Tag Archives: Christmas recipe

Christmas spring rolls made with paneer, butternut squash, puy lentils and beetroot

22 Nov

During Christmas my family and I eat throughout the day, you know to keep the energy up! There are no rules around the 5/7 a day or consideration of portion controls during the festive season and indulgence is high up on the agenda. The table is laid with abundance and variety and as we chat, chase children and chuckle we consume copious canapés like these pretty, seasonal and utterly Moorish spring rolls. They are filled with soft pillows of homemade paneer, sweet beetroot and butternut squash, nutty lentils and spice. The surprise ingredient is a hint of orange, because it’s Christmas.

Christmas spring rolls made with paneer, butternut squash, puy lentils and beetroot by Deena Kakaya

I made these spring rolls for demonstration at the Taste of London festival, at the tobacco docks.  I was on the busy and bustling a2Milk stand as part of the Great British Chefs team and wow, what an experience!  a2 Milk™, was used to make the paneer for this recipe. Regular cows’ milk contains A1 and A2 proteins and for some, the A1 protein causes side effects such as nausea, bloating and mucus build up. A2 carefully select dairy cows that naturally produce the A2 protein and not the A1 protein. If you have had trouble digesting regular milk, a2 Milk could be for you.

Makes approximately 24 spring rolls

Ingredients

For the paneer cheese (makes approximately 150g)

1 litre of full fat A2 milk

2-2 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

For the spring rolls

35og butternut squash (peeled) and cut into 2 cm cubes

70g puy lentils, cooked per packet instructions

130g cooked beetroot, cut into 2cm cubes

The zest of one medium orange

The juice of one orange

2 ½ tbsp. desiccated coconut

Finely chopped green chillies to your taste (I used 4)

5-6 curry leaves

2 tbsp. vegetable oil for the tempering

Vegetable oil for deep frying the spring rolls

½ tsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Salt to taste

12 spring roll sheets

 

You will also need

Tightly woven fabric such as muslin or handkerchief material for making the paneer

Keep a finger bowl of water ready, this will be used when binding the spring rolls

Method

  1. Start by making the paneer. I would suggest making the paneer the night before you make the spring rolls, to allow the paneer enough time to set. It is important to use full fat milk, as any other milk will not contain enough fat. In a non-stick pan, heat the A2 milk until it starts to boil. Turn the milk down to a simmer and then add the lemon juice. You will see that the milk starts to curdle and large clumps that look like cottage cheese appear. Turn the heat off and allow the acidic reaction to fully separate the curds and whey; give it about ten minutes. In the meantime, line a colander with muslin in an empty sink. Pour the paneer cheese into the muslin and then tie the muslin and remove any excess liquid. You keep the whey and use it to thicken curry bases. Put some weight (like a saucepan) on the paneer and allow it to set. Once set, cut the paneer into 2-3cm cubes.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and then coat the butternut squash with a light layer of oil. Roast the butternut squash at 190 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the squash is lightly crisp and soft enough to pierce.
  3. In a large bowl combine the (cooked) puy lentils, beetroot, orange zest, butternut squash, paneer (cut into 2cm cubes), orange juice, desiccated coconut, salt and toss all of the ingredients together.
  4. For the tempering, heat a non-stick pan and add the oil before introducing the cumin seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric. Allow the seeds to sizzle and then add the tempering to the spring roll mixture and then toss to ensure even coverage.
  5. Cut the spring rolls in half to create two rectangles. Leaving approximately 3cm centimetres space at the bottom and sides, place a dessert spoonful of the filling towards the bottom. Fold the sides inwards, close the bottom panel and fold the spring tightly in a cigar shape. Seal the end panel with a little water.
  6. Allow the spring rolls time to settle and the let the sealed panel dry before frying the spring rolls in hot oil. Fry them until they are lightly brown and golden and then use a slotted spoon to remove them from the frying pan, placing them onto kitchen paper

 

Deena Kakaya at Taste of London Deena Making paneer

Shrikhand, cherry and amoretti fool

25 Nov

Shrikhand, cherry and amoretti fool

I am writing this recipe on the request of the lovely people who came along to my last cookery class in London and we didn’t even cover this recipe at the class!  I just assembled 17 (one for each attendee, none for me) glasses of this pretty and easy to make sweet dish before they arrived and as soon as they came out, even whilst I was explaining what the fool comprises, they were swiftly lifted off my tray. Each of the glasses came back empty and many requests and follow-up requests ensued. So, I take this one is popular.

Shrikhand, cherry and amoretti fool by Deena Kakaya

Shrikhand is a sweetened, thickened curd. Traditionally, yoghurt would be strained through tightly woven cotton or cheesecloth to remove excess moisture and leaving creamy, pillows behind. This curd is then infused with saffron, cardamom and sugar as well as rose water. I remember my mother going through the onerous and utterly rewarding process from my childhood and oh, the joy of scooping Shrikhand up with some puri (fried and fluffy bread).

The funny thing is, a wonderful and sweet lady who attended the class said me ‘Deena I HATE Shrikhand, but I absolutely loved your fool’. Many jokes are popping into my head about who, ‘my fool’ may be, but let’s not.

The fool is layered with sticky sweet cherries; compote really, then there is a bite of amoretti and sprinkle of pistachio. I am being utterly serious when I say there was really not a lick of the spoon left in the kitchen. Wiped clean. Totally.

A few of my class said they would make this for Christmas and I think I may too. Every family has guests that have dietary needs and in my family there is the exclusion of sugar as I come from a family of diabetics and you can make Shrikhand without using generic sugar. The other restriction is eggs; we generally need one eggless dessert.  So, this is an easy peasy one that you can make using quark and make each of the components ahead of time and then assemble them when you are ready to serve the dish; no fear of flattening bakes or ice creams that don’t set. Relax.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

500g Quark

100g caster sugar for the Shrikhand

Two pinches of ground cardamom

One pinch of saffron

1 tbsp. rose water

200g frozen cherries

70g sugar for the cherries

25g unshelled pistachio, finely chopped

4-6 amoretti biscuits

Method

  1. Combine the quark, sugar, rose water saffron and cardamom. If your saffron is in strands rather than the powdered version I have used, heat 1 tsp. of milk and infuse the strands of saffron into the milk before adding them (when cooled) to the Shrikhand.
  2. To make the berry compote, combine the sugar and cherries and heat them on a low-medium flame until they have thickened. This should take 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and then allow the compote to cool to room temperature. Then, pop them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  3. To serve, place two heaped dessert spoonful’s of the Shrikhand in the bottom of the glass, then top with the two dessert spoons of the cherries. Then place an amoretti biscuit on the top and a sprinkle of pistachio.

 

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

26 Nov

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

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

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

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

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

Tangy sweet spicy Christmas food gift tomato pineapple cucumber chutney

Halwa chutney butternut squash almond coconut chutney

Ingredients to serve 6-8

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

Method

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

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