Tag Archives: deena kakaya

Stuffed Brussels Sprouts Curry

28 Oct

I shared this recipe with listeners of the Sonia Deol show on Monday 24th October, on the BBC Asian Network.  Brussels sprouts aren’t everyone’s idea of a treat of a meal.  Well that’s what Ray Khan, who was standing in for Sonia declared.  I said it’s because people don’t really know what to do with them… I mean, with cabbage we often stir-fry it, or stuff it, maybe make a curry out of!  All too often, attention-deprived Brussels sprouts end up on the Christmas table boiled and then vetoed.  As I said to Ray, if I served up boiled cabbage, that probably wouldn’t go down so well either.

Oh, and they don’t smell like fart…do they?

It is time to do justice to Brussels sprouts and their gratifyingly flavour-soaking layers of nutty shells. They’re delicate and smooth, silky and delicate…and waiting to be de-layered.  Brussels sprouts invite creativity and capture it oh-so-well.

This is arguably the best way to eat Brussels sprouts. Stuffed with smooth masala, these tiny little cabbages are lifted to new heights, as I’m sure you will be after devouring them.  That’s in fact what happened in the studios…sprouts-haters were reformed. Reluctant-pickers became munchers.  In fact, I ended up leaving the entire Indian family-sized serving with them.

Go on; make the most of the season’s jewels.

Ingredients

500g Brussels sprouts

½ tin of plum tomatoes, chopped

2-3 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped

4-5 curry leaves

One onion, thinly sliced

2 green chillies, coarsely chopped

1 tsp. cumin seeds

½ tsp. mustard seeds

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. salt

450ml hot water

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the stuffing; 1tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. chilli powder, salt to taste, ½ tsp. garam masala, 1 ½ tbsp. vegetable oil, 4tbsp of gram flour, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. coriander powder, ½ tbsp. cumin powder, 1 tbsp. water

Method

  1.  Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts and create slits to form quarter sections, but leave enough space at the bottom for them not to split apart.  You want them to hold together so that you can stuff them easily
  2. Make the stuffing, by combining all the ingredients, starting with the dry ingredients and then adding the oil, lemon juice and water.  You should form sticky dough.
  3. In a non-stick pan, add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil and then add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chillies and curry leaves and allow the mustard seeds to pop. Add the sliced onion and sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped garlic.  Sauté until the onion has softened and then add the chopped tomatoes, salt and turmeric.  Bring the base to a simmer, before adding the stuffed Brussels sprouts individually; try not to pile them on top of each other.
  4. Add the water and bring the curry to a simmer and cook on a medium flame for approximately 18 minutes.
  5. Serve hot and devour!

Spiced Apple, Blackberry and Lychee Crumble

24 Sep

Crumbles are the stuff of ‘what have we got here’ versatility, make-up preserving ease and tarty pleasure. 

Some people get quite nostalgic when talking about crumbles; I too have memories of hot, sunny days and seeing my dad languidly stewing up sugar and apples from my aunt’s garden when we were children.  My aunt, who lived just streets away, had a swing under the apple tree and that was the exciting bit for us.  From shady security, we swung and looked onto rows and rows of immaculately kept tall roses…taller than us. 

There were piles of apples under the tree back then, small and green.  We’d knock them about whilst swinging, deliberately of course.  However, one many of the things that I love about the crumble, is the pure simplicity involved in achieving sigh-some pleasure.  I mean, it’s just fruit, sugar, flour, butter and some spices really isn’t it?

I recently did this for a get-together of cousins.  I had an hour to muster up a main course for the bring-a-dish evening, as well as dessert. I was sleep-deprived, having been up since 4am and running late…so, what did I do? I made a zingy crumble with an exotic twist. On the top, sticky purple leaked to the surface, suggestively. So suggestively in fact that I noticed before serving time, a few spoons had illicitly made their way into the crumble. I highly recommend it.

Ingredients

3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used Bramley apples)

150g Blackberries

150g lychees, stoned and halved

120g sugar

½ tsp. cardamom

1tsp. ground cinnamon

1 star anise

A generous knob of butter

 

For the crumble topping

150g plain flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180degrees
  2. Make the crumble topping first, by combining the sugar and the flour, then rubbing in the butter gently, to make a bread-crumb like texture. When it’s ready, put it in the fridge until the topping is needed.
  3. Turn your attention to the fruit, by heating and melting the butter in a pan and adding the Apples and sugar.  Crisp the apples up for 3-4 minutes before stirring in the ground cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise. Turn off the heat and add the blackberries and lychees
  4. Turn the fruit into an oven-proof dish and spread the crumble topping over the fruit, evenly
  5. Bake the crumble in the oven for approximately 20-25minutes before serving…ideally hot!

 

 

Less Than Ten Minutes to Butter Bliss

16 Feb

Butter Bliss - Home Made Butter

That’s right; I tell you that I can introduce to you a way of attaining Butter Bliss in less than ten minutes-How many people could vouch for that eh?

On hot toast, comfortingly creamy and lightly salty…or adding familiar sweetness to fluffy chapatti’s…maybe on soft pillowy bread to add glistening moistness… perhaps a melting knob on steaming vegetables, granting slippery smoothness or even in a jacket potato infiltrating the warm sweet clouds with juiciness…ah oh my, what if in a croissant, crisping up delectable layer upon layer, upon layer…

Butter. Delicious isn’t it? And what do we say about the alluring aroma…Proud cakes and steaming doughnuts all bleating towards us with their cosy smells and pretty colours; how can one not give in? I know some people who add a knob on khichdi (the traditional Indian Kedgeree of rice and lentils), or on their dhal to lift the aroma of the lentils and enhance the mild and homely flavours.

Now I’m not suggesting we all stop buying butter from supermarkets, or even that we encase our hearts with impenetrable and dense layers of it. But there is a glowing pleasure, a gratification, in creating simple ingredients yourself, to use as and when you will. You can make butter. Simple.

Home-made butter is creamier, has lightness about it.  It is smoother and of course you can infuse it with flavours, spices and herbs as you like. There are no performances and no, you don’t need to be churning away at it for hours.  In fact, I ‘made’ this butter whilst washing the dishes and singing to my Aloe Vera plant and spring bulbs (that are now displaying shoots).

Its humble, it’s delightful and you can dress it on a table for your dinner guests to devour between them. Mmm…Butter.

As always, let me know how you go…

My Recipe for Gently Spiced Home-Made Butter

This makes roughly 175g of butter

Ingredients

300ml of Double Cream

Salt to taste (I use ¼ tsp.)

¼ tsp. Aniseed powder, ¼ tsp. black pepper, ¼ tsp. cumin powder

Method

How to make butter and Homemade Butter

  1. Churn the double cream in a food processor with whisking contraptions or use an electronic hand whisk. If you are using an electronic hand whisk, then put the cream in a tall container to avoid spluttering.
  2. Whisk the cream until you see stiff white peaks, like whipping cream at this stage; give it another mix to scoop all the lovely cream back to the centre.
  3. Continue to whisk until you see ball/balls form in the bowl and the whey separates from the butter. Check the consistency and it will feel and look like butter to the touch.
  4. Remove onto a plate, and fork the butter to release more of the whey. Remove this.  I suggest keeping it and using it to bind chapatti flour for instance.
  5. Mix in the salt, aniseed, cumin powder and black pepper into the butter and moderate to your taste, If you wish.

Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls (My Very Popular Khichi)

31 Jan

Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls (My Very Popular Khichi)

Hot summer days during the school holidays, mother and aunties (in the broader sense, meaning women of mum’s age) in the kitchen boisterous and rosy. The wooden fence between us and the neighbours has been worn down to stubble from ever frequent visits by the neighbours kids indelicately climbing over them and aunties leaning over the fence, chit-chatting languidly after a hard day’s work.

The kitchen was spicy-steamy even though the windows and doors were wide open; the gleeful kids were darting between kitchen and garden. My mum would pick the hottest and least breezy days to make rice flour poppadum’s and I was the contented assistant; these goings-on were tradition for summer holidays. Mum and aunts simmered the chillies and spices in hot water leaving us all coughing, before adding the flour to make dough. It’s OK; we had strawberries and fresh fruit juices to distract our throats. They rolled the oiled dough to poppadum shapes; just a couple of millimetres thick and it was my starring role to lay them onto cleaned (but unwanted) wafting saris in the garden.  I collected heavy stones and bricks, full of purpose in my loud yellow and green floral dresses, to ensure the saris were controlled and I lay the papdi (the particular variety of poppadum) neatly, not overlapping them.   Barefoot in on the summer garden slabs, I enjoyed the heat under my feet.  I’d find a shady spot to intermittently paint under, whilst I safeguarded the poppadum’s from birds and insects too, or maybe it was the Bollywood music booming (and women singing) from the kitchen that did that!

The plan was to let the sun dry the dough out completely. Once dried out and microwaved or fried they taste impressively crunchy and crispy. They are deeper and slightly chewier than the poppadums you will find in restaurants, but they remain my favourite variety.  The smooth and slippery dough itself is delectably Moorish. When steamed its spongy, a little chewy, overflowing with punch and undeniably gutsy. Funnily enough the steamed dough is often eaten as a snack, with a little oil that’s infused with salt and chilli powder. Greasy fingers are typically all that remain once a plate of these gently green balls are served. Try it; tell me how you like it.

Khichi

Deena’s Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls; My Very Popular Kichi

Ingredients

3-4 green chillies, minced

800ml of water

1 ½ tsp. of cumin seeds

1 tsp. of carom seeds/ajwain

Salt to taste

½ tsp. of ground cinnamon

375g of rice flour

Method serves 4-5

  1. Pour the specified amount of water into a deep pan, before adding the spices and seasonings with the minced chillies and bring it to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat down and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes
  2. Take a long wooden spoon and gently pour in the rice flour and beat into the water, avoiding clumps forming. Do this quickly, before removing the dough from the heat
  3. Pour the dough into a large plate and grease your palms. Form flattened balls of about 5-6cm diameter and dip your thumb in the centre to create a well (keep the well empty though) and then steam for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove onto a plate and serve with oil infused with chilli powder and salt.

Deena’s Stuffed Okra

27 Nov

As a child I used to diligently peel back the layers in quarter-sections lengthways, and then nibble at them one by one. Only then, with a scoop of chapatti, would I eat the stuffing of that individual okra, with a warm, smug glow of self satisfaction. And then repeat the process. My tailored technique did slow down mealtimes, but personally I think my parents were just pleased that I was eating something green: and that okra too! We didn’t know many other kids who would eat them, at least not as happily as I did. In fact I remember one of my cousin’s being close to tears when encouraged to be sensible and eat their portion….”Deena does?” This made me feel like a very sophisticated little kid – did I have good taste or was it just that I was more willing to try? I revelled in my mother’s cheerful flaunting of this fact to my aunts as well as her friends. “She eats okra you know! In fact it’s one of her favourite meals and she even eats an extra chappati when we have this particular curry”. Parents! Kids! In fact, I think stuffed okra was indeed one of my favourite curries. Sometimes I would just roll it whole in the middle of a chapatti and then have a mighty mouthful. They’re quite a fun vegetable to eat you know. Why is this exquisite curry not served in restaurants?
 
It was, and still is, especially important to me that they sit in a mild, but pretty garlicky curry base. Not watery, but thick and happy. A luscious coating shall we say. Enough to add a tang of tomato, but I don’t want them drenched; no that would be awful. And I certainly can’t have them sticky-that’s neglectfully tragic. Simmer gently on a light flame, don’t rush.

I adore the way they are stacked in the Indian grocers, mounds and mounds of ladies fingers. I’ve always found that name so off-putting. Long green bullets being bent and scraped by scanning, analytical grocery shoppers. I’m always amused by the conversations around okra stands…people run their fingers like pensive ploughs over and through them, tutting and clicking their tongues; a distinct sign that they are unimpressed. Not woody, not browned. Green and slender, that’s how they should be…that’s what they’re discussing, scattered amongst talk of daughter-in-laws and mother-in-laws.
 
I’ve experienced okra diversely, cooked in soups, Gujarati yogurt soups (kadhi), African stews, American-style breaded and fried, stir fried with sugar and then there’s the shredded and fried variety as found in Mumbai. I’ve tasted them in a ratatouille and also stir fried in soy sauce and chili. Nevertheless, one of the okra recipes that sits closest to my heart is this one.
 
Although the traditional recipe calls for the stuffing being bound with oil, I simply can’t bring myself to do it. My father and I have regular enthused discussions about this. He buys into the idea and will go along with it, but pushes my version of this stuffing, which is slightly stickier, in my direction… “You do it”. So here is how I do it;

Stuffed Okra Curry by Deena Kakaya

Ingredients

250g of okra
6 tbsp of gram flour
2 tbsp of corriander powder and 1 tsp of cumin powder
salt to taste
3 tsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
2tbsp of water for the stuffing and 1/2 cup hot water for the curry base.
Chili powder to taste, I use about 2 tsp
1/2 can of plum peeled tomatoes
1-2 chilies
2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
 
Method
 
1. Wash the okra and dry them individually with kitchen paper and then leave the to stand and dry completely.  This will help to avoid that gunky texture.
2. Toast the gram flour gently for about 1-2 minutes, but dont let the gram flour burn
3. Combine the gram flour, cumin powder, corriander powder, salt and turmeric and mix thoroughly
4. Add the oil, lemon juice and water to the spices mix and form a dough.
5. When the okra are dry, create a slit vertically from top to tail in the centre of the okra but avoid touching the bottom and top tips. 
6. Stuff them each generously and close them firmly.
7. In a deep set pan, heat a splash of oil and add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop.  Stir in the chopped garlic and chili and saute until golden, before mixing in the tomato and salt. Bring this to a simmer and then place the okra in gently.
8. Coat the okra with the mixture gently and simmer on a low flame for about 5 minutes before adding 1/2 cup of hot water.  Bring to a simmer again and cook on a medium flame until the okra are soft enough to pierce all the way through.  This should take about 15 minutes.
 
I suggest devouring these okra with lots of natural yogurt of raitha and hot buttery chappati’s or naan bread. 

HOW TO MAKE TOFU TASTE GOOD

4 Aug

Most of my friends turn their noses up at the mention of Tofu. ‘Bland‘, ‘tasteless’ and ‘feels like a sponge.’  I’ve heard people complain about its plain appearance. ‘Oh’, my impassioned cried start off, ’the best bit about it is that it is like a sponge’.  Protein packed tofu is absorbute. It soaks up and retains juices and flavours and is illuminous with all with the colours of the concoctions you cook it in. It brings dishes to life with every mouthful, when all of the intended flavours of a dish burst out of the tofu.  I get quite romantic when describing tofu.  It’s the plain canvas, waiting to be touched with emotion and imagination.  Tofu is the bride, waiting to be adorned!  Maybe I should curtail the romantic descriptions!

A block of Tofu

Japanese, chinese, Indian or Italian; I use it in a myriad of dishes, but here are a few of my favourites.  I could eat these scrumptious items every week!

Pointed Sweet Peppers stuffed with spiced tofu

I do love sweet peppers. I adore the smell that permeates the kitchen. I could soak it up all day long.  The colours make me smile and these peppers are a joy to unravel and find more flavour packed inside.

Ingredients

2 pointed sweet peppers
A pack of firm Tofu, with the excess water removed and then scrambled
one medium onion
4-5 mushrooms, finely chopped (small pieces)
3-4 curry leaves

Spices: 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp tomato puree, salt to taste, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1tsp cumin seeds, ¼ tsp mustard seeds, 2 chilies finely chopped ¼ tsp black pepper

Tip: scramble the tofu by crushing it in your hands. It should break easily to give a scrambled-egg like appearance.

Method

1) Heat the oil in a non-stick pan before adding the mustard, curry leaves, chilies, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and allow them to crackle
2) stir in the onion and shallow fry until softened and transparent
3) Introduce the scrambled tofu and then mix thoroughly
4) Add the black pepper, curry powder, salt, coriander powder and cook for 3-4 minutes
5) stir in the tomato puree before turning off the heat

6) ) Make a slit pepper lengthways and then deseed the pepper.  Stuff the pepper with the tofu and then roast in the oven until its slightly blackened and roasted. don’t roast it enough so that it falls apart.  you will find that ten minutes is enough

Chick-pea and Tofu Curry

Curry juices burst out of the tofu when pressed with a hot buttery chappati and yellows and oranges enlighten the tofu. 

Ingredients

one can of chickpeas
A pack of  firm Tofu
2 firm red tomatoesChick Peas
5-7 g of ginger, peeled and finely grated or minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
one onion, finely diced
1 tsp lemon juice
Spices: 1 tsp paprika, 2 cloves, 2cm piece of cinnamon, a bay leaf, 2 green chilies, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, ¼ tsp black pepper,  1 tsp cumin seeds, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder, a pinch of asafoetida,

Method

1) Heat the oil in a non-stick pan before adding the mustard and asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chilies, cumin and bay leaf.  allow the seeds to crackle.
2) Stir in the onion and saute for a couple of minutes to soften, before adding in the garlic and saute until both the onions and garlic are soft, but don’t let them brown
3) Mix in the chickpeas, before introducing the spices and salt to taste.
4) add ¼ cup of water and the tomatoes, simmer until the tomatoes have softened.  Do not simmer for more than 5 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, in a separate pan shallow fry the cubes of tofu until they are golden, before removing them onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil
6) Mix together the tofu and the curry and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes
7) garnish with the coriander and serve with lots rice or chappati.

serve with vegetables of your choice or rice.

Tofu Bhurji

Ingredients

One pack of firm Tofu
3-4 spring onions
¼ cup of peas, boiled for 3-4 minutes
1 red pepper, diced
one firm tomato, sliced horizontally into
¼ of sweetcorn kernels
¼ tsp of garam masala
¼ tsp of black pepper
¼ lemon, squeezed

Spices: 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ¼ tsp mustard seeds, ½ tsp turmeric powder,  1 bay leaf, 2 green chilies (finely chopped),  ¼ tsp garam masala

Method

1) Drain the tofu and wrap it kitchen paper until all of the excess water has been absorbed.
2) Heat the oil on a non-stick pan and then add the cumin seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds, bay leaf and chilies and allow the seeds to crackle before adding in the onions
3) fry the onions for a couple of minutes, until they have softened.  Stir in the diced pepper and sweetcorn kernels and then the salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika and then let the peppers soften until they can be pierced.
4) Crumble the tofu with your hands and aim to achieve a scrambled egg like texture and then combine with the vegetables and spices.  Turn the heat down to a very low flame, before squeezing in the lemon juice and sprinkling in the garam masala.  Cook gently for a further 3-4 minutes.

Tofu Tips

If you  like your tofu to have a bit of bite and pull then a great way to achieve that is to drain it, cube it and then shallow fry it before freezing it. When you want to use them, just defrost in the microwave.

Drain, cube and marinade the tofu in 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, black pepper and 5g ginger, 1 tsp of lemon juice.  Leave it for a couple of hours in the fridge and then shallow fry it or use it in a stir fry.  It really lifts the tofu.

Tart up the tofu by giving it a glaze.  If you marinade in a little soy sauce, then give it a honey and chili glaze before crisping it up either in a pan, or in the oven, you’ll be bountiful with little gems to scatter into your salad.

Replace Paneer with Tofu in curries for a lower fat alternative that responds well to curry bases and gravies.  For example, in palak paneer (spinach and paneer) curry, add shallow fried tofu.  Do the same with mutur (peas) paneer or even a mixed vegetable and tofu curry.

Stir fry crumbled tofu, or even silken tofu with pak choi, bean sprouts and spring onion with garlic and a little soy sauce and bundle them into wontons and then steam.  I love these as a starter or light meal.

Use up cooked rice, by shallow frying a large onion, 1 tsp of lemon juice, cloves, 2 chilies, cinnamon, star anise and a bay leaf and some crumbled tofu.  Add salt to taste.  sprinkle in ¼ tsp of black pepper.  This side dish is fabulous with a hot bowl of dhal.

Fry up the tofu with bell peppers, sliced onions and Cajun spices and then blanket them in tortilla wraps for a fun and tasty lunch.

Indian Superfood Recipes

1 Apr

These ruby red jewels are packed with vitamin C and are thought to contain antibacterial properties. Rich in antioxidants, the juice of this middle eastern fruit has been proven in some studies to combat heart disease and blood pressure. Pomegranate has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, to remedy diarrhoea and dysentery.

Superfood PomegranateEasy Pomegranate Shrikhand

Recipe (to serve 3-4)
Ingredient

100g of pomegranate seeds (about one medium sized pomegranate)
500g of quark cheese
Caster sugar to taste
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
A small pinch of saffron (approximately 4-5 strands)
2 tsp of rose water
12-15 roughly chopped pistachios

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, smooth together the quark cheese and caster sugar. Include enough sugar to your taste for a dessert.
2. Combine the quark cheese and sugar mixture with the cardamom powder, rose water and chopped pistachios.
3. Squash the strands of saffron into the side of the bowl, then beat them in. The light orange colour will infuse into the shrikhand.
4. Mix in half of the pomegranate seeds, leaving the other half for decoration and then serve.

Easy Blueberry Shrikhand

These antioxidant rich ’wild’ things are high in vitamin C, anti-oxidants, are a good source of fibre, and act to protect the heart. Some research has shown that blueberries may help to alleviate the cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of ageing and they may even assist in prevent urinary tract infection.

Recipe (to serve 3-4)
IngredientSuperfood blueberries

150g of blueberries
500g of quark cheese
Approximately 6 tbsp of caster sugar
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
15 roughly chopped pistachios

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, blend 100g of the blueberries to a smooth consistency, leaving no pulp. Then combine it with 4 tbsp of caster sugar. Simmer the mixture on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off the heat and then allow the blueberry sauce to cool completely.
2. Mix together the quark cheese and blueberry sauce until it turns a beautiful lavender colour. Add 2 tbsp of caster sugar (you can moderate this depending on your taste for a dessert).
3. Stir in the cardamom powder and the most of the pistachios, leaving some for decoration.
4. Serve, using the remaining blueberries (whole) for decoration or mix them in with the shrikhand. Sprinkle the individual portions lightly with the remaining chopped pistachios.

Spinach and Tofu Curry

Springtime spinach is a source of beta carotene and folate, but don’t expect Popeye’s instant biceps! Rich in antioxidants and containing vitamin K and Iron (which will be better absorbed with vitamin C) spinach will help your skin, immune system, heart, your bones and energy levels.

Recipe (serves 3-4)

Ingredient
250g of firm tofu, cubed
200g of baby leaf spinach, coarsely chopped
2 deep red tomatoes, chopped into cubes
One small-medium onion, peeled and diced
2 green chillies, chopped
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) and 5g of ginger (grated)
A bay leaf, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, pinch of asafoetida (optional), 1 tsp of paprika, ¼ tsp of black pepper

Method

1. Heat 1tbsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan and shallow fry the cubes of tofu until they are golden brown. Remove the tofu onto kitchen paper and allow the cubes to cool.
2. In a separate pan heat two tablespoons of oil before adding the asafoetida. Next, put in the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon and let the cumin seeds crackle before mixing in the chillies.
3. Stir in the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes before introducing the garlic. When the onion has softened add the tomatoes, salt to taste and turmeric and cook until the tomatoes are smooth and pulpy.
4. Sprinkle in the black pepper and paprika, then combine the cubes of shallow fried tofu into the curry base.
5. Wilt the spinach into the curry and add the grated ginger. Simmer for 3-4 minutes before turning off the heat.

Spice it Up-Vegetarian Indian LOVE foods

1 Apr

Love Food StrawberryMmmmmm….the tantalising taste, the smooth fleshy feel, or the velvety texture…the arousing aroma, the suggestive shapes, or the evocation of pure luxury…There are many factors at play that tout a food for being an aphrodisiac. Some are more obvious than others; most of us consider the undisputed kings of aphrodisiacs to be chocolate and strawberries. Chocolate has been used to stoke the flames of passion for centuries and I’ve read that Casanova, ‘the greatest lover in the world’ would top-up on it before entering the boudoir. But surely, amore is not just for Valentine’s Day and strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, as sensually satisfying as they may be, don’t make a meal.

Aphrodisacs chocolate

A flirt with powerful tasting Indian Vegetarian Foods may prove a novel experience for you and your partner, so here I give you some luring suggestions. Serve hot and leave your partner lusting for more!
Kesar Badam Milk

saffron

It only dawned on me how packed full of aphrodisiac ingredients this hot and aromatic milk is, when I started researching this topic. I couldn’t believe how well crafted this delicious love-potion actually is.
One of the key ingredients is almonds, which are associated with passion and fertility. The aroma of almonds is alleged to excite women and is therefore a common ingredient in creams and soaps. Well, I never. The other prime ingredient is saffron. Now, decadent saffron not only looks stunning when infused into milk, but apparently some studies suggest that it contains properties that stimulate libido and the erogenous zones.

It only gets better and better. This drink is sweetened with honey, known as Aphrodite’s (the Greek mythological goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture) nectar. This liquid gold is even mentioned in the Kama Sutra and the Perfumed Garden, where it is said that honey spiced with nutmeg (funnily enough another ingredient in this milk) is said to heighten orgasm.

Lastly, exotic scented cardamom is added to the drink. So now I understand why I’ve seen (in Indian movies) this drink being served on wedding nights and confusingly perhaps is why this drink is served at engagements…hmmmm….

Anjeer (fig) halwaFig
This sumptuous sweet dish is bursting with fleshy figs. In some Southern European countries wedding guests throw figs (instead of rice) at the newlyweds, as a sign of fertility and I learned recently that since Adam and Eve adorned themselves with fig leaves, they have become a symbol of fertility. Maybe its aphrodisiac claims are based on its appearance? With this in mind, I would adapt the traditional recipe for fig halwa, which calls for the figs to be almost pureed, to leave into a mushy consistency with some larger chunks.
Fig halwa is made by 200g of figs, 3tbsp ghee, ½ cup of blanched almonds (blanched, peeled and powdered), 1/3 cup milk powder, 4tbsp of sugar, ¼ tsp cardamom powder. It’s so simple to make; just boil the figs in water for about 5 minute and then process to a mash, don’t forget to leave some chunky bits in there. Heat the ghee and then add the powdered almonds and the cardamom, sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the figs, milk powder, sugar and ½ cup of water. Serve steaming hot.

Bananas
Phallic illusions aside, bananas have a lot to offer the world of romance. They are pumped with nutrients essential to sexual hormone production. In many cultures across the world, the banana is considered to be the fruit symbolising fertility. Why not couple your banana up with one more, sexy ingredient?
I suggest banana and pomegranate raitha. The sparkly red seeds of pomegranate are also said to have aphrodisiac properties in themselves, so this cooling yogurt based condiment is a real treat. Peel and slice a banana, take a handful of the ruby red jewels and douse them in about 450g of natural plain yogurt. Add some chopped coriander leaves, a little chilli powder and a sprinkling of cumin powder and paprika. Sensational.

If you are in the mood for something more fiery, a spicy mock-chicken and banana curry may just hit the spot; this curry will really play on the tongue with its sweet-hot-soft-firm textures.

  • In some hot oil fry some cumin and then as it crackles, add a sliced red onion, a couple of cloves of garlic a small stick of cinnamon and a couple of cloves.
  • Stir in a couple of red chillies, turmeric and a bay leaf and sauté.
  • Add about 250g of vegetarian chicken pieces and then mix in some salt, ground coriander (1tsp) and (1/2 tsp) cumin and ½ tsp of garam masala.
  •  Add the two chopped tomatoes cook for about 7 minutes before adding a chopped banana (firm).
  •  Grate about 10g of ginger and cook a further 5-6minutes. Serve this impactful dish with steaming hot rice.

Tomatoes; the ‘Love Apple’?Tomatoes sexy
This narcotic red fruit has been proven in some studies to prevent sperm from dying off, but most of us would doubt the sexiness of a bowl of tomato soup. So perhaps piercing the skin of a sun-warmed and ripe freshly picked tomato is more of a sensual experience? Makes sense then, that some call it the ‘other’ forbidden fruit.
In terms of Indian inspiration for tomato recipes, let’s start with the obvious; yes, tomato curry.

  • Simply fry off, in some cumin, a couple of green chillies, a small stick of cinnamon, a sprig of curry leaves and 2 cloves of garlic and roughly 3 spring onions.
  •  Add about 5-6 chopped tomatoes and then season with salt, 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, ¼ tsp of turmeric, and ½ tsp of garam masala.
  • Simmer for a couple of minutes before adding ½ cup of peas.
  • Simmer until the tomatoes have reduced to a pulpy consistency, before garnishing with coriander.

Keeping in mind the potential effects of keeping the tomatoes untainted (therefore uncooked) how does a smooth tomato salad tickle your fancy? I use baby plum tomatoes, a handful of freshly chopped coriander, toasted cashew nuts, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of cumin powder.
I will leave you with my last offering; stuffed tomatoes.

  • Take 8 tomatoes, halve them then scoop out the pulp. Make a stuffing using ½ cup coarsely mashed boiled peas, 2 potatoes (mashed) 1 cup of crumbly paneer (freshly made Indian Cheese.
  • Alternatively, grate some shop-bought paneer). Spice the mix with dried mango powder, ½ tsp garam masala, 1 tsp of aniseed, 2-3 chopped green chillies, and coriander leaves.
  • Mix it all together really and then bake in a hot oven until the tomatoes are tender.

Food is all about a mind-body connection, so with a little planning and a touch of skill, I hope you get elevation you are looking for.

Vegetarian Indian Meal Ideas For Students

13 Jul

Cooking may be the last thing on many (uni) students’ minds.  The fresher’s culture in particular provides ample persuasion in the form of £1 drinks, 7-stop bar crawls, clubbing, house parties and of course sleeping all of that off, in preference of freshly cooked food.  It probably doesn’t help that campus supermarkets are often expensive and probably not the best stocked (least so for Indian groceries).  Some students may just not know how to cook.

There are so many reasons why cooking vegetarian Indian food at home is the way forwards

• You may find yourself homesick.  Although you may have been bursting to get away from home, being at home does have its virtues; at least you get a good home cooked meal.

• If you live of junk food, you will gain weight!

• You may find the vegetarian options limiting, depending on where you have gone to university or you may simply yearn for Indian food which is perhaps harder to source, depending on where you are.

• A diet that’s poor in nutritional value will leave you feeling tired and lacking lustre, you may find it hard to stay awake and concentrate in those lectures.  Then of course there are the spots and greasy hair that may come as a result of a bad diet

• Cooking vegetarian Indian food in your student home will be a great way to impress people and make friends.  The very first meal I cooked for my now husband was when I was a fresher; channa masala (and I used tinned chickpeas).

Here I give you 12 delectable, really easy and speedy recipe ideas for vegetarian Indian dishes.  Whether you are a student or a concerned parent, these ideas are real winners.  I will also give you an idea of the basic spices to keep in the cupboard (don’t worry; they have quite a long shelf life!)

 

Curry out of a can

Tinned Legumes and pulses can be stored in the cupboard and it’s really easy to whip up a curry with them.  Try Butterbeans ; fry off onions , garlic, cumin, and a sprig of curry leaves in a couple of tablespoons of oil, add turmeric and salt, add chilli powder, turmeric, coriander and cumin powder, ½ tsp garam masala and half a can of coconut milk.  Then grate in 10g of ginger.  Mop it up with some bread…its heart-warming.

Sweet corn curry is a popular favourite.  Using the same spices as the butterbean curry, but this time, minus the coconut milk and add a couple of dark red chopped tomatoes and a handful of ground nuts to the mix.  It’s very Moorish.  You can create more or less gravy simply by adding water.  I like it quite dry with some yogurt.

Chickpea curry is a classic.  I like to add a few twists to it, like spinach wilted in at just before I take it off the heat, or maybe some shallow fried tofu, or soya mince.  I like to add a couple of teaspoons of dried fenugreek leave to chickpea curries; some people recognise this as a general curry aroma.  If you want to avoid any of the spice-adding decisions, you can buy channa masala spices in a box from Indian grocers.

Fresh quickie Curries

Yes, fresh Indian ingredients can be hard to source, but that doesn’t mean to say we can’t use widely available vegetables to make a curry.  Here is a great one for detox; spinach, dill and fenugreek curry.  It’s so aromatic and easy on the tummy.  It contains Iron and fibre. All you do is chop then up, fry off a large onion and couple of spring onions in cumin, mustard seeds and a little garlic and then and all of your ingredients with a couple of chopped tomatoes.   Spice with coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder and turmeric.  Cook in on a low flame for about 15mins and then sprinkle ½ tsp of garam masala at the end.

Here is another cheat, inspired by a traditional Gujarati recipe.  Potato curry in thick, rich gravy.  Take a mixing bowl; add one can of chopped tomatoes, 70g of coarsely ground unsalted peanuts,  ½ cup of gram flour, then add ¼ tsp turmeric, salt and chilli powder to taste, 1 tsp each of coriander powder and cumin powder and ½ tsp of garam masala and 1 ½ tsp of dried fenugreek leaves.  The next bit is magic, all you do, is fry off an onion in some cumin and a sprig of curry leaves and then add a couple of cloves of garlic.  Then add about 700g of baby new potatoes and coat them in the oil.  Then add the mixture of tomatoes, gram, peanuts and spices.  Add water to cover, and cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily.

There are other simple ideas that can be made from readily available vegetables, such as cauliflower curry (don’t add any water), aubergine, cabbage (again, no water), or a simple avial which is made with julienned vegetables with desiccated coconut and curry leaves.  Although many recipes call for traditional vegetables like tindori, you can make this with carrots, courgettes, baby corn.

I love the versatility of aubergines.  I have three varieties in my fridge at the moment and I got them all from my local supermarket (not an Indian one!).  With the largest aubergine, I’m going to roast it, scoop out the flesh and mash it a little with a fork. I’m then going to fry off onions, garlic, green chillies and a then soften a couple of fresh tomatoes and add in just salt and turmeric and a squeeze of lemon.  With the Japanese style aubergines, I’m just going to make two slits opposite directions upwards from the base and then use the thick potato recipe with the aubergines, just with a nice helping of coriander.  With the baby aubergines, I am going to half and then roast them and then submerge them in spicy tomato gravy.

Using Pasta

Pasta is also really versatile and you can stock up on it. I’ve heard many people say that they could eat pasta every day of the week…but for that, you’d need lots of inspiration…including some Indian inspiration I reckon.

One of our family favourites is what I call ‘samosa filling pasta’.   A couple of medium potatoes chopped, ½  cup of peas, a small carrot, maybe ½ cup of sweet corn kernels and a very large onion make the basis of the mix, spiced in chilli powder, turmeric, curry leaves and cumin seeds and a squeeze of lemon.  Simply add in your pasta and there you have a meal for at least 2-3.  Sometimes, I add cheese on top, and funnily enough, it works.

You could try shallow frying some vegetables like ½ head of a small cauliflower, some sweet potato and a cup of peas and then adding a gram flour and yogurt mix (400g of yogurt and 2 tbsp of gram flour). Just add some curry powder and that’s how easy it is.

Indian Sandwich Ideas

One of my favourite sandwich recipes requires investing in some chat masala. It’s not hot, but it’s punchy and brings life to salads and sandwiches.  I really recommend a 3 layer sandwich.  Peel a potato and then slice it thickly.  Boil until cooked, drain and cool.  Then use ingredients like a little chilli sauce, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes.  If you have some coriander, grind together a couple of handfuls with a couple of chillies, a little lemon and salt and a tbsp of water.  Spread this on the bread…it’s amazing.  This sandwich throws my mind to the streets of Mumbai…anyway…Layer the vegetables on toasted bread, sprinkling chat masala gently.

I’d love to know how you get on with these user-friendly recipes.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Warmest wishes

Deena Kakaya

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