Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An exotic tale of mint and fried chicken dripping in fresh cream



Spicy dahl with meatballs, fresh tomato and cilantro. Mint chutney on the side.
 ( the meatballs have leftover basmati rice from Sundays meal).

Many years ago the sound of the ocean and the song of the Cascades drew my restless soul to the great Pacific Northwest. It was there that I met my husband and there that I learned an independence that I had never known before. I also discovered ethnic food. Okay I had tasted an enchilada and known the taste sensations of a Chinese buffet. What I had not ever tasted was fresh cilantro in a homemade salsa, or sautéed bokchoy in a stir fry created before my very eyes. Tai food was an exotic mystery and I never dreamed that vegetables in a simple Asian broth could bring such joy and satisfaction on a rainy winter day. Then there was that fresh salmon (need I say more) and mussels in a creamy sauce over angel hair pasta (who would have thought noodles could be so thin). Nor had I had the delicate and intricate flavors of Indian cuisine.

This is my favorite and most craved of all my discoveries. Now don’t get me wrong I wasn’t actually deprived of food as a child. I drank milk that came from a large jar with the cream floating on top and that same cream was served with fresh strawberries and homemade biscuits for desert or breakfast. Oh yes and it was heaven. I grew up on the comforts of things such as porcupine meatballs and beef stroganoff, not to be outdone by fried chicken and potato salad dripping with mayo. Snacking meant grabbing a mulberry or boysenberry right from the branch and lefsa and pickled herring are still my holiday favorites. And my mother makes the most delectable rhubarb and apple pies that I have ever had.


After several years and babies #3 and #4 on their way we decided that with our jobs and the cost of living we would be better to live in the Midwest where I was from, so we moved. Ten years ago. For the last 8 years we have resided in a tiny little town that boasts one store, two hometown restaurants and like all small towns one bar. The flavors of my past are tucked conveniently in my memory.

Mint Chutney first attempt.

Since the move my cooking has drastically changed, true I still prepare the occasional tater tot hot dish, but for the most part we eat fresh foods with lots of flavors. Over the years I have honed my Indian cooking skills and make a pretty great curry, dahl, korma and my naan rivals any restaurant. One thing I have yet to master is mint chutney. Actually this was my first attempt and while it was tasty it did not offer that ‘I need to have that on everything’ quality that I expect from my chutneys, relishes and salsas. Up until now I have occasionally traveled an hour to the Indian grocer to stock up on red and yellow lentils, seasoning and mint chutney but at $4 for a small bottle I must be able to make it myself. I have all of the ingredients fresh just steps from my kitchen.  I will keep working on the recipe and I promise to post if I hit it.

::Side note:: it was also in that beautiful country that I had my first espresso and then honed my aptitude toward being a complete and utter coffee snob. I was a barista in the 90's after all.

1 comment:

Tricia said...

I want some.

Like...now.

;-)

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