Tag Archives: vegetarian cooking

Home-made Falooda ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)

7 Aug

Home-made Falooda ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)

They say you become like the people you surround yourself with.

Home-made Falooda Ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli)  by Deena Kakaya

Home-made Falooda Ice cream (rose syrup, chia seed, and vermicelli) by Deena Kakaya

So, if you are around people who are athletic you will be more likely to use your gym membership or actually put on that swimming costume. If you spend time with folks who eat really healthy foods, you will consequently take inspiration and be eating gloriously green, blueberry chia and super food fuelled meals and if you find yourself with positive and happy people who tend to see the brighter side of life, you will inevitably think of challenges as stepping stones. If you immerse yourself in environments of intellectual dialogue, perhaps on politics or economics between ambitious and focused people, you will cultivate and progress your own mind and if your friends like money, cars and big houses…you may just find a way to achieve those same things.

If your mates are academic you will probably finish that post graduate qualification you’ve been thinking about for ages and if your pals wear cutting-edge make-up even to the supermarket or on a run, you will think twice before postponing that hair dressers appointment to cover up those grey hairs. If the banter around the dinner table on your Friday night get-together is about getting that next promotion or making partner, your energies too will flow that way. If you friends have found peace, love, God, family, children, simplicity…you may just find some time to do the same.

Intuitive isn’t it. I mean naturally. It’s one of the reasons parents worry about the company their children keep because we know that we can drive all our efforts to instil good values but the association that our children forge with groups of their choice will often have a very powerful influence on their own attitude and outlook. Why then have I not become more like my mother?

We stood at the Pani Puri stall in Wembley the other day and whilst I stood a little bit removed on the side, my mum plunged into the crowd and cheekily ordered a plate of dahi puri chaat and we could also that the anticipation was positively tickling her. I remarked to my dad that my mother hasn’t lost her inner child and he told me that it’s the way to hold onto the beauty of life.

Iridescent eyes and quivering excitement greeted us and of course a hand wafting around a plate bursting with cool, crisp, sour, sweet, tangy little filled puri. There is no pleasure like eating them with loved ones, outdoors, before they fall apart but nobody knows how to live a moment like my mother. Nobody would guess anything else about her.

As I had a little moan about the kitchen, the mess, the heavy earrings and stifling outfit, my hunger and of course the worries of nursery and work and oh! Life. My mother just chuckled and went upstairs in the cool of the late afternoon. She didn’t return for ages but I heard a loud snore as I went up the stairs thirty minutes later. When I told my dad, he said, ‘look, this is how peaceful people live life’.

Here’s to my mother. She wanted a falooda after her paratha, curry, Pani Puri and dahi puri on the street but couldn’t fit it in. Falooda are thick milkshakes perfumed with rose syrup, pumped with swelling chia seeds, and silky vermicelli and there is usually some sort of fruit and soaking in there too and perhaps even jelly but there is always ice cream floating on the top and it conveniently holds the umbrella. You get the picture. It is a treat for all but has that youthful, fun element to it-just like my mum. If she were a drink, I reckon she would be a falooda.

I would not be me if I did stretch the recipe a little…Rose milkshake was the remedy and bribe for many a parental challenge during my childhood. Don’t want to drink milk? OK have some rose milkshake. Don’t want to sit and watch that Bollywood movie? OK have some rose milkshake? Too much arguing with the cousins…yep. Rose Milkshake. It looks pretty and that aroma…mmm…You’ll find rose syrup in the ethnic aisle of large supermarkets like Tesco or in an Asian Store.

I have made an ice cream of it all. Ta-DA! The bright pink vermicelli? I soaked that in beetroot juice. I even have chocolate vermicelli in this version but the thing is, it’s an ice cream.

Ingredients

300ml whole milk

300ml double cream

7 tbsp. rose syrup

1 ½ tbsp. chia seeds

3 tbsp. finely broken vermicelli

25g cooked beetroot

One pink apple, cut into small cubes

4 tbsp. sugar

4 egg yolks

1 tsp. corn flour

Method

  1. If you are using an ice cream maker, ensure that your equipment is ready.
  2. Mix the milk, cream, Rose syrup and chia seeds together and chill them in the fridge for 3 hours.
  3. In the meantime puree the beetroot and soak the vermicelli in 50ml water.
  4. Once the milk has been chilled for the three hours, to allow the chia seeds to swell, make the custard. Combine the three egg yolks, sugar and corn flour in a large bowl and whip them until the sugar is no longer grainy and becomes a pale yellow colour and creamy in texture.
  5. Heat the milk and cream until it almost boils but do not let it boil.
  6. Add the milk and cream into the large bowl a little at a time, to avoid the eggs getting too hot and scrambling. Combine well and then turn it back into the saucepan that you heated the milk and cream in.
  7. Heat the custard on a very low flame and stir continuously. Do this until the back of the spatula can be covered and when you draw a line through the layer on the spatula, the line holds.
  8. Turn off the heat and mix in the vermicelli and apple and then allow the custard to cool to room temperature before leaving it in the fridge overnight. Now add the chocolate vermicelli if you are using it.
  9. Churn the custard in an ice cream maker or leave it in the freezer until it has set.

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

25 Jun

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

Throughout my 20’s I had infrequent contact with a self-indulgent and woeful lady who recurrently stressed to me that having children is the hardest thing in the world.  She meant raising them. She would stand over me as I slumped into the sofa, and she wafted an overstating finger above me whilst popping eyes glared at me, ‘it’s so hard’. I focused my eyes on the coarse hairs that grew under her chin and listened. I nodded as she told me how there is immense and overflowing love but there is no time even for a facemask or money left to buy clothes. I looked over at my husband and my expression clearly whispered, ‘I will still buy clothes’.

But look, I thought, people all over the world are popping them out. People in towns, cities and remote villages manage it and educated or uneducated, rich or poor, young or old…people all over the world and for as long as time has existed have been having children. So really, come on…

As my little one played with his friends in our garden and I looked at his sweaty little face reddening underneath layers of gritty sun cream. Underneath the wide forehead he gets from his daddy is a face that is so much like mine but that’s not the thing that sinks my heart and ties it in a knot.

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

Tiny friends rushed around busily and purposefully with his toys as he watched. One snatched his ball as he watched, as kids often do at this age. My little one let her and decided to go and water some plants instead until another friend announced that he would do it instead. But that was OK and my two year old headed for the trampoline but alas his was bounced off. He quietly returned to me and tucked himself under my arm, ‘mumma I want my ball, it’s mine’. The bitter-sweet irony, as I could almost feel the sand under my feet on a school trip. I felt the pressure inside, even as a toddler as I was worried that my parents would be disappointed that I wasn’t as lively or vivacious as the other children or lacked the confidence to climb through the tunnels or jump off the bars as they were doing. I remember sitting near the teachers and watching the sand tumble through my feet and clearly feeling that somehow there was a waste here but I was too young to really understand the concept of money. I know I should talk to guests when they arrived at our home, when my parents told me to even more so, but I was too shy to make conversation and just willed them to turn their loud and animated interrogation off.

And here we are again. A nice boy that I made nice, to some degree, as his primary carer…but now, how to instil some personal robustness or survival instinct in him? At what point do my own experiences of the world become his perceptions? I don’t want my experiences to dirty his mind…and for someone who wouldn’t talk look at me now…I talk a lot, in front of crowds.

Here is to the bitter-sweet, hot and cool of life. A salad that tingles and zings with each mouthful of crunch from the beansprouts and alfalfa, heat from the chillies, silky smoky aubergine, nutty almond bites and sweet kecap manis. It’s loaded. I like loaded. Juicy orange and green tomatoes burst in the mouth…it’s all going on in this healthy plate. Life eh?

Ingredients to serve two as a main dish or four as a side dish

3 medium-large aubergines

4 good pinches of alfalfa sprouts

A couple of handfuls of almonds

100g beansprouts

An onion, thinly sliced

100g orange tomatoes, sliced

100g green tomatoes, sliced

2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

The dressing

10 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

6 tbsp. kecap Manis

3 tbsp. sriracha sauce

Method

  1. You will need to coat the aubergines in oil and roast in the oven at 180 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until they are shrivelling and soft enough to pierce. Allow them to cool before removing the skin and scooping out the pulp and mash it lightly on a large plate.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick pan and add the onions, beansprouts and almonds and stir fry 3-4 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  3. Make the dressing by mixing the ingredients and smoothing any lumps with a fork
  4. Layer the aubergine pulp, then on top add the tomatoes, beansprouts mixture, alfalfa and the drizzle over as much dressing as you like.
  5. Serve with flatbread and share (try).

 

Chimichurri and feta spiked mung bean sprouts in a baked, jumbo spring roll

1 Jun

Chimichurri and feta spiked mung bean sprouts in a baked, jumbo spring roll

Chimichurri and feta spiked mung bean sprouts in a baked, jumbo spring roll

I expended most of this weekend searching for a replacement car after mine was written off a couple of weeks ago. A van rammed into the back of my car at some traffic lights (I had stopped already) crushing the entire boot. I had a few moments of breathless hysteria because my little one was in the back, but fortunately, we are ok. A bit of whiplash, but blessed to be ok.

So, instead of visits to the zoo or park this weekend, we have been from car sales cosmos to showroom underworlds. Can you tell that I don’t enjoy shopping for cars? But it is an interesting world.

As I stood eyeing up a Seat Leon, two broad and bald men chuckled to each other that it is the poor man’s Audi. I smiled silently as I was thrown back to sitting/being squished in the back of the car of someone boasting to my mother about their impending purchase of a brand new Mercedes. Back then car sharing to weddings was common practise and London felt like planets away from Leicester, where I grew up. Of course back then I had no idea that London would become my home. It is where I started my married life, working life and built treasured friendships.

Anyway, I remember clearly sensing the inferiority that this lady wanted my mother to feel. She went on to describe their family business and property and how I looked awkward and that my face didn’t fit well on my body, but even though I was probably just 12 I knew that actually, she was without the basics in life of love and respect. I looked at my attractive mother who was adorned in a new sari and jewellery that my dad had chosen for her. Then I looked at the other lady, who was lacking.

The car is something of, ‘what do you do for a living’ or ‘where do you live’, isn’t it? Except it doesn’t grow does it? I once worked with a chap who did very well professionally and lived in an area brimming with upmarket delicatessens, fancy florists, and tiny Thai restaurants and of course fabulous schools, but drove a moving skip, as he called it. I learned a lot from him on many levels.

That said I know how I feel when I put on a nice dress, good perfume, make-up and a few simple but lovely accessories. I am sure my stance changes, my attitude might change too.

Head in a thorough spin, I decided to call it the end to a hot and bothersome level of thinking and head to the garden for some running under the sprinkler with the boy after the swings and slide. I needed refreshing with some zesty, summery, zingy, nutty, salty, juicy food with crunch and crisp thrown in. See where we are going with this?

I love mung bean sprouts; they are silky and nutty, cook quickly and I love the feeling of their little tails. They work fabulously well with chimichurri dressing but I have a confession; I cheated and used some Thai basil with the parsley and guess what? It gives the most fantastic, lasting herbiness. It is actually all pretty gorgeous, a healthy vegetarian recipe and I served the mung bean sprout spring rolls (baked for added bonus) with Za’atar sweet potato fries, because you know, it’s all about balance.

Ingredients to make 6 large rolls

For the sauce

350g mung bean shoots

One red onion, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic

The juice of one lemon

A large bunch of parsley

Salt to taste

1 tsp. chilli flakes or more if you like it hot

1 tsp. oregano, dried or fresh

A small bunch of Thai basil, finely chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

Other ingredients

200g feta cheese, cut into small cubes

12 sheets of spring roll pastry, defrosted

Oil for coating the rolls

½ tsp. turmeric

Method

  1. Blitz together all of the ingredients for the sauce and leave to a side
  2. Heat a pan and add a splash of oil and then add the turmeric and mung bean shoots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and then add the chimichurri sauce
  3. Cook the mung bean shoots for approximately 4-5 minutes longer before turning off the heat and allowing the mixture to cool and then add the feta cheese
  4. Take two sheets of spring roll pastry and leave a 3-4 cm gap from the bottom and sides and place 3-4 dessert spoons in a line and tightly roll into a cylinder shape and leave it to the side
  5. Place the rolls in an oven after greasing them lightly and bake them at 200 degrees until they are lightly golden.

 

 

 

 

 

Beetroot, chipotle and feta fritters with Asian style cucumber salad

29 Sep

Beetroot, chipotle and feta fritters

Beetroot, chipotle and feta fritters

Our taxi driver confidently lead us down a shabby lane in Cairo. It was such a hot and dusty day and the atmosphere around the roads was subdued. We dodged the rocks and stones that had dislodged from the road and buildings and skipped over small mounds of stinking rubbish. I shot huffy expressions towards my explorative and overly-polite husband who simply adjusted the cap on his head, mopped his face and said, ‘come on babe, lets just see’.

Lets just see? What did he mean? What if something happened to us? I’m a natural worrier and this, together with having had regretful holiday experiences in the past, had fired off dozens of atrocious images in my mind from being food poisoned to being shot.

I reassured myself that our driver was in fact a lovely, pious man. He had gelled quite well with my husband and he told us lots of stories to pass the journey times during out holiday. Whilst we stumbled and hopped along the path he was leading us along, towards this supposedly acclaimed restaurant, he was telling us why men in his hometown wore a bruised forehead. Apparently it demonstrated their religious devotion and credited them to be god following people because you could see that they bowed down for prayer regularly.

So, we weren’t shot. We arrived at the restaurant and it had a feel of the rainforest cafe in London. The roofs were leafy and crowded in a fun sort of way. Fake birds bobbed up and down above us, but they added to the rainforest feel. Fish swam beside us and whilst we settled ourselves at our table and my inner child was tickled. As you can imagine, I was smiling and that unrequited, ‘I told you so’ naturally blurted at me.

So I wondered off to watch this giant man rub his hands a couple of times and produce perfect falafels into the biggest wok I had ever seen. It was bubbling with steaming hot oil and none of the chickpeas escaped. Perfumes of tahini and parsley dominated the smoke above him. But then I saw his hands appear blood stained. Flutters of panic seared through me..he wasn’t cooking with meat was he? Was I right all along?

It was beetroot. He was stuffing grated beetroot into the falafels. He was watching my expression and then he and his big toothy grin handed one to me on a plate.

It was sweet, nutty and slightly spicy. Probably the way I’d describe my favourite friends and oh my goodness they were crispy and addictive. I wanted more. I couldn’t believe how fluffy they were, so light. They taste a bit like little burgers, I’d happily stick them in some pitta with dollops of hummus.

So I came back and I created these beauties. You know I like spice so I’ve whacked in some beautiful smokey chipotle, it makes the whole combination more sensual. I’ve got salty feta in there too and it works in harmony with sweet beetroot. I love these because they are moist without being pasty. I don’t add plain flour because it gives it that texture that sticks to the roof of the mouth. Instead I have used gram flour and chickpeas to give that nuttiness. Whether you eat these with salad or as a burger, you’ll find them easy to make and freezer friendly.

Ingredients

300g cooked beetroot, grated
75g breadcrumbs
100g chickpeas, squashed
2tbsp finely chopped parsley
1tbsp finely chopped chives
1/2 tbsp chipotle paste
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 egg lightly beaten
3 tbsp gram flour
50g feta cheese, crumbled
2 spring onions finely chopped
Oil for shallow frying
Salt to taste
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Method

1. Squeeze as much if the juice out of beetroot as possible
2. Add the onion, feta, spices, herbs and add the chickpeas by imagesquishing them between your fingers. Use the salt carefully because feta is salty.

3. Add the chipotle paste, gram flour and the egg. Mix it all together before adding the breadcrumbs. If you feel that the mixture is too wet add a bit more gram flour
4. Form golf sized balls before dropping them into the warmed oil. Shallow fry them until they are golden brown on each side and serve with an Asian style cucumber salad.

Beetroot, feta, chipotle, chickpeas

Frying golf ball sized parities of Beetroot, feta and chipotle with chickpeas for nuttiness

For the cucumber salad

Peel one whole cucumber and stir it together with

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil

Cheating on chilly nights

24 Feb

Image

Cheating on Chilly Nights

When the skies released fluffy white flakes again this week, smiles fluttered across my face as well as my boy’s, again.  Then I thought of all the inconveniences we would have to endure, again. And frankly, I’m quite sick of wearing tights. 

We stood looking out at it, gluing our foreheads to the window and chilling ourselves unnecessarily.  I forgot to talk at times and I always feel guilty about that, must keep talking to my boy.   I got busy thinking about how overcrowded the supermarkets would be. Because of course, everyone behaves as though the world is going to end and ritually go and pack the aisles of supermarkets up…just in case.  Even my parents do it and they’re supposed to be the educated bees! It always makes me chuckle how proud some people are for braving the stampede in the shops.

You know what I am going to say, don’t you?  I didn’t go and join the packs.  Yes I stocked up, but I also had few recipes up my sleeve. Ones that you can whip up with store cupboard ingredients.  Ones that bring colour to days that remind me of the Narnia before bad stuff happens. Ones that you can eat whilst hugging the bowl and tucked under a blanket, or perched by the window (forehead peeled off, of course).

You know I like cheating now and again.  As long as it is worth it, in terms of the quality of what is used.  There are days for creating lots of clever mess in the kitchen whilst singing and chattering or quietly experimenting.  Then, there are chilly nights where the blanket beckons.  That’s what this recipe I am sharing with you is for.

To me, there is nothing like some chilli to kick start the insides on a cold day, but if it doesn’t turn your internal furnace on then leave it out or moderate the usage. Use this recipe flexibly…you can use vegetables other than what I have; you could use pasta instead of gnocchi.  That’s my cheat-ready-made gnocchi.  Oh, and the Harissa paste. Oh and sometimes I use miso soup sachets instead of vegetable stock. Use some good quality, ready-made gnocchi and get a spoon in that broth…quickly!

Red Lentil,  Veg and Harissa Broth with Gnocchi

Ingredients to serve four

One large onion, diced

150g butternut squash, diced into bite sized chunks

4-5 leaves of Savoy cabbage, shredded

500ml of water or vegetable stock

Half a courgette, diced into bite sized chunks

Harissa paste to taste.  I used 2 tbsp

Spices; salt and pepper to taste, 1/2tsp cumin seeds, 1/4tsp turmeric

100g red lentils

400g gnocchi 

Method

1.  Cook the red lentils in plenty of water, until they are mushy in texture.  His should take about 15minutes

2. In meantime, heat 2tbsp of oil in a deep bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds and turmeric.  When the seeds crackle add the onion with the salt and soften the onion.

3. Stir in the butternut squash, savoy cabbage and courgette Cook fora couple of minutes before adding the red lentils and water. Season with pepper.

4. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked then stir in the Harissa paste.

5.  Cook the gnocchi per the packet instructions and serve into bowls before bathing them in the broth. Serve and devour immediately. 

 

 

Less Than Ten Minutes to Butter Bliss

16 Feb

Butter Bliss - Home Made Butter

That’s right; I tell you that I can introduce to you a way of attaining Butter Bliss in less than ten minutes-How many people could vouch for that eh?

On hot toast, comfortingly creamy and lightly salty…or adding familiar sweetness to fluffy chapatti’s…maybe on soft pillowy bread to add glistening moistness… perhaps a melting knob on steaming vegetables, granting slippery smoothness or even in a jacket potato infiltrating the warm sweet clouds with juiciness…ah oh my, what if in a croissant, crisping up delectable layer upon layer, upon layer…

Butter. Delicious isn’t it? And what do we say about the alluring aroma…Proud cakes and steaming doughnuts all bleating towards us with their cosy smells and pretty colours; how can one not give in? I know some people who add a knob on khichdi (the traditional Indian Kedgeree of rice and lentils), or on their dhal to lift the aroma of the lentils and enhance the mild and homely flavours.

Now I’m not suggesting we all stop buying butter from supermarkets, or even that we encase our hearts with impenetrable and dense layers of it. But there is a glowing pleasure, a gratification, in creating simple ingredients yourself, to use as and when you will. You can make butter. Simple.

Home-made butter is creamier, has lightness about it.  It is smoother and of course you can infuse it with flavours, spices and herbs as you like. There are no performances and no, you don’t need to be churning away at it for hours.  In fact, I ‘made’ this butter whilst washing the dishes and singing to my Aloe Vera plant and spring bulbs (that are now displaying shoots).

Its humble, it’s delightful and you can dress it on a table for your dinner guests to devour between them. Mmm…Butter.

As always, let me know how you go…

My Recipe for Gently Spiced Home-Made Butter

This makes roughly 175g of butter

Ingredients

300ml of Double Cream

Salt to taste (I use ¼ tsp.)

¼ tsp. Aniseed powder, ¼ tsp. black pepper, ¼ tsp. cumin powder

Method

How to make butter and Homemade Butter

  1. Churn the double cream in a food processor with whisking contraptions or use an electronic hand whisk. If you are using an electronic hand whisk, then put the cream in a tall container to avoid spluttering.
  2. Whisk the cream until you see stiff white peaks, like whipping cream at this stage; give it another mix to scoop all the lovely cream back to the centre.
  3. Continue to whisk until you see ball/balls form in the bowl and the whey separates from the butter. Check the consistency and it will feel and look like butter to the touch.
  4. Remove onto a plate, and fork the butter to release more of the whey. Remove this.  I suggest keeping it and using it to bind chapatti flour for instance.
  5. Mix in the salt, aniseed, cumin powder and black pepper into the butter and moderate to your taste, If you wish.

Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls (My Very Popular Khichi)

31 Jan

Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls (My Very Popular Khichi)

Hot summer days during the school holidays, mother and aunties (in the broader sense, meaning women of mum’s age) in the kitchen boisterous and rosy. The wooden fence between us and the neighbours has been worn down to stubble from ever frequent visits by the neighbours kids indelicately climbing over them and aunties leaning over the fence, chit-chatting languidly after a hard day’s work.

The kitchen was spicy-steamy even though the windows and doors were wide open; the gleeful kids were darting between kitchen and garden. My mum would pick the hottest and least breezy days to make rice flour poppadum’s and I was the contented assistant; these goings-on were tradition for summer holidays. Mum and aunts simmered the chillies and spices in hot water leaving us all coughing, before adding the flour to make dough. It’s OK; we had strawberries and fresh fruit juices to distract our throats. They rolled the oiled dough to poppadum shapes; just a couple of millimetres thick and it was my starring role to lay them onto cleaned (but unwanted) wafting saris in the garden.  I collected heavy stones and bricks, full of purpose in my loud yellow and green floral dresses, to ensure the saris were controlled and I lay the papdi (the particular variety of poppadum) neatly, not overlapping them.   Barefoot in on the summer garden slabs, I enjoyed the heat under my feet.  I’d find a shady spot to intermittently paint under, whilst I safeguarded the poppadum’s from birds and insects too, or maybe it was the Bollywood music booming (and women singing) from the kitchen that did that!

The plan was to let the sun dry the dough out completely. Once dried out and microwaved or fried they taste impressively crunchy and crispy. They are deeper and slightly chewier than the poppadums you will find in restaurants, but they remain my favourite variety.  The smooth and slippery dough itself is delectably Moorish. When steamed its spongy, a little chewy, overflowing with punch and undeniably gutsy. Funnily enough the steamed dough is often eaten as a snack, with a little oil that’s infused with salt and chilli powder. Greasy fingers are typically all that remain once a plate of these gently green balls are served. Try it; tell me how you like it.

Khichi

Deena’s Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls; My Very Popular Kichi

Ingredients

3-4 green chillies, minced

800ml of water

1 ½ tsp. of cumin seeds

1 tsp. of carom seeds/ajwain

Salt to taste

½ tsp. of ground cinnamon

375g of rice flour

Method serves 4-5

  1. Pour the specified amount of water into a deep pan, before adding the spices and seasonings with the minced chillies and bring it to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat down and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes
  2. Take a long wooden spoon and gently pour in the rice flour and beat into the water, avoiding clumps forming. Do this quickly, before removing the dough from the heat
  3. Pour the dough into a large plate and grease your palms. Form flattened balls of about 5-6cm diameter and dip your thumb in the centre to create a well (keep the well empty though) and then steam for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove onto a plate and serve with oil infused with chilli powder and salt.

Indian Superfood Recipes

1 Apr

These ruby red jewels are packed with vitamin C and are thought to contain antibacterial properties. Rich in antioxidants, the juice of this middle eastern fruit has been proven in some studies to combat heart disease and blood pressure. Pomegranate has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, to remedy diarrhoea and dysentery.

Superfood PomegranateEasy Pomegranate Shrikhand

Recipe (to serve 3-4)
Ingredient

100g of pomegranate seeds (about one medium sized pomegranate)
500g of quark cheese
Caster sugar to taste
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
A small pinch of saffron (approximately 4-5 strands)
2 tsp of rose water
12-15 roughly chopped pistachios

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, smooth together the quark cheese and caster sugar. Include enough sugar to your taste for a dessert.
2. Combine the quark cheese and sugar mixture with the cardamom powder, rose water and chopped pistachios.
3. Squash the strands of saffron into the side of the bowl, then beat them in. The light orange colour will infuse into the shrikhand.
4. Mix in half of the pomegranate seeds, leaving the other half for decoration and then serve.

Easy Blueberry Shrikhand

These antioxidant rich ’wild’ things are high in vitamin C, anti-oxidants, are a good source of fibre, and act to protect the heart. Some research has shown that blueberries may help to alleviate the cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of ageing and they may even assist in prevent urinary tract infection.

Recipe (to serve 3-4)
IngredientSuperfood blueberries

150g of blueberries
500g of quark cheese
Approximately 6 tbsp of caster sugar
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
15 roughly chopped pistachios

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, blend 100g of the blueberries to a smooth consistency, leaving no pulp. Then combine it with 4 tbsp of caster sugar. Simmer the mixture on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off the heat and then allow the blueberry sauce to cool completely.
2. Mix together the quark cheese and blueberry sauce until it turns a beautiful lavender colour. Add 2 tbsp of caster sugar (you can moderate this depending on your taste for a dessert).
3. Stir in the cardamom powder and the most of the pistachios, leaving some for decoration.
4. Serve, using the remaining blueberries (whole) for decoration or mix them in with the shrikhand. Sprinkle the individual portions lightly with the remaining chopped pistachios.

Spinach and Tofu Curry

Springtime spinach is a source of beta carotene and folate, but don’t expect Popeye’s instant biceps! Rich in antioxidants and containing vitamin K and Iron (which will be better absorbed with vitamin C) spinach will help your skin, immune system, heart, your bones and energy levels.

Recipe (serves 3-4)

Ingredient
250g of firm tofu, cubed
200g of baby leaf spinach, coarsely chopped
2 deep red tomatoes, chopped into cubes
One small-medium onion, peeled and diced
2 green chillies, chopped
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) and 5g of ginger (grated)
A bay leaf, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, pinch of asafoetida (optional), 1 tsp of paprika, ¼ tsp of black pepper

Method

1. Heat 1tbsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan and shallow fry the cubes of tofu until they are golden brown. Remove the tofu onto kitchen paper and allow the cubes to cool.
2. In a separate pan heat two tablespoons of oil before adding the asafoetida. Next, put in the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon and let the cumin seeds crackle before mixing in the chillies.
3. Stir in the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes before introducing the garlic. When the onion has softened add the tomatoes, salt to taste and turmeric and cook until the tomatoes are smooth and pulpy.
4. Sprinkle in the black pepper and paprika, then combine the cubes of shallow fried tofu into the curry base.
5. Wilt the spinach into the curry and add the grated ginger. Simmer for 3-4 minutes before turning off the heat.

Spice it Up-Vegetarian Indian LOVE foods

1 Apr

Love Food StrawberryMmmmmm….the tantalising taste, the smooth fleshy feel, or the velvety texture…the arousing aroma, the suggestive shapes, or the evocation of pure luxury…There are many factors at play that tout a food for being an aphrodisiac. Some are more obvious than others; most of us consider the undisputed kings of aphrodisiacs to be chocolate and strawberries. Chocolate has been used to stoke the flames of passion for centuries and I’ve read that Casanova, ‘the greatest lover in the world’ would top-up on it before entering the boudoir. But surely, amore is not just for Valentine’s Day and strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, as sensually satisfying as they may be, don’t make a meal.

Aphrodisacs chocolate

A flirt with powerful tasting Indian Vegetarian Foods may prove a novel experience for you and your partner, so here I give you some luring suggestions. Serve hot and leave your partner lusting for more!
Kesar Badam Milk

saffron

It only dawned on me how packed full of aphrodisiac ingredients this hot and aromatic milk is, when I started researching this topic. I couldn’t believe how well crafted this delicious love-potion actually is.
One of the key ingredients is almonds, which are associated with passion and fertility. The aroma of almonds is alleged to excite women and is therefore a common ingredient in creams and soaps. Well, I never. The other prime ingredient is saffron. Now, decadent saffron not only looks stunning when infused into milk, but apparently some studies suggest that it contains properties that stimulate libido and the erogenous zones.

It only gets better and better. This drink is sweetened with honey, known as Aphrodite’s (the Greek mythological goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture) nectar. This liquid gold is even mentioned in the Kama Sutra and the Perfumed Garden, where it is said that honey spiced with nutmeg (funnily enough another ingredient in this milk) is said to heighten orgasm.

Lastly, exotic scented cardamom is added to the drink. So now I understand why I’ve seen (in Indian movies) this drink being served on wedding nights and confusingly perhaps is why this drink is served at engagements…hmmmm….

Anjeer (fig) halwaFig
This sumptuous sweet dish is bursting with fleshy figs. In some Southern European countries wedding guests throw figs (instead of rice) at the newlyweds, as a sign of fertility and I learned recently that since Adam and Eve adorned themselves with fig leaves, they have become a symbol of fertility. Maybe its aphrodisiac claims are based on its appearance? With this in mind, I would adapt the traditional recipe for fig halwa, which calls for the figs to be almost pureed, to leave into a mushy consistency with some larger chunks.
Fig halwa is made by 200g of figs, 3tbsp ghee, ½ cup of blanched almonds (blanched, peeled and powdered), 1/3 cup milk powder, 4tbsp of sugar, ¼ tsp cardamom powder. It’s so simple to make; just boil the figs in water for about 5 minute and then process to a mash, don’t forget to leave some chunky bits in there. Heat the ghee and then add the powdered almonds and the cardamom, sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the figs, milk powder, sugar and ½ cup of water. Serve steaming hot.

Bananas
Phallic illusions aside, bananas have a lot to offer the world of romance. They are pumped with nutrients essential to sexual hormone production. In many cultures across the world, the banana is considered to be the fruit symbolising fertility. Why not couple your banana up with one more, sexy ingredient?
I suggest banana and pomegranate raitha. The sparkly red seeds of pomegranate are also said to have aphrodisiac properties in themselves, so this cooling yogurt based condiment is a real treat. Peel and slice a banana, take a handful of the ruby red jewels and douse them in about 450g of natural plain yogurt. Add some chopped coriander leaves, a little chilli powder and a sprinkling of cumin powder and paprika. Sensational.

If you are in the mood for something more fiery, a spicy mock-chicken and banana curry may just hit the spot; this curry will really play on the tongue with its sweet-hot-soft-firm textures.

  • In some hot oil fry some cumin and then as it crackles, add a sliced red onion, a couple of cloves of garlic a small stick of cinnamon and a couple of cloves.
  • Stir in a couple of red chillies, turmeric and a bay leaf and sauté.
  • Add about 250g of vegetarian chicken pieces and then mix in some salt, ground coriander (1tsp) and (1/2 tsp) cumin and ½ tsp of garam masala.
  •  Add the two chopped tomatoes cook for about 7 minutes before adding a chopped banana (firm).
  •  Grate about 10g of ginger and cook a further 5-6minutes. Serve this impactful dish with steaming hot rice.

Tomatoes; the ‘Love Apple’?Tomatoes sexy
This narcotic red fruit has been proven in some studies to prevent sperm from dying off, but most of us would doubt the sexiness of a bowl of tomato soup. So perhaps piercing the skin of a sun-warmed and ripe freshly picked tomato is more of a sensual experience? Makes sense then, that some call it the ‘other’ forbidden fruit.
In terms of Indian inspiration for tomato recipes, let’s start with the obvious; yes, tomato curry.

  • Simply fry off, in some cumin, a couple of green chillies, a small stick of cinnamon, a sprig of curry leaves and 2 cloves of garlic and roughly 3 spring onions.
  •  Add about 5-6 chopped tomatoes and then season with salt, 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, ¼ tsp of turmeric, and ½ tsp of garam masala.
  • Simmer for a couple of minutes before adding ½ cup of peas.
  • Simmer until the tomatoes have reduced to a pulpy consistency, before garnishing with coriander.

Keeping in mind the potential effects of keeping the tomatoes untainted (therefore uncooked) how does a smooth tomato salad tickle your fancy? I use baby plum tomatoes, a handful of freshly chopped coriander, toasted cashew nuts, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of cumin powder.
I will leave you with my last offering; stuffed tomatoes.

  • Take 8 tomatoes, halve them then scoop out the pulp. Make a stuffing using ½ cup coarsely mashed boiled peas, 2 potatoes (mashed) 1 cup of crumbly paneer (freshly made Indian Cheese.
  • Alternatively, grate some shop-bought paneer). Spice the mix with dried mango powder, ½ tsp garam masala, 1 tsp of aniseed, 2-3 chopped green chillies, and coriander leaves.
  • Mix it all together really and then bake in a hot oven until the tomatoes are tender.

Food is all about a mind-body connection, so with a little planning and a touch of skill, I hope you get elevation you are looking for.

Vegetarian Indian Meal Ideas For Students

13 Jul

Cooking may be the last thing on many (uni) students’ minds.  The fresher’s culture in particular provides ample persuasion in the form of £1 drinks, 7-stop bar crawls, clubbing, house parties and of course sleeping all of that off, in preference of freshly cooked food.  It probably doesn’t help that campus supermarkets are often expensive and probably not the best stocked (least so for Indian groceries).  Some students may just not know how to cook.

There are so many reasons why cooking vegetarian Indian food at home is the way forwards

• You may find yourself homesick.  Although you may have been bursting to get away from home, being at home does have its virtues; at least you get a good home cooked meal.

• If you live of junk food, you will gain weight!

• You may find the vegetarian options limiting, depending on where you have gone to university or you may simply yearn for Indian food which is perhaps harder to source, depending on where you are.

• A diet that’s poor in nutritional value will leave you feeling tired and lacking lustre, you may find it hard to stay awake and concentrate in those lectures.  Then of course there are the spots and greasy hair that may come as a result of a bad diet

• Cooking vegetarian Indian food in your student home will be a great way to impress people and make friends.  The very first meal I cooked for my now husband was when I was a fresher; channa masala (and I used tinned chickpeas).

Here I give you 12 delectable, really easy and speedy recipe ideas for vegetarian Indian dishes.  Whether you are a student or a concerned parent, these ideas are real winners.  I will also give you an idea of the basic spices to keep in the cupboard (don’t worry; they have quite a long shelf life!)

 

Curry out of a can

Tinned Legumes and pulses can be stored in the cupboard and it’s really easy to whip up a curry with them.  Try Butterbeans ; fry off onions , garlic, cumin, and a sprig of curry leaves in a couple of tablespoons of oil, add turmeric and salt, add chilli powder, turmeric, coriander and cumin powder, ½ tsp garam masala and half a can of coconut milk.  Then grate in 10g of ginger.  Mop it up with some bread…its heart-warming.

Sweet corn curry is a popular favourite.  Using the same spices as the butterbean curry, but this time, minus the coconut milk and add a couple of dark red chopped tomatoes and a handful of ground nuts to the mix.  It’s very Moorish.  You can create more or less gravy simply by adding water.  I like it quite dry with some yogurt.

Chickpea curry is a classic.  I like to add a few twists to it, like spinach wilted in at just before I take it off the heat, or maybe some shallow fried tofu, or soya mince.  I like to add a couple of teaspoons of dried fenugreek leave to chickpea curries; some people recognise this as a general curry aroma.  If you want to avoid any of the spice-adding decisions, you can buy channa masala spices in a box from Indian grocers.

Fresh quickie Curries

Yes, fresh Indian ingredients can be hard to source, but that doesn’t mean to say we can’t use widely available vegetables to make a curry.  Here is a great one for detox; spinach, dill and fenugreek curry.  It’s so aromatic and easy on the tummy.  It contains Iron and fibre. All you do is chop then up, fry off a large onion and couple of spring onions in cumin, mustard seeds and a little garlic and then and all of your ingredients with a couple of chopped tomatoes.   Spice with coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder and turmeric.  Cook in on a low flame for about 15mins and then sprinkle ½ tsp of garam masala at the end.

Here is another cheat, inspired by a traditional Gujarati recipe.  Potato curry in thick, rich gravy.  Take a mixing bowl; add one can of chopped tomatoes, 70g of coarsely ground unsalted peanuts,  ½ cup of gram flour, then add ¼ tsp turmeric, salt and chilli powder to taste, 1 tsp each of coriander powder and cumin powder and ½ tsp of garam masala and 1 ½ tsp of dried fenugreek leaves.  The next bit is magic, all you do, is fry off an onion in some cumin and a sprig of curry leaves and then add a couple of cloves of garlic.  Then add about 700g of baby new potatoes and coat them in the oil.  Then add the mixture of tomatoes, gram, peanuts and spices.  Add water to cover, and cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily.

There are other simple ideas that can be made from readily available vegetables, such as cauliflower curry (don’t add any water), aubergine, cabbage (again, no water), or a simple avial which is made with julienned vegetables with desiccated coconut and curry leaves.  Although many recipes call for traditional vegetables like tindori, you can make this with carrots, courgettes, baby corn.

I love the versatility of aubergines.  I have three varieties in my fridge at the moment and I got them all from my local supermarket (not an Indian one!).  With the largest aubergine, I’m going to roast it, scoop out the flesh and mash it a little with a fork. I’m then going to fry off onions, garlic, green chillies and a then soften a couple of fresh tomatoes and add in just salt and turmeric and a squeeze of lemon.  With the Japanese style aubergines, I’m just going to make two slits opposite directions upwards from the base and then use the thick potato recipe with the aubergines, just with a nice helping of coriander.  With the baby aubergines, I am going to half and then roast them and then submerge them in spicy tomato gravy.

Using Pasta

Pasta is also really versatile and you can stock up on it. I’ve heard many people say that they could eat pasta every day of the week…but for that, you’d need lots of inspiration…including some Indian inspiration I reckon.

One of our family favourites is what I call ‘samosa filling pasta’.   A couple of medium potatoes chopped, ½  cup of peas, a small carrot, maybe ½ cup of sweet corn kernels and a very large onion make the basis of the mix, spiced in chilli powder, turmeric, curry leaves and cumin seeds and a squeeze of lemon.  Simply add in your pasta and there you have a meal for at least 2-3.  Sometimes, I add cheese on top, and funnily enough, it works.

You could try shallow frying some vegetables like ½ head of a small cauliflower, some sweet potato and a cup of peas and then adding a gram flour and yogurt mix (400g of yogurt and 2 tbsp of gram flour). Just add some curry powder and that’s how easy it is.

Indian Sandwich Ideas

One of my favourite sandwich recipes requires investing in some chat masala. It’s not hot, but it’s punchy and brings life to salads and sandwiches.  I really recommend a 3 layer sandwich.  Peel a potato and then slice it thickly.  Boil until cooked, drain and cool.  Then use ingredients like a little chilli sauce, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes.  If you have some coriander, grind together a couple of handfuls with a couple of chillies, a little lemon and salt and a tbsp of water.  Spread this on the bread…it’s amazing.  This sandwich throws my mind to the streets of Mumbai…anyway…Layer the vegetables on toasted bread, sprinkling chat masala gently.

I’d love to know how you get on with these user-friendly recipes.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Warmest wishes

Deena Kakaya

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