No Worries Curries Blog

Homemade Edible Gift Ideas For All Year Round

By Conchita de Souza

Homemade Edible Gift Ideas For All Year Round
There’s still time for you to be inspired to create your own edible Christmas treats. We are sure you have heaps of recipes for some of these pantry ideas:  cordials, chutneys, jams, spiced nuts, vegetable stock powder. Here’s a few other ideas to get you started.  

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Indian Cultured Foods - Natural Sources of Probiotics to Promote Gut Health

By Conchita de Souza

Indian Cultured Foods - Natural Sources of Probiotics to Promote Gut Health
Broadly speaking, the term “gut health” refers to the bacteria that lives in your digestive tract (known as gastrointestinal tract). The bacteria contained within is affected by numerous factors starting from how we were born (c-section or vaginal birth), to the environment we grew up in as well as what we eat.

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Ideas for Creative & Simple Garnishes in Indian Cuisine

By Addition Collaborator

Ideas for Creative & Simple Garnishes in Indian Cuisine

Today, let’s talk about curries.

Wait, we do this all the time anyway (it is not only our job, but also our passion!).

Let’s specifically talk about the presentation or garnishing of a curry. The art of presenting a dish existed long before the advent of Instagram or Pinterest, these platforms being largely driven by aesthetics.

There are numerous ways in which you can present a curry, especially if you have guests over that you would like to impress, or a generation of social media offspring who appreciate visual presentation almost as much as taste. 

While curries are delicious they are not appetising straight out of the pot.  But wait, do not despair, with a few pantry/fresh ingredients you can tempt your young ones to tuck in and make some really Instagram-worthy pictures too. Something as simple as slivers of raw onion or wedges of lemon on the side brings both a pop of colour and flavour to an already mouth-watering dish.  

To make things easier for you, we have sorted garnishing ideas alphabetically and included links to our Instagram feed for presentation ideas.

  1. Apricot halves (tinned)
  2. Baked potatoes
  3. Baked tomatoes
  4. Banana leaf
  5. Cherry tomatoes - halved
  6. Crumbed Chicken – Check our our Hurry Curry spice blend for a twist on a delicious Katsu Curry.
  7. Crusty bread slices on the edge
  8. Dollop of yoghurt
  9. Chillies – fresh
  10. Eggs – boiled then sliced - BIRYANI
  11. Eggs à la Shakshouka - We even have an Indian twist on this popular brunch item! Click here for our recipe.
  12. Fresh herbs
  13. Fried cashews
  14. Fried Dhal
  15. Fried onions
  16. Lemon slices
  17. Nuts
  18. Onion rings pickled in lemon juice/vinegar
  19. Paneer crumbled
  20. Pakoras on Dhal - If you are making a simple dhal (click here for our recipe), why not add pakoras (deep fried snacks) as a garnish? We guarantee that this will be a hit because who doesn’t love a bit of deep-friend anything on the side? Click here for our pakora spice blend (the main thing you need to make these is chickpea flour, an item easily found at your local Indian store). 

  21. Peanuts
  22. Peppers ACHARI GOSHT
  23. Peppers, onions and herbs cut finely
  24. Pickled onion rings
  25. Pomegranate jewels - Make your biryanis even more regal by garnishing them with fresh pomegranate seeds.
  26. Poppy seeds
  27. Sali - shoe string potatoes which the Parsis also use this on a meat dish called Sali Boti
  28. Salsa (Kachumber
  29. Sesame seeds
  30. Shev
  31. Sliced fresh chillies
  32. Slices of lime
  33. Slivered ginger
  34. Solan 
  35. Steamed veg
  36. Swirls of cream - Add swirls of fresh cream to a Dhal Makhani or even Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)

  37. Tadka (infused oil)
  38. Water Pickle veggies
  39. Combination of some of the above

Hope that this list helps you to get even more creative with Indian cuisine in your kitchen. Don’t forget to tag #noworriescurries in your social media posts!

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Paneer (Indian Cheese) and its Uses in Indian Cuisine

By Conchita de Souza

Paneer (Indian Cheese) and its Uses in Indian Cuisine

Paneer is an unripened cheese that is made from coagulating milk and lemon juice or vinegar. It is hung in muslin so that the excess liquid (whey) separates from the solids and leaves you with the curds which can then be pressed into blocks.

Thanks to its plain flavour and flexibility in form, paneer can be prepared in numerous ways and is always a favourite ingredient for vegetarians.

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Five Signs & Symbols Found in India

By Conchita de Souza

Five Signs & Symbols Found in India
Following almost a decade away, I remember returning to India as a young adult and feeling as though I had stepped into another world. It was my first time unsheltered, away from the embrace of my relatives and in a completely different region and culture to which I was used to holidaying. There were so many unfamiliar signs and symbols that evoked curiosity in me and I craved answers.

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A Reflection on my Father - The Chef

By Conchita de Souza

A Reflection on my Father - The Chef
What is (or was) your father like? The kind that dishes out tough love or the kind that always cracks lame dad jokes? Is he into watching his sports or does he prefers to be adventuring amongst nature? Is he a DIY dad or one that can’t tell a spanner from a ratchet?

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Fasting in the Monsoons - The Auspicious Month of Shravan

By Conchita de Souza

Fasting in the Monsoons - The Auspicious Month of Shravan

The passing of the Indian monsoon also marks one of the holiest periods of the year for Hindus. Shravan is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar and usually commences in the middle of July and ends in the middle of August.  

This is an auspicious time for Hindus because there is believed to be a divine energy contained in the cosmos that makes it an opportune time for worship and reflection. 

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The Coconut: Its Uses in Indian Culture and Cuisine

By Conchita de Souza

The Coconut: Its Uses in Indian Culture and Cuisine

Not exactly a fruit nor a nut, the coconut sits almost between both classifications but leaning more towards the  former than the latter. It is in fact a drupe (a word which sounds like a mythical creature from a Harry Potter novel), a term used to classify stone fruits and under which peaches and nectarines, but also oddly, blackberries and raspberries fall. 

For many of us, the sight of coconut trees standing tall against the blue skies is synonymous with tropical travel, white sandy beaches and a mojito (or any beverage of your choice) awaiting us by the shore. For me, it speaks of a home away from home in the land of my ancestors called Goa. This small state is located on India’s west coast, where coconut trees are found in abundance, only to be rivalled in quantity by the southern state of Kerala, which literally means ‘land of the coconuts’. 

Coconut Trees

Skies full of coconut trees in Varkala, south Kerala

In India (and in other countries abounding in coconut), almost every part of the coconut and the coconut tree are used lovingly; the fruit, the nut, the shell and the leaves all serve their purpose. It comes as no surprise that the word for coconut in Sanskrit is kalpavriksha, which means ‘the tree providing the necessities of life’. In terms of its documented history, it dates back as far as 3000 BC and is mentioned in the ancient post-Vedic text called the Mahabharata.

Today, we look at some of the ways coconut has become part and parcel in the lives of Indians.*


Health & Beauty

Indians had used the coconut centuries before the Western world (recently) discovered its benefits. In the south of India, it is not uncommon to see the hair of girls, boys, women and men well-coated with coconut oil, which acts as a natural conditioner. Women from the south are renowned for their thick, dark and luscious locks attributed in some part to genetics, but also to the frequent application of coconut oil from birth. 

My mother used to apply coconut oil to my hair in the mornings before I washed it off in the evenings. It is a practice I continue until today, sometimes leaving the oil in overnight for better absorption. 

Coconut oil contains moisturising properties which makes it popular for use in hair and skin care products. It can be applied directly to the body like a lotion and contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It works well if you suffer from dry skin, especially in the winters (yours truly knows well) and can mend chapped lips too. Now you are probably wondering - ‘Is there anything that this plant can’t do?’

I won’t delve much further into the medicinal uses of coconut, but I will mention a few things. The water of the coconut tastes sweet when it is tender, but also has anti-dehydration properties which replenishes electrolytes far more effectively than your average sports drink. Tender coconut water is high in important minerals like calcium, magnesium (for the heart) and potassium (for the muscles). 


Cuisine 

"Coconut provides five types of food products: Coconut water, coconut milk, sugar, oil and ‘meat’," or ‘flesh’ as it is also known (Ahuja 2014). 

In the south of India, coconut flesh is consumed in a variety of ways - it is ground and made into a chutney, often with the addition of tempered whole spices and used as accompaniments to dosa, idly and vada. In Kerala, Avial is a popular vegetable stew prepared usually with coconut milk that goes well with appam ( a pancake made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk). 

In Goa, many curries contain coconut milk at its base, such as Xacuti or Maas Kodi. Even sanas (rice cakes) are prepared using rice flour and coconut milk and they are enjoyed with a sorpotel (spicy pork curry). When vegetables are cooked with minimal spice and a dash of dessicated coconut, it is known as foogath and we have a recipe for pumpkin foogath on our website. Even the sweets of Goa aren’t spared from coconut’s outreach - Bebinc and Dos are two of Goa’s most popular sweets with the former containing coconut milk and the latter, ground coconut. Another favourite tea-time cake and popular during the Christmas season is baath, to which generous amounts of desiccated coconut are added. 

The flower clusters of the coconut release a juice, which once fermented, produces a local brew known as toddy or coconut palm wine. 


Ceremony 

The dry coconut forms an essential element in rituals, ceremonies and festivities amongst Hindus. They are always used in offerings to God and any pooja (prayer) without coconut seems almost incomplete. Coconuts are smashed open whenever there is an initiation into, or inauguration of something new, like the opening of a new building. 

In Goa, the groom and bride, in their respective homes, participate in a ceremony called a roce, where they are both blessed by well wishers who, one by one, apply coconut milk to their skin. The idea was that the coconut milk would cleanse the skin of the bride and groom so that they would have a beautiful and clear complexion for their wedding day. Nowadays, the roce has become an event for relatives and friends to douse the bride or groom with coconut milk and have a blast whilst doing so. Click here to see a typical Goan roce in amongst the Catholic community. 


Materials

Surprisingly, coconut shells are useful for many things other than from bikini tops delicately strung on the chests of dancing island girls. You may have noticed that the shell of a dried coconut is encased in a husk. This husk produces a fibre called ‘coir’ that is highly resistant to salt water and can be used in the manufacture of ropes, mattresses, brushes and brooms, just to name a few examples. The shells can be treated and used as bowls and utensils, with beautiful carvings engraved into them. Unused shells make good flammable material for an outdoor stove fire. 

The palms of the coconut are handy for creating shelter and can be weaved and thatched to create handicrafts like mats or baskets. The bark of the tree is white ant resistant, and therefore is very useful in construction, especially when making rafters.

 

If you weren’t aware of this amazing plant’s ability to give, I am sure that after reading this, you will have a newfound appreciation for the immense utility that the coconut has offered humanity since the beginning. 



*Ahuja, SC (2014) Coconut - History, Uses & Folklore, Asian Agri-History,18(3):221-248 - this was a very helpful resource in putting together this post. 



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