Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ladakh The Land of Lamas

The people of Ladakh belong to three distinct races, namely the Dards, the mons and the Mongolians. The first two belong to Aryan race where as Mongolians have close resemblance to Tibetans. They migrated some time in the 10th century AD from Central Asia. Majority of population of Ladakh is Buddhist. Lamas play an important role in the socio religious life of the people of Ladakh. Many of the big monasteries run schools where the monks are trained by Lamas in the Art of Worship performance of various ceremonies. The Lamas also act as astrologers and physicians. They are also responsible for organising festivals and fairs at the Monasteries. Women of Ladakh are equal partners in all walks of life. There is no Pardah system and they go about unveiled and run shops or work in the fields. They have love for dancing and dance is an essential feature of all festivals and religious ceremonies. Honesty and Straight forwardness is in their nature. They are very polite, gentle and hospitable.  ( Changpas of Ladakh )

Ladakh has poverty, mass ignorance and grave social evils. The total rainfall is 3 inch in a year and almost the entire population lives on agriculture. The land being sandy and unproductive, the average yield is generally about three to four times the quantity of the seed used. The methods of Agriculture are very crude and the Area a family can cultivate profitably is proportionate to its man power. There are no irrigational facilities. Transport, labour, weaving and knitting occupy almost all the time the people can spare from their work in the fields. Almost every house has its own loom on which it weaves the fabrics it needs. People sew their own clothes and make their own footwear. Business is mostly in the hands of foreigners domiciled or otherwise. Flocks of sheep and goat form the only wealth of the nomads living in the Area. Most of the shawl wool of Kashmir is from the region whose upland pastures support immense flocks of sheep and goats. Wheat and grain are the main crops grown in Ladakh. The latter in conjunction with tea, form the essential elements of the food of the people in the higher altitudes. Rice used on festival occasions by those who can afford the expense is brought from is brought from Kashmir. Foreign varieties of vegetables have been introduced in Leh where vegetables are cultivated for the market also. The vegetables grown in other localities being mostly meant for home consumption.

Ladakh is a problem province so far its communications are concerned. Distances are so great and communications are poor that certain localities are completely cut off from the rest of Ladakh during winter months and Ladakh itself is isolated from the outside world, when heavy snowfall blocks all the passes connecting Kashmir, Jammu with it for over five months a year. All this badly affects the material well being of the people.

Inspite of the fact that about 90% of the Buddhist population is literate in Bodhi Tibetan Language, Urdu continues to be the medium of instructions in the primary stage in Ladakh. Though children of Ladakh are going out for education.Still there is educational backwardness. People are out of touch with modern pol. and scientific thoughts. They are ignorant about the day to day happenings in the world. There is no printing press in the area and no daily news paper is published there. Since Bodhi is their mother tongue, it is essential that instruction should be imparted to Ladakhi children in that language as the Bodhi is a highly developed language.

The Shias form a majority among the Muslims of and Kargil. The Shias are well organised socially while the influence of Buddhist ethics and philosophy of life reveal itself impressively in the daily life of Buddhists. The formal religion practised by them is a mixture of Buddhism, Tantra and Bonism. The Lamas or Monks are held in high esteem and the recarnating Kushoks or heads of Monasteries regarded almost as divinities. The Lamas have to live as celebes and according to the prescribed discipline. They are therefore, admitted to the Gompas in very early life to enable them to adjust themselves to monastic life before they are subjected to influences antagonistic to that life. As the order of the monk is "fundamental to Buddhism" and as the social and religious life of the Buddhists revolves round the Gompas, the Buddhists love song and dance. The tolerance and liberality of the Buddhists is great.

The caravan serias maintained by the Gompas are open to people of all faiths and nationalities.
Two social evils, ugly and venomous, are eating into the vitals of Ladakh Buddhists. One is the custom of polyandry under which the brothers of a husband share the favour of his wife. The other is very common use of "Chang" and intoxicating beverage made from gram and barley. Polyandry has prevailed for generations past through out Ladakh amongst the Buddhists. This custom was certainly not introduced by Buddhism but Buddhism has not checked it so far. The "Chang" habit is gradually impoverishing the people mentally morally, physically and economically.

As the Ladakhi people have now educational awareness and are fully awakened, they are suffering for want of education. The children of Ladakh either come to Jammu or Srinagar for higher education, for this purpose, major portion of the income of their parents is spent on the education only and other areas remain neglected. There is need of providing the Ladakhies all educational facilities in their home land up to University education level. This will help in tension free education and their economic upliftment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Taste the most sumptuous cuisine of Jammu

The Indian cuisines are representing a distinctive cultural trend in different regions of the country, due to climatic and geographical conditions. In fact, each cultural group has its own specialized and distinctive basic dishes, desserts and sweets which reflect the diversity on one hand and drinks, achar, and snacks have unity in Indian food on the other. Likewise Jammu region has its own lip smacking, mouth watering dishes. Almost every zone in Jammu is famous for a particular dish.

Yellow Rice
The ethnic food of yellow rice and rajmah at Lakhanpur Bus Stand are available at Samba. The ambal / umbal is sweetened pumpkin or Kaddu, an important dish form the part of the full course meal with a variety of lentils or Dal such as Rajmash, Roungi, Mash, Moungi, Channa dal etc. The ambal is prepared from Imali, Gur, Methi seeds, green and red chili, haldi, salts and other species.Oriya is a raita of potato prepared in mustard oil with rai, adds to the digestion of the highly oiled cuisines.

Madraa comprised of kali mash dal, garlic, ginger and tomato paste headed in butter with khoya and other species added to the taste with required salt.

The non-vegetarian dishes are ambla meat or khatta meat prepared with gur, anardana, palak, lamb or goat meat as per taste and cooked in iron pan which supplement as source of iron in the dish. The traditional cooking in iron or nickel utensils probably prevented many forms of diseases other wise unheard in good olden times. The champs are the chest pieces of ribs with spines boiled and prepared with species.

Kabargah are the fried champ rather than boiled during preparation method.
Kababs the minced mutton roasted in an iron road, over gas is electric oven.
The chicken dipped in the paste of curd and species is roasted in electric or gas oven earlier in the charcoal which had a different taste. A shop in Pucca Danga is famous for Khatta or sour meat. Adisha is the mutton boiled in curd and milk overnight then fried in the ghee.

The Khameera or whole wheat or midda roti is prepared after fermentation in the oven or tandoor in large size. The Bajra roti eaten in the dry belt is highly fibrous flour with lot of energy and require hard digesting. The makki roti eaten only in the winter, the fibrous content in it helps to prevent the stone formation tendency in the body like western people taking lots of corn flakes.

Sweet rice or meatha patt is prepared in sugar. The namkeen rice or loona patt is prepared with salt rice. The plain or boiled rice with drained out water and the yellow or Shirin pulao with saffron is to provide colour and dry fruits add flavor.

Achar and chattnis are natural diet supplements and help in digestion of the food. The art of making pickles or Achar is one of the unusual features of Indian cuisines. The spices and oil added in vegetables or fruits enhances the taste and preservation of the fruits and vegetables for a long time.

The chattnis of pudina, anardana add taste to the food in the main course diet.
The laungi or the peeled green mango achar with species and salt pickle prepared with rai, metha as mustard oil, as preservative with puri, suchi with sweet suji halwa or shirin pulaao on festive occasions.

There is variety of tasty snacks taken in it between the two meals. Kachalu chat is the freshly prepared snack mixed with spice, and referred as tangy sour sweet evening snacks available in all shopping centres. The high carbohydrate content diet supplements the various vitamins in the form of Imali or tamarind as natural source of vitamin C. Kachalu Chaat, a potato based tangy sour sweet snack specialty of Jammu is available in all shopping centres. The traditional outlet in a lane called Sardar ki gali opposite Raghunath Temple.(Ramkund in Poonch)

Indian has variety of sweets and desserts. The desserts are basically rice or milk products and their food value is a combination of proteins, carbohydrates etc.

Milk Cake
The milk cake of Samba is a thick, white lump of sweetened condensed milk, heated to brown core in the centre producing milk granules as its specialty. The chocolate barfi is made from over heated khoya. The so called chocolate, without a milligram of cocoa, the milk converted into brown and condensed till it can be sliced as glossy dark brown colour of Chocolate. The chocolate is famous at a shop at Gandhi Nagar, Purani Mandi in the Jammu City.

The Kud chocolate cooked in the pure ghee or clarified butter during the making process of the sweet dish is unique feature.

The Jammu sweets available at Pacca Danga opposite Laxmi Narayan Temple is one of best prepared in vegetable oil. Pawan shop at Akhnoor or Canal Road at Bakshi Nagar crossing sold its special favorites Kulfi in traditional way lost ground and now shifting to Western style ice-cream.

Nandini, road side famous stalls before the Nandini Tunnel on NHIA are renowned for Kalarhi or cottage cheese raw as well as cooked. The Kalarhi is a form of rancid cheese in which butter is not drained out. The cheese pakoras and Mirch pakoras or chili dumplings in lentil flour or Besan are most favoured snacks. On the Jammu- Srinagar NHIA the shops at Samrauli, near Chennani is a famous stop over for raw Kalarhi available till afternoon. The Kalarhi of Ramnagar is a also famous hub in Udhampur Distt. The Kalarhi is the most sought after local cuisine fried and eaten in various ways. It is available in various versions to enhance the food value. In Udhampur, the Kalarhi mixed with fried / boiled Soyabean and species come as a complete food with high protein supplement snacks.

Kud on NHIA is famous for pateesa, a yellow sweet also known as Sohanpari, the besan turned into a fibrous cake pieces in pure desi ghee. Peerah, a few km ahead of Batote, there are many dhabas who serve rajma, boiled rice / chawal and mixed with pure desi ghee round the clock on the Jammu – Srinagar Highway a renowned stop for the Rajma –Chawal. The bund / kulcha filled with mutter / yellow pea mixed with imali water, species and lemon juice. The fried potato tikki with black or white gram boiled, fried and eaten with the bund/kulcha other ethnic cuisines readily found in the Cities of the region.

The traditional cuisines in the present scenario of liberalizationhave been taken over by the Western style “multi-national food joints” and won the heart of younger generation. ‘The old is gold’ is the best saying among the older people, in the same way the traditional local cuisines are time tested in terms of their food value, suitable to climate and geographical conditions. For example, the rice and rice fermented products in South India cuisines easily digested in comparison to the wheat roti, as rice product suited best to the climatic conditions of southern part of the India.

The Federal Administration of USA proved that the use of turmeric or Haldi and other species act as antiseptics, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that we still do not know.
Therefore, our ethnic food has more food value in terms of providing proteins, vitamins and other enzymes provided naturally rather than harmful chemical added in fast food like Pizza, potato chips, burgers etc to enhance the taste of food.

There is a need of permanent outlets in the city like Jammu to promote tourism development and the preservation of tangible or living heritage like cuisines. The bank of the river Tawi in a form of Juhu beach having eating joints or Jammu Haat canbe planned as the best place for the purpose. The ethnic cuisines makers court to save the vanishing cuisine of the region.