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Waffled Churros

Every culture has their own version of the donut.

The French have the Beignet. The Italians have the Zeppole. And the Mexicans have the Churro. In South Asian cuisine, it’s the sticky sweet Gulab Jabun. Each one is, like a snowflake, special in its own way.

donut collage

The Churro is special for two reasons: first of all, because of its shape. They are piped out into hot oil in long strips, so the donuts end up looking like thick straws of dough. They are then tossed or rolled in cinnamon sugar. The advantage of having a long, skinny donut, is that it makes it easier to dip into sauces.

There are a variety of different sauces you can dip your churro into, but of course, the most popular one is chocolate. Duh. Although a few times when I’ve had them, the chocolate sauce often has a hint of Mexican flair: either some spice in the form of heat or some cinnamon. A dulce de leche would also go really nicely with these bad boys.

Now, I don’t own a deep fryer. I haven’t in 20 years, so if something calls for deep frying, I need to figure out some way to work around that. And seeing as I love to experiment with my waffle iron, I thought I’d try making waffled churros.

This dough reminds me of a choux pastry, which is the same kind of pastry you’d use to make a profiterole. It loans itself to rising exponentially, creating lots of pockets of air inside the donut, which makes it airy and gives you much more surface to collect all that delicious dipping sauce.

Once you’ve made these  in your waffle iron, use the hand-dandy lines in your waffle iron to cut them into strips to enable better dipping.

Just a note: these taste fantastic, but the exterior isn’t quite as crispy as if you had deep fried.

waffled churros

Waffled Churros

(recipe adapted from Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • ½ c water
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ c AP flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cardamom

For dipping:

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Dulce de Leche
  • Chocolate sauce

waffled churros with chocolate sauce

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan mix together the water and the butter, and melt them together over medium-high heat. Add the salt, sugar and cinnamon and let everything melt together.
  2. Lower the heat, and then add the flour all at once and mix well. The batter will become stiff very quickly.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before you add the eggs (otherwise you’ll have scrambled eggs). Beat the eggs separately in a bowl, then add into the batter, mixing well until everything is incorporated.
  4. Preheat the waffle iron. If you have one that allows you to set the heat, set it on medium. Brush the waffle iron with butter or oil on both sides.
  5. Take about 1/4 cup of batter and place it in the centre of each waffle square. The churros will rise quite a lot. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, until they are golden brown.
  6. Remove to a plate, and brush with melted butter, then dip them immediately into a shallow plate of cinnamon sugar, so that they coated all over.
  7. Serve while still warm with the sauce of your choice.

 

 

 

Sizzling Tandoor

I envy my friends who have a defined cultural background. I have friends who are Italian, Indian, Asian, and Jewish, they have these amazing family gatherings that include recipes and dishes that have been passed down through generations.

My mom came from a German family, and by all accounts, my grandmother was a wonderful cook, but she died when I was 3. My mom left home at the age of 16, and I remember her saying to me that she regretted not learning how to cook from her mother.

My mom was an amazing baker, but we never really had a cultural identity, other than Canadian. We are, like many in this country, a mish-mash of British, Irish, Scottish, and then German and Russian on my mom’s side. But we grew up on meatloaf and mac and cheese.

While it’s always made me a little sad that I don’t have a specific culture’s cuisine to learn from my family, it has also opened me up to exploring other culture’s cuisines. I love learning about cooking traditions, spices and dishes from other countries.

I recently got to have lunch at an Indian restaurant called Sizzling Tandoor in Victoria, and the feeling I left with (other than feeling really full and satisfied) was the wish to be able to learn how to cook like that from the restaurant’s chef, Narpinder Bawa.

Sizzling Tandoor is a family-run restaurant, and you can feel the love. It’s in the service, and it’s most definitely in the food. The restaurant is the “retirement plan” of Napinder and her husband, Gurinder. While Napinder runs the kitchen, Gurinder manages the front of house, and the long hours they put in have paid off. Sizzling Tandoor now has two locations in Victoria, and has been voted “Best Indian Food in Victoria” the last three years running by the Times Colonist.

This is Indian comfort food at its best, lovingly prepared, spicy, and rich.

kabuli naan

Our meal kicked off with a cooking lesson. We got to go back into the kitchen and watch Napinder make Kabuli. It’s a kind of sweet naan bread stuffed with fruit, nuts and coconut, then baked in the Tandoor (which is a very hot clay oven where they bake bread and also do skewers of meat).

sizzling tandoor mango lassi

It was a hot day, and the mango lassis (a yogurt-based drink with fruit) were very cooling.

sizzling tandoor appetizers

One of my favourite bites of the day were these Aloo Tikkis. Potato pancakes, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, topped with cooling raita and the most amazing mint chutney. There were, of course, also samosa, and (not pictured) delicious curried mussels, for an Indian-meets-west-coast kinda dish.

sizzling tandoor curries

Mains included a variety of curries, including lamb (Rogan Josh, with the flavour of mango), vegetarian, paneer (cheese) and, of course, butter chicken. The Tandoori Fish, however, was my favourite. The bright colours of the tandoori spices (from turmeric and paprika) and the extreme tenderness of the fish made it an absolute winner.

 

sizzling tandoor ice creamOur lunch ended with Napinder’s homemade ice cream: mango and coconut and, of course, a cup of chai.

Chai Tea

(recipe from Napinder Bawa)

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup water
  • one orange pekoe tea bag
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • sugar to taste
  • milk
Method:
  1. Bring water to a boil in a small pot on the stove, and add the tea bag.
  2. Add the chai spices, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add half a cup of milk, or as desired, and sweeten to taste. Bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat, strain tea to remove tea bag and masala; now enjoy!

If you are in Victoria, and looking for Indian food like your mom used to make, head over to Sizzling Tandoor. They’ll make you feel like one of the family, and feed you like you are one, too.

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