Category Archives: indian

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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Filed under brunch, Desi, Dinner, Food, indian, Kerala, Lunch, mykitchenadventures, recipe, south India, south indian, Sri Lanka, Srilankan, sujiskitchen, TamBrahm, tamil, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

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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GBBO week 8 – Tudor inspired food

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Week 7 of The Great British Bake Off The Great British Bake Off has been an educational one for me as I was fascinated by the historical facts about how the Tudors ate and how different foods indicated status. I like marzipan, but I think the way that the Tudor’s made Marchpane was ‘OTT’ and it seemed like they really went all out to show off their wealth in those days. ¬†I wasn’t too inspired by the GBBO contestants bakes either to be honest and apart from Jane’s lovely cake and Candice’s awesome Peacock, the others seem to really struggle.

The savoury pies was the part that really interested me, being more of a savoury person myself. But although I wasn’t too sure about Benjamina’s mexican pie, I was really shocked she had to leave. I honestly thought she would make it to the final and she had lots more to give. ¬†But that’s Bake Off for you, and from previous statistics it looks like Jane has the odds to win at the moment.

So…. I went off to research some flavours I could use for a savoury pie and I thought of using seasonal ingredients and I thought of what would be lovely to eat on a cosy Autumnal evening. Pumpkin of course!¬†Paired with some flavour packed spices without too much heat, pumpkin seemed like the perfect choice for a wholesome pie. I decided to choose Garam Masala to spice up this pie as it offers heaps of flavour without an overpowering heat which would take over the other ingredients. ¬†As some of the contestants in GBBO used a hot crust pastry recipe with animal lard, I have tried a ¬†vegetarian version and it’s way easier than I had imagined it would be!

I know it seems like a lot of steps, but I would not lie and I assure it is simpler than it looks. But as always, I would love any constructive feedback so please do comment below. Thank you!

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Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Makes an 8 inch Pie

What you need

For the hot crust pastry:

  • Plain flour – 225g
  • Strong white bread flour – 50g
  • Butter – cold and chopped into small cubes – 40g
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Hot water – 120ml
  • Vegetarian Lard (I used the Cookeen brand but you can use any others e.g.¬†Trex) – 50g
  • An 8 inch round Springform Baking Tin

For the filling:

  • Pumpkin –¬†approx 200g¬†chopped into cubes
  • Chickpeas – 1 tin (400g)
  • White Onion – x1 large onion, chopped finely
  • Garlic – x1 clove, grated/chopped finely
  • Halloumi (leave out if you want to keep it vegan) – 100g,¬†finely diced
  • Spinach – a handful, chopped roughly
  • Salt, to taste (i put in about 1/2 tsp)
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric, 1/3 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • OPTIONAL – if you like things spicier¬†then you can add 1 tsp of red chilli powder with the Garam Masala (Step 1)

How to make it:

1.Heat oven to 200 deg C and lightly grease an 8 inch springform round tin.¬†Heat the oil in a pan and then add the cumin seeds and then the onions. When the onions have softened (don’t wait til the brown), add the garlic, pumpkin, chickpeas, garam masala and salt. Put a lid on the pan and keep on a low flame until the pumpkin is cooked, stirring occasionally. You can add a little water if the pumpkin starts sticking to the bottom of the pan and this did happen to me.

2. Mash the Pumpkin Chickpea mixture a little with the back of a wooden spoon, then add the cubed halloumi,spinach and mix well. The mashing just helps create a nice texture and helps bind things together in the pie. Check for seasoning and then turn off the heat and let the filling mixture cool while you make the pastry.

3.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.

4.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.

5.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.

6. Roll out the dough so it’s about 2cm in depth and then place gently into your greased tin. Trim the edges and then roll the remaining dough into a circle for the pie lid and keep aside.

7. Add the Pumpkin filling to the pastry case, and press the mixture in lightly so you fill the pastry case. Take care not to press down too much otherwise you may split the pastry case.

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8 Place the pastry lid and press the edges of the lid and case together and you can crimp it if you prefer. Use any remaining pastry dough to cut/make a design to decorate the top of the pie and make some slits on the lid to help the steam escape.

9. Brush over some milk on the top of the pie and then place in the oven for 1 hour or until the pastry is a medium brown colour.

10. Leave to cool for about 10 mins before taking it out of the tin and serving. It maybe really hot inside the pie, so I know you will be excited to eat it but take care not to burn your mouth!

This keeps well in the fridge so you can make it in advance and then just re-heat in the Oven when you want to eat the next day ūüôā

You can also use firm Paneer or Tofu instead of the Halloumi

 

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GBBO Week 4 – What a load of Batter!

Well this GBBO week really baffled me. It’s great to have new things featured on the programme, but I found all the challenges for Batter week rather boring! ¬†If you want to catch up on the latest episode then click HERE.¬†¬†Personally, I think you shouldn’t mess around too much with certain traditional recipes like Yorkshire Pudding and Churros, but¬†this is totally my opinion and maybe I haven’t tried enough different types to know for sure.

Pancake? ShPancake!¬†Here’s a¬†different kind of batter recipe I’d like to share – Chilla! This is an Indian recipe which is so much easier than Dosa batter as there is no fermenting and waiting around for 24hours (or more!). ¬†Most Chilla’s I’ve eaten use Chick pea batter (Besan) and sometimes this can feel a bit heavy afterwards. So I love this recipe as it uses a mixture of Daal’s which are also high in Protein but produces are lovely light batter.

You can eat these by themselves as it’s already lightly spiced, but I love eating it with a sweet and spicy combo like Jaggery and a spicy ‘Kara Kuzhambu’…yummm!! But it’s also delish with something like an onion, tomato or coconut chutney. I’d love to know what you end up eating yours with ūüôā

Enjoy!

Suji x

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The fenugreek seeds and Asafoetida both help with flatulence and are great for digesting high protein lentils, but these are optional and if you leave them out they won’t affect the overall taste.

If you can’t get the Whole Urad Dal you can use split urad dal which might be easier to obtain in certain locations.

What you need:

  • Masoor Daal (split red lentils) – 1 cup
  • Mung Dal (split yellow gram¬†lentils – not the green!) – 1 cup
  • Whole Urad Dal (black gram lentils without skin)- 1 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Coriander leaves – 1 cup – chopped finely
  • A small onion – chopped finely
  • Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – a spring – finely chopped (these can be difficult to find in certain countries so you can leave these out if you can’t get them)
  • Green chillies – 2 – chopped finely (optional)
  • Asafoetida – a pinch¬†(optional)¬†
  • Salt, to taste (I add about 1.5 tsp)

How to make it:

1. Soak all the Daal in 5 cups of water for at least 3 hours (it can be more but not any less)

2. ¬†Grind the Daal in a food processor/mixie until it becomes a smooth batter without big lumps of Daal in it. ¬†You can add some of the water if you need to make it into a smoother consistency but don’t add all of it straight away.

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3.  Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Check the seasoning at this point and add more salt or spice if needed.

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4.  Heat a cast iron skillet ,or a non-stick frying pan, with a teaspoon of a flavourless oil like vegetable oil.

5. ¬†Pour on the batter evenly onto the pan with a ladle and spread the batter into a circular disc, resembling a pancake (Chilla) . Do note that these don’t have to be as thin as a European style pancake and not as thick as the North American style ones.

6. After a few minutes you will see some of the Chilla turning brown and at this point you can loosen the sides with a spatula and then turn it over to cook on the other side.

You can definitely make it a more tasty Chilla if you add Ghee/Butter at step 6 or 7 (or Margarine if you want to keep it vegan)

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7.  After about 3 minutes or until the other side is cooked through you can take the Chilla off the pan and serve!  Usually the Chilla is served as a soft pancake but if you like it crispier you can leave it on the pan for longer.

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Serve with a chutney or side dish of your choice! ūüôā

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The Tilda¬ģ Basmati Supperclub by Mallika Basu

I was very honoured to have been invited to a Tilda¬ģ Basmati Supper Club earlier this year hosted by the¬†very talented chef¬†Mallika Basu. It was a wonderful evening at The Little Yellow Door venue in Notting Hill and it was great to meet some fabulous foodies to share the food made by the awesome Mallika Basu.

The wonderful decor at The Little Yellow Door

The wonderful decor at The Little Yellow Door

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I was very inspired by Mallika’s menu which included a¬†Chana Dal Khichri made with Brown Basmati. The brown rice gave it a lovely nutty flavour and I always enjoy the texture that Brown Basmati gives to a dish.

Delicious Khichri with Tilda Brown Basmati

Delicious Khichri with Tilda Brown Basmati

I enjoyed the Khichri with a fragrant and creamy paneer dish, a fabulous aubergine curry which used peanut butter (amazing!!) and a tangy, bright beetroot Raita. It was a feast for the eyes aswell as the tummy! ūüôā

The other vegetarian rice dishes which were all made using different varieties of Tilda¬ģ¬†Basmati Rice were South Indian Uthappams and Saffron Cardomum Kheer. Mallika was very clever in her use of¬†rice and lentils (Urad Dal) for a short soak instead of the long fermentation process that is usually adopted for traditional Uthappam recipes. ¬†The Kheer also made excellent use of Saffron and Cardomum to give this dish a traditional taste but in half the time if you use a pack of readymade¬†Tilda¬ģ Steamed Basmati Rice. ¬†Genius! The desserts were¬†a sweet end to the supper and hats off to Mallika for all her inspired dishes!

Sweet and decadent Phirni and Kheer...yummm!

Sweet and decadent Phirni and Kheer…yummm!

It was so nice to meet other foodie friends¬†Binny, Gayatri¬†,Chintal and Suchismita¬†and you can read a great account of the evening and how Mallika inspired all the guests with her recipes¬†at¬†Binny’s Kitchen and Mummy & Me.

The wonderful food made by Mallika really inspired me to try out some of the yummy bags of rice we were given to experiment with by¬†Tilda¬ģ Basmati and I wanted to try out a stir fry recipe using the new Tilda¬ģ Limited Edition
Firecracker Steamed Basmati Rice. I could’nt think of a better way than adding crunchy vegetables to a flavour packed pouch of this Firecracker rice and I hope you like it as much as I did!

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What you need:

  • 1 pack of Tilda¬ģ Limited Edition Firecracker Steamed Basmati Rice
  • 1tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g mushrooms, sliced
  • 50g Broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, the white section sliced finely and the green section sliced lengthways for garnish
  • Soy sauce, to season
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • OPTIONAL: dried red chilli flakes or ground Szechuan pepper

How you make it:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan or a wok and then add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for about 2 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so all the veg are cooked through.
  3. Add any optional spice (Chinese 5 spice, red chillies or Szechuan pepper) and then the pack of Tilda¬ģ Limited Edition Firecracker Steamed Basmati Rice and cook for four minutes.
  4. Drizzle with soy sauce and garnish with sliced spring onion.

Best enjoyed if you gobble it up immediately!

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The 9 day Festival and more

Hello All! I haven’t posted in a long while,but ¬†I can finally fill you in on some, let’s say, pious activities from my end. ¬†ūüôā My family and I have recently finished celebrating the 9 day religious festival of Navarathri. For those of you not familiar with this Hindu festival, it celebrates the Mother and the 3 Goddesses: Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The 9 days are split into equal days to celebrate each of the 3 Goddesses and the 10th Day is known as Vijayadasami or Dussera. ¬†Within the Tamil population from India and Sri Lanka, and especially in the’ TamBrahm’ communities, it is custom to have decorative steps in the house. These are adorned with small idols, flowers, lights, ornaments, dolls and sometimes toys which celebrate the different aspects of beings on earth and the Gods, but showing essentially that the Almighty resides in all. ¬†Well that’s what I believe is the interpretation, but I am sure there are other aspects and more knowledgeable people about this tradition will be able to give more detail on its significance. ¬†In the Tamil language the decorated steps are called a “Golu” and here is our one:

Golu

During this festival, like most, there are particular food that are linked to it. ¬†There is always a different food offering, which is called “Neivedhyam” in tamil, for each day of Navarathri. This offering is blessed during the pooja each day and then distributed to those who have attended the ceremony. There is a neivedhyam theme of “Sundal” which is a dry, savoury dish that is essentially some kind of pulse or bean with tempered spices and grated coconut. ¬†The spices can vary but it’s a very healthy dish if it has the¬†least amount of oil used and enables the natural flavours of the pulses and beans to come through. ¬†There are also sweets and “payasam” that can be offered during the religious ceremonies or just made as part of the celebration. ¬†Here’s my¬†“Sundal” recipe which can be modified with your favourite pulse or bean and many people enjoy eating this on other days, as well as Navarathri, for a healthy and satisfying snack.

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Although Navarathri is over for this year, it’s exciting to know that Diwali, or “Deepavali” as we call it in Tamil, is just a few days away now. ¬†This is of course a huge occasion among most Hindus and it’s a dream of mine to experience this vibrant festival in India. So again there are very special treats involved in Diwali, but as a child I used to hate the sickly Indian sweets that we were given. ¬†I am not a sweet tooth so I have a recipe for a delicious sweet to make for Diwali which is less in sugar than most Indian Mithai/sweets but also healthy! It involves no cane sugar and can be made in a minutes if you have some kind of food processor/mixie. ¬†I kid you not! Here is the recipe for my Diwali Dates Burfi.

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So for those who celebrate this upcoming festival, here’s wishing you a VERY HAPPY DIWALI! ¬† Suji x

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The purple fruit

Aubergine, eggplant, baingan, kathrikkai…call it what you will! But this veg. Vegetable? Ahem! Actually it’s a fruit would you believe and is one of my favourites! There’s so many different dishes that I have seen from around the world that use this versatile purple plant so I decided to share some of my recipes with you. In English I use the term ‘Aubergine’ and although in botanical terms is classified as a fruit, it is often thought of as a vegetable and used in mostly savoury dishes. However I have seen it used once as a dessert and I am perfecting this to share with you one day ūüôā So the first recipe I have using aubergine is one which is a fusion from India and Persia and is called “Baingan Borani“. Borani is a term used in Persian cooking for a dish containing a cooked vegetable in a yoghurt gravy. We have a South Indian/Srilankan version which uses Aubergine burnt over a flame and I love the smokiness that this ‘pachadi’ (yoghurt salad) gives. I have also seen very similar yoghurt and aubergine recipes from Greece and Turkey and we couldn’t get enough of it during a trip to Istanbul. Baingan Borani is so flavourful that you don’t really miss the heat that you might usually add into such dishes and so it marries well with spicier side dishes or a spicy biryani or pulao.

Baingan Borani2

Baingan Borani (Aubergine in a Yoghurt Sauce)

The next Aubergine dish is a srilankan classic. “Kathrikkai Kuzhambu” is a favourite in many Srilankan households and is so yummy with Srilankan Roti’s, Pittu, Idiyappam or rice. The aubergine is the best product to soak up the spicy tamarind gravy and just melts in your mouth. I personally love this dish a day after it’s been made as the flavour really intensifies after 24 hours, but sometimes I just can’t wait that long! ¬†When I was young, it’s one of dishes I used to ask my mum to make after a holiday abroad and it’s definitely a family favourite. I actually don’t know many Srilankans or Indians that don’t like it!

Kathrikkai Kuzhambu1

Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (Aubergine in a Tamarind Gracy)

The third dish incorporates aubergine in a stunning salad. Spring Salad with aubergine and Quinoa requires some time for preparation but really is a beautiful dish and will have your guests asking for the recipe. This salad is great during hotter months and as it uses Quinoa you veggies out there will be able to get your protein fix too ūüôā Although I have named it as a salad, you could have this as a meal on it’s own as it contains so many different nutrients and so flavourful. The earthy aubergine hits the tangy feta and the sour and sweet pomegranate and it’s like an explosion in your mouth!

spring salad3

Quinoa salad with Aubergine

Finally, one of my favourite aubergine dishes from the Orient is Chinese Aubergine Chilli Tofu. This is soooooooooo good with just steaming hot jasmine rice or noodles and I love it especially during the colder times of the year when you just want to have some comfort food. You can make this as spicy as you like and vary some of the vegetables depending on what’s in season. But the base should be kept with Aubergine and Tofu as the texture of these two ingredients I think are really important in this recipe. Oh gosh, I’m salivating just at the thought of this dish!

Aubergine Tofu2 PM

Chinese Aubergine Chilli Tofu

So I hope you enjoy these recipes using this stunning dark purple fruit and do let me know what you think! Suji x

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Filed under Dinner, Drink, Food, indian, Lunch, vegan, 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