I think I can state with only a small amount of hyperbole that the greatest contribution the state of Texas has ever made to North American culture is the dish known as chili con carne. From the wagon train cooks who helped feed the cowboys on the old cattle trails, to the chili parlours peddling bowls of ‘Texas red’ that sprang up in the early 1900s, chili con carne (or simply chili) has become as much a staple of American cuisine as apple pie, hot dogs, and excessive portions.
There are many different regional iterations of chana masala, most of which contain the same ingredients: chickpeas, garam masala, onions, tomatoes, chilli peppers, garlic, ginger, and some type of sour flavouring (such as tamarind). I prefer to make chana makhani, which has a more creamy texture, and pairs quite nicely with basmati rice.
Go into any Italian restaurant, you’re probably going to find a dish called “Mama’s Meatballs” somewhere on the menu. It’s the quintessential Italian comfort food, made lovingly by mama from a recipe that goes back for generations, and her meatballs are always the best. In fact, the term ‘vendetta’ actually means “I must get revenge upon you for the slight you made to my mama’s meatballs”. (Okay, I made that up.) But Italians are very passionate about their mamas, and by extension, the foods she makes.
Valentine’s Day is upon us once again, and joy of joys, you actually have a date! The question is, do you take them out for a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant, (and wind up spending so much money you have to sell your blood for the next week to make your car payment), or…
It’s easy to get into a happy little rut in your kitchen. You buy the same ingredients, and make the same meals day after day, because familiarity and routine are comforting. Anything new or unusual is viewed with suspicion and distrust, like when the pit boss sends a new dealer to a hot blackjack table….
Picture a cold, blustery winter day in the Canadian city of Calgary. I return from playing outside, all rosy of cheek, and snotty of nose. As I huddle at the kitchen table, wrapped in a blanket, shivering and coughing, my mother places a steaming bowl of tomato soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches before my rheumy eyes. Slowly, as I dip sandwiches, and slurp soup, my vitality and health miraculously restore. By the end of my lunch, I have recovered sufficiently to go back outside and begin the cycle all over again. For a good many winters of my childhood, this was my routine every Saturday.
Tomatoes were originally prepared similarly to eggplant, fried in oil with a little salt and pepper. This is the genesis for the humble tomato sauce (or pomodoro sauce). Pomodoro literally translates as ‘golden apples’, which is how ancient tomatoes appeared. Pomodoro sauce is the basis for many Italian dishes, but is mostly associated with pasta in North America. I’m here to tell you though, tomato sauce isn’t just for noodles.