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.

Vegan 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 dig in to these party-ready vegan drumsticks so they’re a great option for big gatherings.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

I like to keep batches of vegan seitan chicken in the freezer. I make shreds, pieces, loaves and drumsticks so I can quickly whip some out and marinate them or pop them straight into curries, stir fries and noodles.

Traditionally, Hariyali Chicken is a mouth-watering appetiser which is popular in Northern India and is best enjoyed with red onions or kachumber (a mix of red onions and tomatoes) and chutneys. I like to top them with a handful of juicy pomegranate seeds for a burst of freshness.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks

Made from white beans, tofu and vital wheat gluten, my recipe transforms a handful of simple ingredients into the most delicious vegan “chicken”. 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.

For the vegan “chicken” drumsticks:

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu (drained)
  • 1 x 400 g tin haricot beans, including the liquid from the tin (you can also use any other white beans such as cannellini beans or butter beans)
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten (I buy mine on Amazon)
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

You will also need:

  • 10-12 flat wooden lollipop sticks
  • Kitchen foil
  • A pressure cooker

For the hariyali marinade paste:

  • 120 g fresh coriander (including stalks)
  • 50 g fresh mint leaves
  • 2 thin green chillies
  • 3 tbsp coconut yoghurt
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp agave nectar

To serve:

  • 80 g pomegranate seeds (to garnish)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into rings (to garnish)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (to garnish)

For the vegan “chicken” drumsticks:

  1. In a blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste, soy sauce, salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste.Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough.
  2. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends.
  3. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Wrap each piece around a wooden lollipop stick into a drumstick-like shape. Next, wrap each “drumstick” very tightly in 2-3 layers of heavy-duty foil, trying to maintain the shape as well as possible. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside.
  4. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your drumsticks into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 45 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. If your pressure cooker is too small to hold all 10 drumsticks, you’ll need to cook them in two batches. In any case, keep the cooking time the same.
  5. Once cool, remove the seitan drumsticks from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours.
  6. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your vegan “chicken” is now ready to marinate.

For the vegan hariyali “chicken” drumsticks:

  1. To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients except the coconut yoghurt in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir the coconut yoghurt in. This will ensure the marinade doesn’t become too runny.
  3. Add the cold vegan chicken drumsticks and carefully coat each one in the marinade.
  4. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also prepare this 24 hours in advance.
  5. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Place the vegan chicken drumsticks on the griddle pan and cook each side until you have charred grill marks all over. Serve with red onion rings and scatter with pomegranate seeds and more coriander.
  • Grilling gives the vegan hariyali “chicken” drumsticks that delicious Indian restaurant-style flavour but you could also bake these in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 10-12 minutes if you prefer. They’re also delicious when cooked on the barbecue.
  • You can prepare the recipe up to stage 7 in the recipe and then pop into a freezer-safe container for later if you want to get ahead on the recipe or make the dish another day.
  • My frozen vegan “chicken” keeps well in the deep freeze for up to 3 months.

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Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks




Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

Mung beans, plus water, plus 72 hours is my kind of maths. Watching the process of mung beans cracking and sprouting over three days has fascinated me since the age of seven and it still fascinates me now I’m 30.

The shrill pitter patter of the mung beans being poured into a bowl and the swoosh and clatter of them being washed and rinsed reminds me of waves lapping the shore at Bamburi Beach, Mombasa. It’s a place where I’ve had a bucket load of happy food memories.

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

First the mung beans bloom; They’re fat and full of water. Next, their sage skins crack and reveal the creamy white of the inside, rather like Japanese Kintsugi. After a few days and minimal TLC the mung beans begin to sprout delicate tendrils which get longer over the span of 24 hours. Full of goodness and earthy crunch, the mung beans are ready to eat.

Make your own sprouted mung beans by washing them and soaking for 24 hours. Once they’re plump, drain the water from them and scatter them into a colander lined with kitchen paper. Cover with another piece of kitchen paper and leave them for 48 hours, trickling a little water on the top piece of kitchen paper after the first 24 hours. Keep them on the countertop at room temperature. After 72 hours, they will be ready to eat. You can store them in the fridge for 24 hours.

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

You can pack the sprouted mung beans into lunchboxes, toss them through salads, stir-fry them with spices or eat them straight up with a spoon. I like to pack some protein into my breakfasts and my go-to ingredients to do this are sprouted mung beans, tofu, cheese and edamame. This dish puts sprouted mung beans to good use.

My lightly stir-fried vermicelli noodles are tossed with sprouted mung beans, crackled mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric for a big, punchy breakfast number you’ll cook again and again. Transform it into a filling lunch or dinner with the addition of pan-fried tofu.

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

My lightly stir-fried vermicelli noodles are tossed with sprouted mung beans, crackled mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric for a big, punchy breakfast number you’ll cook again and again. Transform it into a filling lunch or dinner with the addition of pan-fried tofu.

  • 150 g sprouted mung beans
  • 350 g dried vermicelli noodles
  • 2 medium carrots ((peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler))
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 3-4 fresh green chillies ((slit))
  • 1 medium onion ((diced))
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander ((chopped))
  1. Cook the vermicelli according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Add in the asafoetida, curry leaves (stand back, they will splutter), fresh and dried chillies. Sauté momentarily and then add the onion and ginger. Cook the onion until translucent.
  3. Next, add in the sprouted mung beans, carrots, turmeric and salt. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Finally, add in the cooked vermicelli noodles and toss to combine. Garnish with fresh coriander.

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Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles




Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

When special occasions are fast approaching and I’ve run out of time to whip up something sweet, it’s Indian-inspired Rocky Road to the rescue! It’s truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully.

I’ve been known to leave things to the last minute at Diwali time when it’s customary to gift Indian sweets to your nearest and dearest. This recipe is a quick and easy raid-the-cupboard workaround that hits the spot when Pendas, Jalebis, Gulab Jamuns and Burfis are all too time consuming to make. It’s also great for people who aren’t too keen on Indian sweets.

Rocky Raasto (Indian-Inspired Rocky Road)

I’ve added all the things I love to this (namely pistachios, Nankhatai from the wonderful Chins’ Kitchen and Turkish delight) but you can swap any of these for what you like best. Other delicious mix-ins would be candied pineapple, coconut cookies and chopped dates. If you’re after a more authentic Indian sweet taste, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom or cinnamon. This is your sweet treat to customise.

Freeze the Turkish delight pieces and mini marshmallows for about 2 hours before you start making these. This will help them keep their shape so you’ll get beautiful pink and white- studded pieces when you cut the Rocky Road.

This Indian-inspired Rocky Road looks stunning when boxed up for gifting and even make a great after-dinner treat when you feel like dessert but are short of time. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge and they’ll keep well for up to 10 days, although I doubt they’ll last that long.

After receiving a tonne of requests for Indian sweets through my latest Instagram Q&A session, I have a handful of Indian-style sweet recipes lined up, all in time for Diwali. I hold these Q&As regularly so make sure you’re following my Instagram Stories to tell me what you’d like to see next.

Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top this Rocky Road off beautifully.

  • 300 g milk chocolate
  • 300 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 140 g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup or agave
  • 100 g Turkish delight ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 100 g Nankhatai, broken ((I use orange & ginger from Chins’ Kitchen))
  • 60 g gelatine-free mini marshmallows ((I use Freedom Mallows))
  • 40 g pistachio nibs ((toasted, plus more for sprinkling on top))
  • 20 g flaked almonds ((toasted))
  • 20 g dried mango ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 20 g crystallised ginger ((cut into 2cm pieces))
  • 2 tbsp dried rose petals
  1. In a freezer-safe container, freeze the Turkish delight pieces and mini marshmallows. This will help them keep their shape for pretty slices.
  2. Place the chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Give it a gentle stir every 5 minutes until melted and well combined. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Add the broken Nankhatai, Turkish delight, nuts, dried mango, crystallised ginger and mini marshmallows. Combine to coat.
  4. Spread the mixture into a 9” x 6” brownie tin lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten the top and scatter with extra pistachios and dried rose petals.
  5. Cover and allow to set in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
  6. Slice however you like (big, small, bars, squares) and serve with masala coffee.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

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Indian-Inspired Rocky Road

Truffle-like chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds, dried mango, crystallised ginger, Turkish delight, mini marshmallows and spiced shortbread biscuits. Dried rose petals top the Rocky Road off beautifully.




Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

“Ping!” My ears pricked up like those of a famished fox on bin day. That was the sound of the oven telling us our quick eggless sponge cake was ready. I was seven years old and obsessed with baking with my mum in the little kitchen above our corner shop. It was our home for the first ten years of my life and the place where I first fell in love with food and the idea of cooking.

Cakes eluded me as I never indulged in them at friends’ birthday parties. Like many Gujarati Hindus, we are a family of lacto-vegetarians so don’t eat eggs. My mum never wanted us to miss out so she would test recipes for the perfect fluffy eggless sponge cakes for us at home. A hundred iterations of cakes made with everything from condensed milk and sour cream, to custard powder and buttermilk. I’d watch intently the whole time, soaking up the baking smells and tips. We baked them in the oven and cooked them in the microwave, in silicone liners and traditional tins. No stone was left unturned in the eggless cake department. Of course, each experiment came with its own set of unique results; Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were a total flop. The fun part was always in the time we spent with one another rather than in getting the recipe totally right. For a kid my age, any cake was good cake. Weighing out the ingredients, mixing the batter and sitting in front of the oven waiting for it to “ping” was just one part of the mother-daughter bonding experience. We’d talk about all things food and she’d tell me about her childhood, learnings and lessons for life. We still do this now, almost 25 years and hundreds of cakes later.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

You’ll be pleased to know that after years of testing and more cake fails than I can count, we did finally nail the perfect eggless vanilla cake recipe. Here it is, in cupcake form, ready to see in my 30th birthday this month. Yep, I’m T-H-I-R-T-Y now. And a mum to the most lovely little boy. How times have changed since starting this blog as a carefree, party-loving twenty year-old student.

My eggless vanilla birthday cupcakes are light, white, fluffy and super moist with lots of vanilla flavour. I’ve baked sprinkles into the sponge because there’s nothing more exciting than funfetti. It just screams, “Happy Birthday!” and I’d have freaked for these cakes when I was a kid. The best thing is that the recipe uses simple, easy-to-obtain ingredients rather than commercial egg-replacers (I have tried every egg replacer under the sun and none of them produce a better cake than this recipe, regardless of how expensive they are). You don’t need a fancy mixer either. Use a bowl, a regular whisk and a spatula for the recipe for the best results.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla CupcakesThe frosting is a simple, American-style crusting buttercream which is easy to pipe/spread and sets up beautifully. I kept it a plain ivory colour but you can colour it to your favourite shade if you like. I recommend using gel or paste food colours such as Wilton, Sugarflair or Americolor. These will ensure the frosting doesn’t become too slack which can be a problem with liquid food colours.

Watch the recipe video to see exactly how I make these at home. The recipe has been tried and tested dozens of times and I always get perfect results. You’re going to love them!

I get so many eggless baking questions through the blog and my cake business, Maharani Cakery. Here are some of my best learnings from baking a million eggless cakes over the years for both weddings and just for the family at home. I’ve tried to answer as many as I can here but if you can’t see the answer to a question you have, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

Q. Is there a single egg replacer that works for all baking recipes?
A. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer as the techniques and make-up of different bakes all require different approaches and ingredients. E.g. Mashed banana, flax eggs  and applesauce are fine for eggless bakes like banana cake, dense muffins and crumb cake but they don’t work so well in vanilla cakes. The eggless cake would end up tasting of those ingredients rather than having the light, white, fluffy texture we all want in a good vanilla cake. I also tend to stay away from using these in vanilla cake baking because the results can be a bit too unpredictable.

Q. Can I swap the sugar in the recipe for honey/coconut sugar/agave/sweetener? Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe?
A. No. Sugar helps proteins bind and form a good structure in cakes. In the absence of eggs, sugar plays a vital role in binding proteins, forming a good crumb and holding the cake together. Using liquid-based ingredients like honey will change the texture of final cake. Coconut sugar and sweetener have a different make-up to regular sugar too and swapping them in place of sugar will also change the final result of the eggless cake.

Q. My eggless cake is tough. Where did I go wrong?
A. Overworked batter can produce a dense, tough cake. This is the case with all cakes, not just the eggless kind. If you overbeat a cake, the in the flour gluten develops to unwanted levels and this will result in tough, stodgy eggless cakes.

Q. Can I swap the white cake flour for wholemeal flour?
A. Technically yes, you could. Having said this, your eggless cake will be darker in colour and heavier than if you were to use a refined white flour. I’ve found that extra-fine self-raising sponge flour produces the best results by a country mile if you’re looking for a fluffy, white eggless cake.

Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

Q. Why do you use full-fat milk powder?
A. Sugar bonds with proteins to give the cake batter a strong structure. Milk powder contains protein which will bind with the sugar to give the eggless cake a strong, fine crumb, helping it rise in the oven and most importantly, hold its shape. The cornflour and raising agents also help these along.

Q. Can I veganise your eggless cake recipe?
A. Yes, you can but again, the texture and flavour of the finished cake may vary slightly. Increase the flour by 1 tbsp, switch the milk for unsweetened almond milk (at room temperature), and use 2 tbsp aquafaba (reduced from 4 tbsp and chilled) in place of milk powder. If you’re making this funfetti vanilla cake recipe, please ensure your sprinkles are suitable for vegans. The butter in the frosting can be swapped with your favourite vegan spread (the soft kind in a tub, not a block). Swap the milk in the frosting for unsweetened almond milk at room temperature.

Q. My cakes are dry. Where did I go wrong?
A. They are overbaked. Ensure you’re baking them for the stated time at the correct temperature. Most domestic ovens tend to be a few degrees out but an internal oven thermometer can help ensure your oven is set at the right temperature. If you don’t have an internal oven thermometer you could also increase or reduce the cooking time depending on whether your cakes are overbaking or underbaking.

Q. Can I use condensed milk in place of sugar and milk in this recipe?
A. I wouldn’t. I’ve baked so many cakes with condensed milk before and whilst they smell amazing in the oven, they are caramelising in the oven and produce dark brown crusts and sponges that are pretty unpleasant to eat. They’re often dense and heavy too (fine for some cakes but not if you want fluffy white eggless cakes).

Q. Can I add cocoa powder to make this a chocolate cake?
A. The make-up of eggless vanilla cakes and eggless chocolate cakes are super different and although some ingredients may be the same, the proportions are not. I’d recommend using a chocolate cake recipe, such as this Eggless Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake if you want to make a chocolate cake. Adding cocoa powder (as it is a dry ingredient) to this recipe will change the texture and you would then have to adjust the liquid ingredients to make up for the increased quantity of dry ingredients.

Q. Why do you add oil instead of butter?
A. In eggless cakes, an oil-based batter will result in a moist, fluffy cake. I’ve found that using butter results in a much firmer cake with a larger crumb.

Q. Why does the milk need to be at room temperature?
A. Room temperature milk will ensure the milk and vinegar mixture curdles quickly and adequately. If you’re short of time, microwave cold milk from the fridge on high power in 15 second intervals for a total of 30 seconds, stirring in between.

Q. Why add the additional baking powder if you’re using self-raising flour?
A. After a lot of testing, I’ve found the extra leavening from the baking powder gives the eggless cakes an extra lift for a super fluffy result.

This recipe makes 12 standard-sized cupcakes or 9 if you’re using muffin cases).

Sanjana's Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

My eggless vanilla birthday cupcakes are light, white, fluffy and super moist with lots of vanilla flavour. I’ve baked sprinkles into the sponge because there’s nothing more exciting than funfetti. 

For the fluffy eggless vanilla cupcakes:

  • 170 g extra-fine self-raising cake flour
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole milk powder
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 240 ml whole milk ((room temperature))
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 90 ml sunflower oil ((or any flavourless oil of your choice))
  • 2 1/2 tbsp colourful sprinkles ((not nonpareils – I use Classic Rainbow Crunchy Jimmies by Fancy Sprinkles))

For the vanilla frosting:

  • 150 g unsalted butter ((cubed, room temperature))
  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole milk ((room temperature))
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt

For the fluffy eggless vanilla cupcakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/340°F. Line a 12-holds cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake cases or 9 muffin cases.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, milk powder, cornflour, sugar and salt. 

  3. In a separate jug or glass, mix together the milk, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes, undisturbed. After 5 minutes, give it a brief whisk.

  4. Add the oil and milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently whisk for 40-60 seconds until smooth. Don’t overbeat the cake batter or you could end up with tough cakes.

  5. At the last minute, fold in the sprinkles with a spatula. Be gentle and swift. Too much mixing will cause the colour from the sprinkles to bleed into the batter. 

  6. Pour the batter into the paper cases, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. They should be springy to the touch and not too brown on top.

  7. Remove from the oven and allow the eggless cupcakes to cool in the tin.

For the vanilla frosting:

  1. To make the frosting, beat butter until pale. Add the icing sugar and beat until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, salt and milk. Beat for a further 5 minutes until thick, light and creamy.

  2. Frost the cooled cupcakes however you like. I love using the Wilton 1M tip fitted in a piping bag for cute, simple ruffles and rosettes. You could also just spread the frosting on using a spatula if you like. Top with extra sprinkles (as many as you like). Candles are optional, but make any cake infinitely more fun. 

  • If you’re eating the cakes on the same day, know that frosting is the best way to preserve your cakes and keep them from going stale. If you’re keeping them for the another day, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Remove from the fridge an hour before serving to soften the cakes and frosting.

 

  • Alternatively, you can bake this cake in a greased and lined 6” round tin (3” deep) at 160°C/320°F for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in to the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then flip it out onto a wire rack to cool before decorating.

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Sanjana’s Fluffy Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes




Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

One of my most favourite meals in the world is the iconic Punjabi dish, Tandoori Paneer Tikka. When this street food gem is served alongside lemon wedges, salad and mint and coriander chutney, nothing else comes close. The beauty of simple ingredients, very few spices and fiery cooking method ensures this dish is world famous for its leopard-spotted char and smoky flavours.

I’ve been working on this recipe for the ultimate Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka made without a tandoor or barbecue for SO long. You’ll notice my dreams of installing a big, badass tandoor in my garden still haven’t come to fruition. Don’t worry though, I’ve found a great workaround. It’s a recipe that gives you restaurant or street-style flavours at home with minimal effort. Spoiler: there’s no grill or oven involved either.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg. The ghee and oil combo in the marinade ensures the outside becomes freckled with the familiar scorch marks you’d expect from a restaurant or street-style tandoori dish. Serve it up with a pool of coriander and mint chutney, fresh salad leaves and lemon wedges. You can also toss in raw red onion slices and serve with butter naan or garlic naan for a true Punjabi-style feast.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

A few tips and notes before you start.

  • Marinate the paneer, peppers and onions for a minimum of 30 minutes to give the ingredients time to get acquainted. If you have time, you can pop the paneer and veg in the tandoori marinade the night before. Be sure to keep it covered in the fridge.
  • Being your resident paneer fangirl, you’ll know I’m always going on about soaking shop-bought paneer for a fresh, homemade texture and taste. You can find out how I do this in the recipe below. The basic idea is to rehydrate the paneer in boiling water to soften it up and give a brilliant-white colour that’s just like homemade. If you want to make your own paneer at home, you can find my recipe here: Homemade Paneer.
  • Ensure the wire rack you use on top of the cooker is sturdy and can handle the heat.
  • Open all the windows in your house for good ventilation. The cooking process will create smoke which will need to escape. If you have an extractor fan, switch it on. It will make your house smell like a restaurant kitchen. Glorious!
  • If you don’t fancy cooking this over a flame, you can also place the skewers on a wire rack and cook them in an oven until charred. Make sure it’s pre-heated to the highest temperature possible. Traditional tandoors average 400°C heat so it needs to be hot! You can also place these on a griddle pan or on the barbecue.
  • I used flat metal skewers (be careful when turning as the handles can get really hot) but you can also use wooden skewers. Be sure to soak them in cold water for an hour before you need to use them. This will stop them burning during the cooking process.
  • Most restaurants and street vendors add red food colour to their marinade for the iconic and eye-popping crimson colour. I’m no food snob and am not opposed to food colours in cooking but I just don’t find it necessary in this dish. Kashmiri chilli powder will give you a gorgeous natural red colour with very little heat. If you can’t get hold of it, use equal parts of smoked paprika and regular chilli powder in its place. I often use tomato paste for colour and tang which isn’t authentic but works a treat.

If you’re looking for a vegan tandoori option, check out my Tandoori Tofu Tikka recipe. The marinade for that recipe packs a huge punch to really infuse the tofu with plenty of flavour. If you prefer a milder tikka, you can easily veganize this recipe. Switch the paneer for tofu, tempeh or seitan, use all oil instead of ghee and sub in coconut yoghurt in both the tikka marinade and chutney recipes.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg. 

  • 450 g paneer ((3cm cubes))
  • 1 large onion ((cut into wedges or petals))
  • 1 red pepper ((cut into 3cm squares))
  • 1 green pepper ((cut into 3cm squares))
  • Salad leaves ((to serve))
  • Lemon wedges ((to serve))

For the tandoori marinade:

  • 200 g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil ((or any other flavourless oil))
  • 3 cloves garlic ((peeled))
  • 2 inch piece ginger ((peeled))
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder ((this gives the dish an amazing colour))
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves ((chopped))

For the coriander and mint chutney:

  • 180 g fresh coriander ((including stalks))
  • 30 g fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic ((peeled))
  • 3 hot green chillies ((stalks removed))
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt

For the Coriander and Mint Chutney:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. You might need to add a little water to ensure even blending. Stir in the yoghurt at the end. If you add the yoghurt to the blender the chutney will become super runny so it’s best to stir it in at the end for good body and texture. Refrigerate. 

For the Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka:

  1. Place the paneer pieces in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water from the kettle. Ensure they’re completely submerged. Set aside while you make the tandoori marinade.

  2. Place all the ingredients for the marinade (excluding the yoghurt, ghee and oil) in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.

  3. Put the yoghurt in a large bowl and add the blended marinade. Stir to combine.

  4. Heat the ghee and oil in a small pan until smoking hot. Carefully pour this into the yoghurt marinade and stir it in quickly and thoroughly.

  5. Drain the paneer, add the onions and peppers and toss in the marinade. Your hands are the perfect tool for this.

  6. Skewer the paneer and veg, alternating ingredients according to your preference.

  7. Place a strong, sturdy metal rack over the burner of your gas cooker. Arrange the skewers on top. I cooked two at a time to ensure even cooking. Switch on the flame and cook the skewers, rotating and adjusting their position until speckled and charred all over. Repeat for all the skewers.

  8. Serve immediately with salad, lemon wedges and coriander and mint chutney.

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Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka




Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk with Bean Fritters)

What are your favourite food smells? For me, you can’t get any better than veggies roasting over an open fire. The flavours of corn, aubergines, peppers and okra and onions are all heightened when you introduce them to flames. I have such precious memories of holidaying in Mombasa, melting away in the smell of fire-roasted maize on the cob, mohogo and sweet potatoes. These, combined with the lingering smell of hot coals, gasoline and frying potatoes in the salty, coastal air transports me to a happy place that’s almost as comforting as the welcoming warmth of my bed at home.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

I’m lucky enough to have grown up with three cultures; British, Indian and Kenyan. I grew up in the 90s, lived in an all-white area and was forever told that my house/packed lunch/hair always “smells like curry” by my peers. If that wasn’t odd enough, I was also the only vegetarian at school (remember this was before “plant-based” and “vegan” diets were mainstream and instafamous). When my lunches weren’t cucumber sandwiches and crisps, they were eyeballed with a mixture of curiosity and fear. Ghee-cooked thepla, bateta nu shaak, dahi and samosas. Those lunches were always the most delicious. By the time I got to 15, I stopped giving a toss about what others thought, cooked shaak-rotli in my home ec classes and often came home empty handed because my friends had eaten it all. My parents were flabbergasted.

The self-conscious episodes of my youth have made me incredibly proud of my triple-cultured upbringing. Being a British Indian with East African roots is what’s made me who I am today. We ate the best, most varied meals and connected over food in the most wonderful way. Each meal was a talking point; it had a story and there were facts, techniques and anecdotes behind it. Even now, we talk about our favourite family dishes daily.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

British sweetcorn is abundant at this time of year and we’ve eaten it in so many different ways over the past two weeks. Now although I could snaffle an entire cob of buttery, roasted corn every evening, I wanted to share something special with you.

My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top. The bhajiya soak up some of the coconut milk like dumplings, yet still have a crispy, cragginess I adore. If you like Gujarati-style Kidney Beans & Sweetcorn nu Shaak, you will love this dish.

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over and in restaurants. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). The Makai Paka is vegan and usually incorporates large pieces of corn on the cob simmered in coconut milk but I wanted to create a version you need only a bowl and spoon to enjoy. Also, stripping the corn kernels off the cob after its been roasted is such a satisfying process.

The spices in this dish are simple, as with all East African dishes. Traditionally, you should let the ingredients do the talking and use spices sparingly to enhance them. The only rule is to balance sweet, salty, hot and sour, as is also the case with traditional Gujarati cooking.

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top.

For the Makai Paka:

  • 3 large whole sweetcorn ((you can also use 600g tinned or frozen corn))
  • 1 medium potato ((cubed into 1cm pieces))
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 350 ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt ((or to taste))

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  • 400 g cooked kidney beans, drained and washed ((I use tinned))
  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 green chilli ((chopped))
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder ((optional))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying

For the Makai Paka:

  1. Roast the sweetcorn over a flame on your gas cooker. You can also place it under the grill or on a barbecue until it has black spots all over. If you’re using tinned or frozen corn, dry roast them in a smoking-hot non-stick pan. Allow to cool.
  2. Strip the kernels from the cob and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, add the water, coconut milk, chillies, garlic, turmeric and salt. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes and corn. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and coriander and remove from the heat.

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  1. Heat a wok or deep pan with oil to 160°C/320°F. Use a teaspoon to carefully drop small portions of the batter into the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy.
  2. Serve the Makai Paka in bowls and top with the Maharagwe Bhajiya.

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Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)




Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen that I’ve recently been posting about the joys of my pregnancy so far. We’ve managed to finish up the nursery, pack the hospital bags (so they’re ready to go when we need to) and found out that the baby is measuring up well. She or he (we are keeping the gender a surprise for all our friends and family) is a proper night owl, spinning, hiccuping and fidgeting at the most unsociable hours. Sounds a lot like my Mr if you ask me…

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

Three weeks ago I also found out that I have gestational diabetes (GD). Sitting in that hospital for over 2 hours for my glucose tolerance test, I had a feeling deep down that it wouldn’t go so well. We have a family history of type 2 diabetes and being Asian meant I ticked two of the three boxes on the high risk checklist. Still, that didn’t mean that the news wasn’t a shock. I was at work when I found out and I had an absolute meltdown. I was devastated because I thought I had brought it on myself – that it was because of something that I had done. And that made me feel like a failure.

For those of you who don’t know, GD is a fairly common issue with pregnancy which usually disappears after the baby is born but once detected, it is to be taken very seriously and treated appropriately. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here, but this is what the NHS website says about it if you’d like to know more.

Ultimately, it means that I must check my blood sugar levels 4 times per day and ensure they are not too high. In order to control them, I need to balance everything I eat for the next 9 weeks or so. The basic premise is to treat it like a sugar and carbohydrate intolerance. That’s not to say that all carbs are off limits – we all need carbohydrates to stay fit and healthy. Cutting them out completely is a bad move. Having said this, it’s low GI carbs you need, and less of them than I would normally eat at a single meal. Now, each meal consists of a slow release carb such as brown basmati, wholemeal pasta or wholegrain bread, LOTS of protein like tofu, paneer and soy-based products, good fats like natural yoghurt, nuts and seeds and as many leafy green veggies as I like. Together, they are the perfect balance of goodness for me and for baby. It’s a good job we ADORE vegetables.

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

I’ve been doing this diet for almost a month and now that I’ve done my reading and am informed, it’s not so scary anymore. After I found out, my midwife said to me that knowledge is power and she’s absolutely right. I no longer feel like it’s my fault because it absolutely isn’t. The same goes for millions of other women who get diagnosed with GD every day. Knowing that it’s there and being informed of the risks allows us to adapt our lifestyles for our little ones and gives them the best start in life.

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

For the next few weeks and beyond, I’ll be sharing some of the recipes I’ve been cooking on this diet – they’re delicious everyday meals that are full of goodness and you can enjoy them whether you’re on a GD diet or not. I must say that we’re all different in the way our bodies process different foods so please check your tolerance to different things and find a balance that works for YOU. What keeps one person’s sugar levels stable can make another person’s rocket. For anyone who has GD, know that you are amazing, your body is busy creating a little miracle and it’s all going to be worth it in the end!

Baby K.O is a massive fan of this one. It is loaded with green goodness, golden paneer kofta and with a salad of fresh cucumber slices, red onions, mint and coriander, it’s the ultimate veggie curry. Enjoy it with brown basmati rice, straight from a bowl to save on washing up.

Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

A fresh, nourishing bowl of greens for when you’re craving comfort food.

For the paneer kofta:

  • 225 g paneer
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Oil for coating the kofta

For the curry:

  • 1 head savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 75 g frozen peas
  • 200 g broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 150 g fresh baby spinach
  • 6 spring onions, quartered
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 thin green chillies
  • 10 skinless almonds, blanched
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

To garnish:

  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F.

  2. Place all the ingredients for the kofta in a blender and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball.

  3. Divide the paneer into 15 small balls, rolling between your hands to ensure there are as few cracks as possible. Place onto a lined baking tray, coat each one in a little oil and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  4. Place the cabbage, broccoli and spring onions in a large roasting tray, season with 1/2 tsp salt and bake in the oven, around 15 minutes. The edges of the broccoli and onions should brown a little and the cabbage should crisp up.

  5. To make the curry, blend together the curry leaves, almonds (along with 60ml of the soaking water), garlic and chillies, along with a handful of the spinach leaves until you have a smooth, green paste. Add extra water if needed.

  6. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Pour in the green paste and cook for 10 minutes until the oil separates from the paste and leaves the sides of the pan. Next, stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then add the roasted veggies, frozen peas, remaining spinach and golden paneer kofta. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

  7. Garnish with fresh coriander, mint and chillies (optional).

Serve with brown rice, onions and cucumber.

 
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Paneer Kofta & Greens Coconut Milk Curry

Love Sanjana + baby K.O (any gender guesses from you? Let me know!)




20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

I had five new recipes lined up, ready to photograph and post but last week when I shared a photo of my dad’s signature Channa Bateta, I was inundated with requests on Facebook and Instagram for the recipe. This made me super nostalgic, thinking back to the days when I’d come home from school and my dad would proudly say, “Jo, Ravi, Sanju, I’ve made Channa Bateta for you all.” A large pot of simmering golden liquid would puff up steam that filled the kitchen and my nostrils with the aroma of fresh green chillies and turmeric. It was heaven. I’d be first in line, queuing up with my bowl to ladle in the potato and chickpea broth and subsequently hit up all the extra toppings laid out like a burger bar. The recipe here includes a range of topping options but how you customise your bowl is all down to your personal taste. I’ve often only topped this with coriander and crisps. If you only have the time and energy to pick one topping, choose the crisps. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Channa Bateta (or CBs as we called it as kids) was the simplest of dishes using very few ingredients, but dad would put his heart and soul into it. He’s always been a well-seasoned cook and one that adds a fistful of this, a splash of that and a pinch of something else… and he makes cooking East African classics like Channa Bateta look so easy he could be doing it with his eyes shut. The son of two brilliant cooks, he acts as cool as cucumber raita about his mad skills and he nails flavour-packed East African dishes, chutneys and chaats every time. He’s got “chatpata” (hot, sour and sweet) flavours down. What I owe him greatly for is his wonderful encouragement and support over the years with my cooking. I started out as a curious toddler with a taste for Doodh and Khichri (stewed rice and lentils with milk). It was my equivalent of porridge and I’d wolf it down as I watched my Mum roll rotlis, thinking I wanted to be just like her when I was big enough to reach the stove. She’d give me pieces of dough to practice rolling and I’d sit on the floor cross legged in the tiny kitchen above our shop and roll rotlis using my coveted kids chapatti set from Popat’s, an Indian homeware store in Wembley. Needless to say, my rotlis totally sucked. They weren’t soft round, they were chunky frisbees of play-doh which my mum would still pop on to the tawa and cook into a biscuitty puck. And it was dad who would eat them up and tell me how delicious they were. Everything I know is down to those “map-of-Britain” monstrosities that were only fit for the bin. If he hadn’t have eaten them and told me they were great, I’d probably never have fallen in love with cooking and trying my absolute best in sharing that passion with others. So thank you Dad, you’re the source of my motivation, determination and self belief.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

At home, if ever a bag of Seabrook Ready Salted crisps, Kenya Chevdo (a kind of potato-based trail mix) and lemon wedges were on the counter top and I instantly knew Channa Bateta was for dinner. You see, this dish is traditionally served with a crispy topping that comes in the form of said crisps, chevdo or even cassava crisps. A squeeze of lemon brings the whole thing together so what you’re left with is an orchestra of tender potatoes and chickpeas, a spicy chilli-laced coconut broth, fresh and fragrant coriander, a crunchy potato chip topping and sour raw mango chutney that brings the entire thing to life. It’s so balanced, filling and flavoursome… and all without trying too hard.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

I posted a recipe for Mombasa-Style Kachri Bateta before which is a similar kind of thing but uses sour tamarind as the broth base. Channa Bateta is quicker and the heartier of the two. Filling carbs like potatoes, cassava and ugali are the essential sources of energy in East Africa. People work long hours, often have multiple jobs and of course, it’s damn hot. Usually what’s needed is a hearty, energy-rich bowl of stew or savoury porridge to keep bodies fuelled throughout the day.

I use tinned chickpeas because life is too short when you’re just home from work and are in need of a quick-fix meal (and that’s what this is). If you follow this recipe, it should take no longer than 20 minutes from start to finish. And that’s not including time to do the washing up which, if you were really smart, you’d enlist a minion to do for you. You should then put your feet up and wait for this to bubble away, filling your home with the smell of the simplest Indian-African dish there ever was.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Dad’s 20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Serves 4

Ingredients
1kg baby new potatoes, steamed and peeled
2 x 400g tins chickpeas (drained weight 480g in total)
8-10 curry leaves
400ml full-fat coconut milk
800ml hot water
2 tsp turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon
2 chillies, chopped (adjust to your taste)
1/2 raw green mango, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

For the Channa Bateta toppings bar
1 red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
4 packs of salted crisps/potato chips, crushed (you could also use cassava chips)
4 tbsp Kenyan Chevdo and/or Jinni Sev (trail mix), optional – you can buy these in many Asian supermarkets
Green chutney, to taste (recipe below)
Tamarind chutney, optional
Daal vada, optional
Red chilli powder, optional

For the Raw Mango and Coconut Chutney
1/2 raw green mango, grated
1 whole fresh coconut, shelled, peeled and grated (the coconut water is the chef’s treat)
100g fresh coriander
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
240ml cold water

Method

1. Pour the coconut milk and water into a large pan. Add the curry leaves, chopped chilli, turmeric, green mango, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil.

2. Add in the chickpeas and potatoes, along with the lemon juice.

3. Simmer on a medium/low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on.

4. Ladle into a bowl and customise with all your favourite toppings. Serve immediately.

5. To make the Raw Mango and Coconut Chutney: Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until you have a semi-coarse, bright green chutney.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Love Sanjana




Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Hand me a rose-flavoured dessert over a bouquet of roses any day. I’m a sucker for rose-flavoured everything. It all started back when I was around seven years old when my dad would take our family to our favourite Indian restaurants. Even before looking at the menu I’d know what I wanted to drink – classic Falooda. A sweet rose milkshake with basil seeds, grass jelly and vermicelli noodles. Some may argue that it’s a dessert and not a drink you’d have with a full three-course meal but that never stopped me. My dad would laugh and always made sure I got one, even ensuring it came with cocktail umbrellas for added pizzazz. I still love an ice cold falooda to this day but I can no longer get away with ordering one with my dinner.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

These days I love to add rose to lots of dishes from sweet to savoury, but mostly sweet. I’ve got a tonne of rose recipes on the blog, some of my favourites being Strawberry Cheesecake Falooda, Eggless Rose Custard Creams, Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa, Cardamom Wreath with Rose Drizzle and Candied Lemon Peel. A dash of rose water also doesn’t go amiss in biryani, ice cream and of course, cake.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Here I’ve dunked chewy toasted coconut macaroons in a simple rose icing made with icing sugar and rose syrup – the bright pink kind you find in Indian shops. One of my pregnancy cravings has been rose milk reminiscent of my falooda-crazy days. I add a dash to cold milk and stir for a strawberry pink milkshake that’s so refreshing without the faff of having to make a true falooda.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

The macaroons are eggless, switching in a trusty can of sweetened condensed milk instead of egg whites. The result is a delicious, toasty coconut cookie with a coconut ice-like centre. After they’ve cooled, the bottoms get dunked in the rose icing and chopped toasted pistachios. Pistachio and rose are a flavour combo I’d like to eat every day for the rest of my life – I’m obsessed.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy 6-ingredient cookie that’s both egg and gluten free, this one’s for you.

Dust with icing sugar for a pretty snow-topped peak. So pretty!

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons
Makes 25 macaroons

For the macaroons:
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
300g sweetened desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the rose icing:
140g icing sugar
4 tbsp rose syrup

Icing sugar to dust, optional

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/320°F. It’s really important you do this. The oven needs to be HOT or the cookies will melt into flat puddles. Grease and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper and butter.

2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda until you have a thick pliable mixture.

3. Divide the mixture into 25 equal balls and shape each one into a teardrop shape. Arrange on the pre-lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and toasted on the outside. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar and rose syrup until you have a thick, drippy pink icing. Dip the bottom of the cooled macaroons in the icing and then into the chopped pistachios. Sit them back onto a lined baking tray. Allow to set at room temperature for a few hours.

5. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Eggless Pistachio-Rose Macaroons

The macaroons will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a week. Although I doubt they’ll last that long.




Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup & Twisted Naan Knots

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and 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 tied on my brother’s wrist every August on Rakshabandhan were cajoled for being girly bracelets when in fact, they were a symbol of my love, to bond us as siblings, and offer him protection for the year ahead. At that age nobody ever said anything to my face. I was blissfully unaware. But that all changed when I hit my teens.

It was the mid 90s, the Spice Girls were at the top of the charts and you weren’t cool unless you wore mini skirts and jelly shoes. Multiculturalism wasn’t as prevalent as it is now and knowledge of Indian culture beyond that red dot we sometimes have on our foreheads was about as advanced as it got. Truth be told, we lived in a small village surrounded by wonderful people, but it also happened to be a place where samosas were thought to be a type of exotic food us Hindus ate at “Ramadam”.

My family and I would go to Pakistani shops to seek out aubergines for Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry and unearthing a bunch of coriander in the local supermarket was unheard of. Going to Asian shops and bumping in to a friend from school in the area scared the living hell out of me. A million thoughts would blitz through my head like a tornado. “Would they think we were weird going to ‘ethnic’ shops?”, “Would they bring it up at school on Monday in front of everyone?”, “Would I be shunned for being different?” When really my questions should have been, “Why are they so afraid of something different? Wait, why am I so afraid?” and “Why do I care so much?” It was a childish, irrational fear that felt absolutely rational at the time. But then I was a child.

Looking back, I’m ashamed to admit that those sorts of thoughts troubled me. I should have been out learning to ride a bike, or choreographing my own Kathak routines, but I never learned to do either of those things. The same thoughts ran through my mind when we went to the “Asian part of town”, or dressed up in (beautiful) lenghas to go to a family wedding, and sadly, when we spoke Gujarati in front of people that weren’t part of our family.

Twisted Garlic Naan Knots

The funny thing is that when we got home I relished the fresh vegetables, paneer, spice blends and bunches of herbs like coriander and dill my parents picked up from the aforementioned shops I’d previously tarnished with my ugly mindfarts. I was in my element browsing those aisles learning about picking the best coconuts and papayas, yet on edge throughout thinking I’d get caught indulging my alien heritage by a popular kid from school. It’s sad to think that I believed that just being me, a British Indian-African Hindu would somehow undo the “Britishness” I’d feigned in trying to fit in with my white friends. At the time, embracing my roots didn’t feel like an option and looking back on it as an adult, that breaks my heart.

My husband’s story is the polar opposite of mine. He grew up in Leicester, a city famed for its Golden Mile, curry houses and massive immigrant population. There were Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Kashmiri families on every street. Some streets comprised of only immigrants and his entire school year was made up of 95% Asians, half of which were Gujarati like him. Going to the Indian shop was a mundane chore. He’d probably bump in to 5 or 6 kids from school there and he’d most likely wave, ask how they were and swap some football stickers. Thinking about that makes my soul burn a little bit; with embarrassment, with envy, of feelings of being cheated, I don’t quite know.

Part of me wishes I had it a bit easier growing up but I also appreciate that perhaps I wouldn’t have eventually embraced Indian customs, traditions and cuisine quite as much as I had, if it wasn’t for knowing I was different – the kids at school certainly knew it. I was a running joke during the weekly P.E lesson; the 10 year old Indian girl with dark hairs on her legs. She developed early and has to use the teacher’s bathroom. Whispers as we got changed in to our yellow and black polo shirts and short-shorts, girls and boys together in the same room except I was the only one who wore a bra and had downy baby hair on my lower back. It was brutal and would be for any young woman. The advice I’d give to my younger self and every young lady out there is this: Love yourself because YOU MATTER. You’re unique and beautiful and one day the kids pointing and muttering will feel like idiots for making you feel isolated and sad. The boys will remain ignorant for some time. The girls will realise how stupid they were when they experience puberty for themselves. I wish I’d have known this back then. Be fearless, realise your potential and the impact you have on your own life as well as the lives of others. Be kind because people don’t remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel.

My parents always made my brother and I feel special, never let us feel like we missed out on things. We were allowed to hang out with our friends, go to school discos and dress however we liked. Mum even bought me two pairs of jelly shoes in both purple and pink. They always wanted us to be fully integrated and immersed within our peer groups, and never outcasted or made to feel strange because of the colour of our skin or for listening to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on our iPod Minis. There was always a handful of kids (and parents) who saw us differently but that’s inevitable. Looking back on it now I realise how easy we probably had it in comparison to other families who have experienced horrendous racism throughout their lives. I also appreciate everything my parents did to help us feel like part of the crowd, yet never let our cultural values slip away.

It took me until I was about 18 years old to realise I didn’t care what others thought and that my real friends would stick around for the whole me. They would come over for Indian dinners and not think pomegranates in yoghurt were weird, or that fresh, homemade cheese in creamy spinach curry was gag inducing. We’d feast on Biryani, Raita, Mutter Paneer, Homemade Naan and Channa Masala until we were ready to burst. Hell, we’d even watch Zee TV and dance around the living room together. By the time I reached university I was back to being that girl who wasn’t afraid of admitting she was at her happiest singing Bollywood songs in the car with dad, Jalebi in one hand, Fafda in the other, middle finger ready to be flipped to anyone waiting to judge. It’s sad that it took that long for reality to kick in but I don’t regret anything. I’m stronger for it.

I’ll take that soul-warming bowl of Masala-spiced tomato soup now. It really is delicious.

This is one of the most soul-warming dinners. The curry leaves are crackled in hot ghee along with cumin seeds for the most fragrant finish. Perfect for dunking the buttery naan knots.

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the soup:
900g passata
4 tbsp melted ghee
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2-inch piece ginger, grated
1 large onion, diced finely
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
60ml double cream
10-12 curry leaves
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 stock vegetable cube dissolved in 600ml hot water

For the naan knots:
310g strong, white bread flour
1 teaspoon dried fast action yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
140ml warm water
2 teaspoons sour yoghurt

For the garlic and coriander butter:
100g salted butter
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped

Method

1. To make the dough for the twisted naan knots: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and nigella seeds. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, yoghurt and water. Using your hands, bring the dough together. If the dough feels sticky, oil your hands and knead for 15 minutes.

2. Grease the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to prove in a warm place for one hour.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan and add the finely sliced garlic. Allow to fry until aromatic. Add the chopped coriander and set aside until needed.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.

4. To make the twisted naan knots, take a ping pong-sized ball of dough and roll using the photos below as a guide.

Twisted Naan Knots

5. If you’re short on time, grease a baking dish and make little dough balls to nestle into the dish. Bake at 160C for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cover with foil to keep warm and brush with the garlic butter before serving.

6. To make the soup, heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large pan and add the onions and brown sugar. Sauté until deep golden brown and caramelised. At the last minute, add the chopped chilli and ginger and stir briefly. Place into a blender along with the passata. Blend for a minute until smooth and creamy.

7. Heat another 2 tbsp ghee in the pan and add the cumin seeds. When the cumin starts to sizzle, add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the tomato mixture and vegetable stock. Add the salt and stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, switch the heat off and allow to cool slightly. Stir the cream through. Serve with the twisted naan knots.

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots

Love Sanjana




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.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Since it began, I’ve boycotted the rise of the turmeric milk fad that seems to have infiltrated every coffee shop and café in sight. It should be simple, a feel-good tonic to make you feel better after a rough day, not flashy, expensive and inaccessible. After all, the ingredients are basic. Haldi Doodh is a healing tonic Indian mums stir up for children when they’ve got sore throats and coughs. As a natural antiseptic, turmeric (either fresh or dried and ground) was always in the kitchen. As a child I would reluctantly down mugs of hot Haldi Doodh because it didn’t taste like the banana milkshake I’d hoped for it to be. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t Nesquick. As much as I now love haldi doodh and the soothing properties it carries, I don’t believe in paying a shed load for it when I can make it at home.

The beautiful thing is that when fresh turmeric is combined with milk, cardamom and black pepper, you get the most miraculous flavour and aroma of fresh mango. Just a little bit, not too much, blitzed with the milk for a pretty yellow colour. Once cooked, the colours will transform from daffodil to deep amber.

This tart is as sweet and flaky as it is fruity, spicy and ever so slightly bitter. Each element is perfectly balanced, just how I like it.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Eggless Turmeric Milk Tart
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

For the sweet pastry:
240g flour
140g unsalted butter, frozen and grated whilst still frozen (this helps incorporate it faster and keeps everything cold)
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cold water

For the turmeric milk filling:
415g evaporated milk
395g can condensed milk
50ml whole milk
3cm piece turmeric, peeled (this will stain so wear gloves!)
3 cardamom pods, seeds lightly crushed
6-8 black peppercorns, seeds lightly crushed
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g flour
40g cornflour
50g salted butter
Ground cinnamon to dust

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. To make the pastry, place the flour, salt and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the grated butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and pulse until the mixture just comes together. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Take a 25 x 3.5cm loose bottomed tart in with fluted edges. Roll the pastry out to about 35cm wide, 4mm thick. This will ensure you have enough overhang at the edges. Place the roll dough into the tin and allow it to hang over the sides. Use a spare ball of dough to gently press the dough into the corners and sides to line the tin. Don’t worry if you make a tear, just patch it up.

4. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the dough and fill with baking beans, rice or any dried lentils you have. Bake for 10 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the baking beans, greaseproof paper and prick the pastry all over with a fork. Turn the oven down to 120°C and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and dries out completely.

6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Put the oven back up to 160°C

7. To make the filling, place the flour and cornflour into a large bowl. Add 50ml whole milk and stir to make a thick paste.

8. Place the evaporated milk in a blender (I used a Nutribullet), and add in the fresh turmeric, cardamom, peppercorns, vanilla and condensed milk. Blend until super smooth, about a minute.

9. Slowly whisk the evaporated milk mixture into the flour paste until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pan and cook on a medium-low heat until slightly thickened (think cheese sauce consistency). Add the butter and whisk.

10. Pass the mixture through a sieve and into a jug to remove any lumps.

11. Place the tart shell on a baking tray and place it in the oven. Pull the shelf out and pour the filling into the shell. Push the shelf back in gently and close the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.

12. Crack the oven door open and allow the tart to cool in the oven.

13. Dust the tart with ground cinnamon and decorate as you wish. Serve warm.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Love Sanjana




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 a lot from my mum who was taught much of what she knows by them, and today in my own kitchen I practice my weekends away with Pink Floyd, Led Zep and Fleetwood Mac for company. Tip from my experience: You’re likely to make rounder Chapattis if you roll them to the tune of Stevie Nicks’s voice. Fact.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Sometimes I find myself having conversations with Baa and Bapuji, Nanabapu and Nanima in my head. Call me crazy but I’m quite sure that my Nanima (who passed away when my mum was just seven) is my spirit guide. She pushes me to get stuff done, tells me not to overthink when I’m stressed and that I should always strive to be like my mum… resilient. I update them all on my ambitions and like most grandparents, they’re supportive, practical and full of sound advice. To me they’re here, even though the things I hear back when I share my thoughts with them is “all me”, if you know what I mean.

In six weeks I get to see my oldest friend from school get married. We grew up in the same town, went to the same college and did everything together. She used to make me the most gorgeous birthday cards and presents and today she’s an incredibly talented, award-winning artist. Back in the day I used to cook during school holidays so I could get her opinion on my latest edible creations and now I produce content at Food Network. Today, some 20 years later I get to bake her a wedding cake, as well as be her bridesmaid and that lights up my heart. Nanima will be with me at every step, of course. The night before she’ll tell me to get it together and do my friend proud. It’ll be a kick ass cake.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

If I was baking this cake for my grandparents, I’d describe it as Gajar Halwa cake. It’s got all the flavours of the traditional Indian dessert made with carrots, cardamom and nuts. It’s an ultra-moist (my work colleague and friend Jo’s Clothes says it’s okay to use that word in reference to cake), four layer beauty. Lauren wants an elegant naked cake with very little icing on the outside so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to practice my decorating skills for this kind of cake. Decorated with fresh tulips (which I grew in my garden, btw!) this is one of my more refined creations. The flavours are just as spellbinding as the presentation, and by god is this look easy to achieve! Follow my recipe below and you’ll have your very own wedding-inspired naked cake to devour.

This makes enough to fill 2 8-inch cake tins. Once the sponges have cooled, I split each one into two layers and fill with fluffy orange blossom cream cheese icing. The fragrance is unbelievable and is so good against the slightly sharp tang of cream cheese.

So it’s a short one today but I think bawling on the train once is enough for me this week and anyhow, it’s all about the cake. Bake it for someone you love.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Eggless Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting
Serves 12-14

Ingredients:
450g flour, sifted
30g ground pistachios
1 tbsp coarse semolina
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 heaped tbsp ground cinnamon + 2 tsp
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Zest of 1 large orange
Water from 1 can chickpeas
100g milk powder
140g sour cream
480ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
420g grated carrots
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
300g caster sugar
120g brown sugar

For the frosting:

250g unsalted butter, softened

300g cream cheese, room temperature

550g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp orange blossom water

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 4. Grease and line two deep 8-inch wide cake tins and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger.

3. Add the ground cardamom (at this stage because it needs to be coarsely ground unlike the other spices.

4. Add the semolina and ground pistachios.

5. Peel and grate the carrots on the large side of a grater.

6. In a stand mixer briefly combine the chickpea water and milk powder. Add the oil, brown sugar, caster sugar, orange zest, sour cream and vanilla extract. Beat for 2 minutes.

7. Add the flour mixture in two stages, still beating the mixture slowly. The batter should be relatively smooth but take care not to over beat.

8. Stop beating. Squeeze the juice from the carrots into the batter and fold. Finally, fold in all of the grated carrots.

9. Divide the batter between the two pans and slam the base of the pan onto the work surface to remove any unwanted air bubbles which may cause the cake to rise unevenly.

10. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

11. To make the icing: Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment affixed. Beat at high speed until pale. Gradually add the icing sugar in batches until it’s all incorporated. Add the vanilla, orange blossom water and a pinch of fine salt. Beat until very light and pale, about 6 minutes.

12. Add the cream cheese and whip until just combined. The frosting should be off white, thick and creamy.

13. Trim the tops of the sponges if they’re not totally flat and split each one through the middle. I use a cake wire like this one for even layers. You could also use a large serrated knife.

14. Place the first sponge on a cake board and fill with 2 ice cream scoops worth of icing (this is an easy way to ensure your layers have the same amount of icing in between). Spread it evenly.

15. Top with another sponge and repeat for the next layers.

16. Once your cakes are stacked, top with the remaining icing and cover the cake. You don’t have to be neat.

17. Use an offset spatula to scrape the icing from the sides of the cake to create a “naked” effect.

18. Decorate with swirls of icing using a regular piping bag and large swirl tip. Decorate with your favourite flowers.

Cardamom Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom Frosting

Love Sanjana