Thursday 26 January 2017

Ditch the Fork and let your Hands do the Talking!

A few weeks back I was having dinner with a few of my local, English and German colleagues at a very fancy five star restaurant in Suburban Mumbai. When the food came, most of us looked around for the cutlery, but the waiter informed us that it was the restaurant’s norm to eat with hands. The foreign colleagues, without missing a beat, dug in with their hands readily; whereas some of my local colleagues looked a bit embarrassed and guilty for our choice of the restaurant! This incident got my juices flowing as to why do Indians prefer to eat with their hands – is it tradition, culture, habit, circumstances, something else?

Before getting into some interesting insights on this – let us get one thing out of the way. If you believe that Indians eat with their hands because we used to be impoverished, or due to our lack of “culture”, or because we discovered spoons and forks only after the English colonization – this article is not for you; because (and I am not going to be apologetic about this) you are obviously completely unaware of the rich Indian heritage and tradition.

Firstly, eating with your hands has a number of health benefits, viz.

1. Balances life energies: All five life elements correspond to each finger on our hand (your thumb indicates fire, index finger correlates with air, middle finger indicates sky, ring finger stands for earth and little finger indicates water). An imbalance of any one of these elements can lead to various diseases. When we eat with our hands we usually join our fingers and thumb to eat, putting together all the five elements and energizing the food we eat so it helps us become healthy and keep all our pranas in balance. 

2. Improves digestion: Touch is one of the most strong and often used sensations in the body. When we touch our food with our hands, the brain signals our stomach that we are about to eat. This in turn, readies the stomach to digest the food it will receive, aiding in better digestion.

3.Promotes mindful eating: Eating with your hands requires you to pay attention to what you are eating. You often need to look at the food and focus on what you are putting into your mouth. Also known as mindful eating, this practice is much healthier than eating with a fork and spoon that can be done mechanically. Mindful eating has a large number of benefits for your health and one of the most important benefits is the fact that it  improves the assimilation of nutrients from the food you eat, enhances digestion and makes you healthier.

Secondly, let us look at this from another angle. I would like to request you to look at their hand- it is a mechanical device that can act like a lever, a pulley, a crowbar and what not. It can pick, put and pull. Let us compare each piece of cutlery we use to our hand and see which one wins this-

>Fork - a fork might have 4 teeth, but hands have four fingers and a thumb. Moreover a fork can apply pressure only towards one side. However, our hand can concentrate the pressure towards a central point, giving us a better grip.

>Spoon - which is definitely a more used piece of cutlery, can definitely be matched with our hand for some dishes. All of our fingers joined together can form a close prototype of the spoon. (Though I would never advise anyone to drink soup with their hand)

>Knife - Now this is an equipment that is indispensable for dishes like steak, etc. However, India being the land where cows aren't even bullied by politicians, I think we can remove that from this discussion.

So Indians who eat with their hands get a multidimensional experience of their food which involves more of their brain than those who eat with utensils! Talk about flavor sensation!

We Indians get:

The sight of food

The smell of food, and

The texture/temperature of food with our bare hands.

Like a palette of flavors and textures, we touch our food, we mix our food with various combinations, we mash our food with our hands….some us make little balls and other shapes with our hands….oh what fun! We feel and mix liquids with solids and things in between. Curds with lentils and rice, or chutney? Every time our brain is analyzing the food and textures and combinations and permutations of your favourite thali. Our hand is creating multidimensional tactile images of this food in our mind, anticipating the deliciousness (hopefully) to come.

And then we devour the flavour and texture with our lips, teeth and tongue.

But do remember, that the choice of cutlery depends on the type of food. One can't drink soup without a spoon and one can't eat noodles without a fork/chopsticks and one just can't devour on a chicken leg piece without one's hand.

And last but not the least, look at the below images and visualize them eating with a fork and knife – panipuri, vada pav, alphonso mangoes:

Not only is it absurd, but who has the patience to cut and fork one morsel at a time of these scrumptious foods!! So next time you are faced with a dilemma of Hands vs. Fork, you know what you need to do!!!
Just want to conclude by saying, be proud of who you are and the heritage you represent – do not mean to stay regressive, but progression does not necessarily translate to disregarding your roots and culture. Happy eating all!!

-Gauri Patwardhan
 For So-Saree

P.S. We do not own images used in this post.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Maharashtrian Food Festival at The Earth Plate, Hotel Sahara Star

Two things that can instantly lift my mood are saree shopping and good food.
And so when I received an invitation to attend and experience the ongoing Maharashtrian Food Festival at Sahara Star Hotel in Mumbai, I couldn't have turned it down for anything in this world.

The Marathi Manus in me got super excited , because having seen and tasted it all as far as Maharashtrian cuisine is concerned, I could not wait to taste the Maharashtrian fare that Earth Plate had arranged.

Sahara Star has to be one of my most favourite hotels in Mumbai and no matter how many times I go here, I can't stop appreciating its taste in interiors and decor. It's utterly gorgeous and very classy.

Coming back to The Earth Plate..the decor and theme for this event was obviously inspired by Maharashtra and hence most chefs on the live food counters and waiters were dressed in traditional Maharashtrian costumes. The women in nauvari and nath while the men were flaunting their Pagdis and Phetas.

We were then introduced to each counter and section with a tour of the buffet.
The moment I saw the plethora of marathi style chutneys and pickles, I had started salivating hard.

Considering the sensitivity of vegetarian customers, the organisers at The Earth Plate had made sure that they had separated the vegetarian and non vegetarian section, and for their foreigner guests, they made sure they had a continental food spread on display too.

We began with the starters.

Fried bombil and prawns for me, while my vegetarian partner ordered, onion, potato and pepper bhajiyas and bakarwadi. We also had a variety of papads for company along with a Virgin Mojito and Blue Alaskan Ice mocktails.

We then graduated to main course.
The bread counter was very interesting. The had amboli, chapati, bhakri and Malvani vade.
The chefs dressed in nauvari were taking orders and making them live in front of us.

I headed straight to the non vegetarian section...

and filled my plate with paplet chi aamti, chicken tambda rassa and mutton sukka, along with prawns pulao.

And my vegetarian partner filled his plate with kaju paneer chi bhaaji, kala watanycha sambar, laal mathachi bhaji and tomato saar.

The breads were soft, tasty and very authentic. The fried fish were the best. Whether you like fish or not, you cannot miss their fried bombil for anything. While I loved the prawns pulao and mutton sukka, I was a little disappointed with the Kohapuri specialty tambda rassa. And that is because I have sampled it in Kolhapur earlier at a very famous eatery.
As far as the vegetarian fare was concerned, the kaju paneer chi bhaji was a clear winner, and the kalya watanyacha sambar came a close second. The lal mathachi bhaji was good too.

They also had appetizing aam panna, sol kadhi and buttermilk shots and I had too much fun gulping them down. The mocktails were refreshing and kept us going.

Then it was time for desserts, and the dessert spread was one fit for royals.
From the traditional Maharastrian desserts they had puran poli, modak, malpua, gajar halwa and balushahi apart from malai sandwich, sondesh, gulab jamun, mousses, pastries and cakes.
I loved the puran poli and the modak was delicious too. They also had an ice cream counter, but our overstuffed tummies made us skip them.

All in all, I loved this Maharashtrian food festival and recommend you try it if you are in the city.
The festival is going on from the 12-29th January and costs Rs. 2500 per head including taxes.

We promise, this festival will make you fall in love with Maharashtrian food like never before and will keep you craving for more.

Monday 23 January 2017

So-Saree Readers Speak_Priya

I am finally posting in this series after ages. But it's always a pleasure to connect with readers and put them in the spotlight.
So today's reader is a homemaker and gorgeous mother of two beautiful kids. Over to you Priya.

A saree is a traditional attire that has been beautifying women since ancient times. Your blogs are really interesting and you precisely describe what Indian women wear and I really love the Indian traditional part. You have perfectly described it and I love to read your BLOG..keep writing.

The look I am sharing today is an answer to those who think ladies draped in saree lack swag? So girls and ladies wear sarees in different styles and ace the traditional look with a modern flair. Hope you guys liked it.

Thank You look absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Craftsvilla: Your One Stop Destination for All Things Ethnic

Hey everyone...hope you guys are having a fantastic start to the year.

If you follow So-Saree, you would already know about our love for all things ethnic. And if there's one name/brand that ups the ethnic quotient in the e-commerce world, it has to be Craftsvilla.

We at So-Saree have a special place in our heart for Craftsvilla.
Not only because we share the same love for all things Indian and ethnic, but also because Craftsvilla was the first brand we ever collaborated with back in 2013.

The sarees and ethnic wear at Craftsvilla represent the diverse and colourful culture of our beautiful country. Whether it is the Kanjeevaram from the South, Bandhani from the West, Benarasi  from the North or Jamdani from the East, they have it all. Since its inception Craftsvilla has been instrumental in connecting local artisans and designers with global customers.  This has helped in increasing the livelihood of the local artisans as the chain of middlemen has been removed in this process.

Craftsvilla is now considered as the Mecca for all ethnic lovers. Whether you are looking for sarees, salwar kameez, lehengas, ladies tops, accessories or home d├ęcor, they house the best yet at the most reasonable rates.
So without much ado, I am going to take you through So-Saree's favourite picks from Craftsvilla.
Kanjeevaram Saree

Jaipuri Bedsheet
So, guys which one of our picks do you like? Let us know in the comments below.


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