Food Writer Fridays – Helene Dsouza from Masala Herb

Interview with Helene Dsouza from masalaherb.comIs there anyone who hasn’t come across Helene 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.

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.

tirol mountains of AustriaThe 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’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 did a quick search and thanks to lonelyplanet.com I found a few photos to show you what the area around Goa is like.

Photos of Goa by Helene DsouzaWhen 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.

Avocado Creux Fourré

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.

karaino - the air potatoThe 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.)

Sorak Curry by masalaherb.com

Vegetarian Sorak Curry – Guest post by Helene on askchefdennis.com

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.

Pressknödel - Tasty Cheese/Bread Patties

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.

4.8 from 8 reviews
Pressknödel, a typical Tirolean bread dumpling
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is an Austrian dish Helene's French mother made for her and is traditionally served with a clear soup or lettuce salad.
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Austrian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Start by shredding the bread into small pcs.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic and fry with 1 of the 2 tbs of butter in a pan until the onion is translucent.
  3. In a bowl, combine the Egg and Cheese.
  4. Add the cooked onions, garlic and remaining tablespoon of melted butter and then add the seasoning & herbs to the mixture..
  5. 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.
  6. Then with clean hands, mix it all together until it is well combined.
  7. Once the mixture is smooth, form into patties.
  8. 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.
Notes
Serve with a clear soup or lettuce salad. This is a dish children really like.

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m excited to try this recipe – it’s so different from what I usually cook and I like an adventure. Such a lovely write up of Helene – now I feel I’ve me her. :)

  2. says

    Glad to see you hosting Helen today. She does have some amazing talent and I do frequent her blog quite a bit. Also, she is a great supporter of fellow bloggers.
    Nice to get to know about her journey of food and more about her personally. Great snapshots of her food talent and delicious recipe post as well. Both of you enjoy the weekend!

  3. says

    What a lovely write up, Maureen! I will visit her various sites and have peek! There’s so much out there to learn and absorb, isn’t there?!

  4. says

    Maureen, what a beautiful dish and a lovely post. Thank you for introducing me to Helene and her blog. I look forward to following it. My husband is Austrian and most all of his family is in Vienna. Though he was raised there in the summers and has visited quite often in his adult years, I have yet to travel there! Your gorgeous pictures have me rethinking that! I’m going to have to visit your food write fridays more often! : )

  5. says

    I absolutely love this post. It was so cool seeing all the photos and learning more about her. Thanks for sharing Helene’s story with us Maureen.

  6. says

    Oh dear, I was drooling while reading through this post! fantastic writing about wonderful blogger and delightful meal. Helene, when you go to Siberia, let me know, I want to join you and taste some good food they have there! :) Maureen, thank you for this great post!

  7. says

    Maureen thank you for your wonderful lovely words, I realy enjoyed the write up, you are truly skilled! I was so excited and happy when u asked me for an interview and I was impatiently waiting for friday to come. =D ( I guesse you knew that)

    My friends and fellow foodies, thanks for your kind words. I am looking forward to the future, when we might get to meet finaly (wouldnt that be fun?). Your support always helps me to go on with what I am doing, to continue my love for blogging and cooking, so a big huge thanks to you all!!

  8. says

    Hi Maureen,
    This is such a wonderfully written post. I enjoyed reading it and it is so lovely to see Helene here. I love helene and her blog. It is impressive to know that she handles so many things.

  9. says

    Thanks for presenting Helene’s blog and recipes and also making us know her a bit more. I also enjoy visiting her fascinating blog and discovering the exotic, unusual products and also Austrian recipes. The bread dumplings seem delicious and very Austrian indeed.
    Sissi recently posted..Light Chocolate and Coconut Cream

  10. says

    Excellent feature on Helene today. I enjoy her amazing blog…and she’s definitely one of the nicest bloggers around. The stuffed avocado looks spectacular as do the dumplings :) Thanks for sharing Helene’s story with us all!

  11. says

    I think I say this every time you do an interview, but I just love this feature. I always learn so much. Helene was a great choice, and I learned so much about her I didn’t know. Thanks for this.

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