Tag Archives: Srilankan

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 šŸ™‚

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 largeĀ breadcrumbs.

I quite like this You Tube video showing a Puttu technique using your hands:Ā 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 getĀ 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 wrapĀ 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)Ā 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 Ā šŸ™‚

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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. ItĀ is a comfortingĀ 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 oneĀ timeĀ 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 auberginesĀ (about 500-600g)Ā 

  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder

  • 1-2 teaspoons saltĀ 

  • Oil – enough to coat all the aubergine

For the curry:

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oilĀ 

  • 1 largeĀ onion , dicedĀ 

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

  • 2 sprigs curry leavesĀ 

  • 2-3 greenĀ chilies, slit lengthwaysĀ 

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds

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

  • 2 teaspoonĀ Srilankan curry powder

  • 2 teaspoon chilli powderĀ (or more if you like it quite spicy)

  • 200ml thick coconut milkĀ 

  • 250 ml waterĀ 

  • 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 theĀ 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. Ā 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 garlicĀ and sautĆ© for about aĀ minute. Then add the diced onions andĀ cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and cooked through. They may turn brownĀ 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 andĀ water. Cover and cook until it thickens. Add the pinch of asafoetida and the roasted aubergine, chickpeasĀ and combine gently. At this stage, if you are not vegan, then a splash of double cream makes a really yummy, rich taste. šŸ™‚

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

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Finally something worth posting about!

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Me being silly with the Hippo face oven glove šŸ™‚ (I need to get me some!)

My Kitchen Adventures is BACK! (I hope you’ve missed me šŸ™‚ )

It’s been quite a few months since I last posted on here and it is really nice to be writing againĀ šŸ™‚ So what’s new you ask? Well, I’m going to try out a new format for my posts which will reflect my food blog motto that I use all the time on Instagram and often on Twitter and Facebook too:

#CookEatInspire

My posts are now going to be monthly with some juicy new recipes and food talk and I thought it would be nice to incorporate my little motto #CookEatInspire in the following way:

Cook

This section will include either recipes of my own or from others and will be based on whatever has inspired me at the time. Ā I get inspired very easily when it comes to food, so if you have any suggestions or requests then please do comment at the bottom of this post. Thank you! Thank you! Ā ā™„

Eat

This will feature places that I have eaten at during the past month or so. They will mostly be restaurants, pop-ups or supperclubs, but maybe about a meal I have had at a friends or family members house. I am very thankful to be surrounded some very talented cooks and I can’t wait to tell you about some great dishes that will blow your tastebuds away!Ā There are soooooo many nice meals that I have eaten that are made by others, so it seems criminal not to be sharing them with you šŸ™‚ Is there a great restaurant or pop-up you would recommend? Then please do let me know! šŸ™‚ Ā Are you on Instagram? Then come and join me on my pageĀ where you can see what I have been up to lately and hopefully you’ll like the foodie pics too šŸ™‚

Inspire

In this last section of my posts, I hope to inspire you with foodies that have inspired me! This section maybe about articles related to food and nutrition, food bloggers, organisations or just anyone who has given me inspiration and pause for thought. OMG there is so much going on out there!!!

So my first new format post is coming out very soon so watch this space! Thank you so much to all of you who continue to support my (sometimes crazy!) food adventures and I am excited about this new chapter………

Suji x

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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 šŸ™‚ So the first recipe I have using aubergine is one which is a fusion from India and Persia and is called “Baingan Borani“. Borani is a term used in Persian cooking for a dish containing a cooked vegetable in a yoghurt gravy. We have a South Indian/Srilankan version which uses Aubergine burnt over a flame and I love the smokiness that this ‘pachadi’ (yoghurt salad) gives. I have also seen very similar yoghurt and aubergine recipes from Greece and Turkey and we couldn’t get enough of it during a trip to Istanbul. Baingan Borani is so flavourful that you don’t really miss the heat that you might usually add into such dishes and so it marries well with spicier side dishes or a spicy biryani or pulao.

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Baingan Borani (Aubergine in a Yoghurt Sauce)

The next Aubergine dish is a srilankan classic. “Kathrikkai Kuzhambu” is a favourite in many Srilankan households and is so yummy with Srilankan Roti’s, Pittu, Idiyappam or rice. The aubergine is the best product to soak up the spicy tamarind gravy and just melts in your mouth. I personally love this dish a day after it’s been made as the flavour really intensifies after 24 hours, but sometimes I just can’t wait that long! Ā 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!

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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 šŸ™‚ Although I have named it as a salad, you could have this as a meal on it’s own as it contains so many different nutrients and so flavourful. The earthy aubergine hits the tangy feta and the sour and sweet pomegranate and it’s like an explosion in your mouth!

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Quinoa salad with Aubergine

Finally, one of my favourite aubergine dishes from the Orient is Chinese Aubergine Chilli Tofu. This is soooooooooo good with just steaming hot jasmine rice or noodles and I love it especially during the colder times of the year when you just want to have some comfort food. You can make this as spicy as you like and vary some of the vegetables depending on what’s in season. But the base should be kept with Aubergine and Tofu as the texture of these two ingredients I think are really important in this recipe. Oh gosh, I’m salivating just at the thought of this dish!

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Chinese Aubergine Chilli Tofu

So I hope you enjoy these recipes usingĀ this stunning dark purple fruit and do let me know what you think! Suji x

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The food chemistry behind the Alchemy festival

So I sit here after a couple of days after this years experience of the Alchemy festival, not just with content after eating the delicious food, but with great inspiration and in awe that this might be the best food festival at the Southbank so far! I mean, how are they going to beat this next year?! Kerb’sĀ return to the Southbank has definitely started with a bang! It’s a wonderful spicy adventure with street food and drink from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and is running until the 25th May 2015. Ā If you haven’t been before, you are truly missing a delight for your taste buds! For me, as a frequent visitor of this festival, the fusion of music and food comes hand in hand. Delicious food for my tummy and melodious music to soothe my soul. However it has been a new experience for me behind one of the stalls this time and I have a new appreciation for the hard work that is involved in making each food stall a success. Hats off to you all! It’s a tough, tough job but you would never know it from all the big smiles that exude from the traders on these stalls and the friendly chat and absolute pleasure they display when making the food that they are all passionate about. All the street food traders are obviously passionate about food but I have had a privileged first hand experience in learning how much hard work is involved in bringing fresh, high quality ingredients to the customers at this festival. Papi’s PicklesĀ celebrates the rich heritage of both South Indian and Srilankan food and their dishes and pickles use not only seasonal produce but also local, organic and Fairtrade ingredients for street food markets, events as well as pop ups. And that’s not the end of their passion! They are also a social enterprise seeking to work with unemployed Srilankan and South Indian women, and they really have achieved so much considering they have only been running for about a year. Ā Abi, the founder of Papi’s Pickles is a truly inspirational lady and entrepreneur along with the rest of the team who have developed the enterpriseĀ to get this far in such a short period of time. It has been an absolute pleasure working with the ladies at Papi’s Pickles Ā and you really do have to visit their stall to here their inspiring stories and taste the yummy dishesĀ they have bought to this years festival. Definitely one organisation to keep an eye onĀ šŸ˜‰ Ā They have a unique menuĀ includingĀ pick-your-own-filling Uthappam’s, Kichdi with Srilankan Wambatu Moju and not forgetting their “to die for” Kulfi!

Abi from Papi's Pickles

Papi's Pickles

Papi’s Pickles

Delicious Uthappam by Papi's Pickles!

Delicious Uthappam by Papi’s Pickles!

Kothu KothuĀ brings the very famous “Kothu Roti” which is made with theatrical flare in front of your eyes!Ā It was a pleasure speaking to Dharani who tells of her inspiration to start her own business and her determination to make a markĀ on the street food scene with her tasty dishes. And what a delicious mark she has made! I was very impressed with the vegetarian kothu roti I ate, which also comes with the traditional lime wedge and of course, extra chilli šŸ™‚

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Kothu Kothu

Beaming smiles and lovely chat were served alongside the most delicious foodĀ from the team at Jaffrey’s Indian streetfood. The pakora’s are one of the crispiest I have ever eaten and I was particularly intrigued by the pureed aubergine sauce and chilli sauce which were refreshing and flavour-packed condiments served with the pakoras. Yum yum yum! Ā Perfect with a cup of hot chai which you can also get in a couple of the stalls there.

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Jaffrey’s Indian streetfood

Jaffreys indian streetfood

Or perhaps you may prefer one of the asian-inspired cocktails served at the Bar there. Some great flavour combinations which you can see in my photo below. Another little gem I discovered was the Ice Kitchen corner stall – the pistachio and rose ice lolly was out of this world! They have really fresh and clever flavour combinations that I haven’t come across with your usual ice lolliesĀ and I can’t wait to get a copy of theirĀ recipe book. 20150517_171147

This festival is like the “Mecca” for London foodies and for me it was a great pleasure this year to have met some fellow foodies Nessy Sam, Trishna Shah and Mallika Basu who I had previously connected with on social media. Along with the new stalls at the Alchemy festival this year there are also some familiar faces including Dosa Deli, The Peckish Peacock and Horn Ok Please. Ā You really are spoilt for choice and I am definitely not missing the chanceĀ to go againĀ to try the rest of the food and drinkĀ before the end of the festival (and attempt to grow a second stomach too!). I am already thinking about what other dishes I am going to try out on my next visit and unashamedly drooling while doing so. I know…but you will understand the greediness I experience if you have already been to the festival šŸ™‚ I really am no alchemist, but I’m sureĀ some of this is pure food ‘magic’!

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Is it Feb already?!

Wow. It is February. In the New Year. 2015. Whaaaaaaat?! A little freak out here!! I had so many plans (as usual) and so many things I wanted to have completed by now. Usually I would heave a big sigh and start moaning how I need to be more organised and moan about how little time there is to do everything….blah…blah…blah. But this year, unlike the “usual me”, I have brushed off the list of things I still haven’t done and can happily say ” oh well” and that I will definitely get around to it. It’s ok if I haven’t done it. For those of you who are like me – a control FREAK! – then you’ll understand how the aforementioned actions can be tough.Ā A REAL challenge in fact!

Ok, so before you send me to see a psychiatrist, haa haa, here’sĀ my first blogĀ for the new year. Yeyyyy! Ā In addition, this monthĀ alsoĀ commemorates a year since I started this blog and for me it’s proof that time does fly when you’re having fun šŸ™‚

My inspiration for the latest set of recipes, come from the need of comfort food. No matter where you are in the world, you always need that feeling that your food is like a huge hug in your mouth and makes Life feel better again. Oh yeah…you know that feeling. So my first recipe comes to you from the Far East country of Thailand which brings heat and spice to warm up even the most IcyĀ of Queens. My Thai Green curry is just my take on a big comfort food that my family and I love and I think the only difference really is the quantity of veg. Usually the Veg Thai curry that I eat at restaurants are yummy, but lack veg and I normally fight over the last pieces of veg with the person I am sharing it with. So my Thai curry does have a few vegetables that are not traditionally found in a Thai Green Curry, but I think nevertheless absorb the flavours and go together well. I am not going to preach about making your own Thai curry paste either, as the shop bought ones are not bad at all. However like most things, homemade makes a better and fresh taste and you can make it according to your liking. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Thai Green Curry with Lotus Root Fry and Quinoa

I have also had requests for a couple of traditional recipes and I have writtenĀ ones from one half of my family, Sri Lanka. Pittu is a great alternative to having rice with curries and is also healthier as it uses red rice which has more nutrients and is less processed than white rice apparently. Most of the time it’s steamed with grated coconut, but is equally yummy with greens and other grated or finely cut vegetables like carrots and cabbage. Ā My family and I love Pittu with Aubergine in a tamarind gravy (Kathrikkai Kuzhambu) and Soya & Beans curry. My recipes are slightly different to the traditional ones as they don’t involve frying the veg in a lot of oil and use baking and steaming instead to retain maximum flavour, nutrients and most of all that all important comforting feeling. šŸ™‚ I’d really like to know your thoughts on these if you try it out, or what your favourite dishes are to go with Pittu.

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Last, but not least is a sweet and satisfying dessert. I was saddened to hear that the King of Chocolate, Mr Michele Ferrero passed away a few days ago. His chocolate were the only ones that were favourites in our household and I can’t remember a Christmas without Ferrero Rocher. Good times indeed and I know his chocolate will be remembered for many more years to come as they are timeless flavours. I myself am not a chocaholic in the slightest, but Ferrero Rocher and Nutella I do love when the craving arises. So in tribute to the late Mr Ferrero, I have written my version of Nigella’s Chocolate cheesecake using Nutella. A big hug of chocolate to startĀ a great year ahead I feel :-). Click here for the recipe and I hope you like it!

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