Tag Archives: christmas

Winter Warmers 4: Srilankan style “Puttu & Kuzhambu”

In this 4th post for the Winter Warmers Series, I wanted to share with you two recipes close to my heart. It’s actually the food that I crave when I return home after a long holiday or time away from home. You can’t beat the comfort that comes with this meal and the flavour and texture combination of these together are just divine!

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So the first is for ‘Puttu’ or ‘Pittu’. This is a healthy but really delicious main dish made with steamed rice flour and is found very commonly in Sri Lanka and Kerala. It’s usually the centre of the meal around which sits various other accompanying dishes and the Puttu soaks up all the flavours from each and is filling too!

The second recipe is for ‘Kuzhambu’ or ‘Kulambu’. This is accompanying dish to the Puttu and is made with a tamarind gravy into which sits sauteed vegetables. My favourite type of Kuzhambu to go with Puttu is ‘Kathrikkai’ (Aubergine) Kuzhambu as the aubergine just melts in the mouth and this vegetable absorbs the tamarind and spices so well to give this amazing aroma….yummm!

So I hope you enjoy these recipes and do let me know if you try them out yourselves or eat them at a Sri Lankan restaurant near you ūüôā

Suji x

Puttu

(serves about 2 – 4 people)

What you need:

  • 2 cups steamed red rice flour
  • 1 cup shredded/grated coconut (0r dessicated coconut soaked in 1/2 cup water)
  • Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
  • Hot water – keep about 4 cups aside but you may need more or less depending on the consistency

How to make it:

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and make into a loose dough (but you don’t have to knead it like bread). Then, flour your hands and then roll the dough between your fingers so the dough looks like large¬†breadcrumbs.

I quite like this You Tube video showing a Puttu technique using your hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8JZC1vQikA

OR

1. Put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse, adding the water a little at a time to get the same consistency.

If either method makes the dough too wet then you can just mix in a little rice flour.

2. Mix in the coconut and then place in a steamer. I usually cover the bottom of my steamer with a thin & damp cloth/muslin. The cloth must be big enough to then wrap¬†up the Puttu mixture. You don’t need to tie the ends of the cloth, just place it over the mixture.

3. Steam until the Puttu is cooked fully, approximately 10 Р15 minutes (the aroma will be so nice and you will start to smell the fragrance of the coconut too!), and serve with a delicious curry like Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (see recipe below) or Soya Chunks & Beans curry.

If you have roasted moong dal flour, then you can add about a tablespoon of this with the red rice flour to give an even more aromatic Puttu ¬†ūüôā

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Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (Aubergine in a Tamarind Gravy)

Aubergine is called “Kathrikkai” in Tamil and is a great vegetable to use in this kind of tamarind gravy or “Kuzhambu” as we call it. It¬†is a comforting¬†dish served with hot steamed Pittu or Rice. Chickpeas are not traditionally added but I think they compliment the Aubergine and provides a good portion of protein. The Aubergine is also traditionally deep fried, which obviously tastes yummy, but not healthy. So roasting the aubergine is a great way of still keeping the flavour and texture without a great amount of oil. The only thing with roasting is that you need a little more time, but it will be worth it in the end, I promise you!

This dish tastes great the day after cooking it, as it gives the aubergine time to soak in all the flavours. This is one¬†time¬†when I think Srilankan curry powder is a must and I, personally, think it really doesn’t taste the same with other masala’s.

What you need:

For roasting:

  • 3 medium aubergines¬†(about 500-600g)¬†

  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder

  • 1-2 teaspoons salt¬†

  • Oil – enough to coat all the aubergine

For the curry:

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil¬†

  • 1 large¬†onion , diced¬†

  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or chopped

  • 2 sprigs curry leaves¬†

  • 2-3 green¬†chilies, slit lengthways¬†

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (alternatively, the juice of a lemon sized tamarind soaked in water)¬†

  • 2 teaspoon¬†Srilankan curry powder

  • 2 teaspoon chilli powder¬†(or more if you like it quite spicy)

  • 200ml thick coconut milk¬†

  • 250 ml water¬†

  • Salt to taste (approx 1 – 2 teaspoons)

How to make it:

1. Cut the Aubergine into strips of about 1 inch in width and about 3 inches in length. Be careful not to cut the¬†aubergine smaller than this as they may burn. At this point you can place the aubergine in a microwaveable dish and heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes. This is so they won’t absorb too much oil in the oven.

2. ¬†Add the salt and enough oil so all the aubergine is coated well. Place in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, turning them over half way through and adding a little more oil if they look too dry. You may need to adjust the timing of this according to your oven and you need to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn too much.

3. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoon of oil. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters add the green chillies, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Add the sliced garlic¬†and saut√© for about a¬†minute. Then add the diced onions and¬†cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and cooked through. They may turn brown¬†at the sides but that’s ok – it adds to the taste!

4. Add the salt, curry powder, red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the tamarind paste and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and¬†water. Cover and cook until it thickens. Add the pinch of asafoetida and the roasted aubergine, chickpeas¬†and combine gently. At this stage, if you are not vegan, then a splash of double cream makes a really yummy, rich taste. ūüôā

5.  Cook for another 5 minutes and serve with hot Pittu or rice.

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Winter Warmers 2: Apple Spice Muffins

For this second recipe in this series, I wanted to post something sweet that reminds me of the Autumn and Winter seasons. Apple Spice Muffins bring together the fallen apples in Autumn along with warming Christmas spices and your house will smell heavenly when you bake these! I really hope you give these a go so you get what I mean ūüôā

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This was one of my first muffins I made and it was adapted from a recipe by Susan Reimer. But unlike the original recipe I wanted to find out a way to make these without eggs without losing out on the moisture. These muffins are great for so many different occasions: breakfast, brunch, picnic, tea time snack etc. I have also measured the wet and dry ingredients in advance, so when I want to make them I just need to mix the wet and dry ingredients together and it becomes even simpler and hassle free!

NOTES:

If you don’t have the individual spice powders below you can just use 1.5 teaspoons of Mixed Spice.

I prefer to use Granny Smith apples in this recipe but you can use any really.

My favourite nuts to use in this recipe are Pecan nuts, but walnuts or hazelnuts are also fine.

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Apple Spice Muffins

Makes 12 standard size muffins or 8 large muffins

What you need:

  • Self raising Flour – 225g
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1tsp
  • Ground ginger – 1/2 tsp
  • Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
  • white granulated sugar –¬†100g
  • Apple – 170g (approx) – peeled and chopped finely
  • Raisins/sultana’s –¬†30g
  • Chopped nuts –¬†30g
  • Milk – 150ml (I used Almond milk to keep this recipe vegan but you can use any milk)¬†You may need to add more to get a thick dropping consistency. I end up using¬†between 150ml – 180ml.
  • Vegetable oil – 100ml

For the topping:

  • 60g chopped nuts
  • 3 tablespoons (apporx) of brown (demerera) sugar

How to make it:

  1. Prepare your muffin tin by greasing them or lining them with cases. Pre-heat your oven to 190 deg C (375 F).
  2. Keep the apple, raisins and nuts aside.
  3. Put in all your other dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, spices) together in a bowl and mix well.
  4. Then measure out your milk and oil and then add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and work swiftly to combine them well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the apple, raisins and chopped nuts and mix well so that are evenly distributed in the mixture. The batter should have a thick dropping consistency.
  6. Spoon the mixture into your tin and sprinkle with the sugar & nut topping. Bake for about 20 – 25mins until the the tops of the muffins are browned and spring back when pressed lightly.
  7. Cool on a rack. I like to eat these warm from the oven but if you are not eating these straight away then you can just put them into the microwave for 10 seconds.

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Brussels the South Indian way :-)

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The Yuletide festivities are upon us and there are so many delicious seasonal Winter produce in the markets and Supermarkets out there. A typical seasonal veg here that our family loves is Brussels Sprouts. But I wanted to share with you a way to use them instead of the usual steaming or roasting, which is definitely a great way to get the full flavour of Brussel Sprouts, but you can also bring them alive with some gentle spices ūüôā

This is my favourite way of using Brussel Sprouts and using South Indian spices to make a light stir fry, or Poriyal as called in Tamil Nadu. It’s visually pleasing when you pair the Brussels with bright yellow Sweetcorn and garnished with coconut. I love the way this curry is not too fiery¬†as it uses gentle spices and so if you don’t like hot curries all the time, then this is perfect for you! You can leave out the dried red chillies completely if you are serving it to children.

A non-stick or ceramic pan is best for making this ‘Poriyal’ so the Brussels don’t stick to the bottom and burn.

If you are in a rush you can steam the chopped Brussel Sprouts in the microwave with a tablespoon of water. This will reduce the time needed for them to cook in the pan.

What you need:

  • Brussels Sprouts – 4 cups, finely chopped
  • Sweetcorn – 1 cup (defrosted if frozen)
  • Coconut – 1/2 cup – freshly grated or the unsweetened desiccated coconut¬†is fine
  • Ginger – 3 inch piece – finely grated
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Oil (flavourless) – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – 1 tsp or to taste

To Temper:

  • Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds -1 tsp
  • Split Urad dal – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Whole dried chillies – x2
  • Asafoetida – a pinch

How to make it:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the black mustard seeds. As soon as they start popping add the other ingredients under the ‘To Temper’ list above.
  2. Add the chopped Brussels Sprouts, sweetcorn and stir fry for 5 – 10 minutes until the Brussels are cooked (you will need less time if the Brussels Sprouts have already been steamed in advance)
  3. Finally add the salt, coconut and lemon juice and mix well. Check seasoning and serve ūüôā

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Cookies through the letterbox!

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When you send someone something, why get them to wait for a parcel or bother getting it from the Post Office if they’ve missed the delivery? Well Decadence Delivered have a fab solution to sending DELICIOUS COOKIES¬†which fit through a letterbox without the hassles or sending a parcel!

I was very lucky¬†to receive a sample of these cookies by Decadence Delivered and it was such a lovely surprise when I found them waiting for me at home from the Postman. No waiting around at home for a delivery….no delays… no annoying notice from the Post Office saying I had missed the delivery…. and no driving to the Posts office to collect it!

The box is very elegant and simple and I could feel there was something very special inside. And I wasn’t disappointed ūüôā Inside were a set of beautifully made cookies each individually wrapped and the inside cover of the box indicates which flavour you have received. ¬†It’s great packaging as it ensures the cookies are not damaged en route and presented very elegantly on opening.

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So the important question of taste. Well you can tell these cookies are made from high quality ingredients when you bite into them. The texture is perfect – a combination of a chewy and crumbly cookies are just what I expected and for me, the sweetness was spot on as I am not a sweet tooth and I can’t stand sickly sweet cookies. I tasted the milk chocolate cookies which has cute¬†milk chocolate buttons ¬†to make a very pretty cookie.¬†I would love to try¬†the salted caramel ones next! There are currently five different cookie flavours you can choose from and you can see the choices on their website:

www.decadencedelivered.co.uk

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In addition to the choice of cookie, you can also personalise it if you are sending them as a gift, for whatever occasion. I imagine these would be perfect gifts for this Christmas! ¬†And there is 20% off your current order, so there’s a¬†good deal to be had. Whether you want to get these cookies for yourself or for friends and family, these delectable cookies will surely bring a huge smile to whoever gets to eat them!

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