Is there anyone who hasn’t come across Helene from MasalaHerb.com through her blog or Twitter or Pinterest.. well everywhere on the net? Just when I think I’ve got my blog commenting under control, I notice she’s already been to every blog I follow. She makes a friend out of everyone she meets.
Helene is my partner now on Food Writer Friday but when I wrote this last year we were just good friends.
When she found out that my second favorite city in the world is Salzburg in Austria, we had an instant connection because she’s originally from the famous Tirol Mountain region in Austria (think Innsbruck or Kitzbühel) and went to college near Salzburg (think Sound of Music movie). After visiting Austria several times, I expect everyone from there to be super neat and well organized. Even Austrian woodpiles are neat.
The region she’s from is breathtakingly beautiful. I ate ostrich one Easter morning there looking up at the snow covered mountains thinking I was the luckiest person alive.
Helene Dsouza’s mother is French and her father is Austrian. Growing up in a multicultural family, she was encouraged to have an open mind and a desire to travel the world.
As soon as the ink was dry on her business and hotel management degree, she set off to explore the world. She even worked in an Italian gelateria every summer for several years. I hope she came away with good recipes that she’ll share with us soon!
On her travels she went to Goa and eventually met the man who would become her husband. They now live in India where her husband is from. Goa is the smallest state in India and is a former Portugese colony annexed by India in 1961. It’s by the ocean and they have beautiful beaches and wonderful architecture with both Indian and Portuguese influences. I asked Helene for some photos of Goal because I’m so curious about such a fascinating city.
When I found out she lived in India I was really intrigued and asked her if she had trouble getting adjusted to the spices of India. She did – so much so that she got quite ill from all the “unnecessary” spices. Yes, that’s what she thought at the time but the kind people of Goa, including her in-laws, have made her see the error in her thinking. If you check out her blog you’ll see she’s quite comfortable with those spices now.
I remember my first day there, sitting on the beach with all the wonderful fresh seafood and soo many interesting travellers around from all over the world. I got stuck on this wonderful region, its paradise! Sooner or later I was bound to meet and get married to my loving husband, who is a local from Goa. He and his family have taught me a great deal about the Goan food traditions. It’s thanks to their home cooked food that I got the desire and inspiration to cook and share the best of Goas and India’s recipes. I was further inspired by my mum who is a fabulous cook in the French cuisine (she taught me the most!) and by my Austrian food culture education in my college years.
When you look at the food she displays on her blog now, you’d hardly believe that as a young girl she loved eating but disliked cooking. Her mother was a fabulous cook and Helene was happy to let her mother do it all. Who knew that all her travels would bring her right back to where her love of food began. Given a choice she would rather eat than cook but admits that since having her food blog and writing about food and meeting all the fantastic friends online, her love of creative cooking has definitely increased.
The photo above is her creation of Avocado Creux Fourré. Creux means hollow in French and fourré means filled. It’s a wonderful appetizer of an avocado filled with prawns, lettuce, cucumber and dressed with a citrus saffron cream sauce.
The name of her blog is Masala Herb which means a mix of spices — open possibilities to new dishes and creations in her culinary life. With her Austrian, French and Goan influences, her food is just magic. She did a post recently on Karaino, called the air potato. Ever heard of it? I certainly hadn’t but I would love to try it.
She says she’s a food addict and when I see posts like this, I’m a believer.
Helene says she was made for blogging. Some of us, like me for instance, fell into it because I wanted to share my cooking with the gang back home in the states. She enjoys every part of blogging from the recipe creation, to cooking, to styling, photography and blog promotion. AND she does it all in English which is not her native language. She told me she’s not good at English and I instantly thought, “Could I blog in German, French or anything else?” I think not.
Her typical day is always a busy and most of us can certainly relate to that. In addition to her blog at Masala Herb, she and her husband own a gym and a taxi service and they also do events management, so she’s hopping from one thing to another all day every day. I asked her if she plans her blog posts ahead of time or is she like me and often says, “Crap, it’s Tuesday and I haven’t updated the blog yet” She does plan her recipes ahead and does all her cooking and photography on the weekends but writes her posts at the last minute when the feeling seems right. (I believe that can be interpreted as, “Crap, it’s Tuesday and I haven’t posted it yet,” but I’m pointing no fingers.)
Because Helene loves to travel in addition to loving and blogging about food, I asked her if she’d enjoy traveling the world as a food writer and if so, what areas would she like to visit.
YES of course!!! That would be a dream! I’d go first to Japan, some of the many pacific islands or somewhere in Africa. In fact I’d love to go anywhere and everywhere. If I could travel the world as a food writer I’d even go to Siberia or Alaska!!
Now THIS is a woman of the world, is it not?
Helene and her husband managed a restaurant for three years before closing it late last year. They had an exceptional Tandoori cook who she says had very talented cooking hands. Unfortunately he also had a talented alcohol throat and began to cause problems because of it. They couldn’t find anyone who came close to his ability and the world economy fell apart at roughly the same time so they decided to close until times get better. When they had the restaurant Helene was working on dishes like Pressknödel, a typical Tirolean (Austrian) bread dumpling dish. Knödel are dumplings and are usually made round.
Why this dish? It’s her favorite dish that her mother used to make for her every summer when she was young. You know how I love food memories! Helene said her mother always added a dash of her own heritage into what is a very Austrian dish. “It’s SOoo comforting, cheesey and full of flavor. I’m addicted to this dish and so is my husband.” Here is her recipe.
- 1 bowl of Dried Bread pcs
- 50-100 g mozarella Cheese – some like more some like less
- 1 big onion – chopped
- 3-4 cloves Garlic – chopped
- warm Milk
- 1 Egg
- salt, pepper
- 1½ Tbs chopped fresh Parsley
- ½ Tbs dried oregano
- dried savory – optional
- dash chili flakes – optional
- 2 Tbs Butter
- Start by shredding the bread into small pcs.
- Chop the onion and garlic and fry with 1 of the 2 tbs of butter in a pan until the onion is translucent.
- In a bowl, combine the Egg and Cheese.
- Add the cooked onions, garlic and remaining tablespoon of melted butter and then add the seasoning & herbs to the mixture..
- If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a little milk but you don't want the mixture too wet or it won't hold together.
- Then with clean hands, mix it all together until it is well combined.
- Once the mixture is smooth, form into patties.
- Heat up a pan with vegetable oil and fry the patties each side min. 10 min. pressing them down with a wooden spatula while frying.
If you’re not familiar with her blog, please check out Masala Herb, follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook too! I know she’ll be delighted to meet you. Remember what I said about her loving to make new friends.