Tag Archives: Vegetarian Christmas

Home-made Lychee and cinnamon ice-cream

8 Dec

Home-made Lychee and cinnamon ice-cream

You know that feeling when your head swells a little and eyes lose focus…for an instant when you are neither here or there. I am feeling awkwardly poetic as I write this, but you know how there is just a moment, when a surge overcomes you and a sensation that feels so rousing that it sinks and then very quickly elevates your heart.  That is what happened to me today, when I tasted this ice-cream and I have so say, I am pretty proud.

lychee cinnamon ice cream by Deena Kakaya

Imagine. I knew that it would taste good when I was warming the custard base with the cinnamon going through it; it filled the house with festive Christmas essences but really, I didn’t know it would be quite this good. It was almost midnight when I stood at the ice cream maker with a dessert spoon, turned it off and planned to scoop it into a clean tub. But what happened? I had a little taste and then another, then another and now I can feel the cool lychee in my throat and the cinnamon on my skin and let me tell you…mmmm….

I am quite an ice-cream person so the cold weather out there doesn’t put me off. It did my friends who visited last week but when they tasted the star anise and amoretti number, they polished it off saying it was the best ice-cream they had tasted. I blushed, but you know that I love it. Anyway, it’s Christmas and if you are serving ice-cream on the side of a warm pudding or dessert, maybe a chocolate fondant or brownie, then make it this one.


lychee cinnamon 1

I used my froothie, the optimum 400 to blitz together the lychees and grind the cinnamon (not together) and found that there were no clumps of cinnamon or lychee in my ice cream and this is important because clumps of frozen lychee just don’t work because it is such a wet fruit. It is important to achieve a really smooth lychee pulp and this machine does a mighty fine job. I have also used Tesco’s extra thick double cream because the lychees are pretty wet.

Ingredients to serve 4

300ml double cream (I used extra thick double cream)

300ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

1 ½ tsp. of corn flour

200g sugar

1 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

250g lychees

Method

  1. Beat the egg yolks, corn flour and sugar until they are smooth and have achieved a pale yellow colour from a deeper, egg-yolk colour.
  2. Warm the milk, cinnamon and cream together until they are just under boiling point, but do not allow them to boil.
  3. Add the milk and cream to the eggs and sugar little by little. Start with a very small amount and gradually build it up, whisking as you go. If you pour too much of the milk and cream in, you could curdle the eggs if they get too hot.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and stir on a gentle flame until the custard has thickened. Check that it is ready by drawing a line on the back of the spatula. If it doesn’t fade out, the custard is ready.
  5. Leave the custard to cool to room temperature and in the meantime, blitz the lychees smooth to a thick juice. There should be no chunks.
  6. Once the custard is at room temperature, mix in the lychees and then refrigerate for about four hours.
  7. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker or freeze it overnight. If you are not using an ice cream maker, break up any ice particles with a fork and then refreeze it.

 

Hot and spicy mushroom and cauliflower baked giant spring roll with a cheesy spinach layer for a vegetarian Christmas

23 Nov

Hot and spicy mushroom and cauliflower baked giant spring roll with a cheesy spinach layer for a vegetarian Christmas

Hot and spicy mushroom and cauliflower baked giant spring roll with a cheesy spinach layer for a vegetarian Christmas by Deena Kakaya

Before the children in our family came along I was the one who would fire myself up and galvanise all that festive spirit amongst the rest, or at least I tried. I gave impassioned speeches on not letting go of the inner child at Christmas and cherishing those moments in front of the fire (at my house) eating and watching Christmas movies. I love Christmas movies; I love the feel good factor. I love that people in the shops and in the streets are just nicer to each other, ‘because it’s Christmas’.

I would be the one decorating whilst being told how gaudy that tinsel looked and I would ask my husband every single day if he can please, please get the Christmas tree out of its place of hibernation. From secret Santa to games to play for the day; it was all my instigation. But now, there are children and the family no longer need to be shaken into Christmas order by my poetic persuasions. Instead we revel in their squeals and jumping around, as well as the impatience when opening presents or grabbing decorations from the tree. From cute Christmas outfits to running around with wrapping paper there is nothing I want to miss about it. So when the folks from brighthouse asked me to share what my thoughts on having a smooth Christmas when it comes to the menu, I was happy to oblige.

My Christmas menus are purposely simple in nature, but without compromising on that special, indulgent feeling.  The recipe I am sharing with you today embodies one of the most important pieces of advice I carry with me and that is; planning and preparation is everything. I make the stuffing in advance and in fact it tastes better like that as the tingly spicy and power-packed flavours settle into the cauliflower over time. I wilt the spinach ahead of time and grate the cheese. The spring roll pastry defrosts in the fridge overnight and what do I have to do? Just assemble the spring roll, roll it, coat it in oil and bake whilst chucking around wrapping paper with my two year old.

Ingredients to serve 3-4

12-16 sheets of spring roll pastry, thawed

One medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets

200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

One red onion, sliced

150g of baby leaf spinach, wilted

4-5 handfuls of grated mature cheddar

2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 tsp.

1 tbsp. soy sauce

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. tomato puree

2 tbsp. siracha sauce

Method

  1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onions, then fry them until they soften.
  2. Introduce the cauliflower and coat with the oil before adding the cumin powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, paprika. Coat the cauliflower well, then mix in the garlic and soy sauce and turn to a lower flame and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Now add the sliced mushrooms, tomato puree and siracha chilli sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Take two sheets of spring roll pastry and towards the end and sides leave an inch sized gap. Place 3-4 dessert spoons of mixture in a line and then roll the spring roll into a tight cigar shape. Seal the end with a little water. Then take another two sheets of pastry, line it with a handful of spinach and some cheese. Place the first spring roll into the cheesy and spinach layer and roll it in the same way, leaving a gap at the bottom and sides. Seal again with water.
  5. Once all of your rolls are made, place them in a preheated oven at 190 degrees until they are lightly golden and crisp.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

21 Dec

Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you all smiles, peace and a heart full of love. I wish you all days where you wake up, looking forward to the day and I wish you nights where you will fall asleep smiling. I wish you all good, light and kind thoughts, you know the sort that shape your day to be just happy. I wish you joy without conditions and good health of the mind and body.

For the last three years, each New Year’s Eve, my husband and I watch the fireworks at midnight and he tells me, ‘this year will be your year’. This year I reminded him asked him if he will say this to me again, for the fourth time. Will he convince me about how this year really will be the one. Have I not had my year because I didn’t make it happen, or have they been mine but I’ve been too ungrateful to count my blessings.  This year, I hope I can release that pressure and just see how blessed I am. My loved ones are all alive and in reasonable shape. I have a beautiful, kind and smart boy now, a home and it’s all going to be…

Lets eat to that shall we? Here is a summary of foods that are special enough for Christmas.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

Personalised Gifts

If you have left it too late to buy Christmas gifts or want I give something with a personal touch, why not try my Home made chilli oil with an Indian accent? It’s made with sesame oil to give a deeper, nuttier taste and smooth texture. It’s a hot oil with the aromas of cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cloves star anise. It’s definitely a special one.

Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent

IMG_3928

If you prefer a sweeter texture, try my Hot Chilli and sweet lychee dipping sauce? It’s perfumed and sweet with a hot kick at the end. I use I with spring rolls, in sandwiches and even with chips.

 

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Picky Pleasures

In our house we graze the day long..mouthfuls of crunchy or sweet nibbled are thrown into gobs whilst watching cheesy movies or playing board games together. I love these jaggery and spice crusted nuts so much. They ate smooth and crisp as well as sweet and aromatic with the cardamom.

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

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

If you fancy something with a bit of a kick, try out my plantain chips with cranberries and nuts. Not only does it look pretty and festive, it’s quite moorish!

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

Sides, starters and party pieces

One of my favourites of this season has to be my smoked garlic, fennel, coconut, cumin and panko coated mushrooms. They taste crisp, exotic and nutty with a juicy and oozy mushroom inside. They’re magic.

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko
Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

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 like biting into a steaming hot and crispy shell to show bright green and moist beans tumble into the mouth.

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

How about my Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora? 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.

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Brussels sprouts, the quintessential Christmas veg. How do mine look? pretty? tempting? These Brussels sprouts are treated tenderly, as they deserve to be but they aren’t your soggy or overcooked sprout. It’s a lively, lightly spiced and full of flavour, juicy sprout.

 

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts
Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

For something lighter, healthier and simple why not try my Christmas coloured nibbles of balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes with soybean and red onion dip. It’s red and green…Christmassy…get it? Alright, alright I know. It’s not exactly the whackiest idea for colours but it does look festive and it is fun. The tomatoes take on an intensely deep and sweet flavour when roasted and the garlic really comes through with a kick of chilli at the end. The dip left my husband in sigh’s of ‘mmm’s and he’s polished off the entire bowl of dip! I have to say that this nutty dip is really very good. The handy thing with this recipe is that it’s great warm or cold. I served with warm pitta and some smoked cheese.

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip
Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

I can’t tell you how delighted I am at how popular my recipe for Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter has been! I’m really excited by this one. It’s really quite special. When they are warm, the goats cheese is oozy and juicy and the case is fluffy, flecked with green spinach and sweet sun-dried tomatoes…does it get any better?

 

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter
Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Chutney makes it taste even better

If you find those veg a bit plain, here are a couple of chutneys to lift them to gorgeousness. My Kerala inspired tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney has spruced up my sarnies lately and I’ve even had this chutney with roasted veg…just to test it out!

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney
Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

 

From halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

I was also inspired by fond memories of halwa to make a butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney that is divine with bread and cheese, do try it.

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

 

The main event

It isn’t another nut roast, relax! I have nothing against a good, sumptuous and nutritious nut roast, but we can do better than that! How about my open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto. For me, this sums up a vegetarian Christmas in three, simple layers.

Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

Vegetarian Christmas recipe - open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto
Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

If you fancy a curry for the big day with a festive feel, try my Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes. This curry is one of those that warms the tummy and keeps it flickering and teases the taste buds. It’s a glowing bowl of aroma and an utterly balanced dish for the senses. It looks mor complicated than it is…once you’ve made the curry paste, it’s very, very straightforward. What you get is a heat, sweetness and zing. You get the perfumes from star anise, kaffir lime leaves and some wonderful lemongrass. The great thing is that the potatoes, Brussel sprouts and tofu soak up all these juices. The other good thing about a curry for Christmas is that you can make it before your guests arrive and then relax and spend some quality time with them.

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Sweet Stuff

I give the traditional apple crumble recipe an exotic and spiced twist. The juices burst through the top of the crumble and are a mix of the fruits and spices; it’s so good that I could drink it. It’s really good, try it.

Apple, Lychee and blackberry (coconut)crumble with rose, cinnamon, cardamon and star anise

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

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.

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

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

Now let’s have a drink

When the party is over, I get thirsty as heck. I want something soothing, fragrant , sweet and cold. I want the gola man from India to come and make me one whilst I have a foot massage (not from the gola man, let’s not get any ideas). I need a good soak in the bath with flowery fragrances. I fancied enacting one of those scenes from period films where the queen bathes in a pool of rose petals and warm water, with people passing her towels and drinks. Alas, I’m no queen but this cool, fruity, floral and fragrant cooler is a spa for the mind.

Dance, sing and drink a rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Om shanti Om- pineapple, rose, ginger and cinnamon lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

 

 

 

 

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