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Saffron is good and cheap

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We owe so much, culinarily speaking, to creative poor people.

These are the people who, with the most basic of ingredients and tiny budgets, managed to create enduring deliciousness.

Take German sausage, for example, or Welsh cakes, small biscuits consisting of little more than flour, currants, raisins and sugar that are, nonetheless, completely addictive (and not available in any stores I know of, but here's a recipe if you want to try some).

Much of this food is known worldwide as "street food," and besides tastiness its primary characteristic is adaptability. Think of pizza, adopted and modified by cultures around the world. Or consider the fact that "Korean tacos" are a national food truck sensation.

Nowhere is cuisine more exciting than at street level; besides which, it's cheap! Take South Jordan's Saffron Valley 1098 W. South Jordan Parkway, www.saffronvalley.com, a purveyor of "Indian street foods" where no item is more than $10.99, and most are much cheaper.

If you're not familiar with Indian food, what a great place this is to try some. It's as authentic as can be with regard to cooking techniques and basic ingredients, but the chefs also have had some fun with the menu.

For example, there's a $7.99 "spring dosa" (savory crepe) containing fresh veggies of the kind you might find in, say, a spring roll, plus peas, because this is Indian food we're talking about. There's also naan stuffed with mozzarella cheese and green chilies — that would make one tasty taco — and tandoori chicken pizza.

There are traditional items, as well, from various types of biryani and kebabs cooked in clay ovens to a selection of curries and excellent samosas, those fat triangular pastries filled with potatoes, peas and tons of spices. The two you get for $4.99 make a filling lunch.

Also good (and, at $4.99 each, a bargain) are the parathas, stuffed flatbread filled with thin coatings of chicken, or mint and basil, or homemade cheese, or (a favorite of mine) cauliflower and spices. They come with raita and tangy "simmer sauce" for dipping.

Kids' food is a nice buy here, as well, particularly the fragrantly spiced chicken-and-grilled-vegetable wrap, big enough to feed a grownup for $3.99.

There's also a nice menu of coffee, hot chocolate, frappes, shakes and, best of all, lassi, the creamy-tangy Indian yogurt drink that is the perfect accompaniment to spicy food.

Not coincidentally, nearby is East India Pantry, a purveyor of Indian spices and spice blends, plus cooking classes. This may very well be the nicest-smelling strip mall in Utah.

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.

e-mail: skratz@desnews.com


March 1 is St. David's Day, which honors Wales' patron saint. These cookie-like griddle cakes are a great, inexpensive way to celebrate Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant, or just the coming of spring.

1 cup self-rising flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

Pinch of salt

Mixed spices to taste (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.)

1/4 cup margarine or butter

1/4 cup shortening (or lard if you have it)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup mixed currants and sultanas (or mixed golden and regular raisins)

1 egg

Sift together flour, salt and mixed spice. Rub butter and shortening (or lard) into the mixture until it resemblesbreadcrumbs. Add sugar and mixed fruit. Mix in egg to form a soft dough. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick and cut into 2-inch rounds (scalloped edges are most authentic). Cook until lightly browned on both sides on a hot griddle or heavy-based frying pan, greased with a little oil, butter or shortening. Place on cooling racks to cool. Serve sprinkled with sugar or spread with butter.

— Adapted by Stacey Kratz from the cooking and restaurant guidebook,"Taste of Wales/Blas ar Gymru"