Coconut

Cardamom Chia Pudding with Mango

We normally try to source our veg/fruit as local as possible, but alphonso mangos are our biggest vice. This time of year, we buy boxes of them from the Indian supermarket where we live, and eating them is such a joyful experience. Every time we eat them, we're transported back to our time in India, where we'd feast on them all day long.  If we had to pick a favourite fruit, it would definitely be these juicy, sweet, sunny delights.  

Something else we've been loving recently is this cardamom chia pudding, which pairs so well with the mangoes (but is also delicious solo or with other fruits!) Chia seeds are such a super-ingredient and are an incredible source of fibre, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Combining the chia with nut milk and ground cardamom is a good way to add a lot of flavour to the otherwise bland tasting seeds. It's a very gentle meal for your stomach to digest so it's a really great, filling breakfast option. Plus, it's quick to make and easy to make a big batch for the week ahead! 

Cardamom Chia Pudding with Mango

Ingredients (makes roughly 4 portions)
1/2 cup of chia seeds
2 cups of nut milk (coconut, oat or cashew would work well)
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut (optional)

Topping ideas
Mango, grated apple, flaked almonds, berries, cacao nibs, banana etc... 

Method
1. Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Leave for at least 1 hour, until the chia seeds absorb most of the liquid. It should be a gel-like consistency.
2. Top with your desired fruit/nuts and enjoy! You can store the pudding in the fridge and use it throughout the week.

Cardamom Chia Pudding with Mango

What's your favourite way to use chia seeds?

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Sweet Potato with Tamarind and Coconut

Sweet potato is one of our favourite root vegetables to cook with... it's so delicious, satisfying & easy to prepare. Although we're normally happy to just roast ours in the oven, we've been looking for a way to liven up this vegetable and introduce some new flavours into the mix! So inspired by some meals we had in southern India, we combined tamarind, coconut & spices to create a delicious combination of sweet & tangy flavours. This is definitely one of my favourite recipes we've posted on the blog... it's honestly so tasty and satisfying for this time of year! 

Sweet Potato with Tamarind and Coconut

Tamarind is an ingredient we've come across a lot during our travels and is really great to experiment with in simple stir fries or asian dishes. Often known as the Indian date, it has a sour but slightly sweet flavour to it. Make sure you buy a natural, unsweetened version! 

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side)

1 tsp mustard seeds
3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/3 tsp turmeric powder or 1 tsp grated fresh turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
2 Kashmiri chilies, broken into pieces (optional)
Large pinch of salt

500g sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp desiccated or fresh coconut   
3 tsp tamarind pulp (or 1 tsp tamarind concentrate)
Small handful of fresh coriander

1. If using tamarind pulp, soak in boiling water for 10 minutes, mix and then strain the seeds. 
2. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and stir fry the chillies, mustard and fenugreek seeds until the mustard seeds crackle.
3. Add the sweet potato to the pan and stir well so that every piece is coated in the oil and spices.
4. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes.
5. Add the coriander powder, turmeric, ginger and salt and mix well.
6. At this point the sweet potatoes should be getting slightly charred in the pan but not sticking too much, if they are, add a little extra coconut oil or a very small amount of water. Now cover again and cook until soft.
7. Once cooked add the coconut and tamarind liquid and cook for 30 seconds more before turning off the heat.
8. Mix in fresh coriander and serve.

Fragrant Coconut Curry

It's been a long time since our last post, but we're back! Back to this transformed yet familiar space, with a new intention to create, learn and share. The blog's new name 'Putumayo Kitchen' was inspired from our magical time in Colombia... a year of adventure and change. Putumayo is a Quechua word and translates to 'the opening of a river', with 'putu' meaning 'spring forth'. 

Another thing that inspired us about Colombia was the availability of coconuts! It was amazing being able to get cheap fresh coconut from the market and we used it all the time to make curries, milk, stir fries and smoothies. This is a curry recipe we've been working on back at home which works great with either fresh or dessicated coconut.  The flavours are quite subtle and its deliciously sweet and aromatic. Aside from the curry paste it's easy to adapt with whatever ingredients you have, and the level of spiciness is totally up to you! 

Fragrant Coconut Curry

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main meal with rice)

For the Curry Paste:
1 cup of unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped  
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped  
3 heaped tsps of ground almonds
3 tsps of coriander seeds
1 tsp of brown mustard seeds
2 small cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp of fennel
12 black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 large pinch of sea salt

Other Ingredients:
1/2 a tin of coconut milk
Most vegetables would work in this curry. Feel free to use whatever you like/have! 
We used- 
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 courgette, cut into strips
1 large carrot, cut into strips
1 green chilli (optional)
salt, to taste
fresh coriander, to serve

1. In a frying pan, lightly toast the ground almonds until golden. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool. Now time to make the rest of the curry paste. 
2. Fry all of the spices in coconut oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the mustard seeds begin to crackle. 
3. Add the chopped onion and fry until lightly golden. Then add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the dessicated coconut to the pan, and stir fry for a few minutes until golden. 
5. Let the mixture cool slightly, before adding to a food processor or blender along with the ground almonds, salt to taste and enough water to grind everything into a smooth paste. (We used around 1.5 cups of water, but feel free to add more if you need to). 
6. For the vegetables, fry an onion until soft (with the chilli if using), then add the pepper and continue to fry for a few minutes. Add in the carrot and courgette and stirfry until cooked. If the vegetables begin to stick to the pan, add a few teaspoons of water. 
7. Once the vegetables are cooked, mix in the coconut paste and cook for a few minutes. Finish with the coconut milk and lots of fresh coriander. Serve and enjoy! 

Fragrant Coconut Curry

Varanasi – Life, death and the world’s best Lassi

I’d never really faced death so closely until we arrived in Varanasi. This enchanting, unforgetble place is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Built along the holy river Ganges, it's here that the beginnings and endings of life are woven together to create something truly extraordinary.

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Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi offers Moshka – freedom from the cycle of birth and death in order to reach nirvana. Thousands of pilgrims travel here every day to prepare themselves for death. People bathe in the Ganges, drink from it to cleanse their sins and offer their cremated loved ones to the holy water. It's no doubt that this can be an overwhelming place - the demanding heat, burning corpses and endless hassle can leave you feeling both physically/emotionally tired. But we promise It's more than worth it to persevere! 

Strolling along the Ghats is a fascinating, almost twisted-dream for anyone who loves to people watch. From children’s swimming lessons in the river to groups of mourning families and wandering sadhus –it’s incredible to witness a place bursting with so much life and death in one single moment. 

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And so, Varanasi instills such an indescribable feeling in so many of its visitors. To see these intimate acts of religion displayed so publically is so contrasting to our own private culture. But intensity aside, it’s hard not to be astounded by this crazy, magical city that celebrates both life and death in such a unique way. 

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Although strolling along the Ghats and through the ever-winding alleys is a great way to see the city, a sunrise/sunset boat ride is the most popular way to see the streams of life that run through the Ganges. We joined a sunset boat ride which slowly rode us along the Ghats, ending with a perfect view of the famous evening ceremony.

As hundreds of people sung from the Ghats, the golden fires reflecting upon the water and clouds of smoke filling the air, this definitely felt like one of the most surreal experiences of our lives so far. We didn't even take any photos as we were so consumed by the whole moment – either way I’m not sure they could do it justice!

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Sleepy dogs in hidden corners  

Sleepy dogs in hidden corners  

No surprises - we also found some delicious food in Varanasi, including (probably) the best Lassis in the world from ‘Blue Lassi Shop’. For those new to Lassi, this is a tasty Indian drink made with fresh yoghurt, water and often fruits and spices.

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Blue Lassi Shop is no secret to Varanasi, in fact it’s got a pretty legendary reputation as being one of the oldest joints in the city to churn out incredible Lassis. Served in rustic clay pots with mounds of delicate toppings and a spoon – each Lassi is incredibly thick, creamy and so tasty. Definitely the best Lassi we had in the whole of India. There’s a huge amount of flavour options – we tried quite a few, but our favourite was this perfect mango and coconut one.

Blue Lassi is also famous amongst travellers for its strong Bhang Lassis. Drink one of these before a river boatride, and you're guaranteed to have a crazy, dazzling trip of a lifetime.

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We also found some delicious dosas hidden away amongst the faded alleyways. Dosa is a thin, crispy pancake made from fermented rice. This one was stuffed with cashews and vegetables, served up with spicy samba and dreamy coconut chutney! 

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So happily tired and with our bellies satisfied, we left the wonder of Varanasi to head onwards to Agra. So for anyone planning a trip to India, make sure this city is on your list. This true experience of the senses is something you won’t forget for a very long time….