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Baby corn and potato curry in smoky Mexican chipotle chilli and dark chocolate

14 May
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Broccoli and Chinese leaf curry in a miso base

6 May

Cauliflower, fenugreek and mint curry

25 Apr

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

13 Nov

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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.

Garlic and cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta (plus giveaway)

29 Oct
Garlic and cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta (plus giveaway)

Garlic and cumin roasted cauliflower in parsley and chilli pesto pasta (plus giveaway)

It’s funny how tastes change as grow up.

Back in the day, a weekend in Skegness with chips, rides, candy floss, sand castles and good company was the making of exhilarating times. The smell of fried onions, the smacking of the sea, the sun in our hair and on our backs. Wearing shorts, but skies, seagulls. When my husband and I were a relatively new couple we escaped the pressures of the festive season by going to Scotland. We we young. We stopped by Blackpool of all places and it was so windy, I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I remember mr.bean on a tiny TV with a long aerial in our modest lodging for the night. The simple things.

Then for my 30th we were in an island just off Mauritius that we could walk around within 20mins. The waters were so shallow and still, you could just walk from one end to another. Quiet and scorching, still and stunning. They weren’t wrong when they said, ‘welcome to paradise’. I wasn’t one to stop and stare, I like to keep busy. But on an island as movingly beautiful, it was just instinctive to stop and admire…for a long time. I had flutters in my tummy, it was thrilling. I was making the memories I had imagined for so long.

I remember watching one of my uncles grilling full cloves of garlic on top of toast on one of those old school cookers where the flames would dance on the grill. I remember being utterly repulsed; how DID he eat THAT. I listened to him telling my dad how he ate it every day and how raw garlic was good for the heart, blah blah. They drank karela juice and ate raw mung bean sprouts. What was wrong with my family…surely everyone else’s family ate pizza and certainly not raw garlic?

And now? I’ve been tweeting excitedly about roasted garlic with salt and sighing with smiles at the same time. It’s incredibly smooth, sweet and creamy. I love roasting whole bulbs and then squeezing the individual cloves out of their skins. It’s art. It’s so pretty. Surely simple food like this had to be sensual, or is that just taking it too far?

As you may have noticed from my posts, I’m rather fond of pasta. Who doesn’t love it? One of my favourite things about pasta is the versatility; there are just so, so many varieties. This recipe is fresh, garlicky, smooth and easy. I want to know what you think of this recipe and I want to hear about your favourite variety f pasta. Leave me a comment with your thoughts on this recipe and your fave recipe and be in with a chance of receiving one of these JML twist n choppers which has made my life in the kitchen tidier.

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Ingredients

One large head f cauliflower cut into 1 inch florets
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
1/4 cup of oil
1tbsp chilli oil or sesame oil and one chilli
75g parsley
2tsp lemon juice
400g pasta

1. Mix the oil, cauliflower, salt and cumin seeds in a large bowl and ensure the cauliflower is well coated
2. Roast the cauliflower in the oven at 180degrees for about 20mins or until it is has browned lightly.
3. In the meantime, cook the packet instructions and make the pesto by grinding together the parsley, chilli oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add 1tbp water if you struggle to get a smooth pesto.
4. When the cauliflower and pasta are cooked, drain the pasta and mix wth the pasta. Toss the cauliflower into the bowl and ensure they are evenly distributed. Don’t stir it in, just toss it gently,

Serve hot and crisp.