Yesterday, I had three goals: get myself a hearty lunch, go to the Richmond library, and can fruit with my friend Jill. While I got sidetracked for an embarrassing amount of time by a window full of kittens, I’m pleased to announce I achieved all three. More on the cats later; let’s begin with lunch.
Chutneze is a small shop serving Indian food in Richmond Centre, near the mall’s east entrance. They offer a number of hot entrees, pakoras, samosas, snacks, drinks, and even kulfi (Indian ice cream).
First and foremost, I’ll say this was one of the friendliest places I’ve been to in Richmond. The lady who served me was full of information for myself and other customers, and you could tell from the people who walked by the shop and waved that they have a lot of regulars. I felt genuinely welcomed.
For lunch, you can order a la carte, or opt for a one, two, or three entree + rice combo ranging from $5.99 to $8.49. All of their curries and daal are gluten-free, and many of them are vegetarian. I opted for rice, eggplant masala, and tandoor chicken curry (all for $6.99), as well as a beef samosa ($1.49), roti ($0.99), and kulfi ($1.49/scoop) for dessert. I was hungry! The samosa came with chutney, the flavour of which changes daily (as do the hot menu items). Yesterday’s chutney was cranberry.
The food wasn’t exceptional, but decent enough for the price. My favourite of the two entrees was the tandoor chicken curry, and the roti was good (though nothing compared to roti canai!)
The samosa was ok – I would have liked it spicier – and I poured the chutney over everything. My major complaint was that the food wasn’t hot enough (and by hot I mean temperature-wise, not spice).
This was the first time I’d ever tried kulfi, and I really liked it. It’s described as the Indian version of ice cream, but is prepared differently and has a heavier texture and richer taste. I chose the pistachio (as with gelato, you can spot a good pistachio flavour by its colour; it should be a dull, earthy green) and the mango/saffron/rose.
The texture was thick, almost a bit crumbly, and I loved it. My favourite was the pistachio; it had a rich, natural flavour, and lots of crushed nuts. The other kulfi was nice as well, though the aromatic rose flavour overpowered the other two.
I’ve been looking up kulfi recipes online, and unlike ice cream, you don’t need a mixer to make it. Here’s a recipe I might try making at home – it looks pretty easy and I can’t resist cardamom.
I ordered a hot chai (half sweet and with ginger) to have with my meal, and it was lovely. I also went back later and got a fresh mango lassi, which they can sweeten to your liking. I asked for mine unsweetened, and he gave me a little taster before he poured it into the cup, just to be sure I was ok with the sourness of it. I was, but I still really appreciated that.
After lunch, I planned on heading quickly and efficiently over to the library, but instead got sidetracked by a bunch of cats.
You see, there’s a pet shop right next to Chutneze, and it’s nearly impossible to pass by without stopping.
I don’t even like cats, but who can resist a window full of frisky, fuzzy kittens?! Some bounced around and chewed on each others’ tails, while others attacked my bag.
Or attempted to attack my camera.
And/or napped together in warm little mountains of fur. It was so darn cute – almost enough to make me want one. Or at least a cat mug.
I eventually pulled myself away and headed to the Richmond Public Library, the main branch of which is located on Minoru Boulevard, just west of Richmond Centre. It’s in the Richmond Cultural Centre, a dynamic space that also houses the city’s archives, art gallery, and museum. I’ve been meaning to get myself a library card for awhile now, and finally did.
Crossed off list.
I was there in search of books on food preservation, as I recently took a workshop on canning and have made several “put ’em up” dates with friends this week. We have boxes of BC fruit, dozens of mason jars, chopping blocks a-ready, and earnest, homesteading spirits.
Canning, pickling, and fermenting have experienced a renaissance over the last while, and it’s pretty cool to see. While preserving is second nature to many (my friend’s mom Kathy used to can Stephanie’s weight in peaches each year as we grew up), it’s a new world to many, including myself. Like knitting, making your own cheese, or home-brewing kombucha, putting fruit in jars is cool, my friends. Heck, I felt like a better person just thinking about canning. And do you know how many approving looks I got while lugging two cases of mason jars home on the bus a few days ago? Tons. Too many to even count.
However, like making bread for the first time or gardening, canning for newbies can be really intimidating; it just seems like there’s so many steps, so much equipment, so many ways to accidentally kill yourself and your loved ones with botulism…..
Turns out though, all you need is to follow a few very easy steps, and you’ll be good to go. If you live in Richmond and are interested in learning the basics, then you’re in luck – the Richmond Food Security Society offers Home Food Preservation Workshops each Tuesday until October 10th – only two more weeks! Using donated fruits and vegetables, chef Karen Dar Woon will guide you through each practical step, and guess what – it only costs FIVE DOLLARS PER WORKSHOP. If that’s not the deal of the millenium, I don’t know what is. There’s also two Canadian Tire store in Richmond, both of which are stocked with the jars and equipment you’ll need to get going (though I will say, it’s much easier to get mason jars home with a car than it is on the bus).
Also, here’s a map of some of the farms and farm markets in Richmond where you can buy your produce for preserving.
My canning journey began yesterday, and my life is already a half dozen jars richer. I’ll let you know in future posts how it’s going. As for you, dear readers, I’d love to hear about any canning you’ve done or have plans for. If you fancy, send me book recommendations, photos, and/or recipes of your prize-winning preserves, even if they just won big love with your friends, not at the county fair. You can email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My project in the next few days? Chutney, of course!
Chutneze (Richmond Centre)
Cash and cards accepted (minimum $5 for interac)
Many vegetarian options available