Kitchen Queen is an amazing little store in Toronto’s Little India, jam-packed with Indian artifacts, statues, kitchen utensils…and balti dishes!
Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
Have you ever looked at an Indian recipe and counted how many spices are needed to make that wonderful dish you’re eyeing to its perfection? Very complex Indian recipes may call for up to twenty individual spices! Now that can be daunting if you have something missing from the list.
In the cooking classes we teach, we recommend having a basic set of spices on hand that can be used for most Indian dishes. With these top basic Indian spices stocked in your pantry, you can be sure to make most dishes pretty well even if you’re missing the odd spice here or there.
Ten years ago was the first time I came to know about Lohri when I got invited to a Lohri party. Lohri is an Indian festival celebrated on the eve of the winter’s solstice-the longest day of the year–in the state of Punjab, the ‘breadbasket’ of India.
Not growing up in India, all I heard about was how fun Lohri was and how everyone loved Lohri. Although I didn’t make it to the Lohri party that year, since then I long to be in India for Lohri!
Posted in Cool Finds, Culture, Films, Indian-Inspired, tagged Academy Awards, Blue Umbrella, Indian, Last of the Mohicans, masala, Mira Nair, movies, Oscars, popcorn, PostAWeek2011, recipe, snack, spiced, The Namesake on January 27, 2011 | 5 Comments »
With 2011 Oscar nominees just released for the 83rd Academy Awards, films are definitely the talk of the day. Have you seen The King’s Speech, The Black Swan, The Social Network or Incendies as of yet? As for me, my answer is firm – definitely not.
Given the choice I will more often choose music over movies in a heartbeat. In 2010 I went to more concerts than films (see my favourite 2010 concert moments). It’s not that I don’t love a good movie, but as far as I can remember my relationship with films in general is somewhat mixed. This dates back to my childhood watching ET and even the film Ghandi.
Posted in Culture, tagged bonfire, chai, chocolate, Christmas, cocoa, Coconut, eclipse, harvest, hot, Kensington Market, Lohri, lunar, NASA, Punjab, solstice, Toronto, turmeric, U2 Ultraviolet, Whole Foods Market, winter on December 21, 2010 | 4 Comments »
What are you drinking while waiting for this morning’s lunar eclipse?
Right now my mug is full of Coconut Chai Hot Cocoa. Paradoxically, the coconut is supposed to remind me of the tropics and warmer times, while the Chai spices remind me it’s the week of Christmas. And what a fitting combo for an auspicious night of the lunar eclipse followed by the winter solstice—both in one night (more like morning), a definite rarity. I feel so lucky!
A total eclipse of the moon, which should be visible in northern skies December 21, 2010 (right now in this moment!), when the Earth blocks the sun’s rays from the face of the moon for 72 minutes, casts the Earth’s shadow on the moon. The result is an amber lit moon. According to NASA Science by 3:17 a.m. EST, “That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.”
I’ve lasted this long to see the red brilliance cast upon on the moon and my hot chocolate is keeping me warm and awake! The next time this rare occurrence is happening is on December 21, 2094, so this is so worth the wait.
Compared to my fave Garam Masala Hot Chocolate, this one has more sweet notes from the cardamom in the Chai Masala and coconut milk.
Did I mention I usually slip in about 1/8 tsp. of turmeric powder into my hot chocolate!? Sounds a bit odd I know, but this way I get my daily does of turmeric antioxidants! You won’t even notice it, as it’s masked by the taste of cocoa.
Coconut Chai Hot Cocoa
I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, which is not like thick canned coconut milk. So Delicious is drinkable, light and not heavy! I found organic coconut extract at Whole Foods Market. Note: The extract I used was not concentrated, so if you’re using another brand, only use 1 drop of extract, otherwise the flavour will be overpowering.
1 cup coconut milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened)
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (use good quality cocoa)
½ tsp. Arvinda’s Chai Masala + 1/8 tsp. turmeric (for bonus antioxidants)
3-5 drops pure coconut extract
coconut sugar, to sweeten
dry coconut, toasted, to garnish (optional)
Method: In a small pot, heat coconut milk on medium high heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and stir until milk is frothy and cocoa powder is well dissolved.
Stir in Arvinda’s Chai Masala, turmeric (optional) and coconut sugar to sweeten. Whisk again. Strain into a mug and stir in coconut essence. Garnish with toasted dry coconut.
Enjoy on a bitter cold winter solstice-lunar eclipse night! Serves 1.
In India the winter solstice is observed as Lohri, the bonfire festival in northern India, in the state of Punjab on the eve of the winter solstice. However over time this festival has been paired with the Hindu winter solstice festival called Makar Sankranti, marking the sun’s change in positioning into Capricorn, where the sun God Agni is revered. For this reason, Lohri is typically celebrated in mid-January.
Punjab, being home to vast farmlands and India’s wheat-growing region, Lohri is celebrated before the harvest period, where huge bonfires are lit on the land and sweets, nuts, seeds and candies are eaten and thrown into the fire in hopes and promise for a prosperous growing season.
The winter solstice in North America to me has always been a special, sacred day, a time to light candles and feel the presence of lightness during the darkest, longest night sky.
Celebrations take place at Toronto’s Kensington Market’s Winter Solstice on December 21 at 6:30pm. The festivities dotted with decorated lit lanterns look amazing and I want to go!
Check out the fun from 2009!
Okay, I better catch this lunar eclipse!
Did you see the lunar eclipse? Was it amazing or what?! And what were you drinking to stay warm?
A teaspoon of: U2. Listening to: Ultraviolet (Light My Way).
Posted in Authentic Indian, Baking, Sweets & Desserts, Culture, tagged Arvinda's, bucket, cardamom, cashew, chai, Deepavali, Diwali, festival, Gulab Jamun, halwa, India, khoya, lights, list, masala, mithai, mould, nutmeg, Obama, President, pumpkin, rangoli, saffron, Sweet, Vancouver, Vij, Vikram on November 6, 2010 | 4 Comments »
Hello on this very auspicious Diwali weekend! Many people celebrated Diwali on Friday and celebrations continue today as well.
This weekend is one of India’s most vibrant and biggest festivals, Diwali (or Deepavali), the festival of lights.
“Deep” means light and “availi” means row, so as the translation suggests, streets, houses and pathways are lit up with endless rows of lights, with everything in full illumination, and the skies are dotted with lights and crackles of firecrackers.
What I would pay to be in India right now! Check out this clip of Diwali celebrations in India. Being in India during Diwali festivities is definitely on my bucket list…but for now I’ll keep that thought for the future!
Diwali’s significance and history is many but in short, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. The lit lamps symbolize going from darkness into light which is to bring about happiness, prosperity and goodwill to ourselves and to others, moving us one step closer to divinity.
President Obama does a nice job of summarizing this in his Diwali greetings. He seems to be a fan of “mithai” (Indian sweets)!
For Diwali we celebrate with lights, decorations and of course, sweets!
During Diwali we light “diyas” small decorated lamps with a cotton wick immersed in ghee (clarified butter).
You may have heard the word “rangoli” from famed chef, Vikram Vij’s take-out restaurant in Vancouver. Rangoli (“rang” meaning colour) is a beautiful floor decoration of intricate designs made from coloured chalk, flour or spices like turmeric. A rangoli is often found at the entrance of a home or temple as a welcoming.
And of course we celebrate with spreads of Indian sweets known as mithai. We make an immense variety of mithai and offer them to guests in colourful or decorated boxes.
A favourite Indian sweet is Gulab Jamun – milk based balls, deep-fried and immersed in a saffron and rosewater syrup. Many other cultures seem to also have deep-fried desserts, and in Indian cuisine, this sweet is by far the most popular and traditional. For that reason, no Diwali table is complete without Gulab Jamun!
A new recipe I made this year, was Pumpkin Ka Halwa (Pumpkin Halwa). Since I had all of that Hallowe’en pumpkin leftovers, I didn’t want it to go to waste!
Pumpkin Ka Halwa
4 cups pumpkin, shredded
2 tbsp. ghee or butter
¼ cup jaggery or raw cane sugar
½ cup cashew halves
1 tsp. Arvinda’s Chai Masala
¼ tsp. nutmeg, to garnish
Method: In a large skillet, melt ghee on medium-low heat. Add jaggery and dissolve into ghee.
Add shredded pumpkin. Place the lid on the skillet and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is cooked.
Remove lid and further reduce until all liquid is absorbed. Fold in cashews and Arvinda’s Chai Masala. Serve warm in a decorative glass with a freshly grated nutmeg.
A couple of questions for the day:
1) Have you ever celebrated Diwali in India? If so, what was it like?
2) What is your favourite mithai or Indian sweet?
Based on your feedback I’ll add those recipes to the site. Thanks and looking forward to hearing about it!
If you’re looking to purchase sweets for Diwali, try Sweet India. Their selection is amazing and they carry Arvinda’s masalas too! Wishing you a very happy Diwali!
A teaspoon of: Delerium featuring Kiran Ahluwalia. Listening to: Indoctrination.
In Indian culture the kitchen is a very sacred place and the act of cooking itself is not taken light to heart. Eating and cooking is philosophical with roots stemming from Ayurveda (a Sanskrit word, meaning the science of life), India’s ancient healthcare system. Ayurveda dictates that with a mind, body and spirit approach to health and well-being, you can achieve perfect equilibrium and balance in your body, whereas imbalances such as indigestion, can cause illness and diseases. Once we attain a ‘balanced body’ this leads to balance in our lives—not an easy task, but when we’re living a balanced life this is the pathway to bliss!
You’ve always heard the saying, put a little love into your cooking. Ayurvedic principles give the nod to that statement, agreeing that the mindset you are in when cooking will determine the outcome of the meal and the energy that it radiates. Creating positive vibes in the kitchen will translate into the food you create, making it more digestible, more palatable which your loved ones will definitely feel.