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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.

I’m in Love with a Ninja

Okay, kids. Let’s talk blenders.

A blender is an essential tool for any kitchen.  I use mine on pretty much a daily basis–smoothies to start with, and then pureed soups, sauces, jams, hummus, homemade nutella. I even make my own nut milk sometimes.

But here’s the thing about blenders: good ones are really expensive. And there’s a wide gap between the not-good ones (read: cheap) and the good ones (read: expensive).

About a year ago, I was struggling with this question. I had a Magic Bullet, which I’d never been super happy with, but it was convenient. It made smoothies (mostly) okay, but when it came to tougher ingredients like chickpeas, it floundered. Maybe, I thought, it was time for me to bite the bullet and invest in a good blender, and by good, I mean a Blendtec or a Vitamix (which will run you anywhere from about $400-700). But the money! I knew they’d be good, they’d last, etc, but I still had a really tough time justifying (and finding) that kind of cash.

I went online and polled my friends, and one of them suggested a new blender on the market called a Ninja. I did some online research, and the recommendations were really high. So, I bought one, at Canadian Tire, for about $79 (I got it on sale–it’s regularly around $100). And I immediately was happy. First off, it had 1100 Watts of power–as opposed to the 300 of the Magic Bullet. Secondly, it has a very different kind of blade than normal blenders. Most blenders have a blade just at the bottom, this one had blades on a pole going all the way up. I recommended it to everyone.

On the right, my old Ninja Pro. On the left, the new Nutri Ninja.

On the right, my old Ninja Pro. On the left, the new Nutri Ninja.

Then, in September, I attended the International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. The Ninja people were there. I gushed to them about how much I loved their blender, and they offered to send me their newest model.

I’ve had the Nutri Ninja Blender with Auto IQ for about a month, now, and I love it even more than my old one.

IMG_1339

Shiny.

One reason is because it comes with smoothie cups. Now, I loved my old Ninja Blender, but it came with just the blender jar, and that was it. So I had to wash it all the time, every day. My new Ninja came with the blender jar and two smoothie cups (in two different sizes). The smoothie cups also have their own blender blade, so it works exactly like a Magic Bullet. Although I was really frustrated with my Magic Bullet all the time, you can’t deny those little cups are really convenient. Well, now I have that same convenience in a powerful blender. No more frustration. All the convenience. I very seldom have to hand-wash them now, because I have enough to go around that I can run them through the dishwasher every 3 days.

The second thing I love about my new Ninja Blender are the variety of settings. My old Ninja basically had one speed: on. It was a good on. A powerful on. But just on (you could also pulse, of course). This new blender has tons of different settings, and it also has this cool feature called Ninja IQ. Basically, it’s a built-in setting that pulses at first to break everything up, then blends for a period, then pulses again at the end. It’s super cool, one-touch blending that works every time.

Thirdly, kids, is the power! Mwhahahahaha!! I love power, and this baby has it. It’s actually changed the way I juice. I started juicing about a year ago, and I have a really good juicer. What I used to do was juice the hard veg, like carrots and beets, and then add that juice into my smoothie for extra nutrients. What you’re missing if you do this, though, is the fibre, because the juicer extracts that. Now, I can actually juice right in my blender. Yeah, I’m throwing carrots in my smoothies. A whole, raw carrot. And by the time the blender is done with it, you’d never know. It’s as smooth as silk. At 1300 watts, this baby can handle anything you throw at it–hummus, nut butters, the works.

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What do I not like about it? Well, it’s a bit loud, but that’s to be expected when you have such a powerful engine. Secondly, you have to be really, really careful when cleaning the blade. They are very sharp, and because of how they are positioned, it’s easy to cut yourself. Which I learned the hard way. Other than that, I don’t have anything but good to say about this blender.

I really can’t recommend it enough. And remember–while the most recent version may have been sent to me to review, I purchased my first one with my own hard-earned cash, and I would do it again! If you’re in the market for a blender, I think you should get a Ninja in your kitchen.

 

 

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