janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘tamarind’

Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Pineapple

In Mains (Vegetarian) on February 3, 2012 at 6:12 AM

Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Pineapple

I know the days are getting longer, but I go to work and it is dark. I come home from work and it is dark. As much as I love winter with its bright snow and clear icicles (not happening so much as I would like here in Toronto, btw), all I want is some sunshine. Some people head south for some sun and warmth. Me, I cook it up in my kitchen. For some reason, as soon as the weather turned cool, I turned to Caribbean dishes – bright with their flavourful ingredients, warmth from the spice and much cheaper than a trip down South.

This is a curry I spotted on Natalie’s lovely blog, Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, and again it passed my checklist for Rob: tamarind, coconut, curry, sweet potato (or squash) and pineapple. In fact, the ingredients look so similar to that delicious Butternut Squash, Coconut and Lentil Stew, but this is anything but similar yet equally as delicious.

Natalie explains that this curry originates from Martinique, an Eastern Caribbean island, that has elements from Africa, France, the Caribbean and South Asia in its cuisine. The distinctive flavours come from the Colombo spice mix that includes cumin, coriander, mustard, fenugreek, black peppercorns, cloves and turmeric. The curry gets its heft from starchy sweet potatoes, but butternut squash could equally be used. The eggplant melts into the coconut-curry broth, tangy from the tamarind and lime juice. As we are apt to do, we increased the tamarind.

Bring the warmth into your kitchen this winter, with a virtual trip down South. Although it will appear very real once you slurp up this delicious curry.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this week’s Wellness Weekend.

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Pan-Seared King Oyster Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy in a Coconut Tamarind Sauce with a Caramelized Leek and Wasabi Millet Mash

In Mains (Vegetarian), Sides on December 7, 2011 at 6:12 AM


Sorry about the lack of diversity in my month of cruciferous vegetables. I know what it must look like to you: lots of broccoli, some kale with a bit of daikon and baby bok choy. Actually it looked like this: kale, daikon, broccoli, kale, broccoli, broccoli, kale, broccoli, baby bok choy and broccoli, and broccoli with a side of Napa cabbage. I’ll be honest: broccoli was on sale. A few weeks in a row. 😉 I’ll try to make my next few posts with different cruciferous veggies.

Pop quiz:

Which cruciferous vegetables are in this meal? Check all that apply.
a. broccoli
b. baby bok choy
c. cauliflower
d. king oyster mushroom
e. leek
f. tamarind
g. potato
h. wasabi

Have a headache yet? Flashback to an undergrad midterm? SORRY!

I just want you to know your cruciferous veggies..

Don’t be fooled. The answers are baby bok choy, cauliflower and WASABI! Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable but not in this recipe (sad, I know). King oyster mushrooms, leeks and tamarind are not cruciferous vegetables, but still good! While there is a mash here, there are no potatoes in this recipe!

Did you know that wasabi is a cruciferous vegetable? Thought it only came in powder form? Well, wasabi is actually a root vegetable. When I visited Japan, I visited the Daiõ Wasabi Farm outside Hotaka, which is the largest wasabi farm in the world. Not only were there fields upon fields of growing wasabi (pic above), they also had the roots for sale along with other wasabi treats like wasabi soup, wasabi soba noodles, wasabi wine, wasabi lollipops and my favourite: wasabi ice cream! I was a spice novice at that time, and still loved it: the spicy wasabi was off-set by lots of sweetness. The ice cream had a mild background of wasabi and vanilla perhaps, but lovely at the same time.


Sadly, wasabi is difficult to grow and thus expensive. Outside Japan, wasabi is commonly substituted with (cheaper) horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. Have no fear, Eden sells genuine wasabi powder. And yes, Sunny’s sells it for half the price of The Big Carrot.

This meal, which is actually 2 recipes, must have the longest name of anything on this blog so far. These long descriptive names are what have me drooling at restaurants, so I love to point of all the nuances of my dishes, too. The longer the name, the longer the ingredient list, and thus probably the longer it took me to make this. Denis Cotter loves to make multi-component meals, and this is no exception. Adapted from his recipe in For the Love of Food, I increased the vegetables, especially the baby bok choy and decreased the coconut milk. Meaty king oyster mushrooms were pan-fried in coconut oil then stir-fried with ginger and the baby bok choy. A light tangy broth with tamarind and coconut milk rounded out the sauce and offered a nice contrast in flavours.

As an Irishman, Cotter adores potatoes and served this with mashed potatoes spiced with caramelized leeks and wasabi.

I opted to try a different a kind of mash: the monster mash.

I mean, the millet mash. With cauliflower. And caramelized leeks and wasabi, as per Cotter.

The cauliflower millet mash is courtesy of Sarah, and while it doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes, it has a creaminess akin to mashed potatoes. As a blank slate, it can take any flavours you throw at it, including the subtly sweet caramelized leeks and the spicy wasabi. Juxtaposed next to the tangy coconut broth with the vegetables, you have a crazy concoction of cruciferous vegetables.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta from Viaggiare è un po’ come mangiare.

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Chickpeas and Chana dal Cooked Together in a Tamarind-Mint Sauce

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on October 11, 2011 at 6:52 AM

One of the reasons I have a lot more recipes to share these days is that Rob eats more than me.  Boys need their food. That means that when we cook for each other, I need to make enough that will last us both in the leftover department.

Rob cooks for me as well, and sometimes I not-so-casually suggest recipes that we might both enjoy. A few key ingredients make Rob’s belly rumble…. tamarind, coconut, broccoli (not raw), tempeh, mango and pineapple, to name a few… If it is anything Indian or Thai, Rob will also most likely enjoy it.

I had initially bookmarked this minty-tamarind chickpea dal when I spotted it on Joanne’s blog because I was looking for Indian food for those who don’t like curries.  It is originally from World Vegetarian, with the original recipe posted here. With our bountiful herbs, including a few gigantic mint plants, I figured this would a great recipe to try, especially since I had chana dal. However, split yellow peas could also be used.

But instead of making it myself, I suggested Rob give it a go since he felt out of the kitchen loop this week. It had been on my menu for a few weeks, but it had gotten the shaft to non-Indian meals instead. I knew Rob wouldn’t shun it that long.

The delightful part, though, is that Rob made this for himself. He doesn’t like mint in savoury dishes, so he only used half a cup of fresh mint. I would have used the whole cup. He also used 3 (deseeded) volcanic peppers from our garden. I would have substituted Aleppo chili flakes. Rob halved the oil, which I would have done, too (youpee!).

I came home after a long car ride from Ottawa, famished, and this was cooling on the stove. I dug in before Rob had even tasted it. I was warned about the chili peppers, but I plunged in anyhow. It was love at first bite.

This was a creamy, sweet/tart, slightly zippy chickpea dish. You could barely taste the mint but it was lovely with the tanginess from the tamarind.

And those chilis? Without the seeds, there was a zip but it wasn’t overtly spicy. It was a cleaner spice, more penetrant. Aleppo is usually more smoky and sultry. I could handle it. Now I know I can am not such a chili wimp after all.

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Spicy Indonesian Yam and Peanut Soup

In Soups on June 22, 2011 at 6:04 AM

My friends recently hosted an international-themed potluck. Everyone brought a dish from another country. A real melange of flavours.

While most of my cooking comes from an international menu, I used this opportunity to try a cuisine I knew next to nothing about: Indonesia. While I have cooked with tempeh, fermented tofu originating from Indonesia, I didn’t really know much else.

While browsing through Love Soup, I spotted this curious soup: it featured a host of vegetables including carrots, parsnips and yams (yes, I had a monster yam that weighed 900g and even another that weighed 1100g!), flavoured with earthy tones from cumin and garam masala, spiced with garlic, ginger and chili flakes, lightened with sourness from both tamarind and fresh lemon juice, and coming together with a hint of lusciousness from the peanut butter. My mouth is watering as I write this… 🙂

At first, I wasn’t sure how this would be a spicy soup: I substituted garam masala for the curry powder and was only using a small amount of chili flakes for such a large amount of soup. Have no fear, this is a zingy soup with all the right amount of zing. The culprit? The savior? Half a cup of grated ginger, tempered by the peanut butter. Boo-yah! Joanne pointed out I was on a ginger kick, and yes, I am loving it!

This soup has a great mix of flavours – warm yet spicy, creamy yet light, zingy and sour.  Soups get the shaft in the summer, but I think they are great any time. Share this with friends, because it makes a lot of soup. It also freezes well.

This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Indonesian travels, to this month’s No Croutons Required for blended soups, to E.A.T. World for Indonesia, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Avocado Chutney

In Appetizers on February 11, 2011 at 5:14 AM

Avocado Chutney

Several years ago, back when I lived in another city and worked at a different job, I was just beginning to discover many types of international cuisine. There was a while where my coworkers and I would take lunch every Friday “off-site” to go to a nearby Indian restaurant with a buffet. It was an exploratory process for me: samosas, mulligatawny soup, this kind of curry, that kind of curry, basmati rice, and kulfi, to name a few. Not only did I expand my newly-found appreciation of foods outside my normal “comfort zone”, but I expanded my comfort zone to encompass them. It did wonders for my vocabulary, too!

Of particular interest were the several varies of chutneys available. I found that the tamarind chutney and the mango chutney particularly tickled my taste buds. I had never tried tamarind or mango before. Now they are counted among my favourite flavours. I was so excited that I told an Indian friend of mine, “I had chutney for lunch!” She was amused, but told me it was the same thing as saying that, “I had ketchup for lunch.”

Wikipedia defines chutney as “a class of spicy preparations used as an accompaniment for a main dish.” I can see how something like ketchup might fall under that categorization, but your typical chutney is so much more! It’s like an explosion of flavour you can enjoy bite, by bite, by bite!

This recipe comes from 660 Curries which Saveur lent me several months ago and I’ve been studying intently. I’ve already posted a couple of the these recipes on my own blog (which isn’t a proper food blog, per se, but just a place where I post many photos and write about whatever is interesting me at the time).

This recipe did introduce me to a new ingredient; an ingredient that I approached with some trepidation: curry leaves. These leaves are not the kind of leaves that curry powder is made from. Much like Europeans chefs use bay leaves to add flavour to dishes they are making, Indian chefs (especially in the southern regions of India) would add curry leaves to theirs to impart a characteristic flavour to their dishes. Like bay leaves, people generally remove the curry leaves as they eat the meal. Unlike bay leaves, their flavour is subtle and many need to be added to the dish.

I found dried curry leaves at a health food store in Ottawa several weeks ago. I knew that 660 Curries had many recipes that asked for fresh curry leaves. There aren’t any stores near me that sell fresh ones, so I took the opportunity to buy the dried ones. Saveur warned me that recipes usually need far fewer dried leaves than fresh ones and I needed to research the proper ratio to use. Did I need to use half as many dried curry leaves? One third as many?

After some quick online research, I discovered that opposite holds true for curry leaves: the dried ones have less flavour and I need many many more dried ones… perhaps as many as ten times as many! Raghavan Iyer, the author of 660 Curries, even goes so far as to say that the flavour of dried curry leaves is “insipid” and to avoid them completely!

I was somewhat disappointed. Since the ingredient was still new to me, and I wasn’t willing to put 120 dried curry leaves in my chutney (it was unlikely that my tiny bag of them even had that many leaves in it), I simply put in 12 dried curry leaves in the hot oil at the end of cooking the mustard seeds to allow any of their flavour to transfer to the oil. I then removed the leaves myself.

The chutney was simply packed with flavour! The subtle taste of the avocado was the dominant flavour, with the motifs of roasted mustard coming a close second. The tamarind was not overpowering at all. I was careful with the chili flakes so the result was not too spicy.

Sadly, by the second day, the avocado on the surface had become discoloured and turned brown. The chutney still tasted fine, though. I served mine on toasted pieces of pita bread.

Go for it!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu.

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Tamarind BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potatoes

In Mains (Vegetarian) on January 11, 2011 at 6:17 AM


In this electronic age, word of mouth can spread fast. Online feedback is immortalized. While I like to consult reviews, too, I didn’t know authors like to gauge their own success through these reviews.  I was surprised (but I guess I shouldn’t have been) when I saw Dreena Burton, author of Eat Drink and Be Vegan, really upset by a recent review on amazon. The primary complaint was that her recipes were criticized for using too many unusual ingredients (tempeh, artichoke hearts, pine nuts,  lemongrass, agave nectar, etc).

I am so glad my blog doesn’t get judged as harshly – the blogging community is actually VERY supportive. Heck, we actively encourage our readers to try new and unusual ingredients that we have discovered ourselves. I certainly do not purport to be solely cooking from kitchen staples. When I went home over the holidays, I had to figure out what I could still cook in my parents’ kitchen without having to run to the grocery store too often. I know that my armamentarium of ingredients has ballooned since I’ve moved to Toronto and discovered ethnic grocery stores. My favourite ingredients right now include pomegranate molasses, bulgur, lentils du Puy, cardamom, tamarind, and tempeh. Personally, I love it when I find new recipes that use these unique ingredients!

I remember flipping through Veganomicon before I moved to Toronto and the recipes didn’t really appeal to me. I agree, all the new ingredients can be intimidating. However, when I returned to it recently, my curiosity was caught by many recipes. My favourites so far have been the chickpeas romesco and the tamarind lentils.

I recently bought Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a Veganomicon co-author. When I saw a recipe for tempeh and sweet potatoes marinaded in a tamarind-based barbecue sauce, I knew I had to try it first. I also had all the ingredients. 🙂

The recipe is also posted here and I modified it by decreasing the tempeh. Who wants to use one and half packages of tempeh for a recipe? The recipe didn’t mention it, but I used Terry’s tip in Viva Vegan to steam the tempeh with half a cup of water in the microwave. Apparently it removes its bitter taste. However, whenever Rob has prepared tempeh, I have not noticed a bitter taste.

I cut the tempeh into small triangles and used around 600 g of sweet potatoes with the same amount of marinade. I started making this dish in the morning, allowing everything to marinade until I threw it into the oven for an easy, late lunch.

I was skeptical the sauce would thicken but it was perfect right out of the oven. It was a smokey barbecue sauce with a strong tangy tamarind flavour. It worked well with the meaty, chewy tempeh and the sweet potatoes. My only complaint, and we’ve had this problem before with tempeh, is that it slurps up the marinade once cooled as leftovers. It still tasted fine for leftovers, but the sauciness was lost. Therefore, it was best the day it was prepared, but still conferred reasonable leftovers. Next time, I may throw in a leafy green like kale, as Susan did here.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Cinzia from Cindystar.

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Tamarind Lentils

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on January 5, 2011 at 6:22 AM

I went home for the holidays, which among many other things, means I was able to cook a lot! I can try a lot of new recipes when I am feeding 4 people, instead of just me. But before I get to my tasty holiday dishes, allow me to introduce you one from the quasi-archives.

This recipe hails back to last May. I spotted the recipe for Tamarind Lentils in Veganomicon, when I borrowed it from the library. I returned the cookbook, but kept the recipe in anticipation of making it soon.

While I can bake homemade strudel and Turkish baklava, and cook spaetzle, I still struggle with rice.  Rob was very encouraging, and lent me his rice cooker for the project.

However, this recipe was filled with ingredients that I find in my pantry, so I never had a burning desire to make it. Summer came, with its bountiful produce, and it was pushed to the side.

I eventually made another recipe from Veganomicon, Chickpeas Romesco, filled with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and almonds. As I was googling to see if anyone had typed up the recipe before me, I spotted it on Google Books. Low and behold, the Tamarind Lentils and Chickpeas Romesco were on the same page! I giggled to myself, as I still had the rice cooker, months later. And while I made rice for the Chickpeas Romesco, I hadn’t yet made the Tamarind Lentils. I shared the irony with Rob, the rice cooker-lender.

Rob loves tamarind, declared the recipe to be fit for his own kitchen, and stole the rice cooker back! Thankfully, he invited me over to share in the loot – and it was delicious. Tangy tamarind with warm and savoury spices coated lentils in a soupy sauce. It was so good, he offered to make it for a potluck I was hosting at my place the following weekend. Because he wanted to serve freshly cooked rice, he brought the rice cooker back to my place. And there it remained for another few months.

November rolled around and I still have the rice cooker, without having made Tamarind Lentils myself. But lots of rice, mind you.

Trust me, Rob knew he could have his rice cooker back at any time.  After I lent him 660 Curries, he decided enough was enough. Curries demand rice. And lots of rice demands a rice cooker. He wanted his rice cooker back!

And of course, when I returned from Morocco in December, with a kitchen nearly completely devoid of produce (although lovingly stocked with some leftover soup courtesy of Rob), the first dish I made was tamarind lentils. Without a rice cooker. And while the tamarind lentils were as delicious as I remembered, the rice was not! A bit too soupy/sticky, but palatable nonetheless.

Thankfully, Rob has agreed to come over to cook my rice next time.

Although, I am still (not so secretly) pining a 3-in-1 rice cooker/pressure cooker/slow cooker.


This is my submission Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring coconut oil, and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona. Rob also gets props for taking a better photo (top photo) of the tamarind lentils.

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Okra With Prunes and Apricots in a Tamarind Sauce (Bamia b’Mishmosh)

In Mains (Vegetarian), Sides on July 11, 2010 at 8:04 AM

One of my goals is to try every single vegetable and fruit at Bestwin, a local grocery store that has tons of ethnic food spanning India to Japan to Thailand. I oftentimes have no clue what they are, nor what to do with them, so it will definitely be a challenge.  I stopped by this week and noticed okra was on sale, so I picked some up to start my cuisine challenge. Thankfully I also had 2 cookbooks in my trunk so I quickly looked for an appealing recipe with okra and made sure to get all the ingredients.

Okra is native to Africa but is used in Middle Eastern, Indian and African cuisine.  While okra is commonly served with tomato, I adapted a Syrian Jewish sweet and sour recipe with okra, prunes and apricots in a tamarind sauce from Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck (the original recipe has also been posted here by the Jewish Book Council). There is some tomato paste as well, so the classic tomato flavour is there as well. I thought the sauce was fabulous with the sweet apricots and prunes, with the sour tang from the tamarind. The bit of tomato pasta also added a bit of homeliness to the dish. The sauce worked well with the delicious okra.

The sweet and sour sauce took a while to prepare but the long cooking meant there was no need for any additional sugar as the sweetest was entirely from the fruits. I served this with a bed of rice as a meal, but I think next time I’d love to add a bean like chickpeas to the mixture. It can also be served as a side dish to an elaborate meal.


I was a bit worried about the okra after reading about its acquired tasted and its gooey characteristics if opened, but I didn’t have any problems. The try to minimize any mucilaginous texture, quickly spray with water when washing and quickly pan-fry them with a bit of oil. Keeping them intact while cooking is also important, and shaking the pan instead of stirring helps. A few of my larger okra where a bit tough and stringy, so I should have heeded Dweck’s advice to purchase the smallest okra possible. When I was in Turkey, they were each an inch or two long and I hear in Syria they are even smaller. Here in Canada, they were much longer but still good. Frozen baby okra could also be an option.


To be fair, I don’t normally travel with cookbooks in my trunk, but I was enroute from buying them.  I couldn’t be more happy with my purchases.  This was the second recipe I have tried from Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck, and I was not disappointed (the first was Eggs Scrambled with Rhubarb).  Aromas of Aleppo is a unique cookbook featuring Jewish Syrian cuisine.

As the last Jews left Aleppo in 1997 and took their cuisine with them, this makes the cookbook a treasure trove of historical dishes. Dweck is keeping the Syrian Jewish culinary traditions alive through recipes pulled together from the expatriated community, a project which began over 30 years ago. Syrian Jews separate themselves from other Sephardic Jews through their flavourful dishes, with their unique uses of tamarind, cherries, and spices such as allspice, cinnamon, saffron and cardamom. What’s not to love?


I am submitting this recipe to Yasmeen’s Health Nut challenge all about tropical fruit and to this month’s Side Dish Showdown.

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