Category Archives: Lunch

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 🙂

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 – 15 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  🙂

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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 sautĂ© 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. 🙂

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

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 🙂 Foe me, this is a classic recipe that evokes comfort, warmth and feels just like you have been given a huge hug 🙂  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 purĂ©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!) 🙂
  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 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 🙂

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 🙂

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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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 🙂

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

 

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Keep your finger on the Pulse!

Today, Sunday 16th October 2016, is World Food Day. Why does this matter? Well one of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. One of the world’s poorest populations are farmers and other primary food producers, who are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters. So to address this issue as well as the ever increasing world population, a more sustainable way of producing food is now an urgent issue. This is a worldwide problem, not just for poor countries.

The global message for World Food Day 2016 is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”  2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas & lentils) by the United Nations and so I was very fortunate recently to have been invited to the Cookhouse in Borough Market where other bloggers and I were treated to a fabulous demonstration about Pulses by Jenny Chandler.

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The venue was perfect for this event with a lovely view of the Market and a great demonstration platform where you could clearly view every step of the demo.

Jenny is such a lovely person and she exudes her passion for pulses and food in general when you meet her. She started off by explaining how pulses are such an obvious answer to some of our food problems in this country and abroad as well as her work with the UN to promote pulses as a sustainable food.

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The ‘Pulses’ organisation does huge amounts of work to encourage farmers in this country and around the world to grow more pulses and create a more sustainable environment for people. Do check out out their website for more information on Pulses, recipes and how the countries are collaborating to help climate change and food security.

Did you know peanuts are classed as a pulse?

Jenny’s love of world food, and especially food from the Mediterranean, is apparent when she talks about the different ingredients she uses in her recipes and it was nice to hear how her experiences around the Globe have influenced her work and her passion for pulses.  It is this global experience which is highlighted in her upcoming demonstration kitchen residency at Borough Market

Thursday 3rd November 12.30-2pm – The Americas

Thursday 10th November 12.30-2pm – Africa

Thursday 17th November 12.30-2pm – Asia

Thursday 24th November 12.30-2pm – Europe

I know which of these themed demo’s are attracting me – how about you? 🙂

It was nice to see how a simple meal of Quesadilla’s could be made using homemade re-fried beans and then adding this to a flour tortilla with spring onions, chopped coriander leaves, jalepeno peppers. The thing I am going to try out when I make these is adding Wendsleydale cheese as Jenny explained how it’s not always easy to get Mexican cheese and so Wendsleydale comes close to that kind of texture. Yum!

Jenny made some flavour packed Falafel, not using the usual chick peas, but delicious Fava Beans. Fava Beans are also known as Broad beans or Pigeon beans and I was surprised to learn that the UK is a big exporter of this humble pulse. I thought the use of Fave beans in Falafel made them taste less heavy and went so well with the parsley, garlic and cumin they were blended with.

I really liked the way Jenny served the Falafel in Gem lettuce leaves which means that there’s no heavy pitta bread so I felt that I was getting the most out of the Falafel’s nutrients and it can become such a light meal – a genius idea! The health benefits of grains and pulses are so important and Jenny has also highlighted these as well as amazing recipes in her book ‘Pulses‘.

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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. 🙂 You can make this vegan meal in advance, so all you have to do is heat everything before you serve 🙂

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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Pastry & Botanicals! GBBO week 5 & 6

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Ok so I got behind with the GBBO episodes and along with the usual Autumn sniffles, work and the start of our Hindu Festival Navarathri, blogging has had to take a back seat recently. Boooooo!  So to catch up I have a recipe to celebrate the pastry and botanical weeks from The Great British Bake offSquash Tart with Garden Herbs 🙂

I really enjoyed watching the GBBO contestants have fun (and struggle!) with making pastry from scratch and the Botanicals week was a new theme for GBBO this year which I think was a great idea! But I feel that unless you are a GBBO contestant, or have heaps of time on your hands, there’s really no need to make Filo or Puff Pastry from scratch.  So this is a really simple recipe if you are like me and just want to have a yummy lunch or dinner without the drama 🙂

I’m really lucky to have some fresh herbs ready to hand in our garden (they are really easy to maintain even for non-Gardeners like me :-)), but this recipe allows the use of shop bought fresh or dried herbs.  I have tried to embrace the change in season here in the UK by using Butternut Squash and I am looking forward to trying this out with different types of squash as well as pumpkins too!

Squash Tart

Serves 2 – 4

What you need:

  • 1 pack of Puff pastry – I used Jus Roll Puff Pastry (320g sheet)
  • 1 medium sized Butternut Squash – peeled and de-seeded
  • 1 medium red onion – sliced finely into semi circles
  • Sun dried Tomato paste – about 4 heaped tablespoons or enough to cover the pastry base. I used a ready made jar by Sacla.
  • 3 teaspoons of finely chopped herbs of your choice – I used 1 tsp of fresh Rosemary, 1 tsp of fresh Thyme and 1 tsp of fresh Parsley
  • Feta cheese – a handful [You can leave this out if you are Vegan]
  • Olive oil – to drizzle
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Chilli flakes (optional)

How to make it:

1. Set your oven to 200 deg Celcius (395F) and prepare the Squash. I cut mine into rough crescent shaped wedges, about 1/2 inch in depth.

2.  Spread out the squash pieces on a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper and drizzle over olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are half-cooked and softened. You don’t want to over cook them completely as they are going to cook further on top of the pastry.

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3. While the squash is roasting you can roll out the Puff pastry into a rectangle so that it’s about 1/2 inch in depth (about the depth of a ÂŁ1 coin) and then place onto your baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Use a butter knife (or any knife without a sharp edge) to score a 1 inch border around the pastry.

Not sure how to score a border? Lay out your puff pastry sheet and using a ruler measure out 1 inch border around the edge of the puff pastry. Only cut half way into the puff pastry. Do this while trying not to touch the puff pastry with your hands. Puff pastry needs to stay cold to rise. The warmth from your hands will cause the puff pastry to easily tear. If you think your puff pastry is starting to stretch after making your border, place it back in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.

4.  Use the back of a spoon to spread out the sundried tomato paste onto the pastry as evenly as you can – but remembering not to spread onto the border.

5. Then place the roasted butternut squash pieces on top, followed by the Rosemary, Thyme and sliced onions (I kept the parsley to garnish before serving).  If you like it a little  spicy then you can also add some chilli flakes at this stage as well.

6. Drizzle again with olive oil and then place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is browned. Then leave to rest for about 5 minutes and add more freshly cracked back pepper if you wish.

7. Garnish with chopped parsley and crumbled feta, cut into your desired slices and serve! I like to have this with a nice refreshing salad or Tabbouleh 🙂

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You can use the Squash peel to make a crisps by putting them in a bowl with some oil, salt (and pepper or red chilli powder) and then baking them at 220 Deg C for about 25 minutes  or until they are nice and crisp.

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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 🙂

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! 🙂

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Filed under Baking, Dinner, Food, GBBO, indian, Lunch, recipe, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

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.

Both Pulao1

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 🙂
  • 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 – 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”! 🙂  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 🙂

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 – 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 🙂

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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 🙂  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 🙂

 

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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

May you be inspired!

What a foodtastic May has been! I feel like I haven’t been able to cope up with the plethora of foodie events going on at the moment. Eek! And as a result, this is a VERY delayed post …but a more concise one this time. I hope you like the different items in the #CookEatInspire elements of this blog post and do let me what know what you think abour these. 🙂

Thank you! Suji x

 

 

Cook

Jackfruit Curry (Polos Curry)

polos curry

This curry is taken from one which I have eaten every time we go to Sri Lanka. Although I haven’t found suitable fresh jackfruit here in the U.K, the tinned jackfruit seems to work very nicely indeed! You do need to make sure you don’t buy the ripened jackfruit as that is a different variety and would give a completely different taste. The type I bought from my local Asian Supermarket is called “Green Jackfruit” and a picture is below.

PM jackfruit

This is my own recipe which I have simplified as I feel that in this case reducing the variety of spices brings out the flavour of the jackfruit. Traditionalists may disagree, but there’s only one way to find out 🙂

Serves 2 people

What you need:

  • 1 can  Green Jack fruit
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies, sliced lengthways
  • 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp Srilankan curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk/coconut powder
  • salt to taste

To temper:

  • Mustard seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

How to make it:

  1.  Temper the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves in about 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. Then add the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic and  sautee until golden brown.
  3. Now add the curry powder and combine with the ingredients for about 30 seconds and then add the jackfruit, 2 tablespoons of water & salt.
  4. This next part is when you need some patience and some intuition. You need to cook the curry on a low flame until cooked. For me it took about 20 – 30 minutes and I used a heave bottomed pan and covered it with a lid. You may also need to add a little more water if it evaporates. You need the water to help cook the jackfruit.
  5. After the jackfruit is cooked through, add the coconut milk/coconut powder dissolved in water, and then cook for a further minutes.  Check the seasoning and then serve hot.

I like to serve this with red rice but it goes well with Roti’s too.

 

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Eat

Afternoon Chai with London Chai Party

I was very excited to be able to experience the wonderful food from the London Chai party ladies (Suchi, Gayathri and Nisha) at their Afternoon Chai event in East London! Having had their amazing 7 course Bing Bong Bengali feast, I knew I would be in for another treat for my palate. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed!

The venue was perfect for this afternoon event and the Afternoon Chai event definitely brightened up the grey day it had been so far.  It was refreshing to drink the Lychee and Tea Thumka that we were served when we arrived, wow, what a yummy concoction indeed and a great way to liven up my tastebuds for the treats ahead 🙂

The lovely Gayathri introduced the event and talked about the background to all the different snacks and drinks.  I am trying hear to pick a favourite item, but I can’t! Each snack had it’s own unique flavour, like the spicy vada pav and the crispy Kuzhi paniyaaram and the sweet and spicy Bhakarwadi.  Oh my my my. I am salivating at the mere thought of these yummy snacks I consumed during the afternoon! All the girls were so passionate when you ask them about the thoughts behind the menu and their friendly demeanor and love of their food makes the whole experience so enjoyable and very different to other supperclubs and pop-up’s.

If you would like to know more about The London Chai Party team and their events then click here and if you want to know more about the Afternoon Chai party itself then do click here.

 

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Inspire

Chin’s Kitchen

Last month I went to the launch of Homebaked in London which provides a platform to connect very talented home bakers to foodies who are looking for delicious bakes. It’s as simple as that!

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The Homebaked Team

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At the event there was a very special baker who makes the most delicious and inspiring cakes and biscuits. She is none other than Chintal Kakaya from Chin’s Kitchen who makes cakes and treats with a unique indian twist.

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The lovely Chintal Kakaya and her DELICIOUS bakes 🙂 

Chintal has found a great niche in the market with her inventive flavours like ‘Gulab Jamun’ Cake, Chai Spiced Nankhatai and Indian spiced carrot cake with salted caramel (my personal fave). Her flavour combo’s are just genius! Chintal’s bakes are just so yummy, it really is hard to put into words! The different spices do come out clearly and they leave you wanting more and more. For more information check out Homebaked and Chintal’s own website with her full range of bakes Chin’s Kitchen.

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Filed under Lunch, recipe, Snack, south indian, tamil, Uncategorized, vegetarian