22 April 2007

Memories of my youth

I've recently rediscovered these teas that I drank when I was a teenager. They must be the two oldest flavours from Celestial Seasonings because I think I remember my Mum having a box of Mandarin Orange Spice in the cupboard even when I was a kid in the seventies. I imagine some of the participants in the old hippie trail across Europe to India in the sixties brought back the idea. I'm blogging alongside my last cup of Bengal Spice, kicking myself for not seeing this coming. I have to order them from an import company and it can take weeks.

These days I delight in making my own chai when I have time and sometimes even chai rooibos, if I'm feeling a bit caffeine-free. It works well.

The best chai I've ever made was back in Auckland and I had got ahold of a carton of local 100% whole organic milk that just made it taste so authentic. After a trip to one of our many Indian shops, Spice Invaders, I excitedly carried home my little bag of chai masala while munching on a packet of bhuja mix. Then I found that a friend had left me the organic milk and I was in heaven.

In India, there is nothing like rocking up to a chaiwallah and asking for a cup. It's been stewing all day and it's served in a little unfired clay cup that you crush on the ground after you finish drinking the elixir. Totally green!

There are as many recipes for chai as there are people who drink it and I never really make it the same twice as I never have exactly the same ingredients, but here's one good way...

1. In a medium-sized pot, bring to the boil, water and sugar if you like (I usually add a couple of teaspoons, but an Indian chaiwallah would add about two cups!). Actually you can add sugar or honey later, but if you're sure everyone wants sugar who's going to drink this batch, there is a nice caramelly flavour if you add it first.

2. As it's heating up and the sugar is beginning to melt, add some spices.

A) Using a masala (mix)- If you buy spice masala at an Indian shop, you should just add a tiny amount like an eighth of a teaspoon the first time you use it. It usually has black pepper in it and can be very potent! You can adjust to taste next time when you are used to your vendor's mix.

B) Using your own spices- I like one or two cardamom pods crushed just enough to expose the seeds, about 5-10 clove buds, a couple of sticks of cinnamon, and a shaving of nutmeg (be careful, not too much of this one or you'll be hallucinating!). Simmer it together for a few minutes.

3. At this point you can put in either 3-4 black teabags (or rooibos bags) or the equivilent of loose tea (i.e. 3-4 teaspoons) and turn the heat right down.

4. When it's looking pretty dark, add the milk to the pot. Usually I make it about 1 part milk to two parts tea, but half and half is luxurious and delicious. If you want to use soymilk DON'T ADD IT NOW as it will separate! Wait until you have strained the tea and just mix it in the cup.

5. Strain the whole lot and serve in cups.

20 April 2007

Fight Hunger: Walk the World

The UNWFP is soon to have their annual fundraising walk around the world. I'm hoping to attend the walk in Yokohama. Basically people around the world will be walking on the 13th May 2007 to raise awaerness of hunger and also to raise needed funds for the World Food Programme. Being an educator I am most interested in the School Feeding Programme http://www.wfp.org/food_aid/school_feeding/index.asp?section=12&sub_section=3 and also the Food for Women Programme as "7 out of 10 of the world's hungry are women and girls".
You can visit the site by clicking on the banner I've put on the right here or the title of this entry. It would be great if you could give a donation, or join a walk. Nearly a hundred countries participate so check out the interactive map on the site and see if there is one near you.

10 April 2007

Teachers Helping Teachers Pics on YouTube

Here is a link to some pictures provided by a colleague from the seminar.

07 April 2007

I can cycle 40 minutes quickly for a curry

We cycled out to our only Indian (actually Pakistani run) curry restaurant today because it was a beautiful sunny day. The staff were happy to see us again and we also ran into two of the students that came to Thailand with us. It takes about 45-50 minutes to get there, but when we are really curry-hungry, we can make it in 40. Having been away for so long, I've lost my cycle legs so it was a struggle, but of course I made it since I was in dire need of something spicy. The minute that place goes out of business, we are outta this small town. How is it that this native English speaker (as we're known in the business) orders her Indian curry in Japanese from a Pakistani waitress ?

Today I came across this awesome blog. http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/
This is a woman after my own heart as she not only talks about Indian food, but also posts the full recipes as well as good photos. This could rival my all time favourite (although another genre altogether) blog by Clotilde Dusoulier called Chocolate and Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com/. The beauty of her site is that it has a lot of writing to go with the food and food porn (In case you didn't know, that's the photos that make you want to eat alll this lovely food.) as well as a forum. I love the message boards. I was on one of my favourites earlier and suddenly felt a craving for marmalade. Since it's now 10.30 pm, I'm trying to control myself but these things are definitely dangerous! I've really got to get to bed now so I can get up and have marmalade on toast for breakfast...if only we could get good bread here!!


Lao text
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
I've posted some new photos on Flickr. I'm quickly using up my free space. So THAT'S how they get you to start paying for Flickr!

03 April 2007

Missing you already!

I'm already missing the array of food that reminds you that your tongue can detect numerous flavours and sensations, sweet, salty, sour, pungent, spicy... The exciting thing is that the two airmail parcels, as well as the two seamail boxes of spices and pastes have already arrived and we've been cooking away. I was welcomed with a comfort food meal of burritos with all the trimmings. But, before that, we'd spent a night in Tokyo and went to a restaurant run by a surfer who'd spent time in Hawaii. We all went for the fish and chips with homemade tartare sauce. Good kai!
It seems like all the busyness I left behind is rapping at my door. I've been hiding in the flat so I don't get sucked into the vortex of never-ending work. But I'm still getting e-mails, phonecalls, txt messages, and visitors. Plus, I was so inspired by my trip to get on with things in my field that I don't know if I'm coming or going. I haven't even started classes yet. Who's got time for that!?