South Indian Comfort Food

December 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

idli chai puttu

The hugging saint “Amma” was visiting San Francisco from South India so I travelled to her ashram in San Ramon to attend her retreat. Amma is a humanitarian and has an international charity called Embracing the World that focuses on ending poverty by educating people in India and implementing creative solutions to change the world.

In India she has built universities, hospitals and orphanages to name a few. She gives out free meals and scholarships to those who would not be able to afford education. She has spoken many times at the UN and is an inspiration as she came from a small fishing village.

I enjoy being in her presence and so I took the opportunity to see her in California. I always look forward to the food as it is made with love and warms the soul. One morning when I entered the cafe, I was so happy to find some of my favourite south Indian breakfasts. The idlis tastes just like the ones in India and the sambar sauce complimented it perfectly.

I kind of pigged out and also got a scoop puttu which is made with ground rice and has savoury spices with veggies. I was so in heaven and I washed it all down with a cup of chai.

I had a great time at the retreat and the space for solitude and reflection was what I needed. Back at home I feel more connected and relaxed and eager to research recipes on South Indian breakfasts. If you would like to know more about Embracing the World, visit their website at www.embracingtheworld.org for more info on Amma, visit www.amma.org.

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Indian Life Pawkoras

April 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Pawkoras

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.

Indian Life Pawkoras

Tibetan Food

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.

veg thukpa

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.

momosMomos- Tibetan dumplings

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.

Street Food in India

April 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

samosa and chai

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.

chai

straining chai

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.

rolling roti

rolling roti

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

roti

cooking roti

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.

uttapam

Vendor cooking uttapam on the ghat in Varanasi

South Indian Breakfasts

March 23, 2013 § 2 Comments

India is one of my favourite places to travel and this holiday I spent one month there. I started my trip in South India on the beautiful beaches in Kerala. I love South Indian food and there seems to be a shortage of it in Vancouver which drives my appetite for the authentic version in India.

masala dosa

I had my first masala dosa on a beach front restaurant while I watched the waves crash in the ocean. The thin crepe is made from rice and lentils and stuffed with spiced potatoes and served with sides of sambar and coconut chutney. Masala dosas go perfectly with a cup chai. But be careful, they are quite filling because of the large quantity of potatoes.

idli

Idli has got to be one of my favourite breakfast items. It is made from rice and is very light and fluffy. The coconut sambar is usually quite spicy but very flavourful and each bite hits the spot. Idli is a nice light and filling breakfast that satisfies the palate.

Poori Bhaji
Poori bhaji is a north Indian breakfast that you can find in south India which is a heavier option. It comes with poori, deep fried roti and a potato curry which is made with boiled potatoes that are mashed and minced thinly and cooked with spices, garlic and onions. It is full of flavour though it is something that I eat in moderation.

In Vancouver you can find these items at a few restaurants. A good restaurant is Chutney Villa on Broadway at Main which serves South Indian food and has popular lunch specials for $9.95. The international chain Saravana Bhavan is down Broadway at Oak Street and serves everything South Indian including an amazing buffet for $12.99.


Happy First Birthday Coriander Kitchen

May 3, 2012 § 5 Comments

To celebrate Coriander Kitchen’s one year birthday, I invited friends over for a Bollywood themed party. I cooked up some of my favourite recipes from my blog and we all got dressed up in saris for the special occasion. I wore a vintage embroidered light blue chiffon sari that was originally my grandmother’s.

The music from Slumdog Millionaire and Monsoon Wedding played in the background as we chatted about Bollywood movies and Shiamak’s Bollywood dance classes that I took last year. Most of my friends have travelled to India and we reminisced on our travels and the various yoga and meditation retreats that we have taken there.

My friend is beautifully draped in this green and gold silk sari that I brought back for her from Kanyakumari, the town on the very southern tip of India. Kanyakumari is a popular tourist destination because it’s where the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet, making the sunset and the moon-rise visible at the same time.

We ended the evening with a soothing cup of freshly made homemade chai that has been my personal recipe for years. I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading Coriander Kitchen and experimenting with my healthy vegetarian recipes. Here’s to the next year!

Hot Lemon Ginger Honey Tea

April 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the cold Northern Parts of India,  a tall cup of hot lemon ginger honey tea is satisfying. The heating qualities of ginger warms the body and after chai, this is my second favourite Indian tea. At home in Canada I make this tea on a brisk winter’s day or if I feel a cold coming on. In India you can get variations of this drink by omitting an ingredient, lemon ginger, ginger honey etc. You can make a herbal version of this tea or lightly steep a tea bag until the tea turns a golden amber. Adjust the quantities to satisfy your taste.

Makes a cup of tea
Prep time 5 minutes

Ingredients:
1 tbsp (15 ml) ginger cut into matchstick pieces
1/2 – 1 tsp (2 – 5 ml) lemon juice
1 – 2 tsp (5 – 10 ml) honey
1 cup (250 ml) hot water
tea bag (optional)

Method:
1. Combine the ingredients in a glass or mug and enjoy.

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