Archives for January 2017

Spicy Tamarind Mackerel Curry with Coriander Rice

There is nothing like a goooood curry to warm you up during winter. I live in a place where on average winter temperatures reach -17 degrees Celsius. Yup, minus seventeen degrees celsius! That is 20 Farenheit degrees.  This winter has been relatively warmer than usual and my Sahelian self is quite grateful. I have special cravings during certain periods and this spicy mackerel curry has been haunting me lately. This easy to follow recipe will yield a delightful spicy tamarind curry made with fresh mackerel. I served mine with fluffy coriander rice. You can also find the video-recipe below. But first let me tell you about the pure goodness found in some of the natural ingredients used.

Mackerel is an oily fish that naturally contains a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, which are essential for wellness. This medical article on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids provides a thorough review of research showing their crucial role on brain functioning, as well as normal growth and development. These fatty acids deliver great health benefits such as reducing inflammatory pain, risk of heart disease and chronic diseases, as well as improves cognitive function. Another reason I like to cook Mackerel is because it doesn’t require much prepping because it’s a fish without scales. Just ask your fishmonger to clean it out for you and make sure you rinse it out again before cooking.

Tamarind is a lovely sweet and sour fruit found in Africa, Asia, and South America that has many uses, which can be for culinary or medical purpose. It can be eaten in various forms whether raw, cooked, dried, or made into candy. It is naturally packed with anti-oxidants, as well as vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorous and dietary fibre. There are many health benefits associated with tamarind including anti-inflammatory properties, reducing risk of heart diseases, improving blood circulation and nerve function, to name a few. Growing up in Senegal, tamarind is a local produce we readily use for cooking or snacking. I even remember eating the leaves of the tree we had in our farm. Mind you though, too much of it in its raw state will definitely help your bowel routine

Fresh Tamarind with leaves, image from https://herbologymanchester.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/specimen-of-the-day-tamarind/

When I say “let thy food be thy medicine”, I truly mean it. This curry is only made with the pure goodness of mackerel, tamarind, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and natural spices. If you eat pure foods that carry all the nutrients your body needs to function at an optimal level, you will naturally live a healthier and better lifestyle. It’s quite simple actually and can be achieved with practice. Sure, you can eat whatever you want then take supplements to make up for the lack of nutrients you should naturally ingest. Research has already demonstrated that the best source of nutrients is the natural food source it comes from and not the chemically derived nutrients that were obtained in a lab through various processes. That is one reason why I remain a pescetarian, I would rather obtain my omega-3 and omega-6 naturally, by eating fish that is sustainable and nutrient-rich then by depending on fish oil supplements developed in a lab. To each their own though.

Recipe

Back to my recipe. I got inspired by this southern-Indian recipe when I was looking for a simple fish curry with ingredients I had available. I modified it significantly based on what I had and what I could work with. Although the ingredients list may seem long, it is rather simple and some ingredients are optional. You’ll need your whole spices (mustard seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf) as a flavour base to infuse the oil used to make the curry. You’ll then create a curry base with onions, garlic, ginger, coriander roots and tomatoes. Flavour will be added to your curry base by adding ground spices (turmeric, curry, chilli powder) and dried thyme. Once you have your flavourful curry base ready then you can add your fish and tamarind paste water and let cook until ready. It will be complete once you add your freshly chopped coriander leaves to the finished sauce et voila! I served mine with a simple coriander rice, where I cooked Jasmine Rice and added 2 TBSP of chopped fresh coriander leaves. Save it and give it a try next time you want a delicious homemade fish curry. You won’t be disappointed!

Yields 4 serving

Spicy Tamarind Mackerel Curry

20 minPrep Time

40 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

Recipe Image
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Ingredients

  • 1 large Mackerel*, rinsed and cut in half if necessary
  • 1 onion, medium size diced finely
  • 1 roma tomato, large chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ginger root, 1" thick grated thinly
  • 3 coriander roots, chopped (optional but flavour packed)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 7 peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp chilli powder**
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbsp coriander, fresh leaves chopped
  • Tamarind, size of a key lime***
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Tamarind Preparation: soak tamarind ball in 1.5 cups of boiling hot water for 15 mins; using your hand with a massaging action release the pulp into the water until you have an opaque liquid and fibers of tamarinds; strain it so all you have left is liquid and pulp but no seeds or pods and set aside.
  2. In a large pot on medium heat, melt coconut oil, then add fennel seeds, mustard seeds, black peppercorns and bay leaf. Cover with a lid. Once you hear a popping sound (from the mustard seeds) proceed to next step.
  3. Add in chopped onions, garlic, ginger and coriander roots. Let it cook until onions soften and become translucent, about 5 mins then add your turmeric powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, mix well and cover pot with lid. Stir frequently and cook until tomato disintegrates.
  5. Add curry powder, chilli powder, and dried thyme. Mix well and let cook for 4-5 mins until it's fragrant.
  6. Add your mackerel into the pot, followed by tamarind paste water. Mix well, add salt. If sauce looks thick already then add 1/4 cup of water. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Let it come to a simmer, reduce the heat to minimum, cover with a lid and let it cook for 40 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Keep in mind it will thicken a little more after turning off the heat. 2 mins before you turn off the heat, add chopped coriander and mix in.
  8. Serve with rice and enjoy this lovely meal.
Cuisine: Indian | Recipe Type: Vegetarian

Notes

*Mackerel fish size: you can use 1 large mackerel or 2 small mackerels and depending on your cooking pot, you may need to cut it in half

**Chilli powder: If you can find Kashmir Chilli at an Indian or Ethnic grocer then use it because it's not as hot but provides a lovely red hue. I used regular chilli powder I had available and used 1 Tsp. Spicy level is subjective so start with 1/2 Tsp and add more up to 1.5 Tsp if you like.

***Tamarind: I used tamarind pulp but if you find pure tamarind paste then feel free to use that as well.

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Gratitude and Wellness

Although Thanksgiving is usually the time to reflect on what we are grateful for, I’d like to start the beginning of this new year to get into gratitude. It’s something that I practice daily, usually as soon as I wake up and I can vouch for the positive state and feelings it leaves me with to begin each day. I usually take a few minutes to give thanks for all the blessings in my life such as having the chance to see another day and be able to start fresh. I also give thanks for each family member and loved one I have present, and then thanks for anything else I view as a blessing such as a rainy day after a period of hot, dry days. But what is gratitude? What are the benefits of mindfully reflecting on what we are grateful for? And what does the research say?

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude can be defined in several ways but in general, it is as a thankful appreciation of what is meaningful and valuable to one and also represents a state of appreciation and thankfulness. It is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means gratefulness or graciousness, again depending on the context.

With gratitude, one is able to reflect and recognize the good things in their life, which produces positive feelings that contribute to one’s overall well-being. It also helps people connect to something other than themselves, because it allows them to see that the source of goodness partially comes from an external source such as people, nature or a higher power.

Although gratitude can be felt and expressed in multiple ways, there are many positive qualities associated with it including appreciation, thankfulness, compassion, humility and resilience. These qualities can have a positive impact on one when integrated into our daily lives. If so then what are the research findings, is there a solid link between gratitude, happiness and well-being?

Research Findings on Gratitude and Wellness

Most of the studies on gratitude and happiness show a consistent positive correlation between gratitude and overall wellness.

Psychologists R.A. Emmons and M. McCullough had a long-term experiment where participants were divided in three groups. One group of participants recorded  things they were grateful for in a journal, a second group recorded negative events/hassles, and the third group recorded neutral life events. Their results showed that the gratitude subgroup showed consistent higher well-being compared to the other two groups. Specifically, they found that a daily and weekly practice of gratitude increased levels of subjective well-being (SWB)– defined as one’s own experience of one’s happiness.

This empirical article reviewed lots of research on differences in gratitude and well-being and has lots of extensive findings. They found that:

“Gratitude was correlated with traits associated with positive emotional functioning, lower dysfunction, and positive social relationships. Grateful people were less angry and hostile, depressed, and emotionally vulnerable, experienced positive emotions more frequently…Grateful people had higher openness to their feelings, ideas and values, and greater competence, dutifulness and achievement striving.”

Results also showed that gratitude is strongly related to mood and life satisfaction. Additionally, they showed that the experience of gratitude helps foster well-being and helps provide resilience to depression in later life.

Final Take

Clearly there is a lot of research that shows evidence of a strong positive relationship between gratitude and well-being. Personally, I strive to practice gratitude at least once a day because I have seen the benefits. It has given me the strength to get up and get my day started on days where I didn’t feel like it. As I once read, one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to feel happy is to take moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for. I couldn’t agree more. To conclude this article the right way, I leave you with 5 simple tips to practice gratitude. It’s free and simple, try it and see how it improves your well-being.

5 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

  1. Count your blessings: it’s important to stop and reflect on the good things we have, especially what and whom we might take for granted. Take a few minutes every day to do this at least once a day, and reflect on what and whom you are grateful for. I usually do this as soon as I wake up and it leaves me energized for the day.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal or jar: Take note of one thing you are grateful for every day and write it in your journal/diary/calendar. You can also write it on a piece of paper that will go in jar you’ll name your gratitude jar. You can read and reflect on it whenever you need a mental boost.
  3. Be thankful for who you are: you are complete, embrace yourself and all the things that make you who you are instead of criticizing yourself. Recognize your special skills, talents, personality, quirks, and areas of growth (i.e where you feel there is room for improvement:)
  4. Build a gratitude attitude, especially in difficult times: try to see the best out of f—ed up situations. Recognize how good some things are and be content. This takes much practice but once you get in the habit of it, you will see positive effects. I have yet to master it but even trying helps.
  5. Give genuine compliments and heartfelt thanks: Next time you notice something that you admire in someone, let them know. And next time someone lifts you up spiritually or emotionally, give them thanks for it. Not only does it deepen a personal connection, it also allows the other person to feel appreciated and also affects them positively.

References:

Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough. “Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.” Journal of personality and social psychology 84.2 (2003): 377.

Sansone, Randy A., and Lori A. Sansone. “Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation.” Psychiatry (Edgmont) 7.11 (2010): 18–22. Print.

Watkins, Philip C., et al. “Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective well-being.” Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal 31.5 (2003): 431-451.

Wood, Alex M., Jeffrey J. Froh, and Adam WA Geraghty. “Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration.” Clinical psychology review 30.7 (2010): 890-905.

Quotes sourced from Pinterest

Weekend Tunes

Photographed by iconic Malian Photographer Malick Sidibe

Here is a quick playlist of good tunes to get you in the right vibes this weekend. Good music is like good food for the soul. Enjoy it and let me know if you like it! <3

 

 

 

 

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