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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Squash & Mascarpone Pasta with Crispy Kalettes

This creamy pasta makes for a satisfying one-bowl dinner. It’s the ultimate comfort food and has just a tingle of spice to keep you warm. The pasta is combined with a silky roasted butternut squash and mascarpone sauce before being topped with crispy kalettes (little kale sprouts) and fried sage. I can’t think of anything more perfect for a cosy night in. You can use any kind of pasta shape for this dish. I recommend one with ridges to catch the creamy sauce in all the nooks and crannies. I used tripoline but fusilli, cavatappi and conchiglie would all work well. I love all kinds of pasta but have always thought there’s something quite magical about long shapes that you can twirl around your fork. Maybe I’m just a sucker for playing with my food. The recipe itself uses just a handful of ingredients to showcase the beautiful roasted squash and kale. You can easily veganise the sauce by swapping the mascarpone for your favourite vegan cream cheese. Top with grated dairy-free Cheddar or mozzarella …

Crispy Vegan Chicken-less Burger

Vegan Crispy Chicken-less Burgers

Happy New Year, everyone! To all my longtime readers, thanks a million for all the support over the year. It’s been a wonderful journey. Can you believe this little blog will be 10 years old this year? To all my new readers — welcome! I have absolutely no new year’s resolutions. Same old me, taking each day as it comes and enjoying every moment. See, nothing new. Wanna see something that is new? Behold! The vegan burger dreams are made of. This giant panko-crusted vegan “chicken” fillet (or should I say chicken-less fillet) is the star of the show. Nestled between the folds of a squishy sesame bun, it’s joined by fresh avocado, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and a spicy vegan mayo. Limp fast food veggie burgers can step aside, for there’s a new wave of vegan burgers hitting our plates, shops and restaurants. Soy, gluten, pea and bean-based burgers and other meat substitutes are all on the rise and non-meat eaters have more choice than ever. For me, a grilled mushroom between two buns has …

Easy Cereal Chevdo

Easy Cereal Chevdo

Who stole the chevdo from the naasto jar? Sanjana stole the chevdo from the naasto jar. Our naasto (snack) jar is the equivalent of a cookie jar — one minute it’s full and the next only a few crumbs remain at the bottom. It’s most often filled with chakri (savoury rice sticks), gathia (spiced chickpea flour noodles) and chevdo (the spicy-sweet-sour mix of dreams). The moment when you sit down to masala chai and ‘naasto’ is when troubles fizzle away. The soothing, milky masala tea erases the furrows in your brow and the crunchy, savoury, sweet and spicy snacks are a welcome cuddle from the inside. It’s the kind of home comfort that becomes an occasion without even trying. Flawless. Of course, there is no naasto time without chevdo. Chevdo is a crunchy, savoury Indian snack in which every ingredient is fried or baked to golden perfection before being tumbled together with salt, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and chilli. The ingredients vary from recipe to recipe but the essentials include: potato sticks, roasted moong daal, …

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Is there anything more Christmassy than the sweet smell of toasted almonds and cherries wafting through the house? It’s an aroma that transports me to my happy place. Were it a fragrance I could wear as perfume, I’d purchase bottles by the dozen. However, standing in front of the oven will have to do for now. If you love all things cherry bakewell, marzipan or frangipane, this is the cake for you. It’s a light and airy vegan sponge with nothing more than a dusting of icing sugar and a crown of fresh cherries. No buttercream, no fuss. Serve it with masala chai for a hint of spice and all the cosy vibes. My sponge is made with super fine self-raising cake flour, ground almonds and a little bit of cornflour to hold everything together without eggs. Almond milk, apple cider vinegar and almond oil give it lift and moisture. I’m a sucker for a glacé cherry and I think they work wonderfully in this recipe. Fresh cherries will also work but bear in mind …

Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake

Double Coconut, Lime & Cardamom Cheesecake

So I ate a lot over the festive Diwali period. The kitchen was practically overflowing with mithai boxes and tubs of chakri, chevdo and gathiya. It was bloody brilliant but I’m glad to be back to my everyday Gujarati daal, bhaat, shaak and rotli (daal, curry, rice and chapattis). I definitely need a bit of normality in my life before Christmas feasting commences. A new dessert I made this year was this coconut, lime and cardamom cheesecake with exotic flavours galore. It’s a bit of a play on the traditional Diwali favourite, Coconut Barfi or Kopra Pak. Coconut is one of my favourite flavours in a dessert and there’s nothing quite like freshly-grated coconut in cakes, cookies and cheesecakes. I’ve used it as a topping and in the biscuit base for a double coconut hit. This is an eggless baked cheesecake and the filling is made with a combination of ricotta, cream cheese and lime. It’s gloriously decadent with a hint of sharpness to cut through the richness of the coconutty cream. The edges of …

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

I was introduced to Indo-Chinese food in the late 90s when “fusion cooking” wasn’t a dirty phrase and British curry houses were no longer the only “Indian” option when eating out in the UK. Korma? What was that? Balti, Bhuna and Phall? I’d never heard of them. Growing up in a Gujarati household meant that I was accustomed to Bhaji nu Shaak (spinach cooked with garlic), Oroh (burnt aubergine curry), Guvar (cluster beans) and Bhinda ni Kadhi (okra in buttermilk soup). I’d nod and smile as my friends raved about the dishes they relished during their weekend visit to the local Indian restaurant and I had no idea what half of the dishes were. I felt like a fraud. Bombay Potatoes? Was that like the Bateta nu Shaak my mum made at home? We rarely ate out at Indian restaurants in those days. The vegetarian options were limited to side dishes of random “mixed vegetables” swimming in generic curry sauces and quite frankly, homemade was better. As the millennium approached, more and more options bubbled …

17 Christmas Gifts for the Indian Food Lover in Your Life

The sheer joy of unwrapping a Christmas present from someone who knows you to your very core is for me, one of the most exciting feelings ever. Give the Indian food lover in your life a gift they’ll treasure this year with a little help from this guide to the ultimate vegetarian and vegan presents for spice lovers. I’ve handpicked some of my favourite ingredients, kitchen equipment, Indian treats and more to inspire you this festive season. Gift them to family, friends or to yourself and spread the love like melting butter on garam roti. 1. Vegan Orange Lassi Blonde Chocolate – Coco Caravan, £2.99 Nibble your way through a bar of orange chocolate inspired by India’s favourite cold drink, Lassi. With notes of cardamom and coconut, this zesty slab of blonde chocolate is raw, vegan and free from refined sugar. I’ll take three, please. Find out more 2. Christmas Stocking Spice Sprinkles – Cheeky Food Company, £12.00   Forget rainbow sprinkles, these aromatic superfood spice sprinkles are a must-have stocking filler for all Indian …

Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi

Village-Style Gujarati Khichdi (Buttery Rice & Lentils)

The clattering of pots, pans and spoons in my kitchen is a sound that fills me with comfort and joy. It’s the first dish I crave after a long trip away and the hug in a bowl I need when autumn sets in. At the first whiff of mellow rice and lentils emanating from my cooker, there’s only one thing that matters; I’m home. I’m making Khichdi, Gujarati style, like how they eat it on the farm in my ancestral home of Porbandar. It’s served with Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, a blow-your-socks-off garlic and chilli preserve, and a cold glass of Chaas (salted buttermilk with roasted cumin). This is the comfort food every Gujarati has precious memories of growing up. The porridge-like consistency of a ghee-beaten rice and lentil mishmash was usually the first solid food we ever ate as toothless babies and our fondness for it stayed with us right through to adulthood. It became a familiar and nostalgic comfort blanket for the belly. Loaded with hearty goodness and family tradition, Khichdi was and …

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks

Along with tofu and soya chunks, one of my favourite vegan sources of protein is seitan. Made from white beans, tofu and vital wheat gluten, my recipe transforms a handful of simple ingredients into the most delicious vegan “chicken”. It has the perfect “shredded chicken” texture and it can be used to make all kinds of vegan dishes from curries and stews, to salads and tandoori-style dishes. I’ve used it to make Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken, Biryani and now these Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks. “Hariyali” refers to the beautiful shamrock green colour of the marinade. My recipe puts a glut of coriander and mint to good use and the tandoori-style drumsticks pair perfectly with salad and freshly-made Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha and chapattis. Even though the marinade is packed full of big, punchy flavours, the spicing is simple using lots of ginger, chillies and garlic. Cashews and coconut yoghurt give the super green marinade body so that it clings on the the “chicken” drumsticks with ease. Both vegetarians and meat eaters will be able to …

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat. Kathiyawad is a peninsula off the western coast of India, in the region of Saurashtra and it’s where my family come from. Made up of several districts including Porbandar, Junagadh and Jamnagar, many people who live there have farming in their blood and an appetite for simply cooked but flavour-rich fare. Serve Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney as an accompaniment to any curry (aubergines work particularly well and are traditional fare), Indian breads like millet chapattis (Bajra na Rotla), wheat chapattis both thin and thick (Rotli and Bhakhri) and fenugreek chapattis (Thepla) are the ultimate pairing. It also livens up a bowl of warm, comforting lentil and rice stew (Khichdi). For a less traditional but equally delicious use for Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, stir it into warm vegetables, pasta sauces, …

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Vegan Kadai Tofu & Vegetables

I get such a sense of satisfaction from emptying the fridge of the last of the vegetables. Knowing we’ve used up every last bit of fresh food without throwing anything out fills me with all the good feelings. A rogue carrot, a handful of mushrooms and a glut of peppers bought two weeks ago, they all have their uses. Food waste is such a huge problem today and it makes no sense because there are also so many people struggling to feed themselves and their families. Along with supermarkets and food manufacturers, we’re all responsible for ensuring we do what we can to cut down on the amount of food we toss in the bin just because it’s a few days past the date printed on the packet. Tesco have recently announced they will stop printing Best Before dates on some fruit and veg products which is a great start. Having worked on a number of food TV shows in the past, I’ve seen an immense amount of (perfectly good) food being thrown in the …

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

Hot, sour, sweet, salty and spicy are the famous characteristics of perfect Aloo Chaat. As well as having what’s known as “chatpata” flavour, the potatoes must be crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It’s the law. Aloo Chaat is a spud-packed street food dish that’s traditionally served in a bowl and enjoyed on the go, right? Not today. I’ve got a fun little treat for you and it constists of swapping the traditional plastic or banana leaf chaat bowl for a crispy potato skin bowl you can devour along with the mouth-watering aloo chaat inside. This Aloo Chaat Potato Skin platter is a sharing feast that will be a hit at parties and celebration meals alike. Create an explosion of flavours with just a handful of spices and fresh herbs, topped off with sweet pomegranate seeds and a cooling yoghurt drizzle. The best thing is that it’s a great make-ahead dish you can prep the day before if you like. I like to cook the potatoes fully and keep them covered in …