Year: 2018

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Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

I will always order Palak Paneer if it’s on the menu in a restaurant. It’s the law. I could forgo rice and bread and quite simply eat a bowl of Palak Paneer with a spoon. You can tell a good Indian restaurant from a bad one by the quality of their Palak Paneer. Have they bothered to blend the sauce for a rich, luxurious finish? If it’s left chunky with tomatoes, lots of turmeric and far too many spices, it’s probably the base for another dish on the menu doubled up to be used for Palak Paneer too. It also shouldn’t be labelled Saag Paneer on the menu. Saag Paneer is an entirely different dish made with delicious, peppery mustard greens and shouldn’t be confused with the milder-tasting Palak Paneer made with spinach. It’s delightful when restaurant Palak Paneer turns out to have a smooth and creamy blended spinach sauce with a bright green colour. You can tell it’s been made with care and attention. simple flavoured sauce paired with a big, bold and spicy …

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

When special occasions are fast approaching and I’ve run out of time to whip up something sweet, it’s Indian-inspired Rocky Road to the rescue! It’s truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully. I’ve been known to leave things to the last minute at Diwali time when it’s customary to gift Indian sweets to your nearest and dearest. This recipe is a quick and easy raid-the-cupboard workaround that hits the spot when Pendas, Jalebis, Gulab Jamuns and Burfis are all too time consuming to make. It’s also great for people who aren’t too keen on Indian sweets. I’ve added all the things I love to this (namely pistachios, Nankhatai from the wonderful Chins’ Kitchen and Turkish delight) but you can swap any of these for what you like best. Other delicious mix-ins would be candied pineapple, coconut cookies and chopped dates. If you’re after a more authentic Indian sweet taste, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom …

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

“Ping!” My ears pricked up like those of a famished fox on bin day. That was the sound of the oven telling us our quick eggless sponge cake was ready. I was seven years old and obsessed with baking with my mum in the little kitchen above our corner shop. It was our home for the first ten years of my life and the place where I first fell in love with food and the idea of cooking. Cakes eluded me as I never indulged in them at friends’ birthday parties. Like many Gujarati Hindus, we are a family of lacto-vegetarians so don’t eat eggs. My mum never wanted us to miss out so she would test recipes for the perfect fluffy eggless sponge cakes for us at home. A hundred iterations of cakes made with everything from condensed milk and sour cream, to custard powder and buttermilk. I’d watch intently the whole time, soaking up the baking smells and tips. We baked them in the oven and cooked them in the microwave, in silicone liners and …

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

One of my most favourite meals in the world is the iconic Punjabi dish, Tandoori Paneer Tikka. When this street food gem is served alongside lemon wedges, salad and mint and coriander chutney, nothing else comes close. The beauty of simple ingredients, very few spices and fiery cooking method ensures this dish is world famous for its leopard-spotted char and smoky flavours. I’ve been working on this recipe for the ultimate Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka made without a tandoor or barbecue for SO long. You’ll notice my dreams of installing a big, badass tandoor in my garden still haven’t come to fruition. Don’t worry though, I’ve found a great workaround. It’s a recipe that gives you restaurant or street-style flavours at home with minimal effort. Spoiler: there’s no grill or oven involved either. Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky …

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk with Bean Fritters)

What are your favourite food smells? For me, you can’t get any better than veggies roasting over an open fire. The flavours of corn, aubergines, peppers and okra and onions are all heightened when you introduce them to flames. I have such precious memories of holidaying in Mombasa, melting away in the smell of fire-roasted maize on the cob, mohogo and sweet potatoes. These, combined with the lingering smell of hot coals, gasoline and frying potatoes in the salty, coastal air transports me to a happy place that’s almost as comforting as the welcoming warmth of my bed at home. I’m lucky enough to have grown up with three cultures; British, Indian and Kenyan. I grew up in the 90s, lived in an all-white area and was forever told that my house/packed lunch/hair always “smells like curry” by my peers. If that wasn’t odd enough, I was also the only vegetarian at school (remember this was before “plant-based” and “vegan” diets were mainstream and instafamous). When my lunches weren’t cucumber sandwiches and crisps, they were …

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

Salted Caramel Mohanthal

My grandfather was a sweet maker. He had big, thick-skinned hands that were made for harvesting sugar canes using a machete and stirring giant pots of bubbling syrup. He never used a sugar thermometer. He could tell it was done just by looking at the consistency of the syrup, perhaps testing it using a little cold water to see if it had a “one-string consistency ” or what a western pastry chef might call the “soft ball stage”. Indian sweet making isn’t for the feint hearted, you see. It’s painstakingly long, laborious, hot and intense work. Stirring, stirring, all the time you’re stirring. No, don’t stop because it will catch on the bottom and your whole mixture will taste scorched. Some of the most revered and expensive ingredients in Indian culture: sugar, milk, ghee and saffron, all wasted. If it was your full-time job and you had a knack for getting distracted, you’d be out of the door faster than you can say, “Oh fudge!”. If you’ve ever stepped inside an Indian sweet shop you’ll be …

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Hot, sour, sweet and salty; These are the characteristics of the Gujarati dishes I grew up eating. From spongy Khaman Dhokla, to Sev Tameta nu Shaak, chickpea flour plays an integral role in the make up of regional Gujarati food. It’s used for batters and bhajiya (across India), as the basis for Pudla (chickpea flour pancakes) and as a thickener for soups like the yoghurt-based favourite, Kadhi. One thing all of these dishes have in common is that each one is famous for being hot, sour, sweet and salty. Another savoury Gujarati snack that’s known for having these explosive and delicious flavours is Khandvi. It’s a village-style rolled pasta made with chickpea flour and yoghurt (in this case, soy yoghurt) which is always served with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies crackled in hot oil. The sound and smell of the smoking oil hitting the smooth surface of the pasta rolls gives me all the feels. The texture is soft, silky and it melts in your mouth, unlike the wheat pasta we’re …

Why It’s Never Okay to Lift Recipes from Food Bloggers (or Anywhere, Really)

TL;DR: Because it’s dishonest, immoral and people work damn hard to do what they do. Be a decent human. It happens all the time and only sometimes are we fortunate enough to spot it. Last year a well-known vegan recipe brand which rose to fame and made fortunes through Facebook “hands and pans” videos lifted plagiarised a recipe from this blog, my blog, the one I’ve written and put my heart into for nine years. I didn’t pick up on it at first. It was sent to me privately by a reader and as soon as I saw the post, I spotted comments from my readers calling the brand out on their blatant dupe of my recipe. These comments received no responses and were later deleted by the brand, including a comment made by myself asking why they did not credit me for my work. My work. My work. Yeah, I work seriously hard to create, test, style, photograph and write recipes for this blog. It consumes full weekends at a time per recipe and …

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Yes, you read the title correctly and no, this is not a drill. I’ve been experimenting with my Vegan Butter Chicken recipe for a VERY long time. After dozens of iterations, I’m finally ready and so excited to share it with you. There were multiple components to get right here; the seitan chicken needed to be firm, pullable and flavoursome without being overpowering or overly spiced. The colour needed to be light inside, not brown. Next, the sauce. Perfect Butter Chicken sauce is the holy grail of modern North Indian cooking and everyone has their own way of doing it. It’s one of the most popular restaurant dishes around the world because of its subtlety and simplicity and it’s not always easy to find that balance. For me, the tomato sauce has to be silky smooth, lightly spiced, a little bit sour but with a touch of sweetness too. I like using aromatic spices in small quantities – it makes all the difference increamy curries. In my Vegan Butter Chicken, you can pick out heady …

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts (Vegan)

Jambo! Flicking through hard to come by East African cookbooks fills me with that familiar, comforting feeling of when I cosy up with my favourite Indian ones. Exotic spices, simple veggies and coconut milk everything is what makes it feel so fresh, vibrant and soul warming. Being nourished with a mishmash of Indian, African and British food has all my life, allowed me to connect and experiment with the culinary cultures of all these cuisines. In other words, I’ve been spoilt and have loved every minute of it. Hell, I’ve been rabbiting on about it to you all since I started this blog in 2009 (yeah, it’s been that long!) For my generation, it feels like the Indian influence on East African cooking is a hush-hush camp, with recipes hidden away inside the spirits of expat grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles. As sad as it may sound, I’m a 29-year old who’s worried that Zanzibar Trail Mix, Malindi Halwa and Ugandan Kasodi will one day be forgotten. We can’t let that happen, guys! In the name …

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

Well guys, I only went and freakin’ had a baby! I’ve been meaning to update you here for a while now but have sort of had my hands full with a brand new little human. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my daily updates on the little terror’s progress. For those of you who don’t, let me fill you in… Nothing went to plan. I half expected that to happen because when it comes to babies, nothing is straightforward. The parents amongst you all will know that all too well. Our little guy decided he was no longer going to grow in my belly so was evicted at 37 weeks under our doctor’s advice. And superb advice it was because after a failed induction, he arrived via emergency c-section at a tiny but mighty 4lb 1oz. Yeah. He was serious about getting out of there and getting some real food on the outside. Sounds like my boy. Yep – I had a BOY! He’s been doing some serious milk guzzling over the …

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen that I’ve recently been posting about the joys of my pregnancy so far. We’ve managed to finish up the nursery, pack the hospital bags (so they’re ready to go when we need to) and found out that the baby is measuring up well. She or he (we are keeping the gender a surprise for all our friends and family) is a proper night owl, spinning, hiccuping and fidgeting at the most unsociable hours. Sounds a lot like my Mr if you ask me… Three weeks ago I also found out that I have gestational diabetes (GD). Sitting in that hospital for over 2 hours for my glucose tolerance test, I had a feeling deep down that it wouldn’t go so well. We have a family history of type 2 diabetes and being Asian meant I ticked two of the three boxes on the high risk checklist. Still, that didn’t mean that the news wasn’t a shock. I was at work when I found out and I …