I'm waiting on the arrival of some sumac and other things before we continue with Arabian days and nights. In the meantime we've had a very small glimpse of India. Not strictly true as we eat Indian food at least once a week, but it's the first time that we've really done it in a learning experience sort of way.
Our neighbours have a daughter, Little is very good friends with her, (she's a year older) and I think it's really lovely that they get on so well. Anyway her class is looking at India at the moment. I'd said that during the half term we could cook some Indian food together. We did this on Friday last week, I had planned on doing a lot more but earlier in the day while out walking in the woods with other friends, we got lost and were out for a lot longer than we'd originally planned. It's the first time ever that I really regretted watching series 1 and 2 of Lost before it went to Sky.
So, after rushing home and changing muddy clothes we began... I got most of the spices out on the table and we started by smelling all of them. Black cardamons smell woody and smokey. Green cardamons smell sweet and spicy, Cloves smell of Christmas. It was really good to see them smelling and describing what the various spices were like for them. We also compared the smell of the uncooked spices to how different they smell when cooking and cooked.
We then made a simple meal of fish tikka with basmati rice, salad and poppadoms.
The children mixed the tikka spices with yogurt, garlic and lemon juice before coating the fish with it. I then dry fried the fish before putting it in the oven to finish off. I got the children to wash the rice before cooking and explained why we do this. I then cooked some poppadoms. We also talked about why in England we automatically assume rice is served with all Indian food when in actual fact most Indian households would only serve it with a handful of things and be more inclined to serve chapati to mop up the dishes with sauce.
The verdict on the food. Our guest said it wasn't really to her taste but I give her lots of credit for trying everything and not just trying one mouthful and then leaving it, actually trying a few mouthfuls of each. She was also a very enthusiastic helper. Little and Small loved it and want to make it again. Great, as it was very healthy and dare I say slimming. No I dare not and take that bit back.
I also explained that most Indian families would have a spice holder like this one (can't get picture to load will try again) in their kitchen. Our guest will take it to school at some point this term when I've cleaned it and filled it with freshly ground spices to give the most impact to their nasal passages.
We'll re-visit India for some more in-depth learning and then we'll share some of the many Indian foods we cook on a regular basis and I'll also try to come out of my comfort zone and try cooking some new things. There are plenty of blogs that I can draw inspiration from Foodies Hope in particular, and also, Meeta's What's for lunch honey,also One Hot Stove, Fun and Food, Malabar Spices, and Saffron Trail. A lot of these ladies write for the Daily Tiffin, a good read but for all sorts of things, family and food among other things.