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Showing posts with label Local Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Local Food. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


 I should have really titled this post 'Ottolenghi Battles the Blue Demons' :) It will become clear soon.

If you've been hanging out with me in recent times, both online and offline, you'll know that I have been struggling a little bit. I realised a few things in the last week or so. First, I completely forgot that it was my blog's sixth birthday last month. Things were so hectic, that it really just slipped my mind. So I decided to go back and look at some of my older posts, and to be honest, I was quite surprised at how far I've come along and how much I've grown as a blogger. For a small, personal blog, I am not doing badly at all. A lot of people visit this website every day, and they come from all over the world. A lot of people like The Tiffin Box on Facebook, and I love getting messages from them, everything from how to make a particular dish, to troubleshooting, to asking for new recipes or offering suggestions, to complimenting me on my work.

Ah, yes. The compliments. To be honest, I do not know how to deal with praise. I have my faults, and one of them is that I just can't take compliments gracefully. I'll always be self effacing and go... 'Oh, thanks, but its not me, its my camera, lens, blogger, cookbook, recipe source, mom, aunty', and so on. I feel like I don't deserve any praise because what I do here is ordinary, and there always better bloggers, photographers, writers, cooks, chefs and I am just a poor imitation of them. This inability to take any kind of credit for my own work has meant that I am almost always really hard on myself, and I have felt that I am not really accomplishing anything. My complete lack on confidence in myself is probably what led to my breakdown in the last few weeks, and I am not ashamed to say that I was not in a good place mentally or physically. And that reflected in my inability to focus, or write or photograph, or just be creative in the many ways I know I can.


Even as The Tiffin Box turns six years old, I have never stepped back, taken a good look at it and actually said, 'Hey, hang on, this is actually me doing all this work, this is me cooking good food, taking great pictures, writing, proofing, testing, learning, teaching... look at that, almost three hundred good recipes, that's not bad at all

I've just never done that. And maybe its time I did. Maybe its time I learned how to take those well meaning compliments with a smile and a 'thank you, I am happy you enjoyed that' instead of adding my usual 'it's not me' qualifier to the end. 


Then I (metaphorically, of course) kicked myself in the butt. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, and just take a moment to feel proud of everything I've accomplished here. I am going to feel proud of the fact that I am a good cook with good training and discipline, that I am a good photographer with an eye for styling and details, and I am also a good writer, with decent grammar and spelling. 

I am also a good wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend. I have great relationships with my family and friends, and they know and love me, and are proud of all that I have accomplished in my life. Instead of being my usual reticent self, I am going to be proud and say, I have come a long way. And I am going to take my passion for cooking, photographing and writing and develop it in different ways and I am going to have fun doing that.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


If there is one thing any blogger dreads, it's those two words - writer's block. I don't know if its post-holiday blues, but I've struggled to even sit in front of the computer, let alone process any pictures, or read or write. Most of the time its easier to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed. The smartphone doesn't help... it just means access to emails and papers, and harder to write on it, so its an easy way out... albeit one that doesn't help in the long term, as it merely enables the wallowing. And I can keep pretending that I am working, with the odd status update on Facebook, or a Twitter message... or an Instagram post. I am fooling no one though, because I am not actually writing.

It shouldn't be so hard. I assumed that when I got back from India, I'd be brimming over with ideas and that words would flow out of me in this easy, effortless stream. I assumed I'd be refreshed and head back with a clear head, with my life in order, with enthusiasm for writing up and testing all the recipes I brought back with me.

Instead, each day has been a drag. Its a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings. Only the fact that my kid needs to be packed off to school gets me up. Jet lag didn't help. I didn't have any on the way in to India, so I naively thought that I'd be fine getting back - I wasn't. It took me a week to get over it, and all I want to do is sleep, sleep and sleep some more.

How do I get over it?

Frankly, I don't know. I just don't. When words are your living, losing them creates a massive hole in your world. How I am going to patch it, I honestly don't know. What I am going to selfishly ask, is for your support, as I fight my way out of this. It feels like a fight, and I don't want to give it up. I love doing what I do, and I love my readers, and it feels like I am letting you down by not posting every week. I am sorry, and I am going to ask you to bear with me while I get my head straight and my inspiration, passion and drive back. I am reading and rereading this Food Bloggers of Canada post, and I am hoping that following its advice will bring me back, refreshed and ready to rock again.

Friday, 27 December 2013

  

India, a land of contrasts. Every time I think I have a handle on this extraordinary country, it throws me a curveball. From the first step off a long flight, the smell of wood smoke, chill and the hints of dust in the air... the cheerful faces of relatives, even at the unearthly hour of 3 AM...  the sparkling lights of Christmas time (any excuse for a holiday, here) and of course, the hot food at my aunts, that she prepared for me, even though she works full time.

I loved the feeling of being home with my aunt  Jessie. I've already spoken about my aunt, in this post here, but I have to reiterate, that she's an amazingly simple, elegant, down to earth person, who happens to be a super cook to boot. Lucky uncle and my cousin Jas.

The next morning brought back to me why I miss India so much. As Adz and I, bleary eyed, straggled our way downstairs - jet lagged and exhausted - the aroma of fresh, hot chai floated up and into our grateful insides. Along with sizzling, hot, buttered rotis and a crisp fried masala egg... well, to be honest, that's my idea of heaven. 

I've been documenting my everyday adventures here on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, so don't forget to head over and ogle the beauty of my chais and chapathis :)  


As it turned out, my aunt decided to take the day off, and along with another of my aunts, Aunt Justine and my cousin Jas, we decided to hang out in Bangalore, refreshing my memories of choking traffic and the sheer chaos of riding on roads without rules. I was mentally compiling a list of ten things about traffic and driving in India, and I will definitely share that with you all soon... trust me, it will make for exciting reading.

Meanwhile, when we got back from our meanderings, my aunt Jessie had been cooking all morning. On our way back from the airport, the driver of our car noticed that the vegetable trucks had just started unloading vendors loaded down with fresh greens and vegetables. A quick word to my uncle, and we stopped right there by the roadside, and off they went to grab some bargain fresh fenugreek, cilantro and spinach.

(Note: apparently, as the day gets on, prices go up significantly, so it does pay to be out at 4.30 AM)

Friday, 11 October 2013

Roasted, Spiced 'Pumpkin Pie' Ice Cream with Pecan Praline

While I really don't appreciate the onset of winter, I do love autumn. I love the colours, the brisk breezes, the crisp crackle of leaves underfoot, the dark hints of woodsmoke in the air, the abundance of fall produce and the comfort of walking into a warm, cosy house when your nose is really really cold. And if it is sunny and bright, which it tends to be here in Edmonton, then so much the better. The sky is always a bright blue, and the sunshine, while not the warmest, gives you a feeling of cheer and that everything is all right in the world.

I also love autumn cooking. I make spiced soups, hearty stews, baked casseroles, curries and cakes. And I must admit, typical fall holidays like Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween are growing on me... the last one, thanks to one overexcited little kid and an equally overexcited big kid.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

 Sparkling Sweet and Spicy Pepper Jelly

Preserving has never been a huge part of my everyday life, back in India, or even in England. I love my family's spicy pickles, or preserved lemons and limes, but other than that, I have never preserved or canned and it wasn't a technique I was comfortable with for a long time.

How things have changed...

Canning 2013 - Batch 1... yeah, still more
 to come.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


It's been a good season for zucchini. Then again, when is it not a good season for zucchini? This year, I thought I was prepared for them. Well, sort of prepared... I did not reckon for all the ones from the farms and neighbours coming in to me as well. Its like I was taken over by the giant zucchini monsters... and there are SO MANY of them... I even ran out of space to put them in. Aaargh... zucchini, help.

So they now live in a cooler somewhere in the kitchen and I try not to look too hard for them. I am going to have to sort them out soon enough, but for now, out of sight, out of mind.

But.



The one thing that I did do with my early ones was grate them all and pop them into the freezer. I was thinking about these Lemon Zucchini Cookies when I was doing that. But then I realised that they would work perfectly for these bhajis too. So now my zucchinis are doing a happy dance, because not only do they get made into cookies, but there's nothing better than hot, crispy zucchini onion bhajis with a steaming cup of chai on a cloudy, grey autumn morning.

I can live with that. Take that, Mr. Over-proliferating Zucchini.

These bhajis are an adaptation of my onion bhajis. The sliced onion adds a nice hint of sweetness to these delicately spiced morsels. I served them with a lemon cilantro mint chutney that cuts through the richness of these bhajis.

Recipe:
(Printable Recipe)

For the Zucchini and Onion Bhajis

2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (around 750g total weight)
2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced 
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (gram flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon mild chilli powder (or 1/2 teaspoon hot cayenne pepper)
More salt to taste
1/4 cup water, if required
Unscented oil to deep fry (I used canola) 

Lemon Cilantro - Mint Chutney 

Large handful fresh cilantro
Large handful fresh mint
Juice of one large lemon + extra to taste
1/4 cup water (as required to blend)
Salt to taste

Method: 

Place the grated zucchini in a large bowl and sprinkle over the kosher salt. Stir well and leave for about an hour. Drain and rinse the zucchini well, squeeze out the excess water, then place in a bowl.

Add the onion, chickpea flour, baking soda, whole and ground cumin, coriander, chili powder and salt to taste.

Using your hands (beware, this is messy) or a spatula, mix everything together very well, until it comes together as a very thick batter. Add a splash of water too loosen the batter, if it feels too stiff.

Heat the oil in a deep pot to 350 F. Using a tablespoon measure, gently drop in small balls of the zucchini-onion bhaji batter into the hot oil. Fry, turning every so often for 4 - 5 minutes, or until the bhajis are golden brown and cooked through.

Lift the bhajis out, using a slotted spoon, and drain well on kitchen paper. Serve hot with the lemon-cilantro-mint chutney.

To make the chutney, blitz together all the ingredients until smooth, using just enough water to blend. Taste and season with more lemon juice and salt, if required. This chutney is quite fresh and tangy, so load up on the lemon juice, if you like it.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I found a friend.

Flowering

'It all started with an eighty nine year old professor leaning on his shovel' - Maryanne. 

I had to think long and hard about this month's post for the Canadian Food Experience Project. Heroes are very personal, when it comes to me. I have heroes, people I would go 'squeeeee' and faint if I met them, but they're not necessarily people I like to talk or write about... I am a little bit funny like that. I think even my husband would struggle to name a person who he considered my 'hero', both in the food world or otherwise, simply because I find it hard to articulate what it is about a person that I like and admire. Its easy enough to spout out names with the hopes that one or two 'click' but this was not what the challenge was all about for me. So, to be honest, I did think about maybe not taking part this time around. What changed my mind was that I had already missed one posting, as things were a bit manic in my world, and I didn't want to miss another one. Plus, as it is, I was already going to be late with this post too.

Once I took away the personal aspect of this topic, though, something did strike me. Who were the people, Canadian and otherwise, that I admired most when it comes to food, both the eating of and growing of it? Well, other than my mom and grandfather, who are kind of, not Canadian?

Well, those people who grow food. Not specifically farmers, though they are pretty admirable, but all those ordinary people who grow food in their back gardens. Not to blog, tweet or talk about it, but just for the sheer joy of watching things grow and sharing the bounties of harvest.

Shades of Green in the Guerilla Garden

Well, I know people like that. And one of my favourite persons is the lovely Maryanne, who plants her own 'guerilla garden' as she likes to call it. This is community gardening, but not like we know it. This is just gardening, planting food for the fun of it, and for the pleasure that it brings.

I asked Maryanne how she got started with her 'guerilla garden', and she talked about how she had always wanted a garden while living in a condo. Amidst all this, she said she used to get together with a group, who worked in an set of offices, behind which was a patch of grass and hedges. The professor, in particular, kept mentioning how well tomatoes would do just up there, against the brickwork of the building. But, despite thinking about starting a garden there, she didn't particularly relish beginning the process. And then, fate took a turn, whereby part of the lawn was dug up for replacing pipes. Once that happened, the aforementioned eighty nine year old professor took it upon himself to hurry the process along, digging a giant trench for the tomatoes, and the rest, she says, is history. She recounts a funny story about the first garden year, where they decided to plant potatoes in straw bales... 'mouse heaven' says Maryanne. 'What were we thinking?' she recalls ruefully... thankfully, the lesson was learned, and there were no more mouse condos.

I found out about the garden from my husband, Kay, when we first moved to Edmonton and were living in a condo in Garneau. Kay lent a hand in getting the garden in shape one year, and we spent many days and evenings, just hanging about, sitting around a firepit and eating fresh, local produce that was all grown in the garden. It inspired a sense of camaraderie, that did a lot to ease my way into a new city and make new friends. 

The garden has been going along for a few years now. Maryanne points to a pair of scissors on a small table by the water hose. That pair of scissors is left there, so if anyone stumbles on the garden they are more than welcome to take a piece of it home... fancy some fresh, organic lettuce? Or some beans? Broccoli? Well, its all there to share. Its part of the magic of guerrilla gardening. Its what makes my food heroes special.

Scissors

I am certainly not a gardener. That would be my husband, Kay, and my little girl Adz. As Adz poetically put it, 'dad is the grower, mum is the cooker'... gotcha in one. So I admire people that garden for the fun of it. They are my heroes. 

To celebrate home grown produce, I decided to share a simple recipe, but one that completely and utterly depends on the freshest produce. One of Kay's colleagues recently brought back Padrón pepper seeds, and Kay grew them in pots on the deck. We were lucky enough to get a whole bunch of peppers, and as we were told, all we did was douse them in some fresh olive oil, and grill them until the skins blistered. We then ate them, dunked in a titch of crystal, flaked sea salt, and all I can say is, this is what summer is all about. Sweet, salty heat, utterly moreish... so much so that Kay has now been told that there better be a lot more of these delicious little guys grown next summer. 

Apparently eating Padrón peppers has been likened to playing roulette. While the majority of the peppers are mild, with a light heat to them, 20% tend to be super hot. The only way to tell? Eat them. Now that sounds like my kind of roulette :) 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Crab Cakes

Happy new year, everyone... 2013, wow, another year, another beginning! I am feeling a bit weird this year, because, to be honest, I have no idea where the last year went. It feels like only yesterday life was all organised and stable and suddenly, its upside down again.

2012 has been a year of ups and downs in many ways. It was the year Aditi started kindergarten, or big girl school, as we call it, that I started working full time for Get Cooking, finally channelling my passion for food into something more tangible and a career. I made good friends in Edmonton that I feel confident that I can turn to when life gets tough, and got my life into shape. I was lucky enough to be invited to events here, and also contributed to several e-zines and recipe books. I became more confident in my cooking, and Food, Football and a Baby, a small personal blog, turned into The Tiffin Box, which is so much more reflective of my life now.

The downside was all those awful world events that took a toll on all our lives. Kay and I were really affected by the Newtown tragedy, especially as our baby girl is the same age as those beautiful kids who were senselessly killed. We cried with all the parents, and we couldn't even watch some of the coverage for fear of breaking down. I rarely talk politics on this blog, preferring to keep it simple, but this tragedy made me question a lot of things in life, and get more involved in making a difference.  

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Curried Parsnip Soup

A week or so ago, the temperatures really dropped in Edmonton. As I was walking to school with Aditi, all bundled up against the snow and wind, I said to her, well, Aditi, looks like winter's finally set in! Cue, wailing and nooooooo... but it's not even Halloween yet! Sorry kid, but Halloween's all well and good, but winter's here and this was one of the shortest autumns I've had so far. Now its time to pull out the giant winter coat, wear three layers of clothes, double up on the socks, look like weirdo in gigantic winter boots. Makes me feel like letting out a wail and a half too!

Of course, the fact that Halloween's around also means that poor mommy was out yesterday in a snow storm, trying to find a bloody ladybug costume for a pampered child 

(Just as an aside, do you know how hard it is to find a ladybug costume for a four year old? Its easier to give in and let her go as Tinkerbell or Cinderella instead... but way too many princesses in the world, thank you v. much! Argh! PS - I did find a costume in the end... even if when I got home my ears were all but fallen off because of said snowstorm... aaaarrgh, again! PPS - Here's a picture of said pampered child in her ladybug costume... it was worth all that frostbite) 

So of course, as soon as the weather turns miserable, all my root vegetables come out and the blender starts working overtime. And if I can add a shot of curry powder to the soup, well, all the better. In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as too much spice, is there?? 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Potato Bhajias/ Pakoras

Canadian Thanksgiving has just been, and what a lovely day we had. Mum-in-law and I made a few side dishes with produce from the garden (yep, potatoes) and we all headed down to Kathryn's for a lovely meal and we joked that it was certainly pleasant to cook and actually eat all the food ourselves. The turkey was excellent, super moist and all the sides complemented it so beautifully. We had some sparkling bubbly, with some excellent red with the dinner, and for dessert, some gorgeous cheeses that Lydia from Everything Cheese brought us, and a chocolate cake, and of course, a traditional pumpkin pie made by MIL (a very old family recipe that's coming soon on this blog, perhaps just in time for American Thanksgiving!)

I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. My family, my friends, my wonderful husband and child, my dream job with Kathryn, all the people I've met here in Edmonton, and who have become such a big part of my life. Thanksgiving is certainly special, and while we don't necessarily celebrate it a huge way, we certainly had a wonderful time surrounded by family and friends. I do miss my own family back in India, but even the distance is bridged with regular phone calls and Skype meetings.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

 

Remember how, this time last year, I was ranting away at my zucchinis? Well, this year, its potatoes. Kay planted around thirty potato plants in our neighbour's garden this year, and despite the hail battering, they have all prolifically produced potatoes (I love alliterations, me!) A lot of potatoes. Many, many hundreds of potatoes. Maybe even thousands and millions of potatoes (ok, a teeny exaggeration, perhaps)

I literally have potatoes coming out of my ears... a giant number of them, all lovely, and firm and red skinned and yellow fleshed... sitting there in baskets... looking at me with their potatoey eyes... just begging to be eaten, used up or given away. Our friends have already been at the recieving end of our potato shares, and I joke that I feel like a dealer, standing around on street corners going 'man, you wanna potatoes?' 

You think I am kidding? Look! 

And the picture is only of the little guys. Kay sorted them out, and stored the large potatoes in the garage for now. I am still not quite sure how to preserve them, but I am frantically researching. 

Jokes aside, we do have a gigantic harvest this year and I've been frantically cooking anything and everything potato. I've already run through all of my staple recipes and am now madly making anything that looks good and is remotely potato friendly. So, expect to see a lot of potato recipes here this month (and the next, and the next...)  
 
Thankfully, one of my recipe inspirations came thanks to my friend May, who posted this delicious looking Dahi Kadhi (Hot Spiced Yoghurt Soup). It inspired me to make this popular Indian recipe called dum aloo or potatoes simmered in a gently spiced yogurt sauce. May's yogurt soup had no potatoes in it, but at this time any recipe that can have potatoes dunked in it, is getting potatoes dunked in it.
This recipe worked out brilliantly, even if I do say so myself. Our potatoes are lush and sweet and this delicate, tangy-spicy sauce gently enhances their flavour without overpowering them. Its a fantastic dish for easy, nutritious suppers, and it goes well as an accompaniment to all sorts of dishes. 

A couple of things do need to be kept in mind while making this dish. The yogurt needs to be at room temperature or just very slightly chilled while making this dish. Make sure you take the pan off the heat and let the oil cool a little, before adding the yogurt mixture, as adding cold yogurt to hot oil can make it split. Once added, keep the heat medium-low, and bring the yogurt to just steaming point, and try to avoid boiling it, which can also make it split. The chickpea flour actually is there to make sure yogurts don't split, but I've found that yogurts here are not the same as in India and tend to split faster. 

If the yogurt does split, not to worry. Take off the heat and whisk hard for a few minutes, and this should emulsify it a little. In all honesty, splitting doesn't really affect the taste of this dish, its a purely aesthetic issue. 

The tarka at the end just lifts the whole flavour of the dish, making it truly amazing. May has a lot more in her tarka, but I kept it simple here. But do check out her recipe for the lovely soup, which I shall be making soon enough. Its not like there aren't any potatoes to go around, haha.

Watch out for more potato recipes coming your way soon... and if you want some, hop on by, and you can have some :)
 


Recipe:
(Printable Recipe)

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 kilo fresh potatoes, scrubbed, peeled if necessary and cut into chunks
Cold water, enough to cover the potatoes
Salt to taste

For the yogurt sauce:

2 cups plain or greek style yogurt, at room temperature
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup chickpea or gram flour (besan)
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 - 2 hot green chillies, sliced finely
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon hot cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon unscented oil
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small onion, diced fine
1 cup hot vegetable stock

For the tempering, or tarka/ tadka/ phon:


½ tablespoon unscented oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 - 2 sprigs curry leaves, picked (about 10 - 12 leaves)
2 long dried red chillies
2 whole garlic cloves, slightly bruised

Method:

Place the potatoes in a deep saucepan and cover with cold water. Add salt to taste, bring to the boil, and cook the potatoes until soft and tender. Drain and keep aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt and the milk. Sift over the chickpea flour and whisk until there are no lumps. Stir in the grated ginger, green chillies, turmeric, garam masala, ground cumin and cayenne pepper (if using) and mix well.

Heat the oil in a deep pan, on medium heat, and add the fennel seeds. When they start to sputter, add the onion. Fry for about 5 - 6 minutes, until the onion is soft and just beginning to colour.

Take the pan off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Gently whisk in the yogurt mixture, little by little, scraping the sides and making sure that the oil is all emulsified into the sauce.

Place back on a low heat, and incorporate the stock, gently whisking it in. Season to taste. On a low heat, bring the sauce to a very gentle simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Fold in the potatoes into the yogurt sauce and bring back to a simmer for a minute, then take off the heat and keep aside while you make the tempering.

To make the tarka or tempering, heat oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they sizzle and sputter, add the red chillies, the garlic and the curry leaves. Saute for abotu 30 seconds, then pour the whole lot over the potatoes in the yogurt sauce. Cover quickly to trap in the aromas.

Just before serving, gently stir everything together, check and adjust seasoning and serve just warm. This dish goes well with any accompaniment like rice, Indian breads or pita bread.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Classic Potato Salad

As summer comes to an end, I find myself scrambling around, trying to preserve the last of it... like if I hold on to it hard enough, the warmth and sunshine may just stay a little longer. Its a bit like watching your child grow up... except that in this case, summer will always come around again, but those precious childhood years won't ever be back. 

Aditi started kindergarten last week. Even though she's been going to preschool, it struck me quite hard as to the fact that my baby was no longer a baby, and that she's now independent and ready for big-girl school. We placed her in a lovely programme at a wonderful school, but there is always niggling questions... are we are doing the right thing, is she too young to start school (she's a bit on the young side), will she cope with all the kids, is it too much pressure, how can we make her life easier... all valid, legitimate concerns, but the fact remains that the years race by, and seasons pass on by and my baby grows older with each passing day. Its enough to make a mum emotional.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt

Aditi eeeee, and me too were very excited when we recieved our invitation to the opening of Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt in West Edmonton Mall. My daughter's only four, but considers herself quite the frozen yogurt connoisseur (and yes, she can say 'connoisseur' too, insert proud mommy emoticon here) and she was pretty sure that the invitation was hers actually, and I was her accompanying guest :) Which, of course, I was proud to be.

As it turns out, Pinkberry couldn't have chosen a better week to open in Edmonton. With temperatures soaring in the mid-thirties, it was hot outside and all thoughts were always with cold, frozen treats. Aditi and I were pretty hot when we arrived at WEM, even though we were sitting in the back of the bus where, ocasionally, there is a breeze happening. We were both, therefore, rather relieved when we entered the air conditioned environs of WEM, and we skittered along to the Pinkberry booth.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Home grown parsley and potato soup

Its been a weird week. I've had news that's made me hugely happy, and then we've had events that have made both Kay and I sad. Lets start with the good news. See that shiny new badge on my right sidebar?
→ 
Yes, I've been voted into Babble's Top 100 Mom Food Blogs for 2012, and I am number 24. I am so chuffed and I want to thank you all so much for putting up with my constant begging, begging, whining, guilting requests for votes from you all. Its been an incredible journey, and I am finally beginning to feel settled and happy with myself and this little space I've created. 

So thank you all from the bottom of my cooking pots and pans! I couldn't have done it with your constant support and encouragement.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Beet Greens Fugath (Spiced Beet Greens with Shredded Coconut)

I've been absolutely loving the weather in Edmonton this summer. Its been in the low plus thirties all this week and its due to last into next week, and for me-from-the-tropics, its heavenly weather. The husband and kid complain that its too hot, but I tell them both to suck it up, cause I'd rather it be plus thirty than minus thirty.

All this beautiful weather has meant that the garden has been doing extremely well. We've had some nice rainy weather on a few days, and this has helped everything grow, and the sunshine means that fruits and vegetables are ripening up beautifully. I don't have much of a berry crop this year, as we onlt just planted our strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries, but my highbush cranberry bush has gazillions of berries on it, and I can't wait for them to ripen. The pin cherries only need a couple more days, and then... mmmm... pie.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Bombay Potatoes

Update: Yayy, this recipe won in the Main/ Side category of the BCfresh 'Be Fresh' Recipe Challenge! Huge thanks to the organisers and to Food Bloggers of Canada :)

There is a reason why my blog didn't really start taking off until I moved here to Canada. It can be summed up in three words. Marks and Spencer. Hehe. I frequented M&S while living in England, and in my personal opinion, it does some of the best ready meals in England. Which, to be honest, after a day's work, are very very tempting. I did cook a lot, but the proximity and quality of M&S food meant that I stayed with my classics and rarely ventured out of my comfort zone.

M&S was also one of those supermarkets that did really good Indian food as well, even if I didn't know what half of the meals on their shelves were, as they really were all about English Indian food. One of those 'new' dishes was Bombay potatoes. Now Bombay, or Mumbai, has some pretty good potato dishes, but I have never come across anything quite like this one in all my years of living in and visiting Bombay :) The M&S Bombay potatoes were pretty good though, and though I always scratched my head as to where they actually came from, it never stopped me from munching on them with satisfaction.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Bagara Baingan - Baby Aubergines/ Eggplants in a Hyderabadi Peanut Sauce

Aubergines or eggplants are in season again! I love these beautiful, rich and royal coloured versatile vegetables. I was shopping for a quick few things at my favourite grocer (EZee Mart in Garneau) and in his fridge, I found these perfect baby aubergines. Baby aubergines go off very quickly, so I literally bought these, raced home, and made this curry today. So this is one of those rare off the cuff recipe posts, in which I am posting the recipe of tonight's dinner :-)

Aubergines for Bagara Baingan

Bagara Baingan is a Hyderabadi curry, where baby aubergines are simmered in a delicately spiced peanut and sesame sauce. Creamy, nutty and spicy, this sauce is the perfect accompaniment to these flavourful and fresh vegetables.  I actually make a slightly more complicated version of this same dish and you can find it here - but this time I wanted to keep it relatively simple, as I was in a hurry not to lose my natural light. We are lucky enough that in the summer we get some wonderful late evening light, but today was miserably rainy and cloudy. To be honest, I don't mind the rain so much, as the prairies really need it, and I love the spectacular thunderstorms we get here. But ocasionally, cloudy grey weather does have a way of sapping energy out of you (and then I wonder how the heck I ever lived in the UK all these years :-)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup

Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup

Its already been two and a bit years since we moved to Canada, and during this time, I have changed in many ways. Be it that ubiquitous 'eh' at the end of every sentence, or getting 'oot and aboot', life changed in more ways than I assumed it would. However, one of the few habits that I retained from my UK life, a banal one, but still... is the way in which I do my grocery shopping. When living in England, we never really did a massive weekly/ monthly shop. Instead we'd go out every other day, and stock up on fresh produce and staples. Occasionally we did a big Tesco shop, but the convenience of delivery meant that I never really had to carry massive bags of groceries home.

I do miss grocery delivery here in Canada, particularly when its cold and miserable out :)

Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup

Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup

That said, being car less, means that we do have to do our shopping 'European style' so to say, because I am kind of limited in what I can carry back with me. Which means, everything stays in small packages, and fruit and vegetables are bought in smaller quantities. I also do a Saturday shop at the farmer's markets after Aditi's swimming lessons, where I stock up on produce and sometimes, meat.

However, on the occasional weekend, we hire a car. This gives up the opportunity to do a bigger shop for pantry staples, as well as go to ethnic stores, which are a pain to get to using transit. One such shopping expedition resulted in a giant bag of carrots :)

So this bag of carrots is sitting in the fridge, looking back at me accusingly every time I open the crisper. 'You bought us' they seems to be saying. 'You have to use us up... remember you don't like waste' (OK, I am losing it, aren't I? Carrots talking to me and all that...) But all that guilt finally got to me, so on a beautiful warm Sunday, I grumble and moan about wanting to make salads, but get out my soup pot and make this soup instead, knowing that I am probably going to get a quizzical 'soup?' from Kay and Aditi.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Roast Parsnip and Garlic Soup

Don't you just hate it when something you've taught your kids comes back to bite you in the bum? Like, literally in the bum <blush>? I apologize in advance for the slightly unedifying contents of the next paragraph, so if you're not into... ahem... flatulence, you can skip to the paragraph after, no worse for the wear.

As any responsible parent, I've drummed the value of saying 'excuse me' into Aditi. Especially if she coughs, sneezes and erm... 'put-puts' (a more childish term for aforementioned bodily sound) Except when you then are in the library, and you really have to 'put-put' yourself. So, of course, you find a deserted corner, and let out a discreet 'put'. Not even a damn 'put-put' just a lousy, barely there 'put'. And then your utterly polite child bellows (and I mean, really bellows out!) 'mummy, mummy, you made a put-put and didn't say 'excuse me''... hehe... erm... excuse me? And then, to my horror, that little rat plugs her nose and goes 'pheeeeewww, disgusting mummy!' What? That did NOT stink. It so did not!!! A speedy exit was then made! Damn children and their utter lack of respect, I tell ya... kids these days!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Smoked Salmon Dip with Crostini

Smoked Salmon Dip with Crostini

First off, I want to share with you all that my mum's fish curry recipe was trialled by Felicity Cloake of the Guardian. Holy!!! Yes, that Guardian, of which I am an avid reader and fan. I am still recovering from the honour of having my name mentioned alongside Madhur Jaffery and Camellia Panjabi.... faints again...

You can read the article here. Mum, you rock!

... recovers from faint... and on to our feature presentation...