Spice Box

Spinach Paneer Soup

Spinach Paneer Soup


Spinach (chopped) 3 cups
Cucumber (unpeeled & chopped) 1 cup
Water 3-1/2 cups
Butter 1 tbsp.
Ground Pepper 1/2 tsp.
Cumin powder 1/2 tsp.
Ginger paste* 1/2 tsp.
Lemon juice 2 tbsp.
Salt To taste
Paneer Cheese cubed small  1 cup



1. Put spinach and cucumber in a saucepan along with water and cook until tender on
medium heat.
2. On cooling, blend it in electric blender to make smooth paste.
3. Heat butter in a pan. Add ground pepper, cumin powder, ginger paste, salt and paneer
4. Add blended spinach-cucumber and lemon juice. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. If you find it’s thickened too much, just add water.
5. Serve hot, with a spoon of thick yogurt as garnish (optional). I enjoy this soup with crusty bread.



Masala Flavor Magic – The story of spice blends

I was a very naughty child. I got into more trouble than you could imagine.  As a result, I spent many an afternoon sitting in the kitchen watching my mum folding samosas or blending spice mixtures or simply cooking phenomenal meals for the family.

My mum always simplified the spice blends, in fact if you saw her spice pantry – it was very basic.  She’d always say, “It’s not how many spices you use, it’s how you use them”.

With that said I’d like to share her four basic spice blends – typically known as Masalas

Meat Masala – add excitement to meat and poultry dishes

6 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp cumin seeds
.5 tsp carom seeds (ajawain)
.25 star anise (2 or 3 sections)
3 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
3 black cardamom pods
5 bay leaves
1.5 tsp dried cilantro
.5 tsp mace
1.5 tsp turmeric
1.5 tsp red chili powder

Curry Powder

7 tbsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp cumin seeds

Sabzi Masala – this blend makes vegetables and seafood come alive. This is the meat masala combined with 2 teaspoons of curry powder.

2 tsp curry powder
6 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp carom seeds (ajawain)
1/4 star anise (2 or 3 sections)
3 inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
3 black cardamom pods
5 bay leaves
11/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/2 tsp mace
11/2 tsp turmeric
11/2 tsp red chili powder

Garam Masala

4 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground mace


Heat heavy unoiled skillet over low heat. Add whole spices, except leaves, and toast, tossing occasionally until fragrant. Allow to cool, grind all the whole spices with the leaves (I prefer to use a coffee grinder – but any electric grinder will work just fine), add the powdered spices, mix and store in an airtight container. Keep away from light and heat. Tip: the minute you smell the toasty fragrance of spices, remove them from the pan. If they burn they will become bitter.

How Herbs and Spices Fight Disease

How Herbs and Spices Fight Disease

From cinnamon to cumin, see why you might want to spice up your life.

The following spices are key to helping fight disease.

Turmeric – 7 key benefits


  1. Turmeric Contains Bio-active Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties
  2. Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound
  3. Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body
  4. Leads to Various Improvements That Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
  5. Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer
  6. May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
  7. Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression


Cinnamon – 7 key benefits


  1. Helps in treating Type 2 diabetes
  2. Can lower your bad cholesterol
  3. Has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties
  4. Helps in treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  5. May have anti-carcinogenic properties
  6. Has anti-inflammatory properties
  7. May help manage Polycystic ovarian syndrome



Oregano – 5 key benefits

  1. Antioxidants for immune system support
  2. Anti-fungal, antibacterial, and may even kill the super bug MRSA
  3. Anti-inflammatory properties
  4. Useful for upper respiratory infections
  5. Cancer-fighting effects


Cumin – 5 Key Benefits

  1. Beneficial for digestion
  2. Lowers cholesterol
  3. Effective for diabetes
  4. Helps fight cancer
  5. Improves cognitive function

Spice Advice – Which spices to use

Which Spices  to Use

The correct spice or herb for any food is the one that tastes right for you. When experimenting with a new spice or herb, crush some of it and let it warm in your hand; then sniff and taste it. If it is delicate, you can be bold and adventurous. If it is very strong and pungent, use a light hand the first time that you use it. When you’re at a loss about what to add to a dish, try something from the list below.

Beans – avocado leaves, cumin, cayenne, chili, epazote, mexican oregano, oregano, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme

Beef – Aleppo pepper, basil, bay, black pepper, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, kebsa spices, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme

Breads – anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme, zatar

Cheese – basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme

Chicken – Aleppo pepper, allspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mustard, paprika, pepper, ras el hanout, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, star anise, sumac, tarragon, thyme

Eggs – basil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme

Fish – anise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, star anise, tarragon, marjoram, zatar

Fruits – allspice, anise, cardamom, Chinese 5-spice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint

Lamb – Aleppo pepper, basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, kebsa spice, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, ras el hanout, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Potatoes – basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Salads and Salad Dressings – basil, caraway, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sumac, tarragon, thyme

Soups – Aleppo pepper, basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, star anise, thyme

Sweets – allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary, star anise

Tomatoes – basil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo filé, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Vegetables – chili, chives, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme

Spice Advice – How much should you use

Adding Herbs and Spices to Food

With a few exceptions, use herbs and spices sparingly, to enhance and accent other flavors rather than dominate them. For starters, try 1/2 teaspoon of spice for a dish that serves four to six. (For herbs, use 1/2 teaspoon powdered, 1 1/2 teaspoon dried, chopped, or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped.) Because oils are concentrated in the drying process, it takes about half the quantity of dried herbs as fresh. To release the flavor of dried herbs, crumble them in your hand before adding them to your dish

Add whole spices during cooking to allow their flavours to permeate the food. When you use whole, dried spices in cooking, tie them in a cheesecloth or metal tea strainer for easy removal. Add ground or cut herbs and spices midway or towards the end of your cooking time, so their flavors won’t dissipate. For uncooked foods, such as salad dressings, fruits or juices, add spices and herbs several hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. For salad dressings, add the spices to the vinegar and allow to stand before adding the oil. Allow for the buildup of intensity with red pepper or spice blends containing red pepper. First taste tests often seem mild.

Whole spices can be ground in a small coffee grinder, small food processor, pepper grinder, or mortar and pestle. To clean coffee grinder after use, add small amount of sugar or uncooked rice and process.

Toasting or Dry Roasting
This process can accentuate the taste and aroma of spices such as cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. To toast, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add spice(s); toast 2 to 5 minutes or until spices are fragrant and lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat.

Spice Advice – Storing

Storage of Spices

Spices and herbs will lose their color, taste and aroma over time. To preserve peak flavor and color, store spices and herbs in a cool (consider storing them in the freezer), dry place, away from exposure to bright light, heat, moisture or oxygen. If possible, avoid storing spices and herbs too close to the stove, oven, dishwasher or refrigerator, where rising steam or heat can come into contact with them. Dampness can cause caking or clumping of ground spices. Store herbs and spices in airtight containers, such as glass jars, plastic containers or tins, to protect against moisture and preserve oils that give spices their flavor and aroma.

cayenne pepper and powder

Red-colored spices, such as chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika can be refrigerated to prevent loss of color and flavor. The best storage temperature for herbs and spices is one that is fairly constant and below 21º C. Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation, and eventually mold, so if you store spices in the freezer or refrigerator, return them promptly after use.

The shelf life of each herb and spice is different, and all age, even under the best conditions. Check your herbs and spices — and those you consider purchasing — to see that they look fresh, not faded, and are distinctly aromatic. The shelf life of herbs and spices will vary according to the form and plant part, too. Those that have been cut or powdered have more surface area exposed to the air and so lose their flavor more rapidly than whole herbs and spices.

Testimonial – Judy Gale

Just wanted to thank you, and your team again for helping make that big party a success.  The food was delicious, as usual, and absolutely everyone commented how superb it was.  In addition to the food, Raj and Dilip took such good care of our guests – I don’t know how Raj managed to make his way gracefully in and out of the crowded rooms with trays of glasses, but he did.

Great food, outstanding service – thank you for everything!

Tiffins deliver a lunch that really stacks up

Published Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011 5:57PM EST  GLOBE & MAIL

When Shaffeen Jamal first offered tiffins at his Granville Island food counter Curry 2 U, many customers had never heard of a tiffin before.

Nine years later, Mr. Jamal is selling up to 300 of the Indian-style lunches boxed in multitiered stainless steel containers a day, and tiffin services have since popped upacross the country.

The delivery of tiffins to office and factory workers is a more than century-old tradition in Mumbai. An intricate and highly efficient network of tiffin carriers, ordabbawallas, keeps track of tens of thousands of lunch boxes a day in the city, ensuring each gets to its rightful owner on time.

In Canada, entrepreneurs are tailoring their tiffin services for the local market. At Curry 2 U, Mr. Jamal sells a tiffin container with an initial meal for $12 and charges $5 to $6 when customers bring them back for refills. The concept is particularly popular with budget-conscious students, he says.

In Calgary, the Tiffin Curry and Roti House delivers about 120 tiffins each business week. Since June, Tiffinday has been delivering vegan meals to Toronto cubicle dwellers, who order them over the Internet a day ahead. In Victoria, Seana Hegney, who launched her once-a-week Rustic Tiffin service last spring, departs from Indian food altogether, delivering bistro cuisine,such as bison wild mushroom ragu and roasted root vegetables, to clients for $12 a meal. In West-coast style, she transports them in a cedar box for insulation. And although they’re not approved by public health authorities, dozens of unlicensed home cooks offer tiffin delivery services on online classifieds sites, such as Canadian Desi.

Besides taste and convenience, says, Caz, Ramji, managing partner of Tiffin Curry and Roti House, many customers are drawn to the reusable packaging.

“The best part about a tiffin, I would say nowadays, is an eco-friendly lunch,” he says. “When you’re done, I come back after a few hours and pick up the containers so there’s no waste.”

While most local businesses offer two- or three-tiered tiffins, the traditional Mumbai lunch box usually contains about four or five stacked compartments – one containing rice, one with pickles, another with lentils, one for curry and one for bread, Mr. Jamal says.

“But,” he says, “in this day and age, who eats like that?”

Building the perfect tiffin:

The trick with tiffins is they transfer and lose heat quickly. Since the multiple stainless steel compartments are stacked on top of each other, any hot items will warm the food in the other tiers.

While the variations are endless, when building tiffins for himself, Caz Ramji, who has operated a tiffin delivery service at Calgary’s Tiffin Curry and Roti House for the past six years, goes by the basic guideline of having a balance of protein, vegetables and carbs. Here’s how his perfect tiffin stacks up:

– Chicken and spinach curry: “Whenever somebody hears Indian food, all they hear about is butter chicken,” Mr. Ramji says. “This is something that is richer in flavour and it’s actually a healthier option. It’s just one of those dishes that you like to have on a cold day.”

– Cabbage curry: Chopped cabbage is stewed with fresh tomatoes, tumeric, garam masala made in-house, cumin and coriander.

“We make it fairly simple,” Mr. Ramji says. “We tend to let the spices carry the food.”

– Basmati rice: Plain, white rice is a staple, although Mr. Ramji admits he prefers whole-wheat roti as his main carb.

– Peas pilaf: Basmati rice is cooked in vegetable broth and contains green peas and red peppers.

– Green chili chutney: Mr. Ramji adds this spicy chutney made of fresh chilis blended with coriander to everything.

Wency Leung

Hot, fresh, and delivered straight to your door

As Seen in MACLEANS Magazine Dec, 2010

Tiffin arrived just before lunch time in a Honda Fit. The three containers, packed in a thermal bag, were still warm to the touch. There was hot aloo gobi (a potato and cauliflower curry sprinkled with fresh coriander), a flatbread called paratha, and two cardamom-coconut pancakes. All the dishes looked homemade, but the food came from Tiffinday, a business serving hot prepared lunches in those distinctive tiffin boxes to hungry people in Toronto’s downtown.

The tiffin carrier, a stainless-steel stackable lunch container that is used all over India, has made the trip around the globe and is now growing in popularity in this country—though with a Canadian twist. “It’s a vertical version of a horizontal meal,” said Krishnendu Ray, an assistant professor of food studies at New York University, who grew up in India. In high school, he recalls, he’d trade his egg salad sandwich for his friend’s tiffin. “You have the dahl, the rice and the curry all served simultaneously,” he said. These days in Vancouver, you can pick up a two-tier stainless-steel tiffin, full with curry, for $12 at the Granville Island food court take-away Curry 2U, and bring it back another day for a $5.99 refill. In Calgary, Tiffin Curry and Roti House offers a thermal insulated tiffin box (it can get cold in Calgary) that they fill with two curries and two rice pulaos. They will even deliver them to boardroom lunches. In addition to Tiffinday’s new venture in Toronto, there are plenty of home-based businesses in that city’s suburbs, such as Komal Shah’s home-cooked Gujarati-style food that her customer base of about 100 picks up in one of the stainless steel containers. “Some people have no time for cooking,” she said, explaining the popularity of her service.

While Shah often caters to homesick students who are far away from the Indian cooking they grew up with, the tiffin lunches appeal to urbanites used to all sorts of cuisines, said Seema Pabari, president of Tiffinday, who delivers the lunches herself. “It’s the corporate crowd,” she said. “Most of my clients are young, white males in the finance industry and the IT industry, and they want a good meal.” She has one client to whom she delivers every single day. He prefers that she select his meals for him, and he’s so busy when she arrives with lunch that all he does is sign the receipt, and off she goes. (While she has some South Asian clients, she thinks those who eat Indian food at home don’t need the treats she brings.)

The word tiffin, as used to describe the midday meal, dates back to colonial times in India—there is debate about whether it originates with the English “tiffing,” meaning eating out of meal times. However, the practice of sending noon-hour fare to office workers arose post-independence. The growth of the national metal-processing industry in the 1950s, which helped to proliferate the vessel, and the expanding urban middle class that saw men work in city offices, made the tiffin lunch part of the culture, said Ray.

Tiffin lunches are practically synonymous with a hot meal—no microwaving, with all that metal, so the food must come fresh and hot. Indeed, every day in Mumbai, hundreds of thousands of lunches are still prepared at home and packed in these boxes. They are picked up by a fleet of dhabawallas who ride motor scooters and rickshaws through traffic and deliver the food, ready for office workers to eat. The tiffins are then returned to their respective homes by the same delivery men in time to be cleaned and repacked with the next day’s lunch.

Shaffeen Jamal, owner of Vancouver’s Curry 2U, believes he introduced the commercial version of tiffin to Canada nine years ago. He said the idea came to him when he saw his daughter’s lunch packed in one of the tins. He’d been struggling to attract customers to his new stand in the food court, where a Chinese joint was the big draw. “People would walk by and not stop. Yet they’d eat broccoli steamed,” he said with indignation. Once he started offering his tiffin deal, business picked up. Since then, he has sold more than 45,000 tiffin carriers, often filled with dishes like mango black pepper broccoli and butter chicken.

While the tiffin box was a marketing ploy at first, now he sees the environmental benefits of not using countless Styrofoam takeout containers. “We do 80 to 100 tiffin refills a day. You can imagine what that comes out to,” he said. (He’s also switched to stainless-steel cutlery and thalis, or platters, for eat-in customers.)

Ray expects this trend to spread because eating your lunch from a tiffin box is suddenly a sign of being cosmopolitan, worldly. Caz Ramji, owner of Calgary’s Tiffin and Roti House, agrees. “People have seen it once and they’ve got to have it,” he said. So far, the experience of Tiffinday’s Pabari also follows the theory, since her main customers are in Toronto’s office towers. “It’s a novelty right now,” she said. “But I want to make it a normal thing.”

BBQ Burger with Pineapple Chutney and Curried Cream

As you all know I love Food.  Hot Summer nights make eating curry a little difficult.  I picked up this recipe from a friend two summers ago when I visited her in New York.

For Burgers you can make your own or use your favorite ready made.  I usually pick up my burgers from Mike at Tenderland Meats in Granville Island.

The key to this recipe is the curry cream and the pineapple chutney.

Ingredients and Method for Curried Cream

4 Tbsp Whipping Cream, 1 tsp of your favorite curry powder, juice of ½ lime and salt to taste.

In a pot add all ingredients and simmer about 3-4 mins. until the cream has thickened to a mayonnaise consistency.   Set aside and allow to cool.

Ingredients and method for Pineapple Chutney

7oz canned pineapple bits (Juice removed)
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
pinch pizza chilli flakes
salt to taste
Juice of ½ lime

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate till ready to use.

To Serve

BBQ the burgers and when ready to serve use ciabatta bread lightly buttered and grilled.  Use the curried cream on both slices add burger top with chutney and serve.  Enjoy with a side salad or cumin spiced potatoes.