BENGALURU: I have just got back from Seychelles, which is an archipelago of 115 islands in The Indian Ocean, off East Africa. Fortunately, chefs from the resort that I was staying in, recognised me as the chef who believes in healthy cooking from India and took me into their kitchens introducing me very closely to Creole cooking techniques and some of their unique ingredients. Two of those that I took an instant fancy to were, cinnamon leaves, used for flavouring and Breadfruit, which belongs to the mulberry and jackfruit family.
Lets start with Breadfruit. This is a staple food in many tropical regions. Interestingly it’s a vegetable when mature but not ripe, once ripe it’s a fruit. However you need to cook it to eat it, once cooked its texture resembles that of freshly baked bread and hence the name. It grows on trees unlike tubers, though it almost taste like potatoes, and also has similar nutritional value, being high in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B and potassium. So I immediately grabbed on to them, realising that there’s an alternative to potatoes and sweet potatoes. Especially when I want something comforting that are similar to those tubers.
The second very interesting ingredient that I was presented with, was a large vacuum sealed packet of cinnamon leaves. Having a distinct spicy and pungent taste, these are leaves of the cinnamon tree. Many a times they get confused with Bay leaves, but are not. However, they can be used to substitute the same in their dry form. Like bay leaves, they make a great flavouring agent. I had never seen or used them ever so I was truly intrigued by them and couldn’t wait to try them back at home.
So now that I’m back, I decided to try my hands at cooking the breadfruit and using my newly found flavouring agent - cinnamon leaves. I prepared it like a classic Creole dish using Coconut milk as my base with the addition of mustard seeds, curry leaves and some dried red chillies. The result was a delightful curry with a mild, yet distinct flavour of cinnamon leaves shining through.
Everyone absolutely loved it. Now my new challenge is finding these ingredients locally in Mumbai as I believe it is mostly found in Southern India. But hey, you can’t really keep a chef away from an ingredient she takes fancy to.
The actor-turned-chef Amrita Rai Chand, will be organising Jersey Thickshake Healthy Snacking Workshop at Godrej Nature’s Basket in Koramangala on August 25 at 3 pm.