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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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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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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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Dessert – GBBO week 6

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Well what a fab episode about all things sweet! I really enjoyed watching all the different roulades and Andrew, Selasi and Jane did particularly well on these. I think my favourite flavour Roulade was Andrew’s tropical holiday Roulade as it’s the kind of flavours I would enjoy 🙂 It was the first time I had heard of a ‘Marjolaine’ and these were a toughie for the technical challenge. Precision and the chewiness of the meringue layer were criticised and Andrew’s bake was the obvious first place. The final showstopper challenge was interesting and all the bakers struggled to get their mousse cakes set on time. There was some great flavour combinations but I think my favourite was Selasi’s lemon, raspberry and passion fruit one – the one that saved his place I think!

I am not a sweet tooth, which makes my Dentist happy, but I do really wish I had more cravings for the yummy delights that I often see around me.  I will definitely try any dessert but then the sweetness gets all a bit too much and I have to find someone to finish it off. It’s a ‘Catch 22’ situation at home as I love making desserts and baking cakes, but then I have to hunt down others to eat them as there is only so much my husband can consume …lol  😉

I got thinking after watching the mousse showstopper round and about the kind of desserts I have made which involved setting agents (as I don’t use eggs or gelatin in my baking). So the obvious one for me was Panna Cotta 🙂 It took a while for me to try out this delicious Italian dessert the first time, as it always involved using revolting Gelatin. So it was very exciting when my lovely friend Kavitha told me about a yummy version of Panna cotta which was gelatin free! I tried this at her house and was really amazed by the texture and yummy flavour and it was great to know that you can make this without using Gelatin, phew!

So since then I have tried this recipe out a few times, with some failures (mainly because I didn’t follow the instructions on the setting agent…eeek!) and I can share with you two replacements for the Gelatin; Vege gel and Agar Agar.  If you are a sweet tooth, then I have made some recommendations on how to make it to your taste. I love this recipe as it means you can make it the day before any guests are coming over and it makes a fuss free sweet and relatively light sweet at the end of a lunch or dinner. I also really like the way you can pair it with a coulis or sauce using seasonal ingredients. For example, recently I made a coulis with freshly grown Strawberries and during winter months you can just pour over some store bought Mango Pulp or use frozen Coulis. Easy peasy! 🙂

* Vanilla Panna Cotta *

Makes x12 portions (you’ll want more than one 😉 )

What you need:

  • 500ml Double Cream
  • 150ml Milk
  • 1 vanilla pod – seeds scraped out
  • x2 7g packets of Vege gel OR 2 tsps Agar flakes
  • 50g white granulated sugar
  • x12 silicon muffin moulds or individual ramekins

How to make it:

    1. Heat the cream and milk in a medium sized saucepan (ideally with a spout) until almost at boiling point. Then lower the heat and the sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well.
    2. Prepare your setting agent. I use vege gel most often as it’s more easily available and the instructions on the Vege gel packets I use states to dissolve the packets in cold water) and then add to the simmering cream and milk mixture and mix well. I find it helps using a whisk here to ensure the setting agent is evenly distributed in the liquid.
    3. Take the pan off the flame and keep aside for 2 minutes to cool a little and get your moulds or ramekins. SEE NOTE BELOW.
    4. Pour the mixture into your moulds/ramekins and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. I honestly think the overnight option is the best, especially when you have guests the following day so it will save you lots of time!

Serve with a refreshing fruit coulis 🙂

      NOTE: Be careful not too cool the mixture too much in your pan as your setting agent (Vege gel or Agar Agar) may start to set the mixture. If you see your mixture starting to set in your pan then pour into the moulds/ramekins immediately.
      If you have a sweet tooth then you could add melted white chocolate for a more decadent flavour, but reduce the sugar to 25g.

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

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

chilla2-pm

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.

chillastep1-pm

 

 

 

 

 

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

chillastep3-pm

 

 

 

 

 

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)

chillastep4-pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 🙂

chilla1-pm

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

GBBO is back! It’s CAKE WEEK!

Many of you UK peeps who love baking or love watching baking programmes, must be excited that The Great British Bake Off is back!  Yipppeeee!! I am definitely one of those people who have set the whole series on record and has told the whole household that Wednesdays from 8.00 – 9.00pm are booked out for GBBO excitement! 🙂

All the contestants this year look very interesting but I am liking Rav Bansal already how likes Vegan Baking. Yeyyy!

Well the first week’s theme is just simply cakes and this year I thought I would try and bake along and also contribute to the themes with my own versions.  So to start here is my recipe for eggless Lemon Drizzle cakes/muffins. I love this recipe, especially during these summer months as they are light and refreshing and easy to take on days out and picnics.  

Love Suji x

#CookEatInspire #sujiskitchen

lemon drizzle muffins PM

Sometimes it’s just easier making smaller portions to ensure everyone has a piece or if you are short on time (the latter is usually what happens with me!). So muffins are an easy way to make your favourite cake in a cute package and this lemon drizzle flavour is a really simple one!

These can be Vegan if you are using Soya Milk, but you need to keep these in an air tight container to keep them soft and moist.

Makes 10 – 12 standard size muffins

What you need:

  • Plain Flour – 280g  / 2.5 cups (you can use Self raising flour but leave out the baking powder)
  • Baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Bicarb of soda – 1/2 teaspoons
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Caster sugar – 110g /1 cup
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
  • Soya milk (or any other milk you prefer) – 150ml / 3/4 cup
  • Water – 90ml / 1/2 cup water
  • Vegetable oil – 90ml / 1/2 cup

For the drizzle:

  • Icing sugar – 60g / 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice – 3 teaspoons
  • Grated lemon zest – 1/2 teaspoon

Optional: poppy seeds/chocolate chips

How to make it:

  1. Line your muffin tin with cases or oil & pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the poppy seeds or chocolate chips if using
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together all the wet ingredients adding the lemon juice & zest at the end.
  4. Pour all of the wet ingredients in with the dry and combine well with wooden spoon. The batter should have a loose dropping consistency and you can add more milk if needed and don’t worry about any lumps in the batter.
  5. Fill the muffin cups 3/4’s full and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly brown and spring back when pressed gently. Stir glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the hot muffins.

I’m drooling as I type out this recipe…..no joke!

lemon muffin

Next week’s theme is Biscuits, so happy baking until then!

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Filed under Baking, Desi, Food, GBBO, recipe, Snack, 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!

chin homebaked team

The Homebaked Team

PM chin hotel

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.

PM chin stall

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.

PM chin cake

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