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Home-made Falooda ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)

7 Aug

Home-made Falooda ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)

They say you become like the people you surround yourself with.

Home-made Falooda Ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)  by Deena Kakaya

Home-made Falooda Ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli) by Deena Kakaya

So, if you are around people who are athletic you will be more likely to use your gym membership or actually put on that swimming costume. If you spend time with folks who eat really healthy foods, you will consequently take inspiration and be eating gloriously green, blueberry chia and super food fuelled meals and if you find yourself with positive and happy people who tend to see the brighter side of life, you will inevitably think of challenges as stepping stones. If you immerse yourself in environments of intellectual dialogue, perhaps on politics or economics between ambitious and focused people, you will cultivate and progress your own mind and if your friends like money, cars and big houses…you may just find a way to achieve those same things.

If your mates are academic you will probably finish that post graduate qualification you’ve been thinking about for ages and if your pals wear cutting-edge make-up even to the supermarket or on a run, you will think twice before postponing that hair dressers appointment to cover up those grey hairs. If the banter around the dinner table on your Friday night get-together is about getting that next promotion or making partner, your energies too will flow that way. If you friends have found peace, love, God, family, children, simplicity…you may just find some time to do the same.

Intuitive isn’t it. I mean naturally. It’s one of the reasons parents worry about the company their children keep because we know that we can drive all our efforts to instil good values but the association that our children forge with groups of their choice will often have a very powerful influence on their own attitude and outlook. Why then have I not become more like my mother?

We stood at the Pani Puri stall in Wembley the other day and whilst I stood a little bit removed on the side, my mum plunged into the crowd and cheekily ordered a plate of dahi puri chaat and we could also that the anticipation was positively tickling her. I remarked to my dad that my mother hasn’t lost her inner child and he told me that it’s the way to hold onto the beauty of life.

Iridescent eyes and quivering excitement greeted us and of course a hand wafting around a plate bursting with cool, crisp, sour, sweet, tangy little filled puri. There is no pleasure like eating them with loved ones, outdoors, before they fall apart but nobody knows how to live a moment like my mother. Nobody would guess anything else about her.

As I had a little moan about the kitchen, the mess, the heavy earrings and stifling outfit, my hunger and of course the worries of nursery and work and oh! Life. My mother just chuckled and went upstairs in the cool of the late afternoon. She didn’t return for ages but I heard a loud snore as I went up the stairs thirty minutes later. When I told my dad, he said, ‘look, this is how peaceful people live life’.

Here’s to my mother. She wanted a falooda after her paratha, curry, Pani Puri and dahi puri on the street but couldn’t fit it in. Falooda are thick milkshakes perfumed with rose syrup, pumped with swelling chia seeds, and silky vermicelli and there is usually some sort of fruit and soaking in there too and perhaps even jelly but there is always ice cream floating on the top and it conveniently holds the umbrella. You get the picture. It is a treat for all but has that youthful, fun element to it-just like my mum. If she were a drink, I reckon she would be a falooda.

I would not be me if I did stretch the recipe a little…Rose milkshake was the remedy and bribe for many a parental challenge during my childhood. Don’t want to drink milk? OK have some rose milkshake. Don’t want to sit and watch that Bollywood movie? OK have some rose milkshake? Too much arguing with the cousins…yep. Rose Milkshake. It looks pretty and that aroma…mmm…You’ll find rose syrup in the ethnic aisle of large supermarkets like Tesco or in an Asian Store.

I have made an ice cream of it all. Ta-DA! The bright pink vermicelli? I soaked that in beetroot juice. I even have chocolate vermicelli in this version but the thing is, it’s an ice cream.

Ingredients

300ml whole milk

300ml double cream

7 tbsp. rose syrup

1 ½ tbsp. chia seeds

3 tbsp. finely broken vermicelli

25g cooked beetroot

One pink apple, cut into small cubes

4 tbsp. sugar

4 egg yolks

1 tsp. corn flour

Method

  1. If you are using an ice cream maker, ensure that your equipment is ready.
  2. Mix the milk, cream, Rose syrup and chia seeds together and chill them in the fridge for 3 hours.
  3. In the meantime puree the beetroot and soak the vermicelli in 50ml water.
  4. Once the milk has been chilled for the three hours, to allow the chia seeds to swell, make the custard. Combine the three egg yolks, sugar and corn flour in a large bowl and whip them until the sugar is no longer grainy and becomes a pale yellow colour and creamy in texture.
  5. Heat the milk and cream until it almost boils but do not let it boil.
  6. Add the milk and cream into the large bowl a little at a time, to avoid the eggs getting too hot and scrambling. Combine well and then turn it back into the saucepan that you heated the milk and cream in.
  7. Heat the custard on a very low flame and stir continuously. Do this until the back of the spatula can be covered and when you draw a line through the layer on the spatula, the line holds.
  8. Turn off the heat and mix in the vermicelli and apple and then allow the custard to cool to room temperature before leaving it in the fridge overnight. Now add the chocolate vermicelli if you are using it.
  9. Churn the custard in an ice cream maker or leave it in the freezer until it has set.

Apple, yoghurt, lime and cardamom pancakes

5 Jul

Apple, yoghurt, lime and cardamom pancakes

I have become a serial well-wisher. What about you? Are you overflowing with perpetual congratulation giving, spilling over with ‘well done’ encouragement and brimming with huge smiles and ‘that’s incredible’ commendations?

Apple, yoghurt, lime and cardamom pancakes

Back in the day I was encouraging and supportive on my friend’s achievements; grades, hockey team, someone playing netball or some art project or maybe even a musical instrument, a dance thing even. This then progressed to romantic relationships, holidays, buying first homes and getting married.  Everyone had their own thing didn’t they? Somewhere along the lines though, it changed.

Though these congratulating moments have stayed in my mind and still make me smile. When we got our a-level results my best friend didn’t get what she needed to, so we had to wait to find a university place for her and meanwhile I had scored a hat trick. We didn’t celebrate until she found her place, which she ended up being really happy with and it involved a lot of cheese in a regular Italian restaurant with a flirtatious waiter and even more cake. When we bought out first home we celebrated on the floorboards (there was no carpet or wooden floor) with a crowd of bums on cushions (we had no sofa) and chow Mein with fizzy apple juice lay on kitchen roll (no table, no tablecloth). More friends frequented that first place, which was tiny and awkward with the only bathroom flowing from the bedroom, than do our current home. More dinner parties were had on the cheap glass table in the first place than on the more solid and lasting wooden one we have now. Why?

As I scroll through my twitter timeline I see oodles of people who have done something tremendous. Every day, people are doing incredible things; writing books, climbing mountains, popping up in restaurants, TV, radio, magazines, all very wow-some. Then my Facebook feed is bursting with cute baby pictures and their older siblings and people getting married or visiting an incredible destination. Everyone on instagram is eating their way through the world. Wow. Everyone is amazing.

We stole 26 minutes of normality today. After dinner we were in the car and the boy fell asleep. We spent 26 minutes being nice to each other (the husband and I) and he again told me that he missed me. We talked about the old days, when life was simpler. We just went to work and the gym came home and ate and chilled and went exploring at the weekends. We smiled at each other and talked about the new kid’s pool I had discovered with shallow water and slides, a huge plus being that I wouldn’t have to hold the boy. We considered cinnamon donuts but decided that our bellies didn’t need sugar, but our lives certainly did.

So, I decided to do something nice in real life. Breakfast.  The breakfast that thinks it is naughtier than it is. Apples are juicy and good but don’t be fooled into thinking that they alone will make this dish. The light and fluffy pancakes need the sourness of yoghurt, the zesty lime and aroma of cardamom to avoid them feeling bland. In my opinion the yoghurt is the star of this show, but please will you let me know what you think? The sweet, sour, zingy and perfumed pancakes are the best way to start the day…being nice in the most real way.

 

 

Ingredients to serve four

200g plain flour

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

3 golden delicious apples, peeled and grated

350ml plain, natural yoghurt

The zest and juice of one lime

50g sugar

Oil for frying the pancakes

Agave nectar, honey or syrup for drizzling

Icing sugar for sprinkling on top of the cooked pancakes

Method

  1. In one bowl whisk the eggs together before adding the yoghurt and sugar. Mix thoroughly and add the lime juice and zest.
  2. Fold in the grated apples and ensure that the mixture looks even.
  3. Mix the ground cardamom and baking powder with the plain flour in a separate bowl before combining it with the wet ingredients
  4. Heat a very thin layer of oil on a non-stick pan and then add dessert spoonful’s of pancake mixture and then flatten them slightly. Lower the heat to a low-medium flame and once they catch a golden colour on one side, flip them over and brown the lightly on the other side.
  5. Serve the pancakes immediately with icing sugar dusted on top and a drizzle of syrup.

Strawberry and Thai basil lemonade

22 Jun

Strawberry and Thai basil lemonade

Strawberry and Thai basil lemonade

This could potentially be my last full summer with the boy. Potentially. This time next year I will be in the swing of it (I hope) and he will be in nursery.

This time last year I took him to pick berries in our local fruit picking farm ten minutes down the road. He was wearing a little white t-shirt with a red heart on it and it grew the colours of the season throughout the hours. Sadly the fruit flies had attacked the crop of strawberries but the blackberries were in abundance. At not even a year and half old he chattered away to me but had not cracked the concept of picking the fruit to take home, so he made repeated attempts at sticking the fruit back onto the shrubs. How does time do this to us? I remember where I had parked, the exact spot, like it was a few weeks ago. The pram wouldn’t open properly because I had had accidently wedged a pack of nappy wipes in the bottom tray and I took multiple bottles of water to douse the berries with, just in case he wanted a taste.

We picked gooseberries to make chutney with and raspberries that decorated my breakfast porridge until the winter kicked in. We made blackberry, lychee and apple crumble.  We made a lot of memories that I wish he could hold onto and relive, but he is so young. The memories are mine though, the baby is gone and the toddler will too soon. But the memories will always be mine and I won’t have the guilt, because I have done my best so far and I know that. All the swimming, cuddling, water play and splashing, the shopping trips and chatting over fruits and vegetables, cooking together, soft play, the park, the play dates the trips on the train to London…all of it…they will always be mine to hold.

This year, fortunately the strawberries were not predatory to any pests and I was bouncing with joy when I found alpine strawberries, in all their floral tasting glory, decorating the borders of my garden this year! They have light, lavender like taste and are utterly sweet without so much of the latent tang. It is time for a fresh start and a sweet one I hope, much like this recipe for strawberry and Thai basil lemonade. Not only does it look pretty and alluring, it’s curiously sweet, sour, fruity and herby essences are pretty darn sexy. It is true. Sexy is good in a drink, do it.

Ingredients to serve 4

3 cups water

200g strawberries washed and hulled

½ cup sugar

About 15 fresh Thai basil leaves

The juice of three large lemons

Method

  1. Chop the strawberries into quarters and then combine them with the lemon juice, water and sugar, mix well and then heat the mixture on a low-medium flame in a non-stick pan.
  2. Warm the ingredients through until the sugar has dissolved but don’t boil the liquid as the strawberries will start to lose their essence.
  3. Blend the strawberries with the liquid until it’s a smooth liquid and then add the Thai basil leaves and allow it to reach room temperature before popping it in the fridge to cool.

 

Lychee and toasted coconut frozen yoghurt with rose and cardamom

23 Apr

Lychee and toasted coconut frozen yoghurt with rose and cardamom

Lychee and toasted coconut frozen yoghurt with rose and cardamom

 

The lychee is a ‘happy fruit’ don’t you think? I mean one associated with luscious and smiling memories. Not like the banana.

When I worked in the city I harried to work much earlier (than my husband) in the morning, dashing to the train station under pressure and I returned much later than my husband, carrying the smells of the underground and compressed with the worries of the day. Each morning I would wake early to cook dinner, so that I could go to the gym after work. I would chop fast, scoop spices pensively and go through presentations in my mind whilst doing so. In my husband’s own way, he would help by popping some nuts, apricots and a banana into my bag. Maybe a packet of crisps. All the way to work I would smell that banana and I imagined it bruising and softening. I would eat it as I trawled through emails and often I had a bit of a lump in my throat. I don’t eat bananas so much now.

All the other kid’s loved thepla when I was growing up. Spicy, fenugreek chapatti that are well oiled for extra softness and my mother willed me to love them as they are convenient; they contain some nutritious fenugreek and are easy to transport. They are perfect for picnics, keep well for a couple of days and make for great packed lunches. I just didn’t take to them. I had eaten them once at my dad’s barbers shop with my brother. We sat waiting, legs swinging and bashing against peeling black, faux-leather chairs and pulling thepla out of my pink, ‘My Little Pony’ lunchbox.  We had been waiting so long for my dad’s turn and I was sure that it felt lengthier because the wide-jawed and white mopped fellow talked at length with each of his customers about their line of business, how life was much better when they lived in Africa and the price of petrol. I looked up and around the orange walls at the black and white pictures of Indian cars, Ganesh (the elephant headed God who would of course bestow prosperity to this shop), and sunny Indian plains.  I think I could taste hair in my thepla. It’s what put me off for many years. Until I was pregnant that is. From my second trimester onwards I ate thepla, yogurt and pickle for breakfast every single day.

Fresh coconut takes a long time to chew doesn’t it? It’s the fruit of religious festivities isn’t it? Please let’s not get into whether it’s a fruit or something else. When large, stainless steel bowls in the temple were used to offer coconut and nuts, I would always go for the coconut. That burst of juicy, fleshy coconut then lingered for ages and gave me a light ache on the side of my head but it was something to do whilst being jostled about by hordes of worshippers waiting in line to behold the idols of the Gods being celebrated that day, or the Prasad (blessed food offering) that day.  I grew more aggravated as I grew older. I whined to my mother about why we couldn’t just go home and eat and why people didn’t just queue in an on orderly fashion, why must they push and shove. Apparently Prasad tastes infinitely better than food cooked at home and not everyone knew what a queue is. Nonetheless, coconut IS the fruit of celebration. It formed a thick layer of freshness on my 30th birthday cake, in Mauritius. A layer of fresh cocoa, locally sourced coconut and light airy sponge made for memories that will glisten in the warm waters of my mind forever.

Of course I have been telling you about how I am taking better care of my body these days. This frozen yoghurt recipe is of course made from low fat yoghurt and it contains no sugar. I have used agave nectar to sweeten the yoghurt and it fits better with my low GI eating. Win-win.

Lychee and toasted coconut frozen yoghurt with rose and cardamom

Ingredients

750g plain natural yoghurt

2 tbsp. rose water

¾ tsp. ground cardamom

3/4 cup of desiccated coconut

125ml agave nectar

200g lychees (tinned is fine, as long as you drain the liquid)

Method

  1. Blitz the lychees until they are pulpy.
  2. Mix the lychees together with the rose water and cardamom
  3. Pour the yoghurt into the lychee mixture and then turn it into your ice cream maker. Churn the yoghurt until it reaches a creamy and smooth texture.
  4. If you do not have an ice cream maker then place the yoghurt into a plastic container and allow it to freeze. Once ice crystals appear, beat the yoghurt with a fork to remove the ice granules and freeze it again. You may have to repeat this couple of times.
  5. Whilst the yoghurt is churning or before you’ve beaten it, you will need to add the toasted coconut. To toast the coconut, use a non-stick pan. Heat the pan and then sprinkle in the coconut and toast it gently and stir intermittently. Allow it to catch a sunny and golden colour.
  6. Once the coconut has cooled and whilst the yoghurt is thick but not quite ready, add it to the ice-cream machine. If you do not have an ice cream maker then add the coconut when you are beating out the ice granules.

 

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar

7 Jan

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar

Carrot halwa is the warm, sticky, juicy and fragrant indian dessert of festivities and joyous occasions. Not a belly goes without a sinking sigh when served a delicate mound of bright orange halwa flecked with cardamon, infused with saffron and decorated with pistachio. This might just be the best thing to happen with carrots and I’m not kidding.

I’m really excited about this recipe and I knew it would work and I was affirmative about it being phenomenal. Now, although carrot halwa is the darling of indian desserts, there’s nothing new about it. It’s perfect as it is and that’s that. I’ve used agave nectar rather than sugar, so it’s not as sinful as the traditional recipe.

Monday morning. Husband in Hong Kong and toddler on my hip. It’s cold, grey and very windy. Everyone is tweeting and Facebook updating about going back to work. I stand at the fridge, knowing that I need to stoke the internal flames but also need to stop getting fatter. Conundrum. I’m hungry and always crave sugar or cheese when I’m hungry. I think about lemon drizzle cake. It doesn’t work for breakfast. Sort of. I think of saffron. I think of all the tweets about savoury breakfast concoctions. I have carrots in the fridge and they are massive and juicy. They wold make perfect carrot cake or carrot halwa. But i can not get any fatter, I should eat porridge. Bingo.

And there we have it. Let me tell you that my mum said that this was the best porridge she’s ever had. EVER. I’m really excited about this recipe, did I tell you that? Try it. Love it. I’m sure you will.

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar
Ingredients to serve 2

2 large carrots, grated
1 tsp margarine
Agave nectar to taste, I used about 4 tbsp.
400ml milk
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
A small pinch of saffron strands
2 tbsp of shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely ground
3/4 cup porridge oats

Method
1. Heat the margarine until it melts in a deep pan, then add the grated carrots and and cardamon then sauté them on a medium flame for about 4-5minutes.
2. When the carrots have softened, add the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the saffron with the agave nectar and allow them to infuse into the milk. Simmer for a further 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the porridge oats and then simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
4. Serve hot and steaming with a sprinkling of pistachios in top.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

21 Dec

Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you all smiles, peace and a heart full of love. I wish you all days where you wake up, looking forward to the day and I wish you nights where you will fall asleep smiling. I wish you all good, light and kind thoughts, you know the sort that shape your day to be just happy. I wish you joy without conditions and good health of the mind and body.

For the last three years, each New Year’s Eve, my husband and I watch the fireworks at midnight and he tells me, ‘this year will be your year’. This year I reminded him asked him if he will say this to me again, for the fourth time. Will he convince me about how this year really will be the one. Have I not had my year because I didn’t make it happen, or have they been mine but I’ve been too ungrateful to count my blessings.  This year, I hope I can release that pressure and just see how blessed I am. My loved ones are all alive and in reasonable shape. I have a beautiful, kind and smart boy now, a home and it’s all going to be…

Lets eat to that shall we? Here is a summary of foods that are special enough for Christmas.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

Personalised Gifts

If you have left it too late to buy Christmas gifts or want I give something with a personal touch, why not try my Home made chilli oil with an Indian accent? It’s made with sesame oil to give a deeper, nuttier taste and smooth texture. It’s a hot oil with the aromas of cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cloves star anise. It’s definitely a special one.

Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent

IMG_3928

If you prefer a sweeter texture, try my Hot Chilli and sweet lychee dipping sauce? It’s perfumed and sweet with a hot kick at the end. I use I with spring rolls, in sandwiches and even with chips.

 

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Picky Pleasures

In our house we graze the day long..mouthfuls of crunchy or sweet nibbled are thrown into gobs whilst watching cheesy movies or playing board games together. I love these jaggery and spice crusted nuts so much. They ate smooth and crisp as well as sweet and aromatic with the cardamom.

Diwali and Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamom and cinnamon shell

Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamon and cinnamon shell
Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamom and cinnamon shell

If you fancy something with a bit of a kick, try out my plantain chips with cranberries and nuts. Not only does it look pretty and festive, it’s quite moorish!

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

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

Sides, starters and party pieces

One of my favourites of this season has to be my smoked garlic, fennel, coconut, cumin and panko coated mushrooms. They taste crisp, exotic and nutty with a juicy and oozy mushroom inside. They’re magic.

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

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

Everyone loves a good fritter. For me they are the ultimate picky food. Whether they evoke memories of eating paneer pakora in the monsoon rain during holidays to India, or falafels being fried in huge quantities by friendly chefs who rolled them off their hands like balls of cotton wool. Whether they are eaten whilst sat under warm showers with smiles from beloved family, or nibbled whilst perched on a stool in a busy restaurant in Cairo. There is nothing like biting into a steaming hot and crispy shell to show bright green and moist beans tumble into the mouth.

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

How about my Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora? 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.

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Brussels sprouts, the quintessential Christmas veg. How do mine look? pretty? tempting? These Brussels sprouts are treated tenderly, as they deserve to be but they aren’t your soggy or overcooked sprout. It’s a lively, lightly spiced and full of flavour, juicy sprout.

 

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts
Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

For something lighter, healthier and simple why not try my Christmas coloured nibbles of balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes with soybean and red onion dip. It’s red and green…Christmassy…get it? Alright, alright I know. It’s not exactly the whackiest idea for colours but it does look festive and it is fun. The tomatoes take on an intensely deep and sweet flavour when roasted and the garlic really comes through with a kick of chilli at the end. The dip left my husband in sigh’s of ‘mmm’s and he’s polished off the entire bowl of dip! I have to say that this nutty dip is really very good. The handy thing with this recipe is that it’s great warm or cold. I served with warm pitta and some smoked cheese.

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip
Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

I can’t tell you how delighted I am at how popular my recipe for Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter has been! I’m really excited by this one. It’s really quite special. When they are warm, the goats cheese is oozy and juicy and the case is fluffy, flecked with green spinach and sweet sun-dried tomatoes…does it get any better?

 

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter
Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Chutney makes it taste even better

If you find those veg a bit plain, here are a couple of chutneys to lift them to gorgeousness. My Kerala inspired tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney has spruced up my sarnies lately and I’ve even had this chutney with roasted veg…just to test it out!

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney
Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

 

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

I was also inspired by fond memories of halwa to make a butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney that is divine with bread and cheese, do try it.

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

 

The main event

It isn’t another nut roast, relax! I have nothing against a good, sumptuous and nutritious nut roast, but we can do better than that! How about my open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto. For me, this sums up a vegetarian Christmas in three, simple layers.

Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

Vegetarian Christmas recipe - open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto
Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

If you fancy a curry for the big day with a festive feel, try my Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes. This curry is one of those that warms the tummy and keeps it flickering and teases the taste buds. It’s a glowing bowl of aroma and an utterly balanced dish for the senses. It looks mor complicated than it is…once you’ve made the curry paste, it’s very, very straightforward. What you get is a heat, sweetness and zing. You get the perfumes from star anise, kaffir lime leaves and some wonderful lemongrass. The great thing is that the potatoes, Brussel sprouts and tofu soak up all these juices. The other good thing about a curry for Christmas is that you can make it before your guests arrive and then relax and spend some quality time with them.

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Sweet Stuff

I give the traditional apple crumble recipe an exotic and spiced twist. The juices burst through the top of the crumble and are a mix of the fruits and spices; it’s so good that I could drink it. It’s really good, try it.

Apple, Lychee and blackberry (coconut)crumble with rose, cinnamon, cardamon and star anise

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

The iced cold weather and then warming up with spices and central heating. The colours the charm, the music…and that’s what I have tried to capture in my recipe today. The icy yoghurt has a lightly sour tang, because its yoghurt. It’s sweet with pineapple and sweetener. The chilli adds a perplexing heat and I’ve added a touch of cinnamon, so the fragrance is festively sweet.

A scoop of Christmas – pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

Now let’s have a drink

When the party is over, I get thirsty as heck. I want something soothing, fragrant , sweet and cold. I want the gola man from India to come and make me one whilst I have a foot massage (not from the gola man, let’s not get any ideas). I need a good soak in the bath with flowery fragrances. I fancied enacting one of those scenes from period films where the queen bathes in a pool of rose petals and warm water, with people passing her towels and drinks. Alas, I’m no queen but this cool, fruity, floral and fragrant cooler is a spa for the mind.

Dance, sing and drink a rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Om shanti Om- pineapple, rose, ginger and cinnamon lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

 

 

 

 

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

13 Nov

 

 

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

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

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.

This has also been entered into Feel Good Food Challenge hosted by Jibberjabberuk and Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door

 

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

A scoop of Diwali – pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

31 Oct
pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

It’s Diwali. Flickering, gentle lights and decorated candles, bright colours and brighter smiles. Plentiful food and swelling cheer and seeing cute little kids over excited about fireworks and men displaying firework related bravado. Excitable aunties make a big deal of cleaning and men semi-snooze away. There’s always way too much sugar on display.

Impractical heels and frozen toes, pretty sari’s but now trending to flowing indian dresses. Visiting home to home of various relatives and receiving hugs and sweets. Everyone talks in raised sing-song tones, there’s something special in the air. And what about all those Diwali functions…dinner and dances and the parties? Are you going to any of those?

What’s my favourite thing about Diwali? I love that people are, even for just a couple of days, in really good spirits and that they are nice to each other. They take the time and effort to give good wishes and say positive and warm things. I also love that I get to see family members whom I don’t see on a regular basis. I love standing in a bustling and cold street filled with Asian shops and restaurants and eating steaming hot samosa or chilli chips with my friends and family. I love impromptu meals out and huge frothy ice cream milkshakes.

Although the open door policy does have its downfalls. When I was a kid one of our neighbours had become mentally very unstable. On Diwali day, our front door was flung open as aunts and uncles came in and out. I walked into the living room to find her just sitting there. She told my mum, utterly calmly that be had come to stay the night and would like her to vacate her bedroom.

Diwali is a real feast of the senses. The iced cold weather and then warming up with spices and central heating. The colours the charm, the music…and that’s what I have tried to capture in my recipe today. The icy yoghurt has a lightly sour tang, because its yoghurt. It’s sweet with pineapple and sweetener. The chilli adds a perplexing heat and I’ve added a touch of cinnamon, so the fragrance is festively sweet. Give it a go, it’s an impressive Diwali treat.

Ingredients

One medium pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
5-6 tbsp caster sugar
3-4 tbsp agave nectar
One red chilli, finely diced or minced
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
700ml plain natural yoghurt
300ml whole milk
2 tsp lemon juice

Method

1. Put the pineapple, chilli and sugar with the cinnamon into a non stick pan and heat on a medium flame until its pulpy. Turn it off the heat and blitz it to a grainy texture in a food processor until its cool.
2. Whisk the yoghurt, lemon juice and milk until its smooth, then add the pineapple mixture. Turn it into an ice cream maker and churn it until it looks creamy and smooth. Either serve the frozen yoghurt immediately or freeze it for later
3. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze the yoghurt mixture for a couple of hours, then whisk it to break up the crystals. Do this every 2-3 hours until its frozen.

I am entering this into Made With Love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior

 

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