Spicy Rhododendron Chutney

DSC_1175

After learning of an edible flower indigenous to the Himachal region of India that blooms only from January to March, I couldn’t resist taking a bag-load back to my Palampur hostel, and trying my luck at being shown a local spicy chutney recipe made from this flower. This suggestion was welcomed with great enthusiasm, all the team were very excited that their dinner would have the special chutney alongside it, and were keen to show me the ropes!

This is not something that can be bought in shops anywhere, not even hear. It is made in Himachal homes and no where else, so I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity, not only to try it, but also to make it! Here’s how it’s done…

Ingredients

  • A good bunch of Rhododendron flowers
  • 4 cloves of raw garlic, peeled
  • 4 raw green chilllis
  • A pinch and a bit of fresh corriander
  • A teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • One  lemon
  • A tablespoon of water

Go eat flowers.

1. Remove the petals from the flowers and place them to one side

DSC_1179

2. Place the coriander and chillis into a blender and blitz into a paste

3.. Add the garlic and chilli powder. Blitz.

DSC_1182

4.. Add the flowers, salt and water. Blitz.

DSC_1183

DSC_1187

5.. Finally the juice of one lemon. Blitz.

 DSC_1190

Mmmmm

 This was really delicious. I’ve never tasted anything even remotely like it, which is exciting as I can’t remember the last time a flavour felt this new to me, but also gutting as it was so tasty but replicating it will never be possible! I’ve thought and thought, and the closest thing I can put the flavour of these petals to is a combination of grapefruit and plumb, but richer and not as sharp. Combine that with a chilli kick and a garlicky cuddle, and you have a taste sensation! IF you are ever in the Himacha region of India over January/March, you must force the opportunity to try this spicy chutney! It’s zinglicious!

 DSC_1192

With due thanks to Sunil in Palampur, for showing me how it’s done and making my taste buds so very very happy!

Monkey’s and Munchies

09 March 2015

What a very educational day and interesting weekend it has been!

Today, we visited the Amber Fort in Jaipur, where there once lived a King with 12 wives… But this didn’t stop him indulging in a good pamper wherever possible!

 DSC_0924

DSC_0921

DSC_0922

These pictures show a steam room, which operated by servants boiling water in the next room and steam entering through little holes and a Jacuzzi, which was filled with hot water which bubbled somehow through some law of physics that I’ve totally forgotten now. The entire place was also air-conditioned, by having water run behind the marble walls and cool air pushing through little holes as a result.

He also had quite the wok!

DSC_0933

That must have been some dinner party!

The high-light of this visit for me was a nifty instrument I bought from a street seller…

 IMG-20150309-WA0011

A Ravanhatta!

IMG-20150309-WA0013

With a coconut base and a bamboo neck, I thought this was an impressive piece of craftsmanship! While I haven’t quite sussed how to play it yet… I’m sure, with time, I’ll become an expert!

DSC_0901

DSC_0903

Saturday was an awesome day. We visited the Krishna temple, took in the breath-taking views of the Nahargarh fort, and an absolute high-light for me… The Monkey Temple!

 IMG-20150317-WA0012

On the drive, we also saw the Water Palace, which was first brought to my attention by a particularly tasty episode of Reza: Spice Prince of India, leaving me to associate this view with tasty curry and therefore build up a sharp appetite.

DSC_0883

Then came an evening of delicious delights.

An event was being held called Chowkhi Dhani- a rainbow of Indian flavours for just 500 Rupees!

 DSC_0874

Despite this giant menu greeting us at the entrance, I still have no idea really what I ate, or at least which was which. But I can tell you my favourite was Yellow!

 DSC_0845

Oh, Yellow!

Places were paid on entry, then seated on a first come first serve basis. And thank goodness we got in on the first sitting, because the queue built up quickly! The team behind it gave great service, were very attentive, and kept our plates loaded with various Thali flavours!

 DSC_0849
DSC_0848

DSC_0850

I hope to find a recipe for Yellow soon enough.

DSC_0823

After dinner, the event also had a variety of dance performances, fun-fair style games to play, shops with lovely bits and bobs (really regret not getting a set of teacups now) and an Artisan Village to explore, which included jungles, caves, slides and houses, offering a sample of the many colours and diversities in style that fill India.

 DSC_0871

I can’t believe we’ve been here only two weeks and seen so much already! India is extraordinary!

 

THE SPANISH HAVE INVADED!!

My TASTEBUDS, that is!!

IMG_3794

Recently, a Spanish influence has stepped into my life and introduced me to a whole new world of flavour.

IMG_4485

This weekend, Diana gave me the perfect gift of a book to record my favourite (and some more secret) recipes. I immediately knew what the first recipe in this book was going to be.

IMG_3824

Salmorejo!

There aren’t the words to express how much I love this dish. Even looking at that picture now makes me go crazy for not having it in front of me. The combination of tomato, garlic, oil and bread may seem simple enough, and frankly I don’t understand all the magic behind the deliciousness. I also know the concept of raw garlic in anything will be enough to make my fellow Brits VERY nervous, but please PLEASE I beg you to put what you think you know to one side and try this dish. When I eat this, I feel absolutely invincible and satisfied beyond belief. I’ve never actually made this myself, but the last time Diana whipped it up, I monitored her activity with a tediously close proximity. Here’s how to do it…

Continue reading

FAJITAS!!

Image
Last night, my friends Josh and Stephen came over for Friday night fajitas. I love fajitas, they can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, are always delicious and leave you snoozingly satisfied!

Image
Exhibit A: Snoozingly Satisfied Stephen

I kept things relatively straight forward thanks to my good friend Old el Paso, but here are a few suggestions based on fajita good times I’ve produced in the past.

Vegetarian
Fajitas were something I was afraid would die out once Josie decided to be a vegetarian, but I came up with a delicious recipe for a vegetarian filling without having to resort to Quorn. To emphasise how delicious this is, on the night I made it I had chicken AND steak fajitas and I still envied Josie’s!!
Image

Continue reading