“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.”
Mark Twain, from Following the Equator
It is impossible not to be astonished by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues. Every aspect of the country presents itself on a massive, exaggerated scale, worthy in comparison only to the superlative mountains that overshadow it. Perhaps the only thing more difficult than to be indifferent to India would be to describe or understand India completely. All of us, who wear cotton cloth, use the decimal system, enjoy the taste of a chicken, play chess or roll dice, and seek mind and tranquility through meditation, are indebted to India.
The world’s greatest democracy has a lot to offer! Impressive in its cultural wealth, diverse religions, a multilingual and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife. Indian architecture is one area that represents the diversity of Indian culture. Synonymous with India, the Taj Mahal – an ode to love – is a breathtaking piece of Mughal architecture. The temples of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are fine examples of South Indian architecture.
We have ‘God’s own country’ – Kerala, where nature seems to have been extremely partial while bestowing her blessings. Goa with its beautiful beaches and traditional churches has a special allure.
From Simla, Kulu Manali and Gulmarg in the North to the picturesque Ooty and Kodaikanal in the South; from Shillong, the Scotland of the East to the Queen of all hill stations Mahabaleshwar in the west, these cool retreats are perfect for nature lovers or for a romantic getaway.
Nothing can prepare the visitor for the sheer brilliance of the desert cities of Rajasthan. The beauty and majesty of the Jaisalmer fort in the middle of the desert, the shifting sand dunes, camels moving along the sand and the desert sunset is an unforgettable experience.
If one wishes to experience the myriad colors of India, the festive season is the time for a visit. Diwali- the festival of lights and Holi – the festival of colors, present the magic that is India.
Indian cuisine, with its unique blend of spices, is an experience in itself. The preparation changes from region to region giving the traveler a taste of the flavors of India.
Whether it is natural beauty, ancient architecture, colorful festivals or delectable cuisine, there is an appeal in its diversity and mysticism that brings people to India.
Some Useful Links about India:
Super Food – World’s Healthiest Meal.
The chicken and blueberry curry with goji berry pilau rice is full of natural healthy “superfoods” that can help fight cancer. The spicy chicken meal can help fight off carcinogenic cells while other traditional ingredients such as ginger, chilli, turmeric and garlic, are know for their antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Each serving contains the nutritional equivalent of 49 helpings of spinach, 23 bunches of grapes or nine portions of broccoli. Experts say it is up to 20 times more nutritious than any specially-formulated ‘healthy’ meal.
Mr Bains, a British nutritional therapist and Indian “superfood” pioneer, said eating a curry just once-a-week could ”deal a devastating blow” to the onset of cancers and other diseases like Alzheimer’s.
It has long been known that some foods including spices and fruits have exceptional health benefits. So combining these two genres of food stuffs seemed logical in any quest to find the world’s healthiest meal full of with antioxidants, antifungals, antivirals, analgesics, and antibacterials.
Each plateful contains 25,000 ‘ORAC’ units – the scientific measurement of antioxidants in foods. Foods higher on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale have been proven to counter the onset of cancer, Alzheimer’s, coronary heart disease and diabetes. Most “healthy” meals like salads have less than 5,000 ORAC units.
Almost a quarter of antioxidant-rich foods are spices – a single teaspoon of cinnamon is the equivalent of two portions of grapes or a glass of fresh pomegranate juice.
* The recipe for Chicken Curry with Blueberries and Goji Berry Pilau is (serves four):
To cook the curry:
1. Blend 20g of chopped coriander, 200g of fresh or frozen blueberries, two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, and 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt with 500g of low-fat Greek yoghurt, and set aside.
2. Place four cloves of chopped garlic into a saucepan with three tablespoons of olive oil and heat on a low-medium flame until the garlic starts to turn brown – this should take no longer than one or two minutes.
3. Add one teaspoon of turmeric, mix well and heat through for 20 seconds. Mix in two tablespoons of ground cinnamon and one teaspoon of chilli powder and cook for 20 seconds.
4. Add 500g of chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces, and seal, stirring frequently – this should take no more than five minutes.
5. Now slowly pour the yoghurt mixture, mixing into the chicken, and bring to a simmer on a low heat.
6. Simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring from time to time. Mix through one teaspoon of garam masala. Garnish with extra coriander.
To cook the pilau:
1. Place two teaspoons of cumin seeds and two tablespoons of olive oil into a saucepan and heat on a low-medium flame until the seeds begin to pop – this should take no more than three minutes.
2. Add one small sliced onion and cook until soft. Then add one teaspoon of turmeric powder, stir and heat for 20 seconds. Add one grated carrot. Cook for two minutes.
3. In the meantime, boil 1 3/4 cups of water.
4. Place the onion mixture, one cup of basmati rice, 1/2 tsp teaspoon salt and the boiling water into a large microwaveable bowl and mix with a fork.
5. Cook uncovered in the microwave for 4 minutes (700W), 3 1/2 minutes (800W) or 3 minutes (900W).
6. Mix and cook for 4 minutes (700W), 3 1/2 minutes (800W) or 3 minutes (900W)
7. Cover and continue to cook for 4 minutes (700W), 3 1/2 minutes (800W) or 3 minutes (900W).
8. Add 50g of goji berries and a handful of peas and let stand covered for 10 minutes.
9. Fluff the pilau with a fork, and serve.