Cucumber Raita

Stay cool as a cucumber this summer…

This year the sun has decided to turn up the heat a bit early here in Australia. It’s only the start of October and already the temperatures are soaring in the high thirties. Despite coming from India, a country with long, hot summers, I have never been one to enjoy the heat. Anything beyond 28 degrees and you will struggle to get me out and about without an a/c. 

With that said, heat or no heat, I can never give up my curry. However in summer across India curries are served alongside various preparations made from yogurt, such as plain or flavoured lassis, buttermilk, raitas, dips, etc. Yogurt or what we call dahi in Hindi is definitely a superfood. Packed with loads of protein, calcium and vitamins, it also has fantastic cooling properties.

So today’s recipe is the quintessential Indian chiller, cucumber raita. When you combine yogurt and cucumber together you have got on hand the coolest dish in the world (pun intended). Raita is usually served as a condiment alongside lentil, vegetable and rice preparations. I sometimes like to eat it just by itself. Checkout the recipe below.

Ingredients:  7     Preparation time: 10 minutes 

Serves: 6

  • 500ml natural yogurt ( I use low-fat Greek natural yogurt)
  • Two medium cucumbers, peeled and grated
  • 100gms fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • Pinch of sugar

In a bowl add yogurt and whisk it until smooth. 

Now add the herbs, spices, sugar and salt. Mix well. Feel free to add these ingredients to suit your taste.

Finally add the grated cucumber. Some prefer to squeeze out the juice from the cucumber before adding it to the yogurt. However I recommend keeping the juice as it gives the dish a great flavour and also improves the consistency. 

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Garnish with a sprinkle of cumin powder and some fresh coriander. 

Serve this lip smackingly delicious raita at your next party. Serve it with a curry or some vegetable sticks, there’s definitely more than one way to enjoy it.

Avocado Parsley Pesto

Pesto is BEST-O…

Yes, yes, yes! Pesto is Best-O, especially when its made with Alligator Pear! I know right Alligator Pear, what the hell is that? Bet you are thinking it is an exotic fruit or vegetable. In my eyes it definitely is, but for your information alligator pear is another name for none other than avocado! There’s a little trivia for you.

The humble avocado, not only does it have that beautiful creamy texture, but its subtle flavour and beautiful colour make it an absolute delight to cook with. I bet you are now wondering avocado and Pesto, what’s the link? The link is simple, today I am going to tell you how to make avocado pesto, avocado is the reason why this pesto is best-o.

I don’t know about you, but I usually use gallons of olive oil when making the normal basil pesto and I never really thought of an alternative option, but then one day on my kitchen bench I saw this perfectly ripe Avocado. And there it was….an idea!

Ingredients:5          Preparation time:10 minutes
Serves:4
  • Two large avocados
  • One medium bunch of continental parsley
  • One medium sized garlic pod
  • One tablespoon of olive oil
  • One tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Quarter cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

This recipe is perfect for my Vegan friends too! I did not use Parmesan cheese in my recipe and trust me I did not miss it. So let’s note the steps.

Scoop the avocado pulp into the blender. I normally slice the avocado down the middle and then scrape the shell with a spoon to get all that delicious pulp.

Separate the continental parsley leaves from the stem and roughly run the knife over it and add it to the blender. Add the garlic, one tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste. Turn on the blender and watch the magic! Once all the ingredients are nicely blended, your pesto is ready to serve.This delicious and quick to make pesto can be served with carrot and cucumber sticks, spread on a delicious sourdough toast or tossed in with some al dente spaghetti. This is why Avocado Pesto is Best-O!!!

North Indian Red Curry Paste

Is it all about the paste…

Being a true Indian of course my first post was going to be about curry. Every good curry has three distinct characteristics. The intricately rich flavour, the rich yet rustic texture and the aromas that evoke the past. In my case bringing back deeply cherished childhood memories.d0c99-unnamed

Where lies the soul of the curry you ask? In its spices? NO! In its herbs? NO! In the vegetables or meat being used? NO! It lies in the paste, yes it is all about the ‘CURRY PASTE’. Ask any  Mother or Grandmother and the answer will unequivocally be, it is all about the paste

Now you will ask well what goes in making this oh so special paste? And the answer is well it depends! Ha ha ha I know it is such a typically Indian response  *Insert Head Waggle here*. It depends on the uniqueness and origin of each curry, after all you can’t make a chicken tikka masala with the same paste that you make vindaloo.

Without further ado let’s learn about curry basics and take the Indian cuisine as a starting point. Indian curries are so unique and intricate, I don’t even know where to begin. Wait, did you just roll your eyes at me? Lets just say your local Indian restaurant should not be the baseline for judging Indian food, because in all my time in India and Australia I find the Indian curries served in restaurants do not bolster their uniqueness. Instead they just hide behind one another in that same old red or green curry paste. The true Indian curry is what is cooked in each household by a loving grandmother, mother, sister, wife and in the modern day by their male counterparts too.FullSizeRender (11)

In many countries the staple diet is so different in the North than the South and Indian food is no different. North Indian curries are rich, creamy, smooth and topped with dollops of ghee. South Indian curries are light, delicate, rustic and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

So lets start the journey of making the true Indian curry but starting with baby steps and make the North Indian curry paste.

 
Ingredients 15   Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
  • Two tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • Two red onions sliced
  • One crushed tinned tomato can or fresh tomato paste (using three to four depending on size)
  • One table spoon grated ginger
  • Two pods of garlic
  • One or two green chillies (depending on how hot you like it)
  • One cinnamon stick
  • My top secret ingredient, fresh coriander stem (about 4 to 5 stems chopped)
  • 1.5 tea spoon cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1.5 tea spoon coriander powder (Dhaniya)
  • 1 tea spoon turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 1.5 tea spoon garam masala
  • 1/2 tea spoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (can be avoided if vegan or lactose intolerant)
  • Salt to taste

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Lets roll. In a pan add two table spoons of ghee (Sorry this recipe is notfor the faint hearted). Alright two table spoons of olive oil for my health conscious friends. Once you can smell the aroma of ghee (or olive oil), add the cumin seeds and wait until they start tempering. Now add the sliced onions and cook until translucent.

Once the onions are cooked add ginger, garlic, green chillies, cinnamon stick and coriander stems. Mix it all and wait until the onion mix has carmelised.

Bring on the colour and add the tomato paste, followed by adding coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Let the mixture simmer until the oil surfaces to the top. Add salt, sugar and skim milk. Add water if you wish to dilute the paste.

Let the mix cool slightly and blend it all up. TADA!!! Curry paste is ready.

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You can add boiled potatoes and peas to it to make the Indian classic Aloo (Potato) Mutter (Peas) or even add boiled black lentils to make another the Indian classic Kaali (Black) Dal (Lentils). We will work together on how to make the perfectaloo mutter orkaali dal. This was just to give you examples of some of the dishes you use the North Indian red curry paste for.