“Is this Canadian food, Mama?”
My 6 year old asked just as I was packing her lunch this morning. In the tiffin, I had packed whole wheat pita with homemade hummus, snap peas and cucumber, along with a couple of strawberries on the side. While a normal lunch menu in our house today, this box was nothing like the packed lunches my mom used to prepare when I was a child.
Lunch time In India
As children in India, my brother and I would carry a homemade lunch to school, Most days it would be parantha and sabzi rolls (Indian flatbread with dry vegetable curry) along with an apple. The latter only if it was a cool day. Warm India climate and fresh fruits don’t really mix well. That left us with just parantha rolls and sabzi most days. The Indian version of ham sandwiches. Boring and sedentary.
My husband and I moved to Canada almost 15 years ago. Like many other immigrants before us, and even more since, we brought everything we could possibly carry; pots and pans, a trunkload of books and of course our memories and traditions.
Food While Being an Immigrant
Food has always been a big part of being an immigrant. So many of us move continents and bring over diverse ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques that have been perfected over generations in far corners of the world.
So when my youngest asked me, “Is pita and hummus Canadian food, Mom?” I didn’t what to say.
Hummus is originally from the Middle East. But today I make it in my kitchen in Canada using a traditional recipe adapted from my days living in Dubai, with chickpeas grown in the fields of Saskatchewan, all through a cooking technique I learned from my Mom in India. This, all for my kids who enjoy the hummus with their friends in their loud and smelly school gym in Toronto, Canada. Can it get any more Canadian, right?
Food is the result of a person’s culture and traditions. What we eat is influenced by where we are from but also where we live. The techniques may be rooted in our past but the ingredients are governed by our present.
Pan-fried Easy Salmon Recipe
This brings me to Salmon. Fresh Atlantic salmon is as Canadian an ingredient as it comes. And marinated with Indian spices (masala) and onions and then pan-fried – what does that make it? Still Canadian, in my opinion and very, very delicious.
Salmon is a robust fish, and it can take a lot of flavour. Briefly marinated with whole, smoky Kashmiri chillies, dry-roasted coriander seeds and fragrant cumin powder, mixed along with lemon juice for zing, this easy salmon recipe is simple to put together and easy to customize depending on your family’s tolerance of heat. I normally add a couple of extra chillies for myself.
Real-Life Kitchen Tips
- Roast the coriander and cumin seeds for a few minutes in a pan and then grind in a mortar with a pestle, or a coffee grinder. This mixture is the dry-roasted masala that you can then store for up to a year in an airtight jar. You may also use packaged spices for this recipe.
- Combine (or blend in a small food processor) the lemon juice, chopped green or red chillies, dry roasted masala, shakkar (raw cane sugar), garlic and ginger.
- Kashmiri chillies have a more smoky flavour and have a lower level of heat.
Easy Salmon recipe with Indian Masala Onions
4 Salmon fillets
Dry-roasted spice powder:
One tsp coriander seed powder
One tsp cumin seed powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 red onion finely chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp of chopped green or red chillies (optional)
Halved lemons, extra chillies and slices of ginger for serving (optional)
- Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade mixture and press down the onions.
- Leave aside for 30 mins while you get other items ready or yell at the kids to do their homework.
- Heat a pan with a tbsp of oil. Turn it to medium
- Pan-fry the fillets with the marinade and onions for 5-6 mins on either side.
- Make sure the onions are cooking as well.
- Serve with rice, quinoa or a salad. Enjoy
See why salmon is considered a nutrient-dense superfood around the world here.