Best falafel I’ve had in decades

Recently had the most wonderful falafel wraps I’ve had in over 25 years — at a bargain price — at a great little take-out/eat in student oriented place in Hamilton’s Westdale.  Basilique offers a wide variety of foods, served by delightful staff; I can only recommend the falafel, as I ordered it twice, it was so good!  They offer great student discounts for McMaster students, and even accept McMaster student Meal Plans as payment.

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Vaishali’s Super Store: Indian Grocer

Finally found an Indian grocer that has all the ingredients for the cooking that I want to do (and more)! I’d just about given up. Vaishali’s Super Store is located in the west end of Ottawa, at 62 Wylie Avenue, in a little strip mall, perpendicular to Carling Avenue. You’ll miss it if you blink while driving past; it’s just across the street from the big Famous Players Theatre complex, near Bayshore.

The variety of spices and herbs is mind boggling, as are the legumes, pulses, and rice. Fridges and freezers contain a small number of fresh vegetables/fruits/peppers, curry leaves and fresh herbs, as well as a large selection of prepared foods and meals, condiments and ingredients. Rows of shelves contain jarred, canned, dried, and powdered pickles, condiments, sauces, and other ingredients and foods. I was especially pleased to find Surati Sweet Mart treats at a very good price (half the price of my local health food store)! In addition to food items, one can find cooking utensils, incense, movies, and cosmetic products.

The owner was particularly helpful and kind in helping me find the items that I was having trouble locating. I appreciated that he expained the proper pronunciation of the words that I pointed to on the shopping list that my friend had written out for me, and that he told me a little about the products (especially spices) that he was helping me find.

I enjoyed our trip to this store very much, and we will make it a part of our regular shopping!

UPDATE: On our most recent visit, we purchased freshly made pakoras, samosas, and kachoris from the front counter display — absolutely delicious!  We didn’t even get as far as home to eat them with condiments 🙂  They smelled so incredibly  divine that we ate the pakoras while sitting in the car in the parking lot, then had to go back into the store to buy some more!

“Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead” by Habeeb Salloum

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“Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections”, by Habeeb Salloum

is one of the best books I’ve bought in ages. I have been reading this cookbook in my spare time, and as my bedtime reading! I am learning about a part of Canadian history that I knew sadly little about from my education. I am also learning much, much more. The book is sprinkled with Arab proverbs, and stories about the author’s family and growing up on the prairies.

The recipes are extremely easy to follow, very simple, and have been producing absolutely delicious food in our kitchen. The many photographs are helpful in showing what unfamiliar dishes should look like when one is finished cooking them! As an “infoholic” and book lover, I love the thorough index.

I am truly thankful to the author for this marvelous volume.

To read an excellent description and review of this book, go to CPRC Publishing (a university press). You’ll also find the author’s bio, a table of contents, and even a sample chapter. Available at Amazon,from the Cookbook Store and McNally Robinson.

Stash Tea’s “Double Spice Chai Black Tea”

Yum! A combination of black tea and spices, with double the amount of cloves, cinnamon and whole cardamom as their regular chai tea. Available as loose tea, and as tea bags. It’s almost as good as the masala tea from my favourite Indian restaurant!

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The ingredient list:

Blended black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, cinnamon oil, clove oil, cardamom oil, allspice, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, and coriander.

Bhusu and other delicious stuff

60 year old Surati Sweet Mart (Surati International Food) makes the most addictive, delicious Oriental/Indian snack food I’ve eaten. I crave it.

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My favourite is Bhusu, which is a spicy, crunchy mix of chickpea twigs, crispy rice, nuts, raisins, and other bits and shapes. You’ll even find the odd hot pepper. They recommend it for a morning or evening snack, but I will eat it at any time!The parent company makes a wide range of other products. Their organic whole foods are made from traditional family recipes using natural ingredients, with no preservatives, no artificial flavours, colours, or MSG.

Western Creamery

Delicious, “back to basics” cultured dairy products! Pressed cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, baking cheese, and maslanka buttermilk.

creamcheese.jpgThe cream cheese tastes exactly like the homemade stuff that I used to buy at the kosher bakery near my apartment in Toronto (actually, all of Western Creamery’s products are certified kosher). Their cream cheeses are natural cheese products, made without stabilizers and gums, and the sour cream is made without additives and preservatives — the taste and texture is noticeably different from all other brands we’ve tried.

The Western Creamery website has nutritional information as well as recipes and other information.