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Falooda, creamy tofu curry and spiced paneer – Arla organic milk recipes

30 Jun

 

We have made some subtle, but impactful lifestyle changes in our home recently and I’m not ever sure whether the change is enough, but there is change and I see that, as positive.  One of my boy’s teacher’s said something I will use, and that is that ‘practise makes progress’ (rather than the unattainable standard of perfection). We have moved from refined white flour to spelt for foods like pizza, pancakes or bread.  We have cut out the use of white sugar from our diets during the weekdays; I like to use a little honey though, just a little. I am reading more these days and I wish I had not fragmented my relationship with books during recent years, because I have always loved the vivid escapism that books can ignite; conjuring up mental pictures is a powerful thing after all, isn’t it. I have joined a new health club and I am really enjoying it; I have been busy balancing my body (using a mix of Tai Chi and Pilates), swimming in a lovely warm pool followed by the steam room and jacuzzi scattered with chatting to strangers and I have been playing badminton and I have also been attending classes in mindfulness. I have been walking more, working outdoors in the sunshine and watching a few movies here and there.  I have been exploring work that I will choose, because I will enjoy it – how profoundly important this is. My husband has been a voice on the shoulder, saying ‘do it (whatever ‘it’ may be) if it makes you happy, life is too short’.

So, when Arla asked me if I would write a post about their organic milk and how I would use it through the day, of course I said yes. Arla tell me that the nutrients in a 200ml glass of semi-skimmed milk are as follows:

  • 31% of our recommended daily calcium (needed for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth)
  • 74% of our recommended daily vitamin B12 (contributes to the normal function of the immune system)
  • 41% of our recommended daily iodine (contributes to normal cognitive function)
  • 35% of our recommended daily vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) (contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue)
  • 16% of our recommended daily potassium (contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure)
  • 14% of our recommended daily protein (contributes to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass)

So, this weekend just gone, I got lots of the fabulous white stuff going and I started with spiced paneer on toast. It always feels so clever to make paneer cheese, but it is so, so simple and the clean, soft textures are satisfying for my mouth and ego.

Spiced paneer on toast (serves 2)

For the paneer

700ml of Arla organic whole milk

About 1-2tsp. lemon juice

A muslin/cotton cloth

Vegetable oil for cooking (1 tbsp.)

A splash of lemon juice

A spring onion, chopped for the topping

Spices; salt to taste, ¼ tsp. ground turmeric, a pinch of kalonji (onion seeds), a pinch of cumin seeds, ½ tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. smoked paprika

For the asparagus; a large handful of extra fine asparagus spears, salt to taste, 1 tbsp. cooking oil, ½ tbsp. sesame seeds

Method

  1. Bring the milk to the boil in a non-stick pan, then add the lemon juice. Wait for the curds and whey to separate.
  2. Drain the paneer into a tightly woven muslin or cotton cloth, washing out the lemon juice. Remove as much of the water as possible.
  3. Heat the oil for the asparagus and add the sesame seeds. Let them catch colour before adding the asparagus and salt and cook them for about 4 minutes. They should have a bite, but not be chewy.
  4. Heat the oil for cooking, then add the ground turmeric, onion seeds, and cumin seeds before gently mixing in the paneer cheese. Now sprinkle in the salt, ground cumin and coriander as well as the paprika before the lemon juice is added and then cook the paneer for a couple of minutes
  5. Layer the paneer cheese and asparagus onto the toast and sprinkle with spring onions. I used siracha sauce too, because I like it hot!

We have made some subtle, but impactful lifestyle changes in our home recently and I’m not ever sure whether the change is enough, but there is change and I see that, as positive. One of my boy’s teacher’s said something I will use, and that is that ‘practise makes progress’ (rather than the unattainable standard of perfection). We have moved from refined white flour to spelt for foods like pizza, pancakes or bread. We have cut out the use of white sugar from our diets during the weekdays; I like to use a little honey though, just a little. I am reading more these days and I wish I had not fragmented my relationship with books during recent years, because I have always loved the vivid escapism that books can ignite; conjuring up mental pictures is a powerful thing after all, isn’t it. I have joined a new health club and I am really enjoying it; I have been busy balancing my body (using a mix of Tai Chi and Pilates), swimming in a lovely warm pool followed by the steam room and jacuzzi scattered with chatting to strangers and I have been playing badminton and I have also been attending classes in mindfulness. I have been walking more, working outdoors in the sunshine and watching a few movies here and there. I have been exploring work that I will choose, because I will enjoy it – how profoundly important this is. My husband has been a voice on the shoulder, saying ‘do it (whatever ‘it’ may be) if it makes you happy, life is too short’. So, when Arla asked me if I would write a post about their organic milk and how I would use it through the day, of course I said yes. Arla tell me that the nutrients in a 200ml glass of semi-skimmed milk are as follows: • 31% of our recommended daily calcium (needed for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth) • 74% of our recommended daily vitamin B12 (contributes to the normal function of the immune system) • 41% of our recommended daily iodine (contributes to normal cognitive function) • 35% of our recommended daily vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) (contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue) • 16% of our recommended daily potassium (contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure) • 14% of our recommended daily protein (contributes to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass) So, this weekend just gone, I got lots of the fabulous white stuff going and I started with spiced paneer on toast. It always feels so clever to make paneer cheese, but it is so, so simple and the clean, soft textures are satisfying for my mouth and ego. Spiced paneer on toast (serves 2) For the paneer 700ml of Arla organic whole milk About 1-2tsp. lemon juice A muslin/cotton cloth Vegetable oil for cooking (1 tbsp.) A splash of lemon juice A spring onion, chopped for the topping Spices; salt to taste, ¼ tsp. ground turmeric, a pinch of kalonji (onion seeds), a pinch of cumin seeds, ½ tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. smoked paprika For the asparagus; a large handful of extra fine asparagus spears, salt to taste, 1 tbsp. cooking oil, ½ tbsp. sesame seeds Method 1. Bring the milk to the boil in a non-stick pan, then add the lemon juice. Wait for the curds and whey to separate. 2. Drain the paneer into a tightly woven muslin or cotton cloth, washing out the lemon juice. Remove as much of the water as possible. 3. Heat the oil for the asparagus and add the sesame seeds. Let them catch colour before adding the asparagus and salt and cook them for about 4 minutes. They should have a bite, but not be chewy. 4. Heat the oil for cooking, then add the ground turmeric, onion seeds, and cumin seeds before gently mixing in the paneer cheese. Now sprinkle in the salt, ground cumin and coriander as well as the paprika before the lemon juice is added and then cook the paneer for a couple of minutes 5. Layer the paneer cheese and asparagus onto the toast and sprinkle with spring onions. I used siracha sauce too, because I like it hot! After what I would consider a plentiful breakfast I didn’t fancy much of lunch. I had a very small portion of the boy’s lunch of spelt pasta with a roasted red pepper sauce and this of course left plenty of space for my inner child to scoff a falooda milkshake whilst unashamedly sighing in pleasure, throughout. Doesn’t it look like fun to eat? Strawberry Falooda shake (Serves 2) 200g chopped strawberries with a good squeeze of honey 1 tbsp. chopped pistachios 1 ½ cup of Arla organic milk (I used whole milk) Another generous squeeze (or two) of honey A pinch of saffron strands ¼ tsp. ground cardamom ½ tbsp. rose water 2 tbsp. chia seeds A large handful of brown rice vermicelli, broken A scoop of ice cream for serving A few slices of strawberries for serving Method 1. Heat the milk and add the honey, saffron and ground cardamom. Remove about a third of it and pour it into a bowl, then mix it with the chia seeds. Allow this milk (with chia seeds) to cool to room temperature before placing it into the fridge. 2. Add the brown rice vermicelli to the remaining, two thirds of the milk and bring it to a slow simmer. Cook the vermicelli for a couple of minutes before allowing the milk to cool, to room temperature, before placing it in the fridge. 3. In a non-stick pan, simmer the strawberries combined with the honey until the pulpy. Allow them to cool to room temperature before, you guessed it, placing it in the fridge. 4. When all the ingredients are chilled, take one deep glass and spoon half the strawberry mixture onto the bottom, then add the milk with vermicelli, then the milk with chia seeds. Top it with the sliced strawberries, pistachio, desiccated coconut and ice cream (I used coconut gelato). I have finally, finally, got the boy to eat tofu – I know that this may not seem like a big deal, but for me it feels like a momentous accomplishment. If you have been reading my blog for some time, you may recall my worry and confusion from the point of weening, through to well, relatively recently when it comes to his eating. I mean, I still can’t get my boy to eat a vegetarian sausage or a sandwich but there are, thankfully, foods that he will indeed eat and I have to admit to flutters in my tummy when he picks up some tofu and actually consumes it, willingly. Anyway, back on to my adult taste buds. I like a creamy curry, but I can’t bring myself to use cream. It is a good job that cashews make for a mellow, lightly sweet and easy-to-make alternative. I don’t mind some crunchy bits in there, but you may choose to be more careful about that. Creamy (milky) tofu and broccoli curry A pack of firm tofu, drained and cubed 200g of broccoli florets, boiled or steamed for a couple of minutes 2 tbsp. vegetable oil for cooking 1 tbsp. for shallow frying the tofu A medium-sized onion, finely diced 2 cloves of garlic and a thumb sized piece of ginger, minced ½ can of tinned tomatoes, pureed 1 cup of warm milk combined with 30g cashews 1/3 cup of hot water Spices; salt to taste, ¼ tsp. ground turmeric, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. garam masala, 2 tsp. dried fenugreek leaves, ½ tsp. cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, a small stick of cinnamon and a clove. Method 1. In a non-stick pan heat the oil and shallow fry the tofu until its golden brown. 2. Let the warm milk and cashews settled until the cashews are softened. This should take about 20 minutes. Blitz the cashews and milk together until they’re smooth, as a thick milk. 3. In a deeper pan, heat the cooking oil and add then asafoetida, turmeric, cumin seeds, clove and cinnamon. Allow the seeds to sizzle before adding in the onion and the salt. Soften the onion, before adding in the ground cumin, ground coriander and then cooking for just under a minute. 4. Now add the tomatoes, the dried fenugreek leaves and the garam masala. Simmer for a couple of minutes on a low flame before gently placing in the tofu, before giving them a little shake in the pan. Be careful not to break the tofu. Cook for a few minutes. 5. Now Add the cashew milk and the water, and then simmer for a further couple of minutes, let the curry base thicken. 6. Finally, introduce the broccoli. The broccoli should spend only 2-3 minutes cooking in the curry

After what I would consider a plentiful breakfast I didn’t fancy much of lunch. I had a very small portion of the boy’s lunch of spelt pasta with a roasted red pepper sauce and this of course left plenty of space for my inner child to scoff a falooda milkshake whilst unashamedly sighing in pleasure, throughout. Doesn’t it look like fun to eat?

Strawberry Falooda shake (Serves 2)

200g chopped strawberries with a good squeeze of honey

1 tbsp. chopped pistachios

1 ½ cup of Arla organic milk (I used whole milk)

Another generous squeeze (or two) of honey

A pinch of saffron strands

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

½ tbsp. rose water

2 tbsp. chia seeds

A large handful of brown rice vermicelli, broken

A scoop of ice cream for serving

A few slices of strawberries for serving

Method

  1. Heat the milk and add the honey, saffron and ground cardamom. Remove about a third of it and pour it into a bowl, then mix it with the chia seeds.  Allow this milk (with chia seeds) to cool to room temperature before placing it into the fridge.
  2. Add the brown rice vermicelli to the remaining, two thirds of the milk and bring it to a slow simmer. Cook the vermicelli for a couple of minutes before allowing the milk to cool, to room temperature, before placing it in the fridge.
  3. In a non-stick pan, simmer the strawberries combined with the honey until the pulpy. Allow them to cool to room temperature before, you guessed it, placing it in the fridge.
  4. When all the ingredients are chilled, take one deep glass and spoon half the strawberry mixture onto the bottom, then add the milk with vermicelli, then the milk with chia seeds. Top it with the sliced strawberries, pistachio, desiccated coconut and ice cream (I used coconut gelato).

I have finally, finally, got the boy to eat tofu – I know that this may not seem like a big deal, but for me it feels like a momentous accomplishment.  If you have been reading my blog for some time, you may recall my worry and confusion from the point of weening, through to well, relatively recently when it comes to his eating. I mean, I still can’t get my boy to eat a vegetarian sausage or a sandwich but there are, thankfully, foods that he will indeed eat and I have to admit to flutters in my tummy when he picks up some tofu and actually consumes it, willingly. Anyway, back on to my adult taste buds.  I like a creamy curry, but I can’t bring myself to use cream.  It is a good job that cashews make for a mellow, lightly sweet and easy-to-make alternative. I don’t mind some crunchy bits in there, but you may choose to be more careful about that.

 Strawberry Falooda by Deena Kakaya

Creamy (milky) tofu and broccoli curry

A pack of firm tofu, drained and cubed

200g of broccoli florets, boiled or steamed for a couple of minutes

2 tbsp. vegetable oil for cooking

1 tbsp. for shallow frying the tofu

A  medium-sized onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic and a thumb sized piece of ginger, minced

½ can of tinned tomatoes, pureed

1 cup of warm milk combined with 30g cashews

1/3 cup of hot water

Spices; salt to taste, ¼ tsp. ground turmeric, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. garam masala, 2 tsp. dried fenugreek leaves, ½ tsp. cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, a small stick of cinnamon and a clove.

Method

  1. In a non-stick pan heat the oil and shallow fry the tofu until its golden brown.
  2. Let the warm milk and cashews settled until the cashews are softened. This should take about 20 minutes.  Blitz the cashews and milk together until they’re smooth, as a thick milk.
  3. In a deeper pan, heat the cooking oil and add then asafoetida, turmeric, cumin seeds, clove and cinnamon. Allow the seeds to sizzle before adding in the onion and the salt.  Soften the onion, before adding in the ground cumin, ground coriander and then cooking for just under a minute.
  4. Now add the tomatoes, the dried fenugreek leaves and the garam masala. Simmer for a couple of minutes on a low flame before gently placing in the tofu, before giving them a little shake in the pan. Be careful not to break the tofu. Cook for a few minutes.
  5. Now Add the cashew milk and the water, and then simmer for a further couple of minutes, let the curry base thicken.
  6. Finally, introduce the broccoli. The broccoli should spend only 2-3 minutes cooking in the curry

Creamy Tofu and Broccoli Curry by Deena Kakaya

 

Steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in a roasted red pepper gravy

25 Oct

Steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in a roasted red pepper gravy

Is it just me or are people less obsessed with being thin these days? Is it my age (thirties), where people grow into themselves more, or is it my life stage (mum of toddler and prefer sleep, family time, me-time and just some food over the less necessary stuff)? I don’t know but mostly, people say they need to lose weight but eat the brownie anyway, right? I made some a really gorgeous batch the other day with saffron, rose, cardamom and pistachio and nobody said no.

Steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in a roasted red pepper gravy by Deena Kakaya

However, my body has a way of telling me that I need to be kinder to it and right now; I have gone off my food (as in the taste rather than eating itself). If you have ever watched a cheesy television serial and I am old enough to admit to recalling the crashing sounds and multiple replays of dramatic scenes in Dallas (and every Bollywood serial I come across) then this is what is playing in my mind right now. I, Deena, have gone off the tastes in my food.

At first I thought it was the onset of a cold. But it didn’t appear. Then I thought perhaps it is just over-working and exhaustion. But then I realised that I do feel hunger, it is just that I am not enjoying eating so much. I want to feel the thrill. But I am not.

SO, I have surmised that there are many culprits to this condition of mine; exhaustion, A LOT of cooking recently (maybe too much of my own cooking), overindulgence and heavy tastes, eating more functionally than socially (a lot of eating alone or in a desperate rush). Explains a lot doesn’t it?

You know I have been putting myself into solution mode more and more these days and not focusing on the problems, ‘think solutions, not problems’ – chant, chant, chant. My solution is this steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in light and easy roasted red pepper gravy. It is the curry that thinks it is naughty, but really is quite virtuous. Deceptively simple, ridiculously soothing and fun to eat too! I like that I want to get my fingers into them, but should really wait for the gravy to join the kofta. Let me know if you do a better job at waiting to scoff the lot together, won’t you.

 

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Spinach, black bean and cheddar tikki

15 Oct

Spinach, black bean and cheddar tikki

I am doing it again but must nip it in the bud. I am once again the hamster (on a wheel), the rat (slowly racing) and the chicken (very much headless). I am not quite the dog (I don’t eat other dogs and not just because I am vegetarian.) I am most definitely, absolutely the owl (night is when I work, not sleep). That is not because I enjoy being up late but because I want to be productive in a work sense, and also want my child to have his mother raising him and whilst my panda eyes lose focus now and again, my heart is not.

Spinach, black bean and cheddar tikki by Deena Kakaya

This time in life, I am looking back at the smaller steps I have made, and they are steps forward. I have so far been so fixated with big milestones for the future that I have neglected to be grateful and recognise for the smaller steps that I have made. The little things have lifted me, given me hope, encouraged me, kept my days rolling, stopped me thinking of wasteful things, buffered my falls, given me reason to channel energies, re-instilled confidence for me, pushed me to change, made me more humble, made me more me. The small things, the smaller steps. When I thought of how I would feel should I no longer have the teeny sized fruits of the small seeds I planted, then…well. It wasn’t a happy thought.


spinach tikki 2

This is why today, I share with you small tikki. I have taken inspiration from tikki that Indian street food sellers tantalise passers-by with; steaming hot patties that are crisp on the outside, fluffy and moist inside and full of peppery spice. Traditionally they would be made of chickpeas and potatoes and I am using deep black beans, silky spinach and a little oozy cheese. I have retained the influence of pungent and peppery chaat masala, which uses black salt.

Spinach, black bean and cheddar tikki by Deena Kakaya

Riverford sent me the silkiest perfect leaves of spinach, not punched with ominous looking holes. A huge bag of light green and juicy goodness, none of this limp stuff you often get. Spinach actually happens to be one of those refrigerator items that sometimes yield less love than we in our house can spread over the week, a bit like bananas. Now, experimental as I can be, I am not about to suggest pairing banana and spinach together today. Not today anyway, but the tikki, now those I ate a few straight off the pan, ah the little pleasures.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

 

Indo-Thai mango and coconut bhel

5 Oct

Indo-Thai mango and coconut bhel

Two fabulous things happened at the tail end of last week; my husband returned home for a couple of days, after eleven days of business related work in Australia and I found a Riverford fruit and veg box wrapped up and tucked behind my garden gate.

Indo-thai bhel1 by Deena Kakaya

 

Years ago, when my husband made the switch from his role in the pharmaceutical industry to make a living in the field he is so passionate about (magic) I would cry upon his departure for these clustered long-haul trips. After years of listening to him talk about making dreams manifest and how life is so short and it is not worth spending limited moments of breath and potential smiles doing something one is less than passionate about, there was a juxtaposition of,  ‘I want you to LIVE’ and ‘I don’t want to be alone’.

I didn’t like the quiet of the evenings or cooking for one. I didn’t like the ‘filling in’ activities. I didn’t like waking alone or going to sleep with just the telly for company. But look, years on. Who would have thought that I could become accustomed to waving goodbye with a young child on my hip and that the quiet of the evenings would become precious time to prepare for lectures or cookery classes and those textbooks have become me, once again?  Years ago I would find solace in those messages, ‘how are you coping on your own’ and now I see ambition and vision through how much courage I have mustered up in recent years. I have even considered spending a few years abroad.

So the contents of the Riverford fruit and veg box this week made me chuckle because they matched my thoughts of more exotic climes and the will to LIVE. Now, I am sure I have gone on, and on enough about how much of an alphonso fan I am but alas we can’t have these in the UK this year but I was tickled by the delivery of a large and firm mango. I spotted red chillies and red onions, salsa? I could have done yes, but I fancied something sensational and explosive. It is how I want to feel you see.

I am taking a deep breath before I tell you this. Macaroons and chaat. OK. Let me explain. These are the two foods that make my limbs turn to jelly with anticipation and heart skipping joy. Heart-leap-frogging.  I am a girl that does not need to be gifted shoes, give me macaroons and chaat. And if I haven’t told you before, chaat is Indian street food (vegetarian snack) of inordinate amounts of sensual pleasure. The trickles of tamarind chutney and chilli green lip-smacking chutney heighten a fine balance of sweet, sour, crisp, cool, soft and spicy textures. It pops every sense and leaves anyone and everyone hankering for more, more, more.

But, you know me. I can’t just leave it there. I saw this mango and thought Indo-Thai would be absolutely perfumery delight. The mango gives sweet-sharp balance to the aniseed Thai basil. I have used coconut and peanuts for the salty and nutty elements too. This is not an understated dish (I have stressed that enough haven’t I?) it is a full show. New potatoes ensure that you get a soft bite without soggy mess that an ordinary potato can bring and you can get the puffed rice from most supermarkets or Indian grocers. I have used chopped mint and coriander too for a real herby feel. I would definitely recommend getting hold of the chaat masala that is made of peppery black salt, it lifts the dish to a whole new level. Just try it.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

3 Oct

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

 

I cook a lot of ‘welcome home’ meals these days.

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

I have a husband who travels a lot for work and I’ve spent most of this month solo parenting, juggling lectures and cookery classes, recipe submissions and general life. Thank goodness for my awesome parents who have done their best, again, for me? Each time he goes away though, I feel like I grow.

Slow roasted tomato and pistachio pasta rotolo in a spiced butternut squash sauce

This time I have grown because I had to sort my repeated, month long car related mayhem out myself (although my brother helped significantly), I grew because I had to prepare lectures through till 2am and wake with my toddler at 7am and get him sorted without the 30mins of relief that his dad might otherwise give me in the morning.  I grew because I had to fix the printer ink issues out and get taxis at 10pm on my return from work that broke down whilst my phone battery died. I grew because when a relative told me that she is never left in the home alone by her family because she fears the silence and won’t go to toilet alone, i realised that i no longer dear the lonely evenings. I no longer feel sad when people see through social media that I am on my own but don’t take a couple of minutes to ask how I am, because you know, everyone is living their own challenge each day, in their own way. But most of all, I grew because life just carried on as normal.

So, after a couple of days with my folks I received a welcome home present from Riverford. A huge box of seasonal fruit and vegetables packaged in green, and tucked at the side of my home.  My toddler yelped, ‘yes, it’s the vegetables mumma, what did they send?’ The best of the season’s last tomatoes and a bulbous butternut squash amongst green goodness of autumn is what they sent.  I’m always so impressed by the perfect quality of the fruit and veg, there’s not a single bruise on them and they smell so sweet and earthy.  My tot almost instantly headed for a chair and asked to scrub the vegetables to reveal luminous oranges and red of sweet potatoes and peppers and we got the most perfectly quenching grapes.

 

I have to admit though; I’m not normally a butternut squash kind of person. I don’t like sweet soups and I can’t eat them boiled, I just can’t. But the colour of this one was just so rapturing that I needed to do something with it.

 

To me, a welcome home meal is one that is bubbling and simmering, thick and cajoling. A smile for home trickles through when the meal is nourishing and inviting, and full of the flavours of home. When my Husband arrived home from his last trip in Australia I made an Indian inspired feast of curries and dhal, vegetable and cheese raitha, Shrikhand and a stack of chapatti and vegetable rice. But this time, he returned from Mumbai and I knew he would have not only the finest Indian food but also some Chinese, Mexican and Italian food, so what to feed him this time?

 

This pistachio and slow roasted tomato rotolo is rousing in that the slow tomatoes tingle on the tongue with sharp sweetness and the pistachio and quark is a whack of aroma and colour which balances with the rich and thick spiced butternut squash sauce. A little goes a long way.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Corn on the cob roasted in homemade hoisin sauce

23 Sep

Last weekend felt like a weekend from the yester-summers, with a few subtle differences.

Corn on the cob roasted in homemade hoisin sauce  by Deena Kakaya

We attended a wedding near where we live and I do love a wedding.  As my husband and I fussed with car parking botches before our arrival at the wedding, thanks to faulty ticket machines and lengthy queues of cars filled with sari’s and gifts and then of course a toddler who unquestionably did not agree on how handsome he looked in the suit jacket and smart shirt, I sighed and smiled that this is all part of the happy mayhem with the background tune of, “I can’t like these clothes mumma, I don’t look brilliant.”

As we entered the wedding venue soft romantic music played to a quietly seated and orderly congregation of guests, not like the chattering sprawl my aunts and mum mingled between during my childhood. The priest spoke in soothing, professional and gentle tones, rather than the more directive and stressed tone I remembered from back in the day. The couple looked lovingly at each other, not tensed or fatigued. My cousins and I, who used to chase each other and chatter on in weddings as kids now we entertained our own in the corridors so as not to disturb the silence of the audience. We attempted to orchestrate pictures of the kids but alas, they just wanted to run, as we had once done. Luckily for the collective team of under 5’s the wedding was over in a couple of hours whereas in our day, they were full day affairs that rarely ran to time.

After the wedding my cousins, a few of our parents and of course all the kiddies came back to ours and we had a spray of happy chaos. A crawling baby, toddlers tugging over toys, grandfathers on strawberry picking special-assignments with little super-heroes and squeals on slides and swings. We had pasta and Khichdi and even roasted potatoes all over the house mingling with crisps and grapes. Nappies, spoons and splishing drinks generating curious scents and sounds and a few of us admitted that feeding tired and excitable kiddies was something we were dreading today.

Nobody wanted the Khichdi, or the vegetables, or the pasta or the potatoes but there is one vegetable that everyone agreed on (and this, amidst happy pandemonium is relief). That is corn.

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/community/corn-roasted-hoisin-sauce-recipe

I am not sure whether it’s the independence element of grabbing corn and just going at the juicy kernels or the cave person freedom. Is it the juicy sweetness or just the easy pleasure? I don’t know but what I do know is that Riverford sent me the freshest and most untainted corn this week in my vegbox and not a single kernel of corn was bruised or damaged. Utterly in season, fresh and golden juicy gorgeousness was in my box and I wanted to do it justice.

Fresh and good quality corn like the stuff I received is sweet and loudly so. To balance the sweetness I whipped up some homemade hoisin sauce which includes salty soy sauce and nutty peanut butter, a bit of chilli and garlic…so you see all the flavours balance so well and it’s such a joy to eat corn sticky and bold in flavour. Go on, be happy.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Curry for change recipe and video! Black eye bean pakora in coconut kadhi

18 Sep

This is a post that is different to the posts you may be accustomed to seeing from me. Yes there is a recipe, but there is something different.

I was asked a few months ago to share a recipe for the Curry for Change competition, held in conjunction with Natco for the Find your Feet charity. I, like many of you out there get a lot of emails each day but this one caught my attention and held it. I used to be one of those people that was so preoccupied with life that charitable stuff was scheduled in for particular times of the year yet always on the agenda. Since having my boy, my emotional equilibrium has, well, shifted. If you have followed my blog (I thank you once again if you have been) then you will know that during the past few years I have found myself quite lost, confused and in search of that, ‘lifeline’. I have gone without so many aspects of previous life that I felt had defined me, but I can not pretend to know what it is like for people who go without the basics of life; food.

The rawness of the truth for me is that I needed to feel that ‘I CAN’. That I can make a difference for myself, that I can be productive by myself, that I can voice myself once again. It has taken me a few years to find my feet again, and I am trying to imagine how someone who does not have the support, systems, means, facilities, access and options that I have, would find their feet.

So, my recipe was one of the winning recipes for this challenge, as selected by Vivek Singh and I am delighted to share it with you all today. The recipe is for black eye bean pakora in coconut kadhi. This is a sumptuous and soothing dish, filling and versatile and you can make the components ahead of a dinner party and then throw them together at the last minute. The pakora are deep and nutty and full of texture. The little gram flour fritters are lightly spiced and sit in a tangy, spicy and hot yogurt based soup/curry that is tempered with whole spices such as cloves, cinnamon, curry leaves, cumin seeds and ginger. I have used coconut powder to give it a light and fragrant touch. This is perfect for the season and easy to do.

pakora kadhi 1

When our own lives are filled with good food, it’s hard to imagine that one in eight people around the world will go to bed hungry tonight. 

The Find your Feet charity works to support families in Asia and Africa to not got hungry. Not by feeding them, but my helping them find their feet. They support and encourage families to innovate, using their own resources more productively, trying new seeds, making compost and diversifying their crops.

This means they can produce a variety of nutritious foods to eat throughout the year so that they never go hungry and to earn an income by selling the excess.

They provide them with training and support to start village saving and loan schemes so they can borrow a little capital to start a small business.

This allows them to sell their surplus vegetables or eggs or start a small local shop which enables them to become more self-reliant and provide a better future for their family.

They empower women so that they have the confidence to speak out and take a stand on issues that affect them, such as accessing better healthcare for their children or clean water for their village. This in turn enables them to demand what is rightfully theirs. 

Life is so short.

So, what can you do?

 

Well you could hold a curry event at your home or at a friends and ask each person to make a charitable contribution. You cook up a few dishes (you could use this recipe as one) and enjoy yourselves. For every penny your curry event raises, Nacto will match it. The person that raises the most will win a class with Atul Kochhar at his esteemed restaurant, Benares in Mayfair.

 

Here is my recipe and the video that I did, showing how to cook this recipe, for Curry for change.

 

 

Ingredients

For the pakora

60g black eyed beans, pre-soaked overnight

50g finely chopped fenugreek leaves

1 tsp. minced ginger

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder (or to taste)

1 tsp. amchur powder or the juice of ½ lemon

100ml water

100g gram flour

One medium onion, diced

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Oil for deep frying

For the coconut kadhi

400g plain, natural yoghurt

100g coconut milk powder

650ml water

2 tbsp. gram flour

Salt to taste

2-3 green chillies slit open

1 small stick of cinnamon

2-3 cloves

5-6 curry leaves

1 tsp. minced ginger

2 tbsp. cooking oil

Method

  1. You will need to pre-cook the black eyed beans for about 25=30 minutes until they are tender, then drain any liquid
  2. Heat the oil for deep frying whilst you make the batter for the pakora
  3. To make the pakora firstly lightly mash the black eyed beans. Don’t puree them but with your fingers give them a tender squeeze. The reason for this is to avoid them rolling out of the batter and popping in the oil on their own.
  4. Combine the lightly mashed black eyed beans. Then add the onions, fenugreek leaves and all the dry ingredients and mix them all well before adding all the wet ingredients and mix it all again.
  5. Drop a small amount of batter into the oil to check if the batter sizzles and rises. If it does, then drop in small amounts (roughly 3-4cm sized pieces) into the oil and deep fry until they are crispy and golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon, releasing any excess oil, onto kitchen paper.
  6. Turn your attention to making the Kadhi. Mix the coconut milk powder, yoghurt and gram flour to a smooth paste and leave it to side whilst you make the tempering.
  7. In a deep pan, heat the oil and then add the cumin seeds, chillies, curry leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Let them sizzle and then add the minced ginger before you sauté for under a minute, but don’t let the Kadhi brown.
  8. Pour in the yoghurt mixture and the water and bring it all to a simmer before adding salt.
  9. Cook the Kadhi for 7-8 minutes, and then add the pakora and cook for a further 2-3 minutes before serving with hot and steaming rice.

black eyed bean pakora in coconut kadhi

Home-made plum, star anise and amoretti ice cream

4 Sep

Home-made plum, star anise and amoretti ice cream

I am hanging on to summer. Well, sort of.

Home-made plum, star anise and amoretti ice cream

As I walked (rather than take the car) to pick up ingredients today with the boy in the buggy I sniffled lightly as I thought of all the work I have pending. Exam season is near, but it’s still summer isn’t it because there is still a week before it all kicks off. A whole week. I looked down at my jumper; well at least it has a floral print on it eh? And you know the menu for my upcoming cookery class has kale included, maybe I should just give in.

I mean there is even back-to-school stuff in the shops and the swimming pool is already quieter for all the children are screaming in playgrounds now. There is more traffic building up on the roads and the trampoline in the garden is filling up with rain water. I am still making the season’s last visits to the zoo and well, making ice cream.

So when the chap from Riverford tucked a box of seasonal jewels near my garden with a wrapper l on it and I saw it as I arrived home, my boy and turned our glances away from the wilting flowers and drying rose bushes to grab it and see because we have learned after a few deliveries that the quality of the fruit and vegetables we get is absolutely outstanding. Here is the thing, with no word of exaggeration. The corn we got this week is probably some of the best corn we have eaten in years. Years! I also got a perfectly sweet-tart and sunny looking plums with which I have struck a deal with the season-Gods. They bestow these beauties and I pretend it is still summer by adding a touch of exotic and aniseed-sexy star anise and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t create a little Asian-Italian fusion with the amoretti biscuits. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I will. This ice-cream is out of this world. It is sensational. You have to do it. The creaminess is exquisite and definitely not bashful. The spice is bold and the plums, they are tantalisingly sensual.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

fsf-autumn

I am sharing this recipe with Eat your Veg and Delicieux for the four seasons challenge

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.

Soy, galangal and star anise tofu & mango tacos

15 Jul

Soy, galangal and star anise tofu & mango tacos

Soy, galangal and star anise tofu & mango tacos

I took my toddler to the pool today and because I’m hanging on to every precious day and really feeling the countdown towards loosening the cord a little more, I was even more patient with him. He was even more ecstatic than usual. ‘I love you so much in the swimming pool’ he told me, and he also told me that he was going to ‘demonstrate’ his ‘swimming skills’. He is not even 2.5years old yet.

So here is the thing. Whilst he was shivering post-swim under my deep red towel and as we walked to find a large changing cubicle he chatted away to a member of the cleaning staff. He asked her about her favourite planet, car and animal. She asked him if he likes chocolate and he didn’t reply. He noticed that three of this softly spoken and calm looking staff’s colleagues kept walking by but nobody said hello to her. He asked me why? Well. What do you tell a not-yet-2.5 year old?

I had the same questions in my first job at the Bank of England. I had the same question in my last role at a household name-type brand. I thought it would be different in my new world. My new world is cluttered and tangled in a new way because it has emotion and passion factored in.

I was quite tempted to change the topic, but thought better. I told him that some people like to feel important, like a super hero. Some people like think Mars is better than Earth. Mars is amazing because it is red and Martians and they think they are cool because they don’t get dehydrated but people on Earth think they are cool if they are have lots and lots of stuff. ‘But that’s messy isn’t it’ he asked. ‘Yes’, I said. It certainly is.

So, here is a recipe that isn’t cluttered, it is simple. But you can get messy whilst eating it-if you fancy celebrating the glorious mess that one can be (me for a start). If you read my posts regularly (thank you if you do) then you will be familiar with how I love to balance contrasting senses. In tune with that, the (certainly not bland) tofu is salty, warm and bold. The mango is sweet and juicy. Then you’ve got spring onions. Who is celebrating a messy life with me?

The hubby recently bought Dhruv Baker’s book SPICE for me as a thank you. I have been instrumental in helping him (the husband) shed a few KG in weight with some of the lean recipes I have been cooking and in his book Dhruv cooks duck with some of the essences that I have used in the tofu. It works.

Ingredients to serve two

One block of firm tofu

2 tbsp. soy sauce

One medium sized mango, cut into thin strips or julienne

3 tbsp. kecap Manis

1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder

150ml water

3 star anise

8 taco shells

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. cooking oil

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. galangal paste

3-4 spring onions, finely chopped

Method

  1. Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and leave it to stand until the excess moisture has been soaked up before cutting it into large chunks of roughly 3cm cubed.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and shallow fry the tofu until it is crisp and lightly golden.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Pour in the soy sauce, then the star anise and rice wine vinegar and mix through. Then add the 5 spice powder, galangal and kecap Manis and combine well.
  5. Pour in the water and reduce the heat to a medium to low flame and cook until the moisture has been absorbed and the tofu looks well coated and almost crisp.
  6. Compile the tacos by cooking the shells per packet instructions and adding the fillings as you like. Serve immediately whilst the tofu is still hot.

 

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