India’s favourite ‘laal mirch ka achaar’

Whether its breakfast, lunch, or dinner, no Indian meal is ever complete without the hot and spicy pickle or ‘achaar’ as a side accompaniment. And when it is achaar, it better be a tasty blast. And what could be spicier than our beautiful, mighty red chilies? Whole red chilies stuffed with an array of spices and soaked in mustard oil is a treat in itself that goes well with anything and everything.

 

 Sharing with you this easy recipe of India’s favorite red chili pickle.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gms Red Chillies
  2. 6tbsp Mustard Oil
  3. 3 tsp Turmeric Powder
  4. 6 tsp Fennel Seeds (saunf)
  5. 3 tsp Dry Mango Powder (amchur)
  6. 6 tsp Red Mustard seeds(raai)
  7. 1/4 tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
  8. 4 tsp Salt

Procedure:

  1. Wash the chilies and pat them dry. Keep them in Sun for a day.
  2. Slit them lengthwise from one side to make an opening for stuffing.
  3. Using a dry grinder, coarsely grind red mustard seeds along with fennel seeds.
  4. Put this ground mix in a bowl and add salt, turmeric, dry mango powder, and asafetida to it.
  5. Add 3 tbsp mustard oil and mix properly to make consistent stuff mix.
  6. Stuff the chilies with this mixture and press firmly.
  7. Take a clean and dry, glass airtight container and put all the stuffed chilies into it. Pour the remaining oil over the chilies and close the lid tightly.
  8. Let the container soak under the Sun for a week, and your spicy, drool-delicious treat is ready.

World Famous Indian Masala Chai recipe

Masala chai


Let’s talk about India's most famous Masala Chai. Known for its great taste and high anti-inflammatory properties, Masala tea, which is also known as 'spiced tea’, has been there from generation to generation as a treasured tradition.

Masala tea has evolved into many variations with nearly every household. Savoured by millions in India, masala tea is sold across the country by chai wallahs and tea vendors, who pour the tea like a pro from big teakettles into small cups.

Masala Chai Recipe

Generally, in India, masala tea is prepared with black tea. Traditionally, it is made with multiple spices. With a plethora of spices like clove, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and peppercorns, Masala tea is your instant pick me up.

Though you can find multiple tea blends in the supermarkets, making your own cup of masala chai is easy and more satisfying. So here's the DIY step:

  • Take 2-3 pieces of each of the following: Green cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and fennel seeds.
  • You can either crush them coarsely or grind them together in a blender and keep it aside.
  • Pour milk in a heavy pan (with handle). While you stir the milk occasionally, put sugar, ground spice mixture, crushed or grated ginger, and black tea leaves
  • On low heat, let the tea boil for 3 minutes so as to infuse all the flavours.
  • Now serve the hot masala chai in a cup or "cutting chai" glass or kulhad and enjoy.

Winters & Tea: An Eternal Love Affair

Many people across the globe like to wake up to a freshly brewed hot cup of tea. This ritual becomes all the more vital on cold winter mornings when tea becomes a source of warmth and comfort to beat the chill, especially in India where the majority cannot imagine a winter morning without a cup of #MyChai.

So what makes this relationship between tea and winters eternal? There's something more than just the hot brew

 

Healthy & hearty mornings!

Tea is a great way to add to your healthy lifestyle. In winters, when your body is vulnerable to flu and cold, this wonderful brew provides the much-needed warmth

A drink full of warmth, love & energy

Snuggled in a blanket when it often becomes hard to step out of bed, your steaming cup of tea can prove to be an effective stimulant to charge you up for the day ahead. A morning brew gets you started whereas a late afternoon cup can give you a dash of energy and mental alertness to continue for a few more hours

Adding different flavors from your kitchen like some ginger or a few cardamoms can make a regular cup of tea really special. Traditionally, ginger has been used to support overall digestive health. Indeed, the aroma of tea helps in looking forward to the day

Spice it up and see the magic

Add a dash of spice to your cup of tea and it can be helpful to you. Try black tea with peppermint or lemongrass to experience one of its most flavorsome and effective forms.. Try Jaggery Tea and you will be surprised by its wonderful taste.

So, the winters are here and so is the tea. What are we waiting for?


Pour a rainbow from a teapot—

drink of happiness and love

warmth, calmness, and peace

breathe in the curling steam of dreams.

~Terri Guillemets

Hot brew

Indian Tea: A Chronicle from Past

In India, tea isn’t only a hot drink made with water and leaves; it is an integral part of the rhythm of life, a consistent and unifying presence in an incredibly diverse country. Whether served in a plastic cup, earthenware clay pot, or a silver-plated kettle, every cup of Indian tea is a result of a unique style of brewing and spicing the beverage.

Tea is called chai in Hindi, and draws its origin from the word ‘cha,’ meaning tea in Chinese. The story of tea in India is a long one. Folklore speaks of Prince Bodhidharma, who traveled from India to China in 475 AD to spread Buddhism. The prince committed not to sleep during his mission but was soon overcome by exhaustion. Furious at his weakness, he plucked a few leaves of a tea shrub and ate them. His mind suddenly cleared and focused; he resumed his meditation.

Tea began its modern saga in the early 18th century when the British Raj started to set up tea plantations in India, primarily for its export. An aggressive campaign by the India Tea Company promoted the provision of ‘tea breaks’ for workers in an attempt to increase domestic tea sales.

With the increase in overall tea sales came an increase in the addition of spices to the mix by chai-walas (tea vendors), who diluted the tea to keep costs down. Despite the disapproval of the Indian Tea Company, masala chai quickly became the preferred beverage.

5 Amazing Facts about Tea We Bet You Didn’t Know

As the chilly winters creep in, one would want nothing more than to curl up in a blanket sipping a hot cup of tea. During a hectic day at work or for some quiet contemplation, tea is the only comfort beverage you’ll ever need. Our beloved tea is much more than just a drink; read on to discover five amazing facts that only a true tea aficionado would know!

  • It’s no secret that early morning tea cravings are a reality. Ever wondered what’s the reason behind this? Well, tea contains caffeine which is responsible for an increased level of alertness making you crave a cup of tea to kickstart your day.
  • Believe us when we say that tea can be your best companion during those exhausting all-nighters. You know now that caffeine is responsible for the sudden energy kick but there’s more. Tea is enriched with antioxidants which apart from being healthy also help prevent the much dreaded ‘caffeine crash’. Where there’s tea, there’s hope!
  • Our indigenous ‘Darjeeling tea’ is world-famous for its flavor and referred to as the ‘Champagne of teas.’ Wonder why? Well, it is highly valued because it is grown only in Darjeeling and that too within an area that’s less than 70 square miles large! This makes it a novelty among tea fanatics the world over.
  • Tea comes second only to water in terms of worldwide consumption and it was the most important reason for bridging the East-West divide. Tea has been a boon to the shipping industry as traders in earlier times worked to develop better and faster ships to transport as much tea as possible to the west.
  • While most of us might believe that slurping your tea is too tacky, there’s good reason to do so. It is believed that slurping increases the amount of oxygen in the tea, improving its flavor and allowing greater contact with your taste buds. So slurp away without shame!

After knowing these wonderful facts, we’re sure your love for tea grew a little more. So go on brew yourself a cup and let its taste take you on an imaginary voyage!

Categories Tea

Making the Most of a Tea Estate Visit

The Indian tea estates attract the lovers of tea and nature alike, and so, the opportunity to visit one, always promises to be memorable. There are thousands of tea estates employing millions of tea workers across the tea-producing regions in the country – Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Munnar, Sikkim, Kangra, Dooars Terai, and many more.

Here we are to help you out with a few tips to let you make the most of your visit to a tea estate:

  • Be prepared to ask questions
    The guides are usually from the estates and are happy to answer questions about the production process which is fascinating in itself. They also have a good knowledge to share about the rich and varied history of the estates. So be prepared with your queries.
  • Ensure accessibility
    Most estates are located away from urban centers, making accessibility a concern. Travel by road and rail should be planned well in advance. Once you are in the estates, you may attempt walking for few kilometers for a feel of adventure.
  • Be sure to time the visit carefully
    If you’re looking to take home photographs of the tea-pluckers at work, remember that there are several breaks during the day as well as the year. So visits during breaks, holidays, and dormant season should be avoided.

NATIONAL BARISTA CHAMPIONSHIP 2016

First prelims of the Coffee Board’s prestigious annual competition, the National Barista Championship 2016, is being held at the Delhi Institute of Hotel Management in New Delhi today.

The Coffee Board of India took up the initiative of organizing the National Barista Championship from the year 2014 onwards, and this is the 3rd year of competition. This competition is framed to identify the technically skilled and best Baristas in this profession. The game mainly focuses on promoting excellence in the coffee value chain, strengthen and encourage skill development, and also to encourage café culture in India.

Dr. Aarti Dewan Gupta, Director of Finance, Coffee Board, while inaugurating the NBC event, said that the coffee industry in India has evolved over the last decade with café culture penetrating our urban lifestyles. The Indian consumer has also become discerning; thus, the role of a barista assumes greater importance. Coffee Board of India is committed to bringing in professionalism and expertise in this field.

Dr. K Basavaraj, Head, Coffee Quality, Coffee Board, while welcoming the participants, elaborated the way of conducting of the competition and said that the game is being held in three stages – the First prelim at New Delhi, the Second prelim at Bangalore and the Finals at Mumbai coinciding with the India International Festival 2016. He further said that there would be a total of seven categories to be won by the contestants. They are Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Best Signature Drink, Best Latte Art, and Best Communication skills. The competition was conducted as per the World Barista Championship rules and regulations. The winner will represent India in the World Barista Championship at Dublin, Ireland, in June 2016.

There is an overwhelming response from the industry, and as many as 17 participants registered for the First prelims of the NBC championship being held here in New Delhi.

Bihari flavors at The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe

The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe is the much loved, cozy cafe in ShahpurJat or as I like to call it, The Other Village. Homely wooden furniture, yellow brick wall counters, textured walls, and nostalgic print chairs and couches with glass top tables. The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe is one of a kind place in Delhi serving Bihari cuisine. They have also opened an outlet in Bihar Niwas,  Chanakyapuri. This outlet of Potbelly was incidentally even visited by Mr. Richard Rahul Verma, American Ambassador to India on his quest to discover Indian cuisines with Rocky and Mayur. The rooftop is lined with a kind of traditional mat with painted bamboos and gorgeously up-cycled lamps. The cutlery holders I just couldn’t get enough of – elephant doodles getting high on wine.

We started with some refreshing drinks. Sattu salty and spicy cooler, one of Bihar’s old-time favorites, this was a very refreshing and unprecedented summer drink.

They have a brilliant variety of flavored iced teas apart from the regular peach and lemon+mint ones. We tried their apple and cinnamon, mixed fruit and nettle, and lemongrass. All the flavors were so, so refreshing. The nettle and lemongrass one took a lot of time to come through, but when it did, it was totally worth the wait.

For starters, we tried one of their house specials – Baggia basket – rice flour stuffed with masala wali chana dal. The puffs were exceptional, very subtle flavors, and went well with the extremely fresh coriander chutney and tomato chokha.

Meat pakora basket – crispy chicken and minced mutton pakoras with the freshest coriander and mint chutney. The meat was to a delish tenderness and succulent perfection.

Dhamaaka Maggie – Spicy, soupy with a garlic tinge and cheese.

Golmirch Chicken platter – chicken curry, laccha parantha, sabutdana vada, brinjal condiments, and fresh, crunchy salad. The chicken was decent, crushed whole black pepper in a creamy, yogurt laced gravy, the chicken pieces could have been a little juicier. The brinjal concoction was surprisingly very interesting and the laccha parantha was done to perfection. I am a big fan of sabundana vada at home and this one felt slightly overdone.

Champaran style mutton platter – shredded mutton curry, boondi ka raita, salad, and moong dal rotis. This was one of the best platters I have had. The mutton was so luscious and tender in a pepper, thick spicy gravy. The boondi raita complimented the heat of the mutton very well.

Enjoy the homely subtle flavors and do not miss on the Champaran style Mutton and baggia basket.

Seven beans across the Seven seas – Seven Beans Coffee Company, Bangalore

How can many Indian coffee startups boast of an international partner from day one? In April 2015, Seven Beans Coffee Company, headquartered in Bangalore and with coffee farms in Chikmagalur, marked its entry into the Indian coffee market by launching its unique portfolio of coffee products that have been developed in partnership with Dr. Dante Cagliari and Maria Gabriella Cagliari of Caffè L’Antico, a leading coffee roasting business based in Modena, Italy.

Further, leveraging the partnership, this startup has also transcended geographical barriers by selling its products in various countries across the European Union. Seven beans, with a long history of coffee farming, has moved up the value chain by adopting a distinct strategy to mark its presence globally.

The business is currently managed by Abhijit and Advith Shetty, who hail from a distinguished family of coffee planters. The brothers, during their stints abroad to pursue their formal education, recognized the growing demand for exquisite coffee in the United States and various countries in the European Union. With the desire to grab a slice of the pie (and also grow the pie!!), the duo explored various secondary sources of information and met leading representatives of the Indian and global coffee industry. Their belief in the growing market for coffee was confirmed in 2012 when leading multinational coffee chains set up base in India. However, along with creating and consolidating Indian markets for excellent coffee, the brothers were determined to create a global coffee brand based on the unique characteristics of well-grown Indian coffee. The inherent need for expertise in global coffees led the Shettys to scout for a globally respected roastmaster, resulting in the partnership with L’Antico and Dr. Cagliari. The association has moved beyond just developing blends to a relationship that spans across equipment selection, bean evaluation, product portfolio development, marketing, and business development.

Seven beans’ production facility at Chikmagalur houses a technologically advanced, automated roasting machine which ensures consistently high-quality roasting outcomes. The integrated pneumatic setup enables pre-blending, and the business is commercially offering seven distinct blends. Based on the combinations created by Dr. Dante, the products are currently being sold in India through various channels, including premium food retail chains and online sites. Towards further expanding its presence in international markets and the Indian B2B segment, Seven Beans is in talks with leading cafes, distributors, and retailers. The business’s advantage lies in its ability to blend unique products that are on par with some of the leading global brands. Seven Beans intends to make its mark in the single-serve market, too, by launching capsules that are also produced in the Chikmagalur facility.

The brothers’ current focus is on acquiring new clients, creating more blends, and initiating steps to remain a leading premium coffee brand. Any visitor to a retail outlet that sells premium coffee is bound to take a second look at Seven Beans coffee due to the markedly extraordinary pack design that reflects a blend of the modern and traditional. The Seven Beans logo that includes an Italian mansion, snowcapped peaks, spokes, coffee beans, and delicate artwork nestles perfectly within the pack design that reflects grandeur and poise.

In a short period of time, Seven Beans Coffee Company has demonstrated the entrepreneurial drive and competence which has enabled it to extend its horizon beyond Indian shores. However, the brothers are aware of the challenges in achieving good volumes of pure coffee in India as well as the perceptions of pure Indian coffee blends in international markets. The business has identified premium Indian consumer segments which value quality and, for international consumers, has developed blends containing Indian and international coffees (with the production being undertaken in Modena). The channelizing of energies into product and market development is expected to lead to the sustained growth of the business. While Babu Budan’s seven beans have triggered the development of a robust and growing coffee industry in India, it is hoped that Seven Beans Coffee Company would unravel feasible strategies for Indian coffee startups to make rapid inroads into global coffee markets, and validate the approach of serving niche segments that recognize the goodness of Indian coffee.

Beekeeping increases yield of Robusta coffee

Robusta coffee

 

About one-third of plant products including Robusta coffee, consumed by human beings are directly or indirectly dependent on bee pollination. The great value of bees as pollinators of coffee plants has been known for many years, but unfortunately, this knowledge is not widely applied in increasing production.

Yield issues are normally addressed by measures of soil fertility, agrochemicals, management of pests/diseases, and better field management practices. The scientific literature supporting the benefits of bee pollination for coffee is convincing. It may increase the yield of Robusta coffee up to 83% as per the data published by the Central Bee Research & Training Institute, Pune.

The majority of coffee species are diploid and self infertile and therefore have to be cross-pollinated by wind and insects for better yield whereas C.arabica is tetraploid, self-fertile and at times cleistogamous, so relies less on cross-pollination but it is observed that bee pollination, in general, enhances quantity and quality of yield. In many parts of the North Eastern Region, Robusta coffee variety is recommended due to climatic compulsions of low elevation and high temperature.

Managed pollinators, e.g. honeybees in the Coffee plantations in this region may be a change agent on increasing yield and produce honey as an additional income generating source for the upcoming tribal farmers. This is proved by one of the tribal coffee grower Sri W.D.Shira in Rongbilbangre village of West Garo Hills, Meghalaya through his practical experience without any scientific background knowledge as such.

History of Robusta coffee in India

Sri W. D.Shira, retired army personnel returned to his native village Rongbillbangre, which is about 16km from Tura town, with a vision of doing something which will be model for his poor villagers for development. He started plantation activity with Areca and Cashew nuts initially and later switched over to coffee plantation during 1997-98. Under the shade of Areca plantation, he planted both Arabica & Robusta varieties of coffee in 1.0 hectares of land.

The Coffee Board had also extended technical guidance and financial assistance to him. In due course of time, during 2003-04 he further extended this coffee area by adding another 1.5 hectares, planted with CXR variety, under the shade of various horticultural plants viz. Orange, Jackfruit, Pineapple, Citrus, Mango, Guava, etc. Presently he is holding 8.0 hectares of Robusta coffee area, of which 06.0hectare is in the bearing stage. Next to his plot 2.0-hectare area of coffee has been created by his wife which has a 1.0-hectare bearing area.

Robusta coffee beans

Last year, he attended a training program on beekeeping, arranged by one NGO, and acquired knowledge and started his apiary activity with ten bee boxes inside the coffee plantation. Mr Shira assembled the boxes by himself and Apisceranaindica, the bee species available locally was introduced. Observing the initial success, he is now planning to increase the number of bee boxes.

Wild bees or other pollinating insects were common in the coffee plantations raised by Mr Shira, due to the proximity to forest patches but there was a problem of uncertainty, resulting in delayed and less fruiting in earlier years and also leading to harvesting problems due to asynchronous ripening of berries thus affecting quality.

The present experience points out that the coffee plants in the beekeeping areas bloom together because of frequent visits of bees. The fruiting is more as bees are better pollinating agents. Unlike earlier years when unripe berries had to be discarded or used as inferior coffee, and required post-harvest sorting at extra labour cost, the planter is surprised to experience the harvesting of ripe berries at the same time.

The Robusta coffee planters in these areas never use any chemical fertilizer because of government restrictions as well as non-availability. As the soil of this plantation is in the earlier jhumarea, the fertility status is low, so the yield was comparatively less, but the present yield increased by about 50% which has surprised the grower. Inspired by the result, he intends to take up this effort of beekeeping inside coffee plantation vigorously so that the other coffee growers of the nearby areas can emulate him.

Thus beekeeping in coffee plantation improves yields in quantity and quality and may improve synchronicity and uniformity of fruit-set, reducing harvesting and sorting cost. This effort initiated by a small tribal farmer allows us to develop an integrated system of pollinator management by beekeeping to enhance coffee production in the NE Region through better, more synchronous pollination. This is also an effective step towards the production of organic Robusta coffee. This approach may indirectly influence in enhancing the production of other crops and honey.