News, ideas and updates

Do you cater ?

Why yes I do, Thank you for asking! I do cater for small events and parties at present . I can offer you prices on a catered dinner or just finger foods.

Email me at tastesofindiainsooke@gmail.com with the number of people, occasion and budget for the event and I will customise a package for you. Alternatively I can send you a price list for finger food items for a part or a corporate event.  

Spice up that party or event and think Indian next time you have one! 

A bread by any other name: Types of Indian Bread

I thought it would would be fun to share the variety of Indian bread's ...yes we have a lot. These are some basic categories some get stuffed and take on a whole new name too. So venture out and try something other than a naan next time you see it on the menu 

Baati: Bread looking like bun cooked over ambers in Rajasthan

Bhatura: Deep fried Maida ( refined flour)  flat bread

Chapati: Basic whole wheat un-leavened flat bread, aka Roti

Kulcha: Baked Maida ( refined flour) flat bread

Naan: Leavened flat bread baked in clay oven.

Paratha: Griddle Fried flat bread

Pulkha: Light weight version of Basic whole wheat bread (Roti)

Poori: Deep fried flat puffed bread

Roomali roti: Very Very thin bread

Roti: Basic whole wheat un-leavened flat bread, aka Chapati

Roti Makki: Corn (Maze) basic flat bread

Roti Missy: Multi grain basic flat bread

RECIPE: Curry Powder

It feels like a contemplative day with the rain outside and being housebound. Don't ask why but it feels like a day to share information from my home kitchen. Today I reflect on conversations about Curry powder and the products available labelled curry powder on store shelves. 

The word 'curry' is derived from the 'Tamil' word 'kari' meaning "sauce, relish for rice".  In some circles curry powder is thought to be a British invention. It is likely that someone took some Indian spice mixtures home with them hoping to recreate the dishes they had enjoyed in India. Cooks in India tend not to use a single spice mixture to flavour all of their dishes. Instead, they tend to mix various called a different 'masala' each time , which varies from dish to dish and region to region. It is however nice to have a blend of spices ready to add to anything including soups, sauces or rice to add that exotic flavour.

I share with you a simple blend that can be used to make your own home made curry powder

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp cumin powder

Bend it well with a whisk or in a coffee grinder and store in a cool dry space. 

To make it a more complex and robust flavour you can add the following as well

  • 1 tsp cardamon powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

A good way to add a little spice into your food and life .

RECIPE: "Aloo Pitika" Mashed potato

I come from a little known part of India known as Assam. Assamese cuisine even in India has been one cuisine that has never had the opportunity to get publicised. Since it was just the Assamese new year and I am sharing a recipe that is easy to make and easy to incorporate into your regular meal. It is called ‘Aloo Pitika’- mashed potaoes with chopped onions, chillies and coriander leaves. 

You can add an egg to it to give it a different dimension too - "Koni Aloo Pitika" egg and potato mash 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato- boiled and mashed
  • 2  boiled eggs mashed (optional)
  • Finely Chopped onion- 1 medium size
  • Salt as per your taste
  • Chopped green chilly (optional)
  • Fresh Coriander leaves chopped
  • Few drops of  mustard oil


Method:

Mix all the ingredients well and serve.

 

Spice Wisdom

So I have had many a conversation recently with people about spices and their use. Here's what I say to them and wanted to share it with everyone. Start with a few spices, taste them understand them and slowly build up your pantry over time. Don't hoard those spices- spring clean those spice collections. They don't last forever sadly, so if there are any you haven't used for more than a year, the likelihood is they've lost their flavour.

Finally go easy on how much you add into curries, a little goes a long way and you don't want to over power your dish. Happy Cooking and spice up your life 

Recipe: Zucchini Thogayal/ Chutney

  • 2 large green zucchini's , cut into small cubes

  • 2 teaspoons urad dal

  • 2 tbsp coconut

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 3 dry red chillies

  • 10 curry leaves

  • small lemon size ball of fresh tamarind

Ingredients for Seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 2 dry red chillies

  • 3-4 curry leaves

  • 1 teaspoon oil for tempering

  • Salt to taste

Directions for Zucchini Thogayal

  1. To begin making the Zucchini Thogayal recipe, heat a teaspoon oil in a heavy bottomed pan; add the cut zucchini along with a little salt and saute until soft and tender. Turn off heat and allow it to cool.

  2. In another small pan; roast the cumin seeds, dry red chillies, coconut and urad dal until it releases a roasted aroma and slightly browned.

  3. Now grind the roasted ingredients, the cooked zucchini,the tamarind and curry leaves together until it forms a smooth paste. Check the salt in the Zucchini Thogayal recipe and adjust to suit your taste.

  4. Heat a little oil in a pan; add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Allow it to crackle and the red chillies to roast. Add it to the zucchini thogayal.

Garam Masala- Hot stuff?

The word Garam means warm in Hindi while Masala means spice mix. Garam masala is therefore a warming spice mix. the word 'warming' refers to the 'heating properties' ascribed to the ingredients, by Ayurveda.

Different regions of India have different versions of garam masala. Some are made without dry roasting the ingredients while others are made after dry roasting then cooling the ingredients and grinding them to a powder. Some contain 'extra' ingredients that others don't.

Once you get a feel for the taste it gives your cooking, experiment and alter your Garam Masala recipe to suit your needs.

Garam Masala is best made fresh just before you begin cooking, but if you haven’t got the patience , make a batch ahead and store for several months in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place. 

This is my recipe for a basic Garam Masala. Feel free to tweak it to suit your palate and the dish you are cooking. I dry roast the ingredients below and grind them to a fine powder

  • 4 tbsp coriander seeds
  •  1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  •  1 ½ tsp black cumin seeds
  • ¾ tsp cloves
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon (2 X 1” pieces)
  • ¾ tsp crushed bay leaves
  •  1 ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 ½ tsp mace

History of the humble samosa in India

The samosa ioriginated in the  Middle East known as the sambosa. They were introduced to the Indian subcontinent in the 13th or 14th century by traders from Central Asia. Amir Khusro (1253–1325), a scholar and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate, wrote in around 1300 that the princes and nobles enjoyed the "samosa prepared from meat, ghee, onion and so on". Ibn Battuta, a 14th-century traveler and explorer, describes a meal at the court of Muhammad bin Tughluq, where the samushak or sambusak, a small pie stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and spices, was served before the third course, of pulao. The Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th-century Mughal document, mentions the recipe for qutab, which it says, “the people of Hindustan call sanbúsah”.

The Hindus made this their own with a change in the filling with a mixture of mashed boiled potato, onion, green peas, spices and green chilli. Different parts of India in turn have made a change in the kind of samosa they eat right down to the pastry and accompaniments.  

The one thing in common is what a great snack it makes and is enjoyed greatly with a nice hot cup of tea!

Mulligatawny Soup- The Indian version

Ingredients

For The Masala Powder

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp aniseeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 small sticks cinnamon

For The Soup

3/4 cup split red lentil

2 tbsp oil/ butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onions

3/4 cup finely chopped carrots

1/2 inch ginger

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

3/4 cup chopped tomatoes

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup cooked rice

1/2 tsp lemon juice

salt to taste

Method

For the masala powder

Combine all the ingredients in a broad non-stick pan and dry roast on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Allow it to cool slightly and blend in a mixer to a smooth powder. Keep aside.

If you can’t find the dry ingredients to make this powder use curry powder but omit the turmeric from the soup ingredients

For the soup

Heat the oil/butter in a pressure cooker/ thick bottomed pan, add the onions, carrots, ginger and garlic and sauté on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the red lentil, tomatoes, masala powder, turmeric powder and 3¼ cups of water, mix well and pressure cook for 2 whistles/ cook for until lentils and carrots softens if in a pan.

Allow the steam to escape before opening the lid. Blend the soup in a mixer to a smooth purée and strain it using a strainer.

Transfer the purée to a deep non-stick pan, add the coconut milk, rice, lemon juice and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 minutes, while stirring continuously.

Serve hot.

Where have I been? What's happened to your Indian food supply?

At the end of last summer we found out that we were expecting a new addition to our family. I managed to pull through till a week before delivery but had to give in to maternity leave!

On the 19th of April the Tastes of India in Sooke tasters increased by 1, joining our toddler is a little girl. She has already been exposed to Indian food in-vitro including some strong spices, so I hope she will have the same fondness for samosas and curries that her brother does.

I am excited to introduce her to you all via this post. It will be an exciting summer with new offerings at the Sooke Night market and stores. See you soon...

Origins of Butter Chicken

A brief heavily contested history of this now world renown dish.  It is said that Lala Kundan Lal Gujral first set up in Peshawar in 1920 but came to Delhi in 1947 to set up Moti Mahal. He worked with a local man to produce the first restaurant version of the tandoor and invented tandoori spice mix for tandoori chicken -ground coriander seeds, black pepper and mild red pepper.

Called Murg Makhani in Hindi, Butter Chicken originated in the 1950s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi. Famed for its Tandoori Chicken, the cooks there used to recycle the leftover chicken juices in the marinade trays by adding butter and tomato. This sauce was then tossed around with the tandoor-cooked chicken pieces and presto - Butter Chicken was ready! 

The leftover dish appealed to Delhites and was quickly lapped up by the rest of the world. It’s a very rich dish which involves cream, butter, almonds and cashews. If you google, you will find different variations of the recipe including lighter versions. There are many variations on the composition and spicing of the sauce. Spices may include asafoetida, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and fenugreek (Punjabi/Hindi: kasuri methi)

 I of-course do my own version as well that can be ordered via take-out and found in the heat and eat meal packs in Village Foods. Try it and let me know what you think! 

Reference

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter_chicken
  2. http://motimahal.in

 

 

Chana Daal- Health Benefits and what it is?

Split Bengal gram is the most popular legume from many Indian Lentils consumed. Chana dal is delicious, nutritious and easily digested.

 

Health Benefits of Chana Dal

  1. Chana dal is high in fiber and helps to lower cholesterol.
  2. It also has a very low hypoglycemic index, which is important for those with diabetes.
  3. Chana dal is a helpful source of zinc, folate, calcium and protein.
  4. It is low in fat and most of it is polyunsaturated.
  5. Chana dal is extremely delicious in taste, full of nutritious and can be digested easily.

Enjoy it with rice, chapati or naan or even just on its own as a soup.

Exciting event for a good cause

It was that time of the year again when I took part in the 8th Annual A Taste of BC event, organised and held by the Sooke Harbourside Lions club at the EMCS. It was my 2nd time and the goal was to ensure people got to experience some of the different tastes of India. 

Our offerings (supported by Lord Ganesh that supervised our table)  included:

  • Pani Puri- Pani puri (also called golgappa) is a street snack in several regions of South Asia. It consists of a round, hollow bread, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (pani), tamarind chutney, spices, potato, onion and chickpeas. 
  • Dhokla- Dhokla is a vegetarian food that originates from the Indian state of Gujarat. It is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and split chickpeas.  Dhokla can be eaten for breakfast, as a main course, as a side dish, or as a snack.
  • Idli with chutney- Idli is a traditional breakfast in South Indian households. Idli is a savoury cake that is popular throughout India and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka. The cakes are usually four to five inches in diameter, made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils (de-husked) and rice. The fermentation process breaks down the starches so that they are more readily metabolized by the body. 
    The finished idli batter is put into moulds of an idli tray and steamed. Since plain idlis are mild in taste, a condiment is essential. Idlis are often served with sambar (lentil curry) but this varies greatly by region and personal taste. Idlis are also frequently served with chutney.
  • Sooji Halwa- Sooji Halwa is a very popular sweet dish all over India and is made on religious occasions, as parsad (offering to God). After prayer Halwa is served to devotees as a blessing. It is  made from semolina , which is the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings, and couscous
  • Besan Ladoo- Besan Ladoo  are ball shaped sweets from are made for most festivals and celebrations. Besan ladoo are sweet balls made from chickpea flour, sugar, ghee and nuts. It is said that Lord Ganesh loves ladoos .

We loved peoples reactions and enthusiasm as they tried new foods and discovered who we were and what we did. The event as we were told surpassed the previous years and was sold out. It was great to see so many familiar faces and new ones at the event supporting this great cause and attending the event. 

 

 

Lesson of the day...dont knock it till you've tried it!

A large sceptic on Indian fusion dishes I laughed and shook my head in dismay when told about Butter Chicken Poutine. I even spoke about it in great lengths to fellow industry men and offered them the idea instead.

After a few days of stormy weather in Sooke, self imposed quarantines and general lack of motivation for my own meals I decided this morning why not try it...whats the worse that can happen.

I sliced up the potatoes to make thin and low calorie fries in the air frier. These were then topped off with some Butter Chicken sauce and some grated paneer. Result- I am a convert, it is amazing! Next stop butter chicken wings-watch this space.

What is Diwali ?

Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It's the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights) that's marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy. This year Diwali falls on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. 

Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.

As there is not much to offer in the little town of Sooke in the way of Diwali and part of family travelling , celebrations for me will be to light up the house with candles and inviting  the goddess of wealth Laxmi to our household.

I will also be preparing the following snacks

  • Suji halwa- Semolina pudding ( dairy free)
  • Besan Ladoo- Chickpea flour sweets ( gluten free)
  • Namak Para- Salty fried flour squares with spices
  • Masaledaar Kaju- Cashew with moorish spices
  • Paneer Tikka- Indian cheese grilled with vegetables and spices
  • Karanji- Deep fried dumplings filled with  sweet spiced coconut

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in any of these snacks as well.

 

Masala Tea not Chai Tea: Repost

Revisiting some old recipes and thought with a day like today masala tea would be ideal. So here goes my version for 3-4 cups

Ingredients

  • Black tea of any kinds . Loose leaf is better but you can cheat and open a couple of bags too :) 3 flat spoons
  • Water roughy 1/4 to each cup tea
  • 4-5 pods of green cardamom
  • 3-4 cms of ginger chopped roughly
  • Sweetener of your preference , anything from white sugar to Stevia will work. As much as your taste buds need.
  • Whole Milk is better but skimmed will do, roughly a cup for each cup of tea


In a open pan put the milk to slow heat, add the crushed cardamom pods, ginger and sweetener to it. When it simmers add the tea leaves and water to it all and stir. As the mixture heats tannins are released and the colour of the mixture gets darker. It is best to get it to the chocolate milk colour ( 2-5 mins on the boil). If a skin forms on this mixture with tea leaves and other stuff in it, break it up with a spoon and stir back into the mixture. 

Take this mixture off the heat and pour it into the cups with a strainer to catch all the debris as I call it :)

Now enjoy your tea with some hot Pakora's or dunking in some nice tea biscuits- Indian  Style!

NOTE: I have seen people add cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, star anise or even all spice. You can try all of it in variations. Cardamom is the main ingredients with the others used to add the heat/ kick factor.

Recipe: Creamy Red Lentil Daal

This makes a tasty supper for vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Serve with naan bread/ pita bread, sour/coconut cream and fresh cilantro. The cream gives this dish a richness.You can add vegetables in to make it more hearty if you wish but cook the vegetables ahead of time. 

Ingredients

  • 500 gms/1 1/4th lb/ 2cups red lentils

  • 15ml/1tbsp hot curry paste/ powder

  • 15ml/1tbsp sunflower oil

  • salt and ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the lentils. Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, then stir in the curry paste/powder and add 600ml/2 1/2 cups boiling water. 

Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 mins stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the mixture has thickened.

Season the daal with plenty of salt and ground pepper to taste, serve piping hot.

New supplier- Shopping local

I am excited to announce a new LOCAL new chicken supplier- Stillmeadow and Parry Bay Farms of Metchosin. The chicken is hormone, anti-biotic free and fee run in a lovely location in Happy Valley.  This partnership allows Tastes of India in Sooke to be serious about being able to connect food producers and consumers in the same geographic region. 

Remember shopping local for food allows a food network to become more self-reliant, improve local economies, environments and the community at large.