Andy’s vegetarian pasta

It was my night to cook and the two young ladies did not want the “healthy adult stir-fry” version of dinner.

In fact, they wanted a pasta dish just like their mom cooked it! No less and no more than that.

I was under severe pressure, having to now cook two different dishes at the same time plus ensure that the one matched mom’s years of perfecting this particular pasta dish.

I started the special order first and it went something like this:

• Chop and fry onions in olive oil
• Add curry powder and mix together
• Liquidise one tomato with added water, and add to the above to simmer for 5 – 8 min
• Add a sprinkle of mixed herbs, sugar and teaspoon of crushed garlic
• Add two heaped tablespoons of Imana flavoured soya mince plus salt to taste
• While this is simmering away for a further 10 min, cook the pasta in another pot
• Place cooked pasta into a casserole dish and pour the thick liquid mixture over
• Mix together well, pat flat gently and then grate copious amounts of cheese over
• Sprinkle curry powder over the cheese to colour red
• Also toss a few chopped chillies over the top to colour green and give an extra bite
• Place the casserole into oven at 220 degrees centigrade until cheese browns on the edges
• Bring out of the oven and sprinkle finely chopped dhania (coriander) on top
• Serve the hungry kids!

Below is the finished product.

pasta 5-8-2013

Both ladies loved the taste. One had seconds and the other saved hers for school the next day.

Mom was visibly impressed and, possibly feeling outdone, proceeded to bake cookies when the kitchen had been cleared of my mess.

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Timol’s chicken curry 2

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Who remembers Timol’s bean chutney and chicken curry?

This is another one of her splendid curry creations we enjoyed for dinner, which also means lunch for me today (lucky me!).

As you know, I can’t give you Timol’s recipe – it’s a family secret (not). You could look at Anjum’s recipe if you need a hint or two.

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Timol’s chicken curry

Who remembers Timol’s bean chutney?

Her last two chicken curries have really shot tongues out, caused a ruckus and had crowds diving in for thirds.

The second version shown below was a defrosted chicken that escaped getting roasted but that ended up getting spiced-up.

We enjoyed the dish with a selection of roti, rice or bread.

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I can’t give you Timol’s recipe – it’s a family secret (not).

You could look at Anjum’s recipe if you need a hint or two.

Why we love Durban: Victoria Street Market – 5

This post follows Why we love Durban: Moses Mabhida – 4.

Where to stay advises of the following:

Durban’s Victoria Street Market is a vast oriental bizarre with hundreds of stalls offering a huge selection of spices, fabrics, baskets, beads, sculptures, soap-stones and other African curios.

It is a favourite tourist destination as it offers not only great prices, but a unique chance to experience the atmosphere of an oriental marketplace where haggling is considered the norm.

The market is located at the corner of Queen St. and Victoria St. and has plenty of underground parking“.

There is a general section for all and fish / poultry / offal section (not for the meek). Traders on the roadside sell vegetables.

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Ulwazi, as always, provides a wealth of information:

The Victoria street market in Durban is a rich historical site that reflects the struggles of a poor community striving for their own identity and a burning need to make ends to meet to survive in new pasture market currently stands strong in the central business district of Durban, and is an epic in the Indian community as it serves as a reminder of a disadvantaged community that was determined to survive against all odds.

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The market was a seed sown by the Indian indentured labourers that had completed their indenture ship and had a choice of either going back to India, or to seek employment, or create their own means employment.

The market was seen as transition from farming to industrial employment. Having experience from an agricultural sector their best option to survive was growing fruit and vegetables and selling them on the streets of Durban.

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Initially they used the Grey Street Mosque to trade but as the number of traders grew from both Hindu and Muslim backgrounds they moved to the streets. The atmosphere was a buzzing environment of a rush, with horse drawn carts and people sitting on the streets of Durban, attracting potential customers. They had to pay a daily rental fee to Durban town council and because it was unaffordable to travel back and forth from home they were forced to sleep on the pavements or seek shelters at a nearby temples.

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A typical market day started at 4am and ended at 6pm. Farmers reached the market as early as 2 am to secure a trading place. There was no access to toilets and there was no protection from extreme weather conditions.

In 1910, the Indian market was formally built by the municipal in Victoria Street it was also known as the Top Market or Squatter Market. The traders also sold groceries, fish, spices and crafts as part of their trade.

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The traders also experienced conflicts amongst themselves as the squatters on the street was seen as a hindrance to the stall holders inside the building complaining the squatters was causing pollution and was a threat to their sales.

In 1934, the Durban Town Council prohibited the sale of cooked food to accommodate restaurants in the market building.

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The squatter traders were members of the Indian Agricultural Association, Natal Farm Association and from the towns of Springfield, Newlands and Clairwood it was a business hub, but the traders were seen as a threat as they were selling cheaper commodities that meant other business were running losses.

The squatters also caused traffic congestion, and they were also destroying the cemetery that were near them. The Durban Town Council built a wall which the squatter traders had to pay the costs of.

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In 1970, the Durban City Council were set to build a freeway across the market which was opposed by the traders who protested, however in 1973 a fire destroyed the market and although the reason behind the fire was a drunk street man, the traders viewed it as a sabotage.

The market was reconstructed and its still thriving strong as ever with a blend of Indian spices and African craft.”

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A scooter, a bridge and a maiden 2

It is likely that most of you did not view one of my first posts in July 2012, which is shown again hereunder with added extras: Club Fresh, Rococco, Relax with Beautiful People and Urchins.

“Early morning 17 January 2012, somewhere on the road between Shantadurga Temple and Morgim Beach in Goa (India), buzzing along on a 125 cc Honda scooter.

Wind racing over my semi-bald head, eyes stinging, mouth watering for that first beer on Morgim Beach and mind gloating over the possibilities (food): chicken tikka, prawn curry, roti, rice, chips…

It was then that I saw the bridge, an upcoming sandy village and a maiden (walking) in a yellow sari.

To be honest, she was just passing by at the time I got captivated by the old bridge and dirty muddy river underneath.

The route from my temporary abode in Candolim, dotted with holy cows, chickens, more scooters, taxis, tantalizing smells, sleepy villages and bustling junction points, is shown below.

I was “experimenting” once again this evening with single photos, my limited knowledge and some software.

The two photos (original then edited), shown below, advertise “Club Fresh” and other joys for some (the well-off) but not the unfortunate urchins, who emerged from a tent alongside the signboard.

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The final photo is an edit of the maiden and the bridge.

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Once again, I am not ecstatic with the results but this is how we learn: by never giving up and trying once more.

Varanasi

Whilst  reading THE CULTUREUR this afternoon, I came across the post SPIRITUAL CHAOS ON THE HARIDWAR GHATS ALONG THE GANGES RIVER.

I immediately thought of Varansi (calm and chaos) and this inspired me to pull out some photos I recorded there during my last trip to India in 2011/2012.

I first went to India in 2009/10: see related blog here and some other photos here.

I have inserted my photos above, below and in between the comment by Wikipedia that enlightens us as follows “Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi] (listen)), also commonly known as BenaresBanaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs] (listen)) or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi] (listen)), is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of the state capital Lucknow.

It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus and Jains, and holiest of the seven most sacred Hindu cities (Sapta Puri), of its ancient historic, cultural and religious heritage. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi can bring salvation.

Body being transported to a ghat for cremation

It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.

Unfortunately many of its temples were subject to plundering and destruction by Mohammad Ghauri in the 12th century. The temples and religious institutions seen now in the city are mostly of the 18th century vintage.

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations.

The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance.

The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years and is one of the world’s most important religious centres with a history which transcends and unites most of the major world religions.

The Benares Gharanaform of the Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi.

Varanasi is today considered to be the spiritual capital of India.Here scholarly books have been written.

Ramcharitmanas was composed by Tulsidas here while there is the temple Tulsi Manas Mandir that is famous here.

In addition to this, the largest residential University of Asia, Benares Hindu University is located here.

People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.”

Ghats in Varanasi are an integral complimentary to the concept of divinity represented in physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements.

All the ghats are locations on “the divine cosmic road,” indicative of “its manifest transcendental dimension.” Varanasi has at least 84 ghats.

Steps in the ghats (ghats are embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions) lead to the banks of River Ganges, including the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat (where Hindus cremate their dead).

Many ghats are associated with legends and several are now privately owned.Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control.

Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwas stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi.

Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitors attraction. The miles and miles of ghats makes for the lovely river front with multitude of shrines, temples and palaces built “tier on tier above the water’s edge”.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main and probably the oldest ghat of Varansi located on the Ganges, close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

It is believed that the god Brahma created it to welcome Shiva and he also sacrificed ten horses during Dasa -Ashwamedha yajna performed here.

Above the ghat and close to it, there are also temples dedicated to Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi which are part of important pilgrimage journeys.

A group of priests perform “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) daily in the evening at this ghat as a dedication to Shiva, Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.

Special aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. The Manikarnika Ghat is the Mahasmasana (meaning: “great cremation ground”) and is the primary site for Hindu cremation in the city. Adjoining the ghat, there are raised platforms that are used for death anniversary rituals.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

It is said that an ear-ring (Manikarnika) of Shiva or his wife Sati fell here. According to a myth related to the Tarakesvara Temple, a Shiva temple at the ghat, Shiva whispers the Taraka mantra (“Prayer of the crossing”) in the ear of the dead.

Fourth-century Gupta period inscriptions mention this ghat. However, the current ghat as a permanent river side embankment was built in the 1302 and has been renovated at least thrice.”

I also found out that kite flying (or fighting) was important in Varanasi ; but even more so in Jaipur where the youngsters and adults ran around madly after fallen kites.

Emergency repairs

Fun in the afternoon

Rooftops were a hive of activity 

She “shared” her puppies with me (rooftop of Suraj Guest House; the owner’s daughter)

Suraj Guest House is a good bet when looking for somewhere to stay

The owner was very helpful and accommodating – visit Suraj website here

No post about Varanasi would be complete if Ganga Fuji Restaurant was not mentioned. The owner Kailash asks that you design a “country of origin” poster for his wall

Lovely non-oily food and great entertainment 

Some uninformed person called the food bland. The owner cooks exactly what you ask for i.e. freaking hot spicy or mild like a cucumber

Free entertainment 

Bhai on drums!

Ganga Fuji was recommended by the owner of Suraj: good contacts usually recommend good contacts

Impromptu hair appointment 

Roadside food stall

Outskirts of Varanasi – Chinese Buddhist temple at Sarnath

Sarnath is where Buddha gave his first sermon.

It was a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, but we will leave all of that for another day & post.

Some related posts you may be interested in:

Durga Puja, the Worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, Returns to Calcutta, India (part 1) 

A World of Prayer

A must watch documentary filmed at Varanasi:

Beyond

Spice Emporium

“Emporium” (medieval Latin from Greek emporos = ‘merchant’) is a term used for a store selling a wide variety of goods, and for marketplaces or trading centres in ancient cities (see emporia (ancient Greece) and emporia (early medieval).

Situated but a stone throw away from Durban’s Beachfront, standing proudly in a sturdy spacious building, we have Spice Emporium.

 

Spice Emporium was born 20 years ago as an ethnic food store and since its inception, has been world renowned for its ability to provide the complete Indian experience. The brand has become synonymous with quality and exclusivity across the entire market and as a result the flagship store has become a landmark tourist destination.

There is ample parking on the street and car guards who take their job seriously.

 

The store also offers limited off-road parking.

 

Smart and alert security guards watch over the goings-on inside and outside the store.

 

The only thing that you can get away with and steal here is a VERY GOOD DEAL!

So with the advent of the Puratassi fasting period from 17th September till the 17th of October, where else to go and stock up on essentials but Spice Emporium of course.

Read more about Puratassi here.

The store has such a wide variety of goodies and at super competitive prices.

From the image below nobody will doubt that Timol and I quickly put 4kg of kidney beans into our trolley earlier today.

Don’t kid yourself with the words “Indian experience” above. Yes, there are Indian spices but also a wide range of dried herbs, peppercorns, flour and so on. The list is endless.

 

They also have cook and kitchenware.

 

A wide variety of incense.

 

Assortment of cool-drinks and juices.

 

Frozen veggies, pastries, soya products.

 

Cookies and sauces.

 

Honey, oils, prayer goodies.

 

Happy customers and more prayer goodies.

 

Ample space to move around lots of rows of goodies with store supplied trolleys.

 

Disco mukwas and somph (saunf) sweets.

Wide variety of rices and more pots.

A beautiful display of colour and variety.

 

More tasty treats.

 

And finally the really tasty mixtures; blends of India.

A very long row of everything.

 

Even a blend for the potjie pot.

 

An interesting onion & rice mix.

 

And even some help for those who want to try their hand at Indian Delights.

 

Now all this looking in-store is certainly energy consuming.

 

So why not stop off at the Chaat Shop.

Snacks for all to eat.

 

A spacious dining area.

 

A vibey kitchen where good hygiene is obviously not-negotiable.

 

Fresh ingredients only.

 

As a retailer based in Durban, the primary focus of the business has always been to service the retail market. With the increased influence of “Bollywood” and the increase in awareness of South Africans of Indian origin to become aware of their roots, the business has seen tremendous growth. However, the growth of the business cannot solely be attributed to these influences. Spice Emporium is a family run business and the growth of the business can also be attributed to the personal touch of the husband and wife team that manage Spice Emporium. Customers are not viewed as customers rather as friends and it is this personal attention and value to customers that have attributed to the growth of Spice Emporium.

Spice Emporium is managed by Vinod Harie and his wife Chandrika, whom between them have over 50 years of experience. Spice Emporium was born from the vision of Vinod who noticed that there was a niche in the market for a high quality, speciality and ethnic food store.

Timol and I met Chandrika earlier today.

She is delightful and friendly and I am sure she will, if not in a meeting or doing something else to keep this grand emporium on track, find the time to meet you in the aisles with her smiley face.

Call +27 31 332 5888 or go to the world of Spice Emporium where you get World Food with Home Flavour.

The flagship store is situated at 31 Monty Naicker Street towards the beach in Durban City Centre.

There are two branches: one at Gateway Theatre of Shopping, a premier shopping centre in the heart of the new Umhlanga Town Centre, about 30 kms north of the Durban CBD, and at the Reservoir Hills Mall on Mountbatten Drive, Reservoir Hills.

Go pay them a visit, you will be greatly surprised at what you will find!