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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Best-Ever Bombay Sandwiches

Best-Ever Bombay Sandwiches

Triple-decker toasted sandwiches filled with potatoes, spicy coriander and mint chutney, red onions, grilled paneer and tomatoes are what makes these pimped-up Bombay sandwiches the ultimate Indian-inspired snack. With Indian street food vendors popping up all over the UK, selling everything from Kati Rolls to Pau Bhaji, and Masala Dosa to Samosas, we’re becoming accustomed to having delicious Indian street food on tap… and we want it fast. Not only that; but it better be damn perfect too. Believe it or not, but I’ve heard students in King’s Cross complain there’s far too much tadka on top of their dosa chutney and ajwain in their samosa pastry. We’ve become a nation of Indian street food connoisseurs and it’s bloody brilliant. Re-creating street food classics like these Bombay Sandwiches at home is so simple. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a sandwich. But not just any sandwich. Traditional Bombay sandwiches consist of two pieces of bread with slices of boiled potato, mint and coriander chutney, onions, cucumber and tomatoes on sliced white bread, I’ve taken it a …

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

Beautiful, butter-soft aubergines simmered in a rich makhani sauce for three hours are what you’ll be dreaming about tonight. It’s velvety smooth and perfect with basmati rice and fluffy Garlic and Coriander Naan. I’ve recently fallen in love with my slow cooker and have been batch cooking soya mince and black bean chilli, spicy coconut daal and this delicious Aubergine Makhani. The basis my sauce is an irresistible combo of butter (it’s not a makhani without butter!), tomatoes, selective spicing and a touch of cream to finish. It makes for a perfectly-balanced sauce to coat juicy aubergine pieces. Slow cooking is a great way of making sure your aubergines remain chunky and don’t fall apart. If you’re looking for an equally delicious aubergine recipe where they are first blackened, then mashed, head this way. One of my favourite dishes to eat in Indian restaurants is Paneer Makhani or Paneer Butter Masala. If it’s on the menu, there’s a 99% chance I’ll be all over it. After trying it in a number of different restaurants, I …

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

If you’d have told me before today that there’s something quite beautiful about making your own pistachio paste from scratch, I’d have probably told you you’re a mug. Turns out it’s only bloody brilliant. I’ve been nuts about pistachio desserts ever since my taste buds got their first fix of the gorgeously-green ice cream as a kid. That sweet fragrance of pistachios and just a hint of almond reminds me of both Indian sweet shops with their rows upon rows of Pista Halwa and cherry-topped Bakewell Tarts. It’s what I imagine heaven for sweet-toothed food bloggers smells like. Also present in said heaven would be Mr Kipling (the master of baked goods), Lionel Ritchie (with his smooth-as-buttermilk voice) and Madhuri Dixit (with her timeless beauty). So like all the components of this, my dream cake… all the greats. To get the perfect green pistachio paste, the pistachios should be unsalted, shelled and skinned. If you have the good fortune to encounter them in all their emerald-green glory in a shop, buy them. If, like me, …

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 …