This coming weekend, Arvinda's will be at the NEOB Lavender Festival, July 7 & 8 in beautiful Niagara-On-The-Lake which we're always excited about! So picturesque and beautiful, I find it surreal to be situated right on the lavender fields, surrounded by enchanted rows of lavender bushes with their sweet and calming aromas. I should also mention, the scenery makes for a endearing photo op too! :)
Every year for the last few years, I've been invited to do an Indian cooking demonstration at the festival tent, cooking with Arvinda's masalas. In traditional Indian cooking, the art of creating a curry from scratch all lies in the use of the spices--when to add them in, how much quantity to use and knowing how all the flavours balance together. Similarly when cooking and baking with lavender, it's important not to overflavour the dish but rather offer a subtle hint of the taste to balance out with all the other ingredients. I certainly learnt this the hard way!
Since coming to the NEOB Lavender Festival a few years ago, I started cooking with lavender and pairing it in my Indian dishes and realized one too many drops of culinary lavender can potentially ruin the whole dish! But when in balance, it's beautiful and with one bite you feel as though you're tasting Provence.
Now you may think lavender paired with Indian spices is a little bit off beat. Yes, definitely unusual. But it's quite surprisingly refreshing, unexpected and delicious. The flavour of lavender actually works incredibly well in certain Indian recipes, if subtle and used delicately.
This year, I'm repeating the same appetizer-snack I made last year (Bombay Shake Black Pepper Potato Chick Pea Chaat with Cucumber Lavender Raita), only because we received a ton of emails post show, requesting the recipe. My sincere apologies to all who asked for the recipe, so here it is and I'll be demonstrating it again for anyone who missed it last year.
Chaat is an Indian snack food or common appetizer eaten in all parts of India. The word chaat, literally means 'to lick' and this fresh snack food is delicious, spicy and fresh. Lick-worthy too, might I add! :)
There are many ways to make Chaat, but typically there is a base of boiled potatoes and chick peas. For my recipe, I like to spice up the potatoes with Bombay Shake Black Pepper for a lot of flavour. Then I mix in boiled chick peas and garnish with red onion, cilantro and Sev, crunchy deep-fried lentil noodles, an Indian snack food. You can buy Sev from any grocery store that sells Indian food products. It adds a wonderful crunch and texture for every bite and I would say it's worthwhile to seek it out.
Finally garnish with Cucumber Lavender Raita, a cooling yogurt condiment. Different and deliciously good, I hope you will come to the NEOB Lavender Festival this weekend and come by the demo too on either Saturday and Sunday. Hope to see you there! :)
BOMBAY SHAKE BLACK PEPPER POTATO CHAAT with CUCUMBER LAVENDER RAITA
Method of Preparation:
1) In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add BOMBAY SHAKE BLACK PEPPER and blend with oil. Add parboiled potatoes and gently fold to coat well. Pan-fry until potatoes are cooked and crispy. Fold in chick peas and add salt to taste. Set aside to cool.
2) In a medium bowl mix together all ingredients for raita.
3) To serve, add potato chick pea mixture to a small bowl or plate. Garnish with sev, red onion and cilantro. Drizzle on Cucumber Lavender Raita. Serves 3-4.
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed and parboiled
2 TSP. oil
2 TSP. BOMBAY SHAKE BLACK PEPPER
1 CUP chick peas, cooked
sea salt, to taste
1/4 CUP Sev, to garnish
1/4 CUP red onion, finely chopped, to garnish
1/4 CUP cilantro, finely chopped, to garnish
CUCUMBER LAVENDER RAITA
1/2 CUP thick plain yogurt
1/2 CUP English cucumber, grated
1/2 TSP. ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA
1 drop NEOB culinary lavender
sea salt, to taste