Monthly Archives: November 2013

World Palate Series – Pumpkin Soup from New Zealand

Squashes and pumpkins

Squashes and pumpkins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World Palate Series – New Zealand                 

Pumpkin Soup     

New Zealand food is driven by seasonal vegetables/ ingredients, climate, and historic or cultural influences. Two distinctly different races, the  Maori or Pacific Rim Polynesians and the immigrant Europeans live here. Thus cuisines are diverse too.

The indigenous Maori  traditionally cook  in an earth-dug pit called Hangi, or prefer boiling /steaming in natural hot springs, as they have done over 1000 years ago. Roast meat, fish, Kumara or sweet potatoes are earth-baked and eaten with wild herbs. Sea food forms an essential part of diet for this sea faring warrior people.

The European or Pakeha immigrants diet consists of: wheat bread, fresh salads, roast lamb flavoured with rosemary and thyme herbs, sea food like Mussels. This would make for a great Sunday lunch. Wine growing is an important industry. Famous New Zealand wines are the fruity, acidic Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay and a full-bodied Canterbury grown Pinot Noir. For a sweet tooth, it’s the traditional Pavlova , a meringue. New Zealand’s ice creams are dairy rich and wholesome, my  favourites are Hokey Pokey, Caramel and Boysnberry Ripple. Licking lips already ?

The Edmonds Cookery Book has been part of almost every New Zealand home, the first published edition was in 1908! The 50 page booklet had tips and everyday recipes for housewives. Newly married couples would even be given a complimentary copy! I remember my friend making yummy, rich chocolate brownies and almond biscuits with Edmond’s baking flour. 

Edmonds Cookery Book

Edmonds Cookery Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During winter, a bowl of warm, fresh soup served with multi-grain bread makes a healthy and inviting meal. During my college years in Christchurch, the student canteen regularly served a variety of winter soups for a lunch menu. Here is my favourite one.


                                                                                                                           Pumpkin Soup


500 grams yellow squash or pumpkin, skinned

½ carrot

1 large onion

2 tbs. leftover cooked rice

2 tbs. butter or margarine

salt and pepper to taste

2 Bay leaves

3-4 roasted cashew nuts

4 cups water (or chicken broth)

Parsley or coriander for garnish



Microwave the pumpkin for 1 minute, it’s now easy to remove the skin. Cut pumpkin, carrot and onion into medium-sized pieces. In a large deep pot, warm the butter.  Add the onion first and lightly saute, do not let it brown. Add remaining vegetables, rice, cashews and water/broth. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaves and cover slightly to infuse the aroma. Allow to cool. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and process the soup mixture through a mixer /blender.

Adjust the consistency of soup with water. Pour into a deep pot. Warm on stove, do not boil. Check the taste and adjust. Ladle heaped spoonfuls into bowls. Garnish with parsley, pepper powder, some pumpkin seeds or chopped cashews. Serve warm. Ideally served with multi-grain bread and plenty of butter/cream. Remember, during winter one needs extra calories !

                                        A Maori proverb: Naku te rourou nau, te rourou ka ora ai te iwi 

                                           which translates as:With your basket and my basket the people will live

So don’t forget to share your food (and recipes). That is the community spirit !

All content copyright Veena S. (2013 -2016) Please see copyright disclaimer.

New Zealand – Art’s Centre Farmer’s Market


Celebrate Summer at the Arts Centre Farmer’s market

Firstly, a flashback to the massive earthquake of 2010 and 2011, that shook Christchurch city. It destroyed many homes and old wooden buildings in the city Centre, including the stately spire on the Cathedral and Gothic Arts Centre. The grounds next to the Centre, once held the open-air  farmer’s market. My prayers are with the people of this beautiful city.

The historic Arts Centre market was my favourite hang-out, it was my first Farmer’s market and stunningly scenic! Locals and tourists came to shop, eat and relax in the lively atmosphere. The tourists wandered around the market – a fun place to keep the camera focussed. As for the Kiwi peoples ( the Pakeha and the Maori) it was a great way to spend weekend morning.  A family outing to browse the boutique wines and cheese on display. Farmer’s markets are becoming ever popular in almost every town of New Zealand  – it’s a cheaper, healthier, fresher way to life!

Arts Centre Building, Christchurch

Arts Centre Building, Christchurch

Large blue and white umbrellas shaded the make-shift stalls. Children ran between stalls, picked up souvenirs, tugged at parents screaming for  ice-cream treats. I noticed how their dressing changed according to the season – from dark grey, maroon and black during winter to more cheerful summer tones – green, pink, orange  and yellow. They did actually take cues from nature. Every well manicured summer garden in town was boasting of  white lilies and freshias, yellow buttercups and bright pink fuchsia flowers. This is something I have to learn, to dress in seasonal colours, just like the local Kiwi people.

Ah ! look at the variety of  fresh-baked breads, organic vegetables, cookies and home-made biscuits. Not to mention the  famed Sauvignon Blanc and Cloudy Bay among some New Zealand varieties of wine. Being part of the Arts Centre stalls selling souvenirs and hand -made crafts and pottery was available too. Paua shell jewellery, wooden toys and garden plants boxed in cute little black containers made this market spring with summer energy!

Farmer’s markets are typically European country-style affairs, a recent approach to sell local produce directly to consumers. Probably started by the immigrant Europeans that have settled here. The European immigrants or Pakehaarrived to New Zealand from Scotland, Holland and other European countries.Their food and dress habits are culturally different from  the indigenous Maori.  As a warrior tribe, the Maori often sailed the seas. Fish, whale meat, bird , sweet potato or Kumara were staple food called Kai shared by the tribe or clan, there were no market gatherings.

The chocolate chip cookies at another stall shone like dark brown eyes, beckoning children. New Zealand prides in fresh dairy products and Edmonds’ baking flour is very popular. Enterprising women and children,combine flour and butter to bake cookies and cakes at home. A great idea to teach and involve children and get them to earn some pocket-money too. Some children celebrate their birthday’s selling chocolate brownies, and gingerbread cookies.

A young girl selling at her market stall

A young girl selling at her market stall

Photo credit :http://facebook/christchurch-farmer’s market

You can find Kiwi  home-made cookie recipes on :

Assorted breads

Assorted breads

I call this corner – The bread paradise. Here stalls filled with  hearty multi-grain, rich whole meal, feather light white bread, assorted dessert rolls like croissants, chocolate rolls and apricot filled buns. Great effort to produce them in small quantities in home-style factories or machines.  So fresh, so crisp and great with salads and soups. Be an early worm, or  the breads would vanish from the tables!

So festive is the summer ! Lively guitar music played by the local street performers accompanied by spontaneous toe tapping and body shakes light up the far corner. European summer markets mostly feature such dance and music performances.

Two cultures, One country ! Biculturalism exists in New Zealand.The Maori people are  different from the immigrant Europeans – in colour, race, traditions, food, folklore and even clothing. The two races are – European one fair-skinned with light eyes, blond hair and the Maori  heavier built, dark-skinned, with curly hair. They traditionally sport tattoos on their arms, face and body, a distinguishing mark of their Iwi or clan. Markets are a great place to witness cultures, food and seasonal produce. Only when one interacts with the locals making small conversations, do you get a glimpse of local cultures and people. 


A tattoo design on the arm tells a unique story: Polynesian, Maori culture

The Maori lady,with long tattoos on her arm and face, sat at this jewellery stall. She was selling items made from Paua ( Maori word for Abalone shell).  The soft glows of blue, indigo and pink of Paua caught the summer rays and sparkled rainbow colours on the straw covered wall of the stall. The Paua is  Taonga or treasure from the sea and is used for spiritual and decorative purposes. 

The lady was weaving a Harakeke straw basket and singing a beautiful  waiata/ song.

 Aio ki te Aorangi , Aroha ki te Aorangi……..

You can listen Maori waiata here: and here:

Cockleshells Paua sold in New Zealand.     Paua jewellery

This stall was a favourite with tourists shopping for cheap or artificial souvenirs. Handing me a beautiful Paua shell, the elderly lady explained how was used as good luck charm. Can it tell me stories of history and culture ? I thought, holding it to my ear.

And there were more stalls with home-made soaps, candles, jam jars and of course variety of delicious cheese. Summer markets truly are a great way to shop, talk and savour brewed coffee and warm sandwiches served by the near-by moving vans. Or head to the park for a picnic. 

Next time you take a look at a market and tell me what interests you ? Did you learn any recipe? Did you interact with the local community? Or maybe you bumped into a cart of ripe tomatoes? 

Boating in the Avon river,  next to Arts Centre. Enjoy summer!

Boating in the Avon river, next to Arts Centre. Enjoy summer!

Till then, enjoy the New Zealand summer and visit the local town markets that dot the country. Don’t forget to share your comments on market experiences !

A Maori 'Wharenui' - communal meeting house

A Maori ‘Wharenui’ – communal meeting -house

  See World Palate Recipes – New Zealand: Pumpkin Soup.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) Please see copyright disclaimer.

World Palate Recipes: Maharashtrian Recipes


I am from Mumbai (British called it Bombay) and Maharashtrian food consists of Pulses, Usaal or sprouts, Koshimbeer or salad, and Roti/ Bhakri made from cereals like Jowar, Bajra and wheat. Geography of the region and local culture play its part on the the cuisine. Rice is grown in coastal Maharshtra and is widely eaten there, whereas, Bhakri is staple food on the central Deccan plateau where millets and cereal are grown. Maharastrian desserts are: Shrikand, Puran Poli, Modak, and Jalebi.  For rustic, street food served up on beaches, railway platforms or roadside stalls on highways – it’s the ever popular Bhel puri , Vada Pao, and JhunkaBhakri.

See here for Street food Vada Pao

See here for Mumbai blogpost

Every Indian kitchen has a traditional ‘spice box’ or Masala Dabba, a very important part of an Indian kitchen. Sometimes, it’s a hand-me-down from your mother or your  mother-in-law. It is even given along as parting or house warming gift along other kitchen items to set up the new bride’s  home. The Masala Dabba  stores fresh ‘Tadka’ or tempering ingredients: mustard, cumin, dry red chillies, turmeric, fenugreek or methi, assorted lentils, sesame seeds or peanuts.

Traditional Spice box or Masala Dabba

Traditional Spice box or Masala Dabba

I requested my Maharashtrian friends to share their recipes, as they too follow my blog. Hope my other readers will be inspired to share or post comments from around the world!

Guest Post -1 

Suchitra is my childhood friend from Mumbai. Growing up together we played girl’s cricket, hide-n-seek, Antakshari – a song game, and enjoyed endless cups of chai and chocolate milk shakes during sleep-overs. Past 20 years, Suchitra lives in the USA and is an exceptionally high-spirited and a passionate cook. She caters, cooks for friends and family and even conducts classes ! Thanks Suchitra.

You can find her on Culture Club :

Masale Bhaat or Spiced Rice (Maharashtrian Style)

2 1/2 cups rice ( Preferably Basmati)
5 cups water (Hot)
3-4 tsp oil
1/2 tsp. Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. Hing ( Asafoetida)
1 tsp. Haldi (turmeric )
1-2 green Chillies
1sprig of Curry leaves (Kadhi Patta Leaves)
1-1/2 tsp. Bhaji Aamti Masala
1/2 tsp. Jaggery (Gud)
1cup Tendli / Tindora sliced long (see picture below)
Salt to taste
fresh (Frozen) grated coconut, ghee(optional), cilantro, lime.
Sliced Tendli /Tindora vegetable

Sliced Tendli /Tindora vegetable

Step 1
Soak rice in water for 1-2 hours
Step 2
Strain the rice and remove all the water before making the Masale Bhaat.
Step 3
In a pan add oil. Let it heat up.
Add mustard seeds. when they pop, lower the heat and add hing, haldi. Add chillies and curry leaves. (Keep a lid handy, cover the pan before adding chillies and curry leaves).Add the sliced Tindora ( Gherkins)
Step 4
Add the rice to the Tadka (Tempering)
Mix it well, saute for 3-4 min. Add the Masala. Stir well.
Step 5
Add 5 cups hot cups. Add salt, stir well.
Let it come to a boil. Add Jaggery (brown sugar). Lower the heat, put a lid on the pan. Check after 7-10 minutes.                      Masale Bhaat will be ready to serve. Garnish it with freshly (thawed) coconut, cilantro, lime and ghee.
Cucumber Koshimbeer or Cucumber Salad
3-4 Cucumbers (English or Pickling). If using pickling cucumbers then take 5-6
3/4 cup roasted, crushed peanuts
1-2 Green Chillies
salt, Sugar to taste
lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/4 cup Cilantro
Vegetables for Koshimbeer recipe
Ingredients for Tadka or Chonka (Seasoning)
Ghee about 1-1 1/2 tsp.
 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Step 1
Peel the cucumber, chop them small. Crush the peanuts and chillies.

Step 2

In a medium size bowl add the chopped cucumbers, crushed peanuts, lime juice. Add Cilantro. Toss together
Step 3
In a smallest pan, heat the ghee, when it comes to the smoking point, turn off the flame and add Cumin seeds.
The seeds should make a popping sound and splutter in the ghee. Pour it over the Cucumber mixture.
Step 4
When you are ready to serve add the salt and sugar. Toss it together and serve. *If you add salt and sugar too early the cucumber has the tendency to get watery and soggy. We want the salad to be crisp.
chopping cucumbers finely

chopping cucumbers finely

I do the Koshimbeer bit differently:

I love fresh green Mung sprouts, they add protein into my diet. So I tend to toss it up with the traditional Koshimbeer recipe and give it a twist.  Fresh grated coconut sweetens the taste. Crunch, crunch , crunch —  sprouts, cucumber, peanuts !

Cucumber Koshimbeer

Cucumber Koshimbeer

Guest Post – 2 

Manisha is another Maharashtrian friend, who lives in Hyderabad. A teacher by profession she manages her home artistically and spiritually. She is learning to use the technology and enjoys reading Marathi literature. She share here a recipe, though not made in Maharashtrian cuisine

Aloo Kofta curry (Kofte is a Persian /Arabic word for meat or vegetable balls, soaked in a curry) Ingredients:

Aloo / Potato – mashed 100 gm
Dudhi /Bottle Gourd grated 250 gm
Paneer 120 gm
Green chilli 10 gm,
Green coriander 10 gm
Salt 5 gm
Cornflour 20 gm
Aloo wafer gravy 250 gm,
Cashew nuts 20 gm,
Khoya / Condensed thickened milk -30 gm,
Spinach leaves 50 gm.
Gravy with Potato Wafers 

Crush the potato wafers in the mixer to make a semi -solid crush.

Lightly roast some wheat flour / Atta to golden brown and  mix with turmeric, cardamom powder, and roasted cumin powder, a little sugar and a cup of milk. Remove all this from mixer and adjust the water for consistency and juice of  half lemon .Vegetable gravy is ready for use.
1. Peel and grate gourd and boil in just enough water to make it tender.
2. Grate paneer, mix it with Aloo/ Potato  mashed & grated gourd.
3. Add salt ,pepper powder , & corn flour . Knead it like dough and form into small Kofte balls of 30 gm.approx.
4. Stuff the balls with khoya , cashew nut & raisins.
5. Deep fry the koftas in cooking oil till golden-brown colour.
6. In separate pan heat some butter /oil and add minced spinach. Saute for 2/3 min
7. Add prepared Wafer gravy and cook till first boil.
8. Add koftas gently into the gravy. Also add a little water to adjust the consistency. Cook  for 2 min.
9.Garnish with green coriander and serve hot with rice.
If you wish to share your recipes or travel anecdotes , do let me know. 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2020) Please see copyright disclaimer.