Tag Archive for indian food

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.

Playing Tourist in my own Back Yard: Surrey

I’m a city girl. I live downtown. I work downtown, my son goes to school downtown. I do have a car, but I prefer to walk or ride my bike if possible. Take me over a bridge, and I immediately get lost.

I recently had the opportunity to get an insider’s look at Surrey, and it was a pretty amazing experience.

When Raj, Emily and I were in Seattle in September for IFBC, we were wandering around, checking out the food scene there. And we had a thought: what if each of us hosted the other two girls on a tour of our own neighbourhoods, and then we all wrote posts about the experience?

And we did. Here’s the first one.

raj thandi

Huh. She’s wearing pink.

Raj (@PinkChai) was our intrepid tour guide on this particular trip. She met us at the door with three cups of her (as you can well imagine) fantastic homemade chai.

chai tea

Cheers to road trips with foodie friends!

Our first stop was at Navraj Sweets for what were the best pakoras I’ve ever had in my life. If you’ve never had them, pakoras are fritters that are usually made from some kind of vegetable, battered with a chickpea-flour based batter and deep fried. These ones were made with cauliflower, and were served hot and perfectly seasoned with a mango-infused salt. They also came with two dipping sauces–a fresh cilantro chutney, and a sweet/hot tamarind sauce. By the way, this giant plate of pakoras was $5.


Next, after doing a little accessory shopping, we went for lunch. Our first choice for lunch was full up, and we had a time limit, so we decided to skip it, go to our next destination and see if we could find some food nearby.


What? We can’t think about food ALL the time. Sometimes we have to build an appetite. By shopping for bangles.

Our next stop was a grocery store, Fruticana. They are a large, locally-owned chain, but I’d never been to one before. I was especially impressed with the spice selection, and the beautiful, fresh produce. We had a contest to see how much stuff we could buy with $20, and the results were impressive!


I got some lentils, Indian Carrots and Indian Sweet Potatoes (which I’d never seen before), some spices, Tamarind, and the most beautiful mint I think I’ve ever bought. That night, after I went home, I made a gorgeous  Mango mojito out of it (recipe to come) and this mint-cilantro chutney. I also made a wonderful, warming, Vegan Lentil Curry (which I will share with you next week).


By the time we were done browsing and shopping, we were, of course, hungry again. We stopped at a neighbouring food cart for a quick bite called Golgappa. They are a kind of bread–almost like a small pita, and they are filled with a savoury mixture that includes vinegar, chickpeas, and chilies. You sort of shoot them down in one bite, and they are like an explosion of flavours in your mouth. 

chickpeas on samosa

Our last stop was a late lunch at Taj Sweets & Restaurant. We started with samosas covered with a chickpea curry, and followed that with a vegetable korma with rice. All excellent. The korma was sweet and spicy and rich with coconut milk. The naan was warm and pillowy and spiked with garlic. 


We finished the day with fresh, hot jalaibi, which were being made by the vendor just outside of the restaurant. Jalaibi are an Indian sweet–kind of like a donut. The sweet orange-coloured batter is deep-fried, and then when removed from the fryer, dunked into a vat of simple syrup. The final result is a crispy, warm, sweet, gooey bite of heaven. They must be incredibly bad for you, based on how delicious they taste. 

Three silly gals and their jalaibi!

Three silly gals and their jalaibi!

What an wonderful day! Filled with friends, wonderful food and new experiences. You can read Raj’s experience here, and Emily’s here. Look for future posts as we explore the West End and the North Shore.

Get out and explore your own backyard–it’s really fun to be a tourist in your own (or a nearby) city. You never know what you might discover!

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