Category Archives: brunch

Winter Warmers 4: Srilankan style “Puttu & Kuzhambu”

In this 4th post for the Winter Warmers Series, I wanted to share with you two recipes close to my heart. It’s actually the food that I crave when I return home after a long holiday or time away from home. You can’t beat the comfort that comes with this meal and the flavour and texture combination of these together are just divine!

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So the first is for ‘Puttu’ or ‘Pittu’. This is a healthy but really delicious main dish made with steamed rice flour and is found very commonly in Sri Lanka and Kerala. It’s usually the centre of the meal around which sits various other accompanying dishes and the Puttu soaks up all the flavours from each and is filling too!

The second recipe is for ‘Kuzhambu’ or ‘Kulambu’. This is accompanying dish to the Puttu and is made with a tamarind gravy into which sits sauteed vegetables. My favourite type of Kuzhambu to go with Puttu is ‘Kathrikkai’ (Aubergine) Kuzhambu as the aubergine just melts in the mouth and this vegetable absorbs the tamarind and spices so well to give this amazing aroma….yummm!

So I hope you enjoy these recipes and do let me know if you try them out yourselves or eat them at a Sri Lankan restaurant near you ūüôā

Suji x

Puttu

(serves about 2 – 4 people)

What you need:

  • 2 cups steamed red rice flour
  • 1 cup shredded/grated coconut (0r dessicated coconut soaked in 1/2 cup water)
  • Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
  • Hot water – keep about 4 cups aside but you may need more or less depending on the consistency

How to make it:

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and make into a loose dough (but you don’t have to knead it like bread). Then, flour your hands and then roll the dough between your fingers so the dough looks like large¬†breadcrumbs.

I quite like this You Tube video showing a Puttu technique using your hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8JZC1vQikA

OR

1. Put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse, adding the water a little at a time to get the same consistency.

If either method makes the dough too wet then you can just mix in a little rice flour.

2. Mix in the coconut and then place in a steamer. I usually cover the bottom of my steamer with a thin & damp cloth/muslin. The cloth must be big enough to then wrap¬†up the Puttu mixture. You don’t need to tie the ends of the cloth, just place it over the mixture.

3. Steam until the Puttu is cooked fully, approximately 10 Р15 minutes (the aroma will be so nice and you will start to smell the fragrance of the coconut too!), and serve with a delicious curry like Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (see recipe below) or Soya Chunks & Beans curry.

If you have roasted moong dal flour, then you can add about a tablespoon of this with the red rice flour to give an even more aromatic Puttu ¬†ūüôā

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Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (Aubergine in a Tamarind Gravy)

Aubergine is called “Kathrikkai” in Tamil and is a great vegetable to use in this kind of tamarind gravy or “Kuzhambu” as we call it. It¬†is a comforting¬†dish served with hot steamed Pittu or Rice. Chickpeas are not traditionally added but I think they compliment the Aubergine and provides a good portion of protein. The Aubergine is also traditionally deep fried, which obviously tastes yummy, but not healthy. So roasting the aubergine is a great way of still keeping the flavour and texture without a great amount of oil. The only thing with roasting is that you need a little more time, but it will be worth it in the end, I promise you!

This dish tastes great the day after cooking it, as it gives the aubergine time to soak in all the flavours. This is one¬†time¬†when I think Srilankan curry powder is a must and I, personally, think it really doesn’t taste the same with other masala’s.

What you need:

For roasting:

  • 3 medium aubergines¬†(about 500-600g)¬†

  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder

  • 1-2 teaspoons salt¬†

  • Oil – enough to coat all the aubergine

For the curry:

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil¬†

  • 1 large¬†onion , diced¬†

  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or chopped

  • 2 sprigs curry leaves¬†

  • 2-3 green¬†chilies, slit lengthways¬†

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (alternatively, the juice of a lemon sized tamarind soaked in water)¬†

  • 2 teaspoon¬†Srilankan curry powder

  • 2 teaspoon chilli powder¬†(or more if you like it quite spicy)

  • 200ml thick coconut milk¬†

  • 250 ml water¬†

  • Salt to taste (approx 1 – 2 teaspoons)

How to make it:

1. Cut the Aubergine into strips of about 1 inch in width and about 3 inches in length. Be careful not to cut the¬†aubergine smaller than this as they may burn. At this point you can place the aubergine in a microwaveable dish and heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes. This is so they won’t absorb too much oil in the oven.

2. ¬†Add the salt and enough oil so all the aubergine is coated well. Place in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, turning them over half way through and adding a little more oil if they look too dry. You may need to adjust the timing of this according to your oven and you need to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn too much.

3. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoon of oil. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters add the green chillies, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Add the sliced garlic¬†and saut√© for about a¬†minute. Then add the diced onions and¬†cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and cooked through. They may turn brown¬†at the sides but that’s ok – it adds to the taste!

4. Add the salt, curry powder, red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the tamarind paste and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and¬†water. Cover and cook until it thickens. Add the pinch of asafoetida and the roasted aubergine, chickpeas¬†and combine gently. At this stage, if you are not vegan, then a splash of double cream makes a really yummy, rich taste. ūüôā

5.  Cook for another 5 minutes and serve with hot Pittu or rice.

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Winter Warmers 3: Shepherd’s Veggie Pie¬†

This is my own take on a traditional British comfort food. It’s a great “1 pot dish” which we love having in our household at any time, but especially during those cold Autumnal and Winter nights. I have replaced the traditional meat with soya mince but you can also red or green lentils too.

I love how some of the mixture oozes out of the dish at the sides during baking, creating a real homemade look to the dish and it’s great to see those smiles when it’s brought to the table ūüôā Foe me, this is a classic recipe that evokes comfort, warmth and feels just like you have been given a huge hug ūüôā  I also think if you are NOT a vegetarian, and you have vegans or vegetarians coming over during Christmas, then I bet you they will love you for making this!

A great dish that can be made vegan and gluten free!

For the other recipes in this Winter Warmers Recipe Series: Borscht (soup), Apple Spice Muffins.

Winter Warmers Recipe 3: Spicy Shepherd’s Pie

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What you need: 

  • 300g (about 2 cups) of soya/veggie mince (you need rehydrate if using dried soya mince)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed to a paste
  • 1 tablespoon of Garam masala (vary according to your taste)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh herbs (I use whatever I have in stock!)
  • 200g or 1 cup of frozen mixed veg
  • 1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato pur√©e
  • 2 tsp soya sauce (you can substitute a gluten free soy sauce or omit)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 500g/1lb 2oz floury potatoes, such as King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled, cut into piece
  • a large knob of butter/margarine
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of milk (depending on the consistency)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C & boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic and the carrot and fry gently until softened.
  3. Add the mince, veg, tomatoes, tomato puree, soy sauce and seasoning. Simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes and then add the cornflour made into a paste with the tablespoon of cold water and continue to simmer gently, stirring all the time, until thickened. Add the herbs and then transfer the mixture into an ovenproof dish.
  4. Mash the potatoes with the milk until smooth, season to taste with the salt, pepper and a pinch of more Garam Masala and mix well. Place the topping over the veggie mince filling and fluff up with a fork. Or you can push through a sieve, put into a piping bag with a nozzle and pipe the mash straight onto the filling (piping the potatoes on looks really impressive when you have guests!) ūüôā
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is crisp.  Leave to rest in the dish for about 5 mins before serving.Serve with some gravy (you can get the veggie kind in most supermarkets) and fresh salad.

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For the other recipes in this Winter Warmers Recipe Series: Borscht (soup), Apple Spice Muffins.

 

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Winter Warmers 2: Apple Spice Muffins

For this second recipe in this series, I wanted to post something sweet that reminds me of the Autumn and Winter seasons. Apple Spice Muffins bring together the fallen apples in Autumn along with warming Christmas spices and your house will smell heavenly when you bake these! I really hope you give these a go so you get what I mean ūüôā

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This was one of my first muffins I made and it was adapted from a recipe by Susan Reimer. But unlike the original recipe I wanted to find out a way to make these without eggs without losing out on the moisture. These muffins are great for so many different occasions: breakfast, brunch, picnic, tea time snack etc. I have also measured the wet and dry ingredients in advance, so when I want to make them I just need to mix the wet and dry ingredients together and it becomes even simpler and hassle free!

NOTES:

If you don’t have the individual spice powders below you can just use 1.5 teaspoons of Mixed Spice.

I prefer to use Granny Smith apples in this recipe but you can use any really.

My favourite nuts to use in this recipe are Pecan nuts, but walnuts or hazelnuts are also fine.

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Apple Spice Muffins

Makes 12 standard size muffins or 8 large muffins

What you need:

  • Self raising Flour – 225g
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1tsp
  • Ground ginger – 1/2 tsp
  • Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
  • white granulated sugar –¬†100g
  • Apple – 170g (approx) – peeled and chopped finely
  • Raisins/sultana’s –¬†30g
  • Chopped nuts –¬†30g
  • Milk – 150ml (I used Almond milk to keep this recipe vegan but you can use any milk)¬†You may need to add more to get a thick dropping consistency. I end up using¬†between 150ml – 180ml.
  • Vegetable oil – 100ml

For the topping:

  • 60g chopped nuts
  • 3 tablespoons (apporx) of brown (demerera) sugar

How to make it:

  1. Prepare your muffin tin by greasing them or lining them with cases. Pre-heat your oven to 190 deg C (375 F).
  2. Keep the apple, raisins and nuts aside.
  3. Put in all your other dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, spices) together in a bowl and mix well.
  4. Then measure out your milk and oil and then add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and work swiftly to combine them well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the apple, raisins and chopped nuts and mix well so that are evenly distributed in the mixture. The batter should have a thick dropping consistency.
  6. Spoon the mixture into your tin and sprinkle with the sugar & nut topping. Bake for about 20 – 25mins until the the tops of the muffins are browned and spring back when pressed lightly.
  7. Cool on a rack. I like to eat these warm from the oven but if you are not eating these straight away then you can just put them into the microwave for 10 seconds.

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Winter Warmers Recipe Series

For the weeks coming up to the New Year, I hope to share with you some great recipes from around the world to help warm you up during these colder seasons. They are just simple but highly comforting things we all love to eat to help get through those chilly days and evenings.

Please do let me know if you try out any of these and if you have any similar ones you make for yourself or for your friends and families ūüôā

The first Winter Warmer recipe in this series is one which is a regular in our household and not just kept for the colder season- Borscht. ¬†This recipe was actually one that my mother came across on an aeroplane magazine,¬†and she came home and was excited to try it out in our kitchen. It’s a great way to use Beetroot and other common things you may have in your friedge. After our own trials of the original recipe for Borscht, then talking to our polish friends about their family recipe, we came up with this one¬†that we all liked. I hope you try out our version of this Polish soup and that it gives you the comfort you seek ūüôā

You can make this as a starter with some warm bread rolls or as a main meal if you just want something light but fulfilling.

Winter Warmer Recipe 1: Borscht (soup)

Borscht

This soup is traditionally served on Polish Christmas Eve, but is perfect on any cold day as a great comfort food with your favourite bread.

Serves 4

What you need:

1 Onion chopped
450g beetroot, peeled & sliced (or can use ready cooked beetroot)
2 celery sticks
1/2 red pepper, chopped
115g mushrooms, chopped
1 apple, chopped (I’ve tried all kinds of apple and find granny smith is the best)
23g Butter
2 tbsp Olive oil
1L vegetable stock
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & black pepper to taste

Garnish: a few sprigs dill, sour cream

The sprig of dill I feel is quite important in this soup and gives it a distinct flavour.

How to make it:

  1. Heat oil & butter in a saucepan and add all the chopped veg and apple. Add 45ml of stock and cook until soft
  2. Stir in cumin seeds and cook for a further 1 minute and then add the remaining stock, bay leaf, salt & pepper.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30mins
  4. Using a handblender/food processor, take out about 3/4 of the veg with a slotted spoon and whizz until pureed.
  5. Return the pureed veg back to the pan, check for seasoning and then add the lemon juice.
  6. Serve with a garnish of dill sprigs and a swirl of sour cream.

This is perfect with a chunk of your favourite bread or some freshly boiled/steamed potatoes.

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Borscht & Challah

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Brussels the South Indian way :-)

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The Yuletide festivities are upon us and there are so many delicious seasonal Winter produce in the markets and Supermarkets out there. A typical seasonal veg here that our family loves is Brussels Sprouts. But I wanted to share with you a way to use them instead of the usual steaming or roasting, which is definitely a great way to get the full flavour of Brussel Sprouts, but you can also bring them alive with some gentle spices ūüôā

This is my favourite way of using Brussel Sprouts and using South Indian spices to make a light stir fry, or Poriyal as called in Tamil Nadu. It’s visually pleasing when you pair the Brussels with bright yellow Sweetcorn and garnished with coconut. I love the way this curry is not too fiery¬†as it uses gentle spices and so if you don’t like hot curries all the time, then this is perfect for you! You can leave out the dried red chillies completely if you are serving it to children.

A non-stick or ceramic pan is best for making this ‘Poriyal’ so the Brussels don’t stick to the bottom and burn.

If you are in a rush you can steam the chopped Brussel Sprouts in the microwave with a tablespoon of water. This will reduce the time needed for them to cook in the pan.

What you need:

  • Brussels Sprouts – 4 cups, finely chopped
  • Sweetcorn – 1 cup (defrosted if frozen)
  • Coconut – 1/2 cup – freshly grated or the unsweetened desiccated coconut¬†is fine
  • Ginger – 3 inch piece – finely grated
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Oil (flavourless) – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – 1 tsp or to taste

To Temper:

  • Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds -1 tsp
  • Split Urad dal – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Whole dried chillies – x2
  • Asafoetida – a pinch

How to make it:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the black mustard seeds. As soon as they start popping add the other ingredients under the ‘To Temper’ list above.
  2. Add the chopped Brussels Sprouts, sweetcorn and stir fry for 5 – 10 minutes until the Brussels are cooked (you will need less time if the Brussels Sprouts have already been steamed in advance)
  3. Finally add the salt, coconut and lemon juice and mix well. Check seasoning and serve ūüôā

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Baked (Punjabi Style) Samosa’s

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On damp and dreary days, you can’t beat the comfort of some delicious Samosa’s and Chai! Here’s my way of getting that yummy taste of spiced potatoes and peas encrusted in a delicious buttery, crumbly pastry – without deep frying.

These Punjabi-style samosa’s are made with a hot crust pastry recipe which is so lovely and crumbly and is perfect to eat at home fresh from the oven or as a takeaway snack on a day out! You can reduce the spices to make it more child friendly and as they are baked they will be healthier than the usual deep fried samosa’s. I have no issues with treating yourself once in a while with deep fried stuff, but at least this recipe gives one the option of perhaps indulging in this delicious snack more often without worrying about cholesterol ūüôā

I hope you give these a try and do let me know if you try any different fillings. These would be great with alternative fillings like paneer, chickpeas or cauliflower. Enjoy!

S x

Baked Samosa’s

(Makes about 20)

What you need:

For the hot crust pastry:

  • Plain flour – 225g
  • Strong white bread flour – 50g
  • Butter – cold and chopped into small cubes – 40g
  • Ajwain/Carom seeds – 1.5 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Hot water – 120ml
  • Vegetarian Lard (I used the Cookeen brand but you can use any others e.g.¬†Trex) – 50g

For the filling:

  • Butter-¬†3 tsp
  • Cumin seeds / jeera-¬†1 tsp
  • Potatoes – approx 700g
  • Green peas – ¬†100g
  • Red chili powder-¬Ĺ tsp
  • Ginger, 2¬†inch, chopped or grated finely
  • Dried mango powder / amchur -¬Ĺ tsp
  • Garam masala-¬†¬Ĺ tsp
  • Roasted and crushed coriander seeds –¬†1 tsp
  • Salt, to taste

How to make it:

1.Peel the potatoes, cut them into small cubes and cook in a saucepan of¬†boiling water. Take care not to overcook them as otherwise they will be too mushy when filling the Samosa’s. They need to be a little firm or ‘al dente’ in texture’ after cooking.

2. In a large frying pan heat some oil then add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start to splutter add chopped ginger and saute for few seconds.

3. Lightly mash the potatoes with your hand and add to the pan and then add all the other spices. Mix well so the spices and potatoes are combined.

4. Add the peas and cook the filling mixture for a further 2 Р3 minutes and then keep the mixture aside.

5.Make the pastry by combining both flours and salt into a large bowl. Then add the cubed butter and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour so the whole mixture eventually looks like breadcrumbs.

6. In a small saucepan add the water, salt and the lard and gently heat until the lard is dissolved. Then pour all the liquid into the flour&butter mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine the wet and dry ingredients into a dough.

7. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently using your hands for about 3 minutes. It does not have to be well kneaded like if you were making bread, it’s just so that it’s all well combined.

8. Roll out a portion of the dough in oval shape. Now cut it horizontally using a knife, diving into 2 equal portions. Lightly dampen the edges of the rolled out dough with water and make cone.

9. Stuff a tbsp of prepared potato & peas filling into the cone. Pull back and fold the cone and seal tightly by pressing the edges firmly together (you can crimp it if you like)

10. Once you have repeated this to finish all the dough and filling, place in the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes or until the samosa’s are browned. ¬†Keep an eye on them as not all ovens are the same and you may have to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Serve these with a refreshing coriander chutney, or a tangy tamarind chutney – or both. And don’t forget your coffee of chai with this! YUMMMM!

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National Curry Week with @Tilda Aromatic Spices Rice

To celebrate a wonderful week of curry filled meals, here’s a great way to conjure up a flavour packed lunch or dinner which will look like you have spent hours on it! The trick is using the¬†@Tilda Basmati Rice with Aromatic spices¬†which is seasoned with panch phoran spices, coriander and it will save you oodles of time. ūüôā You can make this vegan meal in advance, so all you have to do is heat everything before you serve ūüôā

So here’s how you can make it!

Stuffed Peppers with @Tilda Aromatic Spices Rice and Thai Mushroom Sauce.

Serves 2 – 3 people

What you need:

  • x3 medium sized Bell peppers / Capsicum – cut in half (3 different colour peppers will make your presentation so colourful!)
  • @Tilda Aromatic Spices Rice¬†– 1 packet
  • Chesnut mushroom – 1 cup finely chopped
  • Dried mushrooms – rehydrated with hot water and chopped finely – 1/2 cup
  • Coconut Milk – 2 cups (or maybe slightly more depending on how you like your sauce)
  • Ginger – 3 inch piece
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Green Chilli – 1 – finely chopped
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons (any flavourless oil is fine)
  • @HolyLama Spicedrops Lemongrass¬†– 1 drop (optional)

To Garnish: Finely chopped coriander leaves & spring onions (scallions)

How you make it:

1.Set your oven to 200 deg C and put the pepper halves (open side down) on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake these for about 20 mins or until softened.

2.While the Peppers are in the oven you can make the Thai Mushroom sauce. Grind the ginger, Garlic and chilli into a paste. In a saucepan heat some oil and then add both types of mushrooms and then the Ginger, Garlic, Chilli paste. Mix well and add some salt to taste.

Do make sure you cut the mushrooms as finely as you can as otherwise you will end up with big lumps in your sauce.

3.After the mushrooms have cooked down, add the coconut milk and simmer for about 5 mins. Check for seasoning and then take the pan off the flame. Add the Lemongrass @HolyLama spice drop (if using) and then mix well. Garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.

The @HolyLama spice drops definitely add the authentic Thai flavour needed for the sauce so do try and get a hold of it. They last for ages!

4.Make your @Tilda Aromatic Spices Rice according to the instructions on the packet and then stuff the softened Peppers so that they are filled in well and then garnish with spring onions.

You can serve with the Thai Mushroom sauce on the side or drizzled over the stuffed Peppers.

 

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Summertime eats

Here’s a what I have been up to lately with my #CookEatInspire post. Thanks for reading all!

Suji x


COOK

During the summertime I tend to cook food that involves less time by the hob and more easy, light and refreshing dishes that suit the milder weather.  Although vegetable pulao is mostly cooked on the hob, I have used a good selection of veg here that can be pre-cooked in the microwave/steamer before adding to the pan, to make cooking time even quicker.  You can also use a Pressure Cooker, and I have mentioned the cooking times for that method below.

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The first veg pulao was named ‘Rainbow Rice’ by niece and I have decided to name it this in honour of her and let’s face it, it sounds much more fun! The ‘Rainbow Rice’ recipe was one made for my niece and nephew so has little spice, but the other ‘Bulgar Pulao’ was made for adults and you will find a more typical Pulao recipe but replacing the traditional rice with Bulgar. ¬†The cracked Bulgar wheat I find gives the dish different nutrients and more diabetic-friendly and I have tried this with other millets and quinoa too, which all give different textures.

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Rainbow Rice (veg pulao for children)

Serves 2

  • Basmati Rice – 1 cup
  • Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (I used a¬†of beans, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and sweetcorn) – you need to use veg with different bright colours¬†ūüôā
  • Onion- 1 medium sized, chopped finely (I sometimes use¬†spring onions instead, for a milder flavour)
  • Chickpeas – a handful from a can (or you can use ones that you have cooked from dried)
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Cardamom – 1
  • Clove – 2
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cumin (Jeera) – 1 teaspoon
  • OIl- 1 tablespoon
  • Butter – ¬†1 tablespoon (or veg oil if you want to keep it vegan)
  • Salt – as needed
  1. Soak the Basmati rice for at least an hour to ensure you get the correct texture. Peel and grind ginger, garlic, cinnamon with little water to fine paste. At this point, if you prefer to steam your mixed veg, you can do so now in the microwave or steamer.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil and then add the Cumin seeds, Cardamom, Clove and bay leaf. Then add the chopped¬†onions and sautee until¬†transparent. Add the ground ginger cinnamon garlic past, mix well and don’t let it burn.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook everything together on medium flame for about 5  mins. Then drain the rice and add to the pan and mix until well combined.
  4. Add salt, water and bring to a boil. Cook for about¬†12 ‚Äď 14 mins until the rice and veg are cooked through.¬†If using a pressure cooker you can cook for 2 whistles instead.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the pulao carefully and then finally add the butter (if using).  You could garnish with purple cabbage (cooked and chopped) for a further flurry of colour!

Enjoy seeing the faces on the children when you announce this as “Rainbow Rice”! ūüôā ¬†Ok, so maybe the older children¬†won’t be that excited… haa haa! ¬†It will perfect to take away¬†for picnics or other day outs and you won’t have to worry that your little ones haven’t had a good meal.

Try adding some cococnut milk when cooking the rice to give extra flavour and richness to the Pulao ūüôā

rainbow rice

Bulgar Wheat Pulao

I don’t use the pressure cooker for bulgar wheat as it can easily be overcooked so I find it easier to keep an eye on it

Serves 2

  • Bulgar wheat¬†– 1 cup (I used the coarsely cracked bulgar wheat¬†)
  • Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (I usecoarse cracked bulgar wheatd a mixture of beans, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, carrots and sweetcorn
  • Onion- 1 medium sized, chopped finely
  • Chickpeas – a handful from a can (or you can use ones that you have cooked from dried)- I also add roasted tofu/seitan¬†instead of chickpeas
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Cardamom – 1
  • Clove – 2
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cumin (Jeera) – 1 teaspoon
  • OIl- 1 tablespoon
  • Butter – ¬†1 tablespoon (or veg oil if you want to keep it vegan)
  • Salt – as needed
  1. Peel and grind ginger, garlic, green chillies, cinnamon with little water to fine paste. At this point, if you prefer to steam your mixed veg, you can do so now in the microwave or steamer.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil and then add the Cumin seeds, Cardamom, Clove and bay leaf. Then add the chopped¬†onions and sautee until¬†transparent. Add the ground ginger cinnamon garlic past, mix well and don’t let it burn.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook everything together on medium flame for about 5  mins. Then add the Bulgar wheat and mix until well combined.
  4. Add salt, water and bring to a boil. Cook for about¬†12 ‚Äď 14 mins until the Bulgar and veg are cooked through.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the pulao carefully and then finally add the butter (if using) and you can also garnish with chopped coriander leaves and spring onions.

Bulgar Pulao


EAT

Want to try authentic Sri Lankan home cooked food? Then you NEED to follow Virundhu Supperclub! I was fortunate to finally make it to their third supperclub and I sure am glad I didn’t miss it this time! It was held in the very trendy,¬†easily commutable, Docklands area and the venue had a gorgeous view of the Thames.

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The Supperclub is curated by the effervescent Ashanti Omkar who has done such an amazing job at coordinating the event and is a well known in the London Foodie circles¬†! The very talented Suhanya is the Chef who hails from such an interesting family of Keralan and Srilankan heritage and her passion for food definitely showed in the dishes she cooked for us! Her husband also helps behind the scenes and Suhanya’s¬†sister, Veena, was the Host and Mixologist for the evening and is also a passionate foodie herself.

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There were about 10 guests in total and all were fabulous company, including the wonderful Chef Kanthi and his business partner from The Curry Leaf Cafe in Brighton (one of the next stops on my Food Bucket List!).  It was a hot day and the Cocktails (and the mocktail version) served by Veena were such a welcome refreshment! The passionfruit really stood out and frankly, I could have drunk a bucketful. Sluuuuurp!

To start off the Supperclub we were served some very moorish ‘Gundu Dosa’s’ which are just like the South Indian ‘Kuzhi Paniyaaram’. It was impressive to eat these with homemade tomato ketchup and¬†Sambal (a typical Srilankan coconut chutney). ¬†There were also some yummy cutlets which reminded me of one of my Aunties from Sri Lanka who often bought these to picnics when we were younger. You will definitely find cutlets of some sort in a Sri Lankan Picnic Basket!

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Gundu Thosai !!!!!

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I am not sure where to start with the main meal, as it was a typical Sri Lankan feast with so many curries to accompany the rice, as opposed to the rice being the star of the show. ¬†Sri Lanka has amazing produce and Chef Suhanya had gone to great lengths to ensure the Virundhu Supperclub menu had fresh, good quality ingredients in all the dishes. Being a vegetarian, I cannot comment on the meat dishes that were served but the other guests definitely ‘ooed’ and ‘aaahed’ at all the non veg items and especially the fresh fish that Suhanya had sourced. ¬†The highlights of our vegetarian feast were the Batu Moju (fried Aubergine) , the¬†Mallung (Sri Lankan Kale, which is also known a ‘Ponnaangkaani Keerai’ ¬†in Tamil) and not forgetting the Del (Breadfruit) curry which in Tamil is ‘Eerapilaakkai’ and which I haven’t tasted in years! It’s not easy to¬†buy really fresh Breadfruit in the Sri Lankan shops near me, so it was such a treat to taste this vegetable and Suhanya has prepared in such a delicate way so as not to overcook it and lose the amazing texture it has. ¬†You can tell when the food is so delicious, when all of the guests become silent all of a sudden and you can just sense the pleasure that this food gives ūüôā

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I’m drooling as type this and revisit the photos, as I just want to have this meal all over again! There were SO many items on the menu and my photos and descriptions do not do them justice. Some tastes you just have to find out for yourself.¬†You can tell the food is¬†made from the heart and for me it was such a warm experience and I felt transported to one of our family homes in Sri Lanka. ¬†The beautiful music collection chosen by Ashanti added to the lovely ambiance and my husband and I couldn’t help singing along to some of the classic Illayaraja tracks during the evening ūüôā¬† If you do get a chance to taste the food at Virundhu Supperclub , then I can tell you that you won’t be disappointed. It will be a ‘Virundhu’ (feast)¬†for ALL your senses!

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Gundu Thosai !!!!!


INSPIRE

I am very excited to write about a very very talented person who is a continual inspiration to me both as a great food photographer and as a beautiful human being. She is the lovely Nessy Samuel.

 

 

For over a year her photography has dazzled me and continues to do so. As a food photographer and stylist Nessy has a great eye for beauty and can capture a view that you or I could have also seen, but not really focused on and so missed it’s highlight. ¬†She definitely doesn’t miss the highlights and as a wonderful¬†cook herself, she uses her own dishes as well as simple ingredients or lovely props¬†in¬†her shots. ¬†Her website holds pictures of Still Life, Floral as well as Food.¬†Simplicity in it’s most elegant form, is what I like to think of her style but in order to really see Nessy’s awesome work¬†check out her stunning portfolio: ¬†www.¬†nessysamuelphotography.com/index.html

Nessy’s use of light, angles and composition of the photo’s are really awe-inspiring and it really brings out the best in what she is trying to capture. This photo below of Romanesco cauliflower is just stunning and you can get a great feel for the textures and colours with the background she’s chosen.

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Her talent does not stop here! She also has a great eye for¬†the sights she experiences on her travels and her passion for natural beauty is what I admire most. ¬†Nessy’s frames often look like¬†famous¬†paintings and I often feel like I am right there in the shot as well. ¬†Nessy’s travel photography can be viewed here:¬†https://www.instagram.com/wanderingoyster/ ¬†You will¬†see what I mean¬†and I hope she inspires you as much as she does me¬†ūüôā

 

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This is a snapshot of Nessy’s inspiring Travel Instagram profile: ¬†Wandering Oyster

 

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Filed under brunch, Desi, Dinner, Food, Lunch, supperclub, Travel, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

Artisan Bread baking at Ann’s Smart School of Cookery

I am very lucky indeed to have foodie friends and even luckier to be gifted a cooking class for my birthday this year! The lovely Dharani and I went on a baking class at Ann’s Smart school of Cookery¬†and this class was held at their branch in St Katherine’s Docks in London. It was a dreary day in London so it was nice to walk into a cookery class which starts with the enticing smell of yeast! It’s a small venue but just enough to fit in the 20 people who signed up and a great¬†long industrial kitchen tables for us to sit around.

The class started off with an introduction with our Tutor, Stuart, who was very charming and explained the plan for the day. It was interesting to learn a different type of making a standard dough which involves adding the flour to the liquid and not the other way around. It was a revelation for me and I am looking forward to trying it out for myself at home! We started off with the Brioche and the dough was given to a pair of participants who very ably used this ‘introverted technique’ of bread kneading and the ingredients put into this enriched dough had such an amazing aroma! YUM! Surprisingly the same basic dough was used to make all of the breads, with adjustments only made for any added ingredients e.g. herbs, spices and olives for the Foccacia.

Some of the different breads made by various participants on the class.

Some of the different breads made by various participants on the class.

Myself and Dharani had the awkward task of making 30 identical crostini’s. It was arduous work and mine were so untidy compared to the lovely ones Dharani made! However it was worth it in the end and they were so yummy with the different dips we had to sample them with.

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Crostini’s in progress!

Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove :-) (I need to get me some!)

Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove ūüôā (I need to get me some!)

Dharani's perfectly shaped Crostini's <3

Dharani’s perfectly shaped Crostini’s ‚̧

The other participants on the class that day had other types of bread to make; pizza, cob, foccacia and seeded rolls. ¬†It was amazing to see such soft bakes turn out so well with very little time for proving. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a bread making class for only 2.5 hours!

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Foccacia

Check out the air bubbles in this soft and pillowy Foccacia!

Check out the air bubbles in this soft and pillowy Foccacia!

Tear n Share rolls. I want to try out those saffron rolls - beautiful colour!

Tear n Share rolls. I want to try out those saffron rolls – beautiful colour!

What the course details do not explain on the website is how much of the baking we will be doing ourselves and I think that it something that I would have liked to know beforehand. In my opinion this class is for beginners to baking or for those who would like to be inspired. If you bake often and are seeking specialty bakes, then perhaps this is not the class for you. However, the school has many different types of classes and you can book here. 

This pizza was DELISH!

This pizza was DELISH!

Thank you to Stuart and the school for our bread-tastic day! It has definitely inspired me to¬†experiment with different types of bread to provide much needed comfort¬†during this cold season. ¬†Dharani, I couldn’t have experienced this class without you, so a huge thanks and for taking some of these photos:-)

I have yet to experiment with the techniques that I learnt on the class, so watch this space for new bread recipes! But click HERE for my classic white loaf recipe that I use very often and can be adapted with different ingredients.

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Filed under bread, brunch, cooking class, Dinner, Food, vegetarian

The South Indian Tiffin

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“Tiffin-ikku yenna panrathu?” is what my grandmother usually says the second lunch is over at our house in India!. It is translated from tamil¬†as “What shall we make for Tiffin?”. Tiffin is a well known term in the foodie world as a light snack/meal from the Indian subcontinent. My family tell me it’s a¬†term¬†derived from the English slang tiffing,¬†which meant¬†“taking a sip”, but this term is no longer used in the English common language. However like verandah, pyjamas, rickshaw, curry and junk, tiffin is an India-derived noun that now has¬†a permanent place in the current¬†English language; and I feel we should be thankful that this Indo-Anglo¬†word gives rise to such delicious dishes!

In South India, Tiffin is often referred to as a snack in between meals or a light dinner. A¬†South¬†Indian Tiffin¬†includes¬†items like, Dosa, Idli, Kozhukattai etc.¬†In North India this term usually means a packed lunch for working men, women and school children and these lunchboxes are known as tiffin carrier or a¬†tiffin box. In Mumbai¬†and other big cities¬†you can’t miss the Tiffinwalla’s carrying many tiffin boxes to various offices and it’s quite amazing to see the technique of carrying so many of these containers all by just one person!

In¬†our household, dinner is nearly always light and so tiffin could many different things! One type of South Indian tiffin which is very healthy and fairly quick to prepare is the “Kara Pidi Kozhukattai”. Usually this is made from¬†rice flour or rava (semolina)¬†which is mixed with some tempered spices and then formed into handmade balls. The imprints of the cooks fingers when these balls are made¬†are a special mark of this healthy tiffin ūüôā The balls are then steamed until cooked through and served with either a chutney or a spicy &¬†tangy¬†gravy like “kuzhambu” or “Gotsu/Gojju”.

My version of this South Indian tiffin uses Oats¬† instead of rice flour, as well Wheatgerm/bran which are the most nutritious parts of the wheat grain and are not used as much as they could be, in my humble opinion. This tiffin could be made with other additional ingredients like peas, cabbage & carrots¬†is great served hot with a¬†spicy Gotsu/Gojju. ‘Gotsu’ is the term you will hear a lot in Tamil Nadu and ‘Gojju’ is used in Karnataka, but they both mean the same type of dish. They are made slightly differently in different households,¬†and my recipe was passed down to me from my grandmother and mother.

Here are my versions of Oats Pidi Kozhukattai and Gotsu and I hope you enjoy them!

What’s your favourite tiffin? Please let me know in the comment box below, thank you! ūüôā

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Filed under brunch, indian, Lunch, recipe, south indian, tiffin, vegetarian