Spice Ninja's Blog

Healthy Indian fusion food made easy.

May 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 3:05 pm

Today at the office:

Sam: *munches on granola bar*

Rachel: *looks over longingly* Gnuuuuuhhh

Sam: *hands it over*

Sarah: What’d you do with my cheese?!

Rachel: I’d better start making a shopping list.

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Tomato Chutney May 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 10:50 pm
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Since chai was the last post – one of the great pleasures of life is to have a steaming, hot cup of chai with some spicy tomato chutney spread over bread/pita/crackers/your fingers. This one’s fairly easy, but you have to have the patience to let the water completely dry from the tomatoes. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Ingredients:

  1. 8 medium tomatoes – as ripe as possible
  2. 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  3. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (whole)
  4. 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste – but remember, this is a chutney, so it has to load up on flavour)
  5. 1/2 tsp tumeric powder (haldi)
  6. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  7. A pinch of astafoteida (hing)
  8. About two pinches of sugar
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 8-10 curry leaves.
  11. A pinch of carrom seeds (ajwain) – optional
  12. 1/2 tsp ginger (minced)
  13. 1/2 tsp garlic (minced)
  14. 1-2 dry red chillies (optional)

Method:

Wash/chop the tomatoes to about 1/2 inch pieces. Don’t worry about making ’em look pretty.

Heat up about half the oil in a deep, wide pan. A wok will do, if you have one with a lid. (You need a lid, nothing splotches like tomatoes.) Add the mustard seeds when the oil is hot, but not smoking. Add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and all the spices. Cook everything down on medium heat – till pretty much 95% of the water is gone. Traditionalists usually make this with so much oil that, at this point, the oil starts to bubble out of the tomatoes, instead of the water. I like my waistline where it is, so just trust yourself to dry up as much water as possible, stir it often to make sure it doens’t burn.

In a smaller pot or frypan, heat up the rest of the oil, add the curry leaves and, if you want, 1-2 dry red chillies. When they get heated/sputter, add the mix to the tomatoes, mix well and serve.

Tomatoes FTW!

Tomatoes FTW!

PS: You have not lived until you have had a bread, butter and chutney sandwich. Preferably at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, with a steaming hot beverage.

 

So, Chai May 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 11:15 pm
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Chai is an interesting thing. To some, it’s exotic. To Starbucks, it’s a latte. To me, it’s simply the most comforting of comfort foods.

Where I come from – chai is such an integral part of life that even when I ‘go off caffiene’, giving up chai doens’t even enter the equation. One of my earliest memories is of me dressing up as a tea-picker from the Indian state of Assam. I still remember getting up on stage in front of what looked like the biggest audience ever and announcing in my squeaky little, grade two voice, “I am a TEA picker from Assam. I work in a TEA garden. The TEA I PICK is drunk ALL over the world. Even the QUEEN OF England DRINKS the TEA I pick. So when you HAVE you TEA tomorrow, think of ME!”

I didn’t win. But childhood scars aside, chai (which is simply the word for ‘tea’), does have a certain air of mystery to it. Picture this:

Green, rolling hills. A misty, soft afternoon. Bright specs of red, yellow, orange and blue bobbing in between rows of almost violently emerald green. Women, navigating in between the rows of tea bushes, with baskets down their backs – held up by a rope across their heads. They nimbly pick the freshest baby leaves and throw them overhead, into their baskets. Just the thought is calming.

Chai is so much to so many people. Some of the best chai I’ve ever had was at Calcutta railway station – handed through the train window in little clay pots by small boys – hot, steaming and earthy. I’d take that first sip, and no matter where I was, all the noises and the smells would melt away and the world was just a little safer. I don’t think that feeling ever really goes away. In ancient times, chai wasn’t made simply as a beverage – it was known for its curative properties. In fact, ayurveda still includes tea leaves as part of several of its medications and cures.

I could go on about chai for hours – and everyone knows of its anti-oxidants and the fact that it can pick you up via the greatness that is caffiene. (And, FTR, it’s true that pound for pound, tea has more caffiene than coffee. However, since one uses much less tea per cup than coffee – per cup, your caffiene intake is much lower. Besides, it’s a mellow rise and fall, as opposed to coffee’s spike-and-crash method.)

Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s my version of chai – and you’s be surprised at how great this makes you feel on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Ingredients:

– 1 – 1.5 cups of water
– 1/4 cup of milk – the wholer the better. If you’re using skim/1% milk, I’d also suggest about 1-2 tbsps of 2% evaporated milk for the richness without the fat.
– 1/4 tsp of fresh chopped or dried ginger
– 1 pod cardamom (open it up by pressing between your thumb and the counter to release the yummy black seed things inside)
– Sugar/honey to taste
– 2 cloves
– 1 tsp black tea leaves (You can use a tea bag if you like, but I find that loose leaf teas are of a higher quality overall)
– a pinch of saffron if you’re feeling indulgent

Method:

Bring the water to a boil with the cardamom, cloves, ginger – and let it simmer with the spices for about 5 minutes. Throw in the sweetening agent and the tea leaves. Add the milk (and/or evaporated milk), raise the temperature to just under boiling, and reduce the heat again till it’s just about simmering. Don’t walk away from the stove at this point – the milk will make it boil over if you’re not careful. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, depending on how strong you like it. (Remember, black tea will go slightly bitter if you steep it too long). Turn off the stove and let it sit for another 2-3 minutes. Strain into your cup, and stir in the saffron.

Option #1 – You can also add a vanilla flavour to the water – but I’d recommend using a bit of vanilla pod (use the seeds for something else) instead of vanilla extract.

Option #2 – If you have a bad throat/cold/general fluey misery – try adding a semi-crushed peppercorn to the water as well. I don’t know why, but it really helps.

So good, and good for you!

So good, and good for you!

 

Awesomely easy potato appetizer

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 8:00 pm
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All hail the first recipe to hit the intertron!

Srsly, this is the easiest thing ever, especially if you get those ‘Parisian style’ or just pre-peeled baby potatoes. Hell, you don’t even have to peel them. Embrace your laziness.

Ingredients:

– About 2 dozen baby or fingerling potatoes (I like getting them in several colors – purple, red skin, white, etc.)
– 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
– 1/2 tsp cumin powder (it’s optional, but cumin is my squishy)
– 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder or dried chilli flakes (make it as spicy as you like)
– Half a handful of sundried tomatoes, julienned
– 2 cloves of garlic – don’t even bother peeling – just bash it with something heavy
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– Roughly 3 tbsp worth of extra virgin olive oil – just enough to coat the potatoes
– Lime juice and chopped coriander to garnish

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Chop the potatoes in halves or quarters. Try to use a pan big enough so they are all on one level. Drizzle with olive oil, dump in everything else, and use your fingers to mix everything together. The fingers are important, trust me. When everything is nicely coated, wash up and stick the lot into the oven with a foil covering. Bake for about 45 mins, take the foil off and bake for another 15-20 mins, or until your potatoes are nicely done. Garnish and serve.

Ooh and it travels/ reheats well too. Potluck city, baby!

potatoes after

Easy Peasy Potaytoes

 

O Hai!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fortheloveofpie @ 7:23 pm

I hate first sentences. I think, sometimes, the most oppressive thing in the world is a blank screen with a blinking cursor. So screw the welcome wagon.

Here’s what I think about. Which, coincidentally, will be what most of this blog will be about.

-Food.

-How to cook food – actually, how to cook healthy, accessible, food and have fun doing it.

-Other stuff as and when it occurs to me. We’ll get there when we get there.