What is desi cuisine without chaat masala? Adults and kids equally enjoy the taste and it is a staple in the kitchen for most desi families. I just peeked into my spice cupboard and apparently I have 4 different bottles/packages. Ummm yeah, and trust me they all taste and look different.
There are many prepackaged chaat masala packages on the market. If you like, you can also make it yourself at home. I have had variouos homemade chaat masalas but they don’t taste the same as the prepackaged ones. I am sure there must be a special ingredient that we don’t add when making it at home. I have always used Shan or National chaat masala.
Perhaps you've bought it before and have an entire box of chaat masala sitting in your spice cupboard and you are stumped on how to use it- I know a lot of people are. Here are a few different ways that you can use chaat masala in your cooking:
What are the innovative ways you use Chaat Masala?
First of all, Eid Mubarak! For those of you who were fasting, and let’s face it, for those who weren’t either, it’s time for some amazing feasts. What will you be having? Chicken biryani, made well, is the food I know I want to have tomorrow for Eid. It’s what I crave the most. You can be certain that 9 times out of 10, if you ask me what I feel like eating, I will answer biryani. No, I don’t eat it all that often, it’s just something I do tend to want often. Fragrant, spicy, and bursting with a dozen flavours, it has so many of my favourite ingredients; such as, cilantro, lemon, chicken, rice, onions, garlic and more, why wouldn’t I want it?
I don’t think I have ever had 2 home made biryanis that tasted the same- even when both were cooked using the same ready made spice mix. Everyone adds their own flair to it, whether it’s how they fried the dried spices in oil or the garnish they added on top of the rice. However, nothing is as good as biryani made from scratch at home. A simple biryani can take as little as 1 hour from start to finish or 3 to 4 hours. I remember it was so exciting growing up when I came home from school and heard we were going to have biryani for dinner. It’s a labour of love as it’s made to share with family and friends and is generally made in large portions. Both my husband and I firmly believe that biryani tastes better the second and third day as leftovers so there is no hesitation in making a lot of it. The effort is the same after all.
Somehow, many people depend on restaurants for biryani, but I’m not sure why. I rarely like the way they make it, with the occasional exception of a really flavourful biryani made in a traditional clay pot sealed with dough to steam the rice. Those, I love. It’s the classic way to make a dum biryani. (Dum refers to the method the rice is steamed in by sealing the pot/dish). There is an inexplicable joy in tearing apart the baked bread gently to reveal steaming colourful rice and chicken under it in a clay pot. Absolutely drool worthy. Obviously, we can’t make these at home in the same way, unless you have a traditional tandoor or are using hot coals. So yes, restaurants that make biryani in that way, I am definitely paying a visit to.
I am fascinated by the spices and ingredients used in Indian/Pakistani cooking. They are so much fun to cook with and some times it feels like biryani uses so many of them! Chicken biryani is just the standard favourite. There are a thousands types of biryanis all over India and Pakistan. It changes so much depending on the main protein used and the location. South India alone has hundreds of variations. I would love to travel all over India and taste the biryani in every major city. A food + travel series that featured India that I really enjoyed was called The Great Escape, hosted by Gordon Ramsay. Here is a cool segment on a Goat stuffed with chicken stuffed with quail biryani! Fwd to 14:00 in the video.
Everyone has different versions they like outside of their home and I can guarantee that more often than not, it’s the roadside, cheap café style biryani that is the favourite. In Karachi, Pakistani, for example, there is a chain called Student Biryani that started with 1 man selling biryani outside a school over 45 years ago. Guess what? They have just opened up a location here in Canada and I can’t wait to go try it out because usually, what we eat in restaurants out of the subcontinent doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s why I like experimenting with biryani at home and promise to continue to (hint- the dough/dum version is coming soon) and this is just one of the ways I have made it. It’s aromatic, light, and flavourful, and isn’t in any way pretentious. Perfect for family or friends coming over for Eid tonight or tomorrow. Let us know how you like it.
Coming soon: Spicy Masala Biryani
Here's an easy way to serve up a healthy dessert and it is also perfect for the month of Ramadan. Nida goes in depth to help us understand why. Pop 1 of these at suhoor or iftar and you will have a serious jolt of energy! W.P
No bake energy bites are the best way to have fun with your kids in the kitchen and enjoy healthy treats. These no bites are packed with powerful ingredients including the superfood Maca. This will easily be the coolest "keep your kids busy for a while without electronics" activity while kids are off during the summer! The best part is how versatile they are to make. If your family doesn't care for coconut, try dusting it with cacao powder. Mix the cacao powder in stevia to make it less bitter for the kids. Use dates to make it more moist or sweet. Try it and let me know what you think!
Why I heart these ingredients:
SunFood Red Maca supplies iron and helps restore redblood cells, which aids anemia and cardiovascular diseases. It keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly.
Cranberries contain a powerful cocktail of protective phytonutrients such as flavonoids and phenolic acids which contain protective, disease-preventing compounds that act as antioxidants in the body. Cranberries may also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol, inhibiting LDL oxidation, lowering blood pressure and inhibiting the formation of blood clots.
Almonds are high in fat (the good kind). According to Vegetarian Times, 60 percent of the fatty acids in almonds are mono-unsaturated, a healthful fat that can reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. Almonds are also a good source of vitamin E and antioxidants. Almond skins are high in fiber, which act as a probiotic and improve digestive health and strengthen your immune system.
Coconut is a good source of iron which is crucial for the formation of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that is responsible for getting oxygen to each part of your body. Without enough iron, your cells don’t get sufficient oxygen, which can lead to weakness and fatigue.
Sea salt naturally helps you to build up a strong immune system so that you can fight off the cold virus, the fever and flu, allergies and other autoimmune disorders. It is alkalizing to the body, as it has not been exposed to high heat and stripped of its minerals, nor does it have any harmful man-made ingredients added to it.
There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. In reality, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
2 cups Cranberries
2 cups almonds
2 cups coconut flakes
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp organic coconut oil
red/white maca powder
Mix and form into balls, dusk with coconut flakes for presentation.
Hat Tip: Eating with Sole
Ramadan is an Islamic month of the calendar and is a time when Muslims practice one of the five pillars of Islam, which is fasting. The fast lasts from sunrise to sunset so in northern countries, in the summer, that can be incredibly long. Yes, Yes, I know your first question is “But how do people fast in the Northwest Territories in the summer with 24 hours sunlight?” There is a solution to that too. You follow the country/city closest to you that does have a “night”. There are some cases in which the fasts are 21 hours long regardless. In Toronto, our fasts this year are about 18+ hours a day. It is not an easy one, but it’s absolutely doable for those of you who ask “But how!?” You realize people stay hungry for a lot longer than that all over the world right and it is without choice? Just pretend you’re even poorer than you are. Hah!
So what kind of fasting is it? We don’t eat or drink anything during the 18 hours, and we abstain from being intimate as well. Relax yourself over there Anxious Jane, you have 5 to 6 hours to eat and drink and cuddle your brains out if that’s your sort of thing. People who don’t need to fast? Anyone who is physically unable to; such as, the elderly, sick, children, travellers, or pregnant women. Who wants to mess with a pregnant woman’s food anyways? Can you imagine? Women also don’t fast during that oh so special time of the month, but wait- you have to make up those missed days any time after Ramadan. A-ha!
With regards to the effect fasting has, you may shake your head thinking, “But aren’t we supposed to eat multiple small meals a day because that is healthy for our bodies? Why are you sending your body into starvation mode only to eat all together twice and that too, late night?” It is ONE month out of an entire year. Do you really think your body won’t be there to support you when you have put it through so much? Don’t tell me you’ve never gorged on an entire packet of chips at 3 am or eaten a whole pile of butter chicken on your own. How about those chocolate bars you’re hiding in your office? In fact, fasting for part of the day allows you to eliminate toxins from your body and if you eat well/right at Iftar and Suhoor, you will feel great! The fasting time is just enough that your body first turns to glucose for energy and then to your fat stores, then to protein/muscle mass but by that time you’ll have eaten and probably started the cycle again. So the key? Eat the right things.
There are many tips on how to eat healthy and make the most of Ramadan- just do a quick google search. I personally think the easiest and most practical way to eat during Iftar and Suhoor is to cover all food groups: Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Protein, Water, Dairy, and Healthy Fats. It is easier to keep track of. Here is a good article on Suhoor foods for those of you who are not sure what to eat at 3 am. All over the world people (I didn’t say I haven’t done this) tend to feast at Iftar right up until Suhoor. What is the point then of fasting all day if you break your fast with deep fried spring rolls, fried dumplings, 10 kinds of meat, and all the desserts you don’t even normally have.
Eat real food and don’t waste your time making all those snacks and fried treats. We all plan to eat healthy but when Iftar time rolls around, oh man it’s tempting to eat the unhealthiest deliciousness first and then look at the fruit or something of the sort. To prevent this, you have to be organized. If you find it’s not easy for you to cook during your fast, cook right after Iftar! It will mean you’re not just lying around after eating. Use that time to prepare your Suhoor and Iftar for the next day. Also, just don’t dish out the other food unto your plate with your salads and vegetables. Eat your greens separately and first. It will fill you up and you won’t eat as much of that scrumptious lasagne or steak. I know some of you are looking at your phone or computer screen going “What do you mean no samosas or sambousek?” Look, you’re going to be invited for at least a couple of Iftars at someone’s house, eat that stuff then. At home or at the mosque, go for the healthy items first. It will be worth it. If I can change how I eat in Ramadan, you definitely can!
But the fast is not just for the body, it is for the mind as well! In fact, for me, it is definitely more about the latter. We’re supposed to be patient, kind, thoughtful, charitable, friendly and all things sugar and spice. That is infinitely harder to do when you are hungry, thirsty and possibly low on sleep but are working hard regardless at your job and/or at your home chores. This allows you to practice self restraint and to take everything good that you have turned into a habit during this month and carry it through the rest of the year. “But aren’t we supposed to be like that all year around?”- yeah I heard you say that. Duh. It is a month long training session to remind us what we should be like and doing it under tougher circumstances enables us to focus. It is a time to reflect on your character, behaviour and relationships, especially with God. You will notice that you’re more honest with yourself and are able to reflect on self improvement even more.
So use this time to train your mind, body and soul to learn and reinforce the right habits for your day to day life for the rest of the year until next Ramadan when you’ve forgotten it all and need another reminder. Think THIS:
Now, mandatory shameless plug please check out our recipes to see what suits your needs during this month of fasting.
P.S: Somewhere around 2025 onwards Ramadan will be super short in Canadian winter months. WIN!
The holy month of Ramadan will be starting soon and for all those who will be fasting in these very, very long summer days, it's not always easy to work, prepare food for everyone for Iftar and to be out in the heat. We're very fortunate to have ample food, our health, the capability, and immense blessings to be able to fast comfortably but some times a little help can go a long way right? So let us do the work for you and you can spend your free time with family and on various modes of self realization and growth that is an essential part of this special month. Look at our list of specials for this month and see what sounds appealing! Call us and we'll talk more. The question really is, what will you order first?
W.P & A.K
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hAPPY eATING & kEEP sMILING
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