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Chicken Cumin Curry – Chicken Zeera Dopiaz

Zeera is the word for Cumin and Dopiaza is a word that came to South Asia from Afghanistan and it means “Twice Onions.” In this dish, as you will see, cumin is a major flavour and onions are used in two ways, sliced and ground. When using this recipe it will take you anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes but will easily provide 4 generous servings and only cost $12!

All curries are not the same. In fact, curry is a verb, not a noun. So what you need to figure out is the process of currying and once you get it, your range of cooking will expand in incredible ways like this tasty curry from Afghanistan!


  • 800 grams chicken legs & thighs, no skin, bone-in; cut into 2”/5.5 cm pieces. You can substitute with boneless chicken.
  • 6 tbsp or less than ½ cup cooking oil (eg. Canola Oil)
  • 1 cup finely sliced onions
  • 1 cup ground onion
  • ½ cup plain yoghurt unstirred
  • 1 tsp heaped whole cumin
  • 2 whole dried Kashmiri chilies (optional)
  • ½ level tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbs ginger paste
  • 2 level tsp red chili powder/paprika for less heat
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp heaped ground cumin
  • 2 cups boiling water or as needed


  1. Wash and drain chicken
  2. Stir/whip yoghurt & turmeric with 2-4 tbsp water, set aside
  3. Make a paste with chili powder/paprika and water.
  4. In a medium sized cooking pot heat oil on medium heat for about a minute, but don’t let it sizzle. Add whole cumin and whole dried red chilies, gently moving the pot from side to side, for about 2-3 minutes, until they release their flavours. Turn heat to low.
  5. Add sliced onions and salt (helps caramelize onions). Turn heat to medium and keep stirring. Fry onions well, until they turn a warm brown and are nearly crispy. This is the tricky part: to get the onions nicely brown to give both colour and flavour, without burning them.
  6. Add ground onion, garlic, and ginger paste. Keep stirring, and when the paste gets a little dry, drizzle yoghurt mixed with turmeric, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Add small quantities of boiling water as needed so that the sauce cooks but does not burn. Your sauce looks very dull right now, but don’t worry! You need to oxidize the spices, onions, and yoghurt into a flavourful base. Turn heat to low for 2 -3 minutes and the sauce should glisten a little.
  7. Add chicken, stir well and keep turning, on medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes. The chicken should shrink a little. Brown it well! This is an important step!
  8. Turn the heat to low, add chilly paste and turn well, then add about 1 cup boiling water, or enough to just cover the chicken.
  9. Cover and simmer on low heat, if possible on a griddle, until the chicken pieces are tender and the sauce is thick. Sprinkle ground cumin on top and you’re good to go!

Basmati & Mung Beans Pilaf – Bhuni Moong Ki Khichree

Khichree has inspired Kedgeree, which is a popular British brunch special, made with rice, lentils, fish and eggs. Khichree is an ancient South Asian dish and can be made in many different ways. With this recipe from Bangladesh, the total time to prepare this rice is 1 hour but only costs $6 and serves 4 people (with generous helpings)!This recipe originates from Dhaka, Bangladesh and is a family favourite of the chef. Basmati (pronounced baas-mati) originally from northern South Asia, has a distinct aroma; these days, especially in India, new Basmati seeds have been developed that give a higher yield but lack aroma.


For Rice

  • 1 cup Basmati rice (you may be able to use other rice, chef recommends Shan Basmati Rice from Pakistan, available on Amazon)
  • 1 cup Split Yellow Mung Beans/Moong Daal
  • ¼ cup or 4 tbsp cooking oil for garnish
  • 6 ½  tbsp or just less than ½  cup oil for Pilaf – I use Canola Oil
  • ½ – 1 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 cup finely sliced onion
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 pods green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 2 ½ tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ tsp sugar

For Garnish

  • 1 cup finely sliced onions
  • ¼ cup oil


  1. Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes if possible.
  2. Dry roast Moong Daal on a skillet, non-stick pan, or tawa, (a South Asian skillet) on low heat till it becomes a nice warm colour. Remove quickly and rinse, then place in a saucepan or pot, add 1 cup water, enough to just cover the Daal, and a dash of salt, and cook on medium heat for about 5- 7 minutes, until the daal fluffs up; drain and set aside.
  3. Drain Basmati rice.
  4. Make the garnish first: Heat ¼ cup oil in a skillet, and fry 1 cup finely sliced onion on medium heat till warm brown and caramelized. Remove and drain oil into a cooking pot. Set aside the garnish for later
  5. In the same cooking pot, add 6 ½ tbsp oil, heat oil & add all the whole spices in it for a few minutes, then add the rest of the sliced onion and cook on low heat till they soften.
  6. Add the rice and continue cooking on low heat for 3-5 minutes, till the rice is nicely coated. Add lemon juice and sugar.
  7. Mix garlic and ginger paste, salt, with 2 cups boiling water and pour into the rice, cook on low to medium heat until the rice fluffs up and the water is absorbed. Add more water, if needed. The trick here is to cook until the rice is half done so that when you squish a single rice grain between your fingers, it has a tiny hard centre that is not done. Basically, the rice has room to fluff up more.
  8. Fold in Moong Daal, cover and cook on low heat for 10 -15 minutes on a tawa or griddle. Turn once or twice, gently.
  9. Garnish with ghee, caramelized onions and you’re done!

Salad South Asian Style – Kachumba

Kachumbar means chopping or dicing anything into roughly similar but not perfectly equal proportions, so this is really easy to make. You can add or remove ingredients, depending on what you like. This recipe will take 10 minutes while serving 4 people and only costing $4!

This dish compliments the Khichree and Chickan Dopiaza, making it a perfect pairing for you to consume!


  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 regular tomato
  • 6-7 radishes
  • 1 cucumber regular size
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2- 3 green chillies (optional)
  • ¼ cup diced cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced mint leaves
  •  5 – 8 Sweet Pickled Onions


  • ½ cup plain yoghurt, whipped
  • ½ tsp sugar – or to taste
  • Dash of ground cumin
  • Dash of chili powder or paprika


  1. Dice into roughly ½ inch sized pieces
    • 1 red pepper
    • 1 green pepper
    • 1 regular tomato
    • 6-7 radishes
    • 1 cucumber regular size
    • 1 bunch green onions
    • 2-3 green chillies (optional)
  2. Finely dice one or both:
    • ¼ cup diced cilantro
    • ¼ cup diced mint leaves
  3. Add from bottle, 5 – 8 Sweet Pickled Onions
  4. Mix all the above together and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  5. Before serving, make sure you add the dressing. If you add salt to the dressing, the yoghurt may get watery. I usually add a dash of salt (to taste) at the very end, to the salad.

You’ve got a delicious Kachumbar to go with your Khichree and Chickan Dopiaza! Enjoy!

Salad South Asian Style – Kachumba

Kachumbar means chopping or dicing anything into roughly similar but not perfectly equal proportions, so this is really easy to make. You can add or remove ingredients, depending on what you like. This recipe will take 10 minutes while serving 4 people and only costing $4!

This dish compliments the Khichree and Chickan Dopiaza, making it a perfect pairing for you to consume!


  • 1 cup basmati rice (cleaned, soaked for 10 minutes and drained)
  • ½ cup of carrot/green peas mix)
  • 1 tbsp gingelly oil/sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp fennel
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thumb size piece of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 pieces of green chillies (chopped)
  • 1 can of coconut milk


  • On medium high heat: add 1 tbsp of gingelly oil and 1 tbsp of ghee. Once heated, add 1 tbsp fennel (sauté).
  • Then add whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom pods).
  • Once aromatic, add in green chillies and sauté. To this add ½ cup of carrot/green peas and sauté.
  • Once sautéed, add the drained rice and stir.
  • Then add your coconut milk.
  • Reduce heat to medium flame and cover with a lid
  • Cook the rice for approximately 10 minutes, occasionally stirring in between.
  • After about 10 minutes, the rice will be infused with the flavours of the coconut milk and the spices.

Jollof Rice

Everyone has their own different ways of making jollof depending on how much time you have and what ingredients are available.


  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable/canola/coconut, not olive oil)
  • One can of diced tomatoes (my personal favourite is Aylmer Accents Garlic & Olive oil- It’s GMO-free, Locally-made and easy to work and it costs $1.27/can at no frills OR 6 medium-sized fresh plum/Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (any affordable tomato paste will work)
  • 6 fresh, red poblano peppers or 4 large red bell peppers, seeds discarded (optional or to balance out the tomato paste if you don’t have enough at home or as an alternative for canned tomato paste- I personally prefer the paste and red bell peppers are so expensive these days)
  • 1-2 medium-sized red onions (1 diced, 2 roughly chopped), divided
  • 1 hot pepper (Scotch bonnets are my favourite because of the special flavour that comes with the heat but this is completely optional)
  • Some fresh ginger and garlic, start with one teaspoon of each (optional and amount is completely up to you. Just try to add in moderation so it doesn’t overpower everything else in your pot)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder( “No Name” brand is my favourite)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 Knorr Bouillon Cubes/powder (chicken or beef). You can also use any bouillon cube of your choice.
  • 5 to 6 cups broth/stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef) or water, divided. You can also make your own broth/stock from scratch like me 🙂
  • 3 1/2 cups parboiled long-grain rice. The Rice should be rinsed several times under the tap until water runs clear (when no longer cloudy). If you’re using thinner long grain rice like basmati rice or scented rice, use less stock – so 3 – 4 cups not 5 – 6; and less tomato sauce – say 1/2 – 2/3rd. Leave the tomato puree as is and slightly adjust the spices. The recommended rice is the parboiled long grain rice especially if you’re cooking this for the first time. 
  • Salt, to taste (optional)


  • In a blender, combine chopped onions, Scotch bonnets, ginger, garlic and 1 and 3/4 cup of water for about a minute or two.
  • ​In a dry large pan, heat oil and add the sliced onions. Season with rosemary and a pinch of salt, stir-fry for 1 minute.
  • Add your chopped tomatoes and stir for about 5minutes on medium to high heat, then add your tomato paste to the mix and stir for another 7-10 minutes. Try not to let it burn at this stage (keep a close eye on it).
  • Add your blended mix and stir for another 3 minutes
  • Add your curry powder and bouillon cubes/powder, a pinch of black pepper and salt to taste (be careful on the salt, bouillon is salty enough). Stir for 1-2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add 5-6 cups stock/broth to the cooked tomato sauce and bring it to boil for 1 minute, then reduce to low heat and add your rinsed rice. Stir gently to make sure the rice is completely covered with the goodness
  • Cover with a piece of foil/baking or parchment paper and put a lid on the pan—this will seal in the steam and lock in the flavour. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
  • Stir rice—taste and adjust salt as required.
  • You can serve with some grilled chicken/beef/goat (i.e. if you eat meat), fried plantains and with whatever vegetables you have at home.​​

Gobi Manchurian & Manchurian Chicken

Dive into these popular Hakka dishes that are perfect for vegetarians and non-vegetarians

Popular Hakka Dishes for Vegetarians & Non-Vegetarians

Ingredients (Gobi Manchurian)

  • ½ cauliflower (chopped into small/bite sized florets)
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour (Maida)
  • ¼ cup of corn flour
  • water
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • Salt to taste (I added 1 tsp)
  • Oil to fry
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Sauce made with:
  • 2 tbsp chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder

Instructions (Gobi Manchurian)

  • Combine corn flour, all-purpose flour, Kashmiri chilli powder, salt, pepper and then mix.
  • Add enough water into the mixture to make a smooth- paste like batter. Add the cauliflower florets and coat completely with the batter.
  • On Medium High: Add the cauliflower florets in oil. (I’ve used gingelly/sesame oil which is a healthier option). However, if you have vegetable oil on hand you can use that as well. Fry the cauliflower florets until they have crisped and reach a golden brown. Remove to a plate covered with paper towel, to remove any excess oil.
  • On medium High heat: In a saucepan, add 2 tbsp of sesame oil/gingelly oil. Add 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste. Once you smell the aroma of the ginger garlic paste, add in onions. Then add bell pepper and quickly fry the vegetables. To this, we will add our sauce mixture and combine. Turn off the heat, and then add in the Gobi (cauliflower) and coat it completely with the sauce.
  • ​You can add chopped spring onion or toasted sesame seeds to garnish.

Ingredients (Manchurian Chicken)

  • 1 lb chicken breast (cut into cubes/ bite sized pieces)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp gingelly/sesame oil
  • Oil to fry
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp red chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Instructions (Manchurian Chicken)

  • Beat 1 egg. Add 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, 2 tbsp corn flour, 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (Maida), salt (to taste) and ¼ tsp black pepper (This will coat the chicken).
  • Coat the chicken with the batter. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
  • On medium-high heat: Fry the chicken in sesame oil/gingelly oil or the oil of your choice; until the chicken crisps and reaches a golden brown.  Then remove onto a plate covered with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
  • Same as the Gobi Manchurian: in 2 tbsp of gingelly oil; fry 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste. Then add 1 onion and 1 bell pepper. Here, we will also add the 2-3 chopped green chillies.  Then add sauce (made of 2 tbsp red chilli sauce, 2 tbsp tomato sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp white vinegar). Turn off heat, then add the chicken and cover with the sauce.
  • Optional: add toasted sesame seeds or chopped spring onions. Close up of the Gobi Manchurian and Manchurian Chicken.

Dumplings and Spring Rolls
​(Lumpia Shanghai)

Khichree has inspired Kedgeree, which is a popular British brunch special, made with rice, lentils, fish and eggs. Khichree is an These Chinese dumplings are delicious, and if you don’t prefer deep fried we do have other cooking options for you to try!

Filling Ingredients

Basic Meat Filling:

  • 1.5lbs ground meat (traditional is pork, but can use turkey, chicken, plant based meat alternative)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup garlic chives finely chopped (sub with ½ cup green onions, cilantro or leeks)
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce (substitute liquid salt seasoning like Maggi, Worcestershire, teriyaki etc.)
  • ½ tsp sesame oil (or tahini, olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil)
  • ¼ tsp white pepper (or 1/8 tsp black pepper)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp grated ginger

Additional vegetables or for vegetarian option replace the meat with veggies and cook (stirfry) before wrapping

  • 7-8 leaves of Nappa cabbage, (finely diced for potstickers, or shredded thinly for spring rolls)
  • Shitake or button Mushrooms, minced (sliced thinly if for spring rolls)
  • 1 carrot, shredded (for potstickers & spring rolls)
  • Bamboo shoots minced (or sliced like matchsticks for spring rolls)
  • Bean sprout (for vegetarian spring rolls only)

Wrapper Types & Use

Using ready-made dumpling wrappers (1lb, 50-60pcs)

  • Round wrapper for pan fried, boiled, or steamed
  • Square wonton wrapper for boiling, deep fried or steamed            
  • Larger square wrapper for fried spring rolls.



  1. If using cabbage, slice the cabbage and squeeze the liquid from the cabbage: While it rests the cabbage will start to release liquid. When it’s ready, grab handfuls of the cabbage and squeeze out the water.
  2. Combine the meat filling ingredients: Work the mixture together with your hands until fully combined. Don’t overmix.
  3. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on each dumpling wrapper
  4. Dampen the edge of the wrapper with water: Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it around the edge of the dumpling.
  5. Fold the dumpling press firmly to seal the dumpling closed.
  6. Cook or freeze the dumplings: You can cook the dumplings immediately, or freeze them on the baking sheet. Once frozen solid, gather them into a freezer container and keep frozen


1. Pan Fried/Potstickers

  • In a pan over medium heat, spread and warm about a tablespoon of oil and 3 tbs of water or until the bottom of the pan is covered slightly. You want enough water to allow it to steam.
  • Arrange the dumplings in the pan as close as they’ll fit without actually touching and cover with a lid. Cook 3 to5 min if fresh and 6 to 8 min if frozen. Dumplings are cooked when water has evaporated, the skin is translucent and the bottoms have turned brown and golden.
  • Add another tbs of water if water evaporates and skin isn’t thoroughly cooked yet. Remove lid and reduce the heat to low to evaporate the last of the water and crisp the bottoms.

2. Steamed

Line a steamer basket with leafy vegetable and steam over simmering water for about 6 minutes if fresh, 8 minutes if frozen.

3. Boiled

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the dumplings.
  • Stir so they don’t stick together.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil again. Add another 1 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil a third time.
  • Check one dumpling to make sure they are cooked through; boil another few minutes if necessary

Deep Fried

  • In a deep medium sized pot, heat about 2-inch of oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add spring rolls in small batches (3 to 4) and cook turning on sides as needed, for about 3 to 4 minutes if fresh or 5-6 min frozen, or until golden brown and crisp and meat is cooked through. 
  • If cooking from frozen, keep temperature at medium and lower as needed so that it does not burn before it cooks through.

Crispy Falafel & Hummus

Falafel is a Middle Eastern vegetarian food. The chickpea balls or patties which are often deep fried and served along with hummus and tahini sauce.


  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dried (uncooked/raw) chickpeas, rinsed, picked over and soaked for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours in the refrigerator
  • ½ cup roughly chopped red onion (about ½ small red onion)
  • ½ cup packed fresh parsley (mostly leaves but small stems are ok)
  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro (mostly leaves but small stems are ok)
  • 4 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (Besan)
  • ½ teaspoon (about 25 twists) freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • With an oven rack in the middle position, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil into a large, rimmed baking sheet and turn until the pan is evenly coated.
  • In a food processor, combine the soaked, drained and uncooked chickpeas. Add onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Using your hands, scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the mixture at a time. Shape the falafel into small patties, about 2 inches wide and ½ inch thick. Place each falafel on your oiled pan.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, carefully flipping the falafels halfway through baking, until the falafels are deeply golden on both sides. These falafels keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for several months

Alternative cooking method:

​fry these in a deep cooking pot on the stovetop. Place vegetable oil of choice, approximately 1-2 cups (shallow fry). Let this come up to a medium heat, place formed falafels one at a time, do not overcrowd the pot. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown, flip, cook another 1-2 minutes. Place on a plate with paper towel. Arrange the falafels on an angle, not flat, so the excess oil drips away. ​


  • 1 can of chickpeas (keep half of the water in the can)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1.5 Tbsp Tahini
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • ​1 Tsp paprika or sumac


  • In a food processor or blender add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and half the olive oil.
  • Blend till smooth.
  • Add spoons of the can water to thin the hummus to your desired consistency.
  • Blend until as smooth as you like.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spoon the hummus in a shallow bowl.
  • Drizzle rest of the olive oil on top. Sprinkle sumac/paprika to finish.
  • ​*If you like, boil 1 small beet until tender, peel and cut this up. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the beets to the hummus for colour and blend until smooth.

Theplas (Parathas)

Here’s a tasty and popular dish from the Gujurat region of India where you can make plenty for a low cost.

Theplas are nutritional and can be served with Serve with mango pickle chutney or yogurt based dip.

Ingredients (For 25 Theplas)

  • 3 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 3 cup spinach( or fenugreek leaves) 
  • 1 cup shredded beetroot 
  • 1 cup yogurt (adjust the amount to get cookie dough consistency) 
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds 
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin seed powder 
  • 3/4 Tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar 
  • 1 Tsp turmeric 
  • 1/2 cup garlic, ginger and green chilies (spicy) minced 
  • 1/2 cup oil 


  • 1 cup rice flour for dusting dough while rolling


  • Mix all the ingredients in whole wheat flour, very well using your hands and the add yogurt in small quantities until you get cookie dough consistency. Use gloves if you are worried about the beets staining your hands.
  • Make 20-25 small balls out of dough. One at a time, flatten each ball in your palms and dust it with the rice flour (whole wheat flour) before rolling it out. Use a rolling pin approximately 6-7” wide. You will need to dust it again when your thepla is 3-4” wide to protect it from sticking to the countertop or rolling board, before the final roll to get it to the thickness you want.
  • Place the rolled thepla on a medium pre-heated pan (medium/high heat). When you notice that thepla is firm enough to handle with a spatula (the edges start to change colour) turn it and let the other side cook. Put some oil on top of first cooked layer, just the one time and cook both sides until the Thepla is ready, about 2 or so minutes.
  •  Serve with mango pickle chutney or yogurt based dip 

Bonus: Khichadi Recipe


  • 1/2 cup mungdal
  • 1/2 cup rice 
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric 
  • 3 cup (750ml) Water


  • Mix rice and mungdal together in a strainer or cooking vessel and wash it with water until water comes clean (not cloudy). Drain the water.
  • Add 3 cups of water, salt and tumeric in the cooking vessel or pressure cooker (could use rice cooker, slow cooker as well) 
  • Boil on the stove top medium heat until most of the water has evaporated, about midway cooked. With a little water left close the lid and if using a pressure cooker, after one whistle, turn off and leave the pot on the burner allowing the air to escape naturally.
  • If using a regular pot, lower the heat to prevent burning and keep an eye – 10-15 minutes. Once finished, leave the lid on and turn off the burner. 
  • Allow it to sit for 20 minutes before opening for best results.