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Category Archives: Guess what’s this

A Toy Top, Miniature Flying Saucer or Veggie?

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Here I am again, with something interesting for you to identify in, “Guess What’s This”. Let me not beat about the bush but directly plunge into the topic. Look at the visual below:

Toy top vegetable

Toy tops, miniature flying saucers or veggies?

Have you seen them anywhere before? Do you know what they are?

I was awestruck by these vibrant yellow, shallow shaped things with scalloped edges in the ‘Exotic section’ of the supermarket. At first sight, I doubted if these even belonged there for they appeared more like play things than fruits or veggies. They resembled toy tops, miniature UFOs – flying saucers to be precise; or if they had been rightly placed there, could they be some kind of hybrid lemons or bell pepper variants? I did not fail to notice the striking similarity their shape bore to the moulds used for baking tarts, patties, pies and their sorts. Reading their label I was convinced that I had neither seen them nor heard of them before.

They are actually summer squashes. Just like cucumbers and tomatoes, though they are fruits they are always referred to as veggies because of the way they are used in our cooking. Their name is made of three words (5, 3, and 6 letters in order). The 1st word points to a food item usually fried or baked, the 2nd to a container and the 3rd to the veggie’s colour.

So, start guessing now. I know, the spur of the moment I gave the clue for the 3rd word, you were confidently out with its answer. Even if you have a faint idea about any of the 3 words, post it in the blog’s comments. If it is right, it may give a lead to the others guessing, if not it might at least succeed in confusing them ;-). What else! Team up with your friend to make the guessing game more fun.

Wait until tomorrow for the right answer.

Related Topics

Food Incognito

The Bitter-Sweet Pod

The Pricey Potato Look Alike

The Pricey Potato Look Alike

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TThe pricey potato look alike.

The pricey potato look alike.

I was waiting for something like this for the series, “Guess what’s this” –  something that I was seeing for the first time, so that I could share my sense of marvel and wonderment with you all. Ever since spring began this year, numerous shops selling this particular commodity had mushroomed in Kuwait – it was everywhere – in a separate stall in the Military Cooperative Society in Al Rai and in several road side shops that lined the route to Friday Market; some were sold from stocks in vans and a vast stretch near Friday Market with stalls in bright orange tarpaulin sheets, was allocated almost entirely for its sale! From far, the commodity looked just like potato. But at close quarters, the shape was somewhat different;  unlike potato it was spongy or soft to touch – soft in the sense, it depressed a little when pressed, just like a ripe plum or kiwi would. It had a creamy white interior. But what startled me most was its price. A kilo ranged somewhere between 5-12 KD i.e., Rs.1000-2400 – now, this definitely cannot be some kind of potato. Though it was selling like hot cakes among natives, expats restricted themselves to curious glances at it. 

Can you decipher what it is from the pic? Any guesses? Feed them in the comments. 

 

On noticing the quizzical look on my face, one of the shop keepers asked me if I wanted to know what it was. When I replied in the affirmative, he was kind enough to brief me about it. If the picture did not help you decide what it is, may be the info he gave might. Here is what he said:

  • The food stuff usually thrives in desert regions. Those in the shops were predominantly from Algeria and Syria;
  • It flourishes in spring, when preceded by winter with frequent thundershowers accompanied by lightning (My addition here – lightning is believed to increase the nitrogen content of the atmosphere, that the rain brings down to the soil and promotes its growth);
  • Foraging for it in the desert requires experience as it is shrouded by the sand. Bumpy spots in the sand are inspected to find it hidden beneath;
  • It is one of the most expensive foods in the world (you already had your moment of shock on hearing its price, didn’t you?);
  • Thorough cleaning is required to get rid of the sand clinging to its skin and that embedded in the cracks on its surface;
  • It is cooked by boiling. The skin is peeled off and it is added to spicy rice preparations or curries;
  • Canned versions of it are also available (Incidentally, I spotted canned versions of this product in just one or two shops. The label on the can showed a product that was in stark contrast to those I had seen till then. It had a dark skin. I think it was another variety with a dark exterior and pink interior).

Now there is this one last clue that is wholly mine – two words constitute its name – though it might have nothing to do with sweets, both parts of the name (first one, kind of, if we ignore the spelling and the second one, exactly) surprisingly flashed images of sweets in my mind ;-).

Try your luck at the guessing game. Well if you did not succeed at it, click here to navigate to an infographic about the mystery food.

Others In Guess What’s This Series:

The Bitter-Sweet Pod

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Last time in Guess what’s this series, we dealt with a teeny–weeny pod. This time too, it is a pod, but a bigger one in contrast. Each of these pods weighs about 400-500 g and encloses 20-50 beans inside it. The pod or fruit looks like an elongated melon with tapering ends. It is green, purple or maroon when unripe. It picks a golden yellow hue with flecks of dark brown and black when ripe, as shown in the image. Take a closer look at it and guess what it is.

The bitter-sweet pod

The bitter-sweet pod

You think you know what it is, then cheers. Share with us what you know about it – it could be anything – any interesting tidbit about it – where you came across it? – is it common in your area? – any unusual way in which it is used.

The others who cannot quite make out what it is, don’t worry, for it seldom hits the market in the form of a pod. Right after harvest, it is processed by the farmers and only the beans are shipped to warehouses. From there, they travel to the manufacturers where they are further processed and transformed into spectacular products. Well, this pic was clicked in the market – but it was one of those rare occasions when the pod found its way up to the market  – a special occasion, indeed – The Indian Food Festival, when produce and foods of the nation were exhibited. Now, have a go at the conjecturing act with the hints below:

  • The pulp that is sweet is usually discarded. The bean is bitter, but the final product is a treat. The very mention of the bean, conjures up ‘sweet’ memories. Did I blurt out the answer in the very first clue?
  • The beverage prepared from the bean powder is popular.
  • The bean powder as well as the syrup is used as a flavouring agent.
  • The butter from it is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics, soaps and ointments.

Got the answer? Now, be a sport and jot down your guess in the blog’s comment segment. Wait for the image that holds the answer, to be published in a couple of days.

29-6-12

Here is the image that reveals the identity of the bitter-sweet pod:

Cocoa or Cacao Pods

Cocoa or Cacao Pods

Look at the price board shout out the name of the pod in all BOLD fonts. Yeah, it is COCOA or CACAO, which is native to America. The world’s largest producer of the bean is however, Ivory Coast, followed by Ghana. The cultivation of cocoa in India for commercial purposes, commenced only a few decades ago. The South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka monopolized the trade till the North Eastern state, Assam joined the cocoa bandwagon, last year. The Swiss dark chocolate NOIR manufactured by Chocolat Stella, receives its cocoa supply from Kerala. The cocoa is organic and fair trade certified.

  • The pod grows directly from the trunk or from a large branch of the tree. The pulp which is usually discarded is sometimes used to make an alcoholic drink. The cocoa bean is white/light lavender in colour and is actually bitter. The farmers subject it to an initial fermentation and roasting, which gives it the dark brown colour and chocolaty flavour. Further roasting during manufacturing, steps like Dutching (alkalizing process) make it darker and more chocolaty; Conching (final mixing) renders it smooth. It is usually used in confectioneries, bakeries and dairies.  Irrespective of age the silky, satiny chocolates that melt in the mouth rank high in everybody’s list of favourite foods. For a quick synopsis of how chocolate is manufactured, visit World Cocoa Foundation’s (WCF) page on How Chocolate is Made.
  • Hot Drinking Chocolate is a cocoa beverage that is popular.
  • Chocolate-flavoured milk, ice-cream, cake and pudding make lip-smacking desserts.
  • Cocoa butter is a stable fat which is solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature. This property is exploited in making chocolates as well as cosmetics. The butter has antioxidants in it which prevent rancidity and prolong its shelf-life to 2-5 years. It is widely used in anti-stretch mark creams, emollients, soaps and body lotions. 

The aroma from my cup of hot drinking chocolate is so inviting, that I am going to leave you at this, go right now and relish every drop of it.

Also Try Guessing What’s This:

Food Incognito

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We city-breds see food as sold in supermarkets-processed and in packets. Growing up in apartments we hardly get the chance to raise kitchen gardens. We miss out on opportunities to see many foods, especially cereals, pulses, spices and condiments in their natural, fresh form, growing on crops, plants and trees. Under such circumstances, even a familiar food in its natural form may cause a transient illusion of being a novel or exotic food to us. Such an instance happened recently, when I chanced upon a heap of teeny weeny legumes at Lulu Hypermarket. In no time I was near the counter, examining it, taking a closer look to decipher what it was. I snapped open the pod and was amused to see the beans inside – just one or two in a pod. I could not but exclaim, “Goodness gracious! Is it just this? Did not know that it came from a  pod so small or looked like this when fresh!” It was like seeing a person without makeover, only the impact was different- it actually looked cute. It was just a familiar food in an unfamiliar form or shall we call it food incognito? Now, take a look at the photo and see if you can guess what it is.

Cute teeny weeny legumes

Do you recognise this?

Did you recognise it? Kudos to those who identified it correctly. But, I bet most of you cannot. For those still guessing, a close-up of the open pods and beans may give a clue.

Close-up of the open legumes and the beans

Did the close-up of the open pods and beans, help you?

Did the close-up of the open pods and beans help you? If you still cannot find out what it is, you should probably see  it  alongside the dried form in which it is used in our cuisine.

Chickpea legumes, immature green chickpeas and mature dried chickpeas

It is DESI CHICKPEA, also known as BENGAL GRAM (Hindi: Chana, Tamil: Kothukadalai, Telugu: Sanagalu)We often eat it as evening snack, have it as a favourite accompaniment with chapathis, buy it from road side eateries and even offer it at the altar during festive occasions – yet we cannot recognize it in its encapsulated form. That is the price (fortunately a small one) we pay for our urban life.

If you have been in a similar situation, share your experience here.

To know more about the differences between Desi Chana and Kabuli Chana, visit this page on Chana.

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