Tag Archives: star anise

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

29 Sep

I like having structure and purpose to my day. I like the feeling of being expended for a worthwhile purpose, one that is driving me towards productivity and something meaningful. I like talking to people and delivering. I want to contribute towards a bigger picture and I want to learn.

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

When I am hungry however, I am not the best version of me and so, whether I have worked the evening before or up and moving (frantically) around activities with my boy, a family day out or working from home; I need to eat.  I need to eat a proper breakfast. My recipe for coconut and spice quinoa porridge is generous, sustaining, nourishing, exotic in aroma and the spices of cardamom and star anise tickle the senses of escapism and luxury.  This is indulgence in the form of coconut milk and spice, but virtuous in the form of quinoa, which I have used instead of regular oats. There is even some fruit in here.

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

for the full recipe, visit the Great British Chefs link where my recipe sits.

 

 

 

 

 

Indian spiced, coconut rice pudding and aromatic poached pears

29 Nov

Yesterday I sent my husband a song through the speakers in the kitchen, via my phone. He walked in, smiled and asked if it was an apology for it was the song he would play when I visited him in his student halls and it subsequently became my ‘walk in’ song on my wedding day. Nostalgia, music and food are all so evocative aren’t they?

I recently asked a question on the blog about your favourite milk recipe and quite a few people mentioned rice pudding and some even with the old favourite of a dollop of strawberry jam. I remember doing that as a child. There’s something about the creamy and smooth nature of rice pudding that sits so well with juicy and plump fruit. For me, rice pudding conjures memories of celebrations; rice pudding with all its saffron, cardamom and rose water glory was affectionately made on special occasions such as a family get together, a religious holiday or as a treat for decent exam results. Rice pudding is consequently a happy dish for me and one that feels so bolstering to eat, hot and steaming against the cool air of the winter. My nostalgic temptation has evolved the fruity dollop into some fine and glowing pears with an Indian accent. I spice poached the pears tenderly, in whole spices including saffron, which has given them a lovely colour. The star anise and cinnamon come through the robust of flavours, but you can most definitely sense the cardamom and cloves.

Indian spiced, coconut rice pudding and aromatic poached pears by Deena Kakaya

I made this rice pudding using 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.

For the rice pudding (to serve 4)

65g of pudding rice

1 litre of a2 milk (whole milk)

1 tin/400ml coconut milk

80g of caster sugar

A pinch of saffron (approximately 6-8 strands)

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

1 ½ tbsp. rose water

3-4 tbsp. desiccated coconut

Method

  1. In a deep, non-stick pan combine the pudding rice, a2milk and sugar and bring the pudding to a full simmer. Turn down the heat to a moderate simmer before adding the saffron and ground cardamom and cook the rice pudding for approximately 30-35 mins.
  2. Now add the coconut milk and rose water and cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  3. Whilst the rice pudding is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan and gently toast the desiccated coconut until it catches a golden colour. Allow the desiccated coconut to cool and then use it to sprinkle on top of the pudding when you serve the dish.

For the poached pears (to serve 4)

4 firm but ripe pears

1 litre of water

1 1/3 cup of caster sugar

A pinch of saffron (approximately 6-8 strands)

4-6 green cardamom pods

2-3 star anise

1 large stick of cinnamon

6 cloves

Method

  1. In a large pan, heat the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved before adding the whole spices.
  2. In the meantime, peel, core and trim the pears before cutting them into quarters, removing any stems.
  3. Now slip in the pears. Make sure that they are fully immersed, otherwise exposed parts may discolour.
  4. Turn the flame to a low simmer and cook the pears for about 20 minutes or until the pears are tender.

Indian spiced, coconut rice pudding and aromatic poached pears by Deena Kakaya

 

Soy, galangal and star anise tofu & mango tacos

15 Jul

Soy, galangal and star anise tofu & mango tacos

Soy, galangal and star anise tofu & mango tacos

I took my toddler to the pool today and because I’m hanging on to every precious day and really feeling the countdown towards loosening the cord a little more, I was even more patient with him. He was even more ecstatic than usual. ‘I love you so much in the swimming pool’ he told me, and he also told me that he was going to ‘demonstrate’ his ‘swimming skills’. He is not even 2.5years old yet.

So here is the thing. Whilst he was shivering post-swim under my deep red towel and as we walked to find a large changing cubicle he chatted away to a member of the cleaning staff. He asked her about her favourite planet, car and animal. She asked him if he likes chocolate and he didn’t reply. He noticed that three of this softly spoken and calm looking staff’s colleagues kept walking by but nobody said hello to her. He asked me why? Well. What do you tell a not-yet-2.5 year old?

I had the same questions in my first job at the Bank of England. I had the same question in my last role at a household name-type brand. I thought it would be different in my new world. My new world is cluttered and tangled in a new way because it has emotion and passion factored in.

I was quite tempted to change the topic, but thought better. I told him that some people like to feel important, like a super hero. Some people like think Mars is better than Earth. Mars is amazing because it is red and Martians and they think they are cool because they don’t get dehydrated but people on Earth think they are cool if they are have lots and lots of stuff. ‘But that’s messy isn’t it’ he asked. ‘Yes’, I said. It certainly is.

So, here is a recipe that isn’t cluttered, it is simple. But you can get messy whilst eating it-if you fancy celebrating the glorious mess that one can be (me for a start). If you read my posts regularly (thank you if you do) then you will be familiar with how I love to balance contrasting senses. In tune with that, the (certainly not bland) tofu is salty, warm and bold. The mango is sweet and juicy. Then you’ve got spring onions. Who is celebrating a messy life with me?

The hubby recently bought Dhruv Baker’s book SPICE for me as a thank you. I have been instrumental in helping him (the husband) shed a few KG in weight with some of the lean recipes I have been cooking and in his book Dhruv cooks duck with some of the essences that I have used in the tofu. It works.

Ingredients to serve two

One block of firm tofu

2 tbsp. soy sauce

One medium sized mango, cut into thin strips or julienne

3 tbsp. kecap Manis

1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder

150ml water

3 star anise

8 taco shells

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. cooking oil

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. galangal paste

3-4 spring onions, finely chopped

Method

  1. Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and leave it to stand until the excess moisture has been soaked up before cutting it into large chunks of roughly 3cm cubed.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and shallow fry the tofu until it is crisp and lightly golden.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Pour in the soy sauce, then the star anise and rice wine vinegar and mix through. Then add the 5 spice powder, galangal and kecap Manis and combine well.
  5. Pour in the water and reduce the heat to a medium to low flame and cook until the moisture has been absorbed and the tofu looks well coated and almost crisp.
  6. Compile the tacos by cooking the shells per packet instructions and adding the fillings as you like. Serve immediately whilst the tofu is still hot.

 

What’s in My Gift Hamper

5 Dec

I love giving personalised gifts of food; I love exploring for atypical flavours or decadent ingredients; I love presenting smells that socialise attractively in the basket; I love the wafts of ideas as a heap of newness comes together and I smile-sigh harmoniously as I love that each of them is recommended by me and will give lasting memory. I love the surprised expressions that unravel the edible delights and I love that I have conjured up inspiration in the receiver. 

Of course it’s not all totally altruistic, I am always beamingly proud with my assembly of treasures and I always like the sharing of food and travel stories that I know will ensue.  And hopefully they will cook up some meals for me too, check out the gift hamper.

Black Garlic; Black garlic surprises with a fruity, molasses flavour that enhances the familiar taste of garlic. Confused? You have to try it to believe it. The garlicky taste is not nearly as strong as raw garlic – black garlic is fermented and gives a dried fruit like twist. In fact, the texture is a bit jelly like as well.
I like black garlic tossed into some pasta with fresh herbs and cheese. I just heat some olive oil, add soft slithers ofblack garlic and chili and just toss it together, no need to cook it down. Throw in the pasta, herbs and some lovely hard cheese (I use a vegetarian parmesan style cheese) and eat.
I also like black garlic with some broad beans, whizzed together as a dip. I add a kick of chili (I have to, maybe that’s the Indian in me?) and even on a pizza (but small pieces).
 
 

 

 

Pomegranate Molasses; It feels as though this syrupy ingredient is quite trendy at the moment.  Increasingly popularised, pomegranate molasses have a sweet, sexy flavour and a little of this flirty and fragrant stuff goes a long way. In Indian cooking, I often use tamarind. Nowadays I have been using this sticky and tangy pomegranate molasses in some dishes to keep it interesting and add a Middle Eastern flavour.

I sometimes use pomegranate molasses to spruce up a stew or a bake. Just a little. Recently I did a bean stew with north African spices and I added a little of this molasses before topping it with crushed new potato, spring onion and ricotta stuffed baby sweet peppers, which I then put in the oven. My goodness the  sensual smells…

Orange Blossom Water; This is used in African and Middle Eastern cooking and has a distinctive fragrant orange flavour from the distilled orange blossom, but it’s also floral and sweet smelling. As with many good things, there is no need to pour this in.  Use it to flavour some cream or yogurt to accompany your dessert, or toss some salad through it.  You could add to your favourite hot drink, yes, even coffee.  I use a few drops in shrikhand, which is a thickened and sweetened yogurt dessert or even in a vegetable stew, just at the end of cooking. Sometimes, I marinade some tofu in it before quickly shallow frying.
 
Ral-el-Hanout; Recently I’ve been having a real love-affair with North African spices. Musky and punchy, they’re balanced with a gentle floral touch that makes for mysterious fun when using this wonderful spice mix. I love the stuff, it’s not strong enough to become bitter when used raw, and at the same time aromatic enough to really bring seemingly humble ingredients to life. 
Roasted Garlic Infused Oil; Yes it is lazy, but it does taste good. Dip some nice warm and fresh bread in it, or spike it with chili and dip delicious Indian rice-flour dough (khichi) in it. Drizzle it on mezze, make a dip from roasted aubergine flesh and yogurt. I’m sure you’ll find many more uses for this aromatic oil.
 

 

Stuffed Vine or stuffed Cabbage leaves; 
Dolmades are moist and lip-smackingly gorgeous little greek delights.  My favourite vegetarian variety is when stuffed with rice, lots of herbs, black olives and sundried tomatoes. They really get me in a holiday mood and are actually quite filling. I love them with mezze and lashings of hoummos. Plum Chutney; Now this I would rather see in my hamper than biscuits, for sure. Wonderful with a melted hunk of goats cheese, or in a sandwich. Or even, layered with vegetables and wrapped in some pastry. I must admit I have been known to steal spoonfuls of the stuff, but it’s no surprise really.
Chaat Masala; Don’t smell it before you buy it, just trust me on this one. The association with flatulence is limited only to the smell! Chaat masala is a great example of odd smelling things tasting incredible. It’s a blend of dried mango powder, cumin, black salt, coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper asafoetida and chili powder. Chaat is street food in India and very much bar-snack food in Indian restaurants in the UK. Crunchy rice puffs and puri’s set against potatoes and chickpea sponginess, with tamarind and chili chutney zing – and often soothing yogurt all combine like a sensory cocktail, punching up a cornucopia of flavours like a fruit machine. That’s the point of a chaat for me.  Chaat masala gives a chaat it’s distinctive accent of salt-and-pepper-ness.
Boil some potatoes, add the contents of a can of chickpeas, add some onion (my particular favourite is red onions), something crispy like Indian rice puffs and then add some mung-bean shoots or mixed sprouts and some freshly chopped coriander. Sprinkle in the chaat masala to your taste. It’s great as a side salad.
 

Lavender Sugar; Well for one, little jars of the stuff do look very pretty. And when you open the jar, it’s like summer just spilling into the room. Are you smiling already? Good, well that’s definitely part of the point of a gift and this looks very cute, traditional, attractive and I really like the taste of it when sprinkled on freshly baked biscuits (even when they have chocolate in them, or better still pistachio!)  You could even warm some berries up, and run some of this perfumed sugar through.

 

Chick-pea Spaghetti; I remember that when I first tasted chickpea spaghetti, I expected it to taste more like spaghetti and less chickpea than it later transpired to be. Ah. It needs to be cooked in a rich, flavoursome, bulky vegetable and tomato, curry-style Indian base. This sort of base really compliments the depth of chick-pea spaghetti and really helps to infiltrate it with juiciness. 

I really like this sort of food at this time of year because it’s warming, filling and deep but not stodgy and heavy. I feel less bad about curling up on the sofa with my blanket for a couple of hours when I’m eating a scrumptious bowl of this funky and colourful spaghetti. Word of caution for those who like to suck up their spaghetti though – doesn’t work so well with this variety!  

Star anise; I am still surprised at the number of star anise-virgins amongst us. Not only does it look beautiful in all it’s flower/star shaped glory, but it has a sweet aniseed flavour that permeates fruits, stews and curries beautifully. Stick it in a pear and bake it, simmer down summer berries with star anise inside, or in a curry.

 Most of these ingredients are available in good food halls and supermarkets or even on the web!
   

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