Thursday, 9 February 2023

TY Culture Module - Foods From Around the World

 One of the main elements of study in Form 4 is that subjects rotate every six weeks. This means a new teacher teaching a new aspect of the subject.  For my Form’s third Geography rotation, we were with Ms Gray studying different cultures, specifically India.  Last Monday was a highlight for me because we were to bring in various foods from around India, working either in groups or solo.  Some of the foods people brought in were coconut burfi, a sweet consisting of coconut, milk powder, and spices; chocolate barfi, a dessert of dark chocolate and a spiced white chocolate filling, and tarka dahl, a type of chickpea-based curry.  I brought in onion bhajis which are a type of spiced onion fritter served with a sweet tamarind chutney from east India.  Tamarind is a treacle-like substance found in seed pods on trees that has a very sour, zingy flavour not unlike a lemon. In the pre-colonial era, Indians would not have had access to lemons and limes so they used tamarind instead.  I will list the recipes for both the bhajis and the tamarind chutney below.  Overall the day was great fun and it was so interesting to explore the various flavours of India. 


2 onions, finely sliced 

100g gram flour 

½ tsp gluten-free baking powder (we don’t use baking powder in ours) 

½ tsp chilli powder 

½ tsp turmeric 

1 green chilli, deseeded, and very finely chopped 

vegetable oil for frying 


Soak the onion in cold water while you make the base mix.  Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the chilli powder, turmeric, chopped chilli and a good sprinkling of salt.  Mix in about 100ml of cold water to make a thick batter – add a splash more if it feels too stiff. 

Lower heaped tablespoons of the bhaji mixture into the pan, a few at a time, and cook for a few mins, turning once, until they are evenly browned and crisp, so about 3-4 mins. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with a little salt, and keep warm while you cook the rest.  

(NB: In the original recipe they make a raita to go with. We use the tamarind chutney instead) 

Sweet Tamarind Chutney- From Simple Indian by Atul Kochhar 

Ingredients (makes 400g) 

150g dried tamarind pulp 

150g grated jaggery (a type of cane sugar) or palm sugar 

1 tsp chilli powder 

1 tsp toasted coriander seeds 

1 tsp toasted aniseed (or star anise) 

1 tsp toasted cumin seed (for the toasting we pan toasted all 3 then ground them up together) 

1 ½ tsp salt 

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (this is a garnish so optional) 


Soak the tamarind pulp in 250ml hot water for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard the residue. Add the grated jaggery, chilli powder, toasted spices, and salt to the tamarind extract. If the chutney is too thick stir in a little water. Cool before serving garnished with coriander leaves. Eat the chutney on the day it is made (within 24 hours).  This isn’t in the recipe but taste after making and add more sugar or salt to balance.
Michael Binchy 

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