Category Archives: Lunch

The Tilda® Basmati Supperclub by Mallika Basu

I was very honoured to have been invited to a Tilda® 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! 🙂

The other vegetarian rice dishes which were all made using different varieties of Tilda® 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® 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® Basmati and I wanted to try out a stir fry recipe using the new Tilda® 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® 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® 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!

RicenSpice PM1

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Filed under Chinese, Desi, Dinner, Food, indian, Lunch, recipe, vegetarian

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 🙂 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.

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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 🙂 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!

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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!

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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 🙂 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! 🙂

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

Happy Onam!

onam OM

A very Happy Onam to all those who celebrate this Keralan festival! Onam is often celebrated in Kerala over 10 days and is considered to be a harvest festival. The “Onam Sadya” (feast) is another very important part of the festivities and almost every Keralite attempts to either make or attend one of these amazing feasts. The feast is served on plantain leaves and consists of a huge variety of dishes including vegetable curries such as:

  • Thoran
  • Eriseri
  • Paruppu
  • Mezhukkupuratti
  • Kaalan
  • Olan
  • Sambhar
  • Rasam
  • Sweet & savoury Pickles
  • Saambaram (Buttermilk)
  • Coconut chutney
  • Pradhaman / Payasam
  • Banana Chips
  • Appalam

Our Onam Sadya is very simple at our household and varies each year to enable us to try our all the dishes. Our menu this year included: Red Rice, Vaazhakkai thuvaiyal, Avial, Cabbage & Carrot Thoran, Banana chips, Appalam, Vepambu Vadagam, and Paruppu Pradhaman.

Click here for more information about the Onam festival: http://www.onamfestival.org/what-is-onam.html

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Filed under Food, Kerala, Lunch, south India, thali, vegetarian

Chennai Express to Mysore meandering

The film inspiration :-) Pic from www.aceshowbiz.com

The film inspiration 🙂
Pic from http://www.aceshowbiz.com

My recent absence from the blog is partly due to my foodie adventures abroad, which started with my wonderful homeland of India. Well, one of my homelands as the other half of me is from Sri Lanka. 🙂  But I have definitely spent more time in India and with my wonderful family and friends.  I was lucky enough to be invited to a family members wedding in Mysore and the opportunity arose for me to spend some time before the wedding in Chennai. Big smiles as I write this as it’s the first time I have spent time alone with my Grandmother, my ‘Paati’ as we call her, and I dreamt of her food made with so much love and our funny conversations as soon as I booked my flight 🙂

So my foodie adventures started before I even got on the plane in London. And as I hadn’t travelled in a while and seen some of the airports refurbishment, I really was astounded at the increase in culinary delights even before you took your flight. My flight was after lunchtime, so I took the chance to explore the airport restaurants and I was ecstatic about finding Comptoir Libanais, a Lebanese home-style eaterie, which I’ve had the pleasure of dining at in another location. I knew exactly what I wanted and I ordered without hesitancy – the Falafel wrap – oozing with Harissa sauce. Yum yum yum! I was ready and tummy full to set off on my exciting holiday!

So food on the plane is not something that many people like, or look forward to. But I think I find myself in a minority group who eagerly await the mid-air delicacies? I was not disappointed and received a yummy plate of sag paneer, steamed rice and black gram dal. Delish! I was also happy about the side salad, although on the small side (are we still in the “Credit Crunch”?), and the “Sreekand” (sweetened yoghurt) dessert. All in all, a nice plate of food regardless of the presentation it came in.

Having arrived at my grandmothers and her amazing ability to guage all the gossip from me within 10mins of my arrival, I posed her the question that I had dreamed of. “What are you going to cook for me??!?!”. (eyes popping out in real eagerness here).  My thoughtful Paati had already quizzed my mother about what she could make for me, bless her, and was ready with a list of things that she planned to make for my week’s stay. I am a truly lucky granddaughter and here are some phone pics of some of my foodie adventures at ‘Paati’s house’:

The first meal at my grandmothers house (2 more servings followed after this plate though)

The first meal at my grandmothers house (2 more servings followed after this plate though)

A variety of Damson plum, which is called 'Naaval' in Tamil

A variety of Damson plum, which is called ‘Naaval’ in Tamil

The "full works" as I call it :-)

The “full works” as I call it 🙂

My nectar in the morning - can't get this taste anywhere else!

My nectar in the morning – can’t get this taste anywhere else!

Taro root fries - known as 'Chepang kilangu' in Tamil. One of my all time faves!

Taro root fries – known as ‘Chepang kilangu’ in Tamil. One of my all time faves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So my Paati would probably have frowned if I had taken my camera to the table before every meal, so you will just have to imagine the feasts I managed to consume single-handedly 🙂

 

But I did manage to eat out in the crazy city of Chennai, and I couldn’t have missed out on the dining experience in the Pondy Bazaar at a new venue called ‘Rucira’ and my old haunt SVB (Saravana Bhavan)

Tiffin at Saravana Bhavan, Mylapore

Tiffin at Saravana Bhavan, Mylapore

Try this great eaterie in Pondy Bazaar!

Try this great eaterie in Pondy Bazaar!

 

 

 

 
And you can’t leave India without one of the best fast foods of all time…can you? No!!! So I didn’t. And I devoured a packet of instant Maggi noodles without hesitation (thanks Chikku!). Unfortunately I ate it so quickly that I don’t have a photo. And the food snobs out there may prefer not to 😉

Unfortunately all good things come to an end and my precious time with Paati  & the family did just that. But she left me smiling as I left her house, as she said that she hadn’t managed to make all my favourite things so she would prepare those for my next visit. Grandmothers are just the best 🙂

So I embarked on my next leg of the trip, which was taking the ‘Shadapti Express’ train from Chennai to Mysore. This was the first time I was travelling by myself for a 7 hour train journey in India, so I was a little anxious, but I had been told that I would have a comfortable journey and I would NOT go hungry. Yeah I’m sure you’ve heard that one before – but that was honestly the understatement of the decade! I definitely did not go hungry. Infact it was a continuous flow of food! I sat next to a boy, a toddler, who was travelling with his this parents and who asked me a million questions throughout the journey (he really did!). So I didn’t really have a chance to take many snaps of the food I ate on the Chennai to Mysore express 😦 But I did take a pic of part of the menu!

The menu on the Shadapti Express

The menu on the Shadapti Express

 

 

 

 

 

A view from my train seat window.

A view from my train seat window.

 

 

 

 

 

So unlike the Tamil film Chennai Express, I wasn’t a damsel in distress trying to flee from big and scarey villains, but instead I was more of a devouring damsel! Devouring the huge range of delights before me and getting a few odd looks from the passengers nearby as I smiled happily as I ate. Did I care? No. The best part of the train feast was the veg biriyani and raita – wow wow wow! It was amazingly delicious with simple veg strewn in between fragrant basmati rice, served with a cucumber raita. Quite a surprising number from this part of India. I was expecting more of a ‘Sambar Saadham’ or ‘Uppuma’ or an ‘Idli & Chutney’ duet. But nevertheless the biriyani was really simple and really full of flavour and well above the standards that I was expecting. This is not a train full of reserved and shy members; Indians expect good food regardless of how poor or rich they are and would definitely complain if the food was below par. So I felt content that everyone else in my carriage ate their brekkie, lunch and snacks quite happily. I would highly recommend anyone taking this journey, as not only is the food sumptuous and abundant, the journey itself was smooth and much less hassle than taking a flight. Hats off to the train Chef and his team!

So after arriving to the wonderful climate of Mysore, I was immediately struck by how ‘chillaxed’ everything was. And I mean everyone and everything! It wouldn’t have been so apparent if I had not travelled from the hullabaloo that is Chennai, but I really noticed the different atmosphere as soon as I stepped off the train!  I wasn’t hassled by train porters or by busy taxi drivers trying to get through the car park. But it was surprising and relaxed affair as I meandered through the crowds.

But…. the Mysore cuisine was BOOM! and nothing dubious about it at all. It was fantastic to have a home cooked meal on a banana leaf, try ‘Paan’ ice cream for the first time, and the absolutely happy and wonderful wedding events!

A home cooked meal on a plantain leaf

A home cooked meal on a plantain leaf

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Getting ready for the palm leaf wedding canopy

The mehndhi (henna)!

The mehndhi (henna)!

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite wedding dishes would have been ‘Paal Peni’ (thin dried noodles immersed in hot, sweet milk), Pineapple ‘Gojju’ (a sweet and spicy side dish), Beetroot Halwa, the refreshing ‘Kosumalli’ salad..and the list goes on and on and on! I am drooling as I type….

Thanks to our lovely family for giving us such joy and happy times and sharing in the celebrations!

After the wedding we had a chance to check out the local area and see some interesting things. Avi & Arch…you guys are the best!
Beer shampoo?? What??

Why would you want this in your hair??? And who buys this anyway??

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another common street food in the state of Karnataka are the ‘Iyengar Bakeries’. Small street side bakeries offering delicious vegetarian bakes. My favourite was the veg puff filled with spicy potato. Thank you to Mr B for introducing us to these yummies! 🙂

The veg puff from the Iyengar Bakery

The veg puff from the Iyengar Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

But I should not forget the nectar-like Mysore ‘Coorg’ coffee with Bonda….ooh la laa! And finished off with purchasing our own ground coffee (which ended up being a rather meandering trip indeed!).

Mysore Coffee with Bonda - YUM!

Mysore Coffee with Bonda – YUM!

The coffee shop with lots of time on their hands! haa haa!

The coffee shop with lots of time on their hands! haa haa!

 

 

 

 

 

But we didn’t stop there….we also had the typical South Indian breakfast at the Airport 🙂 So from Chennai to Mysore, a trip to cherish and memories to last a lifetime. I’ll be back for sure!

 

Dosa, Chutney & Sambar at Bangalore Airport

Dosa, Chutney & Sambar at Bangalore Airport

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Lunch, Travel

The ‘Banh mi’

banh mi PM

A French baguette with Vietnamese spicy fillings and chilli mayonnaise – what’s there not to like?! Well the Bánh mì (pronounced as ‘ban mee’) is apparently what the Vietnamese name all kinds of bread. It is similar to the ‘baguette’ and was introduced by the French during its colonial period. The Banh mi is usually lighter in texture than the baguettes we are familiar with in the West, but it is made with a thinner crust. Typical fillings for a Banh mi sandwich include pork or chicken meat prepared in different ways, meat jelly, fried eggs, and tofu. Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and pickled carrots and grated daikon (a type of radish). Common condiments include chilli sauce, sliced chilis, mayonnaise, and cheese.

For me, a sandwich should not be a tedious affair and should be quick to assemble and easy to gobble up. However! The Banh mi is an exception as the different ingredients give different accents to the sandwich which makes this unique and extremely delicious! So it’s definitely worth the extra effort, but perhaps it’s best made on a relaxed day rather than during the morning rush before work. Although there are a few variations of the traditional fillings, the pickles are obligatory and are key feature in this sandwich. I do suggest you take time to prepare the pickle and you could even do this part the day before so the assembling is quicker the next day. I have also used mixed my chilli sauce (Sriracha) with my egg-free mayonnaise, but you can spread these on separately if you prefer. But I do stress that the combination of Sriracha and mayonnaise is SOOOO delicious! Instead of tofu I have used homemade Seitan in my recipe, but well-seasoned tofu strips work just as well. My homemade baguettes don’t seem to be as light as they should be sometimes, so you may prefer to buy yours from your local bakery to ensure you get really light and airy dough for your baguette.

I can’t wait to try out the ice cream sandwich called bánh mì kẹp kem which consists of scoops of ice cream stuffed inside a Banh mi, topped with crushed peanuts. A dessert sandwich! YUM!

In Vietnam, vegetarian sandwiches (bánh mì chay) are rarely found on the street stalls but can be seen made at Buddhist temples. The fact that this veggie combo is a rare sight made me want to try this even more! You can click here for my take on a veggie Banh mi and I hope you try out your own preferred combo of fillings.

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