My Food Story & Salmon with Masala Onions

88
“Is this Canadian food, Mama?”

My 6 year old asked just as I was packing her lunch this morning. In the tiffin, I had packed whole wheat pita with homemade hummus, snap peas and cucumber, along with a couple of strawberries on the side. While a normal lunch menu in our house today, this box was nothing like the packed lunches my mom used to prepare when I was a child.

Lunch time In India

As children in India, my brother and I would carry a homemade lunch to school, Most days it would be parantha and sabzi rolls (Indian flatbread with dry vegetable curry) along with an apple. The latter only if it was a cool day. Warm India climate and fresh fruits don’t really mix well. That left us with just parantha rolls and sabzi most days. The Indian version of ham sandwiches. Boring and sedentary.

Salmon with Indian Masala onions | Easy Salmon Recipe | Seafood | Canada 150 recipes | Maple and Marigold

My husband and I moved to Canada almost 15 years ago. Like many other immigrants before us, and even more since, we brought everything we could possibly carry; pots and pans, a trunkload of books and of course our memories and traditions.

Food While Being an Immigrant 

Food has always been a big part of being an immigrant. So many of us move continents and bring over diverse ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques that have been perfected over generations in far corners of the world.  

My 6 year old asked just as I was packing her lunch this morning. In the tiffin box there was whole wheat pita with homemade hummus, snap peas and cucumber, along with strawberries on the side. A normal lunch menu in our house, it's nothing like the packed lunches my mom used to prepare when I was a child.  Growing up in India my mom would roll parantha and sabzi (Indian flatbread with dry vegetable curry) along with perhaps an apple but only if it was a cool day. Warm India climate and fresh fruits don't really mix well. That left us with parantha rolls and sabzi. The Indian version of ham sandwiches. Boring and sedentary.  My husband and I moved to Canada almost 15 years ago. Like so many other immigrants before us, we brought everything we could possibly carry; pots and pans a trunk load of books and of course our culture and traditions.  Food While Being an Immigrant   Food has always been a big part of this experience where immigrants bring over their diverse food and cooking techniques perfected over generations from far regions of the world.    So when my youngest asked me, "Is pita and hummus Canadian food, Mom?" I hesitated.  Yes, hummus is originally from the Middle East. But today it is made in my home in Canada using a traditional homemade hummus recipe adapted from my days living in Dubai. I use chickpeas grown in the fields of Saskatchewan, and it is my little Canadian child who enjoys it along with her friends in her school gym in Canada.   Food is a result of a person's culture and traditions. What we eat is influenced by where we are from but also where we live. The techniques may be rooted in our past but the ingredients are governed by our present. That brings me to Salmon. Fresh Atlantic salmon is as Canadian an ingredient as it comes. And marinated with Indian spices (masala) and onions and then pan-fried - what does that make it? Delicious for one!  In 2017 I will be participating in the Culinary Historians of Canada CHC Canada 150 Food Challenge. Every month there will be a new theme where I will be showcasing a delicious perspective on Canadian food. This month's theme is seafood.   Pan-fried Easy Salmon Recipe  Salmon is a robust fish, and it can take a lot of flavour. Briefly marinated with a mix of smoky Kashmiri chillies, dry-roasted coriander seeds and fragrant cumin powder along with lemon juice for zing, this easy salmon recipe is simple to put together and customize depending on your family's tolerance of heat.   Real Life Kitchen Tips Roast the coriander and cumin seeds for a few minutes in a pan and then grind them in a mortar with a pestle, or a coffee grinder. You can also use packaged spices for this recipe. This mixture is the dry-roasted masala that you can then store for up to a year in an airtight jar.  Combine (or blend in a small food processor) the lemon juice, chopped green or red chillies, dry roasted masala, shakkar (raw cane sugar), garlic and ginger. Kashmiri chillies have a more smoky flavour and are lower in heat.  Easy Salmon recipe with Indian Masala Onions  4 Salmon fillets  Marinade: 1 red onion finely chopped A tsp coriander seed powder One tsp cumin seed powder 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder  1 tsp chopped garlic 1/2 tsp chopped ginger 1 tsp raw cane sugar  1/2 tsp of chopped green or red chillies (optional) Halved lemons, extra chillies and slices of ginger for serving (optional)  Method:  Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade mixture and press down the onions. Leave aside for 30 mins while you get the rice ready or yell at the kids to do their homework. Heat a pan with a tbsp of oil. Turn it to medium Pan-fry the fillets for 4-5 mins on either side. Make sure the onions are cooking as well. Serve with rice, quinoa or a salad. Enjoy.  See why salmon is considered a nutrient-dense superfood around the world here. 

So when my youngest asked me, “Is pita and hummus Canadian food, Mom?” I didn’t what to say.

Hummus is originally from the Middle East. But today I make it in my kitchen in Canada using a traditional recipe adapted from my days living in Dubai, with chickpeas grown in the fields of Saskatchewan, all through a cooking technique I learned from my Mom in India. This, all for my kids who enjoy the hummus with their friends in their loud and smelly school gym in Toronto, Canada. Can it get any more Canadian, right?

Food is the result of a person’s culture and traditions. What we eat is influenced by where we are from but also where we live. The techniques may be rooted in our past but the ingredients are governed by our present. 

Pan-fried Easy Salmon Recipe

This brings me to Salmon. Fresh Atlantic salmon is as Canadian an ingredient as it comes. And marinated with Indian spices (masala) and onions and then pan-fried – what does that make it? Still Canadian, in my opinion and very, very delicious.

Salmon with Indian Masala onions | Easy Salmon Recipe | Seafood | Canada 150 recipes | Maple and Marigold

Salmon is a robust fish, and it can take a lot of flavour. Briefly marinated with whole, smoky Kashmiri chillies, dry-roasted coriander seeds and fragrant cumin powder, mixed along with lemon juice for zing, this easy salmon recipe is simple to put together and easy to customize depending on your family’s tolerance of heat. I normally add a couple of extra chillies for myself.

Real-Life Kitchen Tips

Salmon with Indian Masala onions | Easy Salmon Recipe | Seafood | Canada 150 recipes | Maple and Marigold
  • Roast the coriander and cumin seeds for a few minutes in a pan and then grind in a mortar with a pestle, or a coffee grinder. This mixture is the dry-roasted masala that you can then store for up to a year in an airtight jar. You may also use packaged spices for this recipe, if that’s what you have available.
  • Combine (or blend in a small food processor) the lemon juice, chopped green or red chillies, dry roasted masala, shakkar (raw cane sugar), garlic and ginger.
  • Kashmiri chillies have a more smoky flavour and have a lower level of heat. 

Easy Salmon recipe with Indian Masala Onions

My 6 year old asked just as I was packing her lunch this morning. In the tiffin box there was whole wheat pita with homemade hummus, snap peas and cucumber, along with strawberries on the side. A normal lunch menu in our house, it's nothing like the packed lunches my mom used to prepare when I was a child.  Growing up in India my mom would roll parantha and sabzi (Indian flatbread with dry vegetable curry) along with perhaps an apple but only if it was a cool day. Warm India climate and fresh fruits don't really mix well. That left us with parantha rolls and sabzi. The Indian version of ham sandwiches. Boring and sedentary.  My husband and I moved to Canada almost 15 years ago. Like so many other immigrants before us, we brought everything we could possibly carry; pots and pans a trunk load of books and of course our culture and traditions.  Food While Being an Immigrant   Food has always been a big part of this experience where immigrants bring over their diverse food and cooking techniques perfected over generations from far regions of the world.    So when my youngest asked me, "Is pita and hummus Canadian food, Mom?" I hesitated.  Yes, hummus is originally from the Middle East. But today it is made in my home in Canada using a traditional homemade hummus recipe adapted from my days living in Dubai. I use chickpeas grown in the fields of Saskatchewan, and it is my little Canadian child who enjoys it along with her friends in her school gym in Canada.   Food is a result of a person's culture and traditions. What we eat is influenced by where we are from but also where we live. The techniques may be rooted in our past but the ingredients are governed by our present. That brings me to Salmon. Fresh Atlantic salmon is as Canadian an ingredient as it comes. And marinated with Indian spices (masala) and onions and then pan-fried - what does that make it? Delicious for one!  In 2017 I will be participating in the Culinary Historians of Canada CHC Canada 150 Food Challenge. Every month there will be a new theme where I will be showcasing a delicious perspective on Canadian food. This month's theme is seafood.   Pan-fried Easy Salmon Recipe  Salmon is a robust fish, and it can take a lot of flavour. Briefly marinated with a mix of smoky Kashmiri chillies, dry-roasted coriander seeds and fragrant cumin powder along with lemon juice for zing, this easy salmon recipe is simple to put together and customize depending on your family's tolerance of heat.   Real Life Kitchen Tips Roast the coriander and cumin seeds for a few minutes in a pan and then grind them in a mortar with a pestle, or a coffee grinder. You can also use packaged spices for this recipe. This mixture is the dry-roasted masala that you can then store for up to a year in an airtight jar.  Combine (or blend in a small food processor) the lemon juice, chopped green or red chillies, dry roasted masala, shakkar (raw cane sugar), garlic and ginger. Kashmiri chillies have a more smoky flavour and are lower in heat.  Easy Salmon recipe with Indian Masala Onions  4 Salmon fillets  Marinade: 1 red onion finely chopped A tsp coriander seed powder One tsp cumin seed powder 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder  1 tsp chopped garlic 1/2 tsp chopped ginger 1 tsp raw cane sugar  1/2 tsp of chopped green or red chillies (optional) Halved lemons, extra chillies and slices of ginger for serving (optional)  Method:  Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade mixture and press down the onions. Leave aside for 30 mins while you get the rice ready or yell at the kids to do their homework. Heat a pan with a tbsp of oil. Turn it to medium Pan-fry the fillets for 4-5 mins on either side. Make sure the onions are cooking as well. Serve with rice, quinoa or a salad. Enjoy.  See why salmon is considered a nutrient-dense superfood around the world here. 

Ingredients

4 Salmon fillets

For Marinade:
Dry-roasted spice powder:

One tsp coriander seed powder
One tsp cumin seed powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

Other Ingredients:

1 red onion finely chopped

1 tsp chopped garlic

1/2 tsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp Canola oil
1 tsp raw cane sugar

1/2 tsp of chopped green or red chillies (optional)
Halved lemons, extra chillies and slices of ginger for serving (optional)

Method:

  • Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade mixture and the other ingredients.
  • Press down the onions.
  • Leave aside for 30 mins while you do other things or yell at the kids to do their homework.
  • Heat a pan with a tbsp of oil. Turn it to medium.
  • Pan-fry the fillets with the marinade and onions for 5-6 mins on either side.
  • Make sure the onions are cooking as well.
  • Serve with rice, quinoa or the cucumber curry salad. Enjoy

See why salmon is considered a nutrient-dense superfood around the world here. 

Salmon with Indian Masala onions | Easy Salmon Recipe | Seafood | Canada 150 recipes | Maple and Marigold
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma<br/><small>Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker</small>
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Tanvi Madkaiker

About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

10 Comments

  • I love that you are bringing your own heritage to Canadian food culture. Since Canada is a land of many people with many backgrounds it is important to celebrate all the foods that make up our country!

    Reply
    • So true! In my research into Canadian food I’ve found it such an amalgamation of culture, cooking techniques and ingredients from all parts of the world. So many things to celebrate about the country 🙂

      Reply
  • I had the distinct displeasure of working with a rather ‘challenging’ individual several years ago. This person had many very strong opinions which were generally presented as facts. One particularly unpleasant opinion was that Canada had no food culture (actually this individual insisted that Canada had no culture, period, but that’s really a story for another day). Needless to say that I chose not to beat my head against a wall, and soon gave up on any hope of conversation with this person, but the idea has always stuck in my craw over the years. Canada is a young country with a fascinating (and mixed) history. Greatness and atrocity lie in our past, and the good and bad stories of many, many individuals have created a complex and interconnected social fabric. Sadly there are those who scoff at the idea that the intermingling of ingredients and cultures within our borders can create a unique culture, but I fail to see how it can be argued any other way. I love that this country is striving to be a place where people can forge their own identity instead of having identity thrust upon them, and I love the food culture that is growing here because of that. Your recipe sounds delicious. Your story is lovely. And I can’t wait to see all of the recipes – Old World, New World, or somewhere in between – that come our way in the future. Cheers.

    Reply
    • I’m always amazed at how people can hold such strongheaded opinions about something, and be so obviously wrong. Many layers, and colours, and textures can only make a painting more beautiful, and a story more interesting.

      Reply
  • Loved reading your story, Puneeta! What I always found great about Canada, is the multicultural aspect of food. It is here, with my husband who is a lover of the intermingling of different cultures, that I have widened my horizon and tried many foods I had never had in Italy. My husband, first generation Canadian, is amazing in fusion cuisine. Your salmon with Indian masala onions sounds lovely and one we’d like to recreate at home.

    Reply
  • Canadian food truly is a multi cultural blend. I loved reading your story and this recipe looks divine. We eat a lot of salmon, so I’ll definitely be trying your recipe out.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maple + Marigold Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly news with tasty recipes, health-boosting foods, sustainable swaps and tips to live well.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Tree--Pledge_01--Maple_and_Marigold

Use what you have, reuse what you can, reduce what you throw away, and repurpose the rest.

Subscribe to the Maple + Marigold Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly news with tasty recipes, health-boosting foods, sustainable swaps and tips to live well.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Scroll to Top