Jude’s Kitchen: Bal’s Indian eats

We had a delightful dinner the other night, with really exotic and unusual flavours, yet it was really simple to prepare, thanks to Bal Arneson’s latest book: Bal’s Quick and Healthy Indian.

Tempting dishes from Jude's kitchen.

We had a delightful dinner the other night, with really exotic and unusual flavours, yet it was really simple to prepare, thanks to Bal Arneson’s latest book: Bal’s Quick and Healthy Indian.

This woman has terrific taste buds, combined with lots of imagination and it adds up to some really unusual dishes that are often a fusion of East and West. She’s very conscious of the importance of eating healthy and of the time constraints on most of us, so this is a combination of healthy and flavourful, and dishes that are pretty quick to make.

I’m really enjoying her first book, Everyday Indian, and I get the feeling this one is going to be every bit as good.

If I didn’t already have it, I’d love to receive this book as a Mother’s Day gift, especially accompanied by a dinner made out of it. And, the following dishes would be good candidates as they’re pretty straightforward to make and scrumptious.

Giving Mom a break from making all the meals on her special day is a great tradition to carry on or begin. It shows you appreciate the effort she puts into planning and preparing family meals day after day and thanks her for it at the same time.

Homemade with love is probably one of the most memorable gifts you can give anyone, whether it’s a simple card or a sophisticated four course meal.

I would highly recommend this book with its appetizing full-colour photos and its hints and tips about nutrition and cooking. These are not hot and spicy recipes, but recipes that provide complex, unusual flavours and flavour combinations. You don’t have to be a lover of East Indian food to enjoy this book; you just have to love good food.

If that sounds like you, perhaps you—or your favourite mom—would enjoy my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, published by the Okanagan Institute, which is now available wherever books are sold.



Bal’s Spicy Raita



I make a cucumber raita all the time, but this was quite different and we loved it. I have a large patch of mint in the garden and now I know how to make better use of it.



1 c. (250 ml) plain, low-fat yogurt

1 tbsp. (15 ml) chopped mint

1 tbsp. (15 ml) minced chives

1 tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice

1 tsp. (5 ml) prepared grainy mustard

salt and pepper to taste



This dip can be made ahead of time and it will keep well in the refrigerator for three or four days.

Combine all the ingredients in a small serving bowl and stir until well mixed.

Makes one cup.



Mint & Ginger Chicken Kabobs



This may seem like an odd combination of ingredients, but it all works very well together. I marinated the chicken for a couple of hours. I didn’t have chicken breasts so I used thigh pieces and they were wonderfully tender and moist. Jars of tamarind pulp are available in the specialty section of large grocery stores, or in specialty stores.

Bal recommends serving this with the 2009 Pinot Blanc by Lake Breeze Vineyards, but we tried it with the Mission Hill reserve 2008 Pinot Blanc. It was luscious and full of complex flavours that went well with the many flavours in the kabobs.

We had a few left over and found they made an excellent lunch, cold in a pita the next day.



1/2 c. (125 ml) finely-chopped mint

2 tbsp. (30 ml) tamarind pulp

2 tbsp. (30 ml) grapeseed oil

1 tbsp. (15 ml) freshly-grated ginger

1 tbsp. (15 ml) garam masala

1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar

salt to taste

1 lb. (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken

6 metal or wooden skewers



Cut chicken breasts into 1.5-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the mint, tamarind pulp, oil, ginger, garam masala, brown sugar and salt and mix well. Stir in the chicken. Cover the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours.

Pre-heat the barbecue to medium heat. If using wooden skewers, soak them in watr for 30 minutes before using.

Thread the chicken onto skewers. Grill the kabobs on the pre-heated barbecue for 15 or 20 minutes, turning frequently to make sure all sides are evenly cooked.

Serve with Spicy Raita.

Seres 4.



Mango Lassi



This is a cooling, soothing drink which is perfect on a hot day or after a spicy meal.



3 medium ripe mangoes

1 c. (250 ml) plain yogurt

1 tbsp. (15 ml) crushed pistachios

4 drops rosewater

1 c. (250 ml) cold water

1 c. (250 ml) crushed ice



Peel and pit the mango and crush the pistachio nuts, then combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.