Tag Archives: great british chefs

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

Artichoke, two potato and peanut curry

2 Dec

The ritual moaning became a means for bonding, even though we didn’t know it. As we dropped into our workstations on the open floor within our head offices, we compared how horrifically tired we were; too stressed, kids woke up at night or of course the wretched international business travel that we really did not want to do.  Then of course there was the travesty that of the car parking availability and all related discussion around where we ended up parking and having to walk from the north pole of the cark park, in the hideous weather; why don’t we just live abroad.

Artichoke, two potato and peanut curry by Deena Kakaya

We moaned about being underpaid, difficult colleagues, grading systems, ineffective governance systems, oppressive hierarchy, pay differentials, emerging stress related acne, the food in the canteen, the queues at the in-house Starbucks, the lack of available meeting rooms, the air conditioning noise and it was always just too darn cold. The ergonomic chairs weren’t ergonomic enough and the team away day was not in the right location but look, the thing is that we had people to complain to, with.

We confided in each other about fertility issues, we held each other’s hands through tumultuous periods with children. We comforted each other when we worried about the deteriorating health of parents and through illness or even just an argument with a loved one. We gave each other understanding around the challenges of inter-cultural marriages and we saw each other grow and evolve, out of divorce and through to new chapters. From parenting lost children to flourishing ones or from fertility challenges to becoming seasoned parents.

And following the grey clouds of ambiguity that I experienced in recent years, my ex-colleagues, my friends came along to my cookery class yesterday. A couple of them came along to show support and encouragement and each time they caught me around them they would say, ‘Deena I just love this, I am so happy for you.’ ‘Deena this is brilliant, well done you’. It is at this point that I realised how much I had missed them all and missed being around wonderful, like-minded and warm people. I feel so grateful that even after these years, they brought not only this wonderful energy back into my heart but also brought plenty of hellos from other friends.

I felt mellow, easy and I smiled. Fitting with this is my gentle, kind and lightly spiced but very fragrant vegetarian curry of artichoke, two potatoes and peanuts.  As you lift the lid on this curry you smell cinnamon, don’t skip the cinnamon on this one. There are no overpowering flavours, it is subtle yet soothing. Creamy but not with cream; the peanuts add sweet thickness because a paste is added in. The artichoke delivers silky texture and the potatoes sweet depth. The sweet potatoes and potatoes are earthy fresh, smelling of fresh air and good living because that is what the team at Riverford always, always deliver to me.

For the full recipe head over to great british chefs

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