Will you feed this to your Newborn?

Scientists have created an anti-obesity formula for infants. The highlights are by me.

…aims to supplement baby milk with a hormone that suppresses hunger.Animal studies suggest early exposure to the hormone leptin can programme the brain to prevent over-eating throughout life.It may even determine whether someone is fat or thin before birth.Feeding the hormone to pregnant rats seems to have a life-long impact on their offspring. Animals born of leptin-treated mothers remain lean, despite being fed a fat-laden diet. In contrast those whose mothers were untreated gain weight and develop diabetes

Prof. Cawthorne, who did the research,

“The supplemented milks are simply adding back something that was originally present,” he told Chemistry & Industry magazine, which reported on the research today. “Breast milk contains leptin and formula feeds don’t.”Previous studies looking at the ability of leptin to reduce hunger in human volunteers have proved disappointing. Prof Cawthorne believes this is because they involved adults, rather than infants. Leptin was only likely to leave its stamp on the malleable brains of babies.”You would only take this for a short time, very early in life,” said Prof Cawthorne.

Cawthorne, about the formula

Prof Cawthorne told the Press Association the infant formula work was in the “very early stages”.”It’s something we’re in the process of looking at,” he said. “There’s potential there because we know that breast-fed offspring have less of a tendency towards obesity in adult life.”I’m not in the least suggesting that it will cure world wide obesity, but it’s something that could make a difference.”There are always safety concerns, and whenever you do anything there tend to be unexpected events. But one could argue that giving formula feeds to babies that are different from breast milk might itself be changing their programming.”

From BBC

Steve O’Rahilly

The notion that leptin in baby milk will prevent human obesity is currently in the realms of wildly optimistic science fiction.

Dr Nick Finer,

And would the first trials be in newly born children?”

Whatever happened to teaching the kids to eat right? Never again am I going to crib about the 20 minutes I have to spend to feed my kids that apple, orange or banana instead of the cupcake that will be wolfed down in 20 seconds.

It is Joanna Moorehead at Guardian Unlimited who asks the right question.

why are we[British] spending money on trying to develop an inferior substitute, rather than putting more resources into encouraging mothers to breastfeed?

Oven-Baked Chicken Curry

Yes, I called it a curry and refuse to call it anything else. A generic mix of spices for the general region of the Indian subcontinent all cooked together genericly goes by the name of curry in the western world. So when I cook something that satisfies that definition, in my western kitchen, I will call it a curry. [Defiant]. Besides, my blog, my rant. So there.

My love affair with the chicken began some 7 years ago. Before that I absolutely refused to eat it. Don’t ask me why.I have no idea. The thing with ingredients that make an entry into your life after your food habits have formed is,it takes quite a lot of thinking to decide how it will be cooked. It doesn’t come naturally to me. See, I look at beet greens, which I have never cooked with before and red amaranth comes to me. I look at zucchini and ridgegourd comes to mind. I look at a chicken and all I see is a mass of pink muscle. I have to go through my recipe book to decide which way I want to prepare it. This frustration with chicken is largely due to the fact that I have never really been successful in making a simple chicken curry. [ shutting my ears among the echoes of *gasp*, *and you are a food blogger?* ]

It’s true. Dinner with friends, potlucks and there it is. The ubiquitous ‘simple’ chicken curry,right there, mocking me. Each time, I go to the creator of this bane of my culinary existance and I try to stir the conversation ever so diplomatically to how it is made. I start with complimenting the dish and then finish with “you know there is something so very different from all the normal chicken curries in this. Koi special ingredient ?” Somewhere in between those two praticed lines, I get my answer.

Arre, nothing yaar! Hot oil, jeera, khadha masala, pyaz,tamatar, haldi, mirchi, dhaniya-jeera, garam masala, chicken, namak. Fir pani daala, aur 2 seethi nikali. Bas..“.

I am not going to bother translating that because it doesn’t help. Do you hear me?? IT DOESN’T HELP! I put all sorts of masala in the pressure-cooker with the chicken and it still tastes like something the local Indian restaurant serves at the buffet. A pseudo-Indian americanised curry that even non-indians have trouble eating. At this point, I am doing the mental version of pulling my hair out. But the lady in question is not done yet because the clincher comes in.

Sabke Haath ka bhi farak hota hai. That’s why it tastes different”.

I will translate this. This essentially means “My hands turn simple, everyday ingredients into magic. You, on the other hand[no pun intended] are a nincompoop!”. Aaaaargh!!

So, to take the smirk off her face,I go home and try it out. Nothing. Nada. Bland, insipid mess. It is the chicken, I tell you. These chicken have too much water in them. Besides,there is no smirk, is there? She just wants to get away from this non-chicken curry-making cook as far as possible. “Doesn’t know how to make chicken curry? Don’t know what kind of food the kids are being raised on? Bechare

As I burn in this hell of chicken-curry-failures, once in a while, something works. Only it is not add-some-of-this-some-of-that-and-pressure-cook-to-2-whistles kind of thing, it is somewhere in between. I chalk it all up to this game God plays so that I don’t give up completely on my simple-chicken-curry hope.Bhagwan, how you test me? Bachche ko rulaoege kya?”.


Oven Baked Chicken Curry

This is the curry I make for the weekday dinner guests. It is a no mess, no fuss kind of thing, 10 minutes of prep and cooks in the oven keeping the stove top free.

Make a paste using a blender or mortar-pestle the following

*3 green chillies/Thai peppers
*4 cloves Garlic
*1 inch piece Ginger

Mix together to make a marinade,

*1 cup dahi/curd/yogurt
*1 tsp Red Chilli Powder or 1/2 tsp red Chilli Flakes
*1 tsp Black Pepper Powder
*the paste made above
*1 tsp Garam Masala
* 1/4 tsp Saunf/Fennel seeds Powder
* 1/8 tsp Star Anise powder (Available in Korean Stores)
*Salt to taste

Add to the marinade

1 lb bone-in chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size cubes

Mix well.Set aside for as long as you can. I normally do this in the morning and cook it for dinner. When ready to cook,add

1/2 Red Onion. sliced
3 tbsp peanut oil

to the chicken mix.Pour everything in a baking dish. Into the oven it goes at 350 deg. Put it, Shut it, forget it for the next 40 minutes. Finish with a tadka/chaunk.


1 tsp Ghee


1 Badi Elaichi/Black Cardamom
3 cloves
1″ Cinnamon

Pour over the chicken, sprinkle some coriander leaves/cilantro and serve. Goes well with Jeera Rice and Crispy Papad on the side.


Completely irrelevant to the recipe : I cannot help but mention the carnage at Virginia Tech.It was appalling, what happened. It has been even more appalling, watching the media coverage. Monday evening, a whole lot of emphasis on the killer being Asian. Tuesday evening, a big attempt to blame the VT administration for not seeing into the future and predicting this might happen. Wednesday, repeated playings of the killers videos. It’s been amazing to see virginians stand strongly by their alma-matar. Rare is the person who spoke against the university on camera or off. Several people cancelled interviews with the media in protest against the emphasis on the killer and not on the killed. Thursday evening saw a marked difference in media coverage with the focus more on those killed, the loss and grief of their near and dear ones. The hokie spirit is everywhere I go, especially today being decreed a National Day of Mourning in memory of those killed.

The Working Mom

I have heard it many times before and I do not get it. People saying they resented their mom going to work. My mom was a working Mom. So everytime I hear something like that, I go through my entire childhood as best as I can to find any moment that I felt the same thing and I never come up with any. I remember our birthday parties, which she planned, for which she cooked up a storm in the morning before going to work. I remember the time when my friends and I,all from different communites decided to call each other for traditional dinners representing each of our communities and my mom all enthused, cooking up a konkani feast without a word.I remember evenings in the kitchen with mom and us at the dining table talking about the day. I remember chats with her in the same kitchen where we discussed everything from my naughty little sister to the daily news. The one thing I don’t remember is feeling that I was losing out with her not being at home.Never.Ever.

More importantly, I do not think that her involvement in my life would have been any different if she was a stay-at-home mom. She would still have been the parent she still is. The one who never forced her opinions on us but encouraged us to have our own opinions.The one who patiently heard out all the hormone-induced-no-grey-areas theories of my teenage years. The one who very calmly explained to me why she has to stand and stir the pot–and not sit on a chair welded to the floor that my toddler mind had thought up–without breaking into a laugh.The one who listened to my perfect plan to be the perfect parent and raise perfect kids and did not throw that plan back into my face when Aayush let out a bawl at 2.00AM on his first night home and I wailed “why doesn’t he sleep?”.I cannot think of my childhood being any different if she had been home and I do not and did not ever want it to be any different. I have always been fiercely proud of her,it is her I think of when the word supermom crops up. It is her I strive to be.

Which is why I don’t get it when some of my friends, and lately some of the blogs I have discovered, mention it. I have achieved an higher level of understanding of all she did after I became a mother myself. After I entered the throes of motherhood, I find myself asking the question “What would she do?” several times. I thought most women, who have had a normal childhood, did the same. Look back and try to find answers from their childhood.

I do not understand this phenomenon where you start judging your parents,especially after becoming a mother yourself. It is bad enough that,as a young mother, you are judged by every tom, dick and harry who has ever been around kids. You are judged by strangers whose only contact with your life would be the moment your kid decided to yell in the middle of the store or heaven forbid, use his outdoor voice that one out of ten times in the library. It is not enough that she is judged by fellow mothers for whom the only way to feel they are doing a good job themselves is criticise someone else or that it is her parenting which is judged for anything that would go wrong in the now fully grown up kids’ life. Now, the kids have to judge her, too. For the choice she ,the dad and in many cases in India, the extended family made together. Yes, tell your mom and anybody who is willing to listen, how you felt ‘cheated off of your mother’s attention growing up’ in a childhood that 50% of the world’s children would find nothing less than privileged.

For people like you,I have just one thing to say. GROW UP! You seem none the worse for it, you turned out to be the fine young women you are and seem to be. SNAP OUT OF IT . OK, that’s more than one thing. So sue me. I would expect nothing less from someone who has already been the judge and jury for their mother’s parenting.

Over the weekend…

One of the many things I love about blogging is making like-minded friends online. Anu is one such friend. When I announced that JFI-Diwali will be accepting recipes from non-bloggers as well, Anu was the first person to send in her recipe complete with a picture, ingredient-list, step-by-step intructions, hints and tips and variations. The one thing that I still remember vividly is that in her email she mentioned and I quote
I do not have a blog yet.
In my intro to her guest post, I predict her joining the food community eventually.
Anupama Anantharaman is another such friend. In a move that confirms I am getting old or I really need that trip to bermuda soon, I have confused them both. However, Anu, a long time reader of this blog, indeed has talked like an eventual blogger. I am happy to announce that eventuality has come to fruitition and she has finally penned her own blog. She starts her food blogging life with the recipe for Daalitoy which I call the mother daal of the konkani cuisine and comfort food for all aamchis. I remember, growing up, every year we would become tourists in our own country and visit all the amazing places in India. We would gorge in the dhabbas and Udipi restaurants depending on which side of the Vindhyas we were, but the first meal back at home would always be Rice, Daalitoy and Upkari. For me and, let me go out on a limb here and say, for most aamchi’s, a meal with daalitoy and upkari is home away from home. Anu makes the blogosphere her home with Daalitoy and cabbage Upkari. I welcome the Kitchen Queen, Anu and look forward to more delights from her.

Also, over the weekend, as part of Vee-speaks, a snapshot of my son’s mental diary on Dining Hall

Tambdi Bhajji- My Red Greens!

I am ambivalent about beets. Some things I just love, some things-not so much. Walk into a grocery store, there are some things I pick up the moment I see them. Then there are some that I give a wide berth to, even though the good marketing people of the store have placed it right in front of the door so that a customer cannot go in without checking them out. With beets, I am somewhere in between. I look at the beets and keep staring at them wondering. Should I or Shouldn’t I? After the third scorching look from the lady who seems to be waiting to buy the beets, I move ahead to buy the rest of the things I definitely want. “When was the last time I ate them? I think it was the time I made Beet Halwa. Maybe I should pick some carrots and make Gajar ka Halwa. Which reminds me I need to pick up a good bollywood movie. With a lots of song and dance. What is it with those movies that do not have songs anymore? How is someone like Salman Khan supposed to survive without songs that he could dance to as if he was crushing mushrooms under his feet? Speaking of which, I need to get some Mushrooms. Where are they? Oh, there they are, right besides the beets. Oh Beets, hmmm, Should I or shouldn’t I?” A quick look back ascertains the lady actually wanted to buy the leeks below the beets. “I definitely do not need leeks this week. But, the Bok Choy looks good. Maybe a chinese stir-fry this weekend. When was the last time I cooked Chinese? …”

Last week, I actually went ahead and bought them, not because of the roots themselves, but for the lush greens that were attached to them. They were beautiful and this time I didn’t have to think before I picked them up. I had an idea how I was going to cook them. My mom made this koddel using Red Amaranth leaves which we call Tambdi Bhajji effectively Red Greens. My brother, then a toddler, fell in love with this koddel, most probably attracted to it by its color. Somewhere down the line, the leaves that were available in the market lost their ability to generate the bright red that my brother loved and my mom, endowed with the wisdom that parents have, to make sure kids do not stop eating stuff that are actually healthy, started adding beets to it. Result,bright red curry and brother still loves it. I do not get the Red Amaranth leaves in my neck of the woods. So I substitute them with the beet greens and add chopped beets to it. Red, Red Koddel that my son was very excited about and gulped down without a fuss. The apple(or is it the beet 🙂 ) doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems.


Tambdi Bhajji

Cook (I pressure cook them, can be cooked in a partially covered 2 quart pot on the stove top)

*1 medium sized Beet,peeled, chopped into bite-sized cubes
*corresponding Beet Stalks, chopped into about 2 inches pieces
*One Bunch Beet Greens,washed, drained and chopped
*Salt, to taste

If not pressure cooking, then partially cook the beets and stalks before adding the greens and the salt in.
Meanwhile, grind into a smooth paste

*1/2 cup unsweetened, fresh grated coconut
*4-5 Dried Red Chillies, roasted in a little bit of oil, till it plumps up
*Tamarind, size of a marble or 1/4 tsp Tamarind Concentrate
*Water, as required

Smooth Paste would be till it is a homogenous mixture and the grated coconut does not feel grated anymore.
Once the Beets and the Greens have cooked through-the beets should disintegrate when pressed-, lower the flame to medium-low and add the

*Coconut+Chillies+Tamarind Paste

Let it come to a boil and cook till the coconut foam on top subsides about 5 minutes.
Finish with a garlic phanna (tadka) .

Heat on a low flame

*1 tsp Coconut Oil
*3-4 Garlic Cloves, crushed with their skins on

Heat the garlic and oil together and cook till the skins on the garlic turn golden. Add to the koddel and immediately cover. Mix in before serving.

Serve with Rice, cooked Plain and a Upkari, maybe chilled buttermilk on the side.
Looks like a good ‘red’ entry to JFI-Greens. Also, I nickname it ‘Laal Bhajji’ and send it across to A to Z of Indian Vegetables-Letter ‘L’.

Note : The leaves of the Red Amaranth available in India are completely red and not striped as seen in the site linked to above. I remember my mom complaining that they are just not that red anymore and can only guess that maybe a variety between the striped and the red one came into the market.


Much as we prefer that the kids speak ‘konkani’ our mother tongue at home, we quite enjoy the American-isms they bring to the conversation.
Some of the recent additions to his vocabulary,

It’s Trash” not garbage, not dustbin
I made a Mess” Everything from cluttered toys, to food drippings on his clothes is a ‘mess’
Hi-Fi” after everything he does, whether going to the bathroom by himself, finishing his plate or pronouncing a new word. Every new accomplishment is followed by “I did it” complete with hands up in the air as if he has won the marathon and then “Hi-Fi”. Not giving a prompt ‘Hi-fi’ is akin to an insult of mammoth proportions, the kind that takes a good 40 minutes to make up for.
No Way” His school tells me that saying ‘no’ teaches negativity to the kids. A statement I heard at the recent Parent-Teacher Meeting, “We are working on how we do not say ‘No’”. The kids being the obedient little brats that they are, promptly settled on “No Way”. Of course, they way they say it “Nowayyy” makes it one word and so very different from just “No”…

This ‘modern method of raising kids’ by treating them as adults and not as kids’ is good in its own way. But where my kids are concerned, highly overrated.

A recent conversation,

Method 1 : Including them in ideas
“Aayush, are we gonna ‘clean up’ the toys and books before we go to sleep?”

“No Way”

Try Method 2 : ‘Golden’ words
“Aayush, Please put away your toys and books? “

“No Way”

Try method 3 : Gentle Reasoning
“We have to clean up everything, otherwise it’s a mess, isn’t it? Then, you won’t find the books you want tomorrow. Your friend will come and say, ‘Aayush’s room is messy’ Right? we don’t want that, do we? We are going to clean up, aren’t we? “

“No Way”

Try Method 4 : Reward System
“You will earn the merit sticker that you can show off at school tomorrow”

[thinking] “No Way”

Try Method 5 : My Mothers System
“pUra bitari kANu dAvari natle kAn tirpitA”
(Keep everything back or else I will twist your ears)

{Scrambling to help clean up}

Mom had it right.