Lal Moss and complementary vegetables and chapati
A lovely lunch at Rohet Garh in Rajasthan, India
photo – Karen Anderson
This week on Alberta at Noon I’m going to talk about my most recent culinary expedition to India. In November I took 21 guests to explore the food and culture of the capital region of Delhi and two of India’s Northern States: Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
I especially loved Rajasthan which is renowned as the land of colours.
The colours dazzle against the backdrop of landscape’s sandy hues. The tropically hued fuchsia and tangerine saris of the women flow like nectar giving our eyes, like hummingbirds to the flower, a little relief from the neutral tones which though soothing do not tend to be as life-giving. The colours of Rajasthan light up like match tips in the equally bright turbans of the men which change from village to village, occupation to occupation, and perhaps signal that molds that castes were made of are hard to shatter. You see a rainbow of colour in the food markets that materialize on street corners just as the evening meal must be shopped for and of course those were my favourite colours of all: the aubergine and bright green of indigenous eggplants, the scarlet of tomatoes and the muted tones of neatly bundles onions, herbs and India’s own culinary gems; her spices.
The people of Rajasthan truly manifest their culture’s belief that “Guests are Gods”. My business partners at Indus Travels and Hi Tours of India live and breathe this philosophy in every action they take for me and my guests on my annual odyssey to their homeland. They have become my second family and even though we are half a world away for 50 weeks each year I hold them dear and look forward to our yearly fortnight reunion.
This post will share a few of the many recipes that the expert cooks I met in Rajasthan so generously shared with me. I thought they might be just the thing to help us savour it all on cold Canadian January days when we might not otherwise feel quite up to the task.
Spiced Apples and Holiday Biscotti
photo – Karen Anderson
For my December Alberta at Noon column on CBC Radio One today, I’ll share two recipes for those that would like to add a homemade touch to their gift giving this season. I’ll post some fun gift ideas you can buy in other posts this week.
The first D-I-Y gift is called Spiced Apples and you can find that recipe and step-by-step instructions here.
The second recipe is for something I consider truly scrumptious – my Holiday Biscotti – and you’ll find all the information you need to make them in this post.
I learned to make these Spiced Apples from Darcell Markgraf of the BC Tree Fruit Growers
photo – Karen Anderson
This post is all about a wonderful DIY gift you can make for the food lovers on your gift list this holiday season. I’m giving you the recipe now because it needs to sit at least six weeks before being opened.
Read on for the recipe and photos. I hope you’ll try it. It only took me about 90 minutes to produce nine of these pretty jars. Now to decide which of my friends and family to gift them to….
the honest goodness of bread and butter – in this case a heritage recipe for Swedish Halvtjock kakor
Indian naan, chapati, roti, puri, paratha and parotta; Italian Focaccia and pizza, Greek pita; Egyptian balady, Armenian Lavash, Turkish bazlama, Mexican tortillas, Ethiopian injera; cuisines the world over have a flatbread. Some are leavened and some not. Most are circular and flat and typically made of a combination of flour and water. They are used as an eating utensil or plate, for sopping up gravy, dipping in olive oil, as a medium for toppings or stuffings, or for just enjoying with cold creamy butter. They are all delicious and I am sad for people who cannot for whatever reason enjoy them.
I had not heard of a Swedish flatbread until I met my husband and got to try his grandmother’s fabulous bread recipe. Her name was Esther Ingejerd (nee Swenson) Anderson Richtik. She was twice widowed but with the help of her mother raised two children on her own on the windswept marshy tundra that is Northern Manitoba, Canada. It was a harsh life but this bread which she called “Hulvchuck” (thanks to a reader of this blog I found out it’s spelled Halvtjock) was a comfort food for her family and she made bread a few times a week her whole life.
Today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon I talked about Dirt Craft Natural Building. You can listen to the podcast here. I start at the 45 minute mark. The recipes are here or on the CBC site here.
I went into much greater detail about Dirt Craft Natural Building here. I love the video series below because it shows the “how to” of cooking in a wood-fired cob oven. Of course my favourite video is the second one where Ashley Lubyk and Heather Noakes of Dirt Craft Natural Building demonstrate their cooking skills and all the yummy things that go into and come out of their oven.
Noakes asked me to say that they learned a great deal about cooking from their dear friend, chef Val Andrews. Andrews is a long time cook and instructor around Alberta and B.C. and she recently moved to Ontario (We all miss you Val!) but I’m sure she’d be thrilled to see how successful an influence she has been on the next generation of healthy Albertan cooks. Andrews will occasionally pop back to teach heritage cooking skills like canning at The Cookbook Co Cooks so check their cooking school schedule for an opportunity to work with this quietly competent expert mentor and chef.
My goals in life are to savour food and savour life and this is a style of cooking that would certainly lend itself to both of those. The food will taste great and be savoured along with the company that comes to share a little of their host’s life around a simple but elegant cooking vessel – a wood fired cob oven in a back yard in Alberta.
Wood Fired Bread Baking with Sidewalk Citizen Bakery owner and world famous baker Aviv Fried
Photo courtesy of Dirt Craft Natural Builders
Here are the recipes for my monthly food column on CBC Radio One’s Alberta@Noon. Thanks to my dear friend and dedicated Calgary Food Tours Inc. associate Tilly Sanchez for her beautiful galette recipe and thanks to Dirt Craft Natural Building’s Heather Noakes and Ashley Lubyk for the recipes and photos of their eggplant and flat breads. Remember you can still make these recipes in a conventional oven or even on your barbecue unit. I hope they help you savour your food and savour your life. Cheers, Karen
Heather Noakes (and Ashley Lubyk not pictured) teaches classes on building and cooking with a cob oven
Photo – Karen Anderson
This week on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon I’ll be talking about a company called Dirt Craft Natural Building and the courses they give on
How to Build a Cob Oven
in Alberta and across Western Canada.
What is a cob oven and why would you want one? Read on.