Zooming out: Rajasthani Kadhi


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Once in a while I like to take a vacation. Correction. I need a vacation, but my busy schedule seldom make taking a long one possible. This is why I take my “zoom out times”. These are a few hours I take in any particular day - when I feel I most deserve it, where I leave everything behind and make believe I am on an adventure. I wear my favourite pair of comfortable pants, put on my comfy walking shoes, and, armed with a camera and other bare necessities, I set out on an exploration–anything to spice up my routine lifestyle.

The streets by my home are lined with vintage stores filled with pretty little things. There’s a café by the corner of the street, which serves the best chocolate filled éclair I’ve ever set my hands on. As I walk down that road, filled with the hustle and bustle of people walking their dogs and moms dragging their kids away from the ice-cream shoppe, it gives me a sense of vacationing. You know the feeling you get when you experience a place for the first time? It’s funny how enriching it can be just to take in all the sights and sounds and see things in a new perspective. It helps me forget deadlines and to-do lists. It opens up my mind to new avenues of thinking, some of which I never even knew were hidden somewhere in my head.

I walk the extra mile to a nearby lake. I turn towards my favourite bench overlooking the horizon and enjoy my éclair. My camera captures things that I have seen along the way and want to keep with me. These are also things that turn into inspiration for me for the rest of the week. Some are so good that they even last a month. But what is most exhilarating is the feeling of being free. It gives me a chance to see things around me in a new light. So the next time you need a breather, take a walk in your neighbourhood. All you need to get away is a smile on your face and an open mind.

When it comes to our everyday meals, I like to follow this very same principle as well. Often, simple weekday dinners may seem repetitive, so much so that you tend to shun it for a while. So I like to try my hand at something new and out of the ordinary atleast a few times each month. This week I felt the need for something creative and full of spunk. With the rainy Spring showers spreading its gloom, it was only just that I whipped us a meal that would not only drive the blues away, but would also give our lazy, tired selves a boost. This subtly spiced version of Kadhi did just that. It was quick and simple enough to prepare, and clubbed with a spicy side dish of eggplants made for a wonderful rainy day dinner.

RAJASTHANI KADHI (SPICED YOGURT CURRY)
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 20 min | Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1/4 cup gram flour
1 cup plain yogurt
1 small onion, finely sliced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt, to taste
1/4 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 tbsp light cooking oil

Directions:

Mix gram flour and yogurt with half a cup of water, and beat until there are no lumps.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed deep pan, and saute cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add in onions and fry till lightly browned. Add turmeric and chilli powder and fry for a few seconds.

Add in flour-yogurt mixture, salt, dried fenugreek and another half cup of water, stirring to mix it all well. Cover, and let it come to a thorough boil over very low heatfor a few minutes till the raw taste of gram flour disappears. Stir occasionally to avoid burning, and add more water if it gets too thick.

Serve warm with rice or rotis.



Home is where the Chaat is: Alu Dahi Puri


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details. 

It suddenly occurred to me when I turned to my planner this morning, that it’s been almost two months since we got back from our vacation to India. Over the past few weeks, I have been juggling around entertaining friends, meeting deadlines, sampling new products (lots and lots of delicious reviews coming up soon!), and not to mention creating recipes to try out on our newly acquired charcoal grill! As I sit back now, a steaming cup of hot cacao in hand, it suddenly dawned on me that I had quite an eventful and experimental vacation with relation to food. And why not, I would have had it no other way.

For a food enthusiast, the cuisine of a country is as much to look forward to on a vacation as the most popular tourist attraction. So much so, that on many a short trip, I have been known to cross out a few stops on my sightseeing itinerary only to accommodate a much important trip to the local farmer’s market.

Of the many things that were on my must-eat list during my trip, the few that undoubtedly sought my utmost attention were those that can be found at almost every nook and corner of the busiest streets throughout the country. Ask any one who has ever walked the streets of any major Indian city, be it Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore, and they will attest to the fact that no evening stroll is complete without making a stop at one of the many hawker stalls in these cities. Street after street, stall after stall, you’re greeted by smiling faces and tempting plates that urge you to come and give it a try.

Smothered with spicy and tangy chutneys, yogurt and tons of other fixings, each plate creates a whole new experience in your mouth. Chaats are one of those purely addictive foods that I simply refuse to live without! Living outside the comfort of your home country teaches you to adapt in ways you wouldn’t have imagined. And I am no different. Although I do miss the flavours of my favourite eats, I have come to learn of ways to replicate them without having to buy a plane ticket. Here is my quick version of a delicious treat that will simply have you begging for more. It’s fast, simple enough to make, and if you’re pressed for time like me – almost all the ingredients can be easily found and bought at your nearest Indian grocery store. But be warned, it’s a mouthful this one!

ALU DAHI PURI CHAAT
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 0 min | Serves: 1

Ingredients:

6 puri shells (also known as golgappas or pani puri)
1 small potato, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup plain yogurt, beaten with 1-2 tbsp of water till smooth 
5-6 tbsp sweet tamarind chutney (available readymade)
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chaat masala
salt, to taste
handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
handful of sev, for garnish

Directions:

Mix mashed potato well with salt and spices.

Place puris on a plate, making a small opening on the top of each puri big enough to add potato filling. Be careful to not break/crush puris as they can be fairly delicate to handle.

Fill each puri with a little bit of potato mixture, about 1-2 tsp of yogurt, and a touch of tamarind chutney. Drizzle leftover yogurt and chutney over  filled puris, and garnish with coriander leaves and sev.

Serve immediately.



what to cook: book club menu


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

I love getting emails from readers asking for menu ideas when hosting an Indian-themed party. Here’s one I received from Jen a couple of days ago:

Dear Meena,

I’m hosting our monthly book club and my selection is Interpreter of Maladies – a series of short stories that I absolutely love.  We try to coordinate our meeting’s food with our book’s subject – usually just appetizers & dessert, but occasionally a full meal.

I’d love to make some great Indian dishes for our group to sample – and to have as much as possible prepared in advance so I don’t miss out on the fun.  Even some spiced nuts or snacks would be great. Any ideas?

Many, many thanks,

Jen

I love putting casual buffet menus together where guests can just sit and chat while nibbling on some delicious food. For a book club meet, it’s always best to serve food that can be easily picked up with one hand and eaten while you use the other hand to navigate through your favourite passages and pages in the book. Here is what I think would go well at this particular meeting. Most of the items can be prepared up to a few days in advanced, stored in the freezer or fridge till D-day, and kept warm in the oven till it’s ready to serve. I hope you and your friends will enjoy this menu as much as the the party Jen! Happy hosting!

  • Potato Parcels – prepare the parcels in advance and freeze them without frying. When ready to serve, either fry them up or simply bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes till golden. For a slightly simpler, less effortless version, use large puff pastry sheets. They puff up like tiny pillows when done and look and taste marvellous!
  • Tandoori Chicken Pops – Let the chicken marinate in the fridge overnight, and when ready to serve, simply grill in an oven instead of frying.
  • Corn Chaat (recipe included) – Quick and simple to prepare, and delicious to the very last morsel! For an added flair, serve in mini tortilla cups.
  • Shakkarpare – A perfect sweet treat that can be made many days in advance and stores well in an air-tight jar.
  • Masala Chai – The perfect ending to a fun evening.

CORN CHAAT / SALSA
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: none | Serves: 4-6 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala powder
2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and serve with a side of tortilla chips.



The girl and her peas: Mushroom & Peas Pulao


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Let me tell you all a little story. Once upon a time, there was a pretty little girl who absolutely loved peas. She loved them so much that she would even unquestioningly eat steamed broccoli if it was served with a side of peas. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Nothing, not even serving them with deliciously sweet peas would make her eat broccoli, least of all if it was steamed! She would simply devour all the luscious peas and probably slip the broccoli chunks under her seat when no one was watching. Yes, that’s undoubtedly what she would do. But nonetheless, let’s get back to the story shall we?

So yes, this girl loved her peas. She begged her Mom to add them into anything and everything they could possibly be added to. And if it weren’t for her two evil green pea loathing siblings, her Mom might have even given in to some of her hideously bizzare ideas. But then, like every fairy tale, good things started to happen to her. She grew up, moved out of home away from the evil siblings (okay, they’re not all that evil, but they do bug her some all of the time!), and began to cook for herself. Like the ugly frog who turned into a handsome prince on the very first kiss, her peas lusciously flavoured her food. They graced every dish they were added into and touched it with their sweetness.

On days like today, when the clouds darken the sky, and drops of rain fall helplessly on the ground, all she can think of cooking for dinner is a one pot comforting meal comprising of rice, mushrooms, and oh yes, most definitely, peas. The meal was a breeze to make, and the girl and her peas continue to live happily ever after, much to the chagrin of Hubby Dear. If only there was a law forbidding one to hate peas!

MUSHROOM & PEAS PULAO
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 20 min | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 cups Basmati rice
2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
5-6 whole cloves
1 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste
fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in a non-stick deep pan and saute cumin seeds, garlic and onions till tender and fragrant. Add mushrooms, and fry till brown all the moisture evaporates. Stir in salt and spices, and fry for a minute.

Add 3 3/4 cups of water, and once it comes to a boil, stir in rice and peas. Let simmer on a low heat till water evaporates and rice is cooked through. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm with a side of raita.



Pantry Cooking: Mixed Bean Soup


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

At any given time, my pantry shelves are decked with at least 5 different kinds of lentils, 3 different kinds of beans, 5 kinds of pasta, noodles and rice, and a basket full of spice mixes and sauces. Having such an elaborate pantry enables me to throw dinner on the table at the drop of hat when I’m in no position to shop for fresh supplies. I recently talked about my love for menu planning, and I honestly believe that having a well-stocked pantry (which, in this case, I refer to my kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer) makes the task a whole lot simpler and hence, possible to follow through.

Many people I know start out with making extravagant menu plans for their weeknight dinners, only to find themselves unable to keep up with it after the second day. The trick is to plan your weeknight meals in such a way, that you remove the stress out of making the meal entirely. And if that means I’m serving soup made out of pre-prepared ingredients, then so be it!

Although I would love to cook my daily meals, from scratch from the freshest produce available, I would only be kidding myself if I believed it could ever be possible. After a long day of work, the last thing on my mind is the need to spend gruelling hours chopping, dicing, slicing, pureeing and mashing ingredients for my dinner. Instead, I try and make use of my pantry items to complete my meal. However, I always try and ensure that I have at least one fresh vegetable on the table, even if it is a mere salad. But some times, as we all know, life decides to take its toll and even a simple bowl of sliced cucumbers seem highly unlikely.

A few days ago, I found myself scurrying from my office (even if it just a mere 10 feet away from my kitchen!) all starved and ready to shove the first thing edible I could lay my hands on. I’d had a long day, and yet the work was far from done. I only had just enough time to fix something quick and shove it in me before I would have to get back to my laptop. This soup is what kept me sane and gave me the extra boost of energy I needed. It was simple, quick and delicious, served with crusty warm garlic bread. All thanks to a well stocked pantry!

MIXED BEAN SOUP
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 20 min | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 large can mixed beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken/vegetable stock
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste
fresh coriander leaves and lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in a large non-stick pot and saute chopped onions and garlic till tender.

Add in tomatoes, spices, and beans, and cook for few minutes to blend in spices. Stir in chicken stock and corn, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves and lemon.



Meal Time Madness: Mango Chicken with Red Peppers


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

I am a firm believer of meal planning. So much so, that every weekend I take a few hours to carefully plan our meals for the coming week. I grab a handful of cookbooks from my ever increasing library, a couple of sticky page tabs, my favourite pen and meal planning notebook (yes, I keep a notebook!), and get down to work.

First, I skim through the pages of various cookbooks for inspiration and ideas. Then I make a list of what I think we’d like to eat that week. I then go about designating a theme for each day of the week. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, I’m not one to cook a 4-course dinner everyday! Usually my themes would look something like this:

Monday: Chicken
Tuesday: Pasta Night
Wednesday: Dal, Roti, Sabzi
Thursday: Soup & Sandwich
Friday: Movie & Munchie Night

Having set themes for each night of the week makes it easier for me to decide and plan a meal, ensuring I maintain a good balance between protein, carbs and vegetables. I usually leave weekends free which allows us play it by ear. After all, it’s good to some amount of spontaneity thrown in!

Once my meals have been decided upon (after due consulting with Hubby Dear on whether he promises to eat the Bok choy I have planned for one day), I create my grocery list. Now, as much as this may make me seem a very organized person, I assure you that it’s not always the case. There are often days when I don’t feel like keeping with the plan, when I absolutely refuse to have a cous cous salad for dinner, or days when all we want is some take-out pizza. It’s especially when days like those happen, that my so-called organization gets thrown out the window.

Today was one such particular day. I had a lovely looking mango sitting lonely in my fridge since I had a mango salsa planned sometime during last week. Well, that didn’t quite work out, so the darned fruit was shoved into this week’s menu. As I sat to plan my meals for this week, I realized I felt a little adventurous and wanted to take a new recipe for a test drive. And thus this Mango Chicken was born. All I have to say about it though, is that if Hubby Dear comes home even a tad bit late tonight, I can’t promise he’ll have any left for him. I’m starving already, and the dish bubbling away seems to be calling my name. Oh how will I ever resist!

MANGO CHICKEN WITH RED PEPPERS
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 20 min | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large mangoes, diced into cubes
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup chicken stock/water
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste
fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in a large non-stick wok and saute chopped chillies, ginger-garlic paste and onions till lightly browned.

Add in chicken pieces, peppers and spices, and stir-fry till chicken is cooked through. Stir in chicken stock and mango, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Season with salt, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.



Eating Lunch with Rachael Ray: Curry Noodle Bowl


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

It had come to my notice a few days ago that I was spending a lot more time cooking than actually eating. This is not to say that I have been burdening myself with tedious and slow-cooking meals. In fact, it was quite the contrary. While my meals have been loaded with quick and simple salads, soups and the occasional sandwich, it seemed strange to me that I was eating in less than half the time I took to prepare the meal at hand.

I have recently begun to have lunch at my desk, if only to try and get as much work done as I possibly could cram into my day. With my food sitting on my right and my laptop on the left, it’s almost impossible for me to sit back and actually take a moment to even look at my plate, let alone enjoy it. And this, my dear friends has been bugging me since the time I started doing it.

There are piles of emails flagged for responses, a ton of article ideas bookmarked for research, a growing tower of books (which I now use as a side table to hold my morning cup of coffee) for review, and the odd request or two for help with a menu plan, that are all screaming for my undivided attention. Well, what can I say but that it’s hard trying to balance your work and hobby at the same time. Even harder when they both are interlinked, like in my case. That was until I found Rachael Ray.

I was first introduced to the great RR a few years ago with her show 30-Minute Meals. Like many, I thought she was too perky to be sane. I thought it was crazy of her to bang pots and pans to flatten meat, and create acronyms like EVOO and GB (which I must add is a wonderful trick I learnt from her!). But what I did admire was her penchant to get real creative in the kitchen and make everyday food seem exotic and exciting.

A few days ago, as I got ready to take my lunch into my home office, I had the sudden urge to stop and see what was on TV. A quick scan and I found myself taking a seat with The Rachael Ray Show. She was just as I remembered her: quirky, overly excited and bubbly. But even then, I found myself grinning at her silly jokes. She passed around the ‘snack of the day’ to her audience as I took the first bite of my lunch. By the end of the episode, I had polished my plate, relishing every bite and enjoying what I ate. I tried doing the same the next day. And the day after. And the day after that.

It’s been more than a week since, and my lunches, though take hardly any time to cook, seem to take a whole hour to be eaten. And not to mention, enjoyed. All thanks to the Queen of Quick!

CURRY NOODLE BOWL
Prep time: 15 min | Cooking time: 15 min | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb noodles of choice
1 cup boneless cubed chicken/cubed tofu
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped bok choy
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp curry paste (red or yellow)
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup coconut milk 
3 cups chicken/vegetable stock
1 tbsp light cooking oil
salt & pepper, to taste
fresh coriander leaves, chopped chillies and lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in a deep pan, and saute garlic and curry paste till fragrant. Add in onions and chicken/tofu, and saute till lightly brown.

Add in coconut milk, stock and lemon grass, and let it come to a boil on low heat. Add in musrooms and noodles, and cook covered till noodles are tender and done. Stir in bok choy, and cover cook for 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, add garnish with coriander leaves, chillies and a dash of lemon juice. Ladle in large bowls and serve piping hot.



Winter Warmer: Black Pepper Lamb


Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Okay. I know. It’s been long. Oh so long!

I won’t bore you with the details of my long disappearance, except to say that we were on a wonderfully long vacation, and then back to the dreadful weather here which kind of took me off guard and made me sick to my core. And while the recovery has been slow, I kept my bored self busy by coming up with some creative ideas for HoH. I hope to share some fantastic news with you soon, so stay tuned!

The past few weeks have been, to put it straight, simply dreadful! The snow just keeps accumulating and I shudder to think of what one more snow fall would bring. We’ve tried to keep ourselves warm by cranking up the heat inside, and not to mention, eating lots of warm soothing comfort food. Aah food. There’s always a good time for food.

It’s funny to note that I may have made more soups and stews over the past two weeks than I would’ve made all of last year. And yet, when I think back, none of them seemed extraordinary enough to pass on to you. Most of my soups are made with whatever I have in the fridge, and so it’s very rare that I’m able to replicate the flavours exactly the next time I attempt to. And maybe that’s just how I like it to be. Nothing beats throwing a bunch of things into a big pot and watching it simmer into a bowl full of delicious goodness.

One dish I did most enjoy recently, was this spicy lamb creation. It started out like most of my dinner rush meals. I open up the fridge, stare into it for a long couple of minutes, and then start mixing and matching flavours into a pot. I would suggest saving this for a sunny winter Sunday afternoon, when all you want to do is cuddle up with a good book while your stove slowly hums the sweet music of lunch in the making. Or maybe save it for that special dinner by the fireplace with a soft serenade in the background. No matter how and when you decide to try it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. But may I insist you tackle it when the temperatures are low into its negatives. ‘Coz that maybe the only way I can defend it’s heat level.

BLACK PEPPER LAMB
Prep time: 15 min | Cooking time: 45 min | Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 lb lean boneless lamb, cubed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
5-6 curry leaves
1 tbsp garlic, finely crushed
1 tbsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup plain yoghurt, beaten
1 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste
fresh coriander leaves and lemon wedges, for garnish
water, as needed

Directions:

Marinate lamb in yogurt and garlic for atleast two hours.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, and add cumin, coriander and fennel seeds along with curry leaves, allowing them to sizzle. Add in onions and saute till brown. Add in black pepper and marinated lamb along with any remaining marinade. Cook covered on low heat for 45 minutes or till lamb is tender and cooked through, stirring occasionally and adding little water if it begins to stick to bottom of the pan.

Season with salt, add in green peppers and cook covered for another 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with coriander leaves and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Serve warm with fresh pitas.



2007: A Year in Food


It seems strange to wake up and finally realize as I turn to my planner, that we are finally in 2008. Over the past few weeks, I have been juggling around dinner parties, last-minute deadlines, surprise holiday guests, and not to mention shopping for gifts for family and friends! As I sit back now, a steaming cup of hot coaco in hand, it suddenly dawned on me that I had quite an eventful and experimental year in 2007 in relation to food. And otherwise also.

Here are some of my favourite picks from the year just past. If you haven’t tried them as yet, then I’d truly suggest you head on and get started, else you may not be able to catch up. Because, seeing as how tremendous 2007 turned out, I have an strong inkling that 2008 will bring with it many, many more delicious treats from my kitchen to yours!

Dahiwali Chicken Curry Dal Makhani Jeera Alu Pepper Chicken Gajar Halwa Ginger Chilli Shrimp Bok Choy in Coconut Milk Spiced Lamb Pilaf Edible Cigars Methi Matar Malai Chana Masala Honey-Garlic Spring Rolls Chicken & Bean Coconut Stew Coconut Chicken Curry Tandoori Chicken Pops Paneer Tak-a-Tak Asam Pedas REd Chilli Chicken

And finally, a few of my 2008 resolutions for hookedonheat.com:

  1. More original South Asian fusion recipes.
  2. Introducing new features, as well as continuing old favourites including Indian Cooking 101, Interviews and Cookbook Reviews.
  3. A proper printable compilation of all the recipes and food photographs of hookedonheat.com.

So, what are your food resolutions for 2008?



The HoH Holiday Giveaway: Winners announced!!


holidaygiveaway.gif 

Thanks so much for everyone who took the time to send me emails and leave such lovely comments on my blog. It’s been such a great trun out and I’ve had so much fun reading your feedback, that I think I should have these giveaways more often! It’s been a long wait, but we finally have our lucky winners!

Each of these lucky winners get a copy of the cookbook listed by their names:

Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson: Jackie, who said, “I’ve tried many of your recipes and enjoyed everyone! I started visiting your site a year ago, and have been stopping by each week since then. Keep up the great work!”

Curries & Kebabs, by Madhur Jaffrey: Susie, who Said, “If there was one thing I would suggest, then it would only be to post more often. Your writing has got me hooked and I can’t help wanting to read more of what you have to say. You have one of the best food blogs I’ve come across.”

Adventures of an Italian Food Lover, by Faith Willinger: Tina, who said, “I love the way you write! I’ve tried some of your recipes and have simply loved each and everyone of them. Thanks a ton!”

Dish Entertains, by Trish Magwood: Danielle, who said, “Heya! Well, as you probably know, I love your recipes, your photography, and the way your personality comes through in your writing. There’s nothing I don’t like! As for the months ahead, although I’m not one to talk, the only thing I could dream of asking for is for you to post more often.”

Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten: Anita, who said, “Ohh!! What a lovely way to get us lurkers out of hiding and finally saying hello! I love your writing style and your recipes have always worked out amazing for me. I look forward to many more insightful posts and delicious recipes in the future. Keep up the great work!”

Indian Everyday, by Anjum Anand: Kimmie, who said, “You have way with words, it’s almost as if I’m right there listening to you as you speak. And your food makes it even better!”

Each of these lucky winners get a prize hamper with six spice bottles each, from The Spice Depot:

Dawn, who said, “Yippee! Happy Holidays! I’ve been an avid lurker for a bit of time now. Your posts always inspire me to get out of my “Italian” comfort zone and try something new. So, win or lose, just wanted to send a heartfelt THANK YOU!”

Jamie, who said, “I love this blog! The food always looks delicious and is often either already vegan or is easily veganizable. I love how even the simplest recipes always come out delicious. Please, keep blogging for ages to come!”

Marn, who said, “I’ve loved Indian cooking since my university days in Ottawa over 30 years ago. Stumbling into your blog and finding recipes that I can make myself has been fabulous. I’ve been exploring the blogs you link to, and one of the frustrations for someone such as me who isn’t from India is that many Indian terms are used for spices, terms we don’t use in Canada. I would be eternally grateful if you could create a glossary of sorts for those of us who don’t know these words. As well, because I live in rural Quebec, some of the ingredients are impossible for me to find. If there are equivalents I could substitute for certain dals, I would love to know that. Thank you for this great resource. There’s nothing more comforting on a cold evening than a bowl of savoury dhal.”

Tiana, who said, “My favorite thing about HOH is that it’s obvious you have tried the recipes and adjusted them to perfection. Your tips make it really easy to learn to cook this cuisine and the way you write your posts is entertaining and also very accessible. As far as what I don’t like…not much! I’m a vegetarian so I’d like to see more meet-free recipes but there are plenty of those already. Happy Holidays!”

Congrats everyone! Each of your prizes are on their way to your day as you read this!

Here’s wishing all of you out there, a wonderfully faboulous Holiday Season! See you in the New Year!