Curry

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….

Mung Bean Dahl with a Fennel Seed Tarka

During our recent Indian adventure we ate all sorts of dahl. Often by the bucket load. 

We found it the perfect meal to keep us going while travelling. Not only is it seriously delicious, but compared to a lot of Indian dishes it's pretty light, easy to digest and contains a little hit of protein. This is all true, except if you order a Dahl Makani, which is made with large amounts of butter & cream ... not what anyone needs in 50 degree heat!  

Mung Bean Dahl with a Fennel Seed Tarka (Moong Dal)

Since we've been back, we've been cooking a lot of Indian food. But we've particularly loved experimenting with different types of dahl...this Mung Bean version being one of our favourites. Cherished in ayurvedic cooking, Mung Beans are packed with potassium, magnesium, fibres & vitamin B6. 

The thing that makes the biggest difference to a dahl is the tarka (tadka). For those who don't know, tarka is the tempering of ingredients such as whole or ground spices, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger etc in ghee or oil.This creates an extra fusion of flavour which is added to the dahl at the end of the cooking process. We've found that the tarka is essential for giving your dahl maximum flavour! 

Mung Bean Dahl with a Fennel Seed Tarka (Moong Dal)

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Mung Bean Dahl:

250g Mung Beans (soaked overnight, drained & rinsed)
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, chopped roughly. 
1 large chopped tomato
1 chopped onion (white or red)
1 1/2 dried red chillies (we leave the seeds for extra spice!)
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric. (If using dried powder, use 1/2 teaspoon)
1 stick of cinnamon
roughly 700ml of water
salt & pepper to season. 

For the Tarka:
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds`
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 sliced onion
2 tablespoons of coconut oil 

1. First off, soak your mung beans in water overnight (or at least 8 hours).
2.Rinse and drain the beans and then add to a large pan. 
3. Add the rest of the ingredients for the dahl into your pan with the beans.  
4. Cover all the ingredients by adding roughly 700ml water.
5. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 1 - 1.5 hours until creamy in texture. If needed, add a small amount of water while cooking in order to maintain a loose consistency. Turn off the heat while you make your tarka... 

  freshly grated turmeric

  freshly grated turmeric

Fennel Seed Tarka
1.Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based pan and add the fennel & mustard seeds. Stir fry for 30 seconds. 
2.Add a finely sliced onion and fry slowly until golden. 
3.Gently stir the tarka into your dahl and that's it! 

We love to eat ours with homemade spelt chapatis or brown rice! 

Mung Bean Dahl with a Fennel Seed Tarka (Moong Dal)

What's your favourite Indian dish?