Bengalees traditionally eat parboiled rice. In
parboiling, unmilled rice (still in its rough outer husk) is boiled or
steam-heated for a short time. This drives the B vitamins (thiamin,
riboflavin, and niacin) from the outer bran into the center of the
grain. Thus, parboiled white rice has more B vitamins than plain white
rice, which loses those vitamins when its bran is removed.
Eat Fish - Live Longer! Fish is a high
protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. In
addition, a large proportion of the fat in seafood is
polyunsaturated. The protein in fish is also easy to digest. The
omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and shellfish, can reduce the risk
of heart disease and ensures proper development of brain and eye
tissues. So when Ma told you "Maachh khele booddhi hobe" she wasn't
Bengalees also cook fish heads and Maacher tel (fish
liver oil and entrails) which are very rich in vitamins A&D and
minerals like iodine. Eating whole small fish also provides you with
calcium and phosphorus. For more on fish and nutrition, visit NY Seafood Council
Cooking Smart. Did you know that stir-frying is one of the best
methods for retaining nutrients while cooking vegetables, followed by
pressure-cooking and steaming. Boiling-and-draining is the worst as is deep-frying.
Lentils are packed with nutrients!
Lentils (Dal) are a low calorie, low fat and protein rich food as well as
being inexpensive. Lentils provide more folic acid than any
other food. Lentils are also an important source of iron.
Eating lentils with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green
peppers, broccoli etc. helps the body absorb iron more
efficiently. Soluble fiber found in lentils decreases blood glucose
and cholesterol and decreases insulin requirements for people with
Bitter Melon (Korola). As a nutrient
source, bitter melons are rich in iron. It is effective in treating
diabetes and is one of the best herbal medicines for liver problems.
It is also an excellent natural remedy for the common cold. Research
has also shown it may be beneficial for people with autoimmune
diseases and people with psoriasis.
For more on bitter melon,
Bitter Melon Page.
Goat meat! Goat-meat is the red meat of choice in Bengali cuisine. Not only is it naturally healthy, it has an excellent flavor. |
Here are the facts on goat meat - they speak for themself:
3 OZ COOKED CALORIES FAT SAT'D FAT PROTEIN IRON
(roasted) (gm) (gm) (gm) (gm) (gm)
Goat 122 2.58 0.79 23 3.2
Beef 245 16.00 6.80 23 2.9
Pork 310 24.00 8.70 21 2.7
Lamb 235 16.00 7.30 22 1.4
Chicken 120 3.50 1.10 21 1.5
Turmeric is considered excellent for
the skin. In terms of digestion, turmeric corrects the metabolism and
helps in digesting protein. Hence is used in cooking all high protein
foods like lentils, meats etc. Turmeric is an excellent antibiotic and
has strong antiseptic properties. It is often taken with hot milk to
help heal fevers and throat problems.
Go Mangoes! If you are looking for a superior
source of beta-carotene, you can forget the V-8. Mangoes are a
superior source of vitamin A-based beta carotene, important in cancer
prevention. You can also hold the O.J., because mangoes also have a
ton of vitamin C. Perhaps a mango shake instead of orange juice to
fight your next cold? If this isn't enough nutrition for you, mangoes
also provide several B vitamins along with the minerals calcium and
magnesium. No wonder they call it the king of fruits in Bengal!
Neem the wonder herb! Since ancient times,
neem has been associated with healing in the sub-continent of
India. Neem works wonders in treating digestive, respiratory and
urinary disorders, diabetes and skin diseases. Antiseptic, anti-fungal
properties of neem are now widely recognized and has been used to
clean the teeth and maintain dental hygiene for centuries. Neem has
been used traditionally in India to treat several viral diseases and
is now being advocated to treat Malaria and Chagas disease.
For more on neem, visit the Neem Foundation website.
Did you know that Postho (poppyseed, khus-khus) is extremely rich in calcium? One tablespoon of posto contains 127 mg of calcium!
Vegetables like kochu (taro) and spinach on the other hand,
contain high amounts of oxalate which binds up calcium in your diet
and prevents its absorption.
Garlic is good for you! Research has shown
that certain compounds in garlic (allyl-cysteine, and ajoene) can be
beneficial to our health. Garlic is an effective antibiotic, an
anti-viral and anti-fungal agent, and probably an immune system
enhancer. Some studies have found lower rates of certain types of
cancer in people who consume large amounts of garlic. Other studies
show garlic can reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol. The health benefits
have been found to be greatest if you let chopped/crushed stand for at
least 10 minutes before you cook or ingest it.
For more on garlic, visit The garlic pages.
THAT HEALTHY ONION. Onions are rich in
vitamin C and fiber and contain chemicals that help fight the disease
causing free radicals.
When you eat half a raw onion a day, your good type HDL
cholesterol goes up an average of 30 percent. Onions increase
circulation, lower blood pressure, and prevent blood clotting.
Ginger has been used heavily in preserves,
chutneys, vegetable and meat dishes. The yogi's of ancient India were
one of the earliest recorded users of ginger as a seasoning, claiming
it promoted mental clarity. In Ayerveda it is regarded havily for use
against colds, coughs, bronchitus, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea,
breaking of fevers, headaches, respiratory infections, and as a
stimulant. Its is now being used to treat arthitic and rheumatic pain.
For more on ginger, visit The healing powers of ginger page.
Green papaya is an enzyme-rich vegetable known for being a strong digestive aid and also promoting healthy skin. Papaya is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, B complex, amino acids, calcium and iron. It contains anti-oxidants which are known to prevent cancer.
(However, a word of caution, if you are pregnant or trying to be, it is not advisable to consume too much green papaya as it has been reported to cause abortions.)
Don't Throw Those Good Parts Away:
Green outer leaves of cauliflower are particularly nutritious
(containing calcium, iron, fibre and beta-carotene) and should not be
thrown away. Actually I've heard they are more nutritious than the
flower part. In Bengal all such parts like leaves and stalks and peels
are used in cooking as a good cheap source of nutrition. For example,
my grandmother makes a stir-fry with the cauliflower leaves and
stalks, she adds pea pod shells to her vegtable curry and makes koftas
with peels of bottle gourds (lau khosha). Potato skins are also better
left on. The skin provides fiber and protects against the loss of
nutrients (vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, iron and zinc) which
occurs when potatoes are peeled and boiled.
Nai Goon Begoon?
On the contrary eggplant has Bishesh Goon! Eggplant, also known
as brinjal and aubergine, originated in India from where it spread to the rest of the world.
With litte fat and carbohydrates and tons of dietary fiber, eggplants are a great food for
weight loss diets and also for diabetics. In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals,
eggplant also contains important phytonutrients that have anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol)
and antiviral properties. Infact when laboratory animals with high cholesterol were given eggplant
juice, their blood cholesterol and the cholesterol in their artery walls was significantly reduced,
while the walls of their blood vessels relaxed, improving blood flow!