Papa’s sardines

Who   Ruby Banga What   A busy local Realtor.

Where   Raised in Coquitlam, currently living in North Vancouver.

 

THE DISH Sardines in a spicy tomato sauce topped with fresh cilantro and served with French baguette and a nice Riesling Gewurztraminer (or in this case, a refreshing beer—based on personal experience, both pair beautifully). This dish originated with my dad. My parents are originally from India and came to Canada in 1971, when I was just a year old. They’re both beyond excellent cooks; whenever we have gatherings with friends and families, everyone is blown away by their culinary skills. My dad in particular loves to experiment, and I’ve learned almost everything I know about cooking from them, though my skills pale in comparison! These sardines in tomato sauce was one of my dad’s late night experiments decades ago. It became the dish he’d whip up when we were craving a satisfying late night snack. The combination of spicy masala with the texture of the sardines, sautéed sliced onions and cumin seeds (which enhance so many dishes), along with the freshness of the cilantro, the acidity of the tomatoes and the crunch of a beautiful crusty baguette hit the spot like no other. Add a glass of Riesling and the whole meal sings. It’s a quick and easy snack… and to be honest, I’ve never eaten sardines any other way. Though this dish uses all the key ingredients and methods of Indian cooking, you’d never find it on the menu at an Indian restaurant. It’s unique to our family and reminds me of my childhood, my childhood home and sharing food with the people I love. The beauty is that it’s so easy to make and most people will already have the foundational ingredients on hand (tomato sauce, onions, garlic, ginger, garam masala and cumin seeds). As an added bonus, sardines are packed with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and are a natural source of Vitamin D, so it’s healthy too!

 

SARDINES IN SPICY TOMATO SAUCE Serves 2 as a snack

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 sliced onion

green chillies to taste
5-6 tbsp crushed tomato
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp paprika
Salt to taste
1 tin of sardines
Cilantro for garnish

METHOD Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add cumin to pan and roast until seeds begin to pop. Stir in onions and cook until translucent. Turn down heat and add green chillies, cook for a minute. Mix in crushed tomatoes, sugar, garam masala, paprika and salt to taste. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Carefully place whole sardines and their oils into the pan and gently spoon the sauce over the sardines. Simmer for a few minutes until the oil separates from the tomato sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve on top of a wedge of naan or a slice of baguette.