Monthly Archives: March 2015

How I became a true blue-blood

Mithai sweetsToday I decided to indulge in a little aristocratic fantasy and become a ‘blue blood’. And why not, when its so easy to do?

So I took myself off to Mithai, a small Indian specialist confectionary cafe on the corner of Sandringham and Mt Albert Roads (there’s also a store in Manurewa) to sample a selection of their dainty, perfectly formed silver leaf confectionary.

Made from ground almonds, cashews, coconut, chickpea flour or milk powder, not all the sweets contain silver leaf. Some are fruit shaped – mango and strawberry flavours are popular – they’re quite delicious, and very pretty.

But the paper-thin shimmering silver leaf… silver is a very old therapeutic ingredient that was used by ancient cultures including the Romans, Arabs, Chinese and Sanskrit for its anti-bacterial properties, to treat wounds, and for its soothing effect on the nerves, including peripheral nerve endings. It’s still used in Ayurveda treatments and in skin care for its cooling and healing properties.

And the blue-blood? Well, it seems that aristocrats in many cultures would have their meals served on the finest silver plate, using silver cutlery and silver cooking utensils, and the traces of silver entering the blood stream reputedly gave it, literally, a blue tint.

See? – I said becoming a blue blood was easy!

More on the virtues of eating silver leaf

‘Let your food be your medicine’

The 2015 edition of A Guide to Vegetarian Cafes is due out this month.


Why chillis have that feel-good factor

Sabudana Vada copyI needed a lunchtime snack for a pick-me-up after some meetings last week so called in at Ras Vatika in Dominion Road. The owner-chef of this tiny Indian cafe smiles and reaches for a Sabudana Vada (sago pattie, $1.80) when she sees me coming.

These lively patties are a delicious mix of soft and crunchy textures, slightly sweet with a light chilli hit. They’re made from spiced mashed potato with sago and peanuts, so are gluten free (sago is made from tapioca root). And the chilli is as good as a caffeine hit, and better for you.

If you can handle chilli, it really is true that it has a feel-good factor. As your body defends itself against the heat of a hot chilli it releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, and that leaves you with a bit of a natural ‘high’. Which explains why so many people who like chillis find them addictive!

Chillis also contain Vitamin C, B-complex, and a host of other minerals and vitamins, along with anti-bacterial properties.

Lots more about the health benefits of chillis here

Coming soon: the updated edition of ‘A Guide to Vegetarian Cafes in Aotearoa/New Zealand’