Author: Sanjana

About Sanjana

Food photographer, digital producer and dreamer of all things delicious. This blog on Indian and East African vegetarian food is my place of reflection and retreat.

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Recent posts

Mint Chocolate Fondants with Fennel Seed Creme Fraiche

Eggless Mint Chocolate Fondants & Fennel Seed Crème Fraîche

There are some flavour combinations that just shouldn’t be messed with. Mint and chocolate is one of them. The Mr isn’t a fan of desserts. I’ll often spend hours in the kitchen trying to perfect eggless and vegan cakes, cheesecakes, cookies and brownies. Yet no matter how happy I am with how one might have turned out (which, I’ll be honest, doesn’t happen often), he still won’t touch it. Unless it’s mint chocolate. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like ice cream. That changed when I met my husband. I’ll be honest, I thought it was super weird. The one exception to his no-ice-cream rule is mint chocolate, it has to be totally frozen (soft serve is never an option), topped with strawberry syrup and hazelnuts. Just. So. Weird. So here I am. It’s Valentine’s Day – which for the record, I think is a load of old bollocks. We don’t do presents and ridiculous extravagant gestures – we never have and never will. However, it isn’t very often he doesn’t work weekends so when …

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf f

Baked Buttered Vegetable Pilaf

One of the many great pleasures in the kitchen comes from not only the dishes that can be prepared in a flash, but from those that have steps, processes and a beautiful end result. From lasagne to Kashmini Dum Aloo, and layer cakes to biryani, the meals that beg for a little more love and attention than your 10-minute post-work salad are sometimes what you need to appreciate truly great food. This pilaf is one of those recipes.  It takes 90 minutes to prepare, 35 minutes to bake and probably just 10 minutes to devour. Like any Indian rice dish, it requires a dash of spice and a whole load of TLC. The end result is a buttery platter of golden rice and crisp-tender vegetables that pair perfectly with any curry or simply with a bowl of lime and coriander yoghurt. The idea is to partially cook each component of the dish before arranging it in a buttered roasting tin, covering with damp greaseproof paper (cartouche) and foil, and then baking until the rice is …

Salted Sesame Caramel Bars

Sesame Salted Caramel Bars

My name is Sanjana and I’m a caramelholic. Rich, luxurious caramel with a pinch of sea salt reminds me of the gooey-centered masterpieces I overindulged on in my favourite Parisian chocolateries some years ago. These days, whenever I hear the words ‘salted caramel’, my ears prick up like a meerkat on predator watch. And because it’s become so popular, this happens often. In this recipe, I’ve paired salted caramel with toasted sesame seeds, dark chocolate and a touch of coconut oil. Trust me when I say this flavour combo will take you straight to heaven. Nutty sesame seeds are ground and added into the biscuit base before being topped with a ridiculously-generous amount of salted caramel blended with coconut oil. The caramel is then set and crowned with sesame oil-spiked dark chocolate. Be sure to line your tin with plenty of greaseproof paper and groundnut oil to make sure they don’t stick. Try to chill overnight and cut with a super-sharp and hot knife. The deep, nutty flavours make these bars the perfect after-dinner treat …

Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos with Avocado Sauce Large

Vegan Masala Cauliflower and Broccoli Tacos with Avocado Sauce

I love sitting at the table and enjoying a meal that was created for sharing. Whether it’s a one-pot curry or daal, a hearty salad with warm bread, or these cauliflower and broccoli tacos. With all of the fillings served at the table, this vegan dinner is perfect for assembling as you eat. That way, you can add more or less of whatever you like. The only problem you might have is fitting it all into the one wrap. I’ve made that mistake way more than I care to remember – especially when there’s avocado and coriander sauce involved. The batter is puffy, light and packed with spices reminiscent of bhajia – a super popular Indian starter. Like fish tacos, the bite-sized vegetables are coated and fried until golden and crispy. It’s best to do this right before serving so they’re hot and delicious for your vegan tacos. Packed with lime, garlic and yoghurt, the creamy sauce is perfectly balanced to douse any heat from the fried green chillies. It’s so tempting to eat it …

Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake

Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake

After a blissful late honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand, life in chilly England resumes. But thankfully I brought a few exotic Thai goodies back in my suitcase. Mango wafers, longan toffees, Thai honey and this gorgeous flaked coconut crowning my loaf cake. Packed with coconut flavour, this eggless cake can be baked in a loaf tin or round cake tin. It’s great sandwiched with raspberry jam and buttercream but today, I wanted an exotic cake that reminded me of the mouth-watering flavours of Thailand. If you have a large loaf tin (25cm in length), this will make one loaf. If not, two smaller tins will be perfect. Greek yoghurt is the perfect way to ensure this cake stays fluffy and rich inside and of course, there’s not a speck of butter in sight. Why use butter when coconut oil has so much more to give? Cold-pressed coconut oil makes a wonderful loaf cake as it helps it retain its shape as well as keeping the cake fluffy and perfect inside as the coconut oil cools. It’s …

Potato and Pea Coconut Milk Curry

Potato and Pea Coconut Milk Curry

One of my favourite quick dinners growing up was pea and potato curry.  It’s a simple staple in every Gujarati home and perfect with just rice and/or Homemade Chapattis – Gujarati Rotli depending on how hungry you are. Not forgetting the obligatory dollop of natural yoghurt, which brings any dinner together. My brother wouldn’t even touch his dinner unless there was a pot of yoghurt on the table. He still doesn’t. This was one of those after-school meals that, when scooped up with garam garam rotli would give you the same feelings as you get when you cuddle your mum, curl up in your cosy bed and hear your favourite song all at the same time. For me, it’s always been the epitome of comfort food. It can be done with just tomato sauce and whole cumin seeds but I’ve injected a little more richness and flavor into the sauce with a touch of coconut milk and some sesame seeds.  I love the flavour combination of sesame seeds and potatoes. Silky soft potatoes simmered in …

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (4)

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls

This is not just any old wrap. This is a flavoursome, satisfying chapatti wrap filled with rich paneer, tangy lemon and mouth-watering spices. Seriously, M&S would be proud. These kati rolls are simple, filling and perfect for lunch or dinner. You can stuff them with anything you like, from scrambled paneer to Bombay potatoes. Traditional kati rolls come from Kolkata where they are essentially a kebab wrapped in paratha. Just like sandwiches and wraps you’ll find all over the world, from gyros to banh mi, kati rolls are a street food favourite because they lend themselves to eating on-the-go – a must in any bustling city. My take on kati rolls combines my passion for paneer bhurji (North Indian-style spiced, scrambled paneer) and hot chapattis. I figured if I was going to fill something with pure paneer and vegetables, I’d better use a chapatti rather than ghee-filled paratha. If you’re not bothered about the extra calories, I’d recommend you go the whole hog and wrap your bhurji in hot, buttery paratha. There’s nothing quite like it. …

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream

Seeroh is one of those desserts that brings out the greedy little kid in me. Sweet semolina tossed with spices and so buttery it melts as soon as it hits your tongue. Flippin’ gorgeous. And before you ask, it’s nothing like ‘school dinner’ semolina. Not even close. Years ago we’d make special trips to the mandir (temple) during Navratri and Diwali to pray for the year ahead, see family and have an amazing, spiritual evening. Of course, I was there for all of these reasons, plus for the reason that there would be prashad – sweets like Seeroh offered to the gods that evening. After putting my hands together in prayer, I’d open them up and wait patiently for my Seeroh. I believe glace cherries have three purposes in life; to garnish cocktails, top cherry bakewells and stud this delicious addictive treat. If you really don’t like them, replace with candied lemon or orange pieces. They’ll add an incredible texture to contrast the soft texture of this dessert. I love experimenting with different flavour combinations …

Mohanthal-sm

Gujarati Mohanthal

Okay, round two. Not only is this our second Diwali sweet of the week – it’s also my second time making this Gujarati favourite for my blog. Mohanthal  (pronounced: moHanTHaal) are squares of mace-laced butter fudge made with chickpea flour. A staple in homes during festivals, these sweet pieces of fudge are studded with crunchy pieces of chickpea flour ‘crumble’ or ‘dhrabo’. Mohanthal can be served in two ways: In pieces like the kind here, or loose as a lava-like liquid gold you scoop up with a spoon and nothing more. There’s a time and a place for both. Pieces of Mohanthal are perfect for gifting to friends and family during Diwali. The loose kind is more of a hot dessert served after a traditional Gujarati meal. My favourite way to have it is right after a meal of Aakhu Shaak (whole vegetables stuffed with peanut masala), daal, rice, rotli and sambharo (stir-fried cabbage and carrots with mustard seeds). Heaven. Shop-bought Mohanthal will often be brown in colour but I like my mine to be bright …

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa

I used to love going into Indian sweet shops as a little nipper, especially around Diwali. Wide-eyed and full of wonder, the shop keepers would see me peering through their glass cases at the majestic displays of endless halwa, burfi, penda, jalebi, kaju katli, mohanthal gulab jambu, rasmalai and everything in between. I very quickly became an expert at getting free samples. My dad would always ask me what I’d like in my special box of sweets. I’d think long and hard about which ones would make the cut – it was a very important decision. To this day, he still buys me my own box of sweets and even if I’m not there to choose them, he somehow always picks my favourites. The one that always stood out was the Bombay Halwa. It’s one of the only sweet that comes in lots of different colours – and they’re SO bright. Rows of translucent pink, yellow, green and orange jellies studded with jewel-like pistachios and cashews. They were bright and beautiful and I was a …

biscoff-cake

Darkest-Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake with Biscoff and Chai-Spiced Buttercream

I remember being six years old and fascinated by cake. Today, I’m 26 and still obsessed with it. I once had a tragic experience with Death by Chocolate Cake. I begged and begged for it until my parents gave in, probably knowing I’d regret it the next day. Needless to say, it did exactly what it said on the box. I didn’t look at another cake for a very long time. These days, I prefer my cakes with far less sugar… but still packing heaps of chocolate. There’s nothing better than the marriage between intense chocolate sponge and subtle chai spices. This four-layer cake stays super moist because the sponge is soaked with a little bit of dark rum. If you don’t want to use rum, you can use a bit of gingerbread syrup (like the kind you add to coffee) or just leave it out. As the layers are thin, the buttercream will do a great job of keeping it moist. For a rich chocolate kick, two teaspoons of good-quality instant coffee works a …

Homemade Chapattis

Homemade Chapattis – Gujarati Rotli

The smell that floods a home when the first chapatti goes on the cast-iron hotplate surrounds me with comfort and joy I cannot even explain. It’s my most favourite smell in the whole world because it represents my childhood, my family and every moment (both happy and sad) in our home. Gujarati chapattis (rotli) are the glue that sticks everything Indian families eat together… or should I say the bread the scoops up all of our daals and curries. They’re an everyday staple and without them, a weeknight meal would be incomplete. I’ve known men who won’t touch their dinner unless there are hot, freshly-made rotlis on the table. Softer and smaller than your average Punjabi or Pakistani Roti (the kind you’d get in most restaurants), these Gujarati Rotli have oil in the dough and are cooked on a super-hot cast-iron tawa/lodhi, leaving them delicious and toasty. I don’t cook them on an open flame because they’re so soft, they’d just break. They still puff up like hot air balloons as they cook on the lodhi. …