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

Top Jimmy’s Canoe Beach Café Water Sports is applying for what’s called a ‘food primary’ liquor licence for the fenced area in front of the lakeside Shuswap café. (File photo)
Owners of café at Shuswap’s Canoe Beach apply for liquor licence

Application is for a food-only licence which would allow drinks only inside fenced area by concession

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Sicamous man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

A mobile home west of Chase was levelled by fire on Jan. 27. (Pixabay Image)
Mobile home west of Chase burns to the ground

The house was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived but no one was injured.

The first plan for the city from the new Visitor Services Strategy for Salmon Arm will be to move visitor services to city hall. (File photo)
Salmon Arm to move visitor services to city hall, considers tourism revamp

Consultant’s visitor services strategy points to need for recognition of tourism’s importance

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19: Two more deaths at Vernon’s Noric House

Total deaths climb to 17 at local long-term care outbreaks

A change to the drive thru sign at the Tim Hortons in Summerland came before Summerland council on Jan. 25. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council approves variance for drive-thru sign

Questions raised about why issue was brought to council table

Most Read