110 - Nuts, Spice and Everything Nice

By Mary Luz Mejia

Ever ordered a serving of succulent butter chicken only to feel a pang of calorific regret after eating every last bite? Regret no more thanks to the culinary mojo of nutritionist and homeopathic practitioner Sunita Mohan and her partner Pervez Mashi.

This dynamic duo want you to feel as if you're eating at their home When you enter the funky and welcoming Spices Cafe in the heart of the downtown core, and that includes eating as healthily as they do.

Butter chickenTheir mouth-watering version of butter chicken contains not a drop of butter or dairy. So how, you must be wondering, do they achieve the silken creaminess that dairy imparts? Sunita cleverly devised a substitute – she takes whole, raw almonds, cashews and water, grinds them up to a smooth paste and adds it to her spiced base of tomato puree. The chicken gently cooks in this rose-coloured concoction until all the flavours meld in harmony.

Served atop some perfectly cooked basmati rice, the butter-less butter chicken is garnished with digestive and circulatory aids that include the almighty ginger (excellent for both blood circulation and to help a sluggish metabolism), and sliced chilis. Almonds are sprinkled on top to give diners the idea that this nut plays a central role in the dish's composition.

One bite of this clearly healthy and delicious version, and you'll be back to try the couple's equally impressive chicken biryani, daily-made samosas and curries.

Oh, and don't forget to order a cup of Pervez's steaming hot chai tea to finish off your meal. It's fantastically infused with all of the spicy sweet goodness of Northern India.

Spices Café
4 Temperance Street
Toronto, Ontario