Category Archives: Great ingredients

Mr. Abraham’s Spice Garden – cooking with coconut in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala

Mr. Abraham's cheery home - photo - Karen Anderson

Mr. Abraham’s cheery home – photo – Karen Anderson

Coconut is a great ingredient and though I love coconut, I think spices are perhaps the greatest ingredient ever given to a cook.

This post allows me to share another savoury coconut recipe but it also satisfies my longing to share my journey to a very special place in Kerala, South India.

When I planned my first trip to India, I planned it around two equally passionate quests; I wanted to meet India’s people and I wanted to go to where the spices grow.

Both of these desires were fulfilled when I found myself at Mr. Abraham’s Spice Garden in a quiet, lush corner in the Cardamom Hills near Periyar. I fell in love with the garden and of course with the garden’s caretakers.

Mr. Abraham’s garden was included in a BBC TV show and book by Monty Don called Around the World in 80 Gardens. I think it’s as close to the Garden of Eden as I’ll ever get. Read on, for the recipe and a virtual tour of the garden and you’ll see why I’ve been back and will keep going back as long as I’m able.

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Filed under Farm Tours, food tours, Great ingredients, India, Recipes, Time in Nature, Travel

A lovely bunch of coconut… recipes from #Kerala and #Tamilnadu – a recipe for Fish Moilee from Cochin

fresh local ingredients - including coconuts at Barbecue Restaurant Thekkady - photo - Karen Anderson

fresh local ingredients – including coconuts at Barbecue Restaurant Thekkady – photo – Karen Anderson

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconut…recipes for you.

From Cochin (Kochi) to Thekkady in Kerala to Mahalamapuram to Chettinad in Tamilnadu I’m going to finish my coconut theme strong. This post will highlight Fish Moilee (Moylee, Molee) – a coconut flavoured fish dish mildly spiced with mustard seeds, turmeric and curry leaves.

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CocoLoco – why coconut intake continues to snowball – my @AlbertaatNoon column for December


Today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon I talked about why the world’s gone loco for coconut and some ideas for using coconut in your holiday baking. The recipes can be found here and the podcast here. I’m on at the 17:44 mark in the show.

Read on for a little more background on coconut’s popularity around the globe.

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Filed under Alberta at Noon, Great ingredients, Health, Savour food

#Coconut goodies for #Christmas – recipes for my December @AlbertaatNoon column

A little while ago an invitation to meet the executive pastry chef at Calgary’s Hyatt Regency hotel crossed my desk. I had to delay that meeting until after my annual trip to India and since I knew I would be jet-lagged on my return and that I would have a column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon due shortly after my return, I thought it would be a great idea to have this profession chef help me with a recipe to share with Albertans this Christmas.

I knew that in the two weeks I would spend in South India I would see coconuts everywhere so I asked if chef might be willing to create a great Christmas inspired coconut dessert.

I specifically mentioned that the recipe should be fairly easy.

Here’s something I learned from this experience; what a classically trained executive pastry chef from Austria whose lived and worked all over the world thinks of as easy, might not be as easy for you and me.

Ah well, it was a delight to meet chef Sabine Gradauer and if you read on you’ll see how I fared in translating her professional chef’s notes on this recipe for Coconut Snowball Cake-pops into something you can make at home. Hopefully all was not lost in translation.

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I’m just back from beautiful #SouthIndia and I’m going #coconuts this week

luscious coconut vegetation in the Backwaters of Kerala in South India - photo - Karen Anderson

luscious coconut vegetation in the Backwaters of Kerala in South India – photo – Karen Anderson

Eighty per cent of travellers to India visit the Northern part of the country. They go to see the monumental monuments of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Old Delhi’s cramped hustle and bustle contrasting with New Delhi’s orderly and broad expanse is amazing. Agra’s Taj Mahal and Red Fort are breathtaking and Jaipur’s Amber Fort, pink palaces, ancient artisanal handicraft traditions and elegant conservatory delight.

So why go beyond? If you’ve seen the Golden Triangle you’ve seen India’s best have you not?

Well, if you are a cook, India’s real hook is less about her monuments and more about the reason that explorers fell at her feet in the first place. India’s spices are what set the world in motion.

When it comes to spices, South India – which is made up of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu – is a dream destination. Pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice thrive here. Cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and saffron are brought in from the North. Garlic, red onions, little shallots and chilies complement add depth and heat when desired. Curry leaves are plucked from bushes that are indigenous to the landscape. I’ll talk more about the spices I’ve found in South India in another post.

South India gave the world spices, Ayurvedic medicine and the star ingredient of this post – lots and lots of coconuts.

Here’s a few coconut basics I’ve found out so far.

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My latest @AlbertaatNoon column podcast – #pintxos #tapas #paella and a trip to #Spain

Lots of fun talking about Spain and “what I ate on my summer vacation” today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon with host Donna McElligot.

Here’s the podcast in case you missed it. I’m on at the 10:05 mark in the show.

paella on my plate photo - Karen Anderson

paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson

You can find the recipe for this delicious paella here. Watch for posts on pintxos and tapas coming soon.

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Making Paella in Basque country – San Sebastian, Spain – my @AlbertaatNoon column for September

paella on my plate photo - Karen Anderson

paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson

I’m just back from Spain. It was my first time there and the whole time I explored my new surroundings Elton John’s song Daniel kept playing in my mind. I’d find myself humming it or singing a few lines…

Daniel is flying tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading to Spain
(and a bit further on)
They say Spain is pretty though I’ve never been
Daniel says it’s the best place he’s ever seen
and he should know he’s been there enough…

Spain is pretty and its filled with justifiably proud people and that very wonderfully (when it’s done right) ubiquitous dish called paella.

This post will tell the story of my chance to cook paella in San Sebastian with a Basque country native. Keep reading and I’ll share his great recipe with you.

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Filed under Alberta at Noon, Cooks I know, Great ingredients, Recipes