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 teaspoon honey
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, honey 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




Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani

Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your daily routine that you forget to reward yourself by doing the things that unfog your mind and bring joy to your soul.

At least that’s what I’ve felt these past few weeks.

Last time I blogged, I told you about my Trigeminal Neuralgia and how it shook up my world for a long time before I actually sought out a solution. Well, I’ve been on carbamazepine for some three months now and I’m finally starting to feel like a real human again. Hurray!

I had a beautiful week of rest and relaxation in Cancun with my husband recently and it was real bliss. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, you’ll have seen I was being one of those annoying people who overshare holiday pictures. I loved it! Not only did we eat the freshest guacamole every day with breakfast, lunch and dinner, I also discovered how soul-warming and not to mention, perfectly perfumed fresh corn tortillas are. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to plastic-encased, shelf-stable supermarket corn tortillas again. I can only imagine what it must have been like growing up in Mexico, waiting for mum to finish making fresh corn tortillas, the air in the house thick with the sweet smell of toasted corn. It reminded me of the smell memories have, growing up as a first gen Brit, with an Indian heritage and ties to East Africa; it was the most delicious melting pot. Here are my top 5…

1. Fresh Gujarati Rotli. The softest, thinnest chappatis, doubled layered because they’d puff up on the steel plate heated with a roaring flame. “Hot air balloons”, my mum would call them, my eyes wide in awe as I’d think back to the hot air balloons we’d seen in Kenya. Spread with so much salted butter, it would glisten on the surface like mirror glaze on the finest French entremets.

2. Aubergines roasting over an open gas fire. In my opinion, the finest way to cook an aubergine is to char it all over until soft and velvet-like inside. This is how we always made Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry and it’s still one of my favourite dishes in the world, especially with the aforementioned rotli.

3. Steamed mohogo (cassava). I can’t describe it. The smell is like if you caramelised the most potato-like potatoes that ever existed and then condensed the smell into an essential oil for a sauna. Once cooked, we’d cover the steamed mohogo in chilli, lemon juice and salt. Nothing fancy but perfect to me.

4. Seeroh. Hot, sweet semolina that’s first crackled and toasted in ghee or butter, cooked with milk, sugar, saffron, almonds and cardamom. My mum always adds fresh orange juice and zest, along with vanilla bean extract. The smell of this dessert as it cooks makes me swoon! I posted my version of Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream a while back if you’d like to have a go yourself.

5. Vegetable biryani. Golden rice first boiled with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and then layered with veggies, fried onions and rosewater. Packed up tightly with a dough seal and baked in the oven, biryani is one of my favourite ways to enjoy rice. The moment when you take the hot handi to the table, crack open the baked-shut lid and watch that first puff of steam escape is enough to make you weak at the knees. Aromas wafting about the kitchen as everyone digs in like crocs at feeding time (well, at least in my house). I imagine your establishment is much more civilised, although no matter if not.

Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani

I’ve made a few variations of biryani before and this has to be one of my favourites. A tonne of mixed mushrooms from baby button and chestnut, to shiitake and oyster. If you’re feeling fancy and the season is right, add morels or chanterelles for a sublime treat.

Mixed Mushrooms for Biryani

I cooked my mushrooms with lots of aromatics until rich, deep and dark and finished with buttermilk and fresh tarragon to lift the flavour with aniseed notes and just the right amount of creaminess.

The rice is long grain and soaked overnight. Sounds OTT but really, it takes less than 5 minutes to cook if you do this. I add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to the cooking water at this stage and always boil the rice as if I was boiling pasta (in lots of water and then drain and cool). You only need to boil it until it’s 70% cooked.

Saffron Milk for Biryani

The gorgeous colour is created with good quality saffron infused with hot milk. The milk will turn the sunniest of yellows, verging on orange. It’s so pretty to watch, and this adds that iconic biryani flavour. For me, it’s not a biryani without saffron.

The rim of the pot is sealed with a simple dough made with flour and water. This ensures steam builds up inside the pot, plumps up the rice grains and infused them with the flavours of spiced buttermilk mushrooms, crispy onions (in the biryani layers) and saffron. Once cracked open, the ‘Dum’, translated as “warm breath” will escape from the pot and you’ll be ready to pile mounds of biryani on your plate.

Pomegranate Raita

Serve with cooling carrot and cucumber raita with lemon juice and fresh cumin, toasted and ground. Toasting cumin seeds and grinding them burning hot in a pestle and mortar creates the most magical smoke and fragrance. Smells like home.

Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani

Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani
Serves 4

For the Biryani:
450g mixed mushrooms
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin
5cm piece ginger, grated
2 hot green or red chillies
10-12 cashews
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 red onion, sliced
10g tarragon (about a tablespoon chopped)
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
150ml buttermilk
Salt to taste
250g extra-long grain golden basmati rice, washed and soaked overnight
5cm cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, cracked
4 cloves
Rosewater
1 onion, thinly sliced and fried in ghee until crispy
Large pinch saffron, soaked in 3 tbsp hot milk
Dried rose petals (optional)
Mint leaves and fresh coriander to garnish

For the dum (dough around rim of Dutch oven or handi):
150g flour
120ml cold water

For the Raita:
450g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
1 tbsp dill, chopped
1 large cucumber
1 large carrot, grated
1 lemon, juice and zest
80g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp cumin toasted and ground
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 pomegranate

Method

1. Wash the rice and soak in cold water overnight.

2. Drain the rice and place in a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cracked cardamom pods and a large pinch of salt. Cover the rice in plenty of water (as if you were boiling pasta) and bring to a boil. Because you soaked the rice it will take less than 5 minutes. Once the rice is 70% cooked, drain and set aside.

3. To make the buttermilk mushroom masala: wipe and slice your mixed mushrooms and set aside. Place the ghee in a large pan and allow to melt on a low heat. Add the cumin seeds, cashews, bay leaf and asafoetida. Once aromatic, add the ginger, chilli and onion. Sauté on a medium heat until the onion has caramelised. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the water has evaporated.

4. Next, add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have softened and reduced by half. Add the turmeric, season with salt. Cook for a further few minutes and then. Switch off the heat. Add the buttermilk and stir quickly to incorporate. Add the chopped tarragon and give the mushrooms a final stir.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

6. Take a large, handi (you can also use a Dutch oven if you don’t have this). The most important thing is that it’s deep, ovenproof and has a lid. Grease with butter and place a layer of rice on top. (Note: I usually keep the cinnamon etc i boiled the rice with in and remove it before serving.) Cover the rice with a layer of mushroom mixture. Add another layer of rice and add some of the saffron milk, a drop of rose water and fried onions. Add a little more rice and repeat layering with mushrooms and rice until you run out. Finish with rice on top and repeat the saffron milk, rose water and fried onion layer.

7. Combine the flour and water and knead to make a firm dough. Roll the dough out into a long sausage shape and use it to line the rim of the biryani pot. Place the lid on top and bake for 35-40 minutes.

8. To make the raita: Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Grate and squeeze out any excess water. Place into a large bowl. Grate the carrot and squeeze out excess water. Add the chopped herbs, chopped spring onion, lemon juice, salt, sugar and yogurt. Stir to combine.

9. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and coarsely grind in a pestle and mortar. Add to the raita and stir. Top the raita with pomegranate seeds. Chill until ready to serve.

10. Take everything to the table and open up the biryani there, breaking the dough seal. The fragrant steam will escape and you can serve just like that or pile on to a platter and garnish with fresh mint leaves, coriander, crispy onions and dried rose petals.

Buttermilk Mushroom Biryani

Serve the mushroom biryani in the middle of the table with bowls of cooling raita, your favourite Indian pickles/chutneys and crunchy poppadoms for everyone to share.

Love Sanjana




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




Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

I have a massive soft spot for hot desserts: Chocolate lava cake, sticky toffee pudding, gulab jamun and ice cream, seeroh and cold cream and of course, churros and chocolate. Or churros and dulce de leche. Or churros and scented candle wax. Okay maybe not the last one but basically, I’ll eat churros with anything.

Like many others before me, I believe that there’s a separate stomach for dessert. You can eat all the empanadas, cassava fries and frijoles you like but in my book, the sensation of something sweet on your palate is always a welcome one.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

And this second stomach rule doesn’t just extend to South American food and hot desserts – it could be palak paneer, naan and kulfi, or thai massaman curry, papaya salad and coconut sticky rice with mango. They’re all delicious and all made better with something sweet for the finale.

Churros are one of my favourites; the delicious coating, crispy outside, soft, semi-hollow inside and the gooey dip for controlled dunking. I love it all, and so much so that I want it for dessert and as a starter.

This double churros fantasy is possible come true with my recipe for Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros. They have all the delicious components of regular churros except the flavours are inspired by India. They include everyday favourites like ajwain seeds, cumin, dried fenugreek leaves and ground turmeric for the most beautiful golden colour you ever did see.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Instead of the satisfying crunch of granulated sugar on the outside, we have sharp Cheddar and crisp morsels of chilli and spring onion. I’ve tested this recipe a number of times, probably more times than I actually needed to – not because I was tweaking it hugely, but because it has been requested so many times. We’re talking like eight times since it was conceived of back in May.

As I pipe uneven, yet rustic bits of churro dough into hot oil, I wonder why it’s taken me this long to put Indian-inspired churros on the table when it makes such perfect sense.

The dip is a cooling combination of classic coriander, mint, zesty lime and sour cream. It cuts through the earthy spices and naughtiness of the churros. The finished dip makes the deep-fried churros feel saintly and not at all like that drunken visit to Chicken Cottage (for a veggie burger in my case) after a grimy night out.

This makes for a delicious party starter when you have friends coming over. You can make the dough a little ahead of time and keep it in the fridge but in order to get your lips around crispy churros, you’ll need to fry them just before serving. I promise you it’s worth it. Serve them in a platter or in paper cones for a more chilled out feel. Throw in a couple of fried chillies if you’re feeling fancy.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros
Serves 6

For the Churros Dough:
300g plain flour

425ml boiling water

65g ghee

2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp dried fenugreek leaves
½ tsp ajwain seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar

Oil to deep fry

For the Chilli-Cheese Coating:
120g medium strength Cheddar
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds

For the Lime and Coriander Sour Cream Dip:
80g fresh coriander, including the stalks
40g fresh mint leaves
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 green chillies (adjust according to your taste)
180g sour cream
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar

Method

1. To make the churros dough: In a stand mixer, combine the flour and dry spices.

2. Place the water and ghee in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for a minute, until all the ghee has completely melted and switch off the heat.

3. Turn the stand mixer on low and quickly pour in all of the water and ghee mixture. Increase the mixer speed and beat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth.

4. Switch the mixer off.

5. Fit a large piping bag with a star-tipped nozzle (I use Wilton #22 – large open star tip) The disposable piping bags are great for this as you can just throw it away after use – good news for your next batch of icing.

6. Place the churros dough into the piping bag and ensure there aren’t any air bubbles in there. Close the top of the bag up and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

7. In the meantime, grate the cheese on the fine side of a grated and place it on a plate. Add the chopped chilli, coriander and spring onions. Next, place the cumin seeds in a dry pan and toast on a medium heat until aromatic. Give them a quick bash in the pestle and mortar and add these to the cheese mixture too. Combine and set aside.

8. Heat a large, deep-bottomed pan or wok with sunflower oil to 190C. Ensure the oil is at least 5-inches deep to make sure the churros have plenty of space to move around and cook evenly.

9. Line a plate with kitchen paper to drain the churros after they’ve been fried.

10. Keep a pair of clean scissors handy.

11. Now your workstation is ready and your oil is heated, you can start piping the churros.

12. Take the piping bag of rested dough from the fridge and carefully pipe it into the hot oil, snipping the dough with the scissors as it reaches the desired size and allowing it to gently drop into the hot oil. I love the crazy, craggy look of uneven churros – I find it more interesting to look at and eat but you can also go for straight churros sticks or any other shape you like.

13. Fry 4-5 churros at a time to ensure they cook evenly and the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop too much.

14. Don’t move them around in the oil for the first minute of cooking and then gently move them with a spider to make sure they brown evenly. All in all, they should be in the oil for about 2 minutes.

15. Remove from the oil, draining any excess oil and then transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate. They’ll become crispier as they cool here.

16. After a minute or so, place the cooked churros into the plate of chilli cheese, tossing them in the cheese. Place them onto another tray and repeat this process until you’ve used up all the churros dough.

Note: It’s important you toss the churros in the cheese mixture while they’re still super hot so it sticks to them properly.

Note: Also, if you’re going to fry some chillies to serve alongside the churros, make some holes in them first. Nobody likes hot oil and exploding chillies.

Method for the Dip:

1. To make the Coriander and Lime Sour Cream: Combine all the ingredients except the sour cream in a blender. I use my NutriBullet. Add a splash of water too. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add half the sour cream. Stir to combine.

2. Before serving, place the remainder if the sour cream into a bowl and add in the coriander mixture. Stir gently for a sour cream swirl effect.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Love Sanjana




Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Every year, ask me what I want for my birthday and you’ll get the same response each time. It’s not an expensive pair of shoes and it’s not perfume, it definitely isn’t a designer handbag or clothes. I don’t really care about those things. What I really want is my own tandoor.

The idea of having a raging-hot pit of fiery coals in my kitchen makes me go weak at the knees. Install a beautiful granite countertop and leave just enough space for a cavernous drop into a heat-proof cylinder. Pop in a clay oven and watch me go nuts with recipes galore. I’ll pretend I’m Sanjeev Kapoor or Cyrus Todiwala, reaching in with my gigantic asbestos hands. I’ll be making fresh, homemade naan with charred edges and chewy middles, kebabs of all shapes and sizes and the best baked potatoes of your life. I’d be ALL over it.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

One thing I’d definitely be making are proper Tandoori Momos, the hottest Indian street food trend of the minute. Classic Nepali dumplings, slathered in Tandoori marinade and cooked under intense heat for that heavenly charcoal smokiness we all know and love.

Well, my 28th birthday just went and sadly, I didn’t get my own tandoor. I did however, have the most wonderful birthday cake baked for me by my lovely Mr. It was the first cake he’d ever baked and he totally nailed it. That was breakfast sorted for an entire week. Here’s a sneak peek.

Spr

I’m hoping one day someone will take me up on my request for a tandoor but in the meantime, I’m getting my tandoori food fix using the trusty oven. Whack it up as high as it will go and when it’s smoking hot, stow your food inside, closing the door swiftly. I do naans like this all the time and it works a charm.

Folding dumplings is one of the most cathartic things you can do. Little parcels, half moons, gyoza-style or tortellini style, the possibilities are endless. I love nothing more than a ‪Saturday afternoon in with a cup of chai, a good movie and a marathon dumpling-making session. So after a long week at work, I did just that. Except I didn’t make just any dumplings, I made Momos. The most delicious Indian-style dumplings filled with veggies, paneer, ginger and soy sauce.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Traditionally, Momos are served with hot tomato chutney but instead, I made my own tandoori marinade (the one I use for making my Tandoori Paneer Samosas) and covered the Momos in it before popping them into the sweltering pit of fire, a.k.a, the oven.

The pastry is of course, homemade – why not when it’s just three ingredients: flour, hot water and salt. It’s worth making your own, and so much easier when it comes to folding the Momos. You can make them any shape you like but I thought the simple half moon was pretty. Check out YouTube for tips on how to fold dumplings.

You can by all means skip the Tandoori paste part entirely and just straight up fry and steam them like Japanese gyozas – but where’s the fun in that? No, I’m kidding, they’re absolutely delicious steamed too. Serve them with hot tomato and chilli chutney, adding a glug of sesame oil for good measure.

Once these are out of the oven, you’ll find yourself waiting to frantically get one into your mouth.

Don’t do that. If you’ve ever eaten a hot apple pie from McDonald’s and felt the sensation of the skin on the roof of your mouth being seared like a steak, you’ll know why.

Be patient. Tumble them onto a platter or plate, cover them with sliced red onions, lemon wedges, cooling yoghurt and fresh coriander. Think Samosa Chaat sans the chickpeas and with Momos. What’s also amazing is brushing them with butter as soon as the come out of the oven. Watch them glisten as you try your best not to go all Tasmanian Devil on them.

Serve immediately and watch them disappear faster than you can say ‘Sanjana, here’s your very own birthday tandoor.’

I can only dream.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Vegetable and Paneer Tandoori Momos  
Makes 20 Momos

For the dough:
200g plain flour
½ tsp salt
120ml boiling water (just enough to bind to a firm, smooth dough)

For the filling:
25g salted butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 hot red birds eye chillies, chopped finely
60g white cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, grated
30g frozen peas
30g green beans, chopped finely
180g paneer, crumbled or grated
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, ground
1 tsp toasted fennel seeds, ground
Salt to taste
1 tsp cornflour, dissolved in cold water

For the tandoori paste:
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns
2 dried Kashmiri chillies
2 inches cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
4 cloves
Seeds of 4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom
1 tsp fennel seeds

You’ll also need:
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp yoghurt
2 tsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic

Momos toppings:
Fresh coriander, chopped
Plain yoghurt
Sliced red onions



Method

1. 
First, make the tandoori paste. Toast all the spices in a dry pan until aromatic. Grind them in a coffee grinder until super fine. Put half the ground spices in a jar and stow away for another day.

2. With the remaining half of the masala, mix in the tomato puree, lemon juice, yoghurt, brown sugar, salt, ginger and garlic. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

3. To make the filling, heat the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent but not browned. Add in ginger, garlic and chillies, cook for a moment and then add in the rest of the ingredients, apart from the cornflour.

4. Once the veggies and paneer have cooked down, about 10 minutes, add the cornflour and mix vigorously. The mixture should bind together. Turn out onto a plate to cool.

5. Meanwhile, make the dough. In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Little by little, add in the boiling water, mixing with a spoon. Once you’ve added in almost all the water, leave it for a few moments until cool enough to handle. Try to bind, checking if the rest of the water is required. Add more water if you need to. Bind to a smooth dough, kneading for around 8 minutes.

6. Allow to rest, covered for 10 minutes.

7. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

8. Take a grape-sized piece of dough and roll it out, 3 inches in diameter. A thin as you can. Take about 2 tsp cooled filling and place into the middle of the dough. Use your fingers to pull the dough together and pleat one side to the other, using your fingers to seal.

9. There are lots of handy YouTube video around to help show you how to fold dumplings if you’re not sure. There are so many pays to do it and you don’t have to be a pro to make amazing ones. Just make sure the filling is totally sealed in. The shape is up to you.

10. Repeat this process for all the dumplings. Put a movie on, make a cup of tea, enjoy the process.

11. Once you have a tray or two of finished dumplings, you’re ready to cook.

12. Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Boil the kettle.

13. Heat a large, flat bottomed pan (one that has a lid). Add 2 tsp oil. Arrange the dumplings in the pan – you may need to do this in batches. Allow for them to sizzle for a minute. Now very quickly and extremely carefully add hot water from the kettle to the pan – just a splash or two. Put the lid on and allow to steam for 3 minutes on a low heat.

14. Remove the lid and place the momos back onto a baking tray. Brush them with the tandoori paste you made earlier.

15. Place them in the oven for 10 minutes or until charred in places and looking delicious.

16. Tumble onto a platter and garnish with chopped coriander, sliced red onion and plain yoghurt. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Love Sanjana

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Vegan ‘Butter’ Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Bring me a head of cauliflower over a bunch of flowers any day.

Yep, I’ve always been this easy to please. My first memories of cooking with cauliflower began at the supermarket where mum trained me in how to pick the freshest veggies for our homemade vegetarian feasts – all reliant on the senses. Think Karate Kid but with more legumes and fewer spinning leg kicks. “Look for the slimmest aubergines – they contain the fewest seeds”, “Always feel for the firmest okra – they’re the freshest”, “Shake the coconut and listen to hear if there’s water inside – the flesh will be more tender”. 20 years on and I remember these and hundreds more tips every time I pick fresh fruit and veg. I’m talking Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind but with zero algebra and loads of brassicas.

Vegan 'Butter' Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

My lesson on picking the perfect cauliflower? The florets should be firm, pure white and the leaves enveloped around the cauliflower head. Bonus points for a lack of baby caterpillars.
When I was growing up in Yorkshire, I had incredible fresh ingredients from the local farm shop on my doorstep (not literally. – we lived above a newsagents, not in a field). I didn’t know many other 13 year olds who preferred doing the food shop with mum over heading into town with friends, but that’s okay. Back then I truly believed I was a bit odd. So, as a 27 year old, I wish to give my teenage self some advice…

  • Don’t worry about being different to your friends, you’re you and that’s what makes you special.
  •  Your obsession with cooking isn’t weird. It’ll help you later in life.
  • Don’t be a jerk to your parents, they’re your number 1 fans and love you unconditionally.
  • Stop obsessing over what you think makes people ‘pretty’. You’re fine the way you are. One day you’ll find a husband who loves the whole you.
  • Your brother isn’t as evil as he seems.
  • Friends come and go. Just hold on to the ones you really like ;)
  • Mess with your hair as much as you want. Dye it purple and forget what other people say. Your genes are badass.
  • Find beauty in everything. It’s there, you just need to look hard enough.
  • Keep dancing in your bedroom every night.
  • You are not the only person in the world who feels ‘this way’.
  • Dedicate your time exploring the things you love. A career will follow if you show people how passionate you are.
  • Talent is overrated – work hard and be patient.
  • Gently let go of people who bring negativity into your life.
  • Be respectful of other people’s time.
  • Don’t focus too hard on big aspirations and goals. Pay attention to the smaller ones and bigger things will come.

Before I burst into a crappy rendition of Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen Song, I’d better get back to the recipe.

The cauliflower is first broken into small florets, scattered with a combination of turmeric, whole black peppercorns and cracked cardamom pods. After a liberal squeeze of lemon juice and a good rub, it’s roasted in a hot oven until it’s golden and tender. Once it comes out of the oven it’s succulent and smokey, with a wicked texture that’ll flabbergast all your meat-eating friends.

And the sauce? Let me tell you about the sauce. It’s rich, creamy and all kinds of comforting. A base of ground almonds blended with fresh ginger, bay leaves, cinnamon and chilli keep it fresh but with a gentle heat that tricks out the cauliflower and dances the Giddha on your taste buds.

A hailstorm of fresh, summer peas add a welcome sweetness and crunch. Bonus points if you strip the pods and throw those in too. I used to love sitting at the table on a Sunday afternoon chatting with mum, drinking chai and shelling fresh peas. She taught me how you should always remove the inner membrane of the pod if you want to use it in a dish. Once, when I was at university I forgot to do it and my Matar Bhaat left a lot to be desired. The cooked pods were like actual shards of glass. I won’t forget to do it again.

A video posted by SANJANA | K.O RASOI (@sanjanamodha) on

To make the perfect jeera (cumin) pilau, I usually start with a good-quality Basmati rice, cumin seeds and ghee. As this is a vegan meal, sub it for coconut oil. Actually, even if you’re not vegan, I recommend you try this coconut version – it’s seriously good and will make your house smell sublime too.

Perfect Indian Jeera Pilau Rice

The trick to perfect rice is patience. Wash it in cold water for a minute to remove excess starch (I use a fine-holed sieve). Next soak it in cold water to soften the grains – 20 minutes will do. Boil the kettle. Heat the oil or ghee in a large, non-stick pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the aromatics. Wait a sec and then add the rice. Make sure it’s well coated. Add double the volume of boiling water and some salt. Bring it to a boil and put the lid on. Turn the heat down very low and after 8 minutes, switch it off. Leave it with the lid on for 15-20 minutes. When you take the lid off you’ll have amazing jeera rice.

Garnish the Vegan ‘Butter’ Cauliflower with a final flourish of chopped coriander and a drizzle of coconut milk for that luscious restaurant-style finish.

Serve with rice and hot chapattis.

Vegan 'Butter' Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Vegan ‘Butter’ Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Ingredients

For the cauliflower:
800g cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Juice and zest of a lemon
3 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

For the vegan makhani sauce:
50g coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp ground almonds
6 small green chillies
2 tbsp freshly-grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
400g good-quality passata (sieved tomatoes)
2-3 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
100g coconut cream
Fresh coriander, chopped

You’ll also need: 300g fresh peas, shelled with the pod membranes removed (take a look at my instructions and Instagram video above if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. Place the cauliflower in a large roasting tray. In a bowl, combine the coconut oil, turmeric, black peppercorns, crushed cardamom pods, salt, lemon juice and zest. Drizzle the mixture over the cauliflower and use your clean hands to give it a good rub.

3. Roast the cauliflower for 25 minutes.

4. In the meantime, make the sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy based non-stick pan. Add the cinnamon, green chillies, garlic, ginger, ground almonds and bay leaves. Sauté for a minute.

5. Next, add the passata, turmeric, ground coriander, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil. Put the lid on and allow to simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

6. Take the cauliflower out of the oven.

7. Remove the lid from the sauce pan and stir. Remove the peppercorns and cardamom pods from the cauliflower and add it to the simmered sauce.

8. Place the sauce in a blender along with the coconut cream and blitz for a minute or two until it’s silky smooth.

9. Return the sauce to the pan and add in the peas and cauliflower. Stir and place the lid back on. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Ladle into a big serving bowl. Garnish with chopped coriander and a drizzle of coconut milk.

Serve with jeera pilau and chapattis.

Perfect Jeera Pilau

Ingredients

185g good-quality Basmati rice (I use Golden Sela)
470g boiling water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
8-10 fresh curry leaves
2-3 whole cloves

Method

1. Wash the rice with cold water in a fine-holed sieve for a minute.

2. Soak the rice in cold water for 20-30 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the cumin seeds, cloves and curry leaves. Sauté for a moment. They will snap and crackle.

4. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Stir gently to coat all the grains.

5. Add the boiling water and bring the pan to the boil. Put the lid on and turn the heat right down. Simmer for 8 minutes.

6. After 8 minutes, switch the heat off and leave the rice to stand, undisturbed for 20 minutes.

7. Remove the lid and marvel at your perfect rice. All that’s left to do is fluff up the grains with a fork, serve and demolish.

Vegan 'Butter' Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Love Sanjana

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Eggless and Vegan Vanilla and Jasmine Macarons

The code has been well and truly cracked. People all over the place are making gorgeous French macarons sans eggs and it’s downright remarkable.

It’ll come as no surprise that the secret ingredient in these eggless/vegan macarons is aquafaba – the vegan chickpea water that replaces egg whites in meringues, pavlovas and rich vegan chocolate mousse.

I’ve tried to nail the perfect eggless/vegan macaron for years and as soon as aquafaba came along, it was like all my baking prayers had been answered. It was the magic ingredient needed to form the basis of hundreds of recipes I’d always wanted to recreate without eggs.

Eggless/Vegan Vanilla Jasmine Macarons

I’ve tried making macarons with both French meringue and Italian meringue and each time, the French meringue would look so promising and the end results were a total disaster – they’d puncture in the oven and ooze even though they had been rested for hours, were dry to the touch and baking at a low temperature.

It had to be a problem with the stability of the aquafaba French meringue. I read online that even with regular macarons, the eggs should be aged and that Italian meringue offers tonnes more stability due to the hot sugar syrup being boiled to 115C – past the soft ball stage and verging on the hard ball stage. This means the fluffy whites hold stiff peaks, whether you’re using eggs or aquafaba. All that beating in the stand mixer allows the proteins and acids in the whipped-up whites to bond with the sugar and create a stable network to trap in air for volume that wouldn’t look out of place in a L’Oréal advert.

Eggless/Vegan Vanilla Jasmine Macarons

My recipe is based on a classic French macaron recipe in most ways – it contains equal measures of ground almonds, icing sugar and caster sugar. The changes I’ve made are that I used thick, reduced aquafaba in place of the eggs (which you absolutely cannot taste in the final product, I promise). I also made my sugar syrup for the Italian meringue with strong brewed jasmine tea for a gorgeous aroma and flavour. The rest of the changes come with baking the macarons.

I tested several batches of macarons, baking each sheet at different temperatures and found that the key to getting even ‘feet’ on every macaron depends on several things, baking temperature being an integral one. Here are some tips I learnt along the way:

  1. Aquafaba from a can is rich in protein but contains a lot of water. You should reduce it by half the night before you want to make the macarons, pour it into a bowl and keep it in the fridge – the resting and cooling time is essential for a thick, viscous ‘egg white-like’ replacer.
  2. Use a sugar thermometer to measure when the syrup reaches 115C – don’t eyeball it.
  3. Sift the almonds with the icing sugar – I skipped this when making a previous batch and the tops weren’t as smooth as I’d have liked them to be.
  4. After adding the sugar syrup to the foamy whipped aquafaba, beat it for ten minutes. It won’t be as voluminous as making French meringue with aquafaba but that’s okay.
  5. Don’t hold back when combining the almond paste and Italian meringue. Add all of the almond mixture in one go. Use a spatula to make sure it’s well mixed, pressing it against the sides of the bowl and folding, 20 times or so. The batter should look like light and airy molten lava, dropping off the spatula and becoming one with the mixture within 10-15 seconds. Some people like to imagine magma oozing from a volcano.
  6. Pipe the macarons straight from above, at a 90 degree angle.
  7. Make sure you tap the tray hard on the surface at least 5 times to remove any air bubbles. I did it 3 times whilst working on a batch and my macarons were lop-sided.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 150C and as soon as your tray of macarons goes in, turn it down to 115C. This will give them the shot of heat they need to develop feet and also cook evenly. If your oven has hot spots, make sure you turn the tray after the first 5 minutes of cooking has elapsed.
  9. Allow the macarons to cool completely before attempting to lift them off the greaseproof paper.

I chose to fill my macarons with white chocolate ganache – I love the feeling of chilled, set ganache against the chewy almond texture of the cookies. This is best achieved after filling the macarons, placing them in an airtight container and refrigerating overnight.

Eggless/Vegan Vanilla Jasmine Macarons

If you want to make vegan macarons, replace the white chocolate ganache with my favourite vegan buttercream recipe. I’ve posted it below in case you want a 100% vegan macaron. Easy!
The shells are flavoured with jasmine tea and fresh vanilla. I added a little blue colouring to some of them for a pretty watercolour effect you don’t have to. The gold was edible gold dust painted on with a clean paintbrush.

Eggless/Vegan Vanilla Jasmine Macarons

Eggless/Vegan Vanilla and Jasmine Macarons
Makes 28-30 macarons

Ingredients

For The Macaron Shells:
350g aquafaba – from 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas in water (not salted water)

180g icing sugar
180g ground almonds
100ml strong brewed jasmine tea
180g golden caster sugar
Seeds ½ vanilla pod, scraped
Blue gel food colour and gold petal dust, optional

For The Whipped White Chocolate Ganache:
200g white chocolate
200g double cream

For Vegan Vanilla Buttercream (instead of the white chocolate ganache):

100g vegan margarine or vegan butter (I use Pure Dairy-Free Soy spread)

250g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

You will also need:
5 x (13in x 9in) baking trays lined with silicone greaseproof paper
Piping bags
1cm round piping nozzle
Sugar thermometer
Stand mixer with whisk attachment

Method

1. Take two 400g tins chickpeas and pour the liquids into a bowl on a weighing scale. Weigh out 350g.

2. Pour the mixture into a pan and simmer until the liquids have reduced to 150g. Pour into a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Allow to cool, and then place in the fridge overnight.

3. I like to line my trays well ahead as I draw a stencil (2cm rounds) on the reverse of the greaseproof paper so I can ensure the macarons are the right size and spaced far enough apart. For this recipe you’ll need 5 heavy bottomed trays lined with silicone greaseproof paper.

4. The next day, sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. Add 60g of the chilled chickpea liquids and stir to combine.

5. Pour the rest of the chickpea liquids into a clean, grease-free stand mixer. Turn the mixer on to medium speed. It will start getting foamy.

6. Pour the jasmine tea into a pan and add the caster sugar. Boil until the mixture registers 115C on a sugar thermometer.

7. Turn the mixer on high speed and carefully but quickly pour the sugar syrup into the whipped aquafaba.

8. Add the vanilla and beat the mixture for 10 minutes. It won’t be massively voluminous but it’ll become thick, glossy and rather like marshmallow fluff. After 10 minutes, you should have a mixture that resembles a bird’s beak on the whisk when it’s pulled up.

9. Add the almond mixture to the meringue and use a spatula to incorporate fully. Use a spatula to make sure it’s well mixed, pressing it against the sides of the bowl and folding, 20 times or so. The batter should look like light and airy molten lava, dropping off the spatula and becoming one with the mixture within 10-15 seconds. Think magma oozing from a volcano.

10. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round tip with the macaron batter. Add any colours you might want to use.

11. Take your pre-lined trays and pipe the macarons from straight above, not on a slant. If your batter is the correct consistency, you’ll see it spread slightly and smooth out within 30 seconds or so for each round.

12. Once all your macarons are piped, give each tray a firm but steady bang on the countertop – I do it 5 times.

13. Allow the macarons to air-dry in a cool place for about 2 hours.

14. Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

15. To make the white chocolate ganache, place the cream and white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 90 seconds and leave it to sit for 10 minutes. Give it a gentle mix. Once it’s uniformly melted, cover and refrigerate until set.

*NOTE: if you’re making vegan buttercream, beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

16. Once the tops of the macarons are touch-dry, bake the macarons, one tray at a time. Once the tray is in the oven (middle rack), turn the temperature right down to 115C. Set the oven timer to cook for 25 minutes. During the time they’re in the oven, pay to your oven’s hotspots and turning the tray if you need to (after the first five minutes if you do).

17. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool. Repeat the baking process for each tray.

18. While the last tray is in the oven, remove the ganache from the fridge and whip it until fluffy and light. Add vanilla if you like.

19. Once the macarons have cooled fully, gently peel them away from the greaseproof paper.

20. Match the macarons up by shell size. Pipe the ganache or vegan buttercream onto one half and gently press the two shells together for the perfect macaron sandwich. Decorate as you wish.

21. They taste WAY better the next day. Line an airtight container with kitchen paper and arrange the macarons in a single layer. Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight.

Eggless/Vegan Vanilla Jasmine Macarons

Try not to eat them all in one go. I struggled with that part.

Now go and make these and enjoy looking like a baking wizard in front of all your friends.

Love Sanjana

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Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Onion Drizzle

I’ll always be a fan of a really good veggie burger but when it’s hot outside and I’m feeling too lazy to cook, lettuce wraps with something a little bit different inside are the like a dream. I love using lettuce to wrap up spicy noodles, quinoa salad, tandoori tofu and these totally delicious Dhai Ke Kebabs.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

These kebabs are made with thick, creamy yogurt that’s been hung for 24 hours, paneer, fresh mint, coriander, ginger and chilli – hardly health food but when a lettuce-wrapped kebab with crunchy veggies and sweet onion sauce tastes this fresh, you won’t care. I promise.

The Dhai Ke Kebabs themselves have a golden, crunchy exterior from a combination of breadcrumbs and semolina – the audible ‘crunch’ when you bite into it is SO satisfying. The inside is soft, surprisingly light and lemony with the freshness of mint, coriander and a touch of ginger. The delicate combo of flavours will dance on your palate as if you were partaking in a groom’s dhol procession at an Indian wedding, midsummer.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Inspired by the rich, spicy Mughlai feasts of kings and queens in Medieval India, this alternative take on Dhai Ke Kebabs is definitely a far cry from how they would have been eaten in ornate palaces. They would have probably made up part of a larger feast of biryani, slow-cooked curries laden with dried fruits and cream and fluffy tandoor-cooked bread – all served on a lavish dining table decked with the finest gold dinnerware.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Well I’m no Mughlai rani.

While the essence of indulgence remains with the Dhai Ke Kebabs, the rest of the dish is light, fresh, crunchy and colourful. Perfect for modern-day feasting and our busy lifestyles.

This is one of those dishes that was made for sharing. Crown your table with all the different components; Dhai Ke Kebabs, lettuce leaves, sliced carrots, cucumbers, sweet onion drizzle, toasted cashews, pomegranate, mint leaves, coriander and a few bottles of cold beer and you’re good to go. Assemble as you eat. That way, you can add more or less of whatever you like. The only problem you might have is fitting everything into the one lettuce wrap.

Word of advice… Eat with your hands – cutlery will only slow you down.

This is one of the most mouth watering dishes you can cook when you’re craving something fresh, inspired and just that little bit different from the usual veggie burgers or falafel.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Onion Drizzle
Serves 6-8

For the Dhai Ke Kebabs:

350g hung yoghurt (try using Greek yoghurt, hung in a cheesecloth for 24 hours)
220g crumbled paneer
100g fresh breadcrumbs
4 fresh chillies, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp dry-roasted chickpeas, ground (daria)
1 tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
Juice ½ lemon
Salt to taste

For the kebab coating:
100ml milk
100g fresh breadcrumbs
30g coarse semolina

Oil to deep fry

To serve:
2 heads Cos lettuce, leaves separated
Pomegranate seeds
1 cucumber, sliced finely
4 carrots, sliced finely
Handful toasted cashews
Fresh coriander
Fresh mint

For the sweet onion drizzle:
180g brown sugar
80ml apple cider vinegar
1 red onion, chopped finely
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
2 red chillies
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

Method

1. First, make the sweet onion drizzle. Combine all the ingredients except the fennel seeds and cornflour in a pan. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring often for 20 minutes until slightly thick and syrupy. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the head and stir in the ground fennel seeds and cornflour. Stir until thick, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. You should have a sticky-sweet and spicy sauce.

2. To make the kebabs, combine all the ingredients apart from the coating ingredients in a large bowl and combine. You should have a dough-like consistency. Knead it for a minute.

3. Make golf ball-sized balls and shape the kebabs as you wish – you can do little slider-type tikki shapes or longer kofta-style kebabs. I did both just to mix it up a bit. Place onto baking sheets.

4. Combine the breadcrumbs and semolina for the coating. Roll each kebab into the coating and arrange on the baking tray. Once you’ve done them all, briefly dip each one into a bowl of milk and back into the coating mix. This will ensure your coating is substantial for a crispy outside.

5. Arrange each one on a baking tray and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

6. Fill a pan with enough oil to deep fry the kebabs. Heat to 160C. You could bake them with a spray of oil but they won’t be as crispy, evenly brown or delicious. Deep fry them – I promise you it’s worth it.

7. Remove the kebabs from the freezer and fry three or four at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding the pan will result in the temperature of the oil dropping. Nobody wants greasy kebabs.

8. Fry until golden all over. Drain the kebabs on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. You could also freeze them for baking later.

9. Place all the filling ingredients on a platter and serve in the middle of the table, allowing everybody to dig in and build their own lettuce wraps.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

 

Enjoy watching everyone fight over the Dhai Ke Kebabs.

Love Sanjana