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Indian Recipes

03 June 2008

Warm Yourself with a Bowl of Butter Chicken


Butter chicken: possibly the most commonly ordered Indian dish in the western world. And with a name like that, I'm not surprised.

There is a common misconception, which I almost bought into until I went to the library to do some reading, that ghee, also known as 'clarified butter', is used widely in cooking throughout India. It is not. 

Clarified butter is known as usli ghee. It is made by gently heating unsalted butter until it liquifies. The whitish bits also known as 'milk solids' are carefully strained with cheesecloth leaving behind the golden liquid which is the usli ghee. This "real ghee", is considered a luxury and is most commonly used in cooking in the Punjab region where dairy products feature more prominently in diet.

Usli ghee is also used as a digestion aid, used to relieve rashes and burns and also as used a moisturizer. 

The second type of ghee, which is more frequently used, can be likened to vegetable shortening. It is usually purchased in bulk and contains various vegetable oils which makes it more economical than usli ghee.

Types of cooking oils vary from region to region with the use of coconut oil in the south, mustard oil in the north east and peanut or sesame oil in the north.

Back to the butter chicken. Since I didn't have any usli ghee handy, I simply used a tablespoon of unsalted butter.

I have to say that it was one delicious meal. So delicious in fact that I considered making it two nights in a row and have been having daydreaming about it ever since. Next week I'm going to try the same recipe with prawns.

Continue reading "Warm Yourself with a Bowl of Butter Chicken" »

09 March 2008

Wild Salmon Kedgeree


There is something very special about Canadian Wild Sockeye Salmon and I try to use it as much as I can. It also goes particularly well in Kedgeree.

Kedgeree is a rice-based dish that consists of curry power, flaked fish (traditionally smoked Haddock)and boiled eggs. It has its roots in a traditional Indian dish called Khichdi. The dish varies from region to region but is usually made up of rice, lentils and topped with fried onions.

Khichidi was adapted and made popular as a breakfast dish amongst British Colonialist in India, who later brought it back to the British Isles. Kedgeree has since remained a comfort food favourite, although perhaps not for breakfast.

Wild Salmon Kedgeree is certainly one of my favourite dishes as it is simple to make, healthy and delicious. I add coriander and parsley to my recipe and a Thai twist with some Nam Pla Prik (fish sauce with chili). I also serve a side of natural yoghurt mixed with a little grated garlic, parsley and lemon juice.

A tip for the rice: it is best to cook it the day before and refrigerate it so it's cold and hard when you fry it. If the rice is too fresh, it will get soggy and break easily. It is also a good idea to cook the Kedgeree over a flame in a wok. This just speeds up the cooking and, like most fried rice dishes, their success depends on quick cooking.   

Continue reading "Wild Salmon Kedgeree" »

26 October 2007

Comfort Food Part II: Lamb Biryani


Biryani is a rice-based dish eaten in the Middle East and South Asia that consists of meat, vegetables, spices and yogurt.

I first tried it in a Persian restaurant called Byblos in Montreal when I was on holiday a few weeks back. When I got back to Vancouver I found myself craving it and decided to try and make it. I used lean, ground lamb instead of beef which added an extra richness to the dish. I sauteed the lamb with a heady mix of cumin, paprika, a cinnamon stick and ground chili to reduce its 'lambiness'.

The Biryani I had at Byblos was much drier than my version but I preferred the extra moisture of my tomato-based sauce. To top the dish off I added fresh lemon juice, parsley and lots of fresh mint; mint being one of my favourite herbs. This addition balanced the rich flavour of lamb perfectly.

I will be adding this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Pille of the blog Nami Nami.

To finish off the meal and cleanse our palates, I used the rest of the mint leaves to make a delicious mint tea by bruising the leaves and then putting them in a cup and adding hot water and a little wild honey.


Continue reading "Comfort Food Part II: Lamb Biryani" »

06 July 2007

Southern Indian Coconut Fish Curry


Last night fish curry was on the menu. It was a coconut based curry which is a common ingredient in Southern Indian dishes.  It was a hit. The subtle sweetness of the trout was perfect with the tangy sweetness of the tamarind coconut broth.


Southern Indian Coconut Fish Curry Recipe
(Serves 4)

2 small Trouts
2 tbs Vegetable Oil
3 Garlic cloves
4 cm Piece of Ginger
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Onion
1 1/2 large Vine Tomatoes
1 can Coconut Milk
2 tsp Tamarind Pulp or 1 tsp Tamarind Paste
2 Green Chilis
A handful of Coriander for garnish


  1. Skin the Trout and cut it in to chunks about 3-4 cm wide. The 'chunks' will be thin but make sure the pieces are wide. I am lucky enough to have a personal fish filleter and skinner. Thank you Nic. You can leave a little skin on if you want but not too much as the curry will become too rich.
  2. If you are using fresh Tamarind, peel it and place the fruit it in a small bowl of warm water. Massage the flesh into the water with your fingers until you get most of it off the seeds. Set aside to soak.
  3. Dice the onion.
  4. Deseed the tomatoes and dice.
  5. Crush 3 garlic cloves with a pestle and mortar to a paste.
  6. Grate the ginger finely. Place in a bowl with the garlic.
  7. Heat up 2 tbs of oil in a pot and add the onion. Fry until translucent on a medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic, stir fry for about 2 minutes.
  8. Add spices and lower heat ensuring to stir constantly so the spices don't burn. Add the salt.
  9. Add the tomatoes and stir fry for 5 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and return to a medium heat.
  10. Bring the broth to a boil then add the Tamarind. Lower the heat slightly and add the Trout. Stir gently to coat the fish in the broth.
  11. Turn the heat off and let the curry sit for about 3 minutes. Serve with Basmati rice and garnish with coriander and green chilis sliced lengthways.

    Make sure you wash your hands after slicing the chilis and don't rub your eyes like I did!   


27 June 2007

What shall we eat tonight? Masoor Daal.


Up until the past year the question 'what shall we eat tonight' was a common and strangely irritating one in our household.

Trying to decide what to cook after a long day at work became unnecessarily stressful and often quite volatile. That being said, the stress was largely due to me becoming a real dragon when I am hungry.

That was until my partner Nic suggested planning a menu each week. At first I was quite opposed to the idea, believing that it would make our lives dull and regimented. Not so! In fact, it has had the opposite effect.

Gone are the days of scrambling to rustle up something for dinner and we actually we eat better than ever.

Each Sunday we write the menu and prepare the shopping list. The menu only covers Sunday through to Thursday which allows us a bit more creativity on the weekends. Of course the menu is not always adhered to, if we go out for dinner, but it at least gives us a guide.

One of the dishes on the menu last week was Masoor Daal and Basmati Rice. Masoor Daal,otherwise known as Red Daal, makes me happy. It is so easy to cook and it makes my mouth water. Red Daal doesn't require soaking so it makes an excellent quick and healthy meal.

Continue reading "What shall we eat tonight? Masoor Daal. " »

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