June 20, 2012

Daruma-san - make my wish come true

Today I'd like to write about a japanese talisman called daruma-doll.

About one month ago I was looking for a birthday present for a friend who is studing the contemporary Japan and who really would like to go on an exchange to Japan. I didn't really know what to buy her but then in a japanese store I saw these little guys - daruma-dolls. On the spot I knew it was the perfect present because the daruma-doll is supposed to fullfill one's desires.

A daruma-doll is usually made of  papier-mâché & is weighed at the bottom so when the doll is tilt over it will bring itself to an upright position again. Here is a short video about the making of daruma-dolls I found on youtbe.

The legend of Bodhidharma
The tradtition of the daruma-doll goes back to an indian monk called Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma was practising a deep about nine years lasting meditation to gain satori (buddhistical enlightenment). In this time he suffered from muscel atrophy which caused his legs and arms to fall off. Another legend tells that during his meditation he fell asleep and he was so angry about this so that he cut off the lids of his eyes. After the eyelids fell on the floor next to Bodhidharma it is said that the first teaplant has sproutet from them.
So that's why the daruma-dolls comes with no legs, arms or eyelids.

Make a wish
To let the your wish become true you need to color one of the daruma-doll's eyes at which men color the left and women color the right eye. Then you should place the doll anywhere you are walking by everyday so that you are always reminded of your wish. When your wish has come true you color the other eye. Then the daruma-doll is usually burned in a tempel or shrine.

The ceremony of burning the daruma-doll's (Daruma Kuyo) is held once every year right after New Year's Day in japanese temples & shrines. After the burning new daruma-doll's are bought for the next year to bring fortune & to fullfill new wishes of the owner.

I hope you enjoyed reading & I hope to see you soon again on my blog :-)

June 14, 2012

Moroccan mint tea

this is my first blog entry, so I don't really expect many people to read this. However this entry is about one of the most delicious teas I'v ever drunken - moroccan mint tea.

Mint tea is one of the most essential things in the moroccan culture. Moroccan people have it for breakfast, when friends come around, after meals and so on. It can be said that they drink it all the time. In morocco aside from the well known moroccan hospitality mint tea is one of the most important things when you have guests at your home. So if you are invited to vistit a moroccan friend or his/her familiy you will probably be served very delicoius mint tea.

There is one astonishing fact about moroccan tea. Even when the weather is very hot after drinking this tea you will feel a bit refreshed. When drinking it the first time you will notice that it is very sweet. Moroccan pastries are very sweet too. They like it very sweet & they eat a lot of it :-) I'm not sure but but I think it's because of the warm weather. Sometimes I ask myself why they simply don't get diabetes or why they don't get fat. In fact I didn't see a lot of fat people when I was in morocco.

... whatever. So now you may be very exited how morrocan mint tea tastes like. Let me descibe it like this TOTALLY DELICOIUS! <3

Here is how to make it (with a teapot that holds about 1 liter) ;-)
At first you need to buy some integredients - mint & green tea granulates (small folded tealeafes). You also need sugar, a loooot of sugar & a special teapot. You can use any teapot, that you can put on the cooker & that has a special strainer.  On the right side there's a pickture how the strainer in the teapot should look like. Mint & green tea granulate can easily be bought at a moroccon or arabian supermarket.

At first you boil approximately 1 liter of water in a water boiler. Then you put about 1&1/2 teaspoon of green tea granulate in the teapot.

After that you pour some of the boiled water in the teapot so that the granulate is covered. Meanwhile you need to wash the mint of 3 stripes. Put the mint to the side. After appromiately 1 minute shake the teapot withe the granulate a few times left to right & right to left to wash the tealeaves properly (If you don't know what I mean, it's not that important) Now pour out the water in the teapot. It's absolutely normal if the poured out water looks a bit dark with some (tea)crumbs.

Now pour the rest of the boiled water in the teapot, but let about 1 or 2 centimeter space to the upper border of the teapot. Put the washed mint in the teapot and push it down properly. It is very important that all mintleaves are covered by water. Now you need a lot of sugar ;-) Usually I put about 8 - 9 teaspoons of sugar in approximately 1 litre of tea. (I don't like the tea to be too sweet, but if  you think the tea is not sweet enough you can put more sugar afterwards).

Then bring the tea to boil on a cooker with closed lid (but don't use too much heat) & take care that the mintleaves are always covered with water. If they are not the tea will taste a bit strange afterwards. When the tea is cooking use very less heat & stire the tea a 1-2 times, close the lid again. Now the tea needs to steep a few minutes but it shouldn't cook.

After about 5 minutes the tea is ready to be served.

I hope you like this tea. Some of my friends really love it. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask me ;-)