Sunday, 14 December 2014

Fish fillet with tamarind glaze

Because I get waaaaaay too excited when I am let loose in an Asian, Indian, African or Icelandic supermarket (ok, Icelandic is a lie), I more often than not leave with an ingredient that I have no idea what to do with let alone used before. In steps in the tamarind pulp that has been sitting in my pantry longer than I need to admit to. Researched a few websites and altered the recipe to subtracted the shit I hate and this is what I got. 


Tamarind Glaze

1/4 cup tamarind pulp (stalk your local Asian or Indian supermarket)
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs of coconut aminos*
1 tbs tamari 
1 tsp lime juice

*Don't lose your mind if you can't find coconut aminos, just substitute with more tamari and 1/2 tsp of sugar (no sugar for me though!)

1. Cover that tamarind pulp in boiling water and soak it for 15-20 mins.



2. Using a sieve, strain the pulp through to remove the pips and fibres. 

3. Once you are left with your tamarind puree, mix in your fish sauce, coconut aminos, lime juice and tamari. 


Initially you might freak as the tamarind can still seem little sour and over powering but once used as a glaze on your fish, chicken or meat the flavour is less intense and develops a little more sweetness!


Fish fillet was crazy with the sweetness and cooked on the BBQ. Smiles!

P.s I don't waste much in my house so with the water left from the soaking pulp I am mixing up a summer beverage which I will only share if the result is not embarrassing!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Are you ready for an Ashram????



The answer is are you really ever ready to do anything? Or do you only think you are ready but never know until you do whatever it is that you are contemplating doing? Like becoming a parent or jumping out of a plane or making that drastic chop at the hairdresser….. You can try and prepare in your mind all you want but we never really know what is coming in the next moment. Even if you do something you have done a thousand times before, each experience will be different to the one before right? Because you have never been in this exact moment until now!

But this was debut experience for me. Feeling almost like I had exited the real world to be placed into a cocoon that at first felt like a prison….until I realised it’s beauty. Today I have left what I called home for the last 2 weeks, the Ayur Yoga Eco ashram.  Which was really half way between a yoga retreat and an ashram. It definitely wasn’t like some ashrams that have you getting up at 4am, where you must hand over all electronics, no hot water and you only eat rice and lentils for all meals,  sleep on concrete, scrub floors and chant until the deities embody you! Years ago I had spoken with a colleague about visiting an ashram and it has always been on my to do list. Why? To challenge myself.  To see what I am all about. Maybe it is the feeling of being lost and unsettled at times .Maybe being single without a family of my own permits time for such crazy thoughts about who I am and what’s inside this sack of skin. But the interest to learn about ourselves should be high on our priority list no? We are so eager to learn or study about history or religion or what happen on last weeks episode of  Keeping up with the Kardashians, that we don’t REALLY know about us. But it’s hard to try to do this when we are stuck living day in day out the same shitty way. Being overly stimulated with technology, people, appointments, schedules, to do lists, and always being on the rest of the worlds time and not your own. Self discipline seems to give way to a constant search for gratification which means a lot of the times we fail to realise what we have. But removing as many of those external road blocks is the perfect way to get out of your own way and tune into your thoughts, feelings and even more primitively….your senses.

My story is hilarious now I look at it! Arriving late at night after being driven for hours alone and into the middle of no where was daunting. The nearest city was over an hour away and the local village only a small dirt path dotted with a few shack houses where washing your clothes in the local stream in the main street and communal living is the norm. And greeted with no information other than “yoga at 7!” from the dude that lead me to my cabin in a paddock of darkness. Scaaaary!!! But that is India. Too much information is considered unnecessary, don’t concern yourself with  anything in the future, just focus on what is happening right now.  Hard to get your head around at first but they are really onto something I think. The first couple of days was a cross between being irritated, calm and uncertain. Set on the banks of the river, a large open space dotted with a few cabins, surrounded by palm trees and rice fields as far as the eye could see was what kept us occupied. Along with a schedule of early morning meditation, 2 hours of yoga morning and afternoon a daily yoga philosophy class and of course set meal times. We had simple wooden cabins with a bed, a toilet and shower, desk and wardrobe walking through knee high grass in the mud and dodging a wildlife sanctuary of frogs, geckos, bugs to get there.

A simple life. But we didn’t realise that the simple life was so far removed from what we are used to that you feel like you are jumping out of your skin to get to the next moment. It was so hard to just ‘be’ and not be planning for the day or week ahead. We crave to not have to do this  at home!! Most of my thoughts for the first couple of days were ‘what the F have I done?’ and 'how they hell am I going to be able to do this everyday for 2 weeks, I will go crazy!!' And we all felt like this. Others were even thinking of leaving. But why? Why are we so annoyed with NOT being time poor for once? Not being stressed with work or family or what ever else we manage to let stress us out. A small theory of mine was that I felt purposeless. Like I had far less responsibilities than what I was used to. It really made me start considering the families I saw in the local village and how having less really makes them satisfied. Their daily purpose is to work and provide for their family, to cook and clean or attend school and social interaction. And it is funny how I complain about not having time when I am at home to read my books, or to write these blogs, to play with my photography or to make sense of the junk I have saved on this computer. But a barely did any of this, I kept putting it off. And guess what I chose to do instead? I chose to just ‘be.’

Because after a week of getting used to this lifestyle we were let out of the cage and took a trip into Mysore. And that was the day that I appreciated this adventure. Because an over abundance of traffic, people, pollution, money, commercialism and unnatural noises was an attack on the senses. It made arriving back to our place of peaceful tranquillity, fresh air and constant routine a feel like a relaxing day spa. We didn’t even have to worry about feeding ourselves. We just show up. Our biggest concerns in life were which direction we should take our daily walk! Sounds like life of a princess right?? But I challenge you to spend so much time with yourself, with constant thoughts that have limited distractions, that have you question things about life, yourself, the people in it, what you are even doing with yourself, what is and isn’t important and a fear of the realisation that this is it. This is you.

 Right now you are living every second of this small amount of time that you have been given on this earth to be you. It will never happen again. Time is passing and this is the one chance that you have got at living this particular life. The other challenge is 4 hours of yoga with our teacher Sujith telling us ‘don’t break yourself’ as we try and do the scorpion pose!! Good times!!!

This I will miss about the ashram:

·      Navigating dirt paths after monsoon rains…….in the dark!

·      Being so excited that after 1 week getting my room clean and my sheets got changed from white to    bright colours

·      Mid morning peak hour dragonfly and butterfly traffic.

·      Having my senses finely tuned because I had the time to notice a snail growing it’s shell, that palm tree leaves can be deafening, I could smell in the morning that it would raining the evening, seeing all the colours of the rainbow on dragonflies and that salt sugar and that beetroot mixed with a little salt and fresh ginger can taste like the most flavoursome dish you have ever had!

·      Getting over the fact that almost every time you go to pee that there most likely going to be some kind of bug…..and that is after you have successfully sidestepped frogs and geckos to get there.
Feeling blessed at being in the right place at the right time while out walking one day to lend a helping hand to an old man that was carrying two large heavy canisters in the direction of the ashram. What I didn’t know was that he and his wife had been making us a food that we could enjoy for afternoon tea. The big smile on his toothy grin was priceless as he was so proud to bring it to us from his village as a treat. It is so selfish but I am so happy that I interfered in his day to walk back with him

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cooking class Jaipur India - Korma korma korma



Prepare yourself. Actually I should have prepared myself! The first time that I really had time for an India cooking class here in India was in Jaipur. And Jaipur cooking classes happened to be the first one that came up in the Google search and boy was it raved about on Tripadvisor. And Tripadvisor is is always my religion when I travel. Wow is all I can say. Cooking classes can vary in quality and therefore price everywhere you go and I have paid as little as $5 to $40-50. But an experience that cannot be matched in attention to detail, knowledge, professionalism and plus it is Indian cuisine. The most complicated and detailed of them all.  This was with a little more northern influence and I will do another when I am down south. 

They picked us up, dropped us off, had specially prepared menus for us so we didn’t need to write and it was even dated with our names! Special!!! And we did learn just one dish, we learned seven!! SEVEN!!!! Class was 3 hours then we sat with Lukesh and his gorgeous wife Geetika for another couple of hours as we ate the crazy amount of food that we could not finish and chatted as if we were all friends. Each recipe came with not only the met hind to make the dish, but methods for making the spices, or sauces or the pastes that go into making the dish. Aaaaaaaaah it is soooooo much! But it is awesome that it takes a long time. Why? Because it is all fresh. All from scratch! Not store bought butter chicken sauce in a jar or packet of masala spices. It is all made from scratch but the key is you make the key ingredients in advance,  so when you want to make it is not a marathon in the kitchen. But that is like most cooking right? You gotta have your brains about you and prep! So here is the list and some pics of what we made and I chose a recipe from the list to give to you!

  • Chicken Kadhai (chicen dish with whole red chilli, garlic and tomato gravy)


  • Paneer Korma (homemade Indian cottage cheese with a mildly spiced onion and cashew nut gravy)


  • Channa Masala (chick peas cooked in onion, tomato and spices)


  • Vegetable Makhani (vegetables cooked in a butter tomato sauce)


  • Chicken Biryani (layers of curried chicken and basmati rice then cooked in the oven


  • Naan (Indian bread traditionally cooked in a Tandoor oven, picture a vertical woodfire oven and the bread slapped onto the inside walls)


  • Saffron Kheer (sweet rice pudding with nuts and saffron)







Korma (paneer, chicken, vegetable)


Seeing our teacher making paneer (indian cottage cheese) from scratch was incredible and soooooo easy. But Korma is just the particular sauce and you can substitute anything from chicken or vegetables….I would even try using  a nice white fish!


Ingredients

I tsp oil
1 cup of  chopped ingredient of choice (vegetables, chicken/meat, paneer)
1 tsp each of green cardamon seeds, brown cardamom seeds, cloves and black peppercorn
1 tsbs of ginger garlic paste (see below)
3 tbs onion cashew nut paste (see below)
50 ml natural yogurt *
50ml cream *
1 medium onion roughly chopped
1 tsp dried fenugreek
1 teaspoon Garam Masala ( see below)

* Because my belly is not really friends with dairy I’m going to be honest here…… I am probably going to try substituting with a non dairy option of coconut cream/yogurt! Could be interesting!

11.    Heat oil over medium heat (I always prefer coconut or olive/nut based oils) and add green and brown cardamon seeds, peppercorns and your garlic ginger paste cooking for 2 minutes.
  2. Add yoghurt and cream and gradually add your onion, seed and cashew nut paste.
33.  Add your choice of main ingredient and add fenugreek, Garam Masala and season with salt to your liking. After 5 minutes reduce heat and let simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Ginger garlic paste

Simply combine 100 grams of peeled garlics and 50 grams of ginger (or always ½ the amount of ginger to garlic) to a blender with a little water and blend until you have a paste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge ready for next time!

Cashew nut, fried onion and melon seed paste

Equal parts:
·        -cashew nuts
·       -melon seeds (the tiny black ones, I am  going to try whole pumpkin seeds)
·       -fried onion (these are just fried shallots that you can buy however to make from scratch you just fry finely diced onion then place in the oven to bake until dried.
    

      Soak seeds and nuts in water for half an hour and rinse. Combine nuts, seeds and  fried onion in a blender and blend adding water as needed until you have a thick creamy paste.








Homemade Paneer cheese

Chicken Kadhai

Me makin naaaaaaan!

Our dinner table
                                                                               
The fruits of our labour!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sharing is caring....let's make tibetan Momo's



As part of my cultural quest around the world, I had now made it a rule that every country I travel to I will do a cooking class. It's not negotiable! Everyone has their own tick boxes when they visit foreign places. Some are history or art buffs, some love the outdoors, some just shop…you all know who you are! Eventhough I am a lover of all of the above, I find that the way that I immerse myself in the country the most is to take to the streets. Sit, watch, listen talk with them, do what they do, eat what they eat.  And we all eat  right?? But sometimes due to cultural or religious beliefs, traditions and geographical location, humans do have different ways of satisfying the body's needs. So what better way to find out the nitty gritty than to cook with a local. Not only can you learn, meet others, and eat the fab fruits of your labour, but  most often it becomes one of the most memorable experiences of your trip!

So on this trip this was my first one! For those that don't know, I am in India. And I know it seems strange, but this class was a crash course in making traditional Tibetan momo’s. Why a Tibetan cooking class in India ?? Well one of my stays here in the the land of rainbow spices was in Mcleodganj which is home to Tibetans in exile, and residence of the Dalai Lama. So that means this  little mountain community is more Tibetan than it is Indian. So let me share what we made.  Tibetan momo’s!!

Momo’s are more or less like dumplings. The most common fillings on offer are mixed veg, chicken or mutton (lamb) and for some reason spinach and cheese. In Nepal or Tibet they also make them with sweet red bean paste or roasted barley ground into a paste. For this class we made spinach and cheese, mixed veg and then the surprise that I had tried hunting around town for but was defeated……wait for it…...chocolate momos!!! Yeeeeehaaaa! Oh it’s on people!! So here are the pics, of our momo's and guess what? These cooking classes I do??….I am going to share with my lil buddies all of the recipes! Yep! Yaaaaay it’s like you were there with me,  and you didn’t even have to pay for the airfare……..

Of course as per usual I am taking recipes and changing them to suit the way I like to eat so naturally I ask our teacher about substituting the awful refined white flour for alternatives, and the soy oil (eeeeewwwwww) so far he confirmed that rice flour will work and I can use any oil! So when I get home and I have a momo making party that is what I shall do. Gluten free momo’s! And I aslo have some crazy ass ideas for fillings and twists which will let my creative juices bubble and burst! In the meantime you guys give it a crack. May I tell you, that I have a huge appreciation for this skill now. Contructing those little pouches of whatever goodness you choose is not easy. Very fiddly.There is a way and reason for each step and different ways of sealing them and making them look pretty that was super crafty. And not in any way simple!


Here's the recipe straight from Sangye’s Kitchen!!

Ingredients for dough

½ kg flour ( I am going to try using a wheat free flour of course!)
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups water

Sift flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
Gradually add water using your hands to squeeze together the forming dough
Turn dough onto you floured bench space and knead for 5 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside as you make your fillings.

You can choose any kind of filling that you choose, honestly you can use last nights left over mince or mashed potato if you like. Here is an ingredients list for 2 options

Meat filling:

250gms of any meat cooked, chopped or minced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp minced or finely chopped ginger
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp of nut oil (or oil of choice)

Mixed vegetable

¼ cabbage finely chopped
1  carrot finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp crushed grlic
1 tsp finely chopped or minced ginger
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp nut oil (or oil of choice)

Now to make mom’s.....

Fill a large pot with a steamer that has been lightly greased so your momos don’t stick and bring to boil while you make your pouches of supreme goodness.
Knead your dough again and take a third of the dough and roll into a sausage. Cut into pieces around an inch in length.
Take your pieces and round the ends with your fingers so they are a nice circle shape, then flatten to a disc on your floured bench space.
Holding your disc shape with one hand and using a rolling pin with the other (using the palm of your hand to roll) roll just the edges of the disc and continue turning the dough so the centre is thinker that the edges. Then the last roll, flatten the middle.

 Take your piece, lay it flat on the palm of your hands place 1 ½ teaspoons of your filling in the centre slightly length ways from your wrist to fingers
The easiest way to fold them is to cradle the piece in your hand as if starting to fold it in half length ways and pinch one corner completely so the dough is completely sealed and keep pinching around the edge of your momo so it looks like a pastie or half circle.

Place your momo’s in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes and when they are done, momo’s should feel dry, not sticky.  

Serve with any kind of dipping sauce!



 




Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Leaping into the crazy world!

So I am about to embark on a crazy adventure. Actually I am already on it! This blog is about to get a little bit diffs. For this who know me, you know that I have made a huge decision to leave the job I was at for the last 9 years and move into a totally different direction. Leeeeeeeap! I have chosen to follow my heart and try and make a go of something new!
Found this on the plane on the first leg of my journey....appropriate much?!



So as I merge into the career path of health, wellness, food, nutrition, coaching, empowering and whatever else that goes along with that I have taken sometime off to explore what I love the most.....the world! Broad you think? Travelling alongside the previous mentioned topics is one of my ultimate passions. And I intend to keep you updated on my travels as I explore culture, traditions, food, sights, sounds, feelings and basically life. Life is meant to be filled as much as possible with the things we love. So that is what I am doing! So if you love travel and love seeing what the world looks like as I explore the simple life, food, the streets, the people and pretty much all things that I find awesome, then welcome. and keep reading!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Take a seat....

Hiiiiiiiiiii superstars!!!

This year I took part in the Mindful in May challenge to raise money for clean drinking water for those that unfortunately this is a privilege for. Sad. So for the whole month of May the challenge was to do the 10 minute meditation practice sent to me everyday. It isn't easy. For two reasons. 1) we are busy and priorities other (and mostly less important tasks) and 2) just as if you start a super cool fitness regime, it can be tiring. Instead of your body working out it is your mind. Aaaaaaaanyways I have needed to clean out my emails and I have since come across this little clip that I missed. I really encourage to to take the 5 minutes to watch how amazing life can be.  Click on the words below.  





Thursday, 28 August 2014

Fennel and orange salad

This is a really light summery salad and the fennel is great for aiding digestion and minimises wind, bloating and indigestion. I know it is not summer here in Australia yet but I don't care....I love fennel!



Fennel and orange salad


1 medium sized fennel
1 orange
1 cup of salad greens, lettuce, rocket or baby spinach
2 tsp fennel fronds
2 tbsp roughly chopped mint
2 tbsp toasted walnuts chopped of crumbled
2 tbsp capers (optional)

Dressing


2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mustard powder 
1 tsp cumin
salt pepper

1. Peel orange with a sharp knife and cutting away any of the whites from the peel and cut orange into segments
2. Thinly slice fennel lengthways and combine in a bowl with the orange, mint and fennel fronds.
3. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix till well combined, or my favourite is placing all ingredients in a jar and shaking together. 
4. Pour half of the dressing over the mix and toss until covered. 
5. Arranged greens on a platter and top with fennel mix. 
6. Drizzled over remaining dressing and garnish with toasted walnuts and capers.





Sunday, 24 August 2014

Mushroom bun burger with Rosemary Fried lemons

Everyone needs a burger from time to time. Or maybe you need one once a week. And if it is a burger like this then its A OK! What difference does the 'A' make on front of the 'ok'?? Meh...anyways I was never the biggest fan of mushrooms until maybe the last year. And the lager the mushroom the stronger the flavour. Which is why I had a wee bit of food anxiety about making this. But prepared this way, kicked that worry in the shins!

Mushroom bun burger


You can use any larger flat variety of mushroom, as they are around the same size as burger bun.
1. Wipe over mushroom with a paper towel and rub with olive oil.
2. Season with a little salt and pepper and place inside up on a aluminium lined baking tray
3. Bake in oven at 220 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Once your burger buns are done you can fill with any of your favourite fillings. I packed this full of salads and avocado with a grass fed beef patty. I really wanted that tomato sauce taste without using the processed, number filled kind so I mixed a little bit of a weirdo sauce....

100% organice tomato paste
Tahini
Honey

Sweet and creamy!

I recommend giving these pieces of Rosemary fried lemons a go! From my fav Civilised Caveman George Bryant. I was so curious that I could't help myself. Amazing taste!!