Tag Archives: foodie

Back From Cuba

us15We had an amazing few days in Cuba and are now back to the frozen hell that is my beautiful city, Toronto. I’m not very thrilled to be coming back to -7 temperature but at least there isn’t a blizzard or -30 temperatures as was last week.

Here’s a few pictures from our trip! We got nicely tanned and my little munchkin had the time of her life, as did Dev and I. The resort was great, the food meh but the people of Cuba are absolutely sweethearts and aside from the weather, I’d go back just to meet all the sweet people we met on this trip.

As a foodie, I’d have to say, don’t go to Cuba for the food. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t a foodie’s paradise either. Thank goodness, I took a lot of hot sauce and chili flakes with us. Nid had some issues with the food too but I’m very surprised by how open she was to try all the different and new foods.

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Overall, it was an amazing first all-inclusive trip and we’re already planning our next one! Maybe next, we’ll try the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica. As for now, tomorrow we’re back to the grind. So, have a good night and stay blessed.

XOXO ~ Tamana

Recipe Of The Month: Aloo Ki Tahari (Potato Rice)

I was recently searching for a potato-rice recipe and stumbled upon an Awadhi recipe called aloo ki tahari (can also be spelled tehri, tayari, or tehari). Awadhi cuisine is a native cuisine of Lucknow, India. I’m from Delhi, so I don’t know much about preparing dishes from Lucknow, but as many of you may know that Lucknow is famous for their biryani, kabobs and cuisines overall.

Of course, I had to try the recipe and of course I had to share it with all of you (lucky you) and this time I even managed to take photos as I was preparing the rice. You’d think after blogging for 9 years, I’d get the hang of photographing or recording my recipes on video. This time I did and I must say I’ve done a good job at it (😂).

Here’s the recipe. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp finely chopped ginger and garlic
  • 1-2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato diced into small cubes
  • 1-2 medium sized potatoes diced into cubes
  • 2 cups basmati rice rinsed and pre-soaked in warm water
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (add more for a spicier taste)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 1 stock of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 4 cups water

Here’s what you do:

  1. Chop ingredients, rinse and soak rice in warm water
  2. On medium flame, heat oil in a wok (karahi), add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and allow to sizzle
  3. Add onions and cook until golden-brown
  4. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add tomatoes and cook until slightly mashed
  6. Add turmeric, salt, red chilli powder and sauté until oil begins to separate from mixture
  7. Add potatoes and sauté until they are about halfway cooked
  8. Add water and once it begins to boil, add rice
  9. Turn flame down to minimum and cover
  10. Allow to cook covered for 10-15 minutes or until water has completely evaporated and rice and potatoes are fully cooked
  11. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with yogurt or mint chutney (need a mint chutney recipe? Check out this one!)
  12. Enjoy!

Recipe of the Month: Potato Bread Pakora

I’ve been experimenting with recipes and textures for the past few weeks and retried a recipe from my childhood. Every time I visited India when I was younger, one of my aunts would bring up a batch of these bread pakoras with a hot cup of masala chai. I called her a few weeks ago and asked her how to make them and I have to say they were absolutely delicious and savoury.

Here’s the recipe for all of you to try with your evening tea:

Ingredients:

  • White bread slices (5-10)
  • 2-3 large potatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp amchur masala (dry mango powder)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • Hand-full of coriander finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • Oil to deep fry pakoras
  • 1-2 cups water in a bowl
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala

Preparing Potato Masala/Stuffing:

  1. Boil potatoes until completely cooked (you can add a teaspoon of salt to the water to quicken the boiling process)
  2. Once potatoes are boiled and peeled, mash them until there are almost no clumps. Set aside until later
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or kardai, add cumin seeds and let sizzle until seeds become golden brown in colour
  4. Add onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies; cook until onions are golden brown
  5. Add dry masalas (powders and seasoning) and mix well until the oil begins to separate from the masala
  6. Add frozen peas and cook for 4-5 minutes or until peas are soft and easily crushed
  7. Add potatoes and sauté until all ingredients are completely mixed
  8. Add coriander leaves and mix masala together
  9. Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes
  10. Remove potato mixture from heat and allow to cool

Preparing & Cooking Bread Rolls:

  1. Remove edges from bread slices
  2. In a flat dish or plate add water, dip bread slice into water and remove it immediately, as you don’t want to over-soak the bread
  3. Squeeze out the excessive water from the slice of bread and lay it flat on a dry plate or the palm of your hand
  4. Scoop 1 tsp of potato stuffing (masala) onto the bread slice and begin rolling it into an oval ball shape, carefully ensuring that all the mixture is secured within the bread
  5. Repeat the process for the rest of the bread pieces
  6. Heat oil on medium flame in the wok/kardai; make sure oil is fully heated before placing bread roll in it, as cold oil will force bread to soak up a lot of the oil and the bread rolls will be unevenly cooked
  7. Once bread rolls are golden brown in colour, remove from oil onto a plate lined with paper-towels
  8. Sprinkle with chaat masala and serve hot with ketchup or your favourite green (mint-coriander) chutney (if you don’t have a dhaniya-pudinay ki chutney, you can make your own by following the recipe from HERE)
  9. Bon appetite!

Recipe of the Month: Mint-Coriander Chutney (Dhaniya-Pudinay Ki Chutney)

Indian people love their tea-time snacks and appetizers and in my house we’re as Indian as it gets; especially when it comes to food. Of course, yours truly enjoys experimenting with different recipes and so, I’ve been making tons of Indian snacks during the holidays.

But a staple item in most households is our dhaniya-pudinay ki chutney (mint-coriander chutney). This savoury chutney goes with everything! You can make it to dip snacks and appetizers in, or out it in your raita (yogurt side dish) or eat it with roti or parathas and even enjoy it on top biryani. It’s like ketchup in the modern world.

And of course, I have my mother’s recipe here to share with all of you.

Here’s how you make a delicious and savoury coriander and mint chutney to go with all your appetizers and snacks.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped coriander
  • 2 cups roughly chopped mint
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp black salt (kala namak) or regular salt
  • Blender or mortar and pestle

Here’s what you do:

  1. Wash and roughly chop green chillies, coriander and mint leaves
  2. If you have a mortar and pestle, you can mash all the ingredients in that. But I’m not so traditional, so I used a blender
  3. Blend all ingredients for 1-2 minutes or until a thick paste is made
  4. At this time, you can adjust the liquidity consistency to your preference. We like a thick chutney so I only add a couple of tablespoons of water but you can add more if you want your chutney liquidity
  5. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate
  6. Serve cold with your favourite snacks and appetizers
  7. Enjoy!

Restaurant Diaries: Savera Indian Cuisine

We have visited Savera Indian Cuisine a couple of times over the past few years and it has never disappointed me. Yesterday, when my craving for tandoori food kicked in, D and I decided to revisit Savera to satisfy our cravings. It’s a small restaurant, located on the west side of the city at 815 St. Clair Avenue West. There’s ample parking on the street in front of the restaurant or on a side street just a couple of steps away. 
When we arrived the 7-8 table patio was nearly full and inside the restaurant half full. We decided to sit inside since Nid was with us. I asked for a booster seat for her and 10 minutes later, was given one. It took another 10 minutes for us to receive our menus and water and that too only after I got frustrated and asked the owner who stood lingering around if he could bring us a menu. He apologized and one of the waitresses immediately brought us a menu. Not a good start to the visit but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and decided to stay. 

We ordered the Snack Platter to start; which came with Chicken Tikka, Lamb Kabob, Onion Baji, a Samosa and hot and sweet chutney. The lamb kabob and onion baji  were absolutely delicious. However, the chicken tikka was bland and undercooked. D and I split the samosa in half and just as he was about to take a bite, I pulled it out of his hand. It stunk. It was old and probably spoiled. It had a foul smell to it, like the smell of fungus or food that has been unfrozen and left out to rot. I called over the owner and let him know that there was an issue. He took it away and came back to apologize and asked if we wanted another one and I immediately rejected. A couple of moments later, his daughter Sonya came by our table to ask what the problem was. After explaining that the samosa had gone bad, she apologized, asked if we wanted a replacement item of our choosing and I declined the offer as we had already ordered plenty of other dishes for our meal. 

Sadly, that wasn’t the only disappointing dish we had to experience last night. For our main course, we ordered chicken tikka, chicken curry, fish curry, plain rice and garlic naans. 

Once again, the chicken tikka was bland and a couple of pieces seemed undercooked. The platter had so much onions and cabbage on it, which under normal circumstances I would really enjoy because most restaurants will add some spicy or salty masala to the onions and throw the chicken on top of it. However, here, the onions and cabbage had no seasoning on them just like the chicken tikka. What a disappointment, since the main purpose of our dinner here was to satisfy our tandoori cravings.

As always, D ordered the fish curry expecting perfectly seasoned fish in a spicy curry; which authentically how fish curry should be made. To his disappointment, the fish wasn’t seasoned and had just been placed on the curry. The curry itself didn’t taste bad, it was quite good. But it lacked the spiciness that we had expected. So, he ended up sharing most of my chicken curry instead of enjoying his fish.

The chicken curry was well-made and tasted authentic. It wasn’t spicy but was a perfect mixture of spices and seasoning. The chicken was well-cooked and it really hit the spot. Except for a couple of pieces of chicken, we nearly finished it. The garlic and plain butter naans we ordered with it, perfectly complimented the curry. Besides the lamb kabobs, this was a second favourite dish.

At the end of our meal, we spoke to the owners daughter, Sonya and I let her know how so many dishes were undercooked and flavourless. Being from the Indian restaurant industry for so many years, we recognized one of the chefs as a past colleague of D’s. He came outside to greet us and I mentioned to him how disappointed we were. He too apologized. I mentioned to them that I was a food critic and wrote restaurant reviews for my blog and that sadly, Savera had failed to impress us this time around. 

Sad to say, this little nook on the west-side of the city has left us terribly disappointed and I doubt we’ll be revisiting anytime soon. The 10% manager discount couldn’t justify the price we paid for the undercooked, spoiled food we were served.

Here’s the rating:

Service: 1/5 – we waited over 15 mins for menus, a booster seat for Nid and to be served

Ambiance: 3/5 – Nicely decorated and dimmed lighting. However, with their garage door patio opening, the inside of the restaurant was extremely humid and guests were left sweaty

Food: 1/5 – undercooked, under-seasoned and spoiled food was served to us

Price: 1/5 – Over priced, even after a 10% discount for the spoiled samosa. 

Portion Size: 4/5 – Good size to share

Will we visit again? 1/5 – No

Recommend to a friend? 1/5 – No

Overall Rating: 1/5

Recipe of the Month: Feta-Alfredo Chicken Spring Pasta

IMG_5227Was that title long enough for you? I couldn’t figure out the best way to sum up the medley of flavours in this quick delicious recipe.

This is a quick meal and has everything you need to feel full and satisfied! The prep time takes about 20 minutes and cook time is 10 minutes. You can use an array of fresh or frozen vegetables and pre made Alfredo or Vodka sauce. I made this one with Alfredo because it’s what I had in my pantry.

Here’s what you need: 

  • Half chopped red bell peppers
  • Half stalk chopped green onions
  • A cup of chopped mushrooms
  • A cup of chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup of chopped purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup each of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese
  • 1 bottle Alfredo sauce
  • Chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 cups pasta of choice

Here’s what you do:


Heat oil, add chopped veggies and sauté until soft. Stir in chicken and cook until tender. Add basil, parsley, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat.


Add Alfredo sauce and half cup water and let boil on medium heat until sauce thickens. Add shredded cheddar and mozerella cheese. Cover and let cook until cheese is completely melted.

FAdd feta cheese and let cook covered, mixing slowly. Remove from heat and let stand uncovered for 5-10 minutes.


Sprinkle with chilli flakes and serve with garlic bread and wine. 

And there you have it; a quick, easy and delicious recipe for those lazy days you can’t figure out what to eat. 

Restaurant Diaries: Nova Ristorante 

 

Nova Ristorante – 2272 Lawrence Ave. East, Scarborough, ON | 416.751.1200

A couple of weeks ago was mine and Dev’s 4 year wedding anniversary and he convinced me to go out for dinner to celebrate the occasion. Still battling vertigo, I was reluctant but he insisted and convinced me that we’ll finally get to try out the recently opened Nova Ristorante, I’ve been dying to try. Thankfully I agreed because it was such a delightful experience.  
Sweet Potato Fries and Spicy Mayonnaise
 

We began our evening with sweet potato fries served with a mildly spicy mayonnaise, Shrimp Fra Diavolo and a side of Italian bread. The fries were absolutely delicious and perfectly crispy, as fries should be. Shrimp Fra Diavolo was savoury and complimented the bread. Had it been slightly spicy, it would’ve been extraordinaire. But nonetheless, it was delicious!  

Shrimp Fra Diavolo – jumbo tiger shrimp in a tomato based chilli sauce
 

For the main course, I choose to try the Penne Areabiata. It was the perfect blend of ingredients, including penne tossed with a onion, tomato and red chillies sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan. It was one of the best pastas I’ve had in a really long time. The chicken was beautifully grilled and seasoned to perfection, while the tomato based sauces lingered on the tongue and really hit the spot. 

Penne Arrabiata – served with grilled chicken
 

Dev loves pesto and decided to order the Winter Pesto Ravioli. Sadly for him, the pesto was bland and watery. The ravioli was over-cooked and mushy. What a disappointment after all the great food we had just eaten. After adding tons of salt, pepper and Parmesan, it still failed to satisfy our tastebuds.  

Winter Pesto Ravioli – garlic and mashed potato ravioli in a parsely pesto sauce
 

Besides the Pesto Ravioli, our meal was delightful and the experience left me craving to come back again to try out the rest of the menu. Our waitress was helpful and informative and even offered to get Dev something else. But he insisted on trying to enjoy his ravioli. The restaurant’s casually, chic decor made for a perfect date-night and Dev and I have decided to come back and try it again. My overall rating for this new, little nook, 4/5!

Want to see more amazing pics of Nova Ristorante’s meals before visiting? Check out their Instagram page @novaristorante or visit their website at www.novaristorante.ca

For more pics of things I’m trying and what I’m up to, don’t forget to add us on Instagram (@ziddi) or follow me on Twitter (@zidditamana).