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, I know. If any of you have it, let’s chat. On the brighter side, I’m glad I have an answer and a plan going forward. Clear cut plans always make bad things feel much better don’t they?

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

Another thing that makes bad things better is a great breakfast. Most of you will already know that the only reason I get out of bed before ‪10am on Sundays is to eat a great breakfast. My favourites include Masala Poori with Potato Curry and Sweet Semolina, as well as Stuffed Paratha or Thepla and Chai. When I’m seeking to start my day with something a little sweeter, I always look to my sweet spice tin. It’s a box dedicated to the spices I use less often in making savoury dishes and one of the best things in my kitchen.

Inside, you’ll find whole cardamom, red saffron threads in a little clear box etched with gold writing, fresh cinnamon, ground mace, vanilla in three forms: whole pods, bean extract ( a gorgeous sticky-sweet syrup peppered with thousands of beans from inside the pod) and basic vanilla extract for when a recipe calls for something simpler. In a cabinet reserved for sweet stuff, I also stash away almonds (whole, flaked, ground and shredded Indian style), cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, mixed citrus peel, chocolate chips, and so many other treasures. Can you tell why it’s the best spot in the house for me?

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast 4

We had a cupboard like this in my family home when I was young and when I couldn’t sleep, my mum would always go in there, grab a few things and make Sweet, Spiced Milk. It was just milk simmered with ground cardamom, saffron, a little bit of sugar and some shredded almonds. Simple but among my favourite memories because I can still *feel* it… if that even makes sense. A memory so vivid, I can still feel what I felt back then, still smell and taste the milk and each time, I smile the same smile.

I’ve used that sweet milk as inspiration for this delicious breakfast that would get me out of bed any day of the week. It’s coconut milk infused with ground cardamom and saffron. A little bit of sugar is added before it’s cooled and some flour is whisked in. Stale bread is our friend here because it’s dunked in the spiced milk until soaked and pan-fried until golden on both sides. It’s French toast without the eggs and it’s so delicious! If you’ve ever eaten Shahi Tukra and love the sweet milk of Rasmalai, you’ll like this… and this takes a fraction of the time cook. Not forgetting the deal breaker that is, YOU CAN EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST! We’re all winners.

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

I love these topped with strawberries and maple syrup but you can add any toppings you like. Fruit is always a delicious choice but I won’t tell if you scatter a few chocolate chips on top.

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast
Serves 4 (2 slices per serving)

Ingredients
400ml can coconut milk
4 cardamom pods, seeds ground
Big pinch of saffron
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp flour
8 slices of stale bread
Vegan butter or oil for the pan (coconut oil or sunflower oil are good options)

Toppings of your choice

I used:
Fresh strawberries
Icing sugar for dusting
Maple syrup

Method

1. Heat the coconut milk in a pan until hot but not boiling. Add the cardamom, saffron, sugar, and salt. Allow to sit until the milk cools to room temperature.

2. Whisk in the flour until there are no lumps. Pour the mixture in to a shallow tray. I used a large, wide baking dish.

3. Melt butter or heat a teaspoon full of oil in a non-stick frying pan.

4. Dunk a slice of bread in to the coconut milk mixture, both sides ensuring it soaks in a good amount. About 30-40 seconds should do the trick.

5. Place the bread in the pan and cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat for the rest.

6. Serve with any toppings you like. I love these with strawberries and maple syrup. You could also dust with a snowstorm of icing sugar.

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

Enjoy you dessert for breakfast!

Love Sanjana




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.

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

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 burrito is my kind of festival.

One day we’ll all go there and stuff our faces. Deal?

Like many words in the Swahili language, this dish is named after the way it sounds. The term ‘Rolex’ comes from ‘rolled eggs’. If you say it as quickly as you would eat it, it all makes perfect sense. This is what I love about listening to people speak in Swahili.

Growing up, much of the Gujarati we spoke at home was influenced by the Swahili language. It was woven so deep into our vocabulary that if you asked me now what the Gujarati words for everyday things are, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. That’s because I’ve been replacing them with the Swahili words my whole life.

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

How cute is this little giraffe I bagged during my last trip to Mombasa?

In our family, we mash up Gujarati and Swahili words left, right and centre, creating a sort of pidgin Gujarati peppered with the Swahili nuances and colloquialisms our parents and grandparents once embraced.

Here are some of my favourite Gujarati-Swahili words that have made it into our everyday conversations:

Sufariyu (Bowl)
Fhangusa (To mop the floor)
Sahani (plate)
Pasi (Iron)
Kata (to cut) – we use this to refer to thorns on plants. For example, Bharti ben ne kejje ke laal phool nahi adhe, boh kata che.”

It works the other way, too. Gujarati words have been adopted by the Swahili language. The word, ‘goti’ meaning ‘knee’ has been adapted to ‘gotli’ to refer to the stone inside a mango, because it literally resembles a small kneecap. Gujarati convention simply inserts an ‘L’ to indicate the diminutive. So to Gujaratis in East Africa, ‘Gotli’ = mango stone/little knee.

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

You’ll notice that a tonne of these hybrid words relate to eating and sleeping; the favourite pastimes of every Gujarati.

Let’s get cracking with the omelettes, shall we? Sorry, but I love a pun. My omelettes have been veganized using super-healthy tofu, blended up with chickpea flour, spices and then laced with veggies. The result is soft and light with just the right kind of wobble and texture you’d expect from a traditional omelette. They also hold their shape like a dream. Each vegan omelette is then wrapped in a Kenyan-style Chipati (flaky flatbread) and rolled into a cigar. You could also use a tortilla wrap or paratha if you like. I stuffed them with a rainbow of shredded vegetables which isn’t entirely traditional but it’s good for you and tastes divine.

Kenya-style chipati is a version of Indian chapattis. They’re made with plain flour and rolled thinly for a slightly chewier texture in comparison to Indian chappatis. Make them first and the omelettes second before rolling up the Rolex. The Kenya-style chipati are delicious with dishes like Sukuma Wiki and are perfect for rolling up with these tofu omelettes inside. If you’re not up for making your own chipatis, you could also use the frozen chappatis or paratha you get in your local Indian supermarket. I’ve tried this recipe with this brand before and it works a treat.

And there you have it – a crazy-delicious breakfast or brunch treat to go along with masala chai. Serve them with chips for a tea-time treat you’ll crave at least once a week.

P.S. Breakfast burritos, I’m over you.

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

Ugandan Rolex – East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside
Makes 6-8

Ingredients

For the vegan omelettes
500g medium firm tofu, pressed
80g chickpea flour
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black salt
2 green chillies, chopped finely
2 inch ginger, grated
Pinch of salt
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely
100g cabbage, chopped finely and cooked
100ml aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas)

To roll inside the rolex
½ small red cabbage, shredded
200g spinach leaves
3 carrots, grated
100g radishes, sliced finely

Method

1. To make the omelettes: Blend the tofu until smooth.

2. Place the chickpea flour, cornflour, aquafaba, turmeric, black salt, green chillies, salt and ginger in a large bowl. Add the tofu and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes.

3. Grease a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat the pan over a medium/low flame.

4. Place a ladle full of vegan omelette batter in to the pan. Scatter with chopped onion, cabbage and tomatoes. Cook until the top of the vegan omelette sets lightly but still has a little bit of a wobble. The base should be golden.

5. Flip and cook the other side for 20-30 seconds.

6. Place a chipati directly on top of the cooked vegan omelette while it’s still in the pan. Remove the chipati and omelette stack and place on a board. Fill with shredded red cabbage, spinach, carrots and radishes. Roll tightly and wrap in foil. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. This ensures the wrap doesn’t fall apart.

7. Repeat for the rest of the rolex.

For the Kenya-style Chipati

Ingredients
250g plain flour, plus more for rolling
40ml sunflower oil
125ml boiling water, or enough to make a soft dough

Method

1. Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. Pour the oil into the well and top up with the boiling water.

3. Use a spoon to mix the dough until it’s cool enough to handle. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and soft.

4. Make small ping pong ball-sized pieces with the dough. Keep some flour on a plate for rolling.

5. Get another plate lined with kitchen paper and keep your butter handy.

6. Place the cast iron hot plate or a frying pan on a medium heat. Leave it for 5 minutes.

7. Get your rolling board and rolling pin ready. Keep a wet sponge under the board so it doesn’t move.

8. To start rolling, take a piece of dough and roll it between your palms, flattening it slightly. Dip each side in flour.

9. Roll it once up and down with the rolling pin and then take a pinch of flour. Place it in the middle of the dough and then use your index fingers and thumb to pinch it closed, starting from the outer edges. This step isn’t something everyone traditionally does but is what my mum taught me for soft chipati that rise.

10. Next, flatten the dough using your palm and again, dip each side in flour. Now, begin rolling the dough in a circular motion, teasing the dough to move around with your rolling. If you can’t do this, pick the chipati up with one hand and move it around yourself. The aim is to create a perfectly round, even surface and a flatbread that’s around 2mm in thickness and 6-7-inches in diameter.

11. Place the chipati on the cast iron hotplate and cook until little bubbles appear on the surface – around 10 seconds. Flip it.

12. Cook it on the second side until small, even brown spots appear all over the bottom of the chipati – around 30 seconds. Flip it.

13. Now, this is the rising side. Don’t worry if your chipati don’t rise the first few times you try it. It comes with practice. They’ll still taste delicious. Cook until darker, less evenly-spread patches appear on the bottom. Around 15-20 seconds. Flip it and place it this side up on your kitchen paper-lined plate.

14. Repeat this process for all of your chipati until you have a stack.

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

Love Sanjana

 

 

 

 

 

 




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.

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla and Cardamom Poached Pears

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 and hug from everyone when they come downstairs. And I love a good cuddle, me.

With the pears, these pancakes become extra special. The light, fluffy, crispy pancakes soak up all that vanilla and cardamom-spiced syrup like little sponge frisbees you’ll want to play with all day long. The pears offer a very welcome fresh, tender, and juicy texture that’s perfect for balancing out the fluffy richness of the pancakes.

This is my basic vegan aquafaba pancake recipe for sweet pancakes. If poached pears aren’t your thing, you could add blueberries, raspberries or chocolate chips (pop them on top of each scoop of pancake batter before the pancake has a chance to cook through on the pan).

A photo posted by SANJANA • K.O RASOI (@sanjanamodha) on

I’ve even adapted this recipe (skipped the sugar and vanilla) to make savoury pancakes with chillies, vegan cheese and corn. Weirdly, I like to top those with a drizzle of golden syrup, too. If you have a soft spot for sweet and salty combinations, I recommend it!

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla-Cardamom Poached Pears
Serves 4

For the vegan aquafaba pancakes:
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
325ml almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml water from a can of chickpeas
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp groundnut oil, plus extra for the pan

For the pears:
4 Williams pears, slightly underripe
600ml water
200g golden syrup
100g golden caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and scraped
6 whole cardamom pods, roughly crushed (leave the pod on)

Method

1. To make the poached pears: Place the sugar, golden syrup and water in a deep saucepan. Bring to the boil and add the cardamom pods and vanilla bean paste.

2. Peel the pears, keeping the stalk attached and slice them down the middle. Remove the pear cores.

3. Place the pears in the saucepan and ensure they’re completely submerged. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool completely in the syrup.

4. Once the pears have had a chance to cool completely, remove them from the syrup and bring the syrup back to the boil. Allow to simmer until it has reduced by half and is sticky and syrupy.

5. To make the vegan aquafaba pancakes: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

6. Mix together the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, vanilla, and groundnut oil. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes and then whisk briefly.

7. In a large, clean bowl of a stand mixer, whip the chickpea liquid until stiff peaks form. You could also use an electric beater.

8. Add the wet almond milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. It’s important not to over mix this.

9. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whipped chickpea meringue into the batter until you have a light, foamy batter. Try your best not to deflate the mixture by mixing too much.

10. Heat up a large non-stick pan greased with groundnut oil. You want a low-medium heat. Not too high or the pancakes will burn before they get a chance to cook through.

11. Use an ice cream scoop to dollop the pancake batter on to the pan so that you get even-sized pancakes. Ensure you leave some space around each pancake as the mixture will spread slightly.

12. Allow to cook until small bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake and the edges lose their raw shine, about 40 seconds.

13. Flip and cook briefly on the other side. Remove from the heat. Repeat to make the rest of the pancakes.

Serve with the poached pears and pour the extra syrup into a jug for drizzling over the pancakes like glorious waterfall. Dive in quickly and with purpose.

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla and Cardamom Poached Pears

What are your favourite pancake add-ins and toppings? Let me know in the comments below and let’s see if we can re-create some of them here.

Love Sanjana




Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Life is sweet. Three weekends ago, my fiancée and I had our Hindu engagement ceremony. It was a big, beautiful blur of family, friends, flowers, faith, and food. After all the commotion of planning the event, all I feel like doing is putting on my lion-print onesie, staying home and baking something sweet.

These eggless cinnamon rolls can be made with pretty much any filling you like. I’ve even used the recipe to make this Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel. You can add chocolate, dried fruit, nuts and any spices you fancy, making it as simple or as complicated as you like.

Spiced Salted Caramel

My colleague at Food Network UK and fashion blogger, Jo’s Clothes is the biggest baked goods fiend I’ve ever met – no lie. After asking her thoughts on what I should bake this weekend, she mentioned our favourite cinnamon roll recipe from Lotte Duncan. It’s so easy and utterly delicious. I fell asleep last night thinking about how I could put my own spin on it and here’s what I came up with.

Pillow-soft, buttery cinnamon rolls, encased around rich salted caramel infused with chai spices, fleur de sel and baked until golden on the outside. Drizzle with extra salted caramel, allowing it dribble into the swirled craters and down the sides. They’re gorgeously sticky and incredibly moreish. Serve with a glass of cold milk.

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls with Chai Spices
Makes 20

Ingredients

For the salted caramel sauce (adapted from Nigella Lawson):

75g salted butter
50g soft light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
200ml double cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
½ tsp chai masala

For the cinnamon roll dough:
450g strong white bread flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
275ml lukewarm water
2 tsp groundnut oil

For the filling:

175g very soft butter
4 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 quantity of the salted caramel sauce, cooled
To garnish:
Extra salted caramel sauce
Pinch fleur de sel (not table salt!)
Chocolate shavings, optional

Method

For the cinnamon roll dough, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and bring together using your hands. Knead for 10 minutes. Place into a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce by melting the butter, sugars and syrup a small pan until melted. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for a few minutes, making sure the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch and swirling the pan carefully from time to time.
Add the cream, fleur de sel and chai spices and stir. Cook for another minute or two and then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the softened butter, cinnamon, sugar and half of the cooled salted caramel sauce. Beat well.

Heat the oven to 180C and line a large tray with baking paper.

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and give it a good knead to remove all the air bubbles. This will ensure an even rise in the oven, maintaining the shape of the rolls. Half the dough as you’ll be repeating the rolling process twice in order to make smaller rolls.

Take one half of the dough and on a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle until it’s about 1/2cm in thickness. Spread the filling mixture all over the surface. From the longest side, tightly roll the dough into a log shape. Cut the dough into 1cm-thick rounds. I find the easiest way to do this is using a pizza cutter – this avoids any snagging. Place the rolls into the baking tray, keeping them close to each other and snug. Repeat this process for the other half of the dough. Note: this will get messy!

Bake the rolls in the preheated over for around 20 minutes or until risen and golden.

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

Drizzle with extra salted caramel sauce, a tiny pinch of fleur de sel and grated chocolate. Serve warm with a glass of cold milk.

Love Sanjana




Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel

Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel

I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls all week. Soft, buttery bread with crispy edges, heaps of spice and the best part – lashings of sweet icing. Whenever I make Lotte Duncan’s version with maple icing, they fill the house with the most mouth-watering scent of fresh bread.

In fact, I love Lotte’s buttery cinnamon roll recipe so much, I used it as the basis for my Indian-inspired wreath here.

The basic white dough is rolled with a shameless amount of butter, ground cardamom and cinnamon, twisted into a Finnish bakery-style wreath and placed in a hot oven. Once baked, I couldn’t help but drizzle it with icing made with rose syrup (the kind I use to make my Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda), and then scattered with homemade candied lemon peel and pistachios. Need I say more?

Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel (3)

Okay, let me explain the beauty of these flavours together…

The spicy cardamom and cinnamon combined with sugar and butter create the most amazing, rich flavour once baked inside the dough. The fluffy bread mops up the buttery juices and almost caramelises the bottom of the wreath. The exposed layers on top create little craters where the caramelised butter collects, making it golden and crusty. A drizzle of rose icing gives it just enough sweetness and perfume to define it as a Bollywood-themed party in your mouth. Oh, and who doesn’t love candied lemon peel?

Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel

Ingredients

For the dough:

450g strong white bread flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
275ml lukewarm water
2 tsp groundnut oil

For the filling:

100g light brown sugar
200g very soft salted butter
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom

For the rose icing:

70g icing sugar
2 tbsp rose syrup

For the candied lemon peel:

1 lemon
400ml water
5 tbsp sugar, plus more for coating

To decorate:

20g pistachios, husks removed

Method

1. Combine the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl and bring together using your hands. Knead for 10 minutes. Grease the bowl with a tiny bit of oil and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix together the ground cardamom, cinnamon and sugar.

3. Next, make the candied lemon peel. Peel the lemons using a vegetable peeler and hold a sharp knife against the underside, slicing off as much white pith as you can. Discard the pith and slice the lemon zest into thin strips. Heat the water and 5 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon zest and boil for 7 minutes. Drain and toss in a bowl of sugar. Remove from the sugar and allow to dry on a plate. Set aside.

4. To make the icing, combine the icing sugar and rose syrup, beating well to ensure there are no lumps.

5. Heat the oven to 180C and line a large tray with baking paper.

6. Once the dough has risen, knock it back and give it a good knead to remove all the air bubbles. This will ensure an even rise in the oven, maintaining the shape of the wreath.

Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel Tutorial

7. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle until it’s about 1cm in thickness. Spread the very soft butter all over the surface and then sprinkle all over with the sugar and spice mixture. From the longest side, roll the dough into a log shape. Split the log into two pieces lengthways (I find the easiest way to do this is using a pizza cutter – this avoids any snagging). Press the tops into each other and place one strip over the other, keeping the layers on top. Repeat until you’ve completed the whole log. Bring the ends together and twist to form a wreath. Brush with a little bit more butter and place on a lined baking tray.

8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Once baked, you’ll notice quite a bit of butter in the tray. Use a pastry brush to baste this all over the wreath.

9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before drizzling with rose icing and sprinkling with candied lemon peel. Scatter with pistachios and finally dust with a little bit of icing sugar.

10. Serve with Cardamom Chai or Masala Coffee.

Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel (2)

 

Love Sanjana

 




Vitumbua – Tanzanian Doughnuts

Vitumbua - Tanzanian Doughnuts

Jambo!

Flicking through rare East African cookbooks fills me with that familiar, comforting feeling of when I cosy up with my favourite Indian ones.

Being nourished with a mishmash of Indian, African and British food has all my life, allowed me to connect and experiment with the culinary cultures of all these cuisines. In other words, I’ve been spoilt and have loved every minute of it. Hell, I’ve been rabbiting on about it to you all since 2009.

For my generation, it feels like the Indian influence on East African cooking is a hush-hush camp, with recipes hidden away inside the spirits of expat grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles. As sad as it may sound, I’m a 23-year old girl worried that Zanzibar Trail Mix, Malindi Halwa and Ugandan Kasodi will one day be forgotten by my Indo-Chinese-obsessed peers – and that’s deep, bro.

In the name of doing my bit to preserve the East African cuisine my family are so proud of, I’d like to introduce you to Vitumbua. These Tanzanian rice flour doughnuts are a favourite of my saintly Bapu, Gunwantrai Modha and I completely understand why. Born in Tanzania, my dad his brothers think of these dishes as fuel food – they’re good for the soul and all that.

Vitumbua should be golden and crunchy on the outside and like a delicate morsel of cardamom-scented cloud on the inside. The batter is made with coconut milk which makes these cakey baked doughnuts pure white and melt-in-the-mouth.

They’re perfect with tea in the morning or if you’re a bit more adventurous, with a kidney bean and coconut stew for dinner.

If you have a Vitumbua or Appam pan, please use one. I don’t (shock, horror) so a cupcake tin is a great substitute. Being a Yorkshire lass at heart, I faked it and made my Vitumbua in the same way I’d make my Eggless Yorkshire puddings. I guess you could say Vitumbua cooked in this way are neither nowt nor summat, but they’re damn delicious all the same.

Vitumbua - Tanzanian Doughnuts (2)

Vitumbua - Tanzanian Doughnuts
(makes 8-10)

Ingredients

185g rice flour
2 tablespoons plain flour
220ml coconut milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
50g sugar
1 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil

Method

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the sunflower oil. Whizz with an immersion blender for a minute until you get a smooth and creamy batter.

2. Cover and leave in a warm place for one hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

4. Place ½ teaspoon of oil in eight to ten compartments of a of a 12-cake cupcake tin (as if you were making Yorkshire puddings).

5. Put the oil-filled tin in the oven for around four minutes or until smoking hot.

6. Carefully remove the tin from the oven and using an ice cream scoop, add one scoop of batter in each compartment. It should be sizzling hot so be quick and careful.

7. Place the tin back into the oven and lower the temperature to 180°C. Cook for around five minutes. Remove the tin from the oven, flip the Vitumbua over (the bottom should be golden). Return the tin to the oven and cook for another five to eight minutes or until cooked through.

Serve hot Vitumbua with steaming Cardamom Chai.

 




Dudhi Na Muthiya (Steamed Bottlegourd Dumplings)

The prospect of an Indian breakfast is sometimes just the kick I need to pull myself from my cosy bed. This usually only ever takes place on weekends or during time-off from the day job, so it’s always a welcome treat.

Along with a spicy breakfast, there’s nothing more satisfying than using up leftovers. This recipe for Dudhi Na Muthyia hits both of those spots. They’re made using grated bottlegourd (doodhi/lauki), cold leftover rice, chickpea flour and a medley of subtle spices. The dumplings are then formed into log-shapes and gently steamed to lock in plenty of flavour and moisture. Once cooled, the cooked muthiya are quickly sautéed with sesame seeds and curry leaves to add that final dimension of flavour and a gorgeously crisp, golden texture.

So many people prefer them straight from the steamer without sautéing them first – perhaps a consequence of impatience more than anything else. I have been known to finish them off before I actually finish off the recipe, not that I should actually be admitting to this.

I add coarse semolina to these steamed dumplings as it gives them a softer texture in the middle and once they’re sautéed, a better crisp on the outside.

Don’t have bottlegourd? Muthiya taste just as good when they’re made with courgettes, cabbage, carrots or even fenugreek. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to play with your food.

My favourite way of enjoying muthiya is with a steaming cuppa sweet masala chai and absolutely nothing else.

Dudhi Na Muthiya
Serves 4-6

 For the dumplings:

1 bottlegourd, grated (about 400g)
260g chickpea flour
1 ½ tbsp coarse semolina
400g cold cooked rice or khichdi
140g plain flour
4 green chillies, minced (or to taste)
2 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp turmeric
90ml oil, plus more for greasing
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ tsp sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

To temper:

2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
6-8 curry leaves
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 tbsp chopped coriander to garnish

Method

1. In a large, deep pan (one that comes with a steaming basket), boil -2L water. Grease the basket with 1 tbsp oil and pop it into the pan so it suspends above the water but doesn’t touch it.

2. Take a large mixing bowl and combine all of the ingredients for the dumplings. Do not add water as the bottlegourd will release plenty as you mix. Keep going, gently squeezing the mixture until you get a batter.

3. One by one, roll into seven logs and place them into the steaming basket. You may need to do them in two batches if your steamer is small. Place a lid on and simmer on a medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle of one comes out clean. Remove the basket from the steamer and allow to cool completely.

4. Remove the logs from the steaming basket and cut each log into 2cm pieces. Set aside.

5. To temper the spices and sauté the muthia: in a large non-stick pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Wait for them to pop, then add the sesame seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the dumplings and sauté on a high heat for 5 minutes or so, turning every so often – make sure you don’t break them when turning. When golden, remove from the heat and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot. Note: Dudhi Na Muthiya can be kept in the fridge for up to three days, but I doubt these will last that long.

 




Aloo Paratha

Aloo Paratha

I fell in love with paratha at the age of four, when I was the proud owner of various miniature kitchen utensils that looked like they’d been manufactured in toy town. I’d use my hot pink chapatti board and rolling pin to make baby paratha, which my mum would cook and my pa would wolf down with gusto, whilst telling me I was a great chef.

And that was all it took – I had discovered my love of Indian breads. Forget your typical puff of glitter – for this strange little Indian Barbie, childhood was all about that magical cloud of chapatti flour.

Indian breads, without a doubt, are perceived as the fiddliest things to make at home, especially if you’ve never done them before. Aloo Paratha are made by stuffing mashed, spiced potatoes and onions into chapatti dough and rolling so that the dough envelopes the layer of filling inside. Then they’re lightly sizzled in ghee, butter or oil until golden all over. Once cooked, the filling will remain enclosed in the crisp bread until broken open and then the soft, aromatic filling is revealed in all its glory. In my opinion, they’re one of North India’s finest creations.

These spicy potato breads make for a satisfying meal at any time of the day, although they’re more commonly eaten for breakfast. People all over India enjoy their stuffed paratha with a mug of steaming chai, a dollop of plain yogurt and a spicy chutney or curry. In other words, the pairing possibilities are endless.

So next time, before you reach for the dry, unsatisfying, supermarket naans, think about making these super-simple, Punjabi-style paratha. As the famous Gujarati saying goes, ‘Khakhra ni khiskoli sakar no swaad su jaane?’ (‘A squirrel who eats dried chapattis would not know the taste of sugar.’)

The scoop on paratha

Paratha are popular all over the Indian subcontinent; they come in many variations and have lots of different names. Here are a few popular ones:

Plain paratha: Made using chapatti flour, these unstuffed (but not always unflavoured), flaky flatbreads are made by spreading rolled dough with ghee, folding over and rolling again. The process is similar to making homemade puff pastry.

Stuffed paratha: One of the most loved of all, this variety covers all paratha with fillings, including Aloo Paratha. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular flavours later.

Parotta or barotta: The South Indian equivalent and the most fun to eat by far. These are made in a similar fashion to plain paratha but have a multitude of ‘twisted’ layers which can be pulled apart to reveal yet more buttery layers.

Roti canai: A popular Malaysian street food of Indian influence. Unlike the dough of its unleavened Indian cousin, the Malay version is made using eggs and is allowed to proof before being cooked. The result is a light, crispy flatbread with a fluffy middle.

Without a doubt, I think the most exciting thing about stuffed paratha is the versatility of fillings which can be hidden inside the crispy dough. Shall we explore some of them?

Fill me in

Some of the best-loved stuffed paratha fillings include:

Aloo palak paratha – Spicy mashed potatoes and spinach
Gobi paratha – Creamy cauliflower laced with turmeric
Mooli paratha – Grated peppery daikon radish
Mattar paratha – Crushed green peas and garlic
Paneer paratha – Rich Indian cheese
Keema paratha – Fiery minced meat
Pyaz ka paratha – Sweet and spicy sautéed onions
Methi paratha – Deliciously powerful fenugreek leaves
Sweet paratha – A sprinkling of sugar and maybe a pinch of ground cardamom

With this versatile bread, the flavour combinations are endless and you’ll only be limited by your imagination. As long as the filling is smooth enough to encase in dough and has been flavoured with plenty of spice, it just isn’t possible to run out of bright ideas.

Aloo Paratha
Makes 10-15

Ingredients for the filling:

550g potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed until smooth
1 large onion, pureed
2 green chilles, minced
40g frozen peas, cooked and coarsely pureed (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
½ tsp ground cumin seeds
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
Zest ½ lemon
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Handful fresh coriander, chopped very finely

For the dough:

400g chapatti flour
80ml sunflower oil
Around 200ml hot water

Extra ghee or oil to cook the paratha

Method:

  1. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, chillies and onions. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes or until very soft. Add the ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds and garam masala. Sauté for a few minutes and add the rest of the ingredients. Combine and cook for a further 5 minutes stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and set aside.
     
  2. To make the dough, take a large bowl and add the chapatti flour. Make a well in the centre and add the oil. Stirring with a spoon, slowly mix in enough hot water for you to be able to to form a dough. When cool enough to handle, bind until you get a soft and smooth, non-sticky dough. If it’s sticky, add a little bit more oil and a dusting of flour and continue to bind.
     
  3. Take a ball of dough, slightly larger than a golf ball, and a larger ball of the cooled potato filling.
     
  4. Roll the dough to about 3-4” in diameter and place the potato ball on top. Using your thumbs and forefingers, pinch the dough closed around the filling, starting in the middle and working your way outwards. The filling wrapped in dough should be fully enclosed with no gaps or holes.
     
  5. Flatten the ball using the palm of your hand. Dust with flour on both sides and flip over. You will need to roll the smooth side.
     
  6. Begin rolling the dough, turning gently as you do. Ensure it is even all over and dust with more flour if necessary. Try to aim for 1/2cm in thickness.
     
  7. Heat some oil or ghee in a non-stick frying pan and carefully slide in the paratha. Cook on a medium heat on both sides until golden brown all over, adding more ghee or oil to the pan for added indulgence.

So as if by magic, you’re now a paratha extraordinaire and well on your way to rustling up some bread to accompany your favourite Indian dishes. Enjoy making these traditional Punjabi Aloo Paratha and once you get the hang of rolling, remember to have fun creating your own fillings and flavours.

 




Khaman

Guess who’s back? Over the next four weeks I’ll be running a series called Indian Cooking Step-by-Step in which I’ll be exploring classic recipes from a handful of Indian regions. Join me as I prepare Khaman – a Gujarati favourite in under 50 minutes.

I’m not too proud to admit that I’m a terrible teacher, but when it comes to cooking Indian food, I can’t help but put my two pence in. I become a wannabe Gujarati (hailing from the state of Gujarat in western India) Mary Poppins who’s full of the old-school tips I picked up watching various female family members squabble over how much ginger to put in the daal.

Khaman are fluffy, steamed, savoury cakes made with chickpea flour and a divine topping of tempered mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry leaves, shredded coconut and coriander.

The tempered topping is the most magical part of the recipe, as hot oil with sizzling spices is (very carefully) splashed with water, and then drizzled over the top of the delicately-spicy savoury cake.

The result is a light hot and sour cake drenched with an aromatic, sweet emulsion and finished with an intense freshness from the colourful garnish. It makes for the perfect starter when served with my Coriander and Lime Chutney.

Ever attended a Gujarati wedding? Every menu almost certainly features Khaman, along with our other characteristic obsessions: Samosas, fluffy rice and buttermilk soup or daal.

Getting up to be served food, guests will moan about stingy portions of Khaman then, during dinner and without asking, the same people will slip several pieces onto your plate whilst you’re not looking because they come to realise their eyes were bigger than their bellies.

Read more about Khaman and get the recipe here.

Missing you all so much. Happy cooking – I’ll be back in a jiffy.

In the meantime, if you’re at all interested in my daily musings, food-related chit chat with just a little of the real, unedited Sanjana thrown in, follow me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook. Would love to see you there.

Like KO RasoiFollow @KORasoi

 




Chilli and Sesame Vermicelli

Chilli and Sesame Vermicelli
 
 
Love noodles? So do I. This quick and easy recipe for spicy vegetable noodles is something I recently made for breakfast. You know I love a hearty breakfast. I needed something warming and flavourful and the chilli heat from these stir-fried noodles really hit the spot.
 
Vermicelli is a thin pasta I usually use to make Indian sweet dishes like Doodh Vari Sev (vermicelli in sweetened milk). A heap of crackling mustard seeds and aromatic sesame seeds spike the dish with light spice and a pinch of turmeric gives the finished dish a beautiful golden yellow colour. 
 
Feel free to add any vegetables you like to this, as I just used what I had in the fridge. A handful of finely shredded strips of carrot make for a fresh and crunchy topping which is a lovely contrast from the soft noodles. 
 
I also added some frozen peas for a little burst of sweetness, but you could also use sweetcorn. And obviously, there’s always room for paneer. Not that I added any – did you know I was on a diet? 
 
I can’t believe it either.
 
Would you hate me if I played around with healthy recipes? I promise they’ll be delicious.
 
Get my recipe for Sesame and Chilli Vermicelli and find more vegetarian fusion food inspiration in my recipe gallery.
 
 




Cardamom Chai

 
There’s nothing I like better than a little mug of sweet cardamom tea to unwind after an action-packed day. Today the term ‘chai’ has become a generic term for posh frothy mugs of under-spiced and over-priced drinks available in coffee shops across the globe. This makes me sad.
 
The recipe for chai is one I email out a lot to readers and I think finally, it’s time to officially share one with everyone. It’s taken me long enough.
 
If you’ve never tasted a real cup of Indian chai, you won’t know that it should be spicy, not just aromatic but full of heat from ground cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns. The spice should be balanced with a generous amount of sugar, milk (or condensed milk) and of course, well-brewed tea leaves.
 
This is the epitome of the perfect Indian chai.
 
Making tea is a fine-tuned art everyone can be a dab hand at. Every family has its own recipe but the balance of flavours will always be in perfect harmony. Don’t be shy, play with flavours, and find your favourite combinations of spices. Just make sure they are balanced against the strength of tea, and quantities of milk and sugar.
 
I’m currently in love with fresh green cardamom pods and find myself adding it to just about anything from Paneer Butter Masala to Eggless Banana and Cardamom Crème Brûlée. Insanely delicious.
 
Something I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about via email is how to add depth of flavour to homemade chai. The answer is simple and if you haven’t been to India to it made by the super-talented chaiwalla, it’s something any Indian can reveal to you – just boil it in a saucepan.
 
 
The secret, revealed
 
Boiling tea leaves with milk, water and ground spices for seven to twelve minutes removes the ‘raw’ smell of milk and ensures the spices and tea are well infused into the final product. The stronger you like your tea, the longer you leave it to boil
 
Finally, strain the chai through a fine-holed sieve to catch any spice sediment. Wouldn’t want to gulp that down. Having said this, excess masala settling at the bottom of the cup is completely normal – just don’t drink it.
 
I love the feeling of almost reaching the bottom of the cup and knowing it’s going to get a little bit spicier.
 
Cardamom Tea
(serves two)
 
Ingredients
 
290ml water
290ml whole milk
1 tbsp black tea leaves (I use Darjeeling)
1 tsp freshly ground green cardamom seeds
-inch stick cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
 
Method
 
1. Boil the water, tea leaves, cardamom and cinnamon for around 3 minutes.
 
2. Add the milk and sugar and continue to boil for at least a further 5 minutes or more, up to 9 minutes. Ensure it’s on a rolling boil.
 
3. Strain into cups using a fine-holed sieve and serve.
 
 
The perfect sweet treat to compliment chai has to be Nankhatai, spiced Indian biscuits. They’re perfect for dunking and are likely to be flavoured with some of the usual suspects; green cardamom, saffron, ground mace… I’ll stop before I slip into a spice coma.
 
Goodnight, sleep tight and sweet dreams.
 




Masala Poori

 
The world of Indian breads is vast and varied. From rotli to naan, paratha and poori, they can be toasted, baked or fried. Adding herbs and spices is common and I love experiment with different flavours. My favourite kind of poori has got to be infused with turmeric and red chilli and is also known as Masala Poori
 
Serve with Sukha Aloo (Dry Potato Curry) and creamy yogurt for am amazing breakfast or brunch. Poori is also popularly served with spicy chickpea curry and is eaten with the hands, filling the fried bread with curry and broken from the outside in. Fiddly but delicious.
 
Traditionally a South Indian bread, they can be made into large discs or little puffy balls. I prefer to make them smaller firstly because they’re cute and secondly, because they rise much more easily which is great if you’re a beginner.

Sooji or semolina is added to give the bread a crisp finish and it is popularly eaten with Shrikhand at auspicious times. Let me tell you, that is probably one of my favourite ways to serve it. Simplicity at its finest.

Masala Poori
 
Ingredients
 
400g chapatti flour
75g gram (chickpea) flour
30g coarse semolina
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp red chilli powder
3 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
Hot water to bind
 
Oil to deep fry
 
Method
 
1. Place both flours in a large basin and add the chilli powder, turmeric, salt. Make a well in the centre and add 2 tbsp oil.
 
2. Add the hot water little by little, mixing with a spoon. When you are able to do so, bind with your hands. Look for a smooth but firm dough as you will be rolling out the pooris without any additional flour. It’s important for the dough not to be sticky.
 
3. Heat the oil in a large wok.
 
4. Divide the dough into small portions, big enough to roll out into 2 ½-3 inch discs around 2mm in thickness.
 
5. Roll out the pooris out 3 at a time, placing them onto greaseproof paper as you go along.
 
6. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of dough into the oil. It is ready when it floats up immediately.
 
7. Fry the pooris, pressing on them gently with a slotted metal spoon so they puff up and become golden. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper and repeat for the rest of the pooris.

What’s your favourite Indian bread and what do you like to eat it with? Leave a comment or share them on Twitter or Facebook.

Like KO RasoiFollow @KORasoi