April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
Tea is a popular beverage in India and good coffee is rare. When I came back to Canada, my craving for coffee diminished and I got into a routine of drinking green smoothies every morning. I throw in some healthy components such as a greens powder and healthy oils. My kids really like them and it’s a good way to start the body and brain.
Cooking time 10 minutes
2 tbsp (30 ml) plain yogurt (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) greens powder
1 tbsp (15 ml) Udo’s 3.6.9 blend of essential fatty acids
4 pitted dates soaked
2/3 cup (165 ml) fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut beverage
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix together.
April 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
It’s been 2 months since I’ve been back from India and lately I’ve been craving the Indian food that I indulged in. Though I love cooking, there are many things that I don’t bother making anymore and pawkoras are one of them. I used to make big batches of pawkoras but it was time-consuming to fry them plus my house would smell of smoke for days.
When I discovered the easy no-nonsense of frozen pawkoras, I never looked back. For $5.99 you can get 15 frozen golf ball sized pawkoras with a generous portion of tamarind chutney by Indianlife. They use natural ingredients and you can find their products in the freezer section of the grocery store.
I buy mine at the health food stores like Wholefoods and Choices. The samosas taste very authentic and are not too spicy so the whole family can enjoy them. I often serve them as appetizers at dinner parties and people go crazy over them.
To cook the pawkoras, all you need to do is preheat the oven and cook them on a baking sheet for 16-20 minutes, turning them half way. They are so easy to make and worth the hassle free price of $5.99. I promise that once your try them, you’ll be addicted.
April 16, 2013 § 2 Comments
This weekend I was fully consumed with an art show where I showed my latest photographs from India. I focussed my show on the Kumbh Mela and sadhus, hindu monks. The Kumbh Mela is an auspicious bathing that happens every 12 years according to the alignment of the stars. This February I made the pilgrimage to Allahabad for the festival which happens to be where my great-grandfather was from.
The Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all hindu pilgrimages and is equal to 1000 regular pilgrimages. This year was the Maha Mela which happens every 144 years and I feel very blessed to be a part of it. The Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering in the world and draws people from all over the globe. An estimated 100 million people bathed in the Ganges river over the 50 days!
The city was full of international photographers and film makers trying to capture the event and the National Geographic team was staying at the same camp as me. It was visually stunning and I was able to capture many beautiful people and moments.
I got a great response from my show but by the end of it, I was really tired and starving. I looked in my fridge and created a delicious meal with leftovers. I pulled out my root vegetable hashbrowns that I had made for breakfast and opened a can of black beans and sauteed them for a couple of minutes. I added cheese to the dish which I cooked in the pan and it created stringy and crispy caramelized bits. Finally I topped it with Mexican condiments and it was delicious. It only took about 10 minutes from start to finish including the dishes.
root vegetable hash browns recipe
regular or vegan cheese
plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
Warm the hash browns in a non-stick frying pan on medium-heat. When warm, add the beans and layer with cheese. Continue cooking covered. Remove from heat, place in bowl and top with the rest of the ingredients.
April 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
I spent the last few days of my trip in one of my favourite places in India, McCleod Ganj, home to the Dalai Lama. When the Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet, India opened it’s doors to him and the Tibetan refugees. McCleod Ganj is up in the mountains and about a 12 hour windy bus ride from Delhi.
I arrived in the evening and the first meal that I had was a vegetable thukpa, noodle soup. It comes in a bowl with thin noodles, veggies, and lots of broth. The thing that I like about it is that it’s hearty and filling but easy to digest so you feel light after eating it. Like all Tibetan food it leaves a warm fuzzy feeling in the body.
The next day I awoke early to head to the Dalai Lama’s temple for his annual public talk for Losar, Tibetan New Year. I am fortunate to say that it was my second time seeing His Holiness up close and being in his divine grace. The temple grounds were full of Tibetans chanting mantras with a handful of foreigners trying to get a glimpse of him. He spoke in Tibetan and some had radios where they could tune into various stations to hear the translation in other languages.
The early morning talk had stirred my appetite and I went for breakfast. I absolutely love Tibetan food and I have tried many different things. I can’t seem to get enough of it, well that is except for butter tea which is basically tea with a big chunk of butter in it. For breakfast I had Tibetan bread with an americano at a popular restaurant that overlooks the valley and the mountains. The Tibetan bread is pan-fried and quite dense and the americano went with it perfectly.
Street stalls selling momos, Tibetan dumplings, are scattered all over the town. For 20 cents you get 5 vegetarian momos either steamed or fried with hot sauce. I usually get the steamed version as it’s healthier. The soft and chewy dumplings have crisp and flavourful veggies inside, usually grated cabbage, carrots and tofu lightly seasoned with soy sauce. Momos are a Tibetan snack food staple that I love.
If you would like to try cooking Tibetan food for yourself, I came across a great website by a Tibetan chef. His website has many amazing Tibetan recipes with clear instructions including youtube videos, visit his website at yowangdu.com.
April 2, 2013 § 2 Comments
samosa and chai
Street food in India is usually very inexpensive and a chai and samosa costs about 18 cents. Some places have benches or stalls to sit on that are in the street. Street food usually has more flavour and is more authentically made as it’s geared for locals and not tourists. If you’re in a hurry, you can get something and it’s ready within minutes of ordering compared to spending an hour or so in a restaurant.
When I first started going to India, I never ate the street food. I’ve heard many horror stories from people of sicknesses that have lasted over a week over some dodgy meat that tempted them in the market. That was enough to keep me away for some time. But you do hear of people who eat everything and even drink the tap water without any side effects. I decided to give street food another chance and have come up with a method to help decipher what is safe.
I usually look for places that are busy where all the locals eat. I watch the person cook a few items and see how they handle the food, the money and clean up. Look to see if the person is using their hands or utensils, and using the same hand for money. Often they don’t have running water and only a cloth at their side
Look at how the item is cooked and in some cases like deep-frying for samosa, it may kill some bacteria. Overall you need to use your judgement and intuition as to where to trust. After you’ve tried a place, see how your body feels and then you’ll know if it’s good to go back.
Vendor cooking uttapam on the ghat in Varanasi