Tag Archives: Recipe

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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Winter Warmers Recipe Series

For the weeks coming up to the New Year, I hope to share with you some great recipes from around the world to help warm you up during these colder seasons. They are just simple but highly comforting things we all love to eat to help get through those chilly days and evenings.

Please do let me know if you try out any of these and if you have any similar ones you make for yourself or for your friends and families 🙂

The first Winter Warmer recipe in this series is one which is a regular in our household and not just kept for the colder season- Borscht.  This recipe was actually one that my mother came across on an aeroplane magazine, and she came home and was excited to try it out in our kitchen. It’s a great way to use Beetroot and other common things you may have in your friedge. After our own trials of the original recipe for Borscht, then talking to our polish friends about their family recipe, we came up with this one that we all liked. I hope you try out our version of this Polish soup and that it gives you the comfort you seek 🙂

You can make this as a starter with some warm bread rolls or as a main meal if you just want something light but fulfilling.

Winter Warmer Recipe 1: Borscht (soup)

Borscht

This soup is traditionally served on Polish Christmas Eve, but is perfect on any cold day as a great comfort food with your favourite bread.

Serves 4

What you need:

1 Onion chopped
450g beetroot, peeled & sliced (or can use ready cooked beetroot)
2 celery sticks
1/2 red pepper, chopped
115g mushrooms, chopped
1 apple, chopped (I’ve tried all kinds of apple and find granny smith is the best)
23g Butter
2 tbsp Olive oil
1L vegetable stock
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & black pepper to taste

Garnish: a few sprigs dill, sour cream

The sprig of dill I feel is quite important in this soup and gives it a distinct flavour.

How to make it:

  1. Heat oil & butter in a saucepan and add all the chopped veg and apple. Add 45ml of stock and cook until soft
  2. Stir in cumin seeds and cook for a further 1 minute and then add the remaining stock, bay leaf, salt & pepper.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30mins
  4. Using a handblender/food processor, take out about 3/4 of the veg with a slotted spoon and whizz until pureed.
  5. Return the pureed veg back to the pan, check for seasoning and then add the lemon juice.
  6. Serve with a garnish of dill sprigs and a swirl of sour cream.

This is perfect with a chunk of your favourite bread or some freshly boiled/steamed potatoes.

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Borscht & Challah

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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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GBBO Week 4 – What a load of Batter!

Well this GBBO week really baffled me. It’s great to have new things featured on the programme, but I found all the challenges for Batter week rather boring!  If you want to catch up on the latest episode then click HERE.  Personally, I think you shouldn’t mess around too much with certain traditional recipes like Yorkshire Pudding and Churros, but this is totally my opinion and maybe I haven’t tried enough different types to know for sure.

Pancake? ShPancake! Here’s a different kind of batter recipe I’d like to share – Chilla! This is an Indian recipe which is so much easier than Dosa batter as there is no fermenting and waiting around for 24hours (or more!).  Most Chilla’s I’ve eaten use Chick pea batter (Besan) and sometimes this can feel a bit heavy afterwards. So I love this recipe as it uses a mixture of Daal’s which are also high in Protein but produces are lovely light batter.

You can eat these by themselves as it’s already lightly spiced, but I love eating it with a sweet and spicy combo like Jaggery and a spicy ‘Kara Kuzhambu’…yummm!! But it’s also delish with something like an onion, tomato or coconut chutney. I’d love to know what you end up eating yours with 🙂

Enjoy!

Suji x

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The fenugreek seeds and Asafoetida both help with flatulence and are great for digesting high protein lentils, but these are optional and if you leave them out they won’t affect the overall taste.

If you can’t get the Whole Urad Dal you can use split urad dal which might be easier to obtain in certain locations.

What you need:

  • Masoor Daal (split red lentils) – 1 cup
  • Mung Dal (split yellow gram lentils – not the green!) – 1 cup
  • Whole Urad Dal (black gram lentils without skin)- 1 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Coriander leaves – 1 cup – chopped finely
  • A small onion – chopped finely
  • Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – a spring – finely chopped (these can be difficult to find in certain countries so you can leave these out if you can’t get them)
  • Green chillies – 2 – chopped finely (optional)
  • Asafoetida – a pinch (optional) 
  • Salt, to taste (I add about 1.5 tsp)

How to make it:

1. Soak all the Daal in 5 cups of water for at least 3 hours (it can be more but not any less)

2.  Grind the Daal in a food processor/mixie until it becomes a smooth batter without big lumps of Daal in it.  You can add some of the water if you need to make it into a smoother consistency but don’t add all of it straight away.

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

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4.  Heat a cast iron skillet ,or a non-stick frying pan, with a teaspoon of a flavourless oil like vegetable oil.

5.  Pour on the batter evenly onto the pan with a ladle and spread the batter into a circular disc, resembling a pancake (Chilla) . Do note that these don’t have to be as thin as a European style pancake and not as thick as the North American style ones.

6. After a few minutes you will see some of the Chilla turning brown and at this point you can loosen the sides with a spatula and then turn it over to cook on the other side.

You can definitely make it a more tasty Chilla if you add Ghee/Butter at step 6 or 7 (or Margarine if you want to keep it vegan)

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7.  After about 3 minutes or until the other side is cooked through you can take the Chilla off the pan and serve!  Usually the Chilla is served as a soft pancake but if you like it crispier you can leave it on the pan for longer.

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Serve with a chutney or side dish of your choice! 🙂

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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

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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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The month of new years

I know January 1st is when the new year starts in much of the Western world, but April marks the start of the new year for a number of eastern cultures. The Thai new year “Songkran” is from 13th – 15th April and any festivities that last more than a day is a winner for me 🙂 The Singhalese Buddhist as well as the Tamil & Keralan Hindu New Year is celebrated on 14th April and this is the date that my family celebrate our new year. Coincidentally, Sikhs celebrate ‘Vaisakh’ on the 14th too. Although this is not the Sikh new year, it is a celebration of the founding of the Khalsa, the collective body of baptised Sikhs created in 1699.  So basically it’s celebrations all round this month and a great way to #CookEatInspire 🙂

 

COOK

So for the Thai New year I have my version of  Thai Green Curry.  This is my standard recipe that I have used for years but I don’t see any harm in using a good ready made paste from the shops if you just want to make this in a hurry. However I find most shop bought Thai Curry pastes don’t have enough of a spice kick and I often end up adding some spice anyway! So if you fancy using the Thai New Year to make this delicious curry here’s how it goes:

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What you need:

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp Thai green curry paste (you can use shop bought paste which are generally good, but I find these are not hot enough and not the right quantity)
  • 100 grams mushrooms cut into the same size chunks as the Tofu (I use the chestnut variety)
  • 200g of a mixture of other veg e.g. aubergine, broccoli, courgette, babycorn, green beans, peas, carrots
  • 200g of firm tofu – cut into bitesize chunks
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • A dash of light soy sauce
  • a handful of basil leaves (Thai basil leaves if you can get them but other varieties are fine too)
  • A few fresh green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt

How to make it:

  1. Crush the garlic and slice the green chilies.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the crushed garlic and fry till it turns light golden.
  3. Now add the curry paste. Saute on a low flame till the raw smell disappears. Now add all your veg and fry for 2-3 minutes, increasing the flame. Add a pinch of salt and let the mushrooms cook a little until they have released moisture.
  4. Now reduce the flame add the coconut milk. Season the curry with salt, sugar and a dash of soy sauce. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes and add the tofu. Let the curry cook for a few minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavours according to your taste. Add some more sliced green chilies if needed. Let the curry simmer till the mushrooms are completely cooked. Make sure not to boil the curry as the coconut milk may curdle. Turn off the heat and throw in the fresh basil leaves.

Serve over hot rice, quinoa or noodles. I find this curry also goes well with Lotus Root Fry.

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For Tamil New year it is traditional to make a sweet dish as part of the celebrations and this usually comes in the form of either a type of ‘Paayasam’ or other sweets or ‘Mithai’. Those who know me well know I am not at all a sweet tooth and so I came up with something that wasn’t too sweet or with lots of Ghee oozing out of it and infact uses natural sweetening agents. Date & Pistachio Ladoo’s are really easy to make but you will need a food processor/blender (but not imperative) if you want to make it super quick. A sweet celebration without the guilt! 🙂

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This makes x16 bite size Burfi balls or x8 bigger Burfi. (Yes I know there’s 15 in the photo, but there has to be a treat for the Chef you know!)

What you need:

  • 140g pitted dates
  • 30g pistachio nuts (other nuts can also be used like hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan)
  • 2 teaspoons Chia seeds (these can be omitted if you don’t have any to hand)
  • 2 to 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons Maple syrup (or you can also use honey if you are not Vegan)

How to make it:

  1. Put the nuts and Chia (if using) in the blender and blitz until you get the texture you want. I usually aim for a texture that’s not too fine and more coarse. (I sometimes take out some of the ground nuts at this point and use it for an extra coating at the end.)
  2. Then add the dates and maple syrup and blitz again until all ingredients are well combined. If the dates are really hard, you can soak them in hot water for about 30mins if you wish.
  3. Roll into your desired size balls.

You can also dip these in chocolate or dessicated coconut for a more decadent version!

3. Place the balls in individual cases if you have them. You don’t have to put them into cases but they look special if you do:-)

4. Place on a tray or plate and keep in the fridge to firm up a bit for about 15mins. You can also keep these in the fridge overnight or for a few days before you want to eat them. Just make sure you take them out about 30mins before serving so they aren’t too cold to eat.

I have previously added 2 tablespoons of Horlicks too to give these ladoo’s malty taste and I reduce the amount of Maple syrup to balance the sweetness in the Horlicks. Do try any other flavour combo’s that you think will work with these 🙂

2 PM

 

 

EAT

I have been dying to tell you all about an amazing Supperclub that I went to recently!!!!!! (the silly number of exclamation marks show how excited I am!) It’s run by the lovely ladies at London Chai Party and they have been making delicious food together for a number of years now. Their latest Supperclub is called ‘The Big Bong Lunch‘ and is a humongous 7 course Bengali feast. Yes indeed. You did read that correctly. SEVEN COURSES! I could hardly walk after consuming this amazing feast, but it was worth it and I recommend you go to this Supperclub with a completely empty stomach and an ability to pace yourself during this gastronomic party. The dishes are from West Bengal and Suchi explained that they would typically be eaten during a big celebration like a wedding.

 

One of my favourite dishes was ‘Shukto’ which reminded me of the South Indian ‘Avial’ but of course was very distinct as the spices were very different to Avial but was very light and comprised of delicately cooked vegetables. I could have eaten a whole plateful of it! 🙂 But of course I couldn’t because that would mean I missed out on the rest of the courses – no way! I would love to tell you about all the other courses but you really must try if for yourself and any further descriptions on my part would definitely spoil it. But take my word for it that you will not be disappointed. Each course has been cleverly thought out by the talented Suchi, Gayathri and Nisha and Suchi’s passion and love for her Bengali roots definitely comes through in the food. I really can’t wait for the next Supperclub by this amazing trio and their wonderful team!

If I have got you interested and drooling for more..then click on these links for their next exciting food events: The South Indian Brunch on Sunday 24th April and The Big bong Lunch (the next date TBC) and not forgetting the yummy delights at the Chai Party (sign up for future dates). And if you are in the Sutton Area the London Chai party team will be at the Pop Up Market there on these dates:

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Thanks to a dear friend of mine, I learnt a few weeks ago was that there is a vegan & vegetarian PUB in central london! I know ! My eyebrows lifted quite high too when my lovely friend told me about it! So one rainy day in Soho, my friend took me to this quaint pub called The Coach and Horses which was easy to find at the end of Greek Street in Soho. The restaurant has a weird entrance inside the middle of the pub, but once you are upstairs you can’t hear the ruckus downstairs and you enter a serene ‘living room-like’ restaurant. It has quirky interior decor which makes it even more endearing and my friend and I eye-up the vegan cakes as we are taken to our seats (i am so going there for afternoon tea!).

Apologies for the poor quality photos below, but it was taken with my phone in dim lighting.

The menu is seasonal apparently, but all I needed was comfort from life that evening so I shared a delicous French onion soup with my friend and then delved into some wholesome ‘Tofush & Chips’.

Delicious French Onion Soup

Tofush and Chips

The Tofush and Chips which I haven’t eaten before was quite satisfying but I felt it did lack seasoning and I think next time I’ll try out the Celeriac, Chesnut & Parsnip Sausages that my wise friend ordered 🙂  Deeeelish!!!!

With our tummies full but still yearning for that sweet kick at the end of our meal, we ordered the Chocolate and Walnut Brownie with Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate sauce. Wow, it definitely hit the spot and I would highly recommend it! I loved the mixture of soft and crunchy and it was impressive to hear that they make their own ice cream ..nom nom nom.

It’s commendable that they mixture of both vegan and veggie choices on this menu, but for fans of Tea & Coffee, I’m afraid they don’t serve hot drinks for dinner. I was SO disappointed to say the least. No hot drinks for dinner? What is that about?!?!? When I questioned this, our waitress said that they turn off their big water heater after tea time and it takes too long to turn on again. Haa ha haaa!! Haven’t they heard of kettles? I hope they really change this restriction as there is nothing like a hot cuppa after a satisfying meal. But I am definitely coming back to sample more of this menu and especially the vegan cakes (AND TEA!) that I couldn’t fit in during this first visit 🙂

I have explored plenty of other eateries in and around London so watch this space for more reviews and recommendations 🙂

 

INSPIRE

Something that has inspired me this last month is a beautiful food blog by the very talented Rekha Shivakumar. Resh Kitchen has a variety of delicious vegetarian recipes and contains very easy to follow instructions and needless to say, lots of droolworthy photos! I think the great thing about Rekha’s recipes are that they are kept simple – nothing crazy or over-the-top. It is simply, delicious ingredients cooked to perfection for her love of food! Having grown up in a Tamil Brahmin family, she has the richness of this culture in her dishes and her recipes are also taken from all around India as well as other parts of the world. You can tell she cooks from the heart and do sign up to her blog to ensure you don’t miss her yummy recipes and she’s also on Twitter , Pinterest and is so popular on Instagram too!  Do check out her latest reviews and recipes!

rekha

I am lucky to know Rekha and I often explore restaurants and pop-ups around London with her, the very talented Nessy (follow her for the release of STUNNING photos in her upcoming portfolio!) and other foodie friends. Recently we went to Borough Market in London Bridge and check out Rekha’s post on our visit to Pulia .

 

I am inspired especially by those who are wonderful food photographers and I can tell you more about these fab people in my next posts…I hope you will be amazed as I am by their talent!

   *  *  *

Another read that has inspired me is the new FREE food mag! It’s called ‘Foodism‘ (I totally love the name!) and has lots of fab articles about restaurants, the latest food fad, great chef’s and not forgetting the amazing pop-up’s that are taking London by storm.  You can sign up to find out when exactly the magazine is published but at the moment it’s going to be every other month. And you don’t have to be in London to read it (brilliant!), you just register your details on line and you can read it digitally. Very environmentally friendly!

I got my copy! Have you??

I picked my copy up on the way back from London last week and I loved reading about Tomasina Mier’s new venture, a yummy Apple Tatin recipe, some intriguing restaurants and there’s lots of competitions too. And this is just a fraction of what’s in it! I still can’t quite believe it’s free and I’m looking forward to what’s in store in the next issue 🙂

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Finally, to finish my post I wanted to bring you to the attention to this hilarious #tambrahm website called We Are Tambrahm. 🙂 For those of you new to the term #tambrahm, it’s short for ‘Tamil Brahmin’ – a tamil person who has been born into the caste of ‘Barhmin’s’ originating from Tamil Nadu. Now many disagree with using this term at all in this current time, but you cannot deny the amazing FOOD that is attached to this label.  This type of food is what I grew up with and that has inspired my blog and love of food and it’s part of my identity.

wearetambrahm

The ‘We Are Tambrahm’ Instagram page

So this forum We Are Tambrahm is a great site for typical #tambrahm quotes, sayings, traditions and of course…food!  You have to read it to get what I am saying and there are some great writers out there who contribute to this community blog. They are also on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram…yeyyy!  Look forward to reading more and I am sure lots of TamBrahms out there are already preparing their Paayasams and Vadai’s for the “Puthaandu” (New Year) celebrations this week!

 So..here’s wishing a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all those who are celebrating and watch this space for more #CookEatInspire posts 🙂

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Filed under Food, food festivals, TamBrahm, tamil, Uncategorized, vegan, 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.

Baingan Borani2

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!

spring salad3

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!

Aubergine Tofu2 PM

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

Freebie, Competition AND recipe!

An amazing competition, FREEBIE & recipe to giveaway to all you MKA followers! WATCH THIS SPACE! #MornflakeCereal #simonrim

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