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Sweet corn, Feta and Mango pakora

19 Nov

Sweet corn, Feta and Mango pakora

Is there ever a time which is not emotional or filled with guilt of some sort when you are a parent?

Sweet corn, Feta and Mango pakora by Deena Kakaya

Well, I am embracing (perhaps reluctantly) another emotional time in the life with my two year old sweetheart because we have been viewing nurseries for next year, when he will be old enough to join a proper, actual nursery. Really.

There will be someone else there, to tell him to take his shoes off and listen to his fabulously demonstrative story-telling about planets, squirrels and cars and someone else will be listening to why Neptune is blue and why we can’t go on Mars. There will be animated enacting, I am sure, for all the other children on the bubbling volcanic scenes that make Mars red but my boy’s imaginary friend will be there I hear, but of course. He will play and interact with other little people and I won’t really know them, or be there for any awkward or charming moments. I won’t see his face broaden with that adorable glee upon discovering something new, though he may turn around and say, ‘look mumma’. I will miss the cheeky charm of those moments where he will just grab my head and exclaim, ‘I love you so much mumma; you are a genius’. But this is growth.

Sweet corn, Feta and Mango pakora by Deena Kakaya

So today, I treated my tiny boy with some much requested crunchy, crispy pakora of Indian food influence (vegetarian fritters) with sweet bite of sweet corn, small nuggets of salty feta that oozes when hot and some chewy baked pieces of sunny and happy mango that the folk from Urban fruit sent me. All in all, the sensations left me feeling like another holiday. Alas, sunny treats like these golden and sumptuous pakora must keep me going.

If you are cooking a vegetarian Christmas meal, this is always a crowd-pleaser. If you are not cooking a vegetarian Christmas meal this recipe pleases nonetheless for a tempting and fun starter, canape or side dish.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

175g sweet corn

One large red onion, finely diced

100g feta cheese cut into small cubes

100g baked mango chunks from Urban fruits

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. minced ginger

Salt to taste (remember that the feta is salty)

½ tsp. turmeric powder

½ tsp. garam masala

2 green chillies, choppped

100g gram flour

125ml water

Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. Heat the oil on a medium flame.
  2. Combine the sweet corn, red onion, feta with all the spices, salt, chillies and mango chunks and combine well.
  3. Mix in the gram flour and coat all the vegetables, combining well.
  4. Add the water to make a thick batter and then drop a small amount into the oil to check that the oil is hot enough to fry; if the batter sizzles and rises to the surface then add the pakora in small mounds with your fingers, equivalent to the size of a couple of tablespoons of batter.
  5. Fry the pakora until they are golden brown and crisp before removing them onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  6. Serve with chutney such as tomato, tamarind or chilli and coriander chutney.

 

 

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.

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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Social Grazing; Masala Peanuts

13 Nov

Most people I talk to these days reckon I should put my (swollen) feet up and chill (despite my internal combustion system) out, eat and watch movies etc. and let the (busy-at-work-due-to Christmas) husband indulge me.  Thinking about it is relaxing, but those who know me, know that I never stop!

So, my thinking has been that I want to pack in as much as I can before the baby arrives so that I feel upbeat and productive…a great mood to welcome a new little person with. Funnily enough I have been doing a lot of entertaining, chatting and late nights too (the baby websites express how naughty that is, after all, people in my ‘condition’ need the rest.)  This weekend for instance has been filled with the laughter of people in three different cities and multiple cuisines. I am generating and storing memories and bonds…the stuff of smiles.

Besides, I feel so blessed that well-wishers want to see me for adult-chat before the baby arrives and they want to see and track the development of the ever-growing bump.

This is a joyful time and you know that all of my happy times have a strong association with food and it’s usually me doing the cooking, of course. I have enjoyed treating my friends and family as guinea-pigs and seeing as I struggle with big meals, there has been grazing-a-plenty! 

I love this recipe…you can’t go wrong with crunchy, spicy nuts with a light sour kick.  A bowl full of these won’t last very long…but I love them for filling the gaps between courses, or simply for nibbling on whilst giggling, laughing crunching.

Masala Peanuts

Ingredients

3/4 cup shelled peanuts

3/4 cup gram flour

1/4 cup rice flour

The spices; 1 tbsp. coriander powder, ½ tbsp. cumin powder, ½ tsp. dried mango powder, ½ tsp. turmeric powder, 1 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, ¼ tsp. dried ginger powder

Up to 1 cup Water as needed

Oil to fry

Method

  1. In a hot, non-stick pan, lightly roast the peanuts until they have slightly browned, then leave them to cool
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients and then add the water and the peanuts to form a batter and ensure all of the peanuts are covered evenly.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan to fry the peanuts, the oil should be a couple of inches depth.
  4. Fry the peanuts until they are golden brown, but make sure that they are separate and don’t clog together when frying.  Remove them onto kitchen paper and allow them to cool.  You can devour them just as they are.
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