Tag Archives: Indian food

Fragrant Indian spiced mung dhal, potato, feta, toasted coconut and beetroot salad wraps-leftover Lunches

28 Jan

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It is one of those months where I need to grow ten extra arms, have superior and life enhancing technology, must have more restorative sleep, want to eat more energy-giving nutritious food, definitely spend less money, get hold of a magic wand, time machine…you get the picture.  Maybe not just this month but generally, we know that planning smartly helps in all aspects of life, not least food.

Vouchercodes.co.uk got in touch with me about a theme they are running which really resonates with what I am trying to do; making full, scrumptious and fabulous dinners that can then be incorporated for lunches for the next day…you know, the sort of food we enjoy and look forward to at lunch and not just a dull, lack lustre, floppy sandwich.

So here’s some colourful, deep and nutritious ingredients combine to deliver the sort of ‘salad’ that is modest with its simple ingredients but utterly enchanting to eat because all of these ingredients and spices so work in delightful harmony.

The bonus? Once you have a bag of mung dhal and desiccated coconut, you could make this salad again and you’ll just have to top-up on the fresh ingredients, which are pretty inexpensive.  Mung dhal cooks very quickly, so this is an added benefit!

Fragrant Indian spiced mung dhal, potato, feta, toasted coconut and beetroot salad wraps-leftover Lunches

Ingredients to serve 4-6

2 medium potatoes, peeled diced

200g cooked beetroot, diced

100g mung dhal

4-5 curry leaves

200g feta cheese, cubed

2½ tbsp. vegetable oil

2 long green chillies, halved and then slit open

1/3 tsp. turmeric

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. brown mustard seeds

30g coriander, finely chopped

1 cup desiccated coconut

8-10 plain flour tortillas

Method

  1. Wash the mung dhal and boil it in roughly 600ml water, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove any froth as it appears but do wash the dhal in cold water once it is cooked. It should be cooked but have a bite.
  2. In a separate pan boil the cubes of potato for roughly ten minutes, or until they are cooked. Drain the potatoes and let them cool to room temperature.
  3. When the potato and mung dhal are cooked and cooled turn them into a large and shallow bowl
  4. Make a tempering by heating the vegetable oil and adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric then infuse them into the oil. Turn the heat off and allow the tempering to cool to room temperature before adding it to the potatoes and mung dhal.
  5. Toss the mixture with the finely chopped coriander, lemon juice and salt and make sure there is even coverage. Stir in the feta and beetroot.Ingredients to serve 4-6 2 medium potatoes, peeled diced 200g cooked beetroot, diced 100g mung dhal 4-5 curry leaves 200g feta cheese, cubed 2½ tbsp. vegetable oil 2 long green chillies, halved and then slit open 1/3 tsp. turmeric Salt to taste 2 tbsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. cumin seeds ¼ tsp. brown mustard seeds 30g coriander, finely chopped 1 cup desiccated coconut 8-10 plain flour tortillas  Method  1.	Wash the mung dhal and boil it in roughly 600ml water, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove any froth as it appears but do wash the dhal in cold water once it is cooked. It should be cooked but have a bite.  2.	In a separate pan boil the cubes of potato for roughly ten minutes, or until they are cooked. Drain the potatoes and let them cool to room temperature.  3.	When the potato and mung dhal are cooked and cooled turn them into a large and shallow bowl 4.	Make a tempering by heating the vegetable oil and adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric then infuse them into the oil. Turn the heat off and allow the tempering to cool to room temperature before adding it to the potatoes and mung dhal.  5.	Toss the mixture with the finely chopped coriander, lemon juice and salt and make sure there is even coverage. Stir in the feta and beetroot.
  6. Toast the desiccated coconut lightly and quickly on a non-stick frying pan and introduce it to the salad too.coconut 1
  7. Prepare the plain flour tortilla per packet instructions and then fill them generously.

Spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

23 Jan

spicy paneer wontons in a gentle spinach soup

I am pretty sure that I wasn’t well acquainted with paneer when I was a child, as my earliest memories of it must be from my pre- teens. I recall that one of my dad’s friends had landed a business deal delivering this marvellous new product that was increasingly popular, so popular in fact that it was flying off the shelves. It may have had something to do with the popularised chilli paneer dish? Packaged paneer ready in the fridge. I was new and it was exciting.

So he handed my dad some freebies and naturally I ensured that they landed in my lap and thus started an era of paneer experimentation. It had fast become the favourite food of every other Asian person in my network. Paneer is an unsalted, full fat Indian cheese that may be crumbly when fresh and spongy or even chewy when pressed and ready-made for sale. I think that a lot of tired taste buds weere wakened when paneer came into fashion with is almighty, loud and punchy flavours. Plenty spice, liberal use of garlic and ginger, copious soy sauce and ketchup made for lively and lasting tastes.

I love that paneer is a wonderful sponge for juices and flavours; it is clean and will mop up full flavours generously.  I experimented many times over the years, scrambled paneer in a bhurji is one of my favourites and this has become the stuffing for my wontons today.  I love thick and creamy shahi paneer dishes, kofta (balls with veg and simmered in thick gravy), I love paneer in cashew nut gravy and who can deny the simple, clean and guilty pleasure of ras malai?

A few people wrote to me this week asking about palak paneer (curry of paneer cubes simmered in smooth spinach) and it got me thinking…so I made this and I am very excited about. It’s pretty special. The spinach soup is light and easy, but incredibly addictive and soothing. Not a bad thing to find spinach addictive! The paneer is punch and full, has bite and parcelled into slippery smooth wontons. Can it get any better?

As a tip, make sure the paneer is pretty warm all the way through, cold paneer is chewy but when warm, this recipe really comes to life and it’ll be juicy and tender. Perfect.

Ingredients to serve 4 (makes 16 wontons)

For the wontons;

150g paneer, grated

¼ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. mixed cumin and coriander powder

¼ tsp. turmeric

¾ tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. tomato puree

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced

1-2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp. sesame oil

½ tbsp. soy sauce

16 wonton wrappers

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder

For the soup

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

200g finely chopped (or in the food processor) spinach

800ml vegetable stock

One medium onion, thinly sliced

4-5 curry leaves

One chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp. corn flour mixed with water

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

Method

  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a deep pan and then add the chilli, onion, curry leaves, garlic and ginger sauté until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the spinach and mix thoroughly, before adding the vegetable stock and the rice wine vinegar.
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer before adding the corn flour and water paste to thicken the soup. Simmer the soup for 5-7 minutes.
  4. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes introducing the grated paneer.
  5. Stir in the turmeric, chilli, and coriander and cumin powder and mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in the tomato puree and soy sauce and then cook the curry for 4-5 minutes.
  7. To make the wontons, place a teaspoon of paneer mixture in the middle of a wonton and then create little drawstring purses and seal them with a little water.
  8. Steam the wontons for 8-10 minutes before removing them from the steamer.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls and then place 4 wontons into the bowl and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m linking this to Anneli and Louisa for four seasons because its comforting an

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Indo-Thai Cassava, mango and broccoli curry

20 Jan

Indo-Thai cassava, mango and broccoli curry
Finding strength

I don’t have many memories with my maternal grandmother because she lives in a different country, but the memories that I do have, affected me profoundly. The stories that my grandmother shared with me showed me how a woman can. A woman can grow from a cushioned girl to a lady who can walk gracefully among thorns so quickly, that tears don’t have time. These women are my very own mother and grandmother.

My grandmother told me about the comfort she lived in during her life in Uganda. She wore jewellery, was pretty and had long tresses which she put fresh flowers in. She had the support of hired help who worked with them and shared the busy tasks of looking after three little ladies; my mother and her three sisters.
As a child I found it strange for her to draw on memories of having a large dining table, big fridges containing bounties of sugary drinks and not having to go to work. She talked about the lovely fresh fruits, cassava curry and crickets singing them to sleep.

They were expelled from their homeland and my apparently stern and stubborn great-grandmother chose to go to India, because it would be too cold in England. My grandmother told me stories of flushing money down the toilet in case the army would find them and covering her daughters under blankets in a jeep, just in case the army would steal them. I wonder if they knew that they were actually going to a life much more humble and restricted by a small income, far smaller than what they had known.

I only ever saw my grandmother’s Indian home, the one bedroom, basic residence. She cooked on the floor and I saw mice run around the courtyard once or twice. She made the best khichdi ever and I loved scooping it up with spring onions. Her room was grey, two small beds and you could see the kitchen from the beds. The front door no longer lead out to leafy green fruit trees, but a dusty side street filled with children playing and the occasional vegetable seller.

My grandfather died soon after arriving in India, when my mum was a teen. They say that depression due to the transition massively affected him. My grandmother raised her three daughters and married them all off to suitors in the UK, so that they could have better lives, like the life she had before being expelled from Uganda.
My mother was the first one, married at 19. She counts her blessings that she met a person that loves her and her every smile, every day.

So, when I dwell upon my own transitions in life, from an academic, focused ambitious and day dreaming achiever, to a corporate career-focused and travelling young achiever, to lost and smiling mum. How can I not find strength from thinking about the women in my life who so gracefully took responsibility of the changes in their life and simply made it better.

I can never eat cassava without thinking of my mothers childhood, my grandmother’s struggles. My recipe is thick, steaming and nutty like there’s would have been, full of comfort and colour. The difference is that my recipe includes some of my heritage, well some that I learned from my beloved london, a Thai influence. I’ve used galangal, palm sugar, soy sauce, tamarind, mango, and coconut. On the other hand, I’ve used cloves, cardamon, broccoli and tomatoes. It works so well, I felt flutters of excitement when I tasted it. Join in.

Ingredients

600g frozen cassava chops
Half tin of chopped tomatoes
4 green cardamon pods
3 cloves
A stick of cinnamon
3 green chillies, finely chopped
100g coarsely ground toasted peanuts.
150g mango chunks, (from a firm mango)
150g broccoli florets
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp minced galangal
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp mace
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tamarind juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1200 millilitres of water
3/4 cup of desiccated coconut

Method
1. Boil the cassava chips in plenty of hot water until they are tender, but not mushy. When they are cooked, drain the water and cut the cassava into one inch pieces.
2. In a deep pan heat the vegetable oil and then add the cumin, coriander, Turmeric, chilies, cloves, cardamon, cinnamon. Allow the seeds to sizzle before adding the onion, mace and nutmeg with the salt. Sauté the onion for a couple of minutes before adding in the garlic and galangal. Sauté for another minute or two.
3. Add the tomatoes and stir well before adding the palm sugar, soy sauce, tamarind juice and ground peanuts. You’ll find it’s a thick and nutty mixture now that smells absolutely wonderful.
4. Introduce the cassava, desiccated coconut, mango chunks and water and then simmer the curry for ten minutes.
5. Stir in the broccoli and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve hot, I ate it just as it is.

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar

7 Jan

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar

Carrot halwa is the warm, sticky, juicy and fragrant indian dessert of festivities and joyous occasions. Not a belly goes without a sinking sigh when served a delicate mound of bright orange halwa flecked with cardamon, infused with saffron and decorated with pistachio. This might just be the best thing to happen with carrots and I’m not kidding.

I’m really excited about this recipe and I knew it would work and I was affirmative about it being phenomenal. Now, although carrot halwa is the darling of indian desserts, there’s nothing new about it. It’s perfect as it is and that’s that. I’ve used agave nectar rather than sugar, so it’s not as sinful as the traditional recipe.

Monday morning. Husband in Hong Kong and toddler on my hip. It’s cold, grey and very windy. Everyone is tweeting and Facebook updating about going back to work. I stand at the fridge, knowing that I need to stoke the internal flames but also need to stop getting fatter. Conundrum. I’m hungry and always crave sugar or cheese when I’m hungry. I think about lemon drizzle cake. It doesn’t work for breakfast. Sort of. I think of saffron. I think of all the tweets about savoury breakfast concoctions. I have carrots in the fridge and they are massive and juicy. They wold make perfect carrot cake or carrot halwa. But i can not get any fatter, I should eat porridge. Bingo.

And there we have it. Let me tell you that my mum said that this was the best porridge she’s ever had. EVER. I’m really excited about this recipe, did I tell you that? Try it. Love it. I’m sure you will.

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar
Ingredients to serve 2

2 large carrots, grated
1 tsp margarine
Agave nectar to taste, I used about 4 tbsp.
400ml milk
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
A small pinch of saffron strands
2 tbsp of shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely ground
3/4 cup porridge oats

Method
1. Heat the margarine until it melts in a deep pan, then add the grated carrots and and cardamon then sauté them on a medium flame for about 4-5minutes.
2. When the carrots have softened, add the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the saffron with the agave nectar and allow them to infuse into the milk. Simmer for a further 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the porridge oats and then simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
4. Serve hot and steaming with a sprinkling of pistachios in top.

Baked spring rolls filled with paneer, courgette and sweetcorn for children

8 Dec

Baked spring rolls with paneer, courgette and sweetcorn

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We live in a culture where bigger is better and somehow, that has become a popular way of thinking when it comes to babies too. As I sat in a circle with other mums at a baby group with my little one on my lap I listened, ‘mine is only 6 months old but wears 9-12 month clothing’. Her friend quipped, ‘mine is 9 months old and where’s clothes for 18 month olds as she eats loads and she even ate some our pizza and garlic bread last night.’

I felt like I was doing my boy an injustice and I worried for his health. No matter which concoction of vegetables or fruits I offered him, he just would not open his mouth. I sang to him, sat him in the garden and even did messy play with food for him to befriend it. I cut his milk back to trigger off more hunger, but nothing. When he was about 8-9 months old I sought medical advice and you know what they told me? They told me he would probably never be an eater, he would always be smaller than average and that he would just not be interested.

I took a deep breath and hushed the expletives roaring around in my head. How can they doom him to a life of food indifference with such conviction? I calmly and firmly told them that I was a very fussy eater as a child and now I am healthy, food loving food writer.

I have learned a lot along the way to getting my boy interested in food. He now loves yoghurty dhal, dosa and spicy vegetable pasta dishes and of course spinach pizza. Here’s some of the things that helped me;

1. I had an ‘aha’ moment when one of my friends pointed out that my boy was getting lots of lovely flavours of Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian food through his milk from what I was eating. So then why would he want a boiled carrot. Introducing flavour and spice in food helps to keep it exciting. kids like flavour too.

2. Eating together as a family means that meal times are a fun and a sociable activity and my boy loves to join in.

3. Variety. In the earl days of weaning I would just give my boy his one bowl of food and if he stopped eating, I thought he was no longer hungry. What I found however is that smaller portions of a variety of items keeps the taste buds and mind stimulated and the tummy ends up fuller. It need not be laborious; I make home-made spiced and unsalted butter and spread it on seeded bread, for example.

4. Eating with other children is fun. I sometimes invite his friends over for pasta and veg with garlic bread. My boy loves to join in with his friends and especially with crunchy, spice and veg filled spring rolls.

5. Taking a picnic or a packed lunch for a day out makes for fun eating. Unravelling goodies whilst sharing special moments as a family is a delight that little ones will share too.

6. Sometimes, he is just not hungry and that’s fine. We don’t always eat three full meals. It’s ok to take the pressure off and leave it until the next meal.

My recipe works really well with my boy and his friends because these spring rolls are crunchy, packed with flavour and they are great hand-held treats for independent eating or eating on the go. Parents love them because they are baked and can be frozen, which is really handy for busy weekdays when you can just whip a few out and put them in the oven

For the full recipes head over to Great British Chef

Indo-Chinese vegetable balls on spaghetti in a butternut squash and chilli sauce

29 Nov
Indo-Chinese vegetable balls on spaghetti in a butternut squash and chilli sauce

Indo-Chinese vegetable balls on spaghetti in a butternut squash and chilli sauce

I was at lunch earlier this week with a very lovely lady of mixed, european origin. We were in a pretty decent Italian restaurant and I was craving strong cheese. I met a waiter who kept tilting onto one leg, grinning and telling me that I needed to add meat to my dish, even though told him I am vegetarian.

So this lovely lady and were trying each other on for size; gauging whether our frequencies matched. We were each asking each other obviously leading questions that would reveal thought processes, feelings on certain subjects and general outlook in unspoken agreement of openness. All during lunch. All the while we repeated the line, ‘I’m going to be completely honest’.

We spoke at length about the fusion of her european cultures compared to my own, and her close family of talented cooks, like mine. We spoke about money motivations and the sensible approach of working hard now to make life more comfortable in the future. We touched on how appearance conscious certain professions are and whether can be pull-off being less talented if you are exceptionally good-looking. All familiar topics that everyone has debated.

What happened? My ambitious and warm fellow diner, whose make-up was immaculately done, revealed the same thing that so many women do to me. So many women of my age group, broadly speaking. Her focused and formidable body language softened, her smile more gentle and she rushed, ‘I just want to settle down and have kids’.

‘No time’ was the problem we discussed. No time to stop, go out and have fun. No time to rest, no time for adventures, no time for stuff for the heart. No time.

The thing is, we all have our turnaround moment in life when we do, if we are fortunate enough. Mine was only three years ago, but life teaches us and shows us along the way, if we are open enough to see it. My husbands friends wife was diagnosed with a cancer this week, 42.

So as I was munching through my pasta with courgette fritters on top, I was asked whether I get annoyed by what I eat in restaurants because as a foodie I cook a lot. The answer is no. One of the many things I miss about being near my family is being cooked for. It always feels good to be cooked for. Sometimes, someone else’s cooking just feels refreshing.

On this occasion, I did find the need to tart up the pasta dish. The courgette balls didn’t have much favour and the pasta had been left dry. So in my version I’m using a variant of the popular Manchurian vegetable balls and using them on top of a mellow-sweet and spicy butternut squash sauce with spaghetti. So what happens is that you get these soft and spongy, spicy and salty vegetable balls contrasting with the spaghetti and balancing the whole dish out. You also get some pretty colours. Move over spaghetti and meatballs eh? Try it, let me know what you think

Ingredients to serve 2-3

For the vegetable balls

1/2 cabbage, grated
2 green chilies, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 carrot, grated
50g green beans, chopped into small bites
1/2 cup plain flour
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 inch stick of ginger, minced
Oil for deep-frying

Ingredients for the butternut squash sauce

One medium-sized butternut squash , peeled and cut into chunks
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp red chilli flakes
One medium onion, cut into chunks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste

You’ll need about 150g of spaghetti

Method
1. To make the butternut squash sauce, heat the oil in the pan and then add the onion . Brown the onion lightly before adding the squash and mixing it. Sprinkle in the salt and chilli flakes. Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer until the butternut squash is soft enough to mash.
2. Turn off the heat and use a hand blender or food processor to purée the butternut squash sauce. The consistency should be like a thick soup, rather than paste. Add water if you need to loosen it up.
3. Heat the oil whilst you prepare the Manchurian balls.
2. To make the vegetable balls, combine the cabbage, carrot, green beans, chilli, garlic and ginger in a bowl and mix well.
3. Stir in the soy sauce and combine again, before adding the plain flour and making a dough.
4. Check the oil is hot by dropping a small amount of the mixture into the oil, if it rises and sizzles the oil is hot enough.
5. Make small balls the size of a large coin and then fry them until they are golden brown before removing them with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper.Manchurian vegetable balls

Manchurian veg balls
6. I would suggest making up individual plates by combining sauce and spaghetti in whatever proportions you like then top with vegetable balls.

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

27 Nov

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

 

It took three of us to shell broad beans very quickly, whilst the oil rose to the correct temperature. There is a knack to it. My technique is different to my husbands; I pinch them lightly at the base, until the silky broad bean pops out whilst my husband thinks he’s mastered it by using two hands and creating a little slit. Don’t ask.

The reason for removing the skin is to take the bitter layer away and to leave a silky, sweet and nutty bean. The three of us concentrated quietly as we secretly competed to pop the most beans out of those shells. I reflected on what had inspired this recipe and smiled.

Everyone loves a good fritter. For me they are the ultimate picky food. Whether they evoke memories of eating paneer pakora in the monsoon rain during holidays to India, or falafels being fried in huge quantities by friendly chefs who rolled them off their hands like balls of cotton wool. Whether they are eaten whilst sat under warm showers with smiles from beloved family, or nibbled whilst perched on a stool in a busy restaurant in Cairo. There is nothing quite like biting into a steaming hot and crispy shell to reveal bright green and moist beans tumble into the mouth.

These fritters are mildly spiced, fresh and moist. They make for wonderful party nibbles. For the full recipe head over the Great British Chefs 

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.

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

21 Nov

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

The simple things

We had friends over for dinner today. For a couple of hours, according to my husband, I was like the old me. I chatted, I fed people and I smiled lots. I put my phone away and the house was warm. I had Mickey Mouse ears on and my boy dragged me the playroom. He took his little friends hand and they ran around the living room together.

My boy ran up to the other day and sighed, ‘mumma, I missed you…I love you mumma’. He’s been getting up at night because he misses me and wants to sleep next to his mumma.

My husband and I reminisced about travelling to Brighton one winter, when we were crazy young fools. The winds bashed against the sea and the jar wobbled in defence. We were parked outside a chip shop, the aroma seeped inside us and our frozen ears detected banter. The skies were deep grey and we had Robbin Williams playing on the car radio. We returned to the car, watched the waves threaten the pier and ate steaming hot chips off wooden forks.

Life’s most joyful moments are in the simplest ones. We all know that. It’s as complicated as we make it, isn’t it?

My salad is simple. It has few ingredients but they are fresh and invigorating. The kiwi fruit and mint add a juicy vibrancy and the parsley and sweet potato give the salad sweet depth. The salty and pungent chaat masala is not to be compromised on and the Beetroot gives fabulous colour. This is an unusual salad, but then I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share an unusual recipe. What I really love about this salad is that the juice of the kiwi fruit blends with the chaat masala and the peppercorns an sits on the sweet potato too. This one is a real quencher, do it.

Ingredients

300g sweet potato,peeled and cubed into 3-4cm chunks
4 kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
50g Beetroot
40g flat leaf parsley
40g coriander
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black and red peppercorns

Method
1. Boil the sweet potato for about 7cm or until the potato is soft enough to pierce through.
2. In the meantime, make the pesto by blitzing together the parsley, mint, chaat masala, beetroot, black pepper and lemon juice. Stop when it is almost smooth in texture.
3. When the sweet potato is cooked, drain and cool until the cubes are dry.
4. Combine the potato, kiwi and the pesto gently until there is even coverage.

I served this with halloumi cheese and some lovely flatbreads and it was magic.

Cooking with Herbs

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

18 Nov
Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

Cheer up; my show stopper soya nugget chaat

The weather does affect my mood. The grey skies aren’t good for the clouds in my mind. Mondays are harder than Sundays. It’s cold so getting out is harder. But my mornings start like this.

I wake, I worry, then my boy comes into bed. ‘Mumma cuddle’…so I draw him closer to me. ‘Mumma kiss’ and I happily shower him. Then he starts to talk about animals and planets or cars. Life is as complicated as we make it, isn’t it.

I think sometimes we just chase, chase, run and run. But forget to think about whether it is making us or our loved ones happy. I say, if you don’t want to fly…then don’t. Run. If you don’t want to run, then don’t…walk. If you don’t want to walk then sit down. If you want to move forward, do. If you want to stop, stop. Just be happy.

So the way I deal grey skies, is to get out and get active. Cool, fresh air helps to dust off the cobwebs. This morning my boy and I went to the Indian supermarket. This may seem like a boring task for many, but for me it was full of nostalgia. The smell of ground masala and stacks of rice and flour throws me back to my childhood. I grew down the road from an indian mill, so these are the smells of my childhood. We didn’t do mass indian food shops, my mum and dad would send me running down the road with a couple of coins to pick up gram flour or millet flour.

To fight of Monday feelings I wanted colour on my plate. I wanted cool, warm and spicy sensations. I wanted crisp against smooth and nutty against fruity. I wanted it all and I wanted to be tickled. There is only sense-tickling dish that does this and that is chaat.

There are quite a few ingredients to this dish but don’t skip any, they are all there for a reason. By all means use shortcuts, life is short!

Ingredients to serve 4-6

100g crisp bundi (crisp gram flour balls to give crunch)
100g sev (crisp gram flour short straws)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
One can of black chick peas
One pomegranate with the seeds removed
100g small indian onions, or a large red onion finely diced
10-12 plain natural yoghurt
2 tsp chaat masala
8-10 tbsp tamarind chutney

For the coriander and chilli chutney

40g chopped coriander
1/2 cup water
2 green chilies
Salt to taste

For the curried soya nuggets

200g soya nuggets
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
One small onion, peeled and sliced
1300ml water.

Cooks tips for shopping: the soy nuggets are readily available in Asian supermarkets and so is the tamarind chutney, although I bought it from asda. You can quite easily make tamarind chutney, but I used a shop bought one today

Method
1. Start by making the soy nuggets. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle. Add the garlic, salt, turmeric and onion and sauté until the onions have softened. Stir in the the cumin and coriander powder then add the soya nuggets. Coat them in the spices before adding the chopped tomatoes and warm water.
2. Bring the curry to a simmer and then sprinkle in the garam masala. Cook for 20mi mutes or until the juices have been soaked up by the nuggets and the nuggets are tender. Turn off the heat.
3. Boil the cubed potatoes until they are soft enough to pierce and then drain them. Sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
4. Drain and rinse the black chickpeas and sprinkle in one tsp of chaat masala.
5. Make the green coriander and chilli chutney, use a grinder to mix the coriander, chilli, water and salt to a paste.
6. Make up individual portions of chaat in a bowl for ease by mixing 2 tbsp of bundi, 2 tbsp of pomegranate seeds, 2 tbsp potato, 2 tbsp chickpeas, 2 tbsp of sev and 2 tsp onion. Toss in 3 tsp of soya nuggets. Place the mix on the plate and drizzle on yogurt, green chutney me tamarind chutney.

Remember that these measurements for putting together the chaat are approximate, alter it to your taste.

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