single bedroom cottages dotting the lush green landscape on a hilly terrain. There is a rustic elevated cottage or hunter’s cabin for those who favour adventure. Proud stately trees, flowering shrubs, succulents and terrace farms adorn the entire scenery. If you’re lucky, you can spot wild bison roaming around the place at night. We managed to spot one that night, right near the single bedroom cottage. We also spotted rare birds and a few woodpeckers on trees near the farms.

Cottage Interiors

one_bedroom_cottage_camp_munnar

one_bed_cottage_camp_noel

Each cottage has tastefully done up interiors with wooden flooring and elegant, pure wood furniture that adds a certain warmth and comfort to the ambiance. We booked the one bedroom cottage while our friends booked the two bedroom one. A rustic stone fireplace adds an old world charm to the living space. The housekeeping staff is friendly and has kept the place well maintained. They had a nice collection of travel and fashion magazines laid out on the tea tables.

What to do @Camp Noel

flowers_camp_noel

You can pick fresh strawberries from farms nearby or feast on passion fruit. Camp Noel is a botanist’s dream destination. Lots of flowering plants and shrubs like the dancing girl, peace lily can be spotted here. You can go trekking in the surrounding forest, visit Chinar wildlife sanctuary nearby, Munnar botanical garden or shop for spices and memorabilia in the town area. Matupetti dam also offers scenic views. You can hire a sightseeing guide at the camp.

bison_hall

We just spend the entire day lazing around and exploring the place. Totally disconnected from the world with no mobile network and wi-fi (free wifi is available at the reception desk only!) we played cricket, football and badminton alongside our kids without a care in the world!

camp fire at camp noel
camp fire and cottage interiors image via www.campnoel.com

You can enjoy campfire in the evenings with music, with prior intimation. They also have facilities for conference meetings.

The night sky is equally spectacular with zillions of stars sparkling away to glory. You can watch fireflies fluttering around adding a certain enigma to the nocturnal panorama.

Food is fresh, simple and delectable. They offer complimentary breakfast. However, you need to pre order lunch and dinner as they need to get a few supplies from downtown sometimes.

Note

The only issue is hot water supply. You have to stick to their schedule. Hot water is not available 24 hours. Also, mobile networks totally conk off around here. You can access free wi-fi at the reception or use the landline available in your rooms to get in touch with your family or office if needed.

Do carry a few warm clothes as the nights can get pretty chilly at times. The best time to visit Camp Noel would be from September to May. The rainy season (June, July and August) is best avoided.

Do check out the Camp Noel Resort website for more details.

Would I recommend Camp Noel?

memory_lane

Camp Noel has my whole hearted recommendation as a must visit holiday site for everyone out there who need to totally de-stress and isolate themselves from their day to day mundane and super-fast routine. This place actually heals your mind, body and spirit. It deserves a proud thumbs up!

Mattupetty Dam By കാക്കരOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20104660

10 Amazing Indoor Plants That Purify Air!

indoor plants that purify air

indoor plants that purify air

Do you think that spending time indoors would save you from polluted air outside? Think again! The air inside your home is polluted even if you keep it absolutely spic and span. In fact, the indoor air levels of many pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher than their corresponding outdoor air levels.

Air purifiers, household cleaners, cooking and frying stuff, pesticides, radon, lead, combustion, tobacco smoke are among the various factors that cause indoor air pollution. You can often find traces of formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide in addition to several other pollutants inside your home. This is usually the case in compact, urban living spaces. To add to this, poor ventilation causes indoor air to stagnate and harbor allergies and breathing problems.

What you could do is to clean your indoor air naturally by keeping potted plants inside. These indoor plants can purify the air around you and make you feel stress free. In fact, microbes present in the potting soil also help with the cleaning of indoor air.

Must have Indoor Plants For Your Home houseplants that purify air

Devil’s Ivy aka Money Plant

This humble vine can help you breathe clean air. It steers the air clear off VOCs (volatile organic compounds) arising from wall paints, air fresheners etc. It is a typical low maintenance plant. This creeper can get pretty invasive though and grows real fast. Make sure you keep it trimmed.

 

indoor air purifying plants

Peace Lily

Peace lilies are very easy to grow. They bloom throughout the year, producing lovely white flowers. They need less sunlight and can thrive on less water. Place a pot of peace lily in your living room. It looks gorgeous and filters the air to control high levels of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and benzene.

 

indoor plants - aloe vera

Aloe Vera

This succulent is easy to grow and maintain. It needs minimal watering. Aloe Vera is a highly effective air purifier. It can also be used as an all purpose medicine for a variety of ailments.

houseplants

Snake Plant

Can you believe this one is also known as “Mother-In-Laws’ tongue?” How true is that! The snake plant is an evergreen, ornamental plant with beautiful, elongated leaf blades that grow vertically upwards from a base rhizome. This one does not require much light and can grow well indoors.

spider ivy plant

Spider Ivy

This is very cute little plant with long, drooping leaves with white or yellow stripes. Small white flowers bloom on its stalks making it look prettier. It can withstand tough temperature variations. Inexperienced gardeners can grow a spider plant easily. It acts tough on air pollutants and purifies air by pumping oxygen back to it.

rubber plant

Rubber Plant

The round shiny leaves of a small rubber plant look very attractive. You can keep a potted rubber plant in your living room or bedroom, away from direct sunlight. It doesn’t require regular watering. Rubber plants are good air purifiers.

money tree bonsai

The Braided Money Tree

This good looking bonsai is so called as it is believed to be a harbinger of good luck and fortune according to Feng Shui principles. It looks beautiful on account of its braided trunk. The money tree can grow in dry conditions and low light. Its braided trunk sets it apart from other bonsais and easily captures the attention of guests. Its air purifying capabilities are well known.

broad leaf palm ree

Broad Leaf Lady Palm

This is another ornamental indoor plant that is an excellent air purifier. Its large palm fronds attract tropical butterflies and small birds if planted near the window or balcony. This one is pretty resistant to pests.

indoor houseplants

Boston Fern

Ferns have always been preferred house plants. They are quite easy to care for. The drooping fronds of the Boston Fern look attractive in a hanging pot. A potted fern looks elegant when mounted on a short balcony wall. Ferns purify air and keep you healthy.

house plants that clean indoor air

Corn Tree

This is another popular houseplant also known for its air purifying properties. Its shiny leaves look beautiful. This plant bears scented white flowers. The rough brown stem makes it look like a beautiful, young tree.

Are these plants safe for pets?

NASA has compiled an entire list of houseplants that purify indoor air as part of its
CLEAN AIR STUDY. Examine this list to see if the above indoor plants are toxic to pets or not.

A splash of green here and there inside your living space can prove to be a great stress buster. So go ahead and get a few potted greens for your indoors right away!

 

 

Photo Credits—
Money Plant by License
Aloe Vera by License

Snake Plant By Martin Olsson (mnemo on wikipedia and commons, martin@minimum.se) Own work CC BY-SA 3.0
Rubber Plant by License

Broad Leaf Palm Tree by License

Wall Texture Design – Decorative 3D Wall Panels For Your Home

 

3d wall panels india

Do your walls need a bit of sprucing up? Plain, pastel coloured walls can be demotivating unless, of course, you have some green foliage or other embellishing artefacts placed tastefully that can divert your attention away from those drab walls. So how about getting them repainted?

Painting, however, can be quite messy and time consuming. That’s when you need to think of 3D wall panels. They are easy to install, non messy and come in a variety of designs. Besides, if you want to change the look and feel of a single wall of just one single room, say your living room, this is a better idea as compared to getting it painted. 3D wall panels can transform any boring wall into an attention grabbing focal point of that particular living space. It adds elegance and extravagance to your walls. 3D wall paneling can be applied to ceilings too.

3D Wall Panels

beautiful 3d wall panels

via mywallart.comlicensed under CC by 2.0

3D Wall Panels for walls

via  mywallart.comlicensed under CC by 2.0

Different Types Of 3D Wall Panels

You will come across different kinds of 3D wall panels in the market. Eco-friendly and biodegradable Plant fibre wall panels(made of bagasse, bamboo pulp etc.) ,  MDF sculptured wall panels, Gypsum plaster 3D wall panels,  3D Wood wall panels made of solid wood or reclaimed wood and PVC/PU leather textured 3d wall panels.

Cost of 3D Wall panels

Depending on the material used, a box of 12 panels can cost you Rs.4000 (approx.) and above.

Wall Decor Redefined

You can choose from a variety of 3D Designs. These panels add a touch of style and glamour to your walls at affordable prices. Be different…install them on ceilings too. They are easy to install and maintain.

3d wall panel for ceiling

via mywallart.comlicensed under CC by 2.0

Painted 3d wall panels

via mywallart.comlicensed under CC by 2.0

Moreover,  you can paint them in a colour of your choice in case you do not want pastel or white shades. If you are an ardent DIY fan, you can install them yourself, it’s that simple. Apply a coat of fire retardant primer after installation if required.

Watch this video to know how to install 3D wall panels in your home.

Easy Chicken Sandwich Recipe – For Kids

easy chicken sandwich recipe

easy chicken sandwich recipe

A yummy chicken sandwich is a lip smacking 4 pm, after-school snack for kids. This one doesn’t take forever to make. All you need is a simple list of ingredients and you’re done!

So here we go!

Chicken Sandwich Recipe – For Kids

What you need for this chicken sandwich

Bread slices
Minced chicken – 250 gm
(I sourced it online at Big Basket)

Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Mayonnaise – 3 tablespoons
Chopped garlic – 3 teaspoons
Chopped coriander leaves (dhaniya) – 1 small cup
Cooking oil – 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste

How to prepare chicken sandwiches?

Heat oil in a pan. Saute chopped garlic. Add minced chicken, pepper powder and salt. Close the pan. Allow the chicken to cook well, on a slow flame till its soft and juicy. Chicken mince must have just enough water content to keep it moist. Once done, garnish with chopped coriander. Allow to cool.

Take two slices of bread. Apply mayonnaise liberally on each slice. Place some cooked chicken mince in between the slices and you are done. Serve with some tangy Maggi tomato ketchup.

This is a very easy to cook recipe that takes just 20 minutes to prepare. You can always stock some minced chicken at home for a variety of sandwiches, cutlets and kebabs for kids.

The Young Scientists – Science Comic Magazine For Kids – A Review

Picture this! You have an inquisitive and smart little kid who is often intrigued by the mysterious ways of science! He may ask you questions like, “Do animals dream?” or “How on Earth did all the dinosaurs die out?” You may or may not know answers to these questions. You may be too busy to reply or you may shrug your shoulders and say, “I’ll get back to you later!” Some may even murmur a single sentence answer, which may in turn give rise to numerous other questions! That is when ‘The Young Scientists’ comes into picture!
the_young_scientists_magazine_review

The Young Scientists – Best Science Comic Magazine For Kids

Interesting Storyline And Illustrations

Apt for kids in the age group 4 – 13 years, this science comic magazine is power packed with interesting science and general knowledge concepts for kids. From distant planets and flying fish to matters as mundane as recycling stuff and keeping your surroundings clean, this magazine discusses it all. Replete with eye-catching, beautiful illustrations, it explains fascinating science concepts to kids through colorful cartoons supported by a related story line and easy to comprehend language.

Vocabulary And Practical Science Well Explained

Usually, adults and children are lazy to find meaning for difficult words. In this magazine, vocabulary for difficult words is provided at the bottom of the page. In addition, there is a ‘science scoop’, which adds value to the storyline. Besides science concepts, the magazine gives information related to “practical science”. For e.g., How to remove the bubble gum that is stuck to your dress? If an insect gets into your ears, then how do you get it out?”

Attracts Attention Instantly

In this age of smart phones and speedy internet, kids tend to key in their queries and get precise, to-the-point answers. They do not have the patience to read huge encyclopedias and general knowledge books. However, ‘The Young Scientists’ grabs their attention instantly. Children would prefer reading this science comic magazine over a huge, monotonous and sleep inducing encyclopedia with lots of text. In fact, this magazine works really well for kids with low attention spans. Children are able to recollect the concepts and apply later when they want. It is never boring to read the magazine repeatedly.

Top 10 Plus Points Of The Young Scientists Science Comic Magazine

1. Amazing illustrations
2. Attention grabbing ‘Contents’ page that gets kids hooked on to the magazine instantly
3. Story based explanation of science concepts in an animated, comic style
4. Available in 3 levels according to different age groups
5. Scannable QR codes for watching related videos on YouTube
6. Excellent paper and printing quality
7. Encourages children to take up or participate in science related activities
8. The end of every page has a tiny, interesting information tidbit related to the particular concept it features.
9. Improves reading habits in children to a great extent.
10. Encourages scientific thinking and elicits interest during group discussion among kids.

My 9- year -old son liked the magazine at the first look and he has become an ardent fan of this magazine. With that, I have decided to subscribe right away!

‘The Young Scientists’ helps kids to grow into responsible and knowledgeable young individuals. You can visit www.sciencecomics.in for more information.

Nutritious Homemade Almond Health Drink Mix Recipe For Kids

Horlicks, Pediasure, Bournvita, Amway Protein Powder…the list goes on… You try to get the best health drink mix for your kids. T.V. commercials and enticing newspaper advertisements feature happy and healthy kids consuming these health drinks. And then you end up buying the same for your family. Of course, they have nutrients like vitamins and minerals, but in addition these are also loaded with added flavours and lots of synthetic stuff with confusing hard to pronounce names. In fact, I just noticed MTR badam mix has just 8.5 percent badam in it. The rest of it is made up of milk solids, sugar, starch, saffron, preservatives and the like. That’s when I decided to formulate a homemade health drink mix that would be pure and healthy for my child.

 

 

Homemade Health Drink Mix Recipe

This is what you need to make a pure and nutritious health drink mix at home.
Almonds – 250 grams
Refined Sugar / Organic Sugar– 100 grams
Cardamoms – 2
Saffron(Kesar) – 5 grams – optional
Water – ½ litre

How To Make It

home made almond powder

 

blanched almonds

home made health drink powder for kids
home made health drink powder for kids

Boil water till it begins to bubble. Add almonds and keep them for 2 minutes. Turn off the flame. Transfer the almonds in another vessel and rinse them under cold tap water for another minute. Throw away the water. Place these almonds on a dry, absorbent cloth. The skins come off easily. Peel all the almonds and keep them on an absorbent cloth under the fan so that they dry well.

Now, dry roast the almonds in a pan over a low flame for 1 minute. Allow them to cool. Add sugar and cardamoms along with the almonds into a mixer. Grind the contents to a fine powder. Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

This quantity will last for a week if you use 2 teaspoons per glass for three glasses. I suggest making this mix twice a month. Double the quantity of ingredients in that case. I used organic sugar from 24Mantra.

Why do we peel off the skins?

The reason we blanch the almonds is to peel off the skins. According to Ayurveda, almond skins are difficult to digest and aggravates pitta in the body. Ayurvedic practitioners always favor soaking almonds overnight and peeling off the skins before consuming.

How Is This Homemade Health Drink Beneficial For Kids?

We all know the goodness of almonds. They are power packed with proteins, vitaminE and minerals like zinc. Almonds are excellent for brain and body development plus they impart excellent skin health. The best part is you can be absolutely sure of what goes in your health drink mix. So try this at home and enjoy its benefits!

For once, I wanted to get rid of everything chocolaty that has permeated our tastes! There are advertorials that show kids drinking milk only when it has chocolate mixed in it!  Not quite what I approve of! I was quite happy with this health drink mix. The results are equally good. My kid enjoys this drink. You can add saffron and dry dates powder too. It will turn out to be great!

Shelled Almonds: PhotoCreditsMandorle sgusciate” by Luigi ChiesaOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

A Mad Mad ‘NO MAID’ Week For Me!

maid in mumbai

All was well until one fine day when my maid suddenly announced that she would be going on leave for an entire week! This hit me real hard. The realization that I would be managing on my own for an entire week slowly dawned on me. Trust me…it was a nasty feeling. My entire routine would go off track just because I would be wasting my time doing regular household chores.

maid in mumbai

Looking at my forlorn expression, she brought another maid to work instead of her, for a week. But this lady would be turning up at 3.00 PM. I couldn’t possibly wait till late afternoon to have my house cleaned!

Isn’t it funny how we take maids for granted in Mumbai? In fact, if one leaves, there is always somebody else to work for us! Indians living abroad, especially in the Western countries know how difficult and expensive it is to hire house maids.

How I managed without a maid in Mumbai

Finally I said, “What the heck!” and decided to take the matter into my own hands. “After all, it’s just a week.”, I thought. So this is how it went! I bought a nice pair of kitchen gloves and a handy mop that took care of difficult corners.

DAY 1: I wake up earlier than usual, at 5.30 AM to be precise, do the dishes, sweep and mop the floor. I prepare breakfast and lunch. I pack off my two guys to office and school respectively. I feel a bit more tired than usual. But then my house is clean by 9.00 AM. And I’m free to do my writing till my son comes back by 4.00 PM.

DAY 2: I follow the same routine. However, I feel more active and less tired. What a way to go!

DAY 3 TO DAY 7: I enjoy my mornings. Since I do not wait for the maid to arrive, which she did, by 11.00 AM, my house work gets done by 9.00 AM sharp. The most absurd thing that happens is I get rid of a niggling backache that had me visit a physiotherapist last month! I guess my humble broom took care of that!

On DAY 7 I realize that
1. A little bit of discipline goes a long way in ensuring good health. Depending on someone all the time for things you can do yourself is not a very good idea.
2. Enrolling for a weight loss regime has been crossed out of my TO-DO LIST.
3. My husband and son started being extra careful not to spill stuff on the floor. They started doing their bit to help me feel better. Now all bits and pieces of trash go straight into the dust bin and not on the floor. They would rather wipe their feet clean on the doormat before entering our home than face a monstrous, yelling mom!
4. Finally, I found some “ME Time .”

Today is DAY 8 and I’m waiting for my maid to report at 11.00 am. It’s 100% not what you think! I’m waiting to send her away for good!

So that’s my ‘No Maid’ story! Of course, it was manageable as I work from home. It may not be easy for working moms. But like I said earlier, a little bit of discipline is all you need in case your maid takes a break!

Why I stopped cooking with aluminium!

This little story goes a long way! As a child, I always wondered why grandma’s aluminium cooking pots turned ugly after being used for some time! These vessels would get defaced with tiny black depressions and marks on the inner sides. That never stopped granny from using aluminium though! She would go to the market and buy new pots. She also had steel and earthen cookware but she always felt aluminium pots heated faster and cooked faster.

Why I stopped cooking with aluminium

Why aluminium is bad for you!

Those little black marks on the vessels are great causes for concern, though. It shows how reactive this metal is! Aluminium reacts immediately with acidic and alkaline food matter to form toxic compounds that leach into your food. Try cooking tomatoes, curd or tamarind in an aluminium vessel or sauté onions with a few tomatoes in an aluminium kadhai. You will see how the surface changes form after a few uses. Sometimes, the reaction is so extreme that the taste of food gets altered.

Now for a few startling facts!

Harmful effects of aluminium

Modern times have seen the decline of pure aluminium pots and pans. However, we still use a lot of aluminium for food storage. Aluminium foil wrapping, soda cans, soft drink cans, frozen and processed food containers…the list is endless. In fact, we use aluminium foil quite casually, for baking, packing food for our little ones etc., without thinking twice!
Aluminium compounds directly target your nervous system. Prolonged consumption of aluminium compounds can speed the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating conditions. This metal slows mental growth in children. It accumulates in various organs, causing illnesses in the long run.

So what kind of aluminium cookware is safe?

if you insist on using aluminium cookware, go for hard anodised aluminium cookware as the aluminium is well sealed inside a smooth and hard coating that won’t corrode easily. This prevents aluminium leaching into food to a huge extent.

Though it is impossible to root out aluminium totally from your lifestyle, try your best to avoid using it for cooking and food storage. So now it is soft drinks from tetra packs instead of cans for me! I use stainless steel tiffin boxes to pack food for kids. Aluminium foil is a strict NO in my kitchen. In fact these 7 super tips to replace aluminium foil in your kitchen are quite interesting! Do check them out!

Let me know if you know any more methods of cooking and baking sans aluminium foil! Would love to hear from you!


Aluminium Foil Image By Lewis Ronald (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Super Ways To Use Curry Leaves For Hair Growth!

curry leaves for hair growth

Did you know that the humble curry leaves or kadi patta are power packed with nutrients that can give you thick, lustrous hair? It’s a pity that natural herbs as these are often underestimated. Luscious, dark green curry leaves are rich in essential nutrients that nurture your scalp and hair from the root to the tip.

Over the years, your hair loses its shine and healthy texture on account of various reasons ranging from heating tools, chemical hair treatments, prolonged exposure to the sun and lack of proper nutrition.

curry leaves for hair growth

photo credits: sue mah via cc by 2.0

Curry leaves can be applied externally to improve hair texture and cure dry scalp conditions. To encourage hair growth, you have to consume it daily besides using it for external application. These miraculous leaves encourage fresh hair growth besides reversing damage caused by heating tools, chemical hair treatments and exposure to sun.

How to use curry leaves for hair growth

Curry Leaves For your Scalp – External Application

Curry Leaves Hair Mask

For this hair mask, make a paste of 2 cups dark green, fresh curry leaves. Add 2 tablespoons of curd. Massage it into your hair and scalp. Leave this mask on your hair for 30 minutes. Cover your head with a shower cap. This mask will cure dry scalp conditions including dandruff. After 30 minutes, wash your hair with a mild shampoo and rinse with warm water. Rinsing with warm water ensures that no oily residues of curd remain in your hair.

Curry Leaves Hair Oil

Instead of preparing a hair mask every time, you can make some curry leaf oil every week, for regular use.

Take ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds and 2 cups of chopped fresh green curry leaves. Heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan. Before the oil reaches boiling point, turn the heat off. Add the fenugreek seeds and chopped curry leaves into the oil. Allow this to sit overnight. Strain and store this curry leaf hair oil in a bottle for everyday use.
Check out this herbal hair oil recipe that you can make at home using curry leaves, hibiscus and henna for maximum hair growth.

Curry Leaves For Hair Growth – Consume Internally

Don’t cringe at the thought of having to eat curry leaves! There are tastier ways of eating these leaves instead of simply chewing them raw. You can consume curry leaves using these tasty recipes!

Curry Leaves Chutney

You can make this simple curry leaf chutney to go with your afternoon meal of rice. It tastes just as good with chapattis.

For curry leaves chutney, you need:

Curry Leaves – 1 cup
Onion – 1
Garlic – 10 cloves
Tamarind – size of a small ball.
Red chillies – 2
Mustard seeds – ¼ teaspoon
Urad dal – ½ teaspoon
Salt to taste.

How to prepare

Sauté mustard seeds, urad dal, chopped onions, crushed garlic and curry leaves in two teaspoons of cooking oil, till the onions turn translucent. Add tamarind and salt. Allow this mix to cool. Grind to a fine paste and your healthy curry leaves chutney is ready.

Curry Leaves Dosa

This one is a super simple recipe. Make a paste of one cup fresh green curry leaves. Add this paste to ½ litre dosa/idli batter. Add salt to taste. You can make regular dosas as you normally do.

Curry Leaves Rice

For this nutritious rice recipe you will need:

Cooked Rice – 1 cup
Curry leaves – 2 cups
Garlic – 5 cloves
Hing (asafoetida) – a small pinch
Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
Red Chillies – 2
Urad dal – 1 teaspoon
Black pepper(whole) – ½ teaspoon
Fried chana dal – 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ teaspoon
Cooking oil
Salt to taste.

How to prepare

Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them splutter. Add hang, crushed garlic cloves, urad dal, chana dal, black pepper, red chillies, coriander powder and sauté for a minute. Add curry leaves and tamarind. Grind this to a very fine paste.

Now heat 1 teaspoon of cooking oil or ghee in a pan. Add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add a few more curry leaves. Add the paste that you made. Add cooked rice and mix well. This is a nutritious rice recipe for kids and grownups alike and works wonders for your hair.

Using curry leaves for hair growth is an age old tradition followed in South India. And I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t like these methods of using curry leaves. In fact, you can grow a curry leaf plant at home to have a continuous supply of fresh curry leaves. Do try this natural fertilizer for curry leaf plants.

Do let me know if you tried any of these methods, in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you!

Amazing Hanging Pillar Of Lepakshi Temple, India

The Veerabhadra temple at Lepakshi, or the hanging pillar temple in India, is an exemplary work of ancient Indian architecture, Vijayanagara architectural style to be precise. Located approximately 120 km i.e. a 2 hour drive from Bangalore, Lepakshi is a small village in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh.

lepakshi hanging pillar
Photo Credits

Lepakshi Hanging Pillar

lepakshi-temple-hanging-pillar

Photo credits

This beautifully carved stone pillar hangs from the ceiling and reaches a few millimetres above the temple floor. Nobody has been able to find out how exactly the kings architects managed to suspend such an immensely heavy stone pillar from the ceiling. In fact, you can easily pass a cloth under this pillar, an act often shown by the local guides. During the British regime, a British engineer got his men to shift the pillar to find out the secret. Unfortunately, this caused the pillar to touch the floor at one corner besides altering the structure of the roof to some extent.

Lepakshi Temple Attractions

Monolithic Nandi

Lepakshi_nandi

Photo credits

Lepakshi is also home to the famed temple complex built by Vijayanagra kings way back in 1583. This temple is built on a rocky hillock called Kurma Sailam or tortoise hill. The first marvel you encounter is a colossal Nandi located almost a mile before the temple. It is 27 feet in width and 15 feet in height and rumoured to be the largest monolithic Nandi in India.

Ganesha and Naga

lepakshi_ganesha

lepakshi_naga
Photo credits

The temple also features a huge structure of Lord Ganesha carved in stone, leaning against a rock. Near this is a huge Naga with seven hoods and three coils, towering over a black Shivalingam, protecting it.

Fresco Paintings

fresco at lepakshi temple

Lepakshi Temple Ceiling” by Pp391Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

You get to see some intricate and beautiful specimens of fresco paintings on the ceiling just before the main sanctum sanctorum. The 24 feet by 14 feet fresco of Veerabhadra, the main deity of this temple, is spectacular. The famed Shiva Parvati Kalyanam (wedding) is also depicted here. These frescoes have been painted using natural shades of green, brown, white, black and ochre on a lime treated surface.

Natya Mandapam and Kalyana Mandapam

shiva parvati kalyanamandapam at lepakshi temple
Photo credits

Other eye catching attractions are the Natya Mandapam with 100 pillars and an unfinished
Kalyana Mandapam with intricately carved stone pillars. The ancient artisans who sculpted these pillars have given attention to detail resulting in a spectacular display of ancient mythology and architectural designs in this structure.

Lepakshi temple is a must visit site on your itinerary if you happen to be near Bangalore or Anantpur. Ancient Indian Architecture has given birth to many such marvellous structures in India. Visit this site on ancient Indian monuments for more fresco paintings and inscriptions at Lepakshi .

Nutritious ‘Eggs Benefits’ For Kids

eggs benefits for kids

Are eggs good for kids? This is an interesting question asked by so many moms. I was kind of skeptical about giving a boiled egg daily to my little boy. I felt that an egg on a daily basis, may aggravate his constipation problems, make him obese etc. And then my son fell ill with the flu. He lost a lot of weight. On doctor’s advice, I started giving him one boiled egg to eat, daily. It sure does improve your child’s appetite and overall health. I’ll give you good reasons why you should crack one open right away!

Eggs Benefits

A Few Eggy Facts

Eggs are power packed with a lot of vital nutrients which are essential for the growth and development of a child. Did you know that the yolk contains more than 90 percent of the calcium and iron found in an egg and that the egg whites are super rich in protein?

Eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals – the two essential nutrients that boost immunity and protect your child from diseases. No wonder my son’s pediatrician recommended giving him a boiled egg to eat, daily.

Vitamins in an egg

Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin – This helps your body to convert food into energy.
Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin- This is necessary for producing red blood cells.
Vitamin A or Retinol – As the name suggests, this one is what you need for great eyesight.
Vitamins A and B2 – These are important for growth.

Minerals In An Egg

Eggs contain these minerals –
Zinc – essential for a healthy immune system
Phosphorus – required for healthy bones and teeth
Iron – needed for healthy haemoglobin levels in blood and  helps a child not to feel tired easily.

It also has iodine and selenium in small traces. Iodine is essential for proper working of the thyroid gland. Selenium is an antioxidant that fights inflammation and reduces the risk of getting affected by cancer.

Eggs Reduce Chances Of Obesity

Many parents feel that eggs can fatten their child. This is not true.
Here is the reason why – Eggs keep you feeling full for a longer time. They limit your calorie intake by as much as 400 calories. So it is less likely that little tummies will feel hunger pangs immediately after eating a boiled egg. Besides, the cholesterol present in eggs is ‘dietary’ cholesterol that is not as harmful as the bad cholesterol present in blood.

For those who hate milk…

You have kids who hate milk? Why not give a nourishing and tasty boiled egg instead? Eggs are also good for children with lactose intolerance.

Here is a funny incident that took place a few months back. I happened to buy half a dozen hen’s eggs. Every single one of them had a double yolk. People have a lot of apprehensions about eggs with two yolks in them. I just made some scrumptious omelettes with them 😉

NECC, India, has time and again emphasized “Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao ande”. I couldn’t agree more. In case you decide to implement this, check out these yummy Indian egg recipes for kids.

 

Eggs Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Doodling Helps Memory In Kids!

doodling helps memory in kids

While I elaborate on how doodling helps memory, let me tell you that my son aged nine is about to appear for his first term assessment at school. He is in Grade V now. As any other normal mother would, I tend to do the running around and ensure that my child has revised his lessons well before the exams commence. All this while, my son plays around with his Rubik’s cube, totally oblivious of the enormous frustration and tension that his mom carries on her shoulders till his exams are over!

how doodling helps memory in kids

Ecology concept doodle -Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As kids go to higher grades, chapters are vast. You cannot possibly expect them to memorize. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what certain kids do at the last moment. Memorizing without understanding basic facts doesn’t make sense. Kids also get bored easily looking at long answers to questions. So what could be the right way to learn better and improve your child’s memory power?

Memorizing stuff does make sense if you do it the right way! That is when doodling or noting with sketches comes into picture.

Doodling Helps Memory

As kids, how many times did you get scolded for doodling away in class? The last page of every notebook was silent testimony of  your lovely artwork 😉  But then how many times have you scolded your child to stop doodling with pencil while you explain a concept? You feel that it is distracts attention and is absolutely silly. Well, its time to stop that.

Doodling or making rough sketches while you learn can actually help you understand concepts and memorize things better! Doodling helps the brain to make a visual representation of a particular concept.

Doodling Simple Concepts – eg. Photosynthesis

Take a very simple example of the process of “photosynthesis” – Natural chemical-process by which chlorophyll (magnesium-containing pigment in green plants, blue-green algae, phytoplankton, and green and purple bacteria) uses sunlight (radiation) energy to convert (synthesize) water and atmospheric carbon dioxide into life sustaining organic compounds such as glucose. Being also responsible for almost all the oxygen in atmosphere, photosynthesis is the basis of all life on earth.

Now look at this doodle of photosynthesis in plants.

doodling helps memory

It covers all points mentioned in the definition. Plus you have an awesome mind map at hand to go thru before exams.

 

Doodling Makes Kids Better Listeners

Did you notice that when children blindly take notes or copy matter from the black board in class, they do so without understanding and hence fail to retain concepts in memory. However, when a student doodles, he listens, he concentrates, deciding on what information he needs to put in the doodle and what not. The result is that important facts get encoded in the brain automatically and the student gets a deeper understanding of the matter.

So how to make kids doodle stuff?

Encourage your child to draw step by step, rough sketches for subjects like history, geography, science, english literature etc. These are the subjects where the child has to describe content like sequence of events in history, structure of the Earth’s layers, structure of human digestive system, synopsis of any play by Shakespeare etc.

While you explain these concepts, make them doodle. Sketches must be in sequence though. A doodle can be as simple as a bubble with something written inside it and an arrow for labeling. This will make them concentrate more on what you say, as they have to implement it in the form of sketches.

I caught my child yawning once when I was teaching him the structure of the nervous system. I could sympathize with him as the matter was too vast for a 9 year old to grasp. Then I took a whiteboard and a marker, told him to doodle as I taught him. I found him listening keenly and sketching stuff side by side. Try this, it works, especially when you need your brain to digest a lot of matter without getting all dazed and sleepy.

Doodling Helps The Brain Carry More

Research has revealed that the brain can remember concepts better if all the information is encapsulated in an image. In fact, William Klemm, a neuroscience professor at Texas A & M University confirmed this fact at a Learning and the Brain conference held in San Francisco.

Doodling Before Exams

Keep your doodles or rough sketches safe. Going thru them just before an exam helps a child recollect concepts properly without missing a single step or fact. Once the doodle is memorized, all a child needs to do is to elaborate on those points in his own words.

So try this and let me know how it goes!

Hilariously Funny Things My Kid Said To Me

funny things kids say

I guess, most of us have naughty, pesky, fiddly kids who keep talking non-stop throughout the day! When was the last time you heard them out without throwing up your hands in the air? Chances are that you have been missing out on all the funny things they have to say. These small incidents can make you smile, laugh and giggle.

I happened to pick these funny incidents from my FaceBook timeline that took place over a span of 4 years. My son has since grown from a teeny weenie Kindergarten student to a 9 year old boy. One thing however, remains the same. He is still naughty and keeps me busy.

Do check these cute and funny things kids say. Am sure you will find them funny too. And do not forget to go over your own FaceBook timeline. Moments from your past can bring a smile back on your face, especially moments related to your children.

Funny Things Kids Say

1. My kid sees our wedding snaps. Says he wants to marry too. His dad asks him, “So who is the girl?” He says,” Why do you need one?” His dad says, “so that she loves and cares for you when you are sick and remains your best friend for life. So he says, “Then I’ll marry mamma.” Will not forget this one for sure!

2. My son’s friend falls sick and he tells him, “Come to my mom. She is a very good doctor”. I was kind of flattered, honestly.

3. One evening, in front of the television – “Mamma why do you keep changing channels when the hero tries to kiss the heroine?”

4. Home from school, my son tells me, “Today teacher taught us all about insurance. So did you understand?” I ask. He says, “Yes”. “What did you understand?” I ask. He says, “I understood everything, but then I forgot!” – Which means, “No more questions please…” I guess!

5. What can a little boy worry about when his leg gets fractured? – “When will I be able to play?” Maybe…Ishaan’s first reaction to his plastered leg was –“How will I scratch if it itches inside?”

6. Latest buzz in my son’s class “Mamma, Rudra brought two wriggly worms in a box, I loved watching them crawl. I even touched them and poked them with a stick!” Yuck…That is so much unlike me; I would’ve jumped and screamed like I do when I find a worm in a pea pod, sometimes.

7. My child’s little friend next door, comes to our place without informing her dad. She gets in, closes our door and tells me, “Aunty, its ok. I didn’t ask Dadda, he’s busy doing potty.” I din know what to say!!!!!!!! It was so damn funny!!!!!

8. Mom, my friends were queuing up for your cutlets! So I traded them with what they had brought. Too bad Abid did not get my cutlets; I didn’t like what was in his tiffin.” I have to gently remind Ishaan, that it is not fair to leave one child and be good to others. So he adds to my workload – “Mamma, make me another batch on Monday, will make sure that the entire class gets cutlets!”

9. Honest opinion from Ishaan on my new outfit! He tells me “Mamma, you look like ‘Mutthachan’ – my father (nanaji in Malayalam). I look at him, puzzled and he says,”Mumma you know Muttachan has a nice fat tummy.”

10. Baking time today! Baked a chocolate and caramalized apple cake with my little assistant. He tells me, “Mamma, I’m a baker and you are a bakess!”

11. This happened when Ishaan was in nursery class and was learning phonics. “100% ha ha ha! Phonics is funny and so is English! Ishaan reads TOSHIBA with the O sound as in Orange and A sound as in Apple! No problems, we’ll get this resolved together!

12. Ishaan reads tickers nowadays, I change the news channel when he is around! But this was one sure was funny – he said, “Why are they breaking the news?”, “what is ‘news’?”How to break it? I want to break it too!”

13. My Toofan express comes home from school and this is what he says, “ Piyush threw my book, pushed Ria, opened Shivani’s water bottle, spilled the water down and threw Arnav’s hanky in that water. Then he started running around the class. Teacher punished him. Very good!” Before I could react, he just disappeared inside to fetch his toys. I guess, he was waiting all the way to get home and spill the ‘oh so happening’ news!

14. A neighbour’s kid said this to me – “Aunty, at our place, bean bags are not for sitting on. Mamma dumps clothes on them and we all take out clothes from the bean bag to wear. Don’t you buy any clothes?”

15. Ishaan’s friend’s maasi (maternal aunt) comes over for a visit. He says,” Mom, why don’t you have a sister? No problem, he says,” I’ll be your sister. I say, “You are a boy.”…So he says, okay, I’ll be your boy sister! I didn’t know what to say. He was all of 3 years at that time.

16. Katti Batti time. Ishaan tells me of his katti batti friends who keep changing daily. Can relate to this after all these years.

17. My son tells me a story “Once upon a time… there lived 3 cars…Papa car, mamma car and one small ‘kutty’ car.” (kutty meaning child in Malayalam) Wonder why boys are so crazy about cars…

18. I read this on my son’s little friend’s t-shirt: “SAW IT.LOVED IT.THREW A FIT FOR IT.AND FINALLY GOT IT.!”

19. “I’m a fooder”, says my kid while spreading cheese on bread. I give him a weird look and he says, “You know the one who prepares food.” I tell him, “That’s a cook.” He says, “But ‘fooder’ sounds better!”

20. Stiff neck syndrome! I’m not able to move my head sideways! And my little boy is getting a ‘Yes’ for all the ‘Nos’ from me.

21. The TV remote is not functioning and an army helicopter that was idle since ages, was running around madly. Made a quick connection and realised who was behind the battery swap!

22. An SMS doesn’t get delivered despite several attempts on a rainy day. So when I complain, my little one says , “Mamma, SMS baarish me bheeg gaya. Phir se bhejo ” meaning your SMS got wet in the rain. Send it again.

23. My son is fiddling around with the chess board thinking he knows to play Chess. He says, “King Uncle is riding a horse and Queen Aunty is riding an elephant and the soldiers are at war.” I have to lose the game for him else all players get tossed on the floor. I remember dad losing out to me while playing carom just to make me smile.

This one is a killer.
24. I try telling my little one – “There are children who don’t even have food to eat and here you are, not drinking milk.” He smartly tells me – “You can go and give the milk to them.”

25. My son tells me on a rainy day – “I’m not able to go down and play. God uncle is watering the trees. When will the trees stop asking for water? I just smiled.

26. The lady on the first floor must be happy. For a change…it’s raining plastic clips on her terrace…you know the ones used for hanging clothes…thanks to my child.

27. Someone has quietly taken the jar of cream biscuits, eaten the cream, joined the biscuits and put them back in. I found this out today morning. Little fellow gets it from me, when he comes back from school today grrrrrrrrrrr….

28. My son’s definition of a sore throat: The germs are digging my throat with an excavator. Give me some warm water to “dhush” (kill) them.

What funny thing did your kid say to you today? Do share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic’s at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cute Little Letter To Father – On Father’s Day

father's day letter

Letter To Father – On Father’s Day

My little boy had to write a letter to his father on Father’s day for letter writing activity at school. This is what he wrote. Isn’t that nice?

Now before you leave, a teeny weeny bit on the history of Father’s Day!

What is Father’s Day?

The origin of Father’s Day celebrations can be traced to the early 20th century in the United States of America. It was celebrated for the first time on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington by Ms.Sonora Smart Dodd, at YMCA. She believed that every father had the right to a celebration similar to Mother’s Day. Her father had brought up six kids as a single parent.

Father’s Day is now celebrated all over the world usually around the third Sunday that falls in June. It is a loving tribute to all the awesome fathers in this world!



Interesting Cards For Fathers Day – Google Themed Card

google fathers day card

Want to know how to make a father’s day card? Here is an interesting search engine card based on the Google theme.

google fathers day card

 

 

fathers day card ideas

Cards For Father’s Day

Google Fathers Day Card

For this Google themed Fathers Day card, you need the following Craft Supplies:

1. Colored Textured or Hand Made Paper – A4 size single sheet
2. Your father’s passport size photograph
3. Felt tipped pens or sketch pens
4. White sheet of paper
5. Scissors and glue

Fold the textured paper in half. Make the search engine themed design on the white sheet of paper using felt tipped color pens or sketch pens. Stick your fathers picture as shown above and you’re done!

Stick another sheet of white paper inside the card you just made. Write a beautiful Father’s Day quote inside. Keeping up with the Google theme, the quote above has been written in similar colors of red, blue, green and yellow.

This particular Father’s Day quote says

“I’m As Lucky
As Can Be
As The
WORLD’S BEST DAD
Belongs To Me”

This is one of the best and simplest of all cards for father’s day! What do you think?

Know your Cheese – Types Of Cheese In India

 

different types of cheese in india

Did you know that there are several types of cheese available in India? A few consider it safe to stick to a particular brand and kind of cheese. Since India is not a traditional cheese making country, most of us know nothing beyond the humble cottage cheese or Paneer. So when it comes to picking up cheese from the endless racks of dairy products at shopping malls, people stick to the basic processed cheese slices manufactured by Amul, Gowardhan, Mother Dairy and the like.

But then, you are losing out on a wonderfully delectable opportunity to taste some equally delicious varieties of cheese just because you don’t know all of them too well. From the easy- to- melt Mozarella to the firm and hard Parmesan cheese, how can you tell them apart? What are the benefits of each? And what the heck is Blue Cheese?

All said and done, we’re more than happy to show you the different types of cheese in India.

Types Of Cheese In India

Cheese Basics

To begin with, let’s get the basics right. The taste and texture of cheese is based on criteria like the duration of ageing, fat content, country of origin, the moisture content, the curing method used and whether it is goat, buffalo, cow or sheep milk. Did you know that a farm known as The Elk House in Sweden actually produces cheese from Moose milk?

Natural Cheese Vs Processed

Natural cheese is usually made by separating milk from water with the help of lemon, bacteria or vinegar. This is then mixed with curd in the coagulation process. The taste develops as the cheese ages. No preservatives, no chemicals. It is more solid in texture as compared to processed cheese and has lesser amount of moisture. However, unlike processed cheese, natural cheese separates into solids and oil when melted.

Processed cheese has a longer shelf life as a result of preservatives that go into them. It has more fat content, added flavours, emulsifying agents, whey, food colour and what not. It is creamier in texture and melts uniformly on your burger. It is cheaper than natural cheese.

It is for you to decide which one is a healthier option. Check out this link for how cheese is made .

 

Types of cheese available in India

Mozzarella Cheese

mozarella cheese, types of cheese in india

This semi solid cheese has a very creamy texture. Made from pasteurized buffalo or cow’s milk, it has very high moisture content. The colour is mostly white or a slight yellow depending on what the animal has been feeding on. It is mostly used in Pizza, Lasagne and Pasta on account of its stringy texture when melted. Mozzarella goes down well with raw salads too.

Emmental Cheese

Emmental Cheese, types of cheese available in India

A large rind of yellow Emmental cheese with lots of holes in it – I used to love watching poor Jerry save his cheese from the wily Tom. (These were a few cartoon shows kids watched back in the 80s – that’s when I grew up )
This is originally a Swiss cheese made of unpasteurised cow’s milk. This is a medium hard cheese with a nice, yellow colour. The flavour is a bit sharp and nutty. A typical slice of Emmental cheese has holes made by the release of gases caused by bacteria. It melts really well and is mostly used in grilled sandwiches and sauces or dips. In fact, it is traditionally used in making fondue.

Parmesan

different types of cheese in India, parmesan cheese

Parmesan is always on the list for a top cheese connoisseur. This is a hard grating cheese made of unpasteurised cow’s milk. It has a light brown shade of dry, crumbly straw. It can be grated over Pizzas, Pastas and soups. This cheese has a strong aroma and sharp, nutty flavour. The calcium content in this cheese is quite good.

Ricotta Cheese

ricotta cheese
By Daniele Pugliesi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dieter’s delight, fresh ricotta cheese is low in fat and high in protein. This cheese is made from milk whey that is usually left after cheese production. It tastes mildly sweet and can be used in desserts like cheesecake and Tiramisu. You can use it to thicken sauces and make dips for bread. Use ricotta cheese instead of paneer for a low fat version of palak paneer. You can even beat this cheese with sugar and used it in pastry stuffing.

Halloumi Cheese

different types of cheese in india
By Ewan Munro from London, UK (Clifton, St John’s Wood, LondonUploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Make spicy and yummy kebabs with this cheese. Halloumi is perfectly grillable. Made from sheep’s raw milk (some cheese makers take a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk), it tastes salty with a rubbery texture. This is meant to be grilled and eaten instead of eating it as it is. On grilling, it tastes crisp outside with a nice buttery centre.

Feta Cheese

types of cheese in india

This cheese is made from sheep’s whole milk. Loaded with 60 percent fat, this is a soft, crumbly textured cheese with small holes, which can be eaten as a snack or used as a salad dressing. It is usually kept to age for 4 to 6 weeks in salty whey and brine – so it’s also known as pickled cheese.

Blue Cheese

blue cheese
Blauschimmelkäse IMGP5469 wp by smial (talk) – Own work. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t get flabbergasted with the varieties of blue cheeses available in the market. Blue veined cheese is marked by a distinct pungent flavour and rich, creamy texture. It is not a vegetarian cheese. You can buy the Danish daniblu variety of blue cheese here in India. It is very interesting to note how blue cheese is made . This can be sliced and placed on crusty brown bread or even added as a salad dressing. What makes it blue is Pencillium roqueforti which is a fungus that breeds on curds.

Seasoned Cheese

You can buy a whole lot of seasoned cheeses like Jeera Cheese by La Ferme, Auroville.

Cheddar Cheese

types of cheese available in india

Cheddar is always made of pasteurised cow’s milk. Dense and creamy, it earns its name from a process called cheddaring – in which stacks of pressed curds are placed on one another to remove moisture. Then these are cut into small pieces and again stacked up in layers. This process is repeated till almost all the whey and moisture goes out of the cheese. This accounts for the crumbly, layered texture of cheddar cheese after it is aged for around 9 months or more.

Gouda Cheese

aged gouda cheese in india

One of the oldest cheeses in the world, Gouda cheese traces its origin to Netherlands. It has a high calcium and fat content. It can be aged anywhere between 3 months to five years. Properly aged Gouda cheese has a sweet milky flavour. Usually it is given an orange colour by adding natural colouring pigments like carotene. Relish it with fruit and wine or sandwiches. You can add it to salads too.

Of course, this is a very teeny weeny list of types of cheese available in India. More and more cheese makers in India are venturing into the manufacture of exotic European cheeses.

Where to buy good quality natural cheese online

All leading online grocery stores like Bigbasket.com, Nature’s basket by Godrej, Localbanya etc. sell leading brands of good quality natural cheese. In fact, Nature’s Basket has an entire section devoted to cheese. You’ll find a good variety – Brie, Emmental, Cheddar, Blue cheese and some nice goat cheese too.

A basic search on JustDial or Google Search will give you a comprehensive list of gourmet cheese retailers and shops in Mumbai. Buying online is more convenient I guess if you don’t have the time, that is.

Check out this interesting and inspiring list of excellent quality natural cheese makers in India .

And Yes! Please do share with our readers in case you know of good cheese retailers or shops in India, in the comments section below.

The Golden Temple Coorg

Inside Golden Temple Coorg

Do not miss a visit to the famed Golden Temple Monastery at Bylakuppe if you happen to visit Coorg! Bylakuppe is home to the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet. This small town is in fact a part of Mysore district of Karnataka state, but it shares its border with Coorg.

Following the Chinese invasion in the year 1969, thousands of Tibetans fled Tibet and took refugee in India. Bylakuppe was the first refuge camp for Tibetans in exile that was set up in South India.  This small town is spic and span and well organized. It is dotted with Tibetan eateries, small houses and shops. Bylakuppe is peaceful and quiet by all means.

The Golden Temple Monastery – Interesting Tidbits

The Golden Temple Monastery Coorg
The Namdroling Monastery also known as The Golden Temple

About the monastery

Of the other monasteries present here, The Golden Temple Monastery or The Namdroling Monastery is the most well known one. It is home to more than 5000 monks and nuns. It is dedicated to the teachings of Buddha and the Palyul Lineage belonging to the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling or Namdroling in short is the actual name of the monastery. Initially, it was a small  bamboo temple built by the throne-holder Kyabje Penor Rinpoche in 1963, with an area of 80 square feet approximately. Now it houses a religious college as well as a hospital. Dalai Lama in association with the Indian Government organized refugee camps for Tibetans in exile, in India. This is one such settlement.

This monastery is almost an hours drive from Madikeri, the main town of Coorg. You can hire taxis, autorickshaws or catch a bus from Madikeri to reach here.
Inside golden temple coorg
Inside The Golden Temple at Bylakuppe, Coorg

Inside the monastery

Once inside the main temple, you feel humbled by the presence of three colossal and magnificient statues of Gautama Buddha, Padmasambhava and Amitāyus. Each of these gold plated statues is approximately 8 feet tall.

inside golden temple coorg, wall painting
By Sahyadri H S (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The walls are covered with beautiful hand painted Tibetan Buddhist illustrations.
study_place_monks

Bylakuppe 07
” by Sahyadri H SOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This is the place where the monks study, meditate or read religious scriptures.
The monastery has a peaceful, serene atmosphere. You can buy trinkets, feng shui articles and Buddhist souvenirs from a shop located  at the main gate of the monastery. You get an interesting glimpse of Tibet, its people and culture when you visit this monastery at Bylakuppe.

Too Early To Teach Your Child To Read?

is it too early to teach your child to read?

When is the right time to teach your child to read? Maybe in playschool? No? Nursery or maybe Kindergarten? Well, many parents as well as experts share different views on this question.

In fact, a question put across a parenting forum got me thinking… A parent shared her apprehension thus –

My child has just entered Junior Kg. In a month and a half, teachers have finished teaching phonics and three letter words with a,e,i,o,u vowels. They now expect the kids to read short sentences. Will this approach put a lot of strain on my child? What is the correct age to teach a child to read and write?

The moment I read this, I wondered how could a 4 year old handle this with ease? Confusion reigns supreme in such cases. Children as young as 3 and 4 must be given sufficient time learn alphabets and phonics. What is needed is regular practice at a gradual pace.

Now teaching methodologies differ from board to board and school to school. Following is a general feedback I got from a few Mumbai based parents.

Many schools like AVM, Chembur allow kids to learn slowly with practice. Identification of alphabets, phonics, learning how to spell etc. are taken care of, gradually. A few others like Treehouse and Billabong High expect children to grasp topics sooner. They also have a vast curriculum. I was aghast when I saw that a well known school had Environment Science as a subject for Jr.Kg class and one of the topics covered was ‘Water Cycle’. I wonder what the child would make of it.

Despite your best efforts to make them understand, the school management will stick to their curriculum and teaching methods. It is definitely not feasible to change schools unless and until your child is not able to cope up despite all your efforts. So then what should be the right approach?

Child development experts and developmental psychologists agree on the fact that the brains of most children develop the skills required for reading and writing only around the ages of five or six. They will also tell you that language development in children begins at a very early age.

Many parents converse with their babies and toddlers in a playful manner, often weaving small stories around objects, people, animals, birds etc. They answer their toddlers’ questions with patience, pointing out facts about the world around us like “Hey! Look at the sun! It is bright and yellow!” Such playful conversations pave the way for proper language development.

When your child turns three or four, storytelling can be accompanied by picture books and big flash cards with colourful alphabets. You can also read aloud from books with lots of pictures and short words and sentences in big, colourful font. Do not expect the child to read these alphabets or words. Let him simply look at it. The alphabet shapes followed by the sounds you make get registered in their brains. Repeat the same story till the child gets bored and wants another story. Thus language development lays down the foundation for learning how to read and write as the child grows up. Mind you, this works better than letting your child watch so called learning videos online.

Another approach followed by a parent whom I know was to sit with her son in front of a mirror when teaching alphabet sounds. She took an orange, pointed out to the alphabet O using a flashcard and said ‘O’ says ‘AW’ as in Orange. The little fellow looked at how she puckered her lips like a fish to say ‘AW’. He copied her and said O for Orange, Orange ka ‘AW’. The mirror showed the child that he had copied his mother correctly. She only focused on teaching the ‘O’ sound for a few days.

So you see, you can follow a slow, tailor made approach to teach phonics and spellings to your child before he learns to read and write short sentences. Let the school follow its pace, whether fast or slow must not matter to you. Consistent efforts at a gradual pace, side by side works best.

Let me know what you think? Our readers would love to hear from you.

Photo Credits: www.freedigitalphotos.net,  David Castillo Dominici