Category Archives: Travel

Baked (Punjabi Style) Samosa’s

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

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

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

S x

Baked Samosa’s

(Makes about 20)

What you need:

For the hot crust pastry:

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

For the filling:

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

How to make it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Baking, brunch, Desi, Food, indian, mykitchenadventures, pastry, Snack, sujiskitchen, Travel, Uncategorized, 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.

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Rainbow Rice (veg pulao for children)

Serves 2

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

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

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

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Bulgar Wheat Pulao

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

Serves 2

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

Bulgar Pulao


EAT

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

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

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

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

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Gundu Thosai !!!!!

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

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

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Gundu Thosai !!!!!


INSPIRE

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Chennai Express to Mysore meandering

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

The film inspiration ūüôā
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. ūüôā¬† 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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¬†ūüôā

 

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

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 ūüė¶¬†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! ūüôā

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 ūüôā 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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