A few years ago I had the experience of working in a French-American restaurant. I worked as a garde-manger chef and sometimes helped out on the line. It was an awesome experience; one that showed me that I really didn't want to be in the restaurant business, but somehow wanted to keep the culinary arts very much a part of my life in other ways. The most exciting times for me while working at the restaurant was plating/food styling and Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when we tested new recipes. I particularly remember my head chef making an amazing smoked paprika deviled egg, garnished with an olive and sprig of chive. He served it as an appetizer during the fall months. I thought it was so old-fashioned, compared to the other menu items, but it was the most frequently ordered item on the appetizer menu during that time. It was a testament to the fact that you can put a modern spin on a classic and people are bound to give it a try-kind of like these sriracha deviled eggs. They're flavorful, spicy, and pretty, just as you would expect of a deviled egg. What makes them different is the tangy and uniquely spicy flavor from the main ingredient- sriracha.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Fire-roasted coconut that has been ground into a fine texture, seasoned with lots of onion, garlic, and hot pepper, served over dhal and rice, then eaten with your bare hands, is a meal you just can't buy at a roti shop. It's rustic and earthy and just makes me feel like I'm home. Mom would make this only on the weekends, most times for Saturday afternoon lunch. After I ate a plate of dhal, rice, and coconut choka, all I ever wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch a good movie. I guess that's what makes comfort food, comfort food right?
Friday, March 22, 2013
Did I ever tell you that I grew up in an inter-faith home? My father is Christian and my mother is Hindu. When I was younger, my father wasn't so much of a church-going person, even though he was a believer in God, so I was never exposed to his religious customs as much as I was of my mom's. Dad went to church once in a while and more so on holidays such as Easter and Christmas. My mother didn't want my brother and I to grow up without religion in our lives so she made us go to temple with her consistently- we did, and eventually we adapted Hinduism as our faith. Nonetheless, we still supported my father and went to church with him and also celebrated Christian holidays. For me, it was interesting to learn about a his religion and the different ways people accept God into their lives. Some may disagree or turn their noses up at this open-minded way of life, but it worked for our family and that's all that really mattered. My parents tried their best to not let their differences in their religious beliefs get in the way of their marriage and have been married for 31 years now. I know I've said nothing about the relation to hot cross buns so far, but keep reading, it comes full circle.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The Hindu festival of Holi, also known as Phagwah, is soon approaching and I can't help but feel the optimism and joy that the holiday tends to evoke. The purpose of this colorful extravaganza is two-fold; celebrating the new season of spring and also the religious significance of good over evil. Hindus observe this holiday by smearing colored powder, all over their friends and family, lighting bonfires, and enjoying music and dance. The colored powder, known as abir, comes in so many different colors that when thrown into the air, everything just looks like a Crayola plant exploded into pieces - it's all just so vibrant and energizing to me. Sweets are prepared and also shared with loved ones to celebrate this wonderful time of year. In my family, gulgula, which is a sweet banana fritter, is commonly made among other goodies like goja, a coconut stuffed patty and vermicelli cake, colored with a little pink, yellow, or green food coloring. What would a celebration of anything be without food.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Last week my husband and I went to a dinner party at a friends house and I decided to bring over a popular appetizer I grew up eating- these delicious fish cakes. They remind me so much of Queens, NY. Anytime I was out running errands on the weekends and happened to be on Liberty avenue, I'd stop into a local West Indian bakery and buy two of these fish cakes to keep me going until dinner time. They would come with a side of mango sour which made the taste just out of this world. The tangy sauce with the spicy fish cake was just too delicious for me. Mom used to make them for parties and get-togethers at our house as well. I remember them being simple to make and very filling. A good fish cake for me has to be spicy, have good flavor, and contain more fish than filling (potato), pour a little mango sour on top, grab me a cream soda, and I'm a happy girl.
Friday, March 15, 2013
The thing I love about Guyanese cuisine is that every element of a dish is equally important. A side of pepper sauce or sour is not just a side; in fact it's the part of a meal that brings it all together. A good condiment can take a dish to another level; a more intense level of taste and flavor and can really make that dish be the best it can be. If there was a Guyanese condiment I couldn't live without, besides pepper sauce and tamarind sauce, it would have to be mango sour. Similar in texture to a sweet and sour sauce, Guyanese mango sour has an intensely tangy and sour taste that pairs so well with fried appetizers such as cassava balls, pholourie, fish cakes, potato balls or even plantain chips. For me, if these appetizers don't have mango sour on the side, it just feels like something is missing; it's like having a french fry without ketchup- it just wouldn't make sense. This condiment in particular is quite easy to make and can be paired with many different foods; take a dip with your finger and you'll probably like it by itself too!
Monday, March 11, 2013
Stemming from the Indian influences on Guyanese cuisine, curry has become a fundamental dish in our food culture. Chicken curry in particular is such a staple in a (meat-eating) Guyanese home that you would think it was the national dish of the country. This delicious finger-licking stew is generally made by simmering some type of meat in a curry powder-garam masala mixture until some of the liquid has reduced, leaving a thick broth. It is typically enjoyed hot, and paired with roti or rice. You can be sure if you attend a party, shower, BBQ, Christian or Muslim religious function, or just a hangout at a West Indian person's home, you will most likely find curry on the menu.
Friday, March 8, 2013
For those of you celebrating Maha Shivratri, you might be making several or just one or two of the sweets in the photo above. I've received a few emails asking for these recipes, so I thought a roundup might help make things easier for you. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Cream of Wheat & Flour Parsad
Other recipes my mom would make while we were fasting during Hindu holidays:
Wishing those of you who are celebrating, a very happy and blessed Shivratri!
|Photo source: Google images|