No Worries Curries Blog

Kerala - A Journey Through God's Own Country (Part 1)

By Conchita de Souza

Kerala - A Journey Through God's Own Country (Part 1)
A friend and I were backpacking across the south of Kerala. He had come from Sydney to tour India, and I told him we’d do the south together. Our plan was to visit four different towns/regions in nine days, using local transport as our means for moving. I was excited for this trip, because I knew that Kerala was much like my home state Goa - filled with friendly fisherfolk, delicious seafood and cuisines rich in one of my favourite ingredients - coconut!  Yet the differences were also apparent between these coconut-ty dwellings, especially when looking at language, dress styles and traditions. A familiar flavour, but an entirely different dish - this is how I would explore and experience Kerala.

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Those Fenugreek Feels - Cooking With Fenugreek And Its Medicinal Benefits

By Addition Collaborator

Those Fenugreek Feels - Cooking With Fenugreek And Its Medicinal Benefits

Featured Image: Shutterstock

The plant name ‘Fenugreek’ is misleading in relation to this plant’s origins, for it has been long used in India, Iraq and Egypt. The Latin translation for it is ‘Greek Hay’, an unfitting title for a plant whose flavour is outdone by the numerous health benefits it brings to those who consume it. Both the plant and its seed (which is very bitter if not cooked) are widely consumed throughout India and are also used in ayurvedic medicine.


Fenugreek in Indian Cuisines

Fenugreek is known as methi, to those who speak Hindi. It is a vegetable that appears in abundance during the cooler months of the year, as it is leafy in constitution, and is fast to wilt in the harsh summers.

There are a number of ways to prepare methi, but my favourites are; (1) stuffed in paratahs and eaten with a runny egg or a side of fresh dahi (yoghurt) and; (2) mixed with aloo (potatoes) and scooped up with rotis.

  1. Methi Parathas - pluck the leaves of the methi plant, making sure that there are no stalks, and mix them into the flour, before adding the water to form a dough. If you are using our paratha recipe, use 2 cups of methi in place of the potato. Fry an egg so that the yolk is runny, place it on the side of your plate and then rip pieces of the paratha, dunk it in the egg and devour. I also like to eat methi parathas with a bowl of plain yoghurt and a small spoonful of spicy mango achaar (pickle).

    Methi parathas
    Image: @thegreatpunjabgoa

  2. Aloo Methi - Potato pairs well with almost any vegetable, and methi is no exception. When making this dish, get as many hands as you can to pluck the methi leaves from the stalks, because that is most time-consuming part. Once you’ve done this, heat some oil and add the diced and cubed potatoes first, so that they cook. You can add salt and asafoetida at this point. Once the potatoes have cooked, I throw in the methi and cover the pan with a lid. After a few minutes, give it a stir and switch off the stove. Have some hot rotis (flatbread) on the side, to scoop up the aloo methi.

Health Benefits of Fenugreek

The health benefits of Fenugreek are endless to those who consume it regularly. The impact of consuming this plant will vary from person to person as it depends on the constitution of our bodies (prakriti), environmental factors as well as our diets. Always consult your doctor before using natural remedies and medicines as treatments.

  1. Skin and Hair - Fenugreek seeds are anti-inflammatory, which means they can be applied, as a paste, to wounds, acne and even scalps affected with dandruff. In India, fenugreek seed paste is commonly used as a conditioner, on its own, or along with other natural herbs.

  2. Digestion - Fenugreek aids with digestion because it contains a water-soluble fibre. If you have a sore tummy or are constipated, boil fenugreek seeds together with water and drink it like a tea. Though unrelated to digestion, it is also used as a pain relief for women during their period.

  3. Diabetics - If you suffer from diabetes, fenugreek seeds may work as a natural remedy in controlling your blood sugar levels. The seeds are composed of fibres and other chemicals which not only slow down the rate at which the body absorbs carbohydrates and sugar, but can also increase the amount of insulin released.

  4. Promotes Milk Flow - If you are a breastfeeding mother, fenugreek can assist your body with producing milk. It acts as a galactagogue (no relation to galactic travelling) the milk ducts to increase milk production. In India, breastfeeding mothers consume ‘methi laddoo’ - a bitter sweet made of ground fenugreek seeds, jaggery (unrefined palm sugar) and other spices.

It is also known to increase libido in men, lower cholesterol, relieve sore throats and combat eating disorders through increasing appetite. Now how’s that for a list of achievements?

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Spice Up Game Nights With These Indian Snacks

By Conchita de Souza

Spice Up Game Nights With These Indian Snacks

If you are a fan of all things sports, then now is a great time to succumb to the sporting fever.  With Game 2 of Origin this weekend, the group stages of the FIFA World Cup in full swing and even the Tour De France starting next month, it is a perfect time for inviting family and friends over to share in the excitement.  Your crowd will certainly be cheering for the results on screen, but they will also be interested in another result - what you put on their plates!

Great food can make or break a match, just as an unfair call from a referee or missed shot at the goal.  We have put together our top 5 game snacks which we guarantee will score well with your guests and make them fans of you and your cooking. These snacks depart a little from the traditional game night snacks of nachos, sausage rolls and hot chips, but they will merit equal if not more delight than the regulars.

So what defines great ‘Game Food’?  In our culinary-wise opinion, you should be able to eat it using just one hand and finish it off in no more than a few bites; it should taste good hot or cold; it should complement the common beverages being served and; it should be dunk-worthy in some kind of sauce or dip.

Please do try out some of these lip-smacking ideas below and tell us how your game night went down!

 

Samosas/Singharas

These deep-fried pockets of pastry stuffed with a spicy potato or mince filling are India’s favourite snack for a reason - they can be consumed just about anywhere and everywhere; on a speeding and bumpy train, whilst running to work and even during a timeout session of a cricket match. If you serve them with a tangy tamarind sauce, your guests might turn into temporary residents.
Click here for our Baked Samosa Spice Blend, which you can use to prepare the filling for these samosas.
Samosas
Good things come in small packages they say. And these pocket patties are just the kind of good thing that can spice up your Game Night.  You can prepare these babies using either minced lamb or chicken, fry them in advance and reheat them in the microwave just before the guests arrive.  To make things even easier, buy the ready-made pita pockets from your local grocery store.
Click here for a vegan variation to this snack.

Tip: If making lamb patties, use a ready-made tzatziki dip to dress the pockets. 

Pocket Patties

Egg Puffs

Almost every corner bakery across major cities of India, have stacks of egg puffs flying out their doors in volumes. Flaky and buttery pastry encases a spicy mixture of onions, tomatoes and a hard boiled egg. Serve these at any party, with a side of your favourite sauce, and we guarantee you that the platter will come back empty and you will have been accosted for the recipe by numerous guests.

Pakoras/Bhajias

You can never go wrong with a plate of deep-fried snacks on Game Night. It almost always complements the beer and is usually the first to be finished! Pakoras are prepared by coating raw vegetables, such as potatoes, onions, eggplants and cauliflower, in a spiced batter made from chickpea flour and water. The vegetables are then fried until crispy and brown and are usually served with a spicy sauce on the side.

You can also fry bite-sized fish pieces to make a mean plate of fish pakoras.
Tip:  Pakoras go great with a simple, tomato or barbeque sauce.

We are certain that eating food on a stick is much more of an enthralling experience than eating it from a plate or bowl. And so it follows that you should skewer your ever-so-carefully marinated pieces of chicken or paneer to add a little more pizzazz to the night.  The blend of spices used in the Tikka masala will have your guests’ tastebuds dancing with as much swag as Senegal’s national football team.

Tip: Just before serving, add a squeeze of fresh lemon/lime for insane amounts of deliciousness.

Chicken Tikka


So there you have it! Our Top 5 Game Night snacks that you can serve to your guests during this World Cup and Origin season.  Which one, or all, will you try?





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Vegetarian Samosas (Singharas) - India's Favourite Snack

By Claudette D'Cruz

Vegetarian Samosas (Singharas) - India's Favourite Snack
If you have guests coming over, preparing a snack for a picnic lunch or going on a long road trip, nothing beats a stack of India's favourite snack - samosas. A spicy vegetarian filling consisting almost always of potatoes and sometimes other finely chopped veggies like carrots and peas are encased in a thick crusty pastry that is deep fried.

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Ghee (Clarified Butter) - The Traditional and Modern Ways of Preparation

By Claudette D'Cruz

Ghee (Clarified Butter) - The Traditional and Modern Ways of Preparation
Ghee is made from butter that has been heated to separate the water, milk solids and salt. The residue from this process is known as ghee, which has an ever-so-slight nutty flavour and is grainy in texture. Aside from the wonderful flavour and aroma, Ghee has several benefits and is used in religious ceremonies and as Ayurvedic medicine.

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[Part 2] From Darjeeling to Kolkata - A Journey Through West Bengal

By Conchita de Souza

[Part 2] From Darjeeling to Kolkata - A Journey Through West Bengal
Kolkata (previously Calcutta) reminded much of Mumbai, the bustling, crowded, never-sleeping city in which my father was raised. Kolkata was once the capital of British-led territories of India and the mark of British Raj is most evident in the city’s architecture. The Hooghly River passes through the city, and it is a tributary river of the Holy Ganga. 

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[Part 1] From Darjeeling to Kolkata - A Journey Through West Bengal

By Conchita de Souza

[Part 1] From Darjeeling to Kolkata - A Journey Through West Bengal
Literally a town built in the clouds, Darjeeling lies at an altitude of 6,710 feet and on a clear day (which I unfortunately did not experience), you can see the Kanchenjunga range towering majestically over the town. Lonely Planet describes Darjeeling as the ‘front row seats’ to the Himalayas, and no doubt that would have been the case had we not been stuck in a series of clouds that varied in density, temperature and even colour. 

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Indian Festivals: Holi - The Festival of Colour

By Conchita de Souza

Indian Festivals: Holi - The Festival of Colour

My first Holi experience was in the town of Vrindavan, the place in which Lord Krishna grew up and where over 5,000 temples stand in honour of this blue-skinned, much adored deity. I had driven with two flatmates/colleagues to this town very early in the morning from Delhi, and checked into a hotel where another friend was waiting, oiled my hair and body in anticipation of the staining effect of the colours, and changed into a set of old clothes for immediate disposal. As we walked the narrow lanes, slowly filling up with people as they woke up to the excitement, everything seemed eerily calm and quiet. I remember thinking to myself ‘well this ain’t as bad as I thought, at least people are being civil’. There were many a cart on the street selling loose colourful powders, embarrassing my organic and chemical-free organic powders from the supermarket. My friends and I playfully threw colour on each other, lest we appeared too clean for others to want to throw colour on us.


It must have been only 8.00am when things began to quickly and unexpectedly intensify. I remember seeing a large crowd of coloured devotees coming out of a temple and shouting praises, and as they passed, they threw colour all over us. The onslaught began, and much like Jesus struggling through the narrow lanes of Jerusalem with the crowd all around him, we walked towards our colourful calvary. I put a scarf over my head to protect my eyes, but its effect was to attract more attention and, more colour. As we walked down the streets, children had filled buckets of coloured water and waited for us to pass so they could drench us from the terraces. Pichikaris (waterguns) were squirted from all directions, their owners seemingly innocent and playful. Men would not just throw colour on me, but smear my entire face with it as though attempting an express facial. There was colour in my eyes, my nostrils, my mouth and my ears. We entered the famous Banke Bihari temple, and through the clouds of colourful dust, paid our respects to the famous statue of Radha Krishna (Radha is Krishna’s consort, and he is rarely mentioned without her name being attached to his). As the morning wore on, and I became weary from all the drenching, I began ducking or covering my face so as to protect it from the cheerful and rowdy crowds. I soon realised that this actually encouraged them to target me even more, and they would smear me apologetically and uncontrollably, exclaiming ‘Bura na mano, Holi hai’ (don’t mind, it’s Holi). There were multiple and spontaneous outbursts of crowds dancing and cheering to the sound of colorful drummers and I was pulled in by the sheer joy of it all. Finally exhausted at 9.30am, I begged my friends to retire, as I, being a female, was far more drenched and coloured than what they were. We returned to the hotel and I jumped into the shower, washing my hair with shampoo at least three times before the water ran clear. Once we were cleaned up, we went out for a traditional and festive breakfast.

Holi Colours

 

The meaning and significance behind Holi

Holi is probably the most fun of Indian festivals, that is if you don’t mind being bejewelled with a multitude of colours and squirted with water guns by friends and strangers alike. It is celebrated with more fervour in the North than compared with the South. Frivolities aside, its significance is more cultural than it is religious. The festival signifies the following:

  1. The triumph of good over evil: The legend behind Holi is centered around the character Prahalad - the son of demon king Hiranyakashyap. This King considered himself to be ruler of the Universe and above all Gods because he was given a special boon, one which prevented him from dying an earthly death, except for in very unlikely circumstances. His son was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and when his Father asked him, “Who is the greatest, God or I?”, he responded with piety “God is, you are only a King”. This response infuriated the King who decided he would have to kill his own son and subjected him to many forms of torture, all of which Prahalad survived. Hiranyakashyap had a demon sister called Holika, and he asked her to sit in a pyre of fire wearing a special cloak, that would not allow her to burn. He then told his son Prahalad to sit with his aunt in the fire. The cloak worn by Holika fell on to Prahalad, and he survived the fire whilst his aunt burned. This is why, on the eve of Holi, a huge bonfire is lit and Holika’s effigy is burned.

  2. The greatest of equalisers: Regardless of your age, gender, caste, class, culture or creed, you can play Holi with anyone and everyone. The traditional boundaries that divide communities and people are suspended during Holi to ensure no one misses out on the fun (unless of course you stay indoors).

  3. The beginning of Spring: Holi is celebrated just as winters quickly fade into the warmer spring season. The colours of Holi represent the brightness, warmth and joy brought on by the advent of Spring. It is always celebrated the day after the full moon.

Specialities


As with all festivals, comes an array of specialities and delights enjoyed during this time. They vary depending on which part of India you are celebrating an below are a few of the Holi classics.

  1. Bhaang - The local name for marijuana and the natural drug associated with Lord Shiva, bhaang is enjoyed on this festive day in various forms. It is added to milky drinks such as Lassi, as well as to deep-fried snacks (such as pakoras, which you can make yourself using our Pakora spice blend).

  2. Thandai - A chilled, sweetened and spiced milk drink which is sipped on by kids as they refuel between Holi games. The additions of dried fruits and nuts make Thandai a great energiser. Bhaang can also be added to this drink to get into the Holi spirit.

Thandai - A chilled, sweet and spiced milky concoction

PC: @tashasartisanfoods

  1. Gujiya - A deep fried pastry which encases a soft and sweet mixture of dried milk and dried fruits. There are many variations of Gujiyas across India, depending on which region you are in.

Sweet gujiyas are a delicious Holi snack

PC: @whiskaffair 

Happy Holi everyone!

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