The Proven Platter – March 2019, India and Tanzania

It’s such wonderful serendipity that the countries of origin for March’s featured grantee (Her Future Coalition, in India) and sustained grantee (African People and Wildlife, in Tanzania) are inexorably linked by geography and ancient trade routes—and, by extension, food.

As I mentioned last month, the mainland of Tanzania has miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean. It’s no wonder the flavors so frequently associated with the cuisine of India can be found in the dishes of Tanzania. And it’s no wonder staple foodstuffs that originated in Africa—like sorghum and okra, for example—made their way to Indian kitchens.

This month I thought it would be fun to share a recipe for shrikhand, a sweet treat that is often eaten in March during Holi, one of India’s most beautiful annual celebrations. I first learned about Holi—the “festival of colors”—from Himesh, my friend and former work colleague. Himesh was born in India, grew up in London, and moved to the United States after graduating from college. He was always a willing taste-tester of my experiments in Indian cuisine. I made him shrikhand after he once described the Holi festivals he remembered as a kid. He seemed nostalgic, and I wanted to cheer him up. It’s easy to see shrikhand is as colorful as the festival itself!

I am also happy to share a spice blend that could be used in all sorts of the curries common to Tanzania. Of all the ways to elevate the yum-factor in your home cooking, the toasting and grinding of whole spices might be one of the very best – not to mention the most simple! There’s just no comparison between the flavor of pre-ground spices (like, say, cumin or coriander) that come in small bottles on the grocery store shelf, and freshly ground versions of them. It’s easy to find bulk spices at Indian, Asian, or Middle Eastern markets. An added bonus: you’ll also save a lot of money on them in the process.

Both of these recipes are Himesh-approved! I hope you give them a try, too.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have questions about any recipe ingredient, method, etc. I can be reached at traci.dfw@gmail.com.