Ghee whiz

by ParkLifeEditor on June 30, 2014

It’s a wonder what a difference that clarified butter can make – at least if it’s organic. I first made the acquaintance of Pukka’s good-for-you ghee when testing out an ALKALINE DIET for foodzine, Flavour First, and I turned to Anu at Jivita Ayurveda for some advice…

ghee‘Two thirds of our diet should be alkaline,’ says Anu Paavola. ‘If you change your diet according to the seasons – as in. eat what the harvest produces at any of the three main seasons of produce, which are spring, summer and autumn – you automatically keep your acid alkaline balance correct. However, if you have excess acidity in your body you can favour foods that grow in spring and summer which are all alkaline, cut down or avoid acidic foods mainly meat (especially red), grains, pulses (unless sprouted), most of the citrus fruits (except lemon), raw tomatoes and vinegar and related products like mayonnaise and ketchup. Obviously the use of white sugar and flour should be reduced if not cut off completely. They have a strong acidic effect in the body.

Ayurvedically speaking, you shouldn’t have one kind of diet all year round. Usually we recommend a seasonal diet for everyone unless there is a strong imbalance of doshas (bio-energies responsible for all the functions of the body). If acidity levels are high during a season when food is naturally acidic the recommendation is to favour some foods from other seasons and use some cooking tricks in the kitchen to reduce acidity like use of certain spices and herbs, use of right kinds of fats (ghee or coconut oil) and correct food combination.

Making ghee is very easy. Melt one pound of unsalted butter in a thick bottom sauce pan on a very low heat.  Remember, the better the butter, the better the ghee, so use organic butter if you can. As the butter melts two layers appear (white and organge).  Do not stir and do not let boil. Skim off the white milk residues settling on the surface. Line a strainer with some muslin cloth and strain the ghee into sterilised jars.  Discard the sediment. The ghee will turn hard when cooled and look yellow in colour – it melts quickly when exposed to heat.’

ghee cakeThe good news is that ghee can also be used to make cakes – and Anu’s home-made healthy ones are now available in Minkie’s… Pictured.

‘The cake is made out of organic ingredients, sourced from the local shopkeepers. Secondly, I’ve used ghee instead of butter as it is the healthiest of fats and does not turn to trans fats (those most evil of fats) when heated. Therefore it will not go to storage when eaten but helps your metabolic functions and improves gut health. (The gut in fact itself already produces ghee, or butyric acid, and without it it does now work well.) Ghee gives the cake its special taste of sweetness and nuttiness. Combined with rapadura sugar, the rawest sugar you can find, the taste becomes like caramel. And yes, there is a considerable amount of sugar but at least this variety has not been stripped out of its nutrient content. This is a cake you can enjoy with good conscious as it not only help the local shopkeepers but also gives you some good fats and a great taste sensation.’

 Anu is based at Jivita Ayurveda at 89 Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, London NW10 (020 89644 993). You can tuck into her tasty cakes without a guilty conscience, across the road at Minkie’s Deli.

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Chic cafés and stylish boutiques new to the neighbourhood are all very well, but it’s sad when you have to say farewell to local characters such as Ronald Price, the greengrocer on Golborne Road, the ever-smiling octogenarian (guessing) at the time capsule that is E Price & Sons. 

E Price & Sons

What next at 96–98 Golborne Road, W10? Maybe something cool, possibly something great*, most likely something more organised, but unlikely anything so characterful… RIP Ron, your West London community will miss saying hello to you.

* Talking of great new places coming soon though: SNAPS & RYE will be Kell and Jacqueline Skött’s Danish eatery across the street at 93 Golborne Rd, London W10 5NL… Watch this space for more details on their Smørrebrød sandwiches…

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The sun is out… And the mood is Mediterranean: which prodded me to write this long overdue post about Spanish tapas restaurant Caldo Bar & Kitchen in Queen’s Park…

Caldo Tapas

Having walked past at the weekend as its front windows were flung completely open and I was reminded how Penks’ reincarnation as a tapas bar looks about the perfect place to be on a warm, lazy Sunday.

Caldo kindly treated us to an evening of tapas and delicious Fino sherry a while ago – and this is how it rolled:

Me: ‘What do you recommend?’
Waiter: ‘Chicken libbas’.
Me: ‘Cool. Let’s try the chicken libbas? I love trying new flavours.’
My other half: “Chicken livers? You hate chicken livers.’
(The cute Spanish accent threw me. Thought it was something exotic.)

Caldo sherryTruth is, those libbas were indeed delicious… As were the zingy padron peppers… the tortilla and the croquetas… But perhaps the best surprise was the top tip of a glass of rich sweet Pedro Ximénez sherry with dessert. Teamed with the crema Catalan and dark choc ice-cream it was like being transported to Spain. That’s what’s great about Caldo – it’s like a mini Basque holiday right on Salusbury Road.

BIG PLATES TOO! Caldo also does Sunday lunch: so you can also expect Best of British as well as Basque with roasted pork and leg of lamb on the menu… 

Rod Penk: “My family has spent a lot of time in Spain over the last few years, especially the Basque region. What strikes you is the way the bars are at the centre of the whole community. Every generation, worker and resident feels welcome and comfortable. They expect a friendly, unpretentious environment along with good cooking and well-made local wines at a reasonable price. We’ve taken this idea and brought it to Queens Park.

We are not attempting to be a pastiche of a San Sebastian pinxos bar, but we try to use local, seasonal produce – and while we like affordable, well-crafted wines from small family wineries, we also love British ales and cheeses, so we put them all in our bar.”

Caldo Bar and Kitchen is at 79 Salusbury Road, London NW6 6NH (020 7604 4484)

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