Chef Aman Dosanj of Paisley Notebook and Edible Adventures Indian spices. Lia Crowe photography

Spice Up The Season

High on chai and other spicy goodness with Aman Dosanj

  • Jan. 4, 2021 11:00 a.m.

– Words by Gail Johnson Photographs by Lia Crowe

Aman Dosanj loves good food – meaning food that’s fresh, flavourful, sustainable, seasonal and local, grown or raised by farmers she knows by name. However, there are some ingredients that the Kelowna-based chef and slow-food champion sources from beyond BC’s borders, and those are spices.

Aman is the founder of the Paisley Notebook, which hosts inventive pop-up dinners at farms, wineries, orchards and unconventional locations throughout the Okanagan Valley. With cooler weather coming (meaning physically distanced events will entail more strategizing to hold indoors as opposed to out) and the pandemic driving more people to stay home to cook, she is turning her attention to her line of spice blends, Edible Adventures by the Paisley Notebook.

The self-taught chef imports non-GMO spices from India. She roasts and grinds them for her small-batch blends, recipes for which she developed herself. As her mom taught her, “your food is only as good as your spices.” And her mother should know: the family used to operate a farm-to-table contemporary Indian restaurant called Pappadoms in Kelowna, having moved to the area from Southampton, England in 2008.

There’s more to Edible Adventures than the blends’ fragrances and flavours. Through the products, Aman also wants to help decolonize Indian spices and change people’s perceptions of Indian food. Take jars of “curry powder” you find at your nearest chain grocery store, for example.

“People think that curry powder is an Indian thing, when it’s in fact a British thing,” Aman says. “The English colonized India for the spice trade. It’s way too yellow. You shouldn’t ever taste the turmeric—there’s way too much.

“I want to make Indian spices less intimidating and more fun,” she adds.

To that end, Aman has created several different types of blends, which she encourages people to cook with alongside local foods sourced from farmers markets or small producers.

Adhai Spice, with fennel, coriander, cumin and a smidge of chili, goes well with West Coast seafood, roasted vegetables and sautéed mushrooms.

Rooted in nobility, Royal Spice consists of expensive goods, like black and green cardamom, star anise, mace and peppercorns. Add it to burger mince or to steak.

Malabar is a sweet-and-savoury blend inspired by Kerala, a southwestern state on the Arabian Sea. Ingredients such as star anise, cinnamon and fennel make it a good match for veggies, chicken, pork and fish.

Edible Adventures also has Chai Baking Spice. It’s meant to be sprinkled into baked goods or atop fruit and yogurt and can be used in syrups for creative cocktails.

The spice blends can be ordered via the Paisley Notebook website or through Vancouver venues such as Como Taperia, Legends Haul and Broadway Wine Shop. One per cent of sales is directed to anti-racism organizations.

Aman shares suggestions for how to cook with the various blends on her website but avoids being prescriptive. Her “recipes” are not lists with strict measurements but rather doodles with loose guidelines, the hope being that people will get the hang of different tastes and combinations by experimenting. She also encourages people to bring the spices camping or on outdoor adventures with them to lift so-so food to the next level.

“Whatever is in your kitchen or camp kit, you can transform it,” Aman says. “Keep on tasting and tweaking and tasting again. I don’t want to give people all the answers; I want to get them cooking.

“Use your instinct,” she says. “Use your palate to try to figure out what to do. There are no rules as long as it’s delicious.”

On the following pages are two recipes certain to spice up the season.

Chai-Spiced Sticky Toffee Pudding

By Aman Dosanj

5-8 servings

Pudding:

200 g Medjool dates (pitted)

2 fair-trade black tea bags (steeping in 200 ml hot water)

50 g BC unsalted butter (room temperature)

75 g golden sugar

75 g muscovado brown sugar

2 organic or free-range BC eggs

170 g Anita’s Organic All-Purpose Flour

(sifted + more for the pan after greasing)

½ tsp aluminum-free baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp The Paisley Notebook’s Chai Baking Spice

A pinch of West Coast sea salt

Toffee Sauce:

125 g BC butter (cubed)

100 g sugar (50 g golden and 50 g brown)

150 ml D Dutchmen Dairy Whipping Cream

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Boil hot water, and let steep with tea bags for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the dates to a blender, pouring in the tea, minus the tea bags, on top. Leave for 8 to 10 minutes to soften up, and then coarsely blend—it’ll become thick and fudge-y with little gooey bits.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until pale. Crack in one egg at a time, whisking well in between. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and fold in. Add in the puréed date mix. Sprinkle in the Chai Baking Spice and a pinch of salt. Pour into a greased, oven-proof pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the sauce: In a medium-to-large-sized pan, add the sugars and cubed butter. Let the sugars dissolve on medium heat. Carefully bubble until golden brown, making sure it doesn’t burn. Add the cream and swirl—the cream will bubble up, so be careful. Cook until thick and a lush caramel colour.

To serve: Divide the re-heated pudding. Pour over the heated toffee sauce. Serve with a local ice cream or gelato of your choice. Garnish with toasted Okanagan nuts (optional) and mint leaves.

High on Chai

By Harry Dosanj

2 oz Wiseacre Farm Distillery gin

1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ oz The Paisley Notebook Chai Baking Spice Simple Syrup

(heat ½ cup organic cane sugar with ½ cup water and ½ tsp The Paisley Notebook’s Chai Baking Spice in a pot until dissolved, leave to cool and keep in the fridge until needed)

3 bar spoons apple maple butter

(add one peeled and sliced organic BC apple to a blender with a drizzle of Sugar Moon maple syrup and blend until smooth)

Method:

In a cocktail shaker, add the gin, lemon juice, chai simple syrup and apple butter with a lot of ice. Shake well until cold. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. To garnish, sprinkle with The Paisley Notebook’s Chai Baking Spice for a touch more aromatics.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

FoodFood and Drink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Those who want to view the Strathcona Regional District’s public meetings will have to do so after the fact by going to their Youtube Channel. Photo courtesy Youtube.
No live public option for SRD meetings again

Public Health Order says governments must make ‘best efforts’ to give public a live option

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program rehearse this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for next month’s virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline’s popular musical goes online for 2021

Once Upon a Mattress will be streamed right to your living room thanks to school’s AV department

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read