Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One language for many

One language for many people...

In a country with at least 15 major languages, and hundreds of different dialects, you would think that learning to speak the language would be impossible, well, we're in luck because the Indian government decided in 1965 that Hindi would be the official language. So that makes it ALOT easier to learn a few words, not to mention alot easier for the 1.2 billion people living there to understand each other.  Here are a few...

hello = namaste or namaskar        thank you = dhanayavaad 
  I love you = mein tumse pyar karta hun    bye = alvida

If you'd like to learn the numbers 1-10 AND teach alot about different countries at the same time there is a great series of books from the library (or online) called Count Your Way books.  Not sure if they are all by the same author but the India title is by Jim Haskins.  I was tempted to just paraphrase the whole book but that would make ne look much smarter than I really am :)  Check them out at .  I will however steal their pronunciations-

1- ache or ek     2- dough     3- teen      4- charr       5- paunch
6- chay     7- sot     8- art     9- now   10- duss 

Animals and nature are a big part of the culture in India.  Many of their gods take animal forms or have animal features.  The walls of palaces are carved with ornate flowers, animals, and birds.  Animals also have a major role in many of the stories told to children.  I got a kick out of reading this list of animal names - if you're a fan of the movie Jungle Book you might recognize a few!

bear = bhaloo    tiger = sher    elephant = haathi  (see? Jungle Book)
cow = gai      cat = billi      dog= kutta     monkey= bandar 

Ok, that's all the Hindi lessons I'm gonna give you.  I realize it wasn't the most fun blog post but life isn't all fun and games.  Speaking of games, I'm off to play a game of parcheesi (according to the box it's the "game of India"!!) 

Say Paneer! A lesson about cheese

Say Paneer! 

Probably not what photographers in India say to get kids to smile, but it does make MY kids smile - they love cheese!! I love cheese too but it has NEVER occurred to me to make my own cheese, never.  But you know what? It was super easy and kinda tasty.  The type of cheese we made is called Paneer and is native to India.  If you read the last post you might remember that India has about 200 million cows (!) and many of the people are vegetarians so I would have to believe that they probably get some of their protein from milk and cheese.  Paneer is a fresh cheese, like a Farmer's Cheese, not ripened or aged.  We made it that day, we ate it that day. I'll tell you the recipe so you can try for yourself (then I have a little science lesson for you)

For the recipe you will need:

  • 1 Liter milk. Whole and non-homogenized is best but I used regular whole milk.
  • 1 t lemon juice or citric acid or (and?) 1 1/2 t white vinegar (not pictured- I will explain below)
  • saucepan
  • strainer lined with thin cloth (I used sterile gauze and it worked)
  • salt and/or whatever spices you would like (I used lemon pepper)
1.Boil the milk in the pan - stir to keep it from burning on bottom
2. Add acid to boiling milk.
3. When milk curdles turn off heat and set aside for 5 mins.  This was where I had trouble.  I used lemon juice and the curds never formed. So I heated it back up, tried vinegar and INSTANT curds. Maybe my lemon was too sweet and I needed more? Who knows?
4. After 5 mins pour mixture into lined strainer and let gravity strain the whey from the curds.
5. When it seems like no more liquid is coming out (and it cools down a little) take it (and the cloth) and squeeze and shape it into whatever form you want.  You might also want to add some salt and spices or herbs at this point. 

6. Put cheese (wrapped in cloth) under something heavy for a little while to get all the moisture out.
Enjoy!!  You just made cheese, um, pardon me, PANEER !!

Ok, this was totally science in action so I looked (on the internet of course) and found out the science behind the magic :)  This type of cheese, as well as, Italian ricotta and Mexican queso blanco, is made using a Heat/Acid coagulation technique, as opposed to adding an enzyme like some others.  Here's how it works.
The heat changes the natural shape (or denatures) the whey proteins in the milk.  These denatured proteins can now "interact" with another protein found in the milk called casein.  When you add the acid the caseins and whey proteins "precipitate" or become a solid curd floating in the liquid whey.  Take away the liquid and you have cheese !!

 WARNING:  if you are disgusted by the sight of curdled milk this is not a good recipe for you. It smelled good but looked like that old sippy cup behind the couch - you know, the one you just throw away instead of wash :)