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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Diabetics have one track minds!

"Say something soft and sweet to me, Jughead", she said. He leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Marshmallows!"

Even in in a family with a hereditary (on both sides) love for sugar, my own passion for it bordered on a level that, in any other case, could have put me in trouble with the Law.

And then I married Nuzhat, who, along with her brothers, also shared my psychological disorder of never being able to pass the sideboard or the tea-trolley without grabbing and gulping down a spoonful of sugar. In fact, my mother-in-law used to say that she'd given birth to ants!

I recall Eeds where 3 different types of Sivayyaañ were cooked in our house. One for visitors, who found the sweetness of our regular dish difficult to handle; one for my mother, my wife, and anyone else feeling adventurous; and one for me (and for my father, when he was alive) - The Chaogünee - in which the ratio of Sugar to Vermicelli was 4:1 ... honest!

I also admit to having been guilty (in my pre-Type II days) of secretly sprinkling sugar on my portions of desserts served at friends' houses. Or, inadvertently, shocking them, as I did at my sis-in-law's house, by drinking the left-over sheera from the pot that the gulaab-jaamans had been served in.

So to end up with Diabetes (Puhleez! Excessive sugar does NOT cause Diabetes! That's one of the most common misunderstandings!!!) has been a terrible personal tragedy. Or was, in the beginning. Fortunately(?) there are enough diabetics to target as a market segment. And, thus, as one of the benefits of Capitalism, we have a host of Sugar-Free products. But here's the most important part: The best of these come from someone who started producing the stuff, or introduced this as a line, because s/he was a diabetic and missed the erotic delights of good sweets. Everyone else delivers a bland piece of excreta with no sugar (or, more frequently, with really bad sugar substitutes). No one else can even begin to understand our need.
BTW, the idiots in a restaurant off ZamZama - I forget the name; it's a first-floor coffee shop - have no idea of the serious risk they are putting diabetics through: I asked the waiter which sugar substitute they use in the drinks they advertised as sugar-free and was informed that they "use regular sugar but do not charge for the sugar in these drinks." I swear this is true ... I have a witness!
Just in case some of you are still unaware, sugar substitutes come in two different versions. Most types cannot be used for cooking (the heat breaks them down into something that is vile-tasting and could be bad for health, too. Who knows ...). Make sure you choose the ones that clearly state that they are meant for cooking and baking. Here are some of my favourite sugar-free thingies: Ice Creams, Banana Splits, and Milk Shakes at Gelatto Affair (be sure to try their Coffee Milk Shake with sugar-free Chocolate ice cream); Ice creams at Snoopy may also work, depending upon your taste or wallet state. BTW, Gelatto Affair is in Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad. And, of course, Chill-Out in Lahore deserves prominent mention: Their Sugar-Free Mocha and Butter Walnut are out of this world! The Delite Diet Ice-Cream tubs can, as a last resort, be used. Hico has a Vanilla that's useful for topping up other delights and mixing with mangoes.
Speaking of mangoes, they are poison for diabetics, I know. I changed my first diabetician almost immediately, because she suggested that I could have "half a mango at mealtime. " --- HALF????? I mean why bother? You either don't eat mangoes or you eat them. Them. Plural! She also said to me that for each year I skipped mangoes, I'd live two more years. Two more years without mangoes? What a daft idea! And sinful, too! Mangoes, Music, and Macs are the closest things I have to religion, really. In fact, my vision of Heaven has always been of London lined with mango trees.
Desserts (also off ZamZama) and a couple of other bakeries offer reasonable cheesecakes for diabetics. Pester them often and they'll soon add other items. More stuff is beginning to show up on shelves at supermarkets. Some of the cookies and biscuits are really good, but you'll need to explore. Chocolates: I shall leave that to your judgement, entirely. If you are travelling, buy them abroad. The ones you get here are usually stale, frozen-defrosted-refrozen, or unknown brands that are too expensive to experiment with. And, please, if you wish to give some diabetic a gift of love, do not get Dark or Bitter Chocolates (with or without sugar): The poor soul is missing the sweetness, most of all.

As for sugar-free mithaaee, Nirala's Barfee is great and, if you are in Lahore, their Laddoos are wonderful, too. Karachiites are deprived of the latter treat for 'technical' reasons, I was told. But their gulaab-jaamans are simply unbelievable ... and better, really better, than the standard fare. Most of my non-diabetic friends prefer them. Even those not conscious of their expanding waist-lines. There's a little corner shop on Burns Road in Karachi - next to the famous Kabab eatery recognizable by its overwhelming green colour - that sells superb sugar-free rab∂ee to which I usually add a teeny bit of milk (sweetened ;-) with sugar substitute). The milk makes it easy to have the sweetness penetrate all of the contents of a large bowl of rab∂ee. Yes! In matters of desserts, size counts.

Finally, if you are diabetic and really, really have a sweet-tooth, maybe you can drop in this Eed and taste a bit of the stunning stuff that Nuzhat still whips up for me with Splenda, including the most splendid kheer this side of the Gomti.
Additional note in response to some comments: MedicineNet's Diabetes Section is among the best sources of info on the subject. I would strongly suggest using the xml/rss feed option to make sure you are kept updated.

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Blogger insiya said...

i'll take a print out of this one for ammi- a gift for her home-coming! :)

22 August, 2006 09:53

Anonymous FurSid said...

Zak I'm assuming an invitation for this Eed at your place to have all that I can (and of course, all that you have to offer :p)

I un/fortunately have a sweet-tooth but this is my very first diabetes experience (and my doctors has really threatened me to control that tooth) I've been holding myself. But I'm sure I cant help my sweetness in control anymore :p (specially after reading this post of yours). It makes it evident, there are 'choices' for deabetics too!

Thanks for putting up all this. Really great!

22 August, 2006 17:58

Anonymous Ghazala said...

Fab post!
useful for non diabetics as well. Am dying to have the sugar free Rabrree mmmmmmmmm !!! will sneak across and share some next time you're having it. Of course, I take it you'll are having open house at EEd , can't wait.
Meanwhile here's hoping some sympathetic horticulturist will start working on a genus of mangoes that are sugar-free, though not like the one in the coffee shop in Zamzama where u're not charged for the sugar.C'mon you're not serious.
Great post.
I will vouch for Nirala's barfee and Gulabjamuns -out of this world - makes me seriously wonder why they do the non sugar-free ones!

22 August, 2006 18:10

Blogger sabizak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 August, 2006 21:30

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Uff, sabizak. Thanks for jogging my tired and aging grey cells. How could I possibly have forgotten that grand-daddy of all sugar-free ice cream parlours. I have such lovely memories of it! Have added it in the main post!

22 August, 2006 22:02

Anonymous Jehan said...

Zak I am heartbroken - you didn't mention the sugar-free coconut barfee i used to make for you! Sniff,Sniff

22 August, 2006 22:02

Anonymous BeanZ said...

A zillion years ago, Zak came over to my house for an Eed visit. I had met him recently and was unaccustomed to his caustic tongue and deadpan wit. Sheer Khurma was offered to the guests. Zak took one bite of it and said "Aap iss ko sheer khurma kehtay hain? Hamaray ghar mein biryani iss say meethee paktee hai". That was my first introduction to Zak's philosophy of "tell it like it is - no holds barred!" He went on to say that he drinks the sheera of gulab jamun, neat, and really couldn't torture himself with this so-called sheer khurma!


23 August, 2006 13:48

Blogger the olive ream said...

ZAK, this is one of the most delicious posts I have ever read. I am seriously craving Sivayyaañ now...

I'm a sugar freak myself..but obviously not as bad as you are..

23 August, 2006 23:04

Blogger moizza said...

Hmm. Tell me and count the ways in which a diabetic can actually increase his/her lifespan?

24 August, 2006 18:14

Blogger Zakintosh said...

moizza [and others who are interested]:

this is among the best sources of info on diabetes

i would strongly suggest using the xml/rss feed option to make sure you are kept updated.

increasing one's lifespan and - equally if not more important - ensuring the quality of life requires adjustments in lifestyle, not just diet and medication.

an initial visit to a good diabetician and regular follow-ups are essential.

25 August, 2006 08:58

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

I also love sweets and have even had to sacrifice one and a half of my front teeth (one was subjected to root-canal and replaced by a fake one. An adjacent one was ground to half to help install the prosthesis.)!

I put the sheera from gulab-jaamun or rasgulla into a bowl and then eat it like soup, with a spoon. Schlurrp!


16 May, 2007 09:33


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