Archive | November, 2013

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

26 Nov

IMG_4525

 

My mum had never tasted Kale until today, or so she thought. She asked me what sort of bhajhi (green) it was and what seed it grows from. So I said, ‘mum, you know when we go to Chinese restaurants and we sometimes eat crispy seaweed? Well it’s often this stuff.’

‘Ohhhh, but why are you making pakora out of this stuff’. I explained how potent kale is; it’s rich in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium. I also told my mum how trendy kale is. She wasn’t so impressed with that bit, how can a vegetable be trendy after all. It is a bit ridiculous, isn’t it. People do use certain ingredients to express trendiness or snobbery don’t they. When I worked in the city I knew people who ate sushi or drank herbal tea without enjoyment. I know that secretly one or two of the women I knew would hold their breath when eating goji berries and heave whilst nibbling kimchi. What’s the point. I don’t even like mince pies or Christmas pudding, what does that say about me.

Kale is one of those leafy items that can taste bitter or rubbery if it is not cooked right but when sautéed, steamed, or fried, it is one of those favours that lasts with you and urges you back for more. A few of the twitter foodies had great ideas such as Gujarati girlie who suggested putting them in a paratha and having shared with her and fuss free helen and Monica shaw some lovely ideas…I got the hankering. Then yesterday whilst using kale in a master lass with Signe from scandalicious, I had to do it.

These pakora have some of that ‘seaweed’ essence and are a bit bitter sweet in a glorious way because of the banana and onion. These gorgeous and fluffy bites make great party snacks and are best devoured when crispy and hot. I’d suggest serving them with any of these chutneys.

Tangy sweet spicy Christmas food gift tomato pineapple cucumber chutney

Halwa chutney butternut squash almond coconut chutney

Ingredients to serve 6-8

100g ribbons of kale
3 cups of gram flour
400ml water
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp ajwain or carom seeds
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 banana, chopped Ito 3-4cm bites
One large red onion, diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 green chilies, chopped

Method

1. Heat oil for deep-frying
2. In a large mixing bowl, start with the kale, onion, chillies and banana pieces and then add the dry spices and seasonings. Mix it well.
3. Sprinkle in the gram flour and then mix it all again. Pour in the water and lemon juice and stir it all to a batter consistency.
4. Put a drop of batter into the oil and if it rises and sizzles then the oil is hot enough. Take small balls of about 5cm and fry them until they are golden brown.
5. Place the pakora onto kitchen paper and serve hot with chutneys.

Advertisements

Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup recipe

23 Nov
Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup recipe

Chilli and tamarind, Asian style cauliflower soup recipe

Ladies, when you have a night off with your friends do you leave your partner to make his own dinner because he really can or should be able to, or are you utterly and perhaps overly kind like me and leave a proper meal ready and waiting. Gentlemen, when you are doing whatever it is you do and you won’t be with your wonderful lady, do you leave dinner made with love?

Now, I’m sure some people reading this may think…goodness here’s another woman from the dark ages. They may just roll their eyes reading this and think…how utterly submissive, maybe nothing better to do or even just of the mentality that I need to serve my husband.

None of the above, relax. I just can’t let go. When I’m away, my husband will eat a toasted sandwich or order pizza. He will eat pasta with ketchup and cheese or…the one that makes me cringe…he will eat cereal. That’s right, cereal for dinner.

Can you imagine how that frustrates me. Not only is cereal for dinner cold, it’s nutritionally inappropriate for more than one meal a day and its well..it’s cereal. So the reason I leave a dinner is that I can relax and have fun in the knowledge that it won’t be cereal.

That said, I will definitely opt for a quick and easy option to extend my kindness and concern. I need time to get ready and I need to stop for fuel. So here’s what I put together in 20minutes; a hot and sour soup of chilli and tamarind with cauliflower floating happily in Asian style juices. It will definitely hit the spot. It’s one that will help you feel all your senses again in this weather and the cauliflower delicately mingles and shares its essence with the soup. Aah, relax.

Ingredients to serve 4 bowls

500g cauliflower cut into 3-4 cm florets
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with a little warm water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cm piece of ginger, minced
2 red chillies, halved
4-5 spring onions, chopped into bite sized pieces
3tbsp tamarind concentrate mixed with 400ml water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp smoked paprika

Method
1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and very quickly add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilies. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion browns lightly before adding the cauliflower. Sprinkle in the paprika and mix well.
2. Pour in the soy sauce, mix again and then add the vegetable stock and tamarind juice. Blend in the corn flour with water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 7minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked.

 

From halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

22 Nov

IMG_4448

Often other people’s troubles seem more solvable than your own, don’t they. My cousin sat before me, beautiful and troubled. She has the sort of face that you just want to keep looking at. One of those faces that is often depicted in indian paintings; large eyes, lots of thick black hair and a delicate smile.

My much younger cousin has everything ahead of her. No career tangles or mortgage yet. All the joys of life are ahead. Yet she fought back tears. Everyone has their story, don’t they. Her resolve made me smile. Apparently I’m an effective coach; we talked solutions and we spoke about understanding what really was important. We talked about taking it one day at a time and that nothing, whether good or bad is forever. It all passes.

I scooped warm carrot halwa and ice cream into my mouth whilst I squinted at her in reassuring concern. I’m normally a crisps over chocolate girl and curry over cake, but this was good halwa. Normally I find carrot halwa overly sweet and sometimes grainy. This one was smooth and moderately spiced and certainly not overly spiced. Whilst the young cousins refrained from over indulgence on the paneer and fried cassava, I just ate. And listened to them. They laughed and texted away whilst sat next to each other.

I was thinking about savouring the taste of the halwa and I thought, I’d love to bottle it….bingo. That is when my butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney was conceived.

So the chutney is tangy and spicy and nutty and Jammy and ? Yummy. It makes for a great Christmas gift and so far it’s been on my toast, in a sarnie and even on a fenugreek chappati.

Ingredients

500g butternut squash peeled and grated
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
100g almonds, half of which should be flaked and half coarsely ground
2 tsp chilli flakes
150ml white wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cardamon
4tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
200g soft, light brown sugar
I used 1 tsp salt, moderate to your taste
2tbsp lemon juice
150ml water
2tbsp oil

1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin and coriander seeds and allow them to sizzle. Then add the almonds and lightly brown them before adding the squash, coconut, cardamon, chilli, salt and the sugar. Mix it all well, then add the vinegar.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then add the lemon juice and agave nectar. Pour in the water and simmer on a medium to low flame for 25mins and then turn it down to a low flame and simmer for another 20minutes.
3. Turn off the heat when the chutney is jammy in consistency and most of the water has evaporated.
4. When the chutney has cooled store it in air tight and sterilised containers.

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

22 Nov

 
IMG_4460The simple things

We had friends over for dinner today. For a couple of hours, according to my husband, I was like the old me. I chatted, I fed people and I smiled lots. I put my phone away and the house was warm. I had Mickey Mouse ears on and my boy dragged me the playroom. He took his little friends hand and they ran around the living room together.

My boy ran up to the other day and sighed, ‘mumma, I missed you…I love you mumma’. He’s been getting up at night because he misses me and wants to sleep next to his mumma.

My husband and I reminisced about travelling to Brighton one winter, when we were crazy young fools. The winds bashed against the sea and the jar wobbled in defence. We were parked outside a chip shop, the aroma seeped inside us and our frozen ears detected banter. The skies were deep grey and we had Robbin Williams playing on the car radio. We returned to the car, watched the waves threaten the pier and ate steaming hot chips off wooden forks.

Life’s most joyful moments are in the simplest ones. We all know that. It’s as complicated as we make it, isn’t it?

My salad is simple. It has few ingredients but they are fresh and invigorating. The kiwi fruit and mint add a juicy vibrancy and the parsley and sweet potato give the salad sweet depth. The salty and pungent chaat masala is not to be compromised on and the Beetroot gives fabulous colour. This is an unusual salad, but then I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share an unusual recipe. What I really love about this salad is that the juice of the kiwi fruit blends with the chaat masala and the peppercorns an sits on the sweet potato too. This one is a real quencher, do it.

Ingredients

300g sweet potato,peeled and cubed into 3-4cm chunks
4 kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
50g Beetroot
40g flat leaf parsley
40g coriander
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black and red peppercorns

Method
1. Boil the sweet potato for about 7cm or until the potato is soft enough to pierce through.
2. In the meantime, make the pesto by blitzing together the parsley, mint, chaat masala, beetroot, black pepper and lemon juice. Stop when it is almost smooth in texture.
3. When the sweet potato is cooked, drain and cool until the cubes are dry.
4. Combine the potato, kiwi and the pesto gently until there is even coverage.

I served this with halloumi cheese and some lovely flatbreads and it was magic.

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

18 Nov
Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

The weather does affect my mood. The grey skies aren’t good for the clouds in my mind. Mondays are harder than Sundays. It’s cold so getting out is harder. But my mornings start like this.

I wake, I worry, then my boy comes into bed. ‘Mumma cuddle’…so I draw him closer to me. ‘Mumma kiss’ and I happily shower him. Then he starts to talk about animals and planets or cars. Life is as complicated as we make it, isn’t it.

I think sometimes we just chase, chase, run and run. But forget to think about whether it is making us or our loved ones happy. I say, if you don’t want to fly…then don’t. Run. If you don’t want to run, then don’t…walk. If you don’t want to walk then sit down. If you want to move forward, do. If you want to stop, stop. Just be happy.

So the way I deal grey skies, is to get out and get active. Cool, fresh air helps to dust off the cobwebs. This morning my boy and I went to the Indian supermarket. This may seem like a boring task for many, but for me it was full of nostalgia. The smell of ground masala and stacks of rice and flour throws me back to my childhood. I grew down the road from an indian mill, so these are the smells of my childhood. We didn’t do mass indian food shops, my mum and dad would send me running down the road with a couple of coins to pick up gram flour or millet flour.

To fight of Monday feelings I wanted colour on my plate. I wanted cool, warm and spicy sensations. I wanted crisp against smooth and nutty against fruity. I wanted it all and I wanted to be tickled. There is only sense-tickling dish that does this and that is chaat.

There are quite a few ingredients to this dish but don’t skip any, they are all there for a reason. By all means use shortcuts, life is short!

Ingredients to serve 4-6

100g crisp bundi (crisp gram flour balls to give crunch)
100g sev (crisp gram flour short straws)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
One can of black chick peas
One pomegranate with the seeds removed
100g small indian onions, or a large red onion finely diced
10-12 plain natural yoghurt
2 tsp chaat masala
8-10 tbsp tamarind chutney

For the coriander and chilli chutney

40g chopped coriander
1/2 cup water
2 green chilies
Salt to taste

For the curried soya nuggets

200g soya nuggets
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
One small onion, peeled and sliced
1300ml water.

Cooks tips for shopping: the soy nuggets are readily available in Asian supermarkets and so is the tamarind chutney, although I bought it from asda. You can quite easily make tamarind chutney, but I used a shop bought one today

Method
1. Start by making the soy nuggets. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle. Add the garlic, salt, turmeric and onion and sauté until the onions have softened. Stir in the the cumin and coriander powder then add the soya nuggets. Coat them in the spices before adding the chopped tomatoes and warm water.
2. Bring the curry to a simmer and then sprinkle in the garam masala. Cook for 20mi mutes or until the juices have been soaked up by the nuggets and the nuggets are tender. Turn off the heat.
3. Boil the cubed potatoes until they are soft enough to pierce and then drain them. Sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
4. Drain and rinse the black chickpeas and sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
5. Make the green coriander and chilli chutney, use a grinder to mix the coriander, chilli, water and salt to a paste.
6. Make up individual portions of chaat in a bowl for ease by mixing 2 tbsp of bundi, 2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds, 2 tbsp potato, 2 tbsp chickpeas, 2 tbsp of sev and 2 tsp onion. Toss in 3 tsp of soya nuggets. Place the mix on the plate and drizzle on yogurt, green chutney me tamarind chutney.

Remember that these measurements for putting together the chaat are approximate, alter it to your taste.

It’ll be ok – Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

17 Nov
It’ll be ok – Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

It’ll be ok – Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

It’s been an amazing weekend. I feel utterly blessed and grateful. On Saturday afternoon I was on the Tesco finest interview stage at the BBC Good Food show. I had a moment of realisation as Lotte Duncan was interviewing Cyrus Todiwala before me and I saw my dad, husband, baby boy, brother, sis in law and niece waiting. Beaming. Love does funny things to you doesn’t it, seeing their faces through blurry eyes, I swelled with a lovely feeling of ‘I did that’.

Earlier that day I was in the green room. I met some wonderful people from Masterchef and The great British bake-off. Both the ex contestants/winners and presenters sat surrounding screens and munching. I thought, a lot. I thought about how brave these people are to follow their heart, to stand before a crowd of food lovers and demonstrate perfection. I thought about humility and balance in life and I saw how much of a food professionals life, heart and mind goes into delivering short and long-term. It really is different to what may people perceive.

The interview was fabulous fun. We talked about fusion food and whether it is a modern atrocity or an assault on the taste buds. We talked about my fussy boy and how he is my biggest food project and we chuckled about fishing food out of the bra and then eating it. The audience tasted some of my festive plantain chip mix and we also considered whether it is hard to be vegetarian. We even talked about whether Brussels sprouts smell like fart and what I do to them that makes them gorgeous! You know that I stuff them in a curry.

Today I am shattered. I walked around in heels the entire day and twice around the producers section eating my way through fabulous chocolate, wonderful macaroons and oils with cheeses. All I wanted today was food that real people like to eat, cuddles with my boy and the telly. I am back in leggings rather than a bodycon dress and my hair is back up.

I love this soup because it’s a whole meal; it’s hot, has a bite, has tons of flavour and those dumplings are a smooth and spicy joy. We had two bowls each…see how you go.

Ingredients

For the soup

Two large tins of sweetcorn
1.5litres of vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cm piece of ginger, minced
4-5 spring onions
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce

For the dumplings

2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of ground rice or rice flour
Salt to taste
2 green chilies
25g coriander, washed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds

1. To make the soup, heat the sesame oil in a deep pan and then quickly add the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the sweetcorn. Mix in the soy sauce and stir it well.
2. Add the vegetable stock and curry powder and then bring the soup to a simmer.
3. When the soup is boiling add the corn flour and water. Make sure you mix the corn flour with warm water because it will dissolve better. Simmer the soup for ten minutes before turning it off the heat.
4. To make the dumplings, start by making a paste from the Coriander and chilli.

5. Heat the water in a separate pan. When it is boiling add the cumin seeds then the salt and the coriander and chilli paste. Simmer for a minute and then add the ground rice or rice flour in a stream, quickly stirring with a wooden spoon. Smooth any lumps out. Let me rice flour cool until it is lukewarm.
6. To make the dumplings grease your palms and take a pinch of the rice flour and make 3-4cm sized balls. Place them onto a plate.
7. Bring the soup to a simmer again, add the dumplings and simmer for 7-8 minutes,

Serve the soup hot and fresh. It’s gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

Easy entertaining portobello mushrooms stuffed with creamy, spiced smoky Aubergine pulp and Beetroot.

15 Nov
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with an indian twist

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with an indian twist

Today I, who normally feasts three times a day and devours snacks liberally throughout the day, did not each eat lunch till 3.30pm. It’s been one of those days.

My boy and I went bowling this morning with some friends. Every time I put him down he bulleted back to the front desk where they’d displayed toy cars (for which he has a relentless infatuation with) for purchase. He thought every turn was his and he performed a series of victory leaps every time he pushed the ball (not necessarily knocking the skittles down.) Any spare pockets of time were filled by him lugging balls over to me. He’s  21 months old. His friend sat sweetly on the bench until her mum picked her up for her turn.

So we came home and he didn’t want to eat, then he didn’t want his nap. Great timing, as I have the BBC Good Food show tomorrow, where I am on the Tesco interview stage and I haven’t even done my legs. Fabulous. It’s ok, I have tights…I think.

It’s so cold anyway now, who goes out without tights? I’d go out in one of those onesies nowadays. Because it’s so cold, we are tending to have cosy meals in with friends and family…we’ve got an open fireplace in our home, so we get it going, get some blankets out and just talk. This is the stuff that makes me happy. But when you’ve had days like I have had today, you probably don’t want, or simply can’t spend hours in the kitchen preparing for a meal with friends. To be honest, if I have spent a very long time preparing I feel less relaxed and able to enjoy myself.

So here is a recipe for those days where you just feel too cold and tired. You want to live, laugh, eat and be merry…without some much hard work. Of course?

Portobello mushrooms cook really quickly, which is of course fabulous when in a hurry. I roasted the Aubergine in the morning which made life a bit easier because all I had to do was scoop out the pulp, mash it and then stick all the rest of the incidents together. It was just that easy. I think it took me about 20 mins including cooking time. Go on, get your friends round…

Ingredients to serve 3

3 portobello mushrooms
500g Aubergine
75g cooked Beetroot
100g crème Fraiche
Salt to taste
3/4tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder

Method

1. Roast the oiled Aubergines in the oven at 180′ degrees until they are shrivelling and can be pierced all way through. Mine took 25 minutes. Allow the Aubergine to cool before removing the skin and mashing the pulp with a fork.
2. In a bowl, combine the Aubergine, spices, salt and crème fraiche, then grate the Beetroot into the bowl. Combine it all well.
3. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stalk. Place them onto a baking tray and stuff with the mixture evenly. Top the mushrooms with grated cheddar and breadcrumbs and place them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees.
4. Cook the mushrooms for eight minutes and serve immediately.

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

13 Nov

IMG_4235

 

My lovely neighbour gave me a bag full of plantain today; fresh and green. I racked my brain for ways to use it. I thought of the spiced plantain mash I had at ‘mama’s roadside kitchen’ in st.Lucia or the indian curry my mum would make when we were kids, using her experience of living in Uganda as a child. I asked my friends on twitter and they suggested cake. I didn’t fancy any of these lovely recipes today, for some reason.

In the morning, by boy and I went shopping for women’s undergarments. My normally chatty and excitable child completely freaked out and sobbed loudly in the fitting cubicle and insisted, ‘put a jumper and jacket on mumma, put the clothes on mumma’. He’s not yet two but here we go. So I took him for a walk and stopped at the dried fruits and nuts section which looked festive but blue. Why blue? Anyway, that’s when it struck me.

But I did have a brief period of confusion; which is a more festive nut…the cashew or almond? Cashews are more expensive. Does that make it more special? I do recall my mum sending food parcels of special stuff for my grandmother in India when friends or relatives visited. Mum sent cashews, always. She also sent saffron and chocolate. Now I think back, it’s such a lovely thing to do.

But then, almonds are pretty special also. When we were in st.Lucia we stayed between the majestic pitons, hidden away. We were staying at a resort where the beach sat in a calm little cove and one of the paths along the beach was layer in almond shells. I loves cracking them open to find smooth almonds. It’s lovely that nature can create such a perfect little nut.

I’m actually rather excited about this simple yet addictive recipe. It’s really good. This tropical looking mix is crunchy, sweet, aromatic and there’s a lovely hint of chilli right at the end. It’s delightful. I’ve used agave nectar to sweeten the mix so, healthier than loads of sugar. You have to try it.

Ingredients for two gift containers

One large green plantain
4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 tbsp desiccated coconut
A generous handful of dried cranberries
200g cashew nuts
Oil for frying plantain chips

1 . Heat the oil in a deep pan and in the meantime, take the green skin off the plantain and cut the plantain into 1 cm thick circles with a knife of mandolin.
2. Fry the chips until they are crisp and deepened in colour. You will feel that they are tougher and crisp when you move them with a slotted spoon.
3. Remove the chips onto a kitchen paper and leave them to cool.
4. In a non stick pan, toast the cashew nuts until they are lightly golden before adding the cinnamon and the plantain chips. Mix well.
5. Stir in the chilli flakes, mix again. Then add the agave nectar and the desiccated coconut. Thoroughly mix it all together to make sure the spices and coconut are evenly distributed.
6. Toss in the dried cranberries and mix again.

Allow the mixture to cool completely before packaging it.

My food onsie; ‘samosa filling’ macaroni and cheese

11 Nov

My food onsie; ‘samosa filling’ macaroni and cheese

When I am tired and cold (which is pretty much every evening theses days) I want foods that will soothe me into my natural rhythm and it’s not always posh nosh. I am a fan of strange and superb concoctions, novel recipes that get the mind and the taste buds tingling…but when I am feeling this way, you know what I want. I want a hot water bottle, a blanket, cuddles, Mahabharata on the telly ( the only programme I watch these days) and some proper comforting and nostalgic comfort food. This is why I call it my food onsie.

What’s happened to me? Thinking back a few years I never wore my hair up when I was out, wore contact lenses only when socialising and mostly wore make up when I left the house. I went shopping for clothes regularly and knew about what was trending. I watched films and knew what was hot and not. And now?

Now I am cold and tired and I need more sleep. Last week I went to playgroup with snot on my shoulder and I wear leggings way too often. My hair is up because I don’t want it pulled and I wear glasses more than lenses. I wear cosy socks and thought of investing in a slanket (blanket with sleeves). I need sleep and comfort food that tastes hot and moderately spiced and just delicious. That’s it. Talk about the simple things eh?

This one is indulgent and is like eating a samosa in the rain. It just works. The vegetables are simple and easy, just how life should be. The mac is cheesy and the top is crunchy with breadcrumbs and its good. Just how life should be. Let me tell you, you won’t get the munchies after eating this dish…you will sleep well…just as we all should.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

600g macaroni
Half a medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
75g petit pois
75g sweetcorn kernels
One medium onion, diced
100g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
5-6 curry leaves
2 green chilies
Salt to taste
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
2tbsp, vegetable oil for cooking
1/2 tsp turmeric
One medium potato, diced
One medium leek, cut into bite sized chunks
120g mature cheese, grated plus another couple of handfuls for the topping
100g breadcrumbs
1200ml milk
20g butter
4tbsp. Plain flour

Method

1. Boil the macaroni per the packet instructions. Wash and drain when it is cooked and leave it to a side.
2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin, turmeric, curry leaves and chilli. Let the seeds sizzle and then add the onion and salt. Sauté until the onion is softened and then add the rest of the vegetables.
3. Mix the vegetables in the oil well and then sprinkle in the garam masala. Cook until the potato is soft enough to pierce. This should take 10-12 minutes.
4. In the meantime, make the cheese sauce by melting the butter and adding the plain flour to make a soft paste. Loosen it up with a bit of oil if needed. Add the milk and whisk on a medium to low flame until the paste is absorbed into the milk. Then add the cheese and whisk lightly and loosely until the sauce thickens. Turn the heat off.
5. Take a deep and long baking tray and spread the macaroni into the tray. Combine it with the cooked vegetables and mic thoroughly. Introduce the cheese sauce and mix again. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and and then top with the breadcrumbs, evenly.
6. Put the tray under the grill and brown lightly.

Serve hot and you won’t need a hot water bottle. Snooze afterwards if you can, it adds to the effect.

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

8 Nov

IMG_4157

One of the many brilliant things about being British and Hindu by religion is that when you feel sad that Diwali is over, you have Christmas to look forward to! I love both festive periods and I am so lucky I am in a place to embrace both. Admittedly the Christmases of my childhood did contain a few samosa and some pav bhajhi. and the pies always had an Indian spiced stuffing, but we did make visits to Santa, sing carols, adorn a tree and watched the queens speech. Most importantly, we spent time together talking and arguing over which Christmas movie to watch.

I was in the supermarket the other day with my boy and as soon as we entered my boy pointed to the ceiling and gasped, ‘where’s the spider gone, where’s the bat gone, mumma where’s the pumpkin…oh no!!’ He was of course referring to the Halloween decorations which had been removed down since our last visit. Whilst I explained that Halloween was over and the bat had flown away and the spider was sleeping, I turned into a Christmas aisle. Already?

Later that day, I saw people posting Christmas coffee holders from popular vendors and my sister-in-law texted me, ‘we need to plan for Christmas’. For real? Are you thinking about Christmas? Are you menu planning…are you counting the days, are you gift shopping and tell the truth, are you dieting?

So here’s one for a special day. These are beautiful crisp, nutty, spicy, a little sweet and they smell wonderfully like spicy and crisp bread. Of course the inside is juicy and moist and have an oozy bite. Don’t substitute the panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) they are fluffier and give much better favour and texture to these beauties. They are pretty impressive, especially when served with my lychee and chilli dipping sauce.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp fennel seeds
Salt to taste
Oil for deep-frying
3 tsp smoked garlic powder ( I used one by seasoned pioneers and I found it in the speciality foods section of Sainsbury’s)
200g baby button mushrooms, washed and dried

Method

1. In a shallow bowl or tray combine the panko breadcrumbs, desiccated coconut, smoked garlic granules, cumin, salt and fennel seeds
2. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs lightly and leave to a side until you are ready to use them
3. When the oil is hot, dip the mushrooms in the eggs, shake off the exceeds a d roll them into the crumbly mix and fry them all until they are golden brown.
4. Remove onto kitchen paper and serve hot and crispy.