Tag Archives: South India

Cashews in #India – a taste, a place and a face

cashew pilaf - photo credit - Karen Anderson @savouritall

Cashew pilaf – photo credit – Karen Anderson

Taste memories are strong. They can catapult a person half way around the world to the faces and places connected with the moment you first encountered a food or in this case appreciated it anew. This is a story of how on a dreamy paced drive through Tamilnadu, South India, cashews became indelibly imprinted on my taste memory.

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Taste and memory blend in Mahabilapuram #Tamilnadu – South #India

tropical Tamilnadu - photo - Karen Anderson

tropical tamilnadu – photo – Karen Anderson

Mahabalipuram lies about an hour south of Chennai in the state of Tamilnadu in South India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the sixth to eighth century temples carved in great detail from rock and sand. They’ve withstood time. They’ve withstood Tsunamis.

The beach here is long, curved and cascaded upon by never-ending wave chasing wave. They’ve arrived in this little crook in the Bay of Bengal in a chaotic but somehow predetermined rhythm. They seem to collapse exhausted on the shore after realizing the futility of racing each other across the breadth of the Indian Ocean. Plunging into them at dawn you feel the strength the moon lends them in tidal force. They want to pull you to the ocean’s depths with them but just in time a bigger stronger wiser wave floats you safely to shore.

Temples and beaches are impressive attractions but my reason for being in Tamilnadu was to see a dear friend and meet and cook with his family. Read on for a crispy Tamilnadu lamb fritter recipe and a few photos from my recent visit.

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Art Installation #12 – @intuitivepics documentary – #Monsoon by Sturla Gunnarsson

My friend Dee Hobsbawn-Smith, just sent me a note saying I might like this movie, Monsoon. I quickly looked up the date for Calgary and see that I missed it by a few days. Now, just like the film crew I’ll be chasing a monsoon.

I would have loved this film and I’ll hope to see it yet. It won the People’s Choice award and was in the Top Ten films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I just experienced my first real monsoon season in India last November. India heightens our awareness of humanity’s oneness. Monsoons manage to magnify that effect. Read on for more about what my initiation into monsoon culture was like and to learn about a special project the director of Monsoon, Sturla Gunnarsson, has started.

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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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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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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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