Tag Archives: winter

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 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 🙂

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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 🙂

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 🙂

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