Tag Archives: Condiments

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

22 Nov

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

Often other people’s troubles seem more solvable than your own, don’t they. My cousin sat before me, beautiful and troubled. She has the sort of face that you just want to keep looking at. One of those faces that is often depicted in indian paintings; large eyes, lots of thick black hair and a delicate smile.

My much younger cousin has everything ahead of her. No career tangles or mortgage yet. All the joys of life are ahead. Yet she fought back tears. Everyone has their story, don’t they. Her resolve made me smile. Apparently I’m an effective coach; we talked solutions and we spoke about understanding what really was important. We talked about taking it one day at a time and that nothing, whether good or bad is forever. It all passes.

I scooped warm carrot halwa and ice cream into my mouth whilst I squinted at her in reassuring concern. I’m normally a crisps over chocolate girl and curry over cake, but this was good halwa. Normally I find carrot halwa overly sweet and sometimes grainy. This one was smooth and moderately spiced and certainly not overly spiced. Whilst the young cousins refrained from over indulgence on the paneer and fried cassava, I just ate. And listened to them. They laughed and texted away whilst sat next to each other.

I was thinking about savouring the taste of the halwa and I thought, I’d love to bottle it….bingo. That is when my butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney was conceived.

So the chutney is tangy and spicy and nutty and Jammy and ? Yummy. It makes for a great Christmas gift and so far it’s been on my toast, in a sarnie and even on a fenugreek chappati.

Ingredients

500g butternut squash peeled and grated
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
100g almonds, half of which should be flaked and half coarsely ground
2 tsp chilli flakes
150ml white wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cardamon
4tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
200g soft, light brown sugar
I used 1 tsp salt, moderate to your taste
2tbsp lemon juice
150ml water
2tbsp oil

1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin and coriander seeds and allow them to sizzle. Then add the almonds and lightly brown them before adding the squash, coconut, cardamon, chilli, salt and the sugar. Mix it all well, then add the vinegar.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then add the lemon juice and agave nectar. Pour in the water and simmer on a medium to low flame for 25mins and then turn it down to a low flame and simmer for another 20minutes.
3. Turn off the heat when the chutney is jammy in consistency and most of the water has evaporated.
4. When the chutney has cooled store it in air tight and sterilised containers.

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

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

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

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

On our houseboat in Kerala we had chef with us, as part of the deal. It was during one of my birthdays and what a way to spend it; lying on a mahogany hammock on the boat looking out at the lush green backwaters and watching birds swoop. I don’t often feel utterly relaxed, but that was a time where I did. I find that when I feel too absorbed in the microscopic elements of life, seeing life from a different angle makes me feel more alive, more grateful and more free.

Kerela house boat
Hammock
Scenary

I could see fluorescent green rice paddies in the distance. I watched small children take a boat, run past a tiny white-painted church so they could get to school. I watched fishermen and people looked happy. I thought about my own social circles, how different people are.

In the morning chef made stacks of hot, fluffy idli (sour steamed little cakes made of fermented rice and lentils) and puri. As a snack he would make banana fritters and steaming hot cardamom tea and just thinking of the dinner makes me feel satiated. I’d ask him to make just a small amount of vegetable rice and maybe one curry…but no. You know what he made? Okra curry, a red lentil dhal, a mixed vegetable Avial, salad, potato fritters and a mango milkshake. I’m not kidding. For two of us. He served us so eagerly and affectionately that the result was, totally truthfully, that my husband and I had to sit up for several hours in bed because we were too full to lie down.

Chef made a spectacular tomato chutney which had some almost-raw bottle gourd in it (dud hi). I scooped excessive amounts of it on my idli in the morning and he smiled at me as I did so. He very kindly taught me how to make it I. The kitchen of the house boat and I gained new admiration for him. The kitchen was small as you’d expect, but it moved! This guy is genius.

I’ve adapted his recipe to Include pineapple for sweetness, and cucumber and not bottle gourd to give a crunchy texture and I’ve kept the tomatoes t give a sweetness and tangy. All in all, this is another sensory play that works fantastically with cheese and bread so you can whip it out for Christmas or dish them out as gusts, as I am doing.

Ingredients to make 4 jars of 150ml size

600g tomatoes skinned
400g pineapple chunks
280ml rice wine vinegar
2 tsp black onion seeds
2 tsp chilli flakes
5-6 curry leaves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
100g caster sugar
One large red onion
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp minced ginger
Salt to taste
Half a large cucumber, cut into bite sized chunks

Cooks tip; to skin the tomatoes pour boiling water into a pan with the tomatoes in. When the skin starts to split, drain the water and wash them in cold water before slipping the skin off.

Tomatoes

 

Method
1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion seeds and curry leaves and when the onion seeds crackle add the onions and salt. Sauté the onion for a minute before adding the ginger. Cook until the onion has softened.
2. Pour in the vinegar and sugar and stir it and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Simmering

3. Pour the tomatoes, cinnamon and pineapple in and lower the heat and simmer until the juices have dried and the mixture is tacky. It should take about 30minutes.
4. Add the cucumber and cook for a further 4minutes before turning of the heat.

Make sure the jars have been sterilised before you our the cooled chutney in.

Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

25 Oct

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Always follow your gut instinct.

This week has been a revealing and pretty testing one. When I was made redundant just before I fell pregnant, it was pretty messily and insensitively handled and frankly, the writing had been on the wall for a while, just that I didn’t read the signals. It shook my confidence so then determinedly, I secured a role that on paper was more exciting, more strategic, more pay and well, just more. For some reason however, it just didn’t feel right. I held off from accepting the offer for two whole weeks and as I drove to work on my first day as a newly pregnant and formally dressed person, I wasn’t excited. I didn’t even feel neutral. I knew the difference between nervous apprehension and plain dread.

It turned out that my gut instinct was right. It was a mistake, but I was brave enough to put a stop to that interlude. However it was another factor that I let augment my self perception.

This week I spoke to so many people with emotive challenges I’m life. For some reason my shoulder is pretty attractive to secretly woeful people who carry themselves with a smile. I listened to a friend who has anxiety attacks at work, I’ve wiped the tears from friends who miss their children because they are busy being hamsters at work. I’ve held the hands of friends contemplating fertility treatments and encouraged my neighbour back into education as she has now raised her children. I also said no to a corporate role that would have sucked the life out of my life. I listened to my gut instinct. Nobody should actively or passively do things in life that they know will make them sad.

A the same time my husband has been away for work this week. I’ve had friends and family over this week back-to-back and I feel loved and blessed. How to thank them? There’s less money in my household now so I’m not taking each of them for dinner, but what I can do is put some quality and love into a thoughtful gift.

Christmas and Diwali are around the corner, why don’t you try these either for yourself or as gifts for loved ones. It’s so lovely to receive a gorgeous catch of something tasty that doesn’t perish in a day or two. My lychee and chilli dipping sauce is versatile and smells amazing. So far I’ve used it with chips and spring rolls and can’t with each mouthful I’ve thought, ‘I can’t believe I made this’ .

This dipping sauce carries an exotic aroma, has a zesty and hot kick and is cheekily sticky. Go on, if you like it hot and sweet…

Ingredients

Two tins of lychees
5 tbsp of caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
8-10 red finger chillies

Method

1. Mince the chillies to a paste and keep them to a side.
2. Put the lychees int a food processor and blend them together to as smooth a consistency as possible, although it may be quite chunky don’t worry,
3. Pour the lychees into a non-stick pan together with the chilies and the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat to a medium flame and simmer for 15-20minutes until the juices have thickened.
4. Return the sauce to a food processor and blitz it until the lychee chunks have smoothed into the sauce.
5. Place the sauce back onto the hob and simmer for a further 5minutes until the sauce is thick and sticky.

Allow the sauce to cool before serving. If you aren’t serving it straight away then store it in an air tight, sterilised jar.

I am entering this made from scratch Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.
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