casaveneracion.com South Asian Lemon Rice

South Asian Lemon Rice

It’s isn’t yellow because of the lemon fruit although this rice dish has both lemon juice and lemon zest. It derives its color from the turmeric added to it. But the flavors are definitely not limited to the turmeric and the lemon. There are many versions and variations of lemon rice, and each has a different combination or ratio of spices. This dish has cardamon seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and kaffir lime leaves. Can you now imagine the aroma and the taste?

Don’t be scared by the spices in the ingredients list. They are all sold in better groceries. Even kaffir lime leaves are available in dried form. So, there really is no reason not to try cooking lemon rice. It is such a lovely dish with its earthy aromas, bright color and refreshing flavors. [Read more...]

casaveneracion.com Lamb biryani

Lamb biryani

Although considered an everyday dish in many South Asian countries, cooking biryani can be a challenge especially because the list of ingredients is long and can be intimidating. But it is really worth the effort. Since biryani is a complete meal, just think of all the work as the equivalent amount of work you’d be doing if you were cooking the rice, vegetable dish and meat dish separately.

The secret to good biryani is to cook everything in as little liquid as possible so that the meat, rice and vegetables practically cook in their own juices. Traditionally, a long strip of dough is wound around the edges of the pan before the lid is put in place so that no steam escapes during cooking. It’s a little bit laborious — I just use a pan with the most snug fitting lid.

It is also important to choose a tender cut of meat and to cut them into small pieces to farther facilitate cooking. Tough cuts that take more than an hour to cook might still be tough by the time the rice is done and all the liquid in the pot has been absorbed. [Read more...]

casaveneracion.com How to make: Mango-ginger lassi

How to make: Mango-ginger lassi

When Speedy said “mango-ginger”, I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive. Although I am used to combining fruits with spices (mostly, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), I wasn’t at all sure how the mango and ginger combination would work. Amazingly, mango and ginger did go well together. Mango lassi is good; mango-ginger lassi is better.

The key is in the correct proportion. You can’t use too much ginger that will drown out the natural flavors of the yogurt and mangoes. What you really want is just a hint of ginger in the mixed drink. Enough to tease but not to overpower. [Read more...]

How to make: Mango-lemon lassi

casaveneracion.com Mango-lemon lassi

Lassi is essentially a yogurt-based drink that contains spices. Question: if a drink contains yogurt, plus milk, and has no spices whatsoever, is it still a lassi? Giada de Laurentiis thinks and says so. I’m not so sure how correct she is in the strict sense (I don’t add spices to my mango lassi either) but her mango-lime lassi recipe, as executed by Speedy, is simply delicious. [Read more...]

casaveneracion.com How to make: Masala chai (spiced tea)

How to make: Masala chai (spiced tea)

Chai means tea in several South Asian languages. Masala (literally, a mixture of spices) chai means spiced tea although many people associate masala chai with spiced milk tea.

The addition of milk is a British influence. Tea has been grown in some South Asian regions for thousands of years but tea was used as an herbal medicine rather than as a beverage in South Asia. It was not until the British ran into problems with the Chinese cohong did they start attempting to grow tea elsewhere to cut off the dependency from Chinese tea. It was after the British started cultivating tea in India did tea become known as a beverage in that part of the world.

Because the flavor and aroma of spices can be strong and overpowering, spiced chai is best made with strong black tea rather than green tea as teas with delicate flavors will get overwhelmed by the spices.

Last night, I was learning to prepare chai — or tea — the South Asian way. I started with spiced tea then made masala tea. Speedy and I tried both, and we decided we like our spiced tea without any milk in it. I used loose leaf Burmese black tea to make our spiced chai.

What spices are required for making spiced chai? Well, there seems to be no strict combination. [Read more...]