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I am so honored that I am able to write this post! One of the writers whom I admire the most has just come out with the second edition of her lovely book. Ramin Ganeshram’s Sweet Hands (Hippocrene Books) has a terrific foreword by NYT legend Molly O’Neill. The recipes are a journey through Trinidad & Tobago. I really learned a lot about how spices are used in the cuisine there and how much the Indians, who moved there decades ago, have really influenced the cuisine.

I have cooked many dishes from the book and each one turned out perfect- from a simple potato fry to a delightful fried rice, this book has found a permanent home in my kitchen. While the recipes are easy and fun to try, the names of some of them are really sweet and fun: Buss Up Shut, Foo Foo, Mother-in-Law, Chip Chip and Doubles.

I would like to share with you, three recipes in particular that have become a hit with my family. Recipes printed here with permission from author.

Mélange Curried Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from “Sweet Hands” by Ramin Ganeshram (Hippocrene Books, 2010)

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Moses Reuben, executive chef and owner of Mélange Restaurant in Port of Spain, adds elegance to everyday Trinidadian foods with French techniques and delicate seasonings. His version of curry chicken can be paired with roti for a traditional feel or plain rice for a more sophisticated presentation.

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped shado beni or cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons Trinidad curry powder

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup chicken stock

1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt

1/4 cup coconut milk

1. Mix the chicken with the onion, garlic, shado beni, cumin, and 2 teaspoons of the curry powder. Set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Mix the remaining curry powder with 1/2 cup of water to make a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and add the curry paste; fry for 30 seconds or until the curry releases its aromas. Add the chicken and mix well and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the stock, potatoes, and salt. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes more. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Serve with rice or roti.

Trinidad Curry Powder

Makes 2 cups

Adapted from “Sweet Hands” by Ramin Ganeshram (Hippocrene Books, 2010)

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It’s said that Trinidadians will curry anything from meat to vegetables to fruit. As in masala, green seasoning, and other spice mixtures, the ratio of spices in a curry is very personal. Experiment to find the proportions you like. You’ll notice that hot pepper is notably absent from this mixture—unlike curry powder from Madras, Trinidadians like to add fresh hot peppers to dishes, according to taste. I find that curry leaves lend a wonderful aroma and texture, but if they are not available, simply omit.

6 cardamom pods

1 cup coriander seeds

¼ cup cumin seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

¼ cup whole black peppercorns ( I used a mix of colors ?)

6 whole cloves

10 to 15 curry leaves (available in Indian markets)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ground turmeric

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1. Break open the cardamom pods, remove the seeds, and discard the pods.

2. Place the cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds in a heavy frying pan and heat, swirling for about 5 minutes, until the spices begin to release their aromas.

3. Place the toasted seeds in a food processor or spice grinder and add the peppercorns, cloves, and curry leaves. Grind the mixture to a fine powder. Stir in the turmeric.

4. Store in an airtight container. If stored properly, curry powder will keep for at least two months.

Mango Nut Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Adapted from “Sweet Hands” by Ramin Ganeshram (Hippocrene Books, 2010)

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This quick bread has a special sweet tang from the mangoes. If you cannot get fresh mangoes for this recipe, frozen are available at many gourmet markets. Trader Joe’s is a good brand. Alternatively, you can buy frozen mango puree made by companies like Goya.

1 large ripe mango, peeled and sliced, or 1 ½ cups frozen mango cubes

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

2 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

2. Combine the mango, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of water in a blender. Puree until smooth and set aside. (Alternatively, use 1 ½ cups store-bought mango puree.)

3. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda.

4. In a large bowl, beat together the mango puree, egg, and oil. Add the flour mixture,
stirring until just combined. Add the walnuts, if using.

5. Pour the batter into prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Serve sliced with tea.

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Now the best part for my readers. The publisher has generously agreed to giveaway three book!!!! Please leave a comment below about why you want to win this book. I will select, at random, three winners who will each receive a copy of the book. Giveaway ends on August 3rd 2010 at 8:00 pm

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