Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rotisserie Panama in Montreal

When I lived in Montreal, my friends CG and CT, originally from Greece, always used to cook mouthwatering Greek food (without garlic because CG is allergic) for me, or we would all go to Hermes, which has since closed as the owners have retired.

So when I called CG to tell her I'd be visiting, she and her husband did some research to find another restaurant, and that is how we found Panama, a Greek place on Jean-Talon. Yes, it's an unlikely name, but the owners once lived in Panama, and this is their way of paying tribute to their old stamping ground.

The food was delicious and the atmosphere very lively and family-focused. We arrived early, at around 7 pm, but by nine the place was packed with all kinds of families and friends (CT says the Greeks like to eat late). As you can see from the photos, we ordered many mezzes, and the owner's son came for a visit.

Nice Greek salad, tzatziki, spanakopita, deep-friend eggplant and zucchini, fried potatoes, half a chicken and some lamb chops. Everything was so good! The chicken and lamb were really nicely marinated and grilled, and they serve them already cut into big pieces. And the fried potatoes come in large circles, just the way my Mom and S make them.

If you go to Montreal, check out Rotisserie Panama!

Rotisserie Panama
789 Jean Talon W.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Orange and Arugula Salad

I have been following Jamie Oliver's advice on Salads 3.0, and I've ditched romaine for some more interesting greens. My favourite is this refreshing orange and baby arugula combination, another 5-ingredients-only recipe (not counting oil, salt and pepper, of course). You can also use any combination of spinach, Belgian endive and arugula, if you want. I used all three when I made this for our Easter dinner yesterday.

Orange and Arugula Salad
one large orange, sliced into rounds and each round quartered
a couple generous handfuls of arugula, spinach or endive
3 parts olive oil
1 part balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp red pepper jelly
salt and pepper

Put the arugula into a big bowl. In a separate container, whisk the last five ingredients together to make the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Arrange the orange segments on top and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Breakfasts from Chez Fanny in Montreal

S and I went to Montreal to celebrate my new job :) We stayed at our favourite Montreal B & B Chez Fanny again, and it proved to be another great weekend in my old and much-loved city. The breakfasts, as usual, were delicious - cheeses, good breads, yoghurt with hazelnut butter swirled in, vanilla French toast with toasted butternuts, and Fanny's plate - an assortment of breakfasty bites surrounding two soft-boiled eggs!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pea and Paneer Curry

Paneer is a special kind of Indian cheese that can be fried without losing its shape. It comes in a brick shape and is available at Indian grocery stores. I served this tasty curry at the Gastronati's Indian night. The recipe's adapted from a British cookbook called Easy Indian by Das Sreedharan.

Pea and Paneer Curry

150 g (5 oz) paneer cheese
vegetable oil for deep-frying
3 small onions or 1 big one, sliced
2.5-cm piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp tomato paste
1 cup of peas

Cut the paneer cheese into 1-centimetre cubes. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the cubes for one or two minutes per side, stirring until golden (about 10 minutes). Set aside to drain on paper towels.

Heat more oil in a large frypan. Add the onions and ginger and fry for about 10 minutes until golden. Add the spices and poppy seeds and cook for two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another three minutes.

Pour in a cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes and add the peas, fried paneer and salt. Cook for another five minutes and you're done!

Serve hot with chapatis, naan bread or rice.

Monday, March 10, 2008


If anyone ever decides to award a prize for "simplest Indian dish ever," then it should go to raita. Good thing, too, because it's the best way to cool one's palate after those hot and spicy curries have blazed a trail down your throat. In fact, the yoghurt in raita or even a mango lassi is much more effective than water for this purpose - and somehow it tastes more refreshing, too. I made this for the Gastronati's Indian night. The recipe is from an Indian cooking class at the Real Canadian Superstore that I attended with Squeaky and Calimocho in November of 2006.


1 large tub of plain yoghurt (I like the red-and-white Astro Balkan Style with the cow picture)
one whole cucumber with skin
salt to taste
roasted and ground cumin seeds
dried mint

Stir the yogurt into a smooth paste in a large bowl. Grate the cucumber into the bowl. Add the salt. Stir well and serve cold. Sprinkle cumin and mint on top before serving, as much as you want!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Coriander Chutney

This coriander chutney is a great recipe! People love the sharp flavour. My mom sent me this recipe when I lived in Montreal and needed ideas for an Indian supper I was making for my housemates.

I made this chutney for the Gastronati's Indian feast last month. The recipe only makes a small amount, about half a cup or so. But the flavours are very concentrated. You only need a tablespoon on the side of your plate as a condiment. It's also a nice garnish in Indian dhals and soups (kind of like India's version of the Italian gremolata).

This is meant to be a mint and coriander chutney, but I didn't have fresh mint so I chopped fresh coriander only and added a teaspoon of dried mint.

Coriander Chutney

1.5 cups firmly packed fresh coriander leaves (or 3/4 cup each of fresh mint and coriander)
1 tsp tamarind (roughly)
1 tsp dried mint if not using fresh
1 green or red fresh chilli, take the seeds out (very hot)
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1.5 tsp sugar
bit of water if needed
1/2 tsp garam masala
lemon juice (optional)

If you are using tamarind concentrate, you are lucky and can save time by skipping this step. If you are using a brick of tamarind, twist off a knob about two inches long, and wash and soak the tamarind in some boiling water to cover and let it sit until it is cool. You can do this ahead of time too.

Wash the coriander (and mint) very thoroughly since it is often full of sand. Discard any tough stems, but tender stems give good flavour. Chop finely and mix with the chopped garlic and onions.

If you presoaked the tamarind, knead it in the water to separate the pulp from the seeds. Rub the pulp through a sieve and add the pulp only to the chutney. Add the tamarind, garam masala, dried mint, salt and sugar to the coriander mixture and stir it all together.

Taste it for seasoning after it has sat for a bit to see if more salt or sugar is needed, or even a bit of lemon juice to sharpen the flavour.

If you have a blender you can put it all (including the tamarind pulp) in and blitz to a paste, but I prefer the texture of the finely chopped greens better.

This is best made on the day that you eat it. It can sit in the fridge a while before you serve it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Gastronati Serve the Tastes of India

I know that most of you beFOODies have polled for English and/or German fare, but the Gastronati made an executive decision to do Indian first, and here are the results of our labours. S and I hosted and we got a chance to test out our new $20 tripod (our Valentine's day gift to each other :)

Peanut Butter and Jelly brought the fabulously photogenic quail masala wrapped in banana leaves. You can see before and after photos above. I made cucumber raita, a coriander-and-mint chutney, and a pea-and-paneer curry, pictured in the bottom row. We also whizzed up some mango lassis for dessert. Squeaky and Calimocho brought over dum aloo (a type of potato curry), some luscious curried meatballs and a sweet nutty palao rice. As usual, our taste buds danced for joy! Stay tuned for recipe postings coming soon ...

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