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




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

Click the image above to Pin it for later.

Click the image above to Pin it for later.

 

 




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

Click the image above to Pin it for later!

Click the image above to Pin it for later!




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




Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)

‘Tis the season to eat mangoes! I had my annual fix of Indian Alphonso mango this weekend and they were flawless, as always.

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

I was so desperate to get my mitts on them, I immediately went on a mango hunt after leaving work on Friday. Stepping into the Indian shop closest to my London train station, my eyes darted from shelf to shelf. There were rows upon rows of lentils, spices and green vegetables, but alas, there was not a mango in sight. My heart sank.

As I meandered through the tiny, yet unfathomably packed shop, my nostrils filled with the smell of ajwain, dried turmeric, fenugreek… and then finally, the sweetest scent of fresh mango. There they were, a pile of mango boxes lying in wait like treasure in Aladdin’s cave, except better.

I pounced on them faster than Shere Khan on Mowgli, the man child in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. As usual, the two mango varieties were Alphonso and Kesar. When given the choice, I get Alphonso. They have more fragrance and a super-lush orange colour.

They were only sold in boxes of twelve so I got the whole lot. The only glitch was that I had to carry the entire box back home. The entire train carriage was filled with the heavenly scent of fresh mango – a welcome change from the stench of somebody’s hot Burger King dinner *shudder*. You’re welcome, fellow commuters. You’re welcome.

After eating three of twelve mangoes, I figured I better whip up one of my favourite desserts before they all disappear. This egg-free Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake is a true showstopper.

It’s a malted milk biscuit base, sweet mango and vanilla mascarpone cheesecake filling topped with eggless pavlova, fresh cream and all your favourite fruit. This pavlova cheesecake is rich, decadent and unashamedly two of the most awesome desserts ever stacked to make one epic masterpiece.

If you’re a lover of Indian Alphonso mango, this is a glorious way of celebrating it.

Here’s how I did it.

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

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)
Serves 12-14

Ingredients

For the pavlova layer:
1 x 400g tin chickpeas in water (left in the fridge overnight)
280g golden caster sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp arrowroot or cornflour
3 tsp vanilla extract

For the cheesecake base:
260g malted milk biscuits (you could use ginger biscuits or NICE biscuits too)
100g unsalted butter, melted

For the Alphonso mango cheesecake filling:
500g mascarpone cheese
300g full fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
200ml double cream + 100ml extra
450g icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g Alphonso mango, blended (this was approx. 3 mangos for me)
2 tbsp agar agar powder

For the decoration:
Whipped cream
Mixed fruits of your choice (I used more mango, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, physalis, blackberries and figs)

You will also need a 24cm spring form tin.

Method

1. First, you’ll need to make the pavlova. Preheat the oven to 120C.

2. Take a piece of non-stick baking parchment and draw a circle on it, using the removable base from your cake tin. Flip the paper over and place it on a large baking tray. You now have the perfect outline for your pavlova.

3. Drain the can of chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

4. Pour the chickpea water and vinegar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil could cause your meringue to deflate.

5. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Mix together the sugar and cornflour. Gradually add the sugar mixture a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until you have stiff glossy peaks. Congratulations, you’ve just made your own vegan marshmallow fluff! But right now, we’re making pavlova.

6. Dollop the meringue mixture onto the piece of baking paper, staying inside the circle you traced. Even it out using the back of a spoon, creating a little crater in the middle for your cream and fruit later. I like to keep it looking craggy and rustic so don’t fuss over it looking too perfect.

7. Place into the middle shelf of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 100C. Bake for 2 hours 30 minutes. Once this time is up, crack the oven door open a little and leave it to cool completely. You’ll then be able to peel it away from the non-stick paper.

8. Next, make the cheesecake base. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble the texture of sand. Stir in the melted butter. Press into the base of the tin, making sure it’s even and packed tightly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

9. To make the cheesecake filling, beat together the mascarpone, cream cheese, 200ml double cream, vanilla, icing sugar and lemon juice. Don’t overwork it.

10. Place the agar agar in a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp cold water and stir to dissolve. In a small saucepan, combine the agar agar and 100ml double cream. Heat gently, stirring all the time until the mixture comes to a boil. You will notice it will begin to thicken. Boil for a minute or so and then switch off the heat. Add the mango pulp and stir to combine. This will lower the temperature of the cream mixture.

11. Add the mango mixture to the cream cheese mixture and whip until fully combined. It should thicken very slightly.

12. Pile the cheesecake filling onto the cooled biscuit base and smooth out the top.

13. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

14. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the sides of the tin. Place onto a cake plate or stand and place the pavlova on top. Fill the crater in the middle with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I recommend more mango, obviously.

Devour immediately.

Note: Wrap your cooled pavlova in foil overnight to ensure it stays crisp for serving the next day.

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

Love Sanjana




Palak Paneer Snails

Palak Paneer SnailsOur favourite paneer dish has just undergone an epic makeover. Don’t freak out. The snails in the pastry refer to their shape rather than the contents. These filo coils are packed with the Indian restaurant favourite, Palak Paneer. Fresh, green spinach with creamy paneer, ginger, chillies and garlic is a combo I’d eat every day if I could get away with it.

To demonstrate how easy this is, I’ve pulled together a short video where you can see how it’s rolled and coiled for that awesome shape. As much as I love this, it wouldn’t be half as amazing to eat if it wasn’t for the epic Carrot and Cucumber Mustard Salad. It’s loaded with hot and sour flavours which cuts right through the richness of the pie.

Palak Paneer Snails

I glazed these pies with a combination of melted butter and turmeric for as a cheeky replacement for egg wash. Nobody will ever know.

Palak Paneer Snails 2

This is perfect for serving up when you have friends over for dinner, taking along to picnics and stowing away in the freezer prior to baking for a quick meal.

Watch the video, read the recipe, make it for your friends and family and let me know how it goes. I love seeing the pictures of what you create at home so keep ‘em coming. BTW, I get to say hello to you again today!

Palak Paneer Snails
Serves 6

Ingredients 

700g leaf spinach
250g paneer, crumbled into large pieces
250g ricotta
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp coarse semolina
1 medium red onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp garam masala
4 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
16 sheets filo pastry (approx. 12″ x 22″)
200g butter, melted
Pinch or turmeric
Sesame and nigella seeds

For the Cucumber and Carrot Mustard Salad

2 large cucumbers
5 carrots
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Juice 2 lemons
Fried green chillies (optional)

Method

1. To make the pies, heat the sunflower oil in a pan and add the cumin. Allow to sizzle before adding the red onions. Sauté for a moment and add the ginger, garlic, chillies, garam masala and salt. Cook for 5 minutes and set aside.

2. Place the spinach in a colander (you might have to do it in batches) and pour boiling water from the kettle on top. Rinse with cold water and squeeze out all the excess water. Repeat for all the spinach.

3. Pile the spinach into a large bowl, add the paneer, onion mixture, ground fennel seeds, semolina and ricotta. Combine thoroughly.

4. To assemble, place one sheet of filo pastry on a work surface. Brush it generously with butter before adding your next sheet. Repeat the layering process until you have 4 filo layers.

5. Along the longest edge of the pastry, make a line of filling. Roll it up as tightly as you can without breaking it. Roll it 1 ½ times over itself. If you have excess pastry, trim it with a pizza cutter.

6. Once you have a pastry snake, brush it with more butter, and then take one edge to start rolling it into a coil shape.

7. Take some additional butter and mix it with the turmeric. Brush this all over the top of the coil. Sprinkle with nigella and sesame seeds.

8. Repeat for the next three snails.

9. Place your four palak paneer snails onto a baking tray and wrap with cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes at 160C.

Palak Paneer Snails

To make the Cucumber and Carrot Mustard Salad

1. Make the salad a couple of hours before for best results. Chop one of the carrots with a crinkle cutter or slice them thinly. Using a peeler, ribbon the other cucumber all the way around. Don’t include too many of the seeds as they’ll make the salad watery. Save them for a snack later. Ribbon the carrots in the same ways as the cucumber.

2. To make the dressing, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop and crackle, and then add the mustard, lemon juice, salt and the optional sugar. Mix this all together and then turn off the heat. Pour the dressing over the cucumber and carrot and mix together. Allow it to stand for around 30 minutes. Lots of water will come out of the salad. With clean hands, squeeze the salad removing excess water. You’ll be left with firm vegetables and slightly pickled flavour. So good.

Cucumber Carrot and Mustard Salad

Love Sanjana




Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

One of my favourite weeknight dinners is stir-fried tofu with colourful veggies, noodles and heaps of chilli. This is a twist on Chilli Paneer – that Indian vegetarian restaurant favourite that has found its way onto wedding menus and dinner tables at home. As much as I love paneer, I find it a little too heavy to have with noodles or rice – this is where tofu noodle bowls come to the rescue.

They might look quite ordinary but the sauce packs a real punch, seasoning the golden tofu and noodles perfectly. It’s made using large red chillies, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, star anise and brown sugar. A combo of ingredients I always have in the house. I throw in any vegetables I have in the fridge – usually a mix of broccoli, mushrooms, beansprouts, mange tout or French beans.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

My special touch to these is to add crispy okra strips and fried Thai basil leaves. They add the most beautiful crunch and are a delicious way of getting your okra fix as part of a dish that’s not curry. To make them, slice okra into long, thin strips, toss in a little cornflour and allow to sit for five minutes. Plunge them into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crispy and slightly golden. Try not to move them too much in the first minute to give the cornflour time to set on the okra.

To achieve a pretty red colour, I add in a couple of tablespoons of Sriracha (Thai chilli sauce made with dried red chillies and garlic). If you haven’t tried it before – where have you been? It’s the ultimate intense chilli sauce for adding instant flavour. I add it to mac and cheese, toasties, masala chips and even potato curry. It’s almost like Gujarati lasan vari chutney but in sauce form; A squidge of it in plain natural yoghurt will give you the fastest ever sauce for bhajia and samosa chaat. You can buy it in the Asian section of most supermarkets now. Look for the squeezy bottle with a rooster on the front. Even my parents, who are life-long advocates of Tabasco now prefer it.

I used Shanghai noodles here but you could just as easily use rice noodles, udon or even fresh ramen noodles. If noodles aren’t your thing, skip them and serve the stir-fried tofu and veggies with steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with the fried okra and Thai basil, then devour.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the chilli paste:
1 large red chilli
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
3 large spring onions, trimmed and quartered
3 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice and zest 1 lime

For the stir fry:
1 tbsp oil
1 star anise
100g broccoli florets
Handful mushrooms, sliced
40g mange tout
50g beansprouts
1 large red chilli
4 tbsp light soy sauce
200g golden tofu puffs
3 tbsp Sriracha
200g cooked noodles
Salt to taste

For the crispy okra:
100g okra, sliced into long thin strips
1 tsp cornflour

Method

1. First make the crispy okra and thai basil. Cut the okra into long, thing strips, place onto a plate and dust over the cornflour. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, turn the heat down and very carefully add in the Thai basil. It will crackle and spit in the first 30 seconds so stand right back. Be super careful even once it stops crackling. Fry until deep green and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place onto a place lined with kitchen paper.

3. Next, turn the heat up on the oil again and add in the okra. Don’t move them around in the first minute in order to let the cornflour set. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove and place onto the kitchen paper with the Thai basil. Set aside.

4. Blend together all the ingredients for the chilli paste.

5. Heat the oil in the wok, add the chilli paste and star anise. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.

6. Add in the broccoli, soy sauce and extra Sriracha. Next, add the rest of the vegetables except the beansprouts and chilli. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes on a high heat. Add the tofu puffs and sauté for another few minutes, adding a little water if it seems dry.

7. Add the cooked noodles, beansprouts and chilli, stirring to combine. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat.

8. Serve immediately, topped with crispy okra and Thai basil.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Love Sanjana




Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

One of my favourite classic comfort foods has to be cauliflower cheese. A chilly autumnal weeknight calls for nothing more than simple oven-baked cauliflower cheese, sometimes with a tumble of broccoli florets added in, other times with belly-pleasing macaroni. One thing they all have in common is delicious, sharp Cheddar and a crunchy golden top.

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

Here, I’ve combined all those glorious elements into another comfort food favourite – the pithivier. These traditional French pies are usually made with a frangipane filling but can also be savoury. I’ve opted to fill my discs of puff pastry with cauliflower cheese, butternut squash and a delicious blend of spices. In place of egg wash, they’re glazed with a thyme and honey brown butter which provides a gorgeously-golden finish.

The combination of butternut squash and a homemade gratin spice blend will give you all the autumnal feels you crave after a long day at work. If you don’t have butternut, you can use pumpkin or acorn squash instead. The gratin spice blend is unbelievable in everything from dauphinoise potatoes to mac and cheese. Make a big batch and stow it away in an airtight jar to give your oven-baked dinners an instant flavour boost.

These pithiviers can be made with puff or rough puff pastry, either homemade or shop-bought. If you’re in a hurry, shop-bought puff pastry is ideal.

The most important element here is to ensure the filling is completely cold before you encase it in the pastry. This will ensure the pastry bottom stays crispy. You can even assemble these a day ahead, cover in cling film and refrigerate – or freeze for another time.

Serve with a leafy green salad and follow up with a hot chocolate pudding.

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers 3

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers
Makes 6

Ingredients

700g puff pastry – shop bought or homemade

For the filling:
320g butternut squash, diced (2cm squares), cooked
300g cauliflower florets, chopped finely, cooked but not completely
1 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
50g flour
320ml whole milk
1 1/2 tsp gratin spice mix
120g sharp Cheddar, grated
1/2 tsp dried English mustard
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 green chillies, finely sliced
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 sprigs of thyme, stripped

For the thyme and honey brown butter glaze:
60g unsalted butter
3 sprigs of thyme, stripped
1 tbsp honey
Small pinch turmeric

For the gratin spice mix:
1 tbsp cloves
3 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp mace
2 tbsp cardamom seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
4 dried red chillies
8 star anise

2 dried bay leaves

3-inch piece cinnamon, broken

Method

1. To make the spice blend: Toast the spices in a dry pan until aromatic. Allow to cool, then grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Pass through a fine-hold sieve and store in an airtight jar.

2. To make the filling: Melt the butter in a pan, add the olive oil and garlic. Next, add in the flour and stir to make a roux. Allow to cook gently, stirring all the time until very lightly golden. Whisk in the whole milk, a little at a time until fully incorporated. Add a little bit of the spice mix and keep whisking until hot but not boiling.

3. Next, add in the cheese, two kinds of mustard, chilli and keep whisking until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the thyme. Fold in the cooked squash and cauliflower. Set aside until cold.

4. To make the glaze: Melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook until very lightly golden brown. Add the thyme leaves and set aside to cool. When warm, stir in the honey.

5. Roll out just under half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Cut out six 12 inch-diameter rounds. Take remaining pastry and roll to 5mm thick. Cut out six 14 inch-diameter rounds. Divide cold filling mixture among half the 12-inch pastry rounds, mounding up in centre and leaving a 1 inch border. Brush the edges with water and top with the larger pastry rounds, removing any air around the mixture and pressing edges to seal – I used the back of a spoon to seal them up properly. Brush tops with the glaze and score a scalloped pattern on the top of each with the back of a knife. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Bake the pithiviers for 25-30 minutes until completely puffed up and golden all over.

Spiced Butternut and Cauliflower Cheese Pithiviers

Serve with a leafy green salad, then go make yourself a hot chocolate before bed.




Pull-Apart Samosa Bread

Today’s the day I finally get to say hello to you all! I’ve spent this sunny Saturday filming my third YouTube video and it’s the first time I’m actually in it, albeit for just a few moments before you get to the best bit – the recipe. Can you believe I’ve been sharing my favourite recipes with you for seven whole years?!

Neither can I.

This pull-apart/tear ‘n’ share/whatever you want to call it bread has a little secret. It’s not harbouring cheese and garlic like you’d expect. It’s packed with spicy samosa filling instead. If you’re craving those ever-popular Indian snacks, but want something a little out of the box for your next party, this is the recipe for you.

Rustle up two trays, put them into the middle of the table and watch them disappear in the blink of an eye. You can serve them hot, as they are or with individual pots of garlic butter for each guest. Either way, I promise everyone will be smiling with a belly full of samosa goodness by the end of the evening.

Pull-Apart Samosa Bread

I’ve kept the filling really simple because hey, you’re making your own bread here. The filling is packed with flavour, yet doesn’t take away from the fact that the real big deal here is the soft, fluffy bread that’s more of a dinner roll than it is any other kind of bread. The addition of milk and butter ensure it’s cotton-soft and the perfect, pillowy pocket for the spicy vegetable filling.

You can add any vegetables you like here – just make sure you chop them up really finely and cook them until they’re just right beforehand. This is because the filling literally takes seven minutes to cook so they won’t be in the pan too long.

I’ve written a step-by-step method here but it’s much easier to understand the way the bread is formed from the video. Take a look, let me know what you think and I can’t wait to hear what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxRdhpDhDWo

Pull-Apart Samosa Bread
Serves 10-12

Ingredients

For the filling:
600g potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled
350g finely-chopped mixed vegetables (I used peas, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 large green chillies, chopped finely
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger, minced (optional)
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

For the dough:

600g strong white bread flour
14g fast-action dried yeast (2 sachets)
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
100g butter, melted
180ml warm milk
13oml warm water

Extra butter to brush the rolls

Method

1. To make the filling, heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle a little before adding in the onions. Cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the chillies, turmeric, ginger (if using) and salt. Stir briefly before adding the potatoes and vegetables. Mix thoroughly.

3. Next, add in the lemon juice, garam masala and coriander. Stir and cook for a few moments before turning off the heat.

4. To make the dough, take a large bowl and mix together the butter, milk, water, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Little by little, add the flour until you’ve used up half of it. At this stage the mixture will be cool enough to add the yeast. Adding the yeast any earlier might kill the yeast. You want it to be warm and cosy for the yeast to do its thing.

5. Finish adding all the flour and when it begins to come together, turn the dough out onto a clean surface.

6. Knead the dough for 10 minutes to work that gluten. It might be a bit sticky at first but keep going. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can do it in there – it’ll take half the time.

7. Take a large, greased bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a damp towel or cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Luckily for me it was a really hot day so I didn’t need to take a trip to the airing cupboard where my dough usually hangs out – I just left it on the counter top.

8. When the bread has doubled in size, knock it back and give it a knead. You’ll feel all the little air bubbles popping and that’s good and will ensure your bread rises evenly in the oven.

9. Butter two 25cm baking dishes and set it aside.

10. Take half the dough and roll it out on a floured work surface until it’s around 2mm in thickness. Using a round cookie cutter approx. 6cm in diameter, cut rounds of the dough.

11. Take the cooled filling and place around a teaspoon of it into the middle of one of the dough rounds. Using your thumb, fold the middle up and bring the sides to meet in the middle, almost like you’re making an open wonton or tortellini.

12. Place into the buttered baking dish – start with the outside edge and repeat for the rest of the discs. The amount you will need depends on the size of your dish. My recipe made two 25cm pull-apart loaves. Repeat for the remaining dough and filling.

13. Brush the bread with melted butter and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160C for 45 minutes.

14. Remove from the oven and brush with more butter before serving.

Love Sanjana




Eggless Dark Chocolate, Almond and Roasted White Chocolate Tart

I’m a sucker for something sweet after dinner. Like my dad, tell me you’ve got hot Gulab Jambu and ice cream for dessert and I’ll be like putty in your hands.

This chocolate tart makes me feel that way too. A crumbly, sweet shortcrust pastry base (without eggs, might I add), ridiculously smooth and rich chocolate filling with the most incredible roasted white chocolate swirl which takes me back to the days of sitting on the steps of our family shop eating Caramacs… except there’s loads more chocolate involved.

Eggless Dark Chocolate, Almond and Roasted White Chocolate Tart

If you’ve never roasted your white chocolate, you’ve been missing out. Gone will be the days you insist dark chocolate is superior to white. This whole time you had forgotten one amazing detail… it is that white chocolate can be transformed into the most beautiful caramel you ever tasted. 

Inspired by the baking guru that is David Lebovitz, I set to work making the roasted white chocolate, following his brilliant instructions to the letter – and you should too. 

  
One tweak I made was that I added a small amount of coconut oil out of fear my chocolate would seize. It resulted in a super smooth caramelized white chocolate with a hint of exotic coconut that of course, was most welcome. 

The dark chocolate filling is a glorious ganache which requires very little effort and no baking whatsoever. The best thing about the filling is that it sets so beautifully after a couple of hours in the fridge.

Cut yourself a piece and feel the cool chocolate filling melt in your mouth. I think it’s time you had the recipe now.

Eggless Dark Chocolate, Almond and Roasted White Chocolate Tart

Eggless Dark Chocolate, Almond and Roasted White Chocolate Tart
(serves 8-10)

For the filling:

300g 70% cocoa dark chocolate
100g good-quality milk chocolate
400ml double cream
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp almond extract

For the Roasted White Chocolate Swirl:

300g good quality white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt

For the pastry:

300g plain flour
125g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp icing sugar
3-4 tbsp buttermilk
Pinch of salt

Toasted flaked almonds, to garnish

Method

1. To make the roasted white chocolate, place the chocolate and coconut oil on an ovenproof tray. Place the tray in the oven and switch it on to 120C.

2. Allow to melt, stirring very gently every 10 minutes for around 60 minutes or until golden and caramel-like. Seriously, no matter how much you want to stick your finger in that melted chocolate – don’t. Instead, sprinkle over the sea salt and set aside.

3. To make the pastry: In a food processor, pulse together the ingredients for the pastry until you have a rough dough. Using your hands, bring the dough together on a clean surface. Don’t knead or handle it too much. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Lightly flour a large, clean surface and roll the pastry out until it’s 5-6mm thick. Roll it around your rolling pin and line a 9inch fluted tart tin with a loose bottom. If your dough tears slightly, don’t be afraid to patch it up. Leave some dough hanging over the edges. Place the tart on top of a flat baking sheet.

5. Place a large piece of food-safe cling film over the pastry and fill the top with flour. Pack it down slightly. This will ensure your pastry is beautifully even and doesn’t rise in the oven. Bake at 160C for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the tart from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cling film filled with flour. Use a fork to prick holes all over the bottom of the pastry and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until golden.

7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

8. To make the dark chocolate filling: Heat the cream on a low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat. Add the chopped dark and milk chocolate, almond extract and butter and stir very gently until you have a luxurious, even chocolate mixture.

9. Trim the sides of the tart case, cutting away the excess pastry. Fill the tart with the chocolate mixture. Take dollops of the melted white chocolate mixture and swirl into the tart – you’ll need around half of it. Put the rest in a jar and use it to sandwich cakes and macarons or just spread it on toast.

10. Sprinkle over the toasted flaked almonds.

11. Place the tart in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Love Sanjana