Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Coolers in Egypt

The last few recipes posted below were published by me in an article in the Oasis magazine in Egypt.

Here is what it looked like in print.



Appeared in Summer 2008 Issue.

Summer Coolers

Karishma Pais (Kim)

Now that the temperatures are regularly crossing 40C, maybe most of you like me are more interested in consuming cooling liquids and eating light salads.

While the aerated beverages are easy and seem convenient, they are most definitely not the best thing for your family’s health. There are the easy options available like the fresh orange juice sold at Metro (clean & healthy) and the many bottled fruit juices from Isis. I find the Isis juices a little strong and like to dilute them a bit with water.

Options with a little work involved are milkshakes with Nesquick or Vitrac’s flavored syrups. The almond one is especially yum.

But if you don’t mind putting in a little effort, then there is a vast mouth watering and thirst quenching range of drinks that you can prepare by yourself at home, with ingredients easily available in Egypt. The advantage is that you know that you have prepared them from healthy ingredients without any additives, artificial colors or preservatives. You can easily substitute the sugar in any of these recipes with Stevia or Splenda. Please note that the quantities mentioned are indicative. You can adjust them to your own taste.

Fresh Lime Juice/Lemonade

Squeeze the juice of 5-8 lemons (depending on size) into a pitcher. Discard the seeds. Add sugar and salt to taste. Fill with water. This can be kept chilling in the fridge and consumed over a 24 hour period.

Fresh Orange Juice

Squeeze 2 oranges and strain the juice. Add sugar to taste. Cool in the refrigerator before serving. If you want to drink it really fresh – store the oranges in the refrigerator before squeezing.

Almond Sherbet

Blanch half a kilo of almonds and skin them. Make a thin puree of the nuts in a blender/liquidizer adding a little water if necessary. (You can do this in multiple lots depending on the capacity of your blender)

Make a syrup with quarter kilo sugar (1.25 cups) and one liter water, cooking till it reaches single thread consistency.

Pour the almond puree into the syrup and cook till thickened, taking care to keep stirring.

The syrup should be thick but of pouring consistency.

You can add a teaspoon of rose water at this stage if you like.

Cool and fill into bottles.

It can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Serve diluted with water or milk and crushed ice.

Tamarind Juice

Very refreshing in the summers.

Clean 1/4 kg of tamarind, cover it with water (about 1.5 liters) and boil for 5 minutes. Then let it soak in that water for at least 6 hours.

Strain the liquid of any solid pieces. Add 2 cups of sugar.

Bottle & refrigerate.

Dilute with chilled water when you want to drink it.

Home made Karkadih

Rinse ¼ kg dried karkadih. Add one liter water and boil for 5 minutes.

Let it soak in that water for at least 1 hour.

Strain and sweeten with 1 cup sugar.

Bottle and refrigerate.

Dilute with chilled water when you want to drink it.

Lassi

This is a staple in most Indian households during the hot summer months. It cools down the body completely and can be had in sweet or salty versions. There are so many flavors that you can add to the basic lassi. Below are a few versions to get you started.

Whisk together 450ml yoghurt (plain) with 300ml cold water. The consistency should be that of full cream milk. This is your basic lassi.

Flavor with a pinch of ginger or 1 sliced green chilli or cumin powder or a teaspoon of shredded mint or a teaspoon of chopped cilantro. Stir well. You can add salt to taste.

For a sweet version, add sugar to taste (about 1 teaspoon) to the yoghurt and water blend. You can flavor it with a dash of rose essence or orange blossom water.

For a really fancy lassi, garnish the sweet version with a tablespoon of crushed almonds or pistachios.

For a healthy lassi, whisk the mixture with 2 tablespoons of pureed fruit.

Amar al Din- Apricot juice

Get those pressed Apricot sheets from the grocery store (they are normally sold in yellow cellophane paper and are widely available during Ramadan, but even now you can find them)

Cut the Apricot sheets into thin strips and cover with cold water. Soak them until the strips dissolve.

Strain away the solid pieces and sweeten the juice to taste.

Bottle and refrigerate.

Dilute with chilled water when you want to drink it.

Watermelon Cocktail

Cut watermelon into small cubes and deseed.

Sprinkle some lemon juice and sugar on top.

Add a few shredded mint leaves.

Cover and chill.

Serve in cocktail glasses as is or after pureeing the mix.

Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Fresh Juices

There are a wide variety of fruits available in the market. You can prepare fresh juices by pureeing the flesh of these fruits, adding sugar to taste and diluting with water or milk.

Remember : Citrus fruits don’t go very well with milk.

Try out some combinations on your own and maybe next year, you could be writing your recipes for the Oasis J

Kim has a background in HR and freelances as an Intercultural Trainer, Writer and HR Consultant. Currently she is a trailing wife in Egypt and uses her training, counseling and empathy skills to help other expats adjust to the move. She blogs about Egypt at http://whazzupegypt.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fresh Juices

There are a wide variety of fruits available in the market at any given time.


You can prepare fresh juices by pureeing the flesh of these fruits, adding sugar to taste and diluting with water or milk.



Remember :
Citrus fruits don’t go very well with milk.
Apples taste better with milk.
Watermelon goes with water and milk.
Bananas go better with milk.
Dry fruits go great with milk. Garnish with sliced nuts for a fancy drink

Recipe : Watermelon Cocktail

Cut watermelon into small cubes and deseed.
Sprinkle some lemon juice and sugar on top.
Add a few shredded mint leaves.
Cover and chill.
Serve in cocktail glasses as is or after pureeing the mix.
Garnish with a sprig of mint.
It can even be blended with crushed ice for Watermelon Granitas.

Hit the drink or cocktail pieces with a dash of Vodka for a fancy appetiser/cocktail

Recipe : Amar al Din- Apricot juice

Get pressed Apricot sheets from the grocery store (they are normally sold in yellow cellophane paper in Egypt and are widely available during Ramadan, but you can find them in small quantities throughout the year) Texture and look is very similar to the Indian Aamsaat - but this isn't as sour.

The same recipe can be used for making juice from Aamsaat too.
Cut the Apricot sheets into thin strips and cover with cold water. Soak them until the strips dissolve.
Strain away the solid pieces and sweeten the juice to taste.
Bottle and refrigerate.
Dilute with chilled water when you want to drink it.

Recipe : Lassi - Indian Yoghurt Drink

This is a staple in most Indian households during the hot summer months. It cools down the body completely and can be had in sweet or salty versions. There are so many flavors that you can add to the basic lassi. Below are a few versions to get you started.
Whisk together 450ml yoghurt (plain) with 300ml cold water. The consistency should be that of full cream milk. This is your basic lassi. Very similar in fact to the Turkish - Ayran - but in my opinion, the lassi is more flavourful.
Flavor with a pinch of ginger or 1 sliced green chilli or cumin powder or a teaspoon of shredded mint or a teaspoon of chopped cilantro. Stir well. You can add salt to taste.
For a sweet version, add sugar to taste (about 1 teaspoon) to the yoghurt and water blend. You can flavor it with a dash of rose essence or orange blossom water.
For a really fancy lassi, garnish the sweet version with a tablespoon of crushed almonds or pistachios.
For a healthy and sweet lassi, whisk the mixture with 2 tablespoons of pureed fruit.
The best lassis are served in the Sindh/Punjab area of India. The version of lassi that you will be served here will also be very high on malai (the cream that forms on the top when boiling milk) When I request the malai to be removed from my lassi in the Punjab area my glass turns half empty! Thats how much cream is added to the drink!
More interesting stories about lassi: When Washing machines were first introduced in the Punjab region they weren't selling too well, as the tough Punjabi women did not think that a machine could give the clothes the beating and scrubbing required to turn them clean.
An enterprising salesman then sold the top loading machines as lassi churners and showed the women how to use the spin cycle to churn up some really frothy lassis!

Recipe : Karkadih - Hibiscus Drink

This is an Egyptian Specialty. The dried Hibiscus flowers are easily available in the markets of Egypt.

This drink is drunk hot in the winter (as a herbal tea) and cold in the summer as a juice.

It has been medically proven to
be high in Vitamin C (good for building immunity)
soothes colds & coughs
calms the nerves
detoxifies the system
lowers blood pressure

Rinse 1/4kg dried karkadih.
Add one liter water and boil for 5 minutes.
Let it soak in that water for at least 1 hour.
Strain and sweeten with 1 cup sugar.
Bottle and refrigerate.

A few sticks of cinnamon can also be used when boiling the karkadih.

Dilute with chilled water when you want to drink it cold.
Dilute with boiling water when you want to drink it hot.

The taste is similar to kokum juice or birinda juice (consumed in the konkan regions of India)

Recipe : Tamarind Juice

Very refreshing in the summers.

Clean 1/4 kg of tamarind, cover it with water (about 1.5 liters) and boil for 5 minutes. Then let it soak in that water for at least 6 hours.

Strain the liquid of any solid pieces. Add 2 cups of sugar.

Bottle & refrigerate.
Dilute with chilled water when you want to drink it.

Recipe : Almond Sherbet

Blanch half a kilo of almonds and skin them. Make a thin puree of the nuts in a blender/liquidizer adding a little water if necessary. (You can do this in multiple lots depending on the capacity of your blender)

Make a syrup with quarter kilo sugar (1.25 cups) and one liter water, cooking till it reaches single thread consistency.

Pour the almond puree into the syrup and cook till thickened, taking care to keep stirring.

The syrup should be thick but of pouring consistency.

You can add a teaspoon of rose water at this stage if you like.

Cool and fill into bottles.
It can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Serve diluted with water or milk and crushed ice.

Recipe : Fresh Orange Juice

Squeeze 2 oranges and strain the juice. Add sugar to taste. Cool in the refrigerator before serving. If you want to drink it really fresh – store the oranges in the refrigerator before squeezing.

Recipe : Fresh Lime Juice/Lemonade

Squeeze the juice of 5-8 lemons (depending on size) into a pitcher. Discard the seeds. Add sugar and salt to taste. Fill with water. This can be kept chilling in the fridge and consumed over a 24 hour period.

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