Tag Archives: Diwali recipes

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

13 Nov

 

 

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

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

My lovely neighbour gave me a bag full of plantain today; fresh and green. I racked my brain for ways to use it. I thought of the spiced plantain mash I had at ‘mama’s roadside kitchen’ in st.Lucia or the indian curry my mum would make when we were kids, using her experience of living in Uganda as a child. I asked my friends on twitter and they suggested cake. I didn’t fancy any of these lovely recipes today, for some reason.

In the morning, by boy and I went shopping for women’s undergarments. My normally chatty and excitable child completely freaked out and sobbed loudly in the fitting cubicle and insisted, ‘put a jumper and jacket on mumma, put the clothes on mumma’. He’s not yet two but here we go. So I took him for a walk and stopped at the dried fruits and nuts section which looked festive but blue. Why blue? Anyway, that’s when it struck me.

But I did have a brief period of confusion; which is a more festive nut…the cashew or almond? Cashews are more expensive. Does that make it more special? I do recall my mum sending food parcels of special stuff for my grandmother in India when friends or relatives visited. Mum sent cashews, always. She also sent saffron and chocolate. Now I think back, it’s such a lovely thing to do.

But then, almonds are pretty special also. When we were in st.Lucia we stayed between the majestic pitons, hidden away. We were staying at a resort where the beach sat in a calm little cove and one of the paths along the beach was layer in almond shells. I loves cracking them open to find smooth almonds. It’s lovely that nature can create such a perfect little nut.

I’m actually rather excited about this simple yet addictive recipe. It’s really good. This tropical looking mix is crunchy, sweet, aromatic and there’s a lovely hint of chilli right at the end. It’s delightful. I’ve used agave nectar to sweeten the mix so, healthier than loads of sugar. You have to try it.

Ingredients for two gift containers

One large green plantain
4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 tbsp desiccated coconut
A generous handful of dried cranberries
200g cashew nuts
Oil for frying plantain chips

1 . Heat the oil in a deep pan and in the meantime, take the green skin off the plantain and cut the plantain into 1 cm thick circles with a knife of mandolin.
2. Fry the chips until they are crisp and deepened in colour. You will feel that they are tougher and crisp when you move them with a slotted spoon.
3. Remove the chips onto a kitchen paper and leave them to cool.
4. In a non stick pan, toast the cashew nuts until they are lightly golden before adding the cinnamon and the plantain chips. Mix well.
5. Stir in the chilli flakes, mix again. Then add the agave nectar and the desiccated coconut. Thoroughly mix it all together to make sure the spices and coconut are evenly distributed.
6. Toss in the dried cranberries and mix again.

Allow the mixture to cool completely before packaging it.

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

 

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

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash savoury gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing – recipes vegetarian

2 Nov

Start the day as you mean to go on.

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing

So, I start my day as I mean to go on and a savoury Diwali breakfast is more important that the day before. The whole of the festive period is spent eating. Mithai (indian sweets) , fried samosa, sweet dumplings in a crispy flour case, or pakora or crunchy rice and lentil wheels. So then, it doesn’t make sense to have cereal or toast for breakfast, does it. Have something special and utterly full of flavour  and filling for breakfast on Diwali, of course it should be spicy.I started to think about things that I was grateful for. My good health, my loving family, I’m reasonably smart, I have talents. There were lots of good things that I had seen, experienced and achieved in my life and for that I was grateful. Now, when I wake up and I’m confused about my thoughts…I bring myself to the here and now and think of good things.

Now I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash. I’m not keen on very sweet vegetables. But in this dish it adds moisture and a little sweetness without it being overwhelming. Don’t worry if the pancakes feel very moist inside when to first bite them; that’s all part of the charm. They’re spicy, they’re fluffy, they are moist, deep and lasting. Go on…

If Diwali makes you happy, if talking, smiling, eating, being around loved ones makes you happy…the keep doing it.

Ingredients

For the pancakes

100g grated butternut squash
75g grated courgette
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
2 tsp baking powder
One green chilli, chopped finely
One small red onion, finely diced
100g gram flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
200ml water
3-4 tbsp oil for frying

For the dressing

1 tbsp sesame oil
5 curry leaves
One tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
250g whipped Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1 green chilli

Method.

1. To make the dressing, heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook the curry leaves and mustard seeds for 1 min. Stir in the chilli, turmeric and ginger, then cook on a low heat for 2-3 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Stir the cooled spice mix into the whipped yogurt along with the honey, then chill until you are ready to serve the meal. Can be made a day ahead.
2. To make the pancakes, combine the courgette, butternut squash, ginger, garlic, chilli, salt and spices together with onion and mix well. Add the gram flour and mix thoroughly before adding the water and combine until the gram flour lumps are removed.
3. On a non stick pan, heat 1-2 tsp oil and add 1/3 cup per pancake and fry until golden brown and then flip it over and repeat.

Serve hot and fresh.

I am joining in with Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month at Dinner With Crayons  thanks to Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

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

31 Oct
pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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

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

 

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A royal Diwali- paneer and sweetcorn curry in a cashew and tamarind gravy

26 Oct

A royal Diwali- paneer and sweetcorn curry in a cashew and tamarind gravy
I asked a question over my Facebook group the other day about what sort of foods people liked to eat as children. The funny thing is that tastes haven’t changed for many people. Gourmet and Michelin food have their place but when we are hungry, what hits the spot? A pizza with pineapple? Chips with loads of vinegar? Samosa? Baked bean curry? Macaroni cheese? A big bowl of spaghetti. Yes…now we are talking! Food nostalgia is a beautiful thing.

I won’t lie. I have been called a food snob on more than one occasion. I can’t make a meal of beans on toast (I make my own ‘baked beans’ ) and I like roasted garlic and artichoke on my pizza. I don’t like to use generic curry powder and I do not, ever, cook chilli paneer. I can almost hear the shrieks of surprise. I eat it if I am a party, but I won’t actually order it or make it. Chilli paneer is a cliched and over rated dish that was popularised in the 90’s. It is essentially paneer that is stir-fried in peppers and onions, lots of garlic and then doused in soy sauce and ketchup.

I was at my boys playgroup the other day when one of the mums mentioned that she tried out one of my recipe. I love it when I hear that! Then she mentioned that she’s been looking for a good paneer recipe and asked if I would post one. I kept my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t mention the word chilli to prefix paneer. Anyway, so then as she and another mum talked about paneer and take-always their eyes lit up in excitement…so here we are.

There are some tastes and textures that will always make us smile. They anchor us to happy memories and smooth us, sweetly. Some foods are like a taste lullaby, they sing us into a natural rhythm and give us flavoursome satiety. Sweetcorn and paneer are two of these ingredients.
With Diwali coming up I have been reminiscing about the Diwali’s of my past. Festivities are so exciting in childhood and I really hope that I can instil the same memories and sense of fun with tradition for my baby. Fireworks, family, food, fantasy and fantastic clothes. Dark cold nights, watching mum dress up and sitting on dads shoulders to see the pretty lights and fireworks. Eating hot pakora in the street, jacket potatoes or of course, chips. Throwing bangers on the floor, aunties chattering. It’s Diwali.

My recipe is one that will definitely add the sunny colour and creamy flavour to enrich your Diwali. It is based on some of the shahi (royal) dishes I ate in Delhi during my last trip. I have used a creamy cashew nut paste and tangy tamarind; rich and special, just like Diwali. This is a full on show-off curry, so if you are entertaining definitely whip this one out. The colour a depth are impressive.

Ingredients

250g paneer, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup of sweetcorn kernels
1 cup of chopped tomatoes (I used tinned tomatoes)
One red onion, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
2 large cloves of garlic , minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 cup cashew nuts
1 cup milk
2 tbsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp ground nut oil
2 cups of warm water

Method

1. Soak the cashew nuts in the milk for 15minutes or until you are ready to use them. Grind them to a smooth paste just before you add them to the curry.
2. Take a non-stick pan and add 1tbsp of oil and stir fry the paneer until it is golden brown. Remove it and place onto kitchen paper, allowing it to cool.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, chilies cinnamon, cloves and turmeric.
4. Allow the seeds to sizzle before you add the onion and the salt. Soften the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the ginger and garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes, tamarind, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and simmer for 4-5 minutes on a medium flame before adding the cashew nut paste and the water. Bring the gravy to a simmer before adding the paneer and sweetcorn.
6. Cook for 8-10minutes before serving hot with buttery chappati.

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

25 Oct

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

Things are different now, compared to how they were back in the day. I remember watching TV with a bag of sherbet in my hand ( a rare treat) whilst my dad nipped off to work and and just an hour or so before mum arrived home from her job. I must have been about ten. Nowadays that just wouldn’t happen would it. I mean, many people I know don’t even allow their kids to walk home from school. I think dad even left my brother sleeping in his cot when picking me up from nursery down the road. I would freak at the thought of doing this now my toddler, I even take him into the bathroom when I am showering. Things have changed.

We didn’t eat a lot of sugar or fried food as kids. My dad is diabetic and he used to be a diligent one. He refused even a fleck of mithai (traditional Indian sweets made most often from milk powders and lots of sugar, often nuts) at Diwali or auspicious occasions. He would rarely eat a samosa and we never had pudding after dinner. I mean, we weren’t deprived…we ate ice cream and chocolate and cake…it just wasn’t part of our regular diets.

At Diwali we chose nuts over the mithai, naturally.

So it turned out that for years I would prefer crisps over sweets and never drank fizzy drinks. I would eat an extra chappati with a green vegetable curry and okra was my favourite, but I wouldn’t eat rasmalai (paneer based dessert). I craved pasta not cake and definitely pizza over cake. Then I had baby.

It has been the most bizarre experience. Pretty much weeks after having my boy, I started craving biscuits and I ate loads of them. Arguably this could have been simply hunger and pumping loads of calories into my bit via breast milk, but I’d not really craved biscuits before. I was part of an NCT group where us new mums would meet weekly and guess what we ate? Cakes, biscuits, wafers, muffins…

I started craving lemon drizzle cake every day. I would wake up thinking about apple and blackberry crumble. But then my hair fell in clumps as part of normal post partum hair loss and I think my my hormones were a mess. Spikes in insulin and are related to hormone levels and eating all that cake was not doing me any favours, especially as I had a family history of diabetes. The sugar honeymoon was off!

Jaggery however is unrefined sugar and you can get it in blocks from asian supermarkets.I do struggle sometimes to keep my iron levels up and jaggery is a source of iron too. I was fed it with nuts after I had my baby to help me recover. I did find mums traditional recipe tasty, but I was bored as heck so I created this recipe.

I’ve eaten so much of these crisp, smooth and flavoursome little bites today and it has really been hard to stop! I’m so excited about showing these off during Diwali and Christmas. The cardamon and cinnamon are definitely present and warm the dish up and add so much depth and flavour.

I love these crunchy bites, I feel better that I’m not eating a lump of fat but they taste so ridiculously good. Make some, eat them, gift them.

Ingredients

150g pecan nuts
225g jaggery
2 tbsp water
1/4 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon

Method

1. Toast the nuts on a non stick pan for a 4 minutes or until they catch a light colour and are crisp. Leave them to cool.
2. On a low flame melt the jaggery. Add the water if its stiff.
3. Once the jaggery achieves a caramel type of consistency, add the cardamon and cinnamon and mix well
4. Turn the flame to a very low flicker and mix in the pecans and pull them out with tongs individually and lay them on baking paper to cool. Please do not use your fingers, hot jaggery burns.image

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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Canapés ? Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans

21 Oct
Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans

Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans

I’m chuckling at how my parents and their peers see people who are a little bit chubby, or fuller figured and consider them healthy and happy. Being slightly rotund is a mark of a good life, apparently. Whenever I experience fitness class success, my mum looks at me worriedly, telling me that I need to put on weight because I need ‘energy’. Ok mum.

This is the season where I become festively fatter. Diwali involves a lot of gorging on a ridiculous amount of sugary and deep-fried treats. As we visit family members at each of their homes to offer them seasons greetings, we are offered sweets and crispy treats and that’s what we fill up on. Deep fried rice flour Catherine wheels , deep-fried dumplings filled with a sweet and nutty mixture, deep-fried brown bean popadums…

Then comes Christmas and I always seem to eat the most massive number of roast potatoes; I really love them. Pastry and cheeses are consumed in generous portions in our house and oh, the sugar. I’ve already started stocking up on the drinks which I always see as hidden calories. Nibbles; they’re dangerous too…I rarely remember how many of those mini chocolates I’ve eaten, let alone crisps and cheesy things.

So this season, I am publicly declaring my intent (yes, intent) to be more kind to my body. Now, I am not saying that I’m going t have a skinny Diwali and Christmas. What’s the point of that, they only come around once a year. What I am saying that I’m going to include some healthier stuff! I’m going to include canapés that are not deep-fried and they will taste good! Do you want to join me?

These pretty looking rolls, light, colourful and unusual. The courgette is raw, which allows that crispy gorgeousness. A bit of saffron does the job of giving colour, aroma and decadence. The filling is crumbly, lightly cheeses a wee bit spicy. You can make them fresh, or keep them in the fridge for a couple of hours, ready for guests to arrive. These are certainly different, give them a go!

Ingredients for 15-20 rolls

200g cauliflower florets
125g broad beans, thawed
One large red chilli, finely chopped
30g grated mature cheddar
4 pinches of saffron infused in 1 tbsp of warm water
3/4 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
2 medium-sized courgette or one very large one

Method

1. Boil the cauliflower and broad beans for 5-6minutes, then drain and empty into a food processor
2. Add the cumin seeds, chilli, salt, saffron, coriander powder and cheese
3. Blitz the mixture until it is grainy
4. Take a peeler and make wide peelings on the courgette, one peel at each side of the courgette until it wears too thin
5. Line the courgette peel with two tbsp of the stuffing and then roll it up.

Serve either immediately or keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours in advance of your guests arriving.

I am entering this made from scratch Courgette rolls filled with saffron and spice cauliflower and broad beans to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.

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