Tag Archive for chai tea

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)

  • 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
  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.

Chai Creme Brulee

A couple of weeks ago, I had dinner at Edible Canada. They have a monthly, seasonally-inspired, four-course tasting menu for $30. I honestly don’t know how they do it. It is a ridiculously good deal, and so, so yummy. The autumn squash risotto… sigh.

Anyway, the meal wrapped up with your choice of two desserts. I don’t even remember what the competition was, because, if there is creme brulee on the dessert menu, I’m ordering that. End of story. This one was a Chai Creme Brulee, made with tea from the Granville Island Tea Company.photo

I’d forgotten that I’d made Chai Creme Brulee before, and I had to do a search through the blog to make sure I hadn’t already posted the recipe. This, coupled with the acquisition of a new brulee torch, inspired me to make these again.

I drink a lot of Chai this time of the year. I mostly drink the Chocolate Chili Chai from David’s Tea, but I’m not below brewing up my own. I keep a stock of cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves in my cupboard just in case the spirit moves me.


Chai Creme Brulee


  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • One cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 6 cardamom pods, smashed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • One chai teabag or 1 tbsp loose tea


  • Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees, and boil a kettle full of water.
  • In a medium, heavy-bottomed-saucepan, heat the milk slowly over low- to medium-heat, just to the point where it is steaming, but not yet boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, add the sugar to the eggs and whip until the eggs are pale. Add the vanilla and whip a bit more.
  • Take a few tablespoons of the hot cream and add to the egg mixture and mix well. Then, slowly add the egg mixture into the cream, whisking continuously. Add the spices and the teabag, and place on low heat for about five minutes. Do not let it boil!
  • Arrange four small ramekins in a square baking dish. Strain the creme mixture into something with a pourable spout (I use a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup), and pour the creme into each of the ramekins, until they are about 3/4 full.
  • Place the pan in the oven, then pour the boiling water into the pan, so that it surrounds the ramekins, and comes about 2/3 of the way up them.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the center is set.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • To “brulee:” pour a thin layer of white sugar all over the surface of the pudding. Burn it with your torch! (it’s the fun part). If you don’t have a brulee torch, you can use the broiler, but the results are slightly less accurate.
  • Crack and enjoy!