If only medicine could come from purely natural ingredients and taste like rich, creamy hummus…Oh wait, it can!
We are all familiar with turmeric as one of the most standard spices in Indian cuisine, but did you know that it has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to promote a whole range of health benefits? It stimulates digestion, boosts the immune system, detoxifies the liver, and may even be effective at fending off cancer and depression. When paired with black pepper to help the body absorb curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), it is also has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Plus, it’s just delicious.
Knowing all this, I’m always looking for different ways to incorporate turmeric into my diet, and here’s a great one! Chickpeas are already quite the superfood, with their high levels of iron, protein and fibre, but combined with turmeric, this hummus is incredibly good for you.
I already had a batch of my homemade hummus in the fridge, so all I did was mix some turmeric power and a bit of black pepper into it.
But, just in case you want to make everything from scratch, here’s the whole recipe below.
- 500 grams of dry chickpeas (soaked overnight, then left to simmer until soft)
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- 1.5 tsp salt
- crushed chili peppers
- turmeric (I just kept adding it in and mixing until everything was a rich yellow colour)
- black pepper
Everything just goes straight into the blender, and that’s all there is to it! For a bit of added flavour, some paprika or cumin also gives it an extra kick.
Over the weekend I took advantage of my time off from my new job and rode the train out to the neighboring city of Mito. They had a special festival going on to celebrate the cherry blossom season. There were all sorts of tents set up with a variety of locally grown veggies, plus a bunch of food stands with incredible smelling treats. I bought a bundle of my favorite green onions, or negi as they’re called in Japanese. I use these as a topping for my natto (a traditional soy bean dish) each morning for breakfast.
For lunch, after wandering through the streets peeking into all of the fun looking restaurants and cafes, I was lucky enough to stumble across an Indian restaurant. I always think that I should opt for more Japanese-style cuisine, but the Hindi script engraved onto the side of the restaurant wall caught my eye and I couldn’t help but go in!
Their “light lunch” set was 660 yen and included one bowl of curry, salad, and your choice of either naan or yellow saffron rice. I went with the veggie curry (extra spice!) and naan. I spoke to one of the chefs after the meal and he told me that they were all from Calcutta, but that they adjusted their dishes to suit the Japanese taste. As is usually the case in Japan, the food was nothing like authentic Indian cuisine but it was delicious with its own Indian-Japanese fusion of flavours!
If you’ve never tried Indian cuisine in Japan, it’s definitely worth a go. It’s a completely different experience from the Indian restaurants back in Vancouver, or the ones that I went to during my visit to India. They incorporate local Japanese ingredients to create unique and intriguing dishes that are a lot of fun to try.
I’m in Japan again! As soon as I got back home to Vancouver, things just fell into place very quickly and I found myself returning to Japan much sooner than expected. This time I’ll be working here so I’ll get to stay a lot longer. I will be busy with work every weekday, but on the weekends I plan to explore as much as I can of the neighboring cities and prefectures.
The flight over was very smooth and comfortable as always. I flew with ANA and it was pretty awesome how all the flight attendants were all dressed up for the season to match the cherry blossoms!
The standard in-flight meal is a fish or meat main course, with a few side dishes including soba noodles. I pre-ordered an Indian veggie meal instead with two curries and basmati rice, chickpeas, a corn and cauliflower salad, and two fruit bowls. For plane food, I have to say it was pretty fantastic! The snack at the end of the flight was a tomato and cucumber sandwich with more fruit. Before I knew it, I was in Japan. I’m looking forward to all the months of excitement to come! It will be a big adjustment, but a memorable adventure for sure.
I’ve had Indian cuisine in Canada, Japan, and of course, India. Nothing could ever compare to the huge variety of foods and the stunning flavours of actual dishes cooked in India, but the curries in Japan are still delicious and a very neat experience.
I recently went to a nearby restaurant called “Ram”. It’s owned and run by Nepali people, but they serve Indo ryori, which translates to “Indian cuisine”.
We opted for a dish of aloo palak (spinach curry with potatoes) and another order of tomato-based veggie curry. Each comes with an option of either naan or saffron rice so we asked for one of each.
Before our order came to the table, they brought over complementary poppadom and a bowl of chutney. I call it chutney, but it seemed to be onions, garlic, and ginger in a red hot sauce that tasted a lot like the spice used in Korean cuisine. I guess they make the best of what they’ve got! Either way, it was still fantastic…we got three refills!
That’s actually what makes going to an Indian restaurant in Japan so interesting. Some of the ingredients that they use are imported directly from India, whereas others are fashioned out of locally available foods. The saffron rice was cooked with jeera, or cumin seeds, giving it a very authentic taste. But on the other hand, instead of using long grain rice, Indian restaurants here typically use domestic short grain rice, resulting in such an interesting fusion of textures and flavours.
The naan is also made with Japanese flour and very little oil so that it’s almost like dry toast on the outside, but fluffy inside, and with a mildly sweet flavour almost like a pancake! Not to mention, the naan in Japan is always huge.
When I travel, I have a bit of a fascination with experiencing other countries’ interpretations of foreign cuisine. Living in Vancouver, with sushi restaurants on ever corner, what does Japanese food really taste like in Japan? How is this different from other cultures’ take on the same dishes?
When I was in India it became a bit of a hobby to seek out not only Indian food but also Japanese food in order to see to what extent it had become infused with elements of the local cuisine. In Japan, I likewise stopped at a number of Indian restaurants, finding a huge range from highly altered dishes, to the impressively authentic.
On my second visit to the national library in Tokyo, I made a detour to a shrine and stopped for lunch at an Indian restaurant that I happened to walk past. All over Japan, the naan had this distinct shape that I have never encountered before, and it was always made with Japanese flour, giving it a sweeter taste. The lunch set also came with veggie curry, rice, and salad.
My blog has been completely silent for the last month and a half because…guess where I’ve been! Japan!!
I had not been there for the last seven years, and it was a trip that I had been desperately wanting to take for the longest time. I was insanely busy the whole time and I did not want to miss a second of it so I left off any blogging until after I had returned to Vancouver.
For the next little while I am going to recap all the incredible foods that I discovered during my trip. This was my first visit to Japan since I stopped eating animal products, and while I did find it nearly impossible to remain vegan at all times, maintaining a vegetarian standard was a cinch.
So kicking things off with my plane meal…
I requested the Asian veggie meal and got this fantastic Indian curry dish with a side of salad, bread and fruit. The entre may not be much to look at but it was piping hot and almost restaurant quality. This was hands down the best airplane food I have ever had.
I arrived at my new home late at night and was in bed by 2am. Here was my very first breakfast in Japan. Their rice is so different!
I had a lot of potatoes in the house so I decided to cook them into a potato masala with peas and onions. That alone with some rice or chapati is one of my favourite meals, but for dinner I tried baking these really neat little oil-free samosa squares out of atta flour, which is the same kind of flour that I would have used to make the chapati. So, maybe they’re more like chapati squares, or potato paratha squares. I don’t know…what would you call them? Anyhow, with a little chutney on the side, they were fantastic!