Healthy Dried Treats of Kashmir

Dry Fruits are among the most widely consumed health snacks owing to their rich nutrient content and long shelf life. The origin of dry fruits such as raisins, figs, dates and apricots date back to 1700 BC and have been a staple diet of the Mediterranean Regions. Today, dry or dried fruits are produced and consumed in all major regions of the world across different cultures and demographics, the procedure might vary but the end product is a constituent of every diet.

Kashmir has a rich history of dry fruits and has been part of the Kashmiri cuisine since ages for their natural taste and flavor. Owing to the cold climatic conditions and the topographical constraints that cut off the valley from the Indian Mainland for months together in winters, the traditional food drying techniques came into existence. The conventional or the traditional Kashmir dry fruits are subject to sun drying unlike the usage of dehydrators and specialized dryers. People would treat the vegetables like bottle guard, eggplants, tomatoes, lettuce, turnips and fruits like apples, pears, figs, apricots, plums, sun drying them on the tin roofs of their homes, storing them for winter consumption. Times have changed and though there are no such problems as food shortage in winters, the natives have kept the sun drying tradition of fruits and vegetables alive.

Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are obtained from sun drying the fruit; the nutrients are not harmed in the process and you yield even more benefits of dried apricots than the fresh ones. Dried apricots contain Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Vitamin A, Iron, and Vitamin C. These dried fruits supply many nutrients that are required for a healthy body along with combating many diseases. Sun dried organic fruits have concentrated nutrient values than fresh ones, although they are lesser in vitamin-C content.

Apricot Fun Facts:

Apricots are akin to peaches. The apricot is just minus the fuzzy skin that a peach has. Both the apricot and the peach are members of the rose family.

One apricot tree can produce fruit for as many as 25 years, its fruit picked by hand when firm.

In ancient times, the Persian called apricots “seed of the sun.”

Dried Figs:

Figs are the oldest fruits enjoyed by man and one of my personal favorites. Figs are an ancient fruit that can be enjoyed fresh, dried, fermented and cooked. Figs are fat free, sodium free, cholesterol-free and gluten free! An old English proverb goes like ‘Peel a fig for a friend and a peach for your enemy’. Maybe this is because figs have been traditionally linked to wisdom symbolizing abundance, fertility and sweetness. Fresh Figs are healthy and tasty but believe me dries figs are from heaven, simply divine!

Fun Facts:

Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower that is inserted into itself. The real fruit actually are the seeds!!

Figs are the only fruit to fully ripen and semi-dry on the tree.

Like dates, the food value increases with drying – one dried fig has almost as much calcium as an egg – and they will keep much longer than fresh figs which are fragile, needing refrigeration and use within a few days.

Eating one half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking one-half cup of milk.

Almonds

Kashmiri Almonds are smaller in size with almost 42% higher oil content than their Californian counterparts. Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Being a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high quality protein, just a handful of almonds, contains one-eighth of our necessary daily protein. Almonds are your wonder nuts. Not only for your general health but they are a magic potion for your skin and hair as well.

Fun Facts:

Almonds are rich in manganese, riboflavin, and copper, all of which aid in energy manufacturing, that is why energy giving food bars are always stuffed with almonds.

Almond oil is a brilliant moisturizer and works to prevent acne, blackheads, as well as arid and prickly skin.

Scientific readings show that almonds contain the nutrients that help in the growth of the brain function. Having five water soaked almonds first thing in the morning every day will maximize your brain strength.

Walnuts

Walnuts are the oldest known tree food dating back to 10,000 BC! Walnuts are believed to have originated in Persia, Central Asia from where they spread across the globe. Walnuts are rich sources, in fact, the richest plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids which help in keeping your nerve membranes flexible, and boost oxygen levels in the blood. The Greeks called walnuts karyon, meaning “head,” because the shell resembles a human skull and the walnut kernel itself looks like a brain!

Fun Facts:

Walnuts are not only good for your heart but are also good for your brain! Omega 3 fatty acids are the type of fat preferred by the brain and nervous system.

Walnuts are a rich source of magnesium hence good in inhibiting the onset of diabetes as low magnesium diets have been linked to reduced insulin sensitivity and increased risk of type 2 Diabetes.

Zirish – Black Raisins

Humans are believed to have discovered raisins when they happened upon grapes drying on a vine. Drying grapes for raisins dates back to as long ago as 1490 B.C. Black raisins or currants locally known as Zirish in Kashmir are added in desserts and other popular dishes of Kashmir cuisine.

Fun Facts:

Black raisins contain no cholesterol. Rather, it helps curb the adverse effects of Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) or so called ‘bad’ cholesterol found in our body.

Helps improve hair structure, prevents thinning of hair.

Helps in maintaining good vision.

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