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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Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)

‘Tis the season to eat mangoes! I had my annual fix of Indian Alphonso mango this weekend and they were flawless, as always. I was so desperate to get my mitts on them, I immediately went on a mango hunt after leaving work on Friday. Stepping into the Indian shop closest to my London train station, my eyes darted from shelf to shelf. There were rows upon rows of lentils, spices and green vegetables, but alas, there was not a mango in sight. My heart sank. As I meandered through the tiny, yet unfathomably packed shop, my nostrils filled with the smell of ajwain, dried turmeric, fenugreek… and then finally, the sweetest scent of fresh mango. There they were, a pile of mango boxes lying in wait like treasure in Aladdin’s cave, except better. I pounced on them faster than Shere Khan on Mowgli, the man child in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. As usual, the two mango varieties were Alphonso and Kesar. When given the choice, I get Alphonso. They have more fragrance and a …

Palak Paneer Snails

Palak Paneer Snails

Our favourite paneer dish has just undergone an epic makeover. Don’t freak out. The snails in the pastry refer to their shape rather than the contents. These filo coils are packed with the Indian restaurant favourite, Palak Paneer. Fresh, green spinach with creamy paneer, ginger, chillies and garlic is a combo I’d eat every day if I could get away with it. To demonstrate how easy this is, I’ve pulled together a short video where you can see how it’s rolled and coiled for that awesome shape. As much as I love this, it wouldn’t be half as amazing to eat if it wasn’t for the epic Carrot and Cucumber Mustard Salad. It’s loaded with hot and sour flavours which cuts right through the richness of the pie. I glazed these pies with a combination of melted butter and turmeric for as a cheeky replacement for egg wash. Nobody will ever know. This is perfect for serving up when you have friends over for dinner, taking along to picnics and stowing away in the freezer …

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

One of my favourite weeknight dinners is stir-fried tofu with colourful veggies, noodles and heaps of chilli. This is a twist on Chilli Paneer – that Indian vegetarian restaurant favourite that has found its way onto wedding menus and dinner tables at home. As much as I love paneer, I find it a little too heavy to have with noodles or rice – this is where tofu noodle bowls come to the rescue. They might look quite ordinary but the sauce packs a real punch, seasoning the golden tofu and noodles perfectly. It’s made using large red chillies, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, star anise and brown sugar. A combo of ingredients I always have in the house. I throw in any vegetables I have in the fridge – usually a mix of broccoli, mushrooms, beansprouts, mange tout or French beans. My special touch to these is to add crispy okra strips and fried Thai basil leaves. They add the most beautiful crunch and are a delicious way of getting your okra fix as part of …

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

In my book, anything served on a stick is a winner. It seals the deal if what’s on the stick is smothered in a charred tandoori paste, restaurant style. Here’s my take on a British-‘Indian’ dish. It’s loaded with homemade tandoori spices, garlic, lemon, ground almonds and coconut cream. The best thing about it is that it’s 100% vegan. That’s got to get me extra brownie points, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s not an ‘authentic Indian recipe’ and have heard far too many times, ‘Ask any Indian what tikka masala is and they won’t know.’ To this I say, ‘Whatevs’. For me, this started out as a guilty pleasure dish I’ve grown to love and adapt to my own tastes, incorporating my love for tandoori dishes. I’ve gotten over it and I promise once you’ve tried it yourself, you will too! I’ve been obsessed with tofu puffs for as long as I can remember. I like to think of them as sailboats for any sauce or spice you add. They soak in flavours …

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura

Happy New Year! Firstly, I’d like to say I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL for some time now. I promise I have a good reason. We did it; we finally bought our first house! It has a small kitchen, huge amounts of natural light and wait for it… room for a photography studio! I can’t believe I have a space fully dedicated to my passion. 8 years ago, I started out with this blog, no camera and no clue. Now I have actual shelves just for props. I hope I’m able to produce more delicious recipes to share with you this year, all from my little studio in my little house. Totally overjoyed. So I’ve been spending the last few months working out what we need to furnish it, upcyling old furniture (which I am loving, btw) and spending my life on Pinterest. Although we’ve still got a fair way to go with getting the house finished, I’m in a good spot to get back on track with blogging. I kid you not, I have a …

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers 4

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

One of my favourite classic comfort foods has to be cauliflower cheese. A chilly autumnal weeknight calls for nothing more than simple oven-baked cauliflower cheese, sometimes with a tumble of broccoli florets added in, other times with belly-pleasing macaroni. One thing they all have in common is delicious, sharp Cheddar and a crunchy golden top. Here, I’ve combined all those glorious elements into another comfort food favourite – the pithivier. These traditional French pies are usually made with a frangipane filling but can also be savoury. I’ve opted to fill my discs of puff pastry with cauliflower cheese, butternut squash and a delicious blend of spices. In place of egg wash, they’re glazed with a thyme and honey brown butter which provides a gorgeously-golden finish. The combination of butternut squash and a homemade gratin spice blend will give you all the autumnal feels you crave after a long day at work. If you don’t have butternut, you can use pumpkin or acorn squash instead. The gratin spice blend is unbelievable in everything from dauphinoise potatoes to mac and …

Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments

Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments

I’ll never forget my year five primary school teacher. She was the kind of person you should have aspired to be like one day, over and above Ginger Spice who was probably the most popular choice at that age. Along with all the fair qualities and graces you’d expect from somebody who had mastered the art of being patient with a bunch of little cretins, this particular teacher was a master of bribery. And said bribery always involved sweets. Chocolate Limes to be precise. She had a stash of these retro classics stowed away in her top drawer for when you answered a question correctly, or were simply doing something that was out of your comfort zone. Even though it was a single sweet you probably wouldn’t have given a toss about if your nan had offered one up at the weekend, it was the status, power and sense of achievement that came with that limey shell and chocolate middle. It made you feel like you had truly taken a step forward that day. Don’t even get me started on …

Pull-Apart Samosa Bread

Pull-Apart Samosa Bread

Today’s the day I finally get to say hello to you all! I’ve spent this sunny Saturday filming my third YouTube video and it’s the first time I’m actually in it, albeit for just a few moments before you get to the best bit – the recipe. Can you believe I’ve been sharing my favourite recipes with you for seven whole years?! Neither can I. This pull-apart/tear ‘n’ share/whatever you want to call it bread has a little secret. It’s not harbouring cheese and garlic like you’d expect. It’s packed with spicy samosa filling instead. If you’re craving those ever-popular Indian snacks, but want something a little out of the box for your next party, this is the recipe for you. Rustle up two trays, put them into the middle of the table and watch them disappear in the blink of an eye. You can serve them hot, as they are or with individual pots of garlic butter for each guest. Either way, I promise everyone will be smiling with a belly full of samosa …

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

During my lifetime, I’ve been lucky enough to be extremely close to so many wonderful food cultures. The Gujarati cuisine made by my mother’s hands was the stuff that put the skin on my bones, next were my dad’s favourite East African dishes inspired by his childhood in Mombasa. Later came various recipes from other parts of India I couldn’t help but experiment with once I got a taste for cooking. Running through it all the while is the amazing food culture of Britain – a diverse mix of true classics like Cornish pasties and Yorkshire puddings, to dishes from international cuisines we’ve somehow adopted. There’s nothing quite like eating Taiwanese Bao in Kings Cross or Vietnamese Summer Rolls in Shoreditch for lunch and going home to true Gujarati daal-bhaat, shaak and rotli, followed by Mombasa-style mogo chips as a cheeky midnight snack. See, I told you… totally spoilt. These little packed potatoes are a take on the snacks loved by Asian people all over East Africa. Here, I’ve used British New Potatoes sandwiched together …

Eggless Dark Chocolate, Almond and Roasted White Chocolate Tart

Eggless Dark Chocolate, Almond and Roasted White Chocolate Tart

I’m a sucker for something sweet after dinner. Like my dad, tell me you’ve got hot Gulab Jambu and ice cream for dessert and I’ll be like putty in your hands. This chocolate tart makes me feel that way too. A crumbly, sweet shortcrust pastry base (without eggs, might I add), ridiculously smooth and rich chocolate filling with the most incredible roasted white chocolate swirl which takes me back to the days of sitting on the steps of our family shop eating Caramacs… except there’s loads more chocolate involved. If you’ve never roasted your white chocolate, you’ve been missing out. Gone will be the days you insist dark chocolate is superior to white. This whole time you had forgotten one amazing detail… it is that white chocolate can be transformed into the most beautiful caramel you ever tasted.  Inspired by the baking guru that is David Lebovitz, I set to work making the roasted white chocolate, following his brilliant instructions to the letter – and you should too.     One tweak I made was that …

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo

My favourite Sunday afternoon snacks consist of anything that goes with with a cup of masala chai. Whether it’s something deep fried and delicious like samosa or kachori, or a pile of fluffy steamed dhokra, I’m a sucker for savoury snacks. These East African-style Mogo Chips are a childhood favourite. It’s the kind of food we’d prepare if we have guests coming over because it’s so simple to throw together. I’ve also never met anyone who doesn’t love fluffy mogo. Mogo (a.k.a Cassava) is a staple carb in Africa, in many parts of South America where it is known as Yucca and of course, in my house. Countless Indian restaurants all over the UK serve it up in all kinds of ways, popular choices being Tandoori and Indo-Chinese style (with soy sauce). Personally, I think the simpler it is, the better. What I love about mogo is its earthy flavour, which truly comes to life when it’s gently steamed or boiled. It’s so distinct, you’d know within a split second that someone is making ‘bafelo …

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

I’m so obsessed with vegan meringue right now. I never thought that it would be possible to create light, fluffy whipped meringue that becomes so beautiful and melt-in-the-mouth after a couple of very patient hours in the oven. You might have already seen my previous recipe for Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests which I did a YouTube video for and still, I’m raving about the endless possibilities aqua faba or ‘bean water’ holds for the future of vegan baking. No longer do I waste and drain away the water from cans of chickpeas, butter beans and pinto beans. Rather, I save them and whip them in to the fluffiest meringue peaks you’ve ever seen. Just like egg whites, this bean water is packed with protein and when it’s whipped with sugar, becomes glossier than that expensive French manicure you just got. It’s this that makes glorious desserts like pavlova, eton mess and meringue cakes possible and it’s this that’s lit me up from inside. I’m so hungry to experiment with magic aqua faba …