Bhindi Masala ~ Indian-Style Spiced Okra

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Everyone should discover and eat more okra. Well that’s what I think at least, and for some reason I’ve always viewed okra as a ‘treat” vegetable. You heard it - a treat! Will get to the treat part in a moment.

Okra is ubiquitous in the South Asian diet and very often is found as a side to an authentic Indian meal or ‘thali’ (stainless steel plate containing various curries and vegetables including rice, a sweet and flatbread). There are so many variations of recipes that use Bhindi (okra) as the main ingredient but most of the time it’s just the okra itself that is simmered, fried, deep-fried, steamed or braised in masala and cooked to perfection. Once you get used to this vegetable you’ll see there is absolutely nothing that can act as a substitute for it and clearly no other vegetable that can stand in its place.

Okra, also referred to as “Lady’s Finger” contains a gooey-like centre membrane that some might argue makes it possibly off-putting. However, when cooked well (um, cooked right) all that gooeyness turns crispy and is utterly delicious making okra highly addictive. So this is where the “treat” part comes in. I always remember having okra cut up into small bites, deep-fried until crispy, served hot tossed in masala and garnished with sea salt. We used to pop these into our mouths just like popcorn! And a plate full would disappear in literally seconds.

Either way, when cooked well and spiced up with masala this can really create an unforgettable Indian meal. Here is a basic Bhindi Masala Recipe that should always be eaten with warm fresh Chapatis.


BHINDI MASALA ~ INDIAN-STYLE SPICED OKRA

METHOD OF PREPARATION:

1) In a frying pan add oil, mustard and cumin seeds. Cover pan with a lid allow mustard seed to pop and cumin seeds to become slightly brown.

2) Add okra, potatoes and onions. Add ARVINDA’S MADRAS MASALA and salt. Mix and stir-fry for a minute.

3) Cover with lid and cook on low heat until potatoes are tender. Uncover and cook until okra is slightly crispy. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP. oil
½ TSP. mustard seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLES SPICE KIT
½ TSP. cumin seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLES SPICE KIT
1 LB. fresh okra, cleaned with wet towel, thinly sliced
3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S MADRAS MASALA
1 TSP. salt or salt to taste

This recipe will work equally well with Arvinda’s Curry Masala!


Memories of Miami Beach with a Mexican Fiesta 7-Layer Dip

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Happy 5th of May - it’s Cinco De Mayo! My ‘soft spot’ for Cinco De Mayo celebrations started many years ago on a trip to Miami Beach. We were there for a bachelorette party and while one group of the girls went to catch the sun at the beach for the afternoon, a couple of us decided to explore Miami Beach culture.

It just so happened to be Cinco De Mayo that day and there was a huge street party underway that we stumbled upon! Afternoon sun, mexican fiesta, delicious street foods and live latin music - it’s how I always remember Miami Beach and this very experience inspired us to create Arvinda’s Fiesta Mexicana spice blend. It’s interesting how each and every one of our spice blends that we’ve created for Arvinda’s has a story behind it. It is our memories and experiences through travel and culture that brought us to create each of our 24 international blends and Indian blends alike.

Since that year many years ago, I never miss the 5th of May as a chance to celebrate and create a feast of fresh Mexican foods. Cinco De Mayo is actually a celebration of the Mexican army’s victory over the French empire, however in North America, we tend to use it as an ‘excuse’ to throw a Mexican fiesta! :)

Here’s a great party food that’s easy to create and tasty for a crowd, a Mexican Fiesta 7-Layer Dip. You don’t have to be too picky about actually having seven layers, it’s just a guideline to make sure that you have enough layers of flavour to make it incredible and over-the-top delicious!

I used Arvinda’s Fiesta Mexicana spice blend in the refried pinto beans layer and in the sour cream and cream cheese layer to add a level of Mexican flavours. If you love the smoky flavour of chipotle, opt out for Arvinda’s Chipotle Taco seasoning as a substitute which will be equally as good.

Now onto the cheese layer, here’s where you can get really authentic. I discovered a beautiful cheese at The Food District called Queso Picante. It’s a soft-textured cheese (yet firm) and has a beautiful chili heat to it from Sabana Cheese. Paired with Craft Chippery’s tortillas, it’s all good to go!


MEXICAN FIESTA 7-LAYER DIP

METHOD OF PREPARATION:

1) Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add pinto beans. Sprinkle in 1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S FIESTA MEXICANA and cook well for a few minutes. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add salt to taste.

2) In a small bowl, mash up avocados and mix in lime juice. Add salt to taste.

3) In a food processor, mix together sour cream and cream cheese until smooth. Blend in 1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S FIESTA MEXICANA, or add to taste.

4) In a casserole dish, add the bean layer, topped with avocado layer. Top with salsa and add a layer of sour cream and cream cheese mixture.

5) Sprinkle on tomatoes, red onions and cheese. Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortillas.

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP. oil
2 CUPS pinto beans, cooked
2-3 TBSP. ARVINDA’S FIESTA
MEXICANA
, to taste
½ TSP. salt, or to taste
2 avocados, mashed
½ TSP. lime juice
½ CUP salsa
250ML sour cream
¼ CUP cream cheese
2-3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 CUPS queso fresco OR cheddar
cheese, grated
¼ CUP cilantro, finely chopped, to
garnish (optional)

Arvinda's at The Food District!

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Exciting announcement from Arvinda’s! We are thrilled to be joining The Food District at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario - opening soon on April 1st! We can’t believe we’re only one week away, which is so exciting!!!

Visit Arvinda’s first retail space and join us in all things food and cooking. The Food District is going to be an interesting place to explore, learn and eat!

Wake up your inner foodie and explore the mouthwatering food possibilities through sampling various local, handmade, outstanding specialty foods in a setting that’s inspired by both modern and vintage food emporiums. Stretching over 34,000 square feet, The Food District will also be home to Arvinda’s cooking classes, tastings and other special events!

Stay tuned for our new class schedule, which is coming soon.

You can listen to Arvinda’s podcast on the Square One website here: PREENA IS BRINGING THE HEAT WITH THE FIRST ARVINDA’S STORE

Looking forward to seeing you all in #District905!

Chinese Five Spice RED CABBAGE Dumplings in a Curried Broth (with vegan option!)

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Happy Year of the Earth Pig! To celebrate the Lunar New Year and this festive occasion, we made a simple Curried Broth with Cabbage & Pork Dumplings. For my version, I used a veggie ‘ground round’ making this soup a great vegan option.

While good wishes and fortunes are exchanged, lucky red envelopes of money is gifted and fireworks dot the sky, food plays a huge part of the Chinese Spring Festival. There are many different foods eaten to ring in the Chinese New Year and of these, one of them is dumplings, which are considered to bring prosperity, as they resemble gold bars. I actually like to make mine more in the shape of ‘golden’ nuggets or parcels, but if you’re going with tradition, be sure to make these resemble a bar of gold!

I made a simple yet delicious Curried Broth to house these precious little Chinese Five Spice Cabbage & Pork dumplings. And the result was just delicious.


CHINESE FIVE SPICE RED CABBAGE DUMPLINGS in a CURRIED BROTH (with vegan option)

Method of Preparation:

1) BROTH: Simmer vegetable stock, season with soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and ARVINDA’S CURRY POWDER. Add chilies, garlic and ginger. Simmer for 10 minutes and set aside.

2) DUMPLINGS: In a skillet, heat sesame oil and fry garlic for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add pork or veggie ‘ground round’. Season with CHINESE FIVE SPICE, sesame seeds, soy sauce, rice vinegar. Stir in cabbage and cilantro and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is well cooked.

3) Place dumpling wrapper on a well floured surface. Moisten edges with water and place 1 tablespoon amount of filling. Fold over and create pinches to seal dumpling into a half moon shape (or parcel). Continue with rest of dumplings.

4) Gently place dumplings in Curried Broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes until dumplings are cooked.

Ingredients:

BROTH
6 CUPS
vegetable stock
2 TBSP. soy sauce (or to taste)
2 TBSP. lime juice
1 TBSP. palm sugar (or raw cane sugar)
2 TSP. ARVINDA’S CURRY POWDER
2 red chilies, sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece ginger, sliced

CHINESE FIVE SPICE RED CABBAGE DUMPLINGS
24
dumpling wrappers
1 TBSP.
sesame oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 LB. ground pork OR veggie ‘ground round’
2 TSP. CHINESE FIVE SPICE
2 TSP. sesame seeds
2 TSP. soy sauce (or to taste)
1 TSP. rice vinegar
1/2 CUP red cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 CUP cilantro, finely chopped

Wishing you prosperity, warm wishes and good luck for the Lunar New Year!

Cauliflower Tikka Bites with Garam Masala Tomato Chutney

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Here’s a #SuperBowlSunday snack with a Tikka Masala twist!

If you’re wondering what the word “tikka” means, it is simply the term to refer to “small pieces” of typically chicken and sometimes lamb, but can also refer to small pieces of vegetables that is marinated in a yogurt based marinade with a chili spice mixture.

In this case, I made TIkka Cauliflower Bites served with Garam Masala Tomato Chutney, of course without the yogurt marinade as it really isn’t necessary for these delicious little bites. The end result is all full flavour, a chili bite with some heat that is substantial enough for any Super Bowl Sunday party table.


CAULIFLOWER TIKKA BITES with GARAM MASALA TOMATO CHUTNEY

Method of Preparation:

1) Boil cauliflower florets until cooked for about 5-7 minutes. Drain.

2) Preheat oven to 425F.

3) In a bowl, whisk together chick pea flour, rice flour, ARVINDA’S TIKKA MASALA and salt. Add water and mix well. Coat cauliflower florets with batter.

4) Oil a baking sheet and place coated cauliflower on a single layer. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Bake for 20 minutes until crispy. Garnish with cilantro.

5) GARAM MASALA TOMATO CHUTNEY: Stir together ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients:

1 small cauliflower head, cut into florets
1/8 CUP chick pea flour
1/8 CUP rice flour
2 TBSP. ARVINDA'S TIKKA MASALA
1/4 TSP. salt
1/8 CUP water
2 TBSP. oil
1/8 CUP nutritional yeast
2 TBSP. cilantro, chopped

GARAM MASALA TOMATO CHUTNEY
1/2 CUP
crushed tomatoes
1/2 TSP. garlic paste
1/2 TSP. ARVINDA'S GARAM MASALA
1/4 TSP. salt

On the Pulse: Channa Dal with Zucchini

Channa Dal with Zucchini  using  Arvinda’s Curry Masala . If you can find  Lauki,  Indian bottle gourd you can use this instead of zucchini as it’s a very typical pairing.

Channa Dal with Zucchini using Arvinda’s Curry Masala. If you can find Lauki, Indian bottle gourd you can use this instead of zucchini as it’s a very typical pairing.

I can’t believe it’s 2019. Happy New Year to you all and hope you’ve eased into January and found a new rhythm to life as we inch ahead another year on our biological clocks! My mantra for 2019 is to be in the moment. It’s all we’ve got and we need to be reminded that our health is our wealth! That’s my favourite cliché because it’s so true.

Like them or not, our January resolutions always start with good intentions in the hopes that every year we become healthier, happier and better people with time. Every day is a fresh start and so is a new year, so why not take the opportunity to set some new targets?

For me, I like to ‘ease’ into January which means no resolutions on the calendar flip to January 1st. It’s actually taken me a couple of weeks to collect my thoughts, reflect on the last year and decide on my changes and goals for this year. Here’s a shortlist:

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1) Have more turmeric: My morning routine consists of detoxifying with a turmeric, ginger, chai-chili elixir that I mix with hot water and drink as a warm (not hot) tea to wake up the digestive system. I pre-make this concentrate and simply store it in the fridge and every morning mix 1/2 cup with 1/2 cup of boiling water. So far so good and fingers crossed, the winter sniffles should keep at bay!

2) Meditate more: I realize how important a meditation practice is and in 2019 I feel it is needed more than ever. This year adding more minutes of meditation to my regimen is a priority to reduce stress, increase awareness and bring forth more calm and happiness. So far these extra few minutes in the morning and night have worked wonders in an amazingly short time. Amazing and powerful!

3) Try more foods and recipes: In 2018 I pushed my culinary boundaries by trying new foods, cuisines and recipes from all over the world. We often get stuck making the same dishes over again, especially if these are the foods ourselves and our loved ones enjoy and it’s so easy to fall back on the tested, tried and true! But change is amazing and invigorating! By tasting new spice combinations and trying new recipes, I came to realize how many great flavours I was missing out on. So this year, I take that a step further and continue enjoying new foods and flavours—and not to forget sitting at the table to savour every new creation made by scratch!

That is the shortlist and there’s more to come!

There’s definitely something to be said about goal setting. When we set our sights onto something, it becomes our path and a ‘way’ to follow that takes us closer to what we feel will bring us happiness. One of the most famous pieces of research on goal setting is the Harvard MBA study from 1979 that found the 3% of graduates who wrote down their goals achieved them versus the 97% who did not! Exciting!

This year more than ever, we’re thinking about and concerned by the environment, excess waste, global climatic change and our ecological footprint. This is a great time to experiment with different plant-based proteins like pulses and beans. With Canada being the world’s largest producers of lentils, this is also an excellent local choice as well that supports our local farmers.

Low in fat, low on the glycemic index, low in sugar, high in protein, iron, fibre and vital minerals it’s a win all across the board. Not to mention, when paired with delicious and healthy Indian spices like turmeric, then this starts ticking off many New Year’s resolutions on the list!

One of our favourite dal recipes is Channa Dal with Zucchini and many people who have attended Arvinda’s cooking classes over the years will know this one very well! So we started the new year off right by having this dish…ticking off the many goals on our list! :) Enjoy!


CHANNA DAL with ZUCCHINI

Method of Preparation:

1) Wash soaked channa dal in 4-5 changes of lukewarm water or until water runs clear. In a medium pot, simmer channa dal and zucchini in water with salt on medium-high heat. Add enough water to cover dal and zucchini. Partially cover and cook until dal is thoroughly cooked, approximately 10-15 minutes.

2) In a separate pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and fry until they pop. Take care spices do not burn. Add tomato and mix in ARVINDA’S CURRY MASALA. Stir in sugar and fry for 2-3 minutes to make a masala paste.

3) Add cooked channa dal and zucchini including liquid to masala paste. Mix and simmer for a few minutes until dal has thickened. Add salt to taste, if necessary and thin out with extra water if required.

4) Garnish with cilantro and a sprinkle of ARVINDA’S GARAM MASALA. Serves well with rice and Indian chapatis.

Ingredients:

1 CUP channa dal, soaked for 2-3 hours
1 small zucchini, cubed
6 CUPS water (add more if necessary)
1 TSP. salt
2 TSP. oil
¼ TSP. mustard seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLE SPICES
2 TBSP. canned tomatoes, crushed OR 1 fresh ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S CURRY MASALA
1 TSP. salt (or to taste)
1 TSP. raw sugar
½ TSP. ARVINDA’S GARAM MASALA
1 TBSP. cilanto, finely chopped, to garnish

Wishing you a wonderful 2019 and hope everyone receives many good things all year long!

Potato & Peas Samosa Filling with Arvinda's Curry Masala

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One of the most coveted Indian foods is the Samosa, triangle shaped deep-fried pastries with a spiced potato filling. Generally speaking, people all over the world love hand-held foods that are savoury, satiating, tasty and easy-to-eat. At times, these little pastries can function as a mini-meal if paired with a side salad. In the case of the Samosa, since it’s a deep-fried indulgence we see it mostly served as an appetizer or snack, popular during the festive times of year, like Diwali, India’s Festival of Lights.

Every autumn, we celebrate the festival Diwali, India’s jubilant Festival of Lights practiced by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains all over the world. As part of the tradition, people illuminate their homes with clay lamps called diyas to bring light into everyone’s lives during these darker days. Metaphorically speaking, this light symbolizes the victory of good over evil. As we celebrate Diwali today, a very auspicious day, this is the time of year our family makes and serves Samosas at home.

Several weeks back our customers Kate, from the East Coast requested a Samosa recipe using Arvinda’s Curry Masala, and others have also requested it for awhile now too. For those who have joined Arvinda’s Indian cooking classes over the years, you’ll recognize this recipe as we’ve shared this one many times over. Everyone (including the kids) have made this easy recipe with fantastic results over and over again.

There are many ways to make the pastry as there are different styles of Samosas (depending of the region of India), however you can choose to make this filling and pair it with any pastry of your choice really (using a pre-made pastry from the frozen section of the grocery store, or a homemade one of your choice).

Posting this has got me thinking we must offer our Samosa making workshop once again soon. Should anyone be interested in learning to make traditional Samosas from different regions of India, please do send us a message!

In the meantime, here’s Arvinda’s Basic Potato & Peas Samosa Filling.


ARVINDA’S BASIC POTATO & PEAS SAMOSA FILLING

Method of Preparation:

1) In a medium pot, heat oil on medium high heat and add whole cumin seeds. Fry until slightly browned. Add peas, ARVINDA’S CURRY MASALA (OR BOMBAY SHAKE GARLIC) and salt to taste. Stir for a minute or two.

2) Fold in cubed potatoes, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft and cooked.

3) Garnish with ARVINDA’S GARAM MASALA and mix. Set aside to cool then fill into pastry of your choice!




Ingredients:
1 TBSP.
oil
½ TSP. cumin seeds (from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL SPICE KIT)
1 CUP peas
2 TBSP. ARVINDA’S CURRY MASALA OR
BOMBAY SHAKE GARLIC
1 ½ TSP. salt or salt to taste
4-5 large potatoes, peeled and finely cubed
½ TSP. ARVINDA’S GARAM MASALA

Wishing you lights and love on this Diwali Day!

Pumpkin Chai Spiced Mug Cake

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When in a pinch for a delicious, moist and quick dessert try a mug cake! It only takes a few of ingredients and can be ‘baked’ in literally one minute!

For a Thanksgiving themed mug cake, I used Arvinda’s Chai Masala and pureed pumpkin. The touch of turmeric in the batter lends a nice pumpkin-like hue to the cake.

To add a level of indulgence, consider adding a dollop of whip cream as a garnish! Happy Thanksgiving!


PUMPKIN CHAI SPICED MUG CAKE ~ vegan

Method of Preparation:

1) Place ingredients in a heat proof mug. Mix well.

2) Microwave on high heat for 1 minute or longer until cooked. Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

Ingredients:

1/4 CUP unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 CUP pureed pumpkin

3 TBSP. almond milk (OR milk of choice)

2 TBSP. avocado oil (OR oil of choice)

2 TBSP. raw cane sugar OR coconut sugar

2 TBSP. raisins

3/4 TSP. ARVINDA’S CHAI MASALA

1/4 TSP. baking powder

1/4 TSP. pure vanilla extract

1/8 TSP. turmeric powder

pinch sea salt

Curried Grilled Peaches on Spinach Cabbage Salad with Herby Goat Cheese

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I love the heat and was lucky to be able to bask and indulge in the sultry days and nights from the hot summer that just left us. However on some of the most humid days, I would noticed myself asking for September. Now that it's here and the sweaters and jackets have already come out, I long for those hottest days once again!! :)

To bring back summer as we transition into fall, I'm making one of my favourite summer salads (just for a little longer!). We had a great crop of juicy Ontario peaches this year and with them I marinated them in Arvinda's Curry Masala, grilled them and put them on a salad. The juicy sweetness paired with the curry flavours is just perfect.

No salad dressing is required! There's enough flavour from the curried peaches that I don't bother tossing the spinach and cabbage in an oil and vinegar dressing but you certainly could.


CURRIED GRILLED PEACHES on SPINACH CABBAGE SALAD with HERBY GOAT CHEESE

Method of Preparation:

1) In a small bowl mix oil with ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA. With a pastry brush, coat peaches with mixture. Grill until caramelized.

2) Mix spinach and cabbage together and place on a platter. Garnish with grilled curried peaches, herby goat cheese and sunflower seeds.

Ingredients:

4 peaches, cut into quarters
1 TBSP. oil
1 TBSP. ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA
2 CUPS baby spinach
1/2 CUP red cabbage, shredded
2 TBSP. herby goat cheese
2 TBSP. sunflower seeds