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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Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup & Twisted Naan Knots

“Indian soup again?! Urgh!” I said as my mum prepared a weeknight meal of Indian-style tomato soup to be eaten with buttered rolls. As a hungry eight year old I wondered why we couldn’t just be like a “normal” family and eat cream of tomato straight from the can, with not a speck of masala in sight. I didn’t realise it at the time but deep down, what I was really asking for was the soup my “normal” non-immigrant white friends had for tea. I thought we weren’t normal and most worryingly of all, I thought normal was good. I grew up in a small village in West Yorkshire. We were one of three Asian families living there and until I reached my first decade I never felt too different to anyone else. My brother and I were the only Hindus of Indian and African descent at our school and sometimes our customs would get poked fun at by the other kids, but never in a way that made us feel embarrassed. The rakhis I …

Turmeric Milk Melktert

Eggless Turmeric Milk Tart

Shove over overpriced Turmeric Latte and Golden Milk. It’s Haldi Doodh and it always has been! Ever since I heard about the South African Melktert (Milk Tart) I knew I had to try it. It’s creamy, custardy and packed with delicious cinnamon flavours on top of a shortcrust pastry base. What’s not to love? Much like a British custard tart, the Melktert is made with egg yolks for that famous custard-like wobble. As you know, yolks are not my setting agent of choice – I’m going rogue and using my own blend of cornflour (cornstarch) and wheat flour blended with milk. I was inspired by Paul Hollywood’s show City Bakes on Food Network, where he makes an Earl Grey Melktert in Cape Town. The show is fantastic and you can watch the episode tonight, 15th May on Food Network. Give it a watch and try out a take on the famous Melktert. Since it began, I’ve boycotted the rise of the turmeric milk fad that seems to have infiltrated every coffee shop and café in …

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Eggless Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandparents recently. I never really knew them, two of them not at all, and for that I feel utterly cheated. I’ve always known it. I guess this is just the first time I’ve ever put it into words. I think about what they were like, their interests, loves, hates and of course, what they cooked. My ears ache to hear the stories behind Cauliflower and Cashew Curry, 7-Vegetable Khichri and Dhilo Mohanthal. I know they were famous in our family but where did my grandparents learn to cook them and most importantly, who or what inspired them in the first place? Nanabapu and Bapuji were chefs with the best kind of training – doing apprenticeships in hotels and restaurants, and later cooking their family recipes for other families. I think we’d have been great friends and I, an excellent student. I wonder if they’d teach me the skills I need to pipe Ghatia (fried chickpea snacks) and Jalebi (syrup-soaked spirals) the way they did in India and Kenya? I’ve learned …

Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani

Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani

Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your daily routine that you forget to reward yourself by doing the things that unfog your mind and bring joy to your soul. At least that’s what I’ve felt these past few weeks. Last time I blogged, I told you about my Trigeminal Neuralgia and how it shook up my world for a long time before I actually sought out a solution. Well, I’ve been on carbamazepine for some three months now and I’m finally starting to feel like a real human again. Hurray! I had a beautiful week of rest and relaxation in Cancun with my husband recently and it was real bliss. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, you’ll have seen I was being one of those annoying people who overshare holiday pictures. I loved it! Not only did we eat the freshest guacamole every day with breakfast, lunch and dinner, I also discovered how soul-warming and not to mention, perfectly perfumed fresh corn tortillas are. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to …

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

If I was only able to flavour my desserts with three things for the rest of my life, cardamom and saffron would be two of them. The third would be a toss up between vanilla and cinnamon, but thankfully such grand decisions don’t have to be made. I’ve been away for a little while, still here but not here if you know what I mean. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know the story but if you don’t, here’s a really short round up. So for the last 6 months I’ve had this shooting pain across my right cheek. It’s like an electric current and unspeakably painful, and in my teeth too. After going back and forth to the dentist and GP who both championed OTC painkillers (why do they do that?! They are not the answer to everything and can mask real underlying issues!) I went to see a neurologist who confirmed that I have Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). It’s a nerve disorder that causes facial pain and sometimes it gets really bad. Shitty, …

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Ugandan Rolex: East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

I’ve always been slightly bitter that I could never appreciate the beauty of a breakfast burrito. Don’t worry, I most certainly haven’t fallen off the vegetarian bandwagon. For me, the idea of something so filling, flavoursome and not to mention, gigantic for breakfast makes me weak at the knees. I’m that person who gives breakfast burrito street stalls serious side eye as I pass by. Jealousy. All of this was true up until the point of discovering the ‘Rolex’. Nope, we’re not chowing down on eye-wateringly expensive watches for breakfast; We’re eating spicy omelettes with onions, chillies, shredded cabbage and tomatoes, all wrapped in hot, flaky flatbread. Found on the bustling, buzzing streets of Kampala, Masaka and dozens more towns and cities in Uganda, Rolex is one of the most delicious and underrated street foods you’ll come across in East Africa. A beautiful combination of textures and flavours, in a portable roll for eating on the go. It’s so popular, there’s an entire festival dedicated to it. Any festival dedicated to something that resembles a …

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla and Cardamom Poached Pears

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla-Cardamom Poached Pears

I like my pancakes fluffy, stacked high and drenched in syrup. If they just so happen to come with a side of spiced pears, I wouldn’t turn my nose up. Aquafaba, or chickpea brine is the magical egg white alternative rocking the vegan food world. From Vegan Macarons, to Pavlova, Meringue Nests, Meringue Kisses and even vegan cheese, the discovery of aquafaba by Goose Wohlt opens up a whole lot of possibilities for eating the foods you love and sticking to a vegan diet. As many of you already know, I love playing around with this ingredient, conjuring up my own takes on dishes I adore, and all the while veganizing them for my family, friends and you fantastic people. My favourite Sunday morning ritual when I have friends or family over is to start on a big batch of pancakes while everyone’s still asleep. Not only does it make the entire house smell like the inside of a bakery that just had a massive vanilla cake eruption, it also ensures I get a huge smile …

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

I have a massive soft spot for hot desserts: Chocolate lava cake, sticky toffee pudding, gulab jamun and ice cream, seeroh and cold cream and of course, churros and chocolate. Or churros and dulce de leche. Or churros and scented candle wax. Okay maybe not the last one but basically, I’ll eat churros with anything. Like many others before me, I believe that there’s a separate stomach for dessert. You can eat all the empanadas, cassava fries and frijoles you like but in my book, the sensation of something sweet on your palate is always a welcome one. And this second stomach rule doesn’t just extend to South American food and hot desserts – it could be palak paneer, naan and kulfi, or thai massaman curry, papaya salad and coconut sticky rice with mango. They’re all delicious and all made better with something sweet for the finale. Churros are one of my favourites; the delicious coating, crispy outside, soft, semi-hollow inside and the gooey dip for controlled dunking. I love it all, and so much …

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Doughnuts)

I figured that as everyone seems to have totally lost their minds this year, I’d follow suit in my own crazy way. You might have noticed a Facebook and Instagram post I wrote, earlier this month. It was a big deal for me, having dedicated a huge amount of myself to this blog. In case you missed it, it served as a reminder to myself that if we pursue our passions with our whole selves, we must not forget to extract every last bit of love it gives back to us. Anyway, enough of that soppy stuff… it’s rum time! I have a love/hate relationship with gulab jamun (or gulab jambu as we call them at home). I mean this in the sense that I love to eat them but hate that I can never just have one.  These sweet, saffron, rose and cardamom-soaked milk doughnuts are one of the most well-known Indian desserts, and the chances are, they’re on your local Indian restaurant’s menu. Kala jamuns are the lesser-known big sister of gulab jamun. …

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Every year, ask me what I want for my birthday and you’ll get the same response each time. It’s not an expensive pair of shoes and it’s not perfume, it definitely isn’t a designer handbag or clothes. I don’t really care about those things. What I really want is my own tandoor. The idea of having a raging-hot pit of fiery coals in my kitchen makes me go weak at the knees. Install a beautiful granite countertop and leave just enough space for a cavernous drop into a heat-proof cylinder. Pop in a clay oven and watch me go nuts with recipes galore. I’ll pretend I’m Sanjeev Kapoor or Cyrus Todiwala, reaching in with my gigantic asbestos hands. I’ll be making fresh, homemade naan with charred edges and chewy middles, kebabs of all shapes and sizes and the best baked potatoes of your life. I’d be ALL over it. One thing I’d definitely be making are proper Tandoori Momos, the hottest Indian street food trend of the minute. Classic Nepali dumplings, slathered in Tandoori marinade and …

How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave

How to Make Cookie Dough Chocolate Burfi in the Microwave

Ask any Indian to name their favourite sweets and I’m certain burfi will be on the list. This melt-in-the-mouth fudge is made with milk powder and condensed milk, and can be flavoured with pretty much anything that takes your fancy. Coconut, pistachio, rose, saffron, cardamom and chocolate are firm faves, with chocolate topping the list for kids. In my family, I’ve been known as a burfi monster since I was a kid. I was gap toothed, chubby cheeked and all about the sweet stuff. My wonderful masi used to make sure she had a stash of chocolate burfi whenever I went to visit on special occasions – and still does to this day. And although I’ve learned to control myself over the years, I’ll always be its’ number one fan. Diwali was always a special time in our home. It would warrant us going to Indian sweet shops to stock up on boxes of brightly-coloured treasures to share with family and friends. My dad’s heart is as big as my appetite so he always made …

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Dad's Masala Chips

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and My Pa’s Masala Chips

I’m a veggie burger snob. There, I said it. Nothing compares to a veggie burger packed with a delicious combo of spices, herbs and quality extras. I have a few dozen personal burger laws. For me, there must be pickles, if not, the burger is incomplete. The sauce has to be relish, mustard or something else loaded with flavour. Salsa is fine. No mayo, although sour cream with chives is epic. Cheese is mandatory. Extra cheese is better. Lettuce or baby spinach offer a welcome crunch factor and thinly-sliced onions make the whole thing a dream come true. Another thing I’m absolutely nuts about is a crunchy crust on the outside of the burger patty. Breadcrumbs, crushed nachos, herby semolina, I’ll take anything. But I’ve got something better for you today, my loves; something so stupidly delicious you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. Three words; cassava crisp crust. Did you just feel my heart skip a beat? Cassava crisps are a staple snack in our house and the fresh kind cannot be beaten. …