I don’t really have any memories of Rose Cookies growing up, but after we moved to Canada, I was quickly adopted by a wonderful woman who treated me like her own daughter. Every year she would make sure we were invited over with the rest of her family at Christmas and as our family grew our kids expected to be at Aunty Pam’s for Christmas. Many of the Goan traditions that I did not experience as a kid, mostly because I just wasn’t paying attention, was quickly learned and appreciated by spending time under her roof.
One of my fondest memories were her large oversized steel tins also known as dhabbas which she likely imported from India that she would fill with Christmas goodies. One or more of these tins were always filled with Rose Cookies and I was always getting into trouble for opening it way too many times. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but I loved the crunchy texture and the slight sweetness. I never bothered making these myself … why do it when Mama Pam was always around? Till one day she announced that she was leaving for Dubai! Her items were put into storage and her kids took stuff they could use. A lot of stuff got dumped in my garage in transit going to her daughter’s home in Ottawa. And there were the tins. Her daughter Tammy decided that she would have no use or space for those tins, and I happily took them off her hands.
The holidays are here and I wanted to kick things up a notch by throwing a Red & Green Party. I’ve asked my friends to dress up in Red & Green and it’s only fair that I serve them themed appetizers as well. We’re going to be serving Green Spinach Chilli Mini Idlis with Red Chilli Garlic Sauce, Red Chicken 65 in Cucumber cups & Green Chilli Shrimp Lollipops. Be sure to check out these recipes as well.
The Green Spinach Chilli Mini Idlis have a wonderful flavour and is served with Red Chilli Garlic Sauce. If you’ve never had idlis before, these are delicious gluten free streamed rice and lentil cakes. Typically Idlis are eaten with a gravy called Sambhar in the south for breakfast and other meals. Idlis also can be used like a bread to sop up a curry. Typically an Idli is pure white, soft and fluffy and is made is a special idli steamer. But I’m changing things up by adding some ground spinach and green chillies to this idli to make a wonderful green snack. Steamers and the idli stands come in 2 sizes, a regular and a mini version.You know how cupcakes were cute, and then mini cupcakes were just cuter, this is the same thing. What I love about this recipe, besides that fact that it’s packed with spinach is that it’s also gluten free. There are so many heavy and rich appetizers that we will consume this season, why not also offer choices that are actually good for you.
This recipe uses the instant idli method, and by this I mean instead of soaking rice and lentils separately, grinding them to a smooth batter and leaving it overnight to ferment, I’m going to use rice and lentil flour and a magic ingredient – something you’re probably always had in your medicine cabinet – Eno or Fruit Salt. With the help of this, I will aerate the batter just before I steam it.
Once my beautiful little mini idlis and puffed and perfect, I will dress it with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, green and red chillies and dot it with a Chilli & Garlic sauce. It’s too die for.
Tadka - black mustard seeds, curry leaves, slit green fresh chillies and slit dried red chillies in a little bit of oil.
Red Chilli Garlic sauce
Grind 2 cups of fresh Spinach with 3 green chillies and a 1 inch piece of ginger together with the juice of 1 Lime
Add a tiny bit of water to help it come to a smooth paste
Add 1 cup of rice flour to a bowl with half a cup of Urad flour. You can find this lentil flour at most Indian or ethnic stores, it's made for black dehusked lentils that are dried and ground to a powder
Mix these together with one tsp of Eno fruit salt
Add all of the Spinach Chilli paste
Add a little water into the food processor and add this as well and stir to form a smooth batter
Add 2 tsps oil and 1 tsp blacksalt & let this sit in a warm place for 30 mins
Prepare the idli stands by brushing them with some mustard oil.
Divide the batter into 2 bowls as only half the batter will fit the molds.
Add 1 tsp Eno or fruit salt to half the batter and fold it in. The batter gets all fizzy, this is exactly what you want. Quickly spoon this into the idli moulds and add to the pressure cooker
Pressure cookers usually come with a stopper that keeps all of the pressure in. If I use this for the idlis, the pressure built will not allow the idlis to cook properly. Instead the steam will press against the idli giving it too mush moisture and will not allow it to rise
I'm going to cook it without the stopper allowing the steam to escape, but ever so often I will cover it with a stainless steel cup just to make sure we don't lose all the water in the pressure cooker
Cook for 10 mins. Once this is done, take the stand out, allow it to cool and free the idlis with a spoon
To serve I'm going to make a quick tadka, this is a tempering of black mustard seeds, curry leaves, slit green fresh chillies and slit dried red chillies in a little bit of oil
Pour these over your idlis and add a little dollop of festive Red Chilli Garlic sauce.
Chicken 65 is likely of my most popular recipes to date, and I’ve dedicated quite a few posts and videos to this recipe. For those who have never heard the name before, Chicken 65 is a wonderful spicy dry Chicken preparation with a really strange name. Rumour has it that it’s made with 65 ingredients, or that it was made with a 65 day old chicken. The more believable story that I like to believe is that it was printed incorrectly on a menu card in a canteen. The item number 65 was misplaced and printed after the word Chicken and Chicken 65 was born.
To usher in the holidays, I decided to throw a Red & Green themed party. I’ve asked my guests to wear Red & Green and decided to make appetizers to match. I’m going to make a much smaller version of my popular Chicken 65 recipe, as I want to stuff cucumber cups with it. This is a lot healthier to offer your guests as well, the Chicken is shallow fried and served is a raw cucumber cup.
Also be sure to check out my other recipes that I prepared just for this occasion Green Spinach Mini Idlis with a Chilli Garlic dipping sauce and a Green Chilli Shrimp Lollipop.
Dice 1/2 a pound of chicken breast into very small cubes
Add 1 tbsp of cornstarch, 1/2 a beaten egg, 1 tsp each of ginger and garlic paste and salt before mixing everything together
Instead of deepfrying this like I do with the original recipe, I'm just going to shallow fry these. once done remove and drain on a paper towel.
In a saute pan, add a 1/2 cup of finely diced onions, one green chilli and when the onion is golden brown, add 1/4 cup curry leaves that I've cut fine with a scissor
Add 1 tsp each of ginger and garlic paste, 1 tsp Cumin
Add 2 tbsps Chilli Garlic paste or Sambal Oelek and salt to taste
Finally I'm just going to add a bit of red food colouring. This is powder color and I've just added a bit of water to it
Mix everything together and add the chicken. Stir well to coat and cook so the chicken gets a bit more caramelization from the heat
Leave this aside to cool
The next part is fun cut your cucumbers into 2 cm high disks and using a small ice cream scoop, just remove the insides. If you're going to prepare these a day ahead. store them upside down as cucumbers contain a lot of water that need to be drained out.
Fill with the chicken 65 filling just before serving. I like to also fry whole curry leaves and use them as a garnish
I love making homemade Margaritas, and since last year I’ve started a new tradition of making a special Pomegranate & Clementine Margaritas. When you think of the Holidays, the flavours of Pomegranate and Clementines are definitely up there.
For this recipe you will need to prepare a simple syrup and squeeze fresh citrus juice like Lemons, Limes and Clementines. Simple syrup like it’s name is …d-uh simple. I was shocked that one of my bff’s buys simple simple syrup premade. This drink is garnished with Pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranates are easy to peel, if you want a mess free way to peel and separate the seeds here’s a link to a mess free way to peel and store these seeds. Cheers to a safe and love filled season!
Prawn Ambot Tik is a wonderful classic Goan recipe typically made with chunks of Shark meat. The literal translation Ambot means sour and Tik means hot. This wonderful combination of sour and spicy is quintessentially Goan. In tis recipe Kashmiri chillies are used to give that wonderful red color to the gravy.
While planning this post and video, I decided to collaborate with a very funny Goan Wendy Zuzarte, who goes my her alter ego Succurine bai. She plays a Goan simpleton on her channel on YouTube and injects some wonderful comedy into the recipe video – be sure to check this out! https://youtu.be/mCoypm50nUI
If not using Shark meat, you can also use any other fleshy fish, I prefer to use prawns. This curry can be eaten with fresh soft sannas or rice. What I love about the simplicity of this recipe is that the masala can be prepared ahead and stored. You can also prepare the gravy a few days ahead and just simmer the prawns in the gravy just before serving. If I have left over gravy, I always freeze it, you can literally cook anything in it and it would be delicious.
Kashmiri chillies can be found at most Indian stores. If using regular chillies please use less and they would likely be more spicy. In this recipe and video, I dry ground the chillies, you could also soak the chillies overnight and grind them with the wet ingredients instead.
Oooo la laaaaa . This recipe for Riz au lait simply translated to Rice & Milk or Rice Pudding should really be called Riz ooo la la lait. I had this French style rice pudding at a popular restaurant in Paris called Chez L’ami Jean. This restaurant has a very long wait period for reservations. We made our booking online months before our trip, knowing that the menu would be a complete surprise. I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly excited when I found out we were having Rice Pudding for dessert, I was imagining a Crème Brûlée or an exotic Macaroon. But when it arrived, I thought I died and went to heaven. The rice pudding(barely a pudding btw) is folded in with cloud like whipped cream, drizzled with a salted Caramel sauce and studded with a nut praline – it’s decadence at it’s best. There’s a few steps to prepare this sweet delight but they are all easy so don’t let that scare you.
The Praline and Salted Caramel in this recipe can be made to stand alone and uses with other desserts as well. The Praline is highly customizable, you can add Pecans and cranberries at Christmastime, or Pumpin seeds and Walnuts in fall.
When it comes to sharing a meal with my family and extended family, I always gravitate towards a traditional favorite. This is a recipe for a very typical Goan Kheema. I am from Goa originally and Kheema is the Hindi word for ground meat and it can refer to Beef, Lamb, Mutton or Chicken. This recipe is by Xanti Pinto from Xantilicious.com, a blog that specializes in Goan cooking. I came across her recipe on our Facebook group Traditional Goan Foodies and I just loved it. I’ve made this many times now and have tweaked it ever so slightly to call it my own. What makes this quintessentially Goan is the addition of Vinegar and Kashmiri chillies.
The people of Goa love their song, dance and food and if you watch the beginning to this video, you will see my Dad in action. My earliest memories of Goa are the open fields, the busy kitchens and the amazing food. As I got older and I started to visit Goa for short holidays, we spent a lot of time on the beach, relaxing in many beach shacks that are now an integral part of Goa. There are many Goan recipes on my blog and channel that feature this amazing cuisine, be sure to check them out!
The star of this dish is the spice blend of the ingredients listed below that flavours the meat to give it it’s sour & spicy taste.
Gobble Gobble! Cooking a Turkey is synonymous with feeding people you love. I always like to try something different each Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday and this year I made a Middle Eastern inspired Turkey. The bird is the star of the show and done right, it can be juicy and flavourful I love Turkey but I’m not crazy about the long cooking time, so this year I decided to drastically cut down the cooking time by Spatchcocking the Turkey. This means I will remove the spine so the Turkey can lay flat and cook in less time than it usually does.
If you’re never cooked a Turkey before, be sure to check the cavity of the bird. This is usually where they stash the neck and other parts of the Turkey. Store this in your fridge. I always like to use a fresh bird and I always brine my Turkey for 24 hrs. Brining ensures that the Turkey is flavourful and moist. This is a simple mixture of salt and sugar in 4 litres of water. I like to throw in some lemon slices before I immerse my bird in a bucket or container large enough to hold the bird. If you don’t have enough room in your fridge to hold this large container, you can sit this on your kitchen counter in cold water for two hours, or just skip this step. After the brining process you need to dry the bird out really well, I like to leave it in a colander to drain and I will follow that with a tea towel and wipe all the excess moisture. It’s important that your bird is dry, otherwise it will steam in the oven.
Spatchcocking the Turkey was a bit harder than I imagined, I have spatchcocked many a Chicken, but the Turkey bones are much tougher. To watch this video make sure to click the link in this post.
Once the Turkey was ready I prepared a wonderful spice blend with the best of Middle Eastern flavours. My bird is about 12 lbs so I should be cooking this for about 3 hrs and 45 mins, but because it’s spatchcocked, it’s only going to take 1.5 to 2 hrs. I’m going to start at 350 and increase the heat to 450 when I take the lid off. If you find it’s browning too quickly in your oven, cut the heat back.
It’s been a while since I’ve eaten healthy – ok, I’ve never eaten healthy 🙂 I’m now 46 and the last couple of years of careless eating and drinking have caught me by surprise. Two months ago, I met an old acquaintance from my kid’s Boy Scouts Club. I couldn’t believe how amazing she looked and decided that it was time for me to kick all the old habits to the curb. This wonderful woman who I always thought was warm and friendly would be the perfect weapon to kick my butt back into gear. She lost all this weight by replenishing her body with Herbalife shakes, eating right and working out(bad word). These are all things I don’t do, drink shakes, eat right or work out … but you have to start somewhere! I started drinking a shake a day, ate reasonably healthy and attended her Fit camp aka torture camp! I’ve lost 10 lbs already and I can’t wait to shed the rest!
Since I started this journey, I read labels and log everything I put into my mouth on myfitnesspal.com. This has been a fascinating adventure, I now know how many calories are in most things and make wiser choices. I think my friends hate me though especially that I tell them that 1 oz bag of Cheetos they’re inhaling with are 150 calories.
At my Fit camp, we’re celebrating the end of summer with a potluck. I decided to take my regular Deviled egg recipe and use calorie friendly ingredients like Sour cream and Turkey bacon to deliver top notch flavour that won’t settle around your waist. Try these, they’re yummy!
With my rough calculation, these are under 50 calories each and packed with protein.
Update: Jan 17, 2017 – I’ve now lost 30 lbs, balancing my healthy eating with the delicious food I have to prepare for my channel – moderation is key. I’m also working out and in much better health.
If you’re Goan( Goa is a state in India) there’s nothing more delicious than a Shrimp Vindaloo or Vindalho. This is an authentic recipe using the spice paste recipe from our family recipe books. While this dish may sound very hard to prepare, it’s really not. Follow my simple steps below and watch the video for more step by step instructions. Vindaloo is traditionally made with Pork, but these Chicken, Mutton Shrimp are very popular. Since Shrimp has a tendency to get rubbery if it’s overcooked, I will be sauteing this and then adding it back in at the end, you wouldn’t need to do this with Chicken, Pork or Mutton.