• Lotus stem, lotus seeds and other gifts from the national flower

    January 2, 2017thepeppercook

    India’s national flower is the lotus, so it not surprising that one of its culinary gems amongst ingredients is the lotus stem. These modified stems, technically known as rhizomes, are often also called lotus “roots”. In reality, the lotus plant has small roots that are embedded in the muddy soil of a pond. It is not just the stem of lotus plant that is delicious, but both the leaves and the seeds are eaten as well. In India we often eat the roasted “popped” seeds –known as makhana in Hindi – as a spiced snack, in curries and even in yoghurt. Check out my easy and popular Lotus Seeds in Yoghurt recipefor an quick dish with popped lotus seeds. As lotus grows in murky, swampy water, the stems often…

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  • Chatting About Chaat

    September 26, 2016thepeppercook

    I’m finally back to eating fats after four months of sacrifice! GB (see earlier blog Going Fat-Free) is now history, and I can revert to being the completely gluttonous being that I truly am! It was not just prawns and shellfish that I missed, or the ubiquitous deep fried snacks like pakodas, but I really missed dairy in all its glory – butter, ghee and most of all, the foundation of Indian cuisine – fresh, homemade yoghurt. Not being able to eat fried snacks and yoghurt meant I couldn’t indulge in one of my favourite Indian treats – chaat! What is chaat, you may ask – and the details are below – but I designed a lovely chaat-flavoured starter for myself that is totally fat-free, and…

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  • Chicken and Peach Curry

    September 9, 2016thepeppercook

    Chicken and Peach Curry is a fragrant, savoury and sweet peach curry, ideal for a cold, wintery evening with friends! Ingredients: 2 halves of a boneless, skinless chicken breast (300-350 g), cut into 1½” cubes 3 peaches, skinned, stoned and cut into ¼ inch slices 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon turmeric, ground ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder 6-8 strands saffron (optional) 2 teaspoons milk (optional) 1 2” piece of cinnamon 1” piece of ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon) 1 small onion (about 2” diameter) finely chopped 1 green chili, sliced down 1 cup water 1 cup coconut milk ½ teaspoon fennel, ground ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground freshly grated nutmeg or ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil…

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  • More Seychellois Creole Recipes

    September 6, 2016thepeppercook

    I’m still enjoying my memories of my last trip to the Seychelles! Fortunately, since I had a cooking class with celebrity Seychellois cuisine Chef Daniel Louis at the Four Seasons Seychelles, I have been feasting on some really gratifying Creole food as well. And so can you! Below are two easy and flavourful recipes you can easily add to a lunch or dinner to spice it up. The first is Creole Rice. I was served this with a Banana and Vegetable Curry, and I got a clear whiff of the lovely aroma of ghee! While much like an India pulao or pilaf, in this dish the combination of ginger, cinnamon and parsley enhanced by red peppers, makes for an unusual yet delicious combination. If you are…

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  • Cooking in the Seychelles

    August 5, 2016thepeppercook

    The Seychelles is definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth. Located in the Indian Ocean of the east of East Africa, this archipelago of 115 islands entices you with its pristine white sand beaches, clear blue waters, tropical rainforests and rich marine life. If you aren’t likely to visit soon, you can at least enjoy some of the famous Seychellois Creole cuisine by experimenting with the curry recipe below. And don’t worry: if you’re a vegetarian, there is also a banana-based adaptation of this Creole prawn curry. The Seychelles has always had a beguiling draw for us, as is it a part of the larger family mythology. My husband’s great grandfather, Kanji Moorarji, was a world-traveled trader and forward-thinking businessman in the early…

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  • Going Fat-Free

    July 20, 2016thepeppercook

    While women keep going on yo yo diets, and switch on and off from the latest healthy trends, sometimes it is just your body that forces you into a situation that no amount of conviction can. I’m on a fat-free diet, with no options, so here is a recipe that is both tasty and healthy! Take a look. I woke up one morning, the night before I was to leave for my son’s graduation in the US, with severe pain in the right side of my abdomen after a sleepless night of explosive gastric distress. Rushed by my doctor for an ultrasound, they discovered I had gall stones, and one had embedded itself to block my gall bladder (GB). Nasty stuff (and not quite the…

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  • Cooking with Mangoes

    July 1, 2016thepeppercook

    Mangoes in any dish create a nice tropical twist to a meal, especially when combined with coconut and spices! My love for mangoes is more of an adult thing. I was perhaps the only child in the world who was force fed mango ice-cream every night throughout my pre-teen years! I hated milk, and this was my lovely, but persistent, mother’s way of getting calcium into me. I hated the smell of mangoes, and am  still not a fan of ice-cream! Moving to India as adult, however, changed my views on this succulent, fleshy bounty of nature. If there is any thing that Indians are more obsessed about than the sport cricket, it is the mango. You would think a mango is a mango, but…

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  • Seafood Flavours : Quick Kerala Calamari

    June 2, 2016thepeppercook

    There are usually just two or three critical ingredients that can give any cooked dish its flavour. Indian food, while it may have an endless list of spices and other flavour-adding agents in every dish, can also be pared down to its basic critical inputs. Here’s a very simple dish, that doesn’t involve any chopping or cutting, and will make your guests appreciate how well versed you are in international cuisines! One of the dishes I truly love from Kerala is the calamari, or squid. When I arrived in Cochin, I was a total non-fish-eater. But the tender, freshly-caught-from-the-waters-in-front-of-your-house nature of seafood is completely enticing, and before I knew it, I was a full-on Kerala Squid Rings fan – the key word here being ‘rings’.…

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  • Bamboo Shoots and Water Chestnuts

    January 4, 2016thepeppercook

    I was walking through the small grocery store at our local club yesterday, and I was delighted to find small, enticing packets of fresh bamboo in brine! It’s hard not to get excited by new ingredients, especially vegetarian ones! It’s not like I’ve never used bamboo shoots before, but they usually come out of a tin, and look like tender shoots or tips. These “bamboo shoots” are more like large pieces of bamboo, about 3 inches in diameter (see picture below), and much tougher than a traditional shoot, but full of flavour. Bamboo shoots, while associated with Chinese cuisine, are also commonly used in the food of the regions in India where they grow, in both fresh and dried form. In fact the bamboo stem…

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