Nandini Sen, Content Writer
It’s time to celebrate regional comfort foods that haven’t lost their shine despite the unceasing expansion of the food scene. Here are six unmatchable homely delights that’ll charm both your palate and your heart.
What qualifies as delightful varies greatly from individual to individual. Some like to escape into the wondrous world of cinema, while others find their bliss in shopping. In truth, no matter how sombre our nature and how dreary our lives, delight-seekers we all are in one way or another. By robbing us of our smallest delights – getting together with friends or sauntering in malls – the scourge of coronavirus only made us crave our personal joys with an unforeseen fervour and ferocity. Luckily for us, the pandemic couldn’t take away everything that prompted a smile.
One of the things that continued bringing us unbridled joy through all those gloom and doom days was comfort food. And foodie or no foodie, you’ll have to agree there’s nothing quite like tucking into a bowl of comfort grub, brimming with goodness and bubbling with happiness. While some classic comfort foods – Maggi noodles, fries, and chocolate – aren’t all that healthy, the good news is: comfort food can be very comforting and very healthy. Here are six regional comfort foods from across Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh that both your taste buds and soul are going to love:
Rajma Chawal – Culinary Icon
This classic dish occupies a special place in the food heritage of both the Jammu and Kashmir regions. Consisting of red kidney bean curry and fluffy steamed rice, it is simple, unpretentious, and has a high satiety level. No wonder it evokes childhood memories for so many. And no wonder it’s what so many like to cook and wolf down on bad days. Though Rajma chawal is characterized by minor local variations – no one recipe has been appropriated and formalized – it is a perennial favourite across regions.
(Above): Few can resist the temptation of home-made rajma chawal Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Health Benefits: Kidney beans help stabilize blood glucose levels, are an excellent source of protein and soluble fibre. Rice and rajma, in combination, make up a complete protein.
Makki ki Roti Sarson ka Saag – Meal of the Earth
Bursting with the rustic, unpolished flavours of the North-Indian home & hearth, Makki ki Roti Sarson ka Saag can still give noodles and burgers a run for their money. Consisting of unleavened maize flour bread and mustard greens, the dish has an enduring homely charm that remains intact across the hinterlands of nearly all Jammu districts. In areas like Poonch and Rajouri, makki roti is traditionally enjoyed all through the year, albeit in combination with kohlrabi greens and chutney.
(Above): Sarson ka Saag Makki ki Roti is quintessential North-Indian village food. Photo courtesy of Archana’s kitchen.com
Health Benefits: Packed with dietary fibre, vitamin B6, iron, vitamin C, manganese, and calcium, Sarson saag detoxifies the body and boosts immunity. Makki roti reduces cholesterol and regulates blood sugar.
Ambal – Taste of Heritage
This wildly popular dish made of pumpkin, jaggery, and tamarind is a staple of every Dogri home. While it’s also a wedding specialty, its no-frills no-fuss method of preparation has made it equally a part of home-made Dogra fare, the sort that is rustled up on busy afternoons or weeknights. Piquantly flavourful, ambal is commonly relished with steamed rice. Rare indeed is the Dogra man or woman for whom this much-loved meal doesn’t conjure up memories of mum’s love.
(Above): For Dogras the world over, Ambal is the definition of culinary comfort. Photo courtesy of Fast Curries.com
Health Benefits: Pumpkin, the primary ingredient of Ambal, is a low-calorie vegetable packed with immunity-fortifying nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin E, and antioxidants.
Biryani – Anytime Contentment
Freed of its regional renditions and technicalities (Lucknowi or Hyderabadi, kacchi or pakki, accompanied by raita or chutney), Biryani becomes the regular rice and meat dish cooked at home or at the local restaurant – the ultimate comfort food for carnivores. With no distinct Biryani recipe that is sworn by, Biryani in the region is often more Pulao-like. So even as connoisseurs might frown, the regular foodie is happy to polish it off, knowing full well it’s the closest she/he will ever get to total gratification.
(Above): Fragrant & flavoursome, Biryani enjoys cult status among non-vegetarians. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
(Surprise!) Health Benefits: Chicken and mutton Biryani are both rich in protein. Additionally, the spices that go into it – ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, garlic – have anti-inflammatory properties that detoxify and improve digestion.
Thukpa – Bowl of Comfort
If food is supposed to taste good, be nourishing, and fill one’s tummy, Thukpa – one pot noodle soup with veggies and sometimes meat – does them all with consummate ease. Guaranteed to increase your happiness quotient, this Tibetan-origin dish figures prominently in the food landscape of Ladakh. But given its zesty warmth and high satiety value, it’s become widely popular as the “comfort broth” to reach out to whenever there’s a nip in the air.
(Above): There’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of thukpa on a wet winter evening. Photo courtesy of Times of India
Health Benefits: Thukpa is brimming with nutritive ingredients. Ginger and black pepper boost immunity, while veggies like carrots, cabbage, mushroom, and spring onions provide fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Kashmiri Dum Aloo Rice – Deliciously Yours
Rice and deep-fried potatoes cooked in a slightly sour, spiced gravy may not sound like everyone’s dream food, but for those who intimately know Kashmiri dum aloo’s refined epicurean appeal, it is one dish that never fails to uplift spirits and satisfy palates. Though disarmingly simple in terms of preparation, dum aloo can be beguilingly complex, offering an explosion of flavours. Indeed, for thousands across J&K’s motley culinary tapestry, Kashmiri dum aloo is reminiscent of home and homeliness.
(Above): Dum aloo is a surprising amalgamation of gastronomic simplicity and sophistication. Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Health Benefits: Potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrition. They provide fiber, carbohydrates, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Condiments like fennel seed powder and ginger powder improve digestive health and prevent inflammation and infection.
In 2021, eating and eating habits are no longer what they used to be. The steady infiltration and acceptance of “foreign” foods in our daily diet – pizza, burgers, chow mein, pastries, processed cheese and meat, & plenty more – indicates that taste, not health, takes priority for most of us in matters of food. The fact that the local foods mentioned above remain an ever-reliable source of comfort and contentment – despite the refrigerator teeming with other choices – is a testament to their enduring goodness. Not to mention, astonishing ability to remind us of who we are and where we belong.
Nandini Sen, Content Writer
Raj Kundra paid police Rs 25 lakh to evade arrest, allege emails received by Maharashtra ACB
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Maharashtra on Thursday informed that they have received four emails alleging that businessman and actress Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra, who has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a case relating to the production of pornography, bribed Mumbai Police officials with Rs 25 lakh to evade arrest.
According to an ACB official, the emails were sent by a Yash Thakur, another person accused in the pornography case. A similar amount was allegedly demanded from him as well.
His allegations, however, were vague in nature and forwarded to the Mumbai Police for further action.
“ACB Maharashtra has confirmed that they received four emails from Yash Thakur in this regard, but his allegations of seeking a bribe from him and allegations against Raj Kundra bribing to evade arrest were quite vague in nature. The mails were forwarded to the Mumbai police for further action on April 30, 2021,” the ACB official confirmed.
Kundra, along with 11 others, was arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Monday night for his alleged involvement in creating pornographic films and publishing them through some mobile applications.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Milind Bharambe, he had a tie-up with a London-based company that was involved in streaming pornographic content through a mobile app called ‘Hotshots’.
New actors were allegedly promised roles in web series and asked to do bold and nude scenes in auditions. A case was registered after female actors opposed this and approached the Crime Branch.
While addressing a press conference, Bharambe said that the police has not yet been able to any find any active role of Shilpa Shetty.
“During a detailed investigation, Raj Kundra’s company located in Viaan had a tie-up with a London-based company Kenrin that owns mobile application Hotshots. All nude content created in Mumbai was published on Hotshots, which was operated from Mumbai. After complaints, this app was takedown by Google Play Store and iPhone,” Bharambe said.
After court permission, Kundra’s offices were searched a few clips were found as well. He was arrested along with his head of IT.
Feeling Low? Watch these Classic Feel-Good Movies to Buoy Your Spirits!
A “feel-good” movie isn’t a panacea for all our pandemic and lockdown-triggered ills. And yet, in these crushing times, a simple distraction like this can lend cheer and hope, urging us to find meaning in existence.
India may be hobbling out of a debilitating second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, but not before leaving us all in a collective state of catatonic despair. Notwithstanding the quasi-optimistic headlines regarding the “decline” in numbers, this is hardly a great time to be in. Real good news from any quarters continues to elude and cheerfulness is beginning to acquire a layer of rose-tinted nostalgia, like it were some faraway thing we no longer clearly recognize.
All the same, cheer up we must. And that’s precisely what the below-mentioned films, transcending language, periods, genres, and themes, intend to generate. Watch these six classic films –arranged in order of their feel-good quotient– if you are feeling low, depressed, and dispirited. Go right ahead and lose yourself in their exuberant fluff and froth, even if only fleetingly:
1. Amélie (2001)
Imbued with the sweetness and airiness of a soufflé, this French romantic-comedy film is rooted in the idea that life can be about giving happiness to other people. Never loved much by her widower father, Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is a single, painfully shy 23-year-old waitress who only has her fecund imagination to keep her company. One day, startled by the news of Princess Diana’s death, she accidentally drops a perfume-stopper, dislodging a wall tile which leads her to find a rusty metal box filled with childhood memorabilia. In tracking down the man – who was once the little boy who hid that box – and returning his treasures, Amélie finds her life’s purpose – she will do things to make others happy. And so goes our eponymous heroine, devising happiness stratagems for others and discreetly carrying them out – a blind man, a co-worker, and the concierge of her block of flats are all unsuspecting recipients. Soon after, she falls hopelessly in love with a young man Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), complicating matters for she now must look to make herself happy.
Made by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a former animator, Amélie becomes doubly delightful to watch on account of its visual and aural artistry. Panoramic shots, a sanitized, pretty-as-a-picture Paris, elegantly-dressed Parisians, quirky accordion music, and what have you. This is cinematic whimsy at its best.
2. Shree 420(1955)
Bursting with the unbridled optimism of newly independent India, Shree 420 is an urban fable that revolves around an honest, small-town boy Raj (Raj Kapoor) who moves to Bombay to earn a livelihood. Despite his trials and travailsin the city, Raj finds love and acceptance in a working-class neighbourhood in which having one’s own home is the loftiest dream the poor have.Soon, Raj’sdreams of becoming rich are fulfilled after a chance encounter with the sultry socialite Maya (Nadira), followed by another with unscrupulous businessman Seth Sonachand (Nemo) who sets him up as a con man specializing in all kinds of fraudulent schemes. The rest, though not entirely unpredictable, focusses on Raj’s predicament and those of the people who love him most.
Notwithstanding its startling similarities with our time – aspirational young men, unaffordable housing, real estate Ponzi schemes, and the supposed elite’s obsession with Mammon – Shree 420 is set in a disarmingly simple world that is sustained by the virtues of people like Vidya (Nargis Dutt) and Ganga Mai (Lalita Pawar). Interspersed with some of Hindi cinema’s most celebrated songs (Mera Joota Hai Japani, Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua, Ramaiya Vastavaiya, Ichak Dana Beechak Dana), this is anenthrallingly light-hearted film that will hold you in rapt attention all through its length.
3. The Terminal (2004)
Inspired by the true story of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri who spent 18 years at Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle Airport, this Steven Spielberg movie is a gentle, Kafkaesque comedy, profoundly human and brilliantly sweet. When Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, he is confronted with news of a civil war outbreak in his native land of Krakozhia. As a result, his passport is promptly declared invalid for the United States no longer recognizes Krakozhia – a fictional East European country – rendering him stateless.Neither permitted to enter the U.S. nor return home, Navorski remains stranded at the airport for months, befriending a variety of characters including a beautiful but sad flight attendant Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a surly janitor, and a friendly food services employee among others. But even as his curiously good, guileless ways win over all but Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), the uncharitable Homeland Security official, he must get out of the airport in order to fulfil the vow that brought him to the United States.
Despite the gravity of the situation, The Terminal is focused on the lightness of it, artfully showcasing the peculiar apathy that runs through bureaucratic red tape. Ultimately it is Navorski’s tear-inducing goodness that inspires the humanity of those around him. A sliver of it is sure to rub off on you, the viewer as well.
4. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994)
This breezy, coming-of-age comedy drama does not have a plot. It offers instead a river of a story marked by a gentle ebb and flow of emotions. Sunil (Shahrukh Khan at his unassuming best) is a happy-go-lucky aspiring musician in love with Anna (Suchitra Krishnamoorthi)who in turn is enamoured of Chris (Deepak Tijori). As we watch our bumbling hero pull all sorts of unheroic tricks – constantly lying, slandering Anna before Chris, failing his exam yet again and forging a marksheet to show his parents –we can’t help feeling what Father Braganza (Naseeruddin Shah) said of him at the beginning: that he essentially has a pure heart.The bittersweet ending only reinforces that feeling.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is a film conspicuously devoid of villains. Moreover, the “hero” isn’t the Bollywood-esque weeping lover boy, swashbuckling cop, or combative warrior prince, but an average Joe who despite his follies and foibles is fundamentally good at heart. In a sweetly persuasive way, the movie reminds us that the reason we’re here may not be that one extraordinary thing that benefits the world, but countless ordinary things that help those we love.
5. Babe (1995)
This dazzlingly innocent family drama is ostensibly centered on Babe the orphaned baby pig, but on closer observation is about anyone whose talents have been underestimated. Precociously aware of the cruel destiny that awaits his species in the human world, little Babe is the lone pig on the farm of farmer Hoggett who “wins” him at a contest in a county fair. Like Orwell’s Animal Farm, this one too is peopled by many creatures, good and not so good.
There’s Rex the haughty Border Collie, Ferdinand the duck who wants to make himself useful so he isn’t slaughtered, and Duchess the mean pet cat. Mothered by Fly, a female Border Collieand encouraged by Maa, an elderly ewe, Babe realizes he has innate herding abilities. After a string of misunderstandings that nearly cost Babe his life, farmer Hoggett recognizes his gift, signing him up for a local sheep herding competition. But this won’t be easy considering he must contend with pedigree herding dogs and defiant flocks of sheep.
Although a delightfully fun film for children, Babeis at its core a deeply thought-provoking tale that celebrates the underdog for what he is. There is no preachiness but the many subtle messages are loud and clear. Indeed, this isn’t just a film but a treat that all must indulge in.
6. Children of Heaven (1997)
This staggeringly beautiful Iranian family drama glows with a kind of wide-eyed purity one would associate only with children. The movie begins with eight-year-old Ali who accidentally loses baby sister Zahra’s only pair of shoes. Knowing his family’s financial troubles, Ali can’t tell his parents, prompting the two to secretly devise an arrangement: Zahra will wear Ali’s sneakers to school every morning and return them to Ali at midday for his afternoon classes.Unfortunately, this doesn’t work out well. Ali’s shoes are already tattered and Zahra can’t run back home fast enough, so Ali – otherwise a good student – is admonished at school for being frequently late.Later, Ali learns of an inter-school footrace in which the third prize is a pair of sneakers – just what Zahra needs. His participation in the race and its outcome offer moments of great suspense and anxiety that are, however, quickly overwhelmed by pathos.
Directed by Majid Majidi, Children of Heavenisn’t a boisterously entertaining film. Its magnificence lies in the way it presents the haunting beauty and sadness found in everyday scenes of life –the contrast between the serpentine alleys of the old city and sweeping vistas of neatly lined luxury homes, the crestfallen look in a child’s eyes, goldfish in a tank of aquamarine water. Infusing the viewer with a deep sense of gratitude, this is a film that exemplifies the glorious power of cinema.
Other honourable mentions– Hollywood and Hindi – include Baby’s Day Out (1994), Soul Food (1997), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Bawarchi (1972), The Lunchbox (2013), Mr. India (1987), and Eeshwar (1989). Additional feel-fabulous films in foreign languages include Yomeddine (Arabic; 2019) and Life is Beautiful (Italian; 1997).
While a brief distraction – a movie, a book, or cooking an elaborate meal – spanning a few hours can’t take away our problems or magically banish the distress that has enwrapped our mental states, it can infuse a measure of happiness, elicit a smile, bring a ray of hope, and most of all, drive home the fact that life, with all its agonies, must go on.
Nandini Sen, Content Writer
Here’s how to read deleted WhatsApp messages
Sometimes we often delete messages that are really important for us and that is because of several reasons, one because of typos or because you sent a message to the wrong person. The Facebook-owned messaging app has not yet revealed any such features that could help you in getting back the deleted messages. However, there is a hack that works only for Android and not for iOS.
There are few apps that can make things easier than before but that comes with certain disadvantages. For instance, with Notisave, you have to bear with the advertisements and that paid version comes for Rs 65 per month which will help you retrieve important deleted messages. Apart from that, apps like Notisave can only recover simple text messages, and any media file including GIFs, images, and videos cannot be retrieved.
WhatsApp comes with a window period of seven minutes which is given to users for further use of the “Delete for Everyone” feature on chats. It basically means if a user does not delete a message within seven minutes, then he/she can delete it and that applies to both group chats and one-to-one chats.
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