Archive | February, 2015

Hot and smoky aubergine curry

18 Feb

Hot and Smoky aubergine curry

 

My nose is tingling as I begin to tell you about what I experienced last week. I taught a cookery class that shifted me emotionally.

Hot and Smokey aubergine curry by Deena Kakaya

It was a community based cookery class, which means that it was for local Londoners and not for profit. I always, agreeably expect a mix people, from different worlds to join me in classes like this.  This time too, we had the world in our classroom; a lady, who spoke Spanish and then translated into English, used every opportunity to convey to me how it’s done in Spain. She spoke tenderly and her eyes were damp. I’m blushing when I admit, that a few years ago I might have considered this as decelerating the class but this time I felt calmly assured about this gentle lady. It turns out that she has an embolism on her lung and that she lived alone. She filled with tears as she expressed how much she looked forward to attending community classes and passionately, generously offered to sew some more of skilfully made aprons for the cookery school. She overflowed with love and told me that there are choices; show spirit and keeps busy, or not.

Hot and Smokey aubergine curry by Deena Kakaya

A gentleman who walked and talked unhurriedly made much conversation with me and as he filled in a technical term for me, which escaped my mind, I warmed to the way he spoke. I like intelligence.  It evolved with his telling me of his trekking in Africa and I told him about my mother’s family being expelled from Uganda. He told me about his brother, who despite having high-end cars and a focus on achievement hadn’t really lived.  As we surveyed spices and checked textures, he drew pictures in my mind of his sisters contrasting life in Italy, living on fresh produce from her garden and feeding many friends, around a laughing table. She has lived. He asked the question on why people should judge themselves or others, for simple choices in life when it is so short.

 

From a chirpy massage therapist to a man with no fixed abode, from a seasoned cook from Mauritius to someone who gave me the first smiles of acceptance after three cookery classes together. You know the interesting thing? Often in these classes there are light quips about the menu being entirely vegetarian or some vocalised disassociation with spice. There are sometimes questions, ‘so you aren’t from India then’, but in this class, there was simply overwhelming and unanimous praise, encouragement and enjoyment. There were no leftovers. There were empty plates. There were huddles around an iPad as they all perused my blog with intrigued eyebrows and sighs.

‘They really like you Deena, you’ve really given them something today, they loved the food too’, the cookery school manager stopped to tell me. It wasn’t all about the food I don’t always do good things. Sometimes I do darn silly things. But in that class, I took some lessons and I felt emotionally shifted.

 

One thing they did note is that it’s not all curry on the site, even though we did cook a couple during the class. These days, I’ve been hankering for something with a proper kick. I fancied a curry with attitude; a curry that isn’t weakly vegetarian as so often and unfortunately vegetarian curries are described to be. I have been visualizing thick, red gravy with some deep and juicy tones….you get the idea. For me, aubergines can go badly wrong if they are watery, understated and without garlic. Luckily this dish is none of those.  Where does the fusion come in? Well, as I served this dish the smell in Mexican but taste is Indian because I use Mexican guajillo chillies as well as chipotle to give smoky aromas and a total block red colour. This is not one for the faint hearted.  This is a bold curry, it’s alive.

 

Ingredients to serve 4-6

Two large aubergines

7 desert spoons of plain yoghurt

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

3 dried chipotle chillies

2 dried guajillo chillies

3 tbsp. cooking oil

¼ tsp. mustard seeds

One large onion, finely diced

2 bay leaves

6 green cardamom pods

6 cloves

6 cloves of garlic

Salt to taste

350ml water

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. smoked paprika

 

Method

  1. Cut the aubergines into large cubes and marinate them with the yoghurt, ground cumin and coriander. Leave them in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. Take the chillies and gently heat them on a non-stick pan and let the aromas release before soaking them in the water for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Once the chillies have soaked, grind them to a paste with the garlic and then leave it to a side.
  4. Heat the oil and add the bay leaves, mustard seeds, cloves and cardamom pods. Allow the seeds to pop and then add the onion and salt then soften the onion until it is lightly golden.
  5. Add the chilli and garlic paste and fry for a minute until the oil surfaces.
  6. Now add the aubergine, with the marinade. Sprinkle in the paprika and lemon juice. Turn the flame to a low level and cook the aubergine for 5-8 minutes before adding the water.
  7. Now simmer the aubergine for 45-50 minutes until the aubergine is tender and the curry gravy is thick.

 

 

 

 

 

Pomegranate rose and white chocolate cookies (eggless)

9 Feb

Pomegranate rose and white chocolate cookies (eggless)

I was seven when I received my first Valentine’s Day card and things were different in my day.

Pomegranate rose and white chocolate cookies (eggless) by Deena Kakaya

I have one of those memories that stores happenings that are seemingly inconsequential but can’t recall the name of an actor in a film that I last watched (I don’t get to watch many films nowadays I have to add.) For whatever reason our teachers thought it would be a really good idea to hand out the Valentines cards we had made, in assembly and as I watched each little girl (and odd boy) go up to the front of a sea of awkwardly giggling infants, I assured myself that I wouldn’t suffer the mortification of actually having to go up myself.

At first I tried to convince myself and the teachers that it was for another Deena; there WAS another one I knew. They weren’t having any of it and we were asked to reveal the inside to the audience of little mockery artists, where there would be a large question mark. Because that’s what is supposed to happen, according to tradition. Except my card had a name on it and as Dipesh looked straight at me in recognition of his waywardness, I looked away in disconnected fury. It was like Bollywood for infants, except more excruciating.

On the way home I regaled entire hideous nature of the day’s goings on to my dad omitting any involvement and mentioning nothing of any hand-made card that I had received. I told him of so-and-so girl who had received five cards and someone else who got three. Dad asked if I got any and I accidentally let slip that I had received one. He gently mocked me, he probably thought it was cute but so much was the embarrassment that I scratched out the name and tore the card up. Dad feeling bad about poor Dipesh’s efforts being wasted and my discomfort, patched it back together.

Clearly it wasn’t a sign of things to come. Nowadays, I am making time for lost romance and that little oomph. I wonder if I should wear my hair down more and if I should get out the perfume he bought even if it is not a special occasion; after all special perfume can be worn for a day of lecture preparation, toddler amusing and Sainsbury’s runs. Though in my language, love inevitably relates to food. Oh stop it, yes that’s fine.

Romantic food should smell sweetly of flowers and taste tarty, shouldn’t it. It should release inner sighs and offer cuddles, right? Well here we have it; Pomegranate, rose and white chocolate cookies. The jewels remain crisp and are even more potent, tart and sweet. The rose comes through gently, and the white chocolate, well…oh and they are eggless/egg-free so I have used condensed milk which always give me a feeling of Indian barfi (sweets) but here they let the cookies stay moist and crumbly. These are so much better than shop bought my friends, and they are pretty quick to make.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Pomegranate rose and white chocolate cookies (eggless) by Deena Kakaya

 

 

 

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