My mother is an awesome cook. I grew up in a house filled with love and the aroma of delicious food. I wish I could say I learnt cooking at my mom’s knee but that wouldn’t be true. My mom couldn’t drag me into the kitchen to save my life except for the few times when I was drawn in by the temptation of sampling or licking the spoon that mixed the batter. As I try to recreate some of her recipes with Canadian ingredients, I do find myself adding a touch of spices – like in this steamed broccoli recipe with a spicy masala twist!
While I may not have the same awesome cooking skills like my mom, what I did inherit from her was her palate. She always knows when something is a tad too sour, too sweet or salty. I am the same, tasting as I go along, combining flavours that I know will work. Orange and ginger, garlic and soy, tomatoes with peppers, and cumin and coriander with almost everything. I use this same instinct when I follow a recipe and the end result is usually delicious. But when friends ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at some of the dishes on my dining table, I’m at a loss because of all the tweaks I made along the way.
What I can say for sure is that I take shortcuts. If there is a faster, easier way to cook something I will find it. If you are looking for traditional butter chicken, then this is not the website for you. But if you want to know how to whip up an aromatic and, I promise you, delicious, healthy curry in 30 minutes, I am your girl.
Freshly Ground Spices
Before we go any further though, I have one more confession. There is one short cut I don’t take and that is with spices. My Mom grinds me a batch every time I visit (thanks, Mom!) and as long as I keep them in an airtight container, they stay fresh all year long. That way every time I open the jar a whiff takes me back to India. On the few occasions that I have run out of spices, I use my trusty mortar and pestle. The flavour and aroma of packaged commercial spices is nowhere close to the real thing. If you’re feeling adventurous, use your coffee grinder. Just don’t grind coffee in it ever again….unless you want cumin flavoured coffee. I am not sure how that would taste!
So that’s what I’m doing here – sharing the recipes that are so close to my heart and my family’s tummies.
Steamed Broccoli Recipe with a Spicy Masala Twist
I am always shocked at how popular this dish is with the kids. There’s something about adding Indian flavours to mundane and unexpected dishes so that even Broccoli is always the first one to disappear off the dinner table.
Every time I go back home to India I learn at least a couple of dishes to bring back and make for my friends and family here. I usually “Canadianize” it a little to make it easier to replicate in my kitchen. And when I hear my daughter ask “What’s cooking, Mom, it smells yummy”, I know that look in her eyes. “Do you want to taste, honey?”
- Broccoli florets – 4 cups time saving tip – use pre-cut
- Olive Oil – 1 tbsp.
- Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp.
- Chili Peppers – 1/2 tsp.
- Chopped Tomatoes – 1 cup
- Cheese – 1/2 cup
Lightly steam or blanch broccoli. Take it out in the bowl you want to serve in.
Toss in some cheese. Let it melt on the warm broccoli.
Stir fry cumin seeds and chilli peppers on medium heat for a few seconds. You should be able to smell the roasting of the spices. Don’t let them burn.
Toss in chopped tomatoes and let them cook for a few minutes. I use halved grape tomatoes because I always seem to have them on hand. You could use the regular kind, just chop them into small chunks.
Pour the sizzling mixture on top of the broccoli and cheese.
Toss it at the table. That way your guests can see the beautiful colours of the vegetables before you mix them up.