7th stop: India

I was delighted to attend my first themed Indian dinner experience last Sunday, to celebrate the festival of lights “Diwali” hosted by my awesome friend “Dee”.

541807_10152009487946397_225474777_nIndians celebrate Diwali with family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, flowers, and sharing of sweets.

However; Dee made some adjustments to these traditions. She had a recipe in mind and managed to produce another when she overcooked the chicken. Whatever recipe she wanted to cook that night, Diwali lights definitely did their magic as the hot gravy formed a mind blowing dish of spicy tender obviously smocked chicken, followed by an alluring vanilla ice-cream to soothe the throbbing effects of the Indian explosive chilli. Thanks Dee! You have promised fireworks and you have delivered.

1453276_10152009488086397_300073658_nIndian cuisine is all about spices and firecrackers. It embraces a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. Although, foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have played a role in introducing certain foods to the country; India has also influenced other cuisines through trading spices starting from Europe, Asia, and eventually the rest of the world.

Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions, particularly by Dharma beliefs and vegetarianism. Four world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism were initiated in India. Whereas Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arrived later and helped shape the region’s diverse culture and cuisine.

1454934_10152009488156397_17461859_nIn Australia, Indian Samosa is a popular street food, consists of a triangle shaped fried or baked pastry with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb, ground beef or ground chicken, sold by piece from food stalls and often served as an entrée in Indian restaurants. It is often served in Chaat; a mixture of potato pieces, crispy fried bread, chickpeas, tangy-salty spices, with sour home-made Indian chilli, dried ginger and tamarind sauce, with a garnish of fresh green coriander leaves and fresh yogurt.

To experience an authentic carnival of Indian flavours in Sydney: head to Tandoori Hut on 93 Enmore Road in Enmore. Apparently the place is famous for catering taxi drivers if you need to be escorted. Samosa costs $4.50; prices are of $15.00 – $20.00 average. CPR supplied free! If you overdose on spices.

Brain damaging vegetable samosa:

Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add ½ chopped onion and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add ¾ tsp. ground cumin, ¾ tsp. ground coriander, ¼ tsp. turmeric and a generous pinch of chilli (double the amount if you are after revenge) and cook for 30 seconds. Add 250g of cooked diced potatoes, ¼ cup of frozen green peas (40g), 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh coriander and ½ tsp. of lemon juice and stir for a minute. Set aside to cool.945465_10152009487756397_138890346_n

For the pastry, get 3 sheets ready rolled puff pastry (25 x 25cm – available at any supermarket)

Use a 12cm round cutter to cut out 4 circles from each sheet of pastry. Work with one circle at a time, roll to make a cone shape. Place 2 tbsp. of the mixture into the centre and fold the top of the pastry over and pinch to close. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

Pour oil into a saucepan to one-third of the way up the side. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat until it reaches 180°C.

In batches, cook samosas for 2 minutes until puffed and golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve with Greek yogurt dip, and tissues for the sensitive ones.

To finish in good terms, I leave you with the Diwali’s story:

1461000_10152009487826397_382294670_nOnce upon a time, there was a great warrior, Prince Rama, who had a beautiful wife named Sita and a terrible demon king, Ravana who wanted to make Sita his wife.

One day, Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her away in his chariot. Clever Sita left a trail of her jewellery for Rama to follow.

Rama followed the trail of glittering jewellery until he met the monkey king, Hanuman, who became his friend and agreed to help find Sita. Messages were sent to all the monkeys in the world, and through them to all the bears, who set out to find Sita. After a very long search, Hanuman found Sita imprisoned on an island.

Rama’s army of monkeys and bears couldn’t reach the island, so they began to build a bridge. Soon all the animals of the world, large and small, came to help. When the bridge was built, they rushed across it and fought a mighty battle. When Rama killed the evil Ravana with a magic arrow, the whole world rejoiced.

Rama and Sita began their long journey back to their land, and everybody lit oil lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back.
Ever since, people light lamps at Diwali to remember that light triumphs over dark and good triumphs over evil.

Happy Diwali!

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