Pan Asian: Chicken Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew) – Iran

A unique dish from the Caspian region of Iran, Fesenjan is usually made for special occasions. Its bold, sweet & sour flavor profile comes from such ingredients as walnuts, beets, and pomegranate molasses, and it is not difficult to make. I find Persian food fascinating because it tends to be its own thing–completely distinct from … Continue reading Pan Asian: Chicken Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew) – Iran

Pan Asian: Doro Wat (Chicken Stew) — Ethiopia

Doro Wat is one of those iconic dishes inextricably linked to its country of origin, Ethiopia. Pieces of chicken slow-cooked in a rich sauce redolent of onions, spices, and clarified butter, this dish features complex layers of flavor unlike anything I’ve eaten around the world. Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times at Ethiopian restaurants, the … Continue reading Pan Asian: Doro Wat (Chicken Stew) — Ethiopia

Introducing Pure Ceylon Cinnamon, Straight From The Source


Cinnamon is a fun spice. While  most people typically use it for sweet applications, I like to use a whole stick in curries and even to subtly flavor rice. The cinnamon we get in Sri Lanka, home of the cinnamon tree, is a dusty light brown that crumbles easily and grinds to a peppery sweet powder. Also try some cinnamon oil sometime, which is the extract of the leaves and much more concentrated in flavor. The ‘cinnamon’ available in the U.S. is more often than not, cassia, a tree of the same family, but much harsher in taste and harder in texture, not to mention darker. Because of the dearth of real cinnamon here, and the exorbitant expense (Penzey’s sells a 4 oz. bag for $11.29), I’ve decided to go into the cinnamon business, and share with you all the amazing Pure Ceylon Cinnamon I get from my cousin in Sri Lanka, who gets it directly from the growers. Cinnamon is one of those products like coconut oil, whose benefits people in the west are just discovering. Sri Lankans use cinnamon on a daily basis–and not just in the morning porridge–and they are all the better off for it. Once you taste real cinnamon, and discover it’s many uses, you will never go back to cassia.

Here’s the 411:

Cinnamon spice of many uses
Cinnamon is the dried bark of the perennial tree of Cinnamom varum syn. C.zeylanicum of the Lauraceae family. True cinnamon is the native to Sri Lanka and originally grown wild in the central hill country of Sri Lanka.  Several species of cinnamon occur sporadically in places such as Kandy, Matale, Belihull Oya, Haputale and the Sinharaja forest range.  Although cinnamon cultivation is presently concentrated along the coastal belt stretching along from Kalutara to Matara, it has also made inroads to the inland of Kalutara, Ambalangoda, Matara and Ratnapura.
There are eight cinnamon species in Sri Lanka. Among them only Cinnamomum verum Presal (C. zeylanicum Blume) is grown commercially. Traditionaly, there were several types of cinnamon categorized based on the taste of the bark in Sri Lanka and they are;
Pani Kurundu
Naga Kurundu Pani Miris Kurundu
Weli Kurundu
Sewala Kurundu
Kahata Kurundu
Pieris Kurundu
As mentioned above Cinnamon provides various outstanding benefits. Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice and it is largely available in the form of quills which is unique practice to Sri Lanka. Quills are made by rolling the pealed bark and join several of them together to get a pipe like structure of the required length. Other than that pieces of bark are available as chips, quillings or featherings.
Cinnamon is unique plant which has essential oil in leaves, bark and roots but chemical composition of them are completely different from each other. Essential oils are produced from both bark and leaves; major chemical in bark oil is  Cinnamaldehyde and in leaf oil Euginol. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is also used in many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns, tea, hot cocoa, liqueurs, salads, confectionaries, soups, stews and sauces.
In addition, did you ever know that Cinnamon is comprised with innumerable health benefits as well? Followings are some of the health benefits of cinnamon. But it should be noted that before taking cinnamon for medicinal purposes it is wise to consult a doctor as overdoses will lead to complications.
Blood sugar Control:  According to many studies, there is evidence that Cinnamon has properties that help those with insulin resistance. It is therefore very popular with Type 2 diabetics who take it to control their blood sugar variations.
Anti-Bacterial/Anti Microbial properties:  It is said that Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil is a powerful anti-bacterial and has natural disinfectant properties. According to recent researches, Cinnamon oil has the best anti microbial activity among three oils against Escherichia coli , Staphylococcus aureus , Aspergillus oryzae ,and Penicillium digitatum . Therefore it is wise to use cinnamon leaf oil with water to disinfect kitchen counter tops, sinks, your refrigerator, door knobs, toys and many other things.
Anti-oxidant: Cinnamon is one of the top seven anti-oxidants in the world. Anti- oxidants reduce the formation of Free Radicals that cause cancer and according to researches, Cinnamon has sufficient anti-oxidant properties and makes for improved food palatability.
Weight Reducer: Cinnamon apparently has the effect of blood thinning thereby increasing blood circulation. It is said that increased blood flow generally boosts metabolism which helps in weight loss. This blood thinning property of Cinnamon also acts as an anti clotting agent especially for those suffering from heart disease. However it should be strictly noted that it should not be taken with other blood thinning medication.
Arthritis/Osteoporosis: Drinking Cinnamon tea helps the pain from arthritis and Cinnamon Oil based massage helps to ease the pain. Cinnamon has high levels of Manganese which is used to build bones.
Lowering LDL cholesterol/triglycerides :  LDL is also known as the harmful cholesterol.  Reducing it may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cognitive Development: Cinnamon improves response times and memory recall.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Cinnamon significantly reduces the uncomfortable feelings associated with IBS, especially the bloating. It does this by killing bacteria and healing infections in the GI tract and enabling the gastric juices to work normally.
Cold, Sore Throat and Cough: At the first sign of sniffles or an itch in the throat, it is advised to take some Cinnamon Tea or Cinnamon stick Tea. This is associated with the anti bacterial properties and warming properties of Cinnamon and its propensity to increase blood flow and thereby improve blood oxygen levels to fight illness.
Therefore it is worthwhile to incorporate this precious spice “Cinnamon” that can be easily found here in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading “Introducing Pure Ceylon Cinnamon, Straight From The Source”

Easy Asian Cooking, Part 1 ~ China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam ~ with Gastronaut Skiz Fernando

  When: Sat, 05/04/2013 – 11:00am to 1:00pm Cost: $75 Category: Food and Garden Location: Lorinda “Annie” Hooks Demo Kitchen @ The Capitol Hill Center Skiz Fernando returns to Hill Center to take you on a culinary tour of the Far East without ever leaving the kitchen. In this two-hour, hands-on class, Skiz seeks to demystify Asian ingredients and techniques as he … Continue reading Easy Asian Cooking, Part 1 ~ China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam ~ with Gastronaut Skiz Fernando

Pan Asian: Salmon With Yogurt & Fresh Herbs (Methi Dhone Pata Diye Doi Maach) – Bangladesh

In these food-centric times there is a greater appreciation for regional cuisines than ever before in history. Forget about the fallacy of “Chinese food” or “Indian food”–people are digging deeper into the various regional cuisines that comprise these two well-established food cultures.  The internet has a lot to do with that, and travel, as well … Continue reading Pan Asian: Salmon With Yogurt & Fresh Herbs (Methi Dhone Pata Diye Doi Maach) – Bangladesh