Is this Canadian food, Mama?
My 6 year old asked just as I was packing her lunch this morning. In the tiffin box there was whole wheat pita with homemade hummus, snap peas and cucumber, along with strawberries on the side. A normal lunch menu in our house, it’s nothing like the packed lunches my mom used to prepare when I was a child.
Growing up in India my mom would roll parantha and sabzi (Indian flat bread with dry vegetable curry) along with perhaps an apple but only if it was a cool day. Warm India climate and fresh fruits don’t really mix well. That left us with parantha rolls and sabzi. The Indian version of ham sandwiches. Boring and sedentary.
My husband and I moved to Canada almost 15 years ago. Like so many other immigrants before us, we brought everything we could possibly carry; pots and pans a trunk load of books and of course our culture and traditions.
Food has always been a big part of this experience where immigrants bring over their diverse food and cooking techniques perfected over generations from far regions of the world.
So when my youngest asked me, “Is pita and hummus Canadian food, Mom?” I hesitated.
Yes, hummus is originally from the Middle East. But today it is made in my home in Canada using a traditional homemade hummus recipe adapted from my days living in Dubai. I use chickpeas grown in the fields of Saskatchewan, and it is my little Canadian child who enjoys it along with her friends in her school gym in Canada.
Food is a 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. That 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? Delicious for one!
In 2017 I will be participating in the Culinary Historian’s of Canada CHC Canada 150 Food Challenge. Every month there will be a new theme where I will be showcasing a delicious perspective on Canadian food. This month’s theme is seafood.
Pan-fried Easy Salmon Recipe
Salmon is a robust fish, and it can take a lot of flavour. Briefly marinated with a mix of smoky kashmiri chillies, dry-roasted coriander seeds and fragrant cumin powder along with lemon juice for zing, this dish is easy to prepare and tweak depending on your family’s tolerance of heat.
Real Life Kitchen Tips
- Roast the coriander and cumin seeds for a few minutes in a pan and then grind them in a mortar with a pestle, or a coffee grinder. You can also use packaged spices for this recipe. This is the dry-roasted masala that you can then store for more than a year in an airtight jar.
- 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 are lower in heat.
Easy Salmon recipe with Indian Masala Onions
4 Salmon fillets
1 red onion finely chopped
1 tsp coriander seed powder
1 tsp cumin seed powder
1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
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 the rice 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 for 4-5 mins on either side.
Make sure the onions are cooking as well.
Serve with rice, quinoa or a salad. Enjoy.