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




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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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




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




Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

During my lifetime, I’ve been lucky enough to be extremely close to so many wonderful food cultures. The Gujarati cuisine made by my mother’s hands was the stuff that put the skin on my bones, next were my dad’s favourite East African dishes inspired by his childhood in Mombasa.

Later came various recipes from other parts of India I couldn’t help but experiment with once I got a taste for cooking. Running through it all the while is the amazing food culture of Britain – a diverse mix of true classics like Cornish pasties and Yorkshire puddings, to dishes from international cuisines we’ve somehow adopted. There’s nothing quite like eating Taiwanese Bao in Kings Cross or Vietnamese Summer Rolls in Shoreditch for lunch and going home to true Gujarati daal-bhaat, shaak and rotli, followed by Mombasa-style mogo chips as a cheeky midnight snack.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

See, I told you… totally spoilt.

These little packed potatoes are a take on the snacks loved by Asian people all over East Africa. Here, I’ve used British New Potatoes sandwiched together with a spicy chilli, coriander and lemon mixture. They’re deep fried, which is not something I always do but is absolutely necessary for this recipe (please don’t try to bake them in the oven as the batter will just fall off). Just do an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill tomorrow.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

I’m serving them with my favourite chutney – a blend of coriander, coconut and heaps of lemon, sugar and salt. It will set your taste buds alight, not with heat but sheer joy. Purists, omit the coriander as they do in Kenya but it’s so easy to get hold of here and really takes the flavours to the next level. I really recommend it.

Serve in paper cones or on a sharing platter as I’ve done here. I love food you can put into the middle of the table for everyone to dig in. A cold beer is the perfect pairing but then again, when isn’t it?

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney
Makes 18-20

Ingredients

1.5kg baby new potatoes, skin on, boiled and cooled
Sunflower oil, to deep fry

For the filling:
150g of the boiled potatoes, roughly mashed
100g finely-chopped coriander
1 ½ tbsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
1 large clove garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 tsp salt

For the batter:
100g plain flour
200g chickpea flour
1 tsp coarse semolina
Juice of one lemon
400ml cold sparkling water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

For the coconut and coriander chutney:
150g coriander
4 green chillies
100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
100g Greek yohgurt
Juice and zest for 2 lemons
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

Method

1. To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients to make a sticky paste. If it doesn’t combine to make a paste, give it a very short pulse in a food processor.

2. Halve each of the cooked and cooled baby new potatoes and sandwich the two pieces together with the paste. Repeat for all of them and place them in the fridge while you make the batter.

3. To make the batter, combine all the dry ingredients and give them a quick whisk to remove any big lumps. Add the sparkling water and whisk to make a smooth batter.

4. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or wok until it reaches 180C or until a piece of bread turns brown in 60 seconds.

5. Take one of the potatoes, quickly dip it in the batter until it’s coated all over, then very gently place it in the oil. Repeat with a couple more, taking care not to overcrowd the pan as this will bring the temperature of the oil right down.

6. Allow to cook, turning in the oil until golden all over. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels. Repeat for all of the potatoes.

7. To make the chutney, combine the coriander, chillies, lemon juice and zest, salt, sugar and coconut in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the yoghurt and pulse quickly. Pour into a serving bowl.

8. Serve the packed potatoes alongside the coconut and coriander chutney, lemon wedges and cold beer. If you can get your hands on Tusker, go for that.

Love Sanjana




Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo

My favourite Sunday afternoon snacks consist of anything that goes with with a cup of masala chai. Whether it’s something deep fried and delicious like samosa or kachori, or a pile of fluffy steamed dhokra, I’m a sucker for savoury snacks.

These East African-style Mogo Chips are a childhood favourite. It’s the kind of food we’d prepare if we have guests coming over because it’s so simple to throw together. I’ve also never met anyone who doesn’t love fluffy mogo.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Mogo (a.k.a Cassava) is a staple carb in Africa, in many parts of South America where it is known as Yucca and of course, in my house. Countless Indian restaurants all over the UK serve it up in all kinds of ways, popular choices being Tandoori and Indo-Chinese style (with soy sauce). Personally, I think the simpler it is, the better.

What I love about mogo is its earthy flavour, which truly comes to life when it’s gently steamed or boiled. It’s so distinct, you’d know within a split second that someone is making ‘bafelo mogo’ (steamed cassava). It reminds me both of the beautiful Mombasa sunshine and eating as a family.

I cook cassava in lots of different ways, all ones I was taught by my mum when I was a little girl. I hope one day I can proudly say I’ve shared them all with you. My favourite is a mogo and coconut stew recipe, which I’ll post up soon.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo 3

Aside from the fried or grilled with a sprinkling of salt kind of mogo, this is probably the simplest mogo recipe I make. It has very few ingredients but is loaded with flavour. Heaps of garlic, chilli and lime make it the perfect party recipe to share with friends and family – there’s hardly any prep involved and everyone can just tuck in from a large platter.

For the perfect Sunday afternoon snack, serve with a cup of hot masala chai. I’ll share my recipe for that in the next post.

This is going to be delicious.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo
Serves 6

Ingredients

1kg fresh or frozen mogo (also known as cassava or yucca) – peeled if fresh
70g salted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
6 large cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 chillies (more or less according to taste)
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt, to taste
Juice of 2 limes, zest of 1
Chopped coriander to garnish
Lime wedges, to garnish

Method

1. Chop the mogo in to bite sized chips. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the mogo. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander and allow to cool and steam to evaporate for 15-20 minutes.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large wok (the oil will stop the butter burning). Add the cumin seeds and garlic. Cook for 1 minute before adding the chillies, mogo and salt.

3. Allow to cook, tossing every 2 minutes until golden all over. Finish with the lime juice and zest.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Serve with masala chai and enjoy with friends.

Love Sanjana

 

 




Bullet Banana Daal Vada

Daal Vada

Happy 2014! It’s a new year and time to start getting excited about the adventures ahead. This year I get to marry my best friend and biggest supporter in all my work and passions. I have never felt so excited and nervous in my whole life.

I thought it would only be right to begin the year with a recipe that’s close to my heart; one which combines my love for Gujarati and East-African food in a beautiful way. Traditional Gujarati Daal Vada are crunchy, spicy and perfect for dipping into yoghurt. My East-African version incorporates bananas to add a hint of sweetness against the intense chilli and lemon heat. The magical thing about adding ripe banana to the batter is that it reacts with the lemon and baking powder, creating a puffy, fluffy-in-the-middle fritters that still have an incredible golden crunch on the outside because of the ground mung daal, urad daal and rice.

For me, rice is an important addition to any Daal Vada recipe because it ensures the fritters are crispy on the outside – essential when you’re craving a crunchy deep-fried starter to begin an Indian meal. But my favourite way to enjoy crispy Daal Vada is with hot, sweet masala chai and great company.

Daal Vada

Remember to wash your daal and rice thoroughly and soak overnight for easy grinding and beautifully-textured vada. The frying process is a little tricky – and utterly frightening for the first few vada, but go carefully and you’ll get the hang of it in no time (I say as my finger throbs with pain from the oil splash I got from frying these vada an hour ago). Totally worth it though.

Think crunchy, fluffy, deep-fried pancake bites with a touch of sweet banana, a zip of fresh lemon and a punch of chilli heat (hence the ‘Bullet’). Serve immediately after frying with lemon wedges and fresh coriander and yoghurt chutney.

Coriander and yoghurt chutney is my go-to dip for any Indian starter because of it’s amazing power to perk up any dish from samosas to tikkis and of course, these Daal Vada. All you need to do is open your blender, throw in a washed bunch of coriander, a few dollops of yoghurt, a peeled clove of garlic, green chilli and lots of lemon juice, salt and sugar. Blend until smooth for the ultimate dipping, dunking or drizzling experience.

Daal Vada

Bullet Banana Daal Vada
(Serves 8)

Ingredients

75g mung daal
55g urad daal
35g basmati rice
1 ripe banana, peeled and broken into large pieces
2 hot green chillies, stems removed
2 hot red chillies, stems removed
3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
250ml warm water
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
140g gram flour (chickpea flour)

2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
Pinch turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
2 tsp baking powder
Juice and zest 2 lemons
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Oil for deep frying

Method

1. Pick through your mung and urad daal to ensure there are no stones or other foreign objects. Place the daals and rice in a sieve and wash them until the water almost runs clear. Soak them in cold water overnight.

2. Once soaked, drain the daals and rice and wash again until the water runs almost clear. Place in a blender or food processor and grind with 250ml warm water until you get a smooth paste. Place the paste in a large bowl and rinse the blender as you’ll need it again.

3. In your blender or food processor, add the chillies, ginger, banana, salt, sugar, ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds, ground fennel seeds, turmeric, asafoetida, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh coriander. Blend until you get a smooth, but not entirely uniform paste. Add this to the daal and rice paste.

4. Next, whisk in the gram flour and 1 tbsp oil, ensuring there are no lumps.

5. Heat the oil in a deep, non-stick pan or wok. You’ll know the oil is ready when a cube of bread browns all over in 50 seconds.

6. Quickly whisk the baking powder into the vada batter, ensuring it is mixed in thoroughly. It should resemble pancake batter.

7. To fry the vada, dip your fingers into a little water and shake off any excess. Now, make a ‘cup’ with the four fingers on your dominant hand and scoop enough batter into your fingers to come up to the first line on your middle finger, using your thumb as a stopper. Gently drop the batter into the oil, ensuring your hand is close to the surface of the oil but not touching it on so close, the batter splashes back when you drop it. Use your thumb to push the batter down into the oil. You will almost certainly get smaller blobs of batter in your oil but don’t worry about this – you can scoop them out and scoff them later. Do about 8 vadas at a time and don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry until puffed up and crispy all over. Remove the vada and drain in a colander lined with kitchen paper. Repeat the process until you run out of batter.

Serve hot with lemon wedges, cooling coriander and yoghurt chutney and a cold beer.

Here’s to a spicy, sweet and utterly heavenly New Year. 

Love Sanjana




Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip (2)

Two of my favourite things in the world are naan and pizza. I love them in all shapes and forms from classic peshwari naan to hybrid naan pizzas – especially when they involve cheese, green veggies and lashings of garlic. I’ll be honest, getting home from a long day at work and sitting down to a naan pizza made with shop-bought garlic and coriander naan and leftover paneer butter masala is one of the most incredible dinners ever! Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.

Here’s a simple recipe that celebrates my love of naan and pizza in an easy-to-eat fashion. My recipe for naan pockets uses crumbled paneer and crushed peas as a stuffing for the deliciously-light and buttery naan envelopes. They’re folded into the classic teardrop shape, brushed with a mixture of butter and turmeric, sprinkled with kalonji seeds, and then baked in a hot oven until golden.

If you’re not a fan of paneer, these are also great with a filling of grated broccoli and spinach, steamed sweet potato, and cauliflower and green chilli cooked in the exact same way as I do the paneer and peas filling.

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip (3)

To serve, slice the pockets in half and serve with a bowl of my spicy pizza dip which is infused with a touch of garam masala, green chillies and ground coriander.

These are the perfect party nibbles, starters for an Indian meal and a sure-fire hit with kids. I even love them for dinner, served with both the spicy pizza dip and a cooling cucumber raita.

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip
Makes 18-20 mini pockets

Ingredients

For the naan dough:
310g strong white bread flour
7g fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)
1 small clove garlic
1 tbsp plain yoghurt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
135ml warm water

For the peas and paneer stuffing:
250g shop-bought paneer, cubed
130g frozen peas, thawed
1 clove garlic
2 green chillies
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp crème fraiche
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
2 tbsp sunflower oil

To brush the pockets:
Melted butter
¼ tsp turmeric
Kalonji seeds

For the spicy pizza dip:
2 large tomatoes
1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Method
First, make the naan dough. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt kalonji seeds and garlic. In a separate jug, whisk together the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil and yoghurt. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid. Bring together using a spoon and then your hands. Knead for 10 minutes. The mixture may seem stick at first, but keep kneading and it’ll come together. Grease the bowl with come oil, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend together all the ingredients for the spicy pizza dip in a food processor. Add the mixture to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.

To make the stuffing: in a food processor, blend the garlic, chillies and ginger. Remove and set aside. Next, pulse the peas a few times until coarsely chopped. Remove and set aside. Repeat the same process with the paneer. Bring the peas and paneer mixture together in a bowl. Heat a saucepan and add the oil. Sauté cumin seeds and the garlic, ginger and chilli mixture until aromatic. Add the peas and paneer mixture, black pepper, salt, crème fraiche and coriander and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper and spritz with non-stick cooking spray.

To fold the pockets: take the risen naan dough and knock out all of the air. Take a ping pong ball-sized amount and roll into a ball. Use and rolling pin to roll into 3-inch in diameter round. Don’t add any extra flour – the oil in the dough should stop it from sticking too much. Take a tablespoon full of the cooled stuffing mix and place into the middle of the dough. Starting with the top and bottom of the dough, pull the dough around the filling, pinching the dough to seal until you get to the outer edges. Ensure the dough is well sealed without any cracks by pinching it all together until smooth.

Roll the dough gently until around 3 inches in diameter. Then use your hands to gently pull the top of the dough into a teardrop shape. Place the other side up on the greased and lined baking tray and repeat for the rest of the pockets.

Use a sharp knife to make small holes (not all the way through) in the naan pockets. Melt the butter and whisk in the turmeric – this will give them a lovely golden colour. Brush the pockets generously with the butter mixture and sprinkle on the kalonji seeds.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden all over.

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip (2)

Serve hot from the oven with the warm spicy pizza dip.

Love Sanjana




Tamarind-Glazed Tofu Sliders with Kachumbar Slaw

Tamarind Glazed Tofu SlidersYes, I’m back. After a week in Mombasa, six weeks of family time and a week of tech issues, I felt it was time I blogged again.

I offer you a summer spread of these mini burgers filled with tamarind-glazed grilled tofu, masala potato wedges and spicy Indian slaw (kachumbar). When I was young, my dad would call me from work at 6.30pm to ask me to quickly make his favourite kachumbar before he arrived home in time for one of mum’s gorgeous home-cooked dinners. It was always a pleasure and allowed me to perfect the recipe – one which now has a very special place in my heart.

Kachumbar Slaw

Even though kachumbar means ‘cucumber’ but I often make it without. I often just crave the simplicity of juicy tomatoes, red onions and mixed spices. For this recipe, I’ve added grated carrots, cucumbers and spring onions to create a kachumbar-inspired slaw to offer a delicious crunch to these tofu sliders.

Masala wedges are a staple at home and are usually made with either sweet potatoes or cassava – a tribute to our East African roots. Here, I’ve made them with Maris Pipers because that’s what I had in the kitchen but you can use any floury potatoes you like. Toss them in oil, salt and your favourite garam masala, and then leave them to do their thing in the oven whilst you get on with the rest of the recipe.

Tamarind Glazed Tofu Sliders (3)

Tamarind-Glazed Tofu Sliders with Kachumbar Slaw and Masala Wedges

Ingredients

6 slider buns
Mixed green salad

For the tofu:
600g firm tofu, pressed and cut into steaks
1 tbsp concentrated tamarind paste (I use shop-bought – life’s too short!)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
6 tbsp brown sugar
75ml water
1 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp ground fennel seeds

For the kachumbar slaw:
2 large carrots, grated
¼ small cucumber, seeds removed and grated
1 large red onion, diced finely
2 tomatoes, seeds removed and diced finely
3 spring onions, sliced finely
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp groundnut oil
½ tsp toasted cumin, ground
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sesame seeds

For the masala wedges:
4 large potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt

Method

First, cut the potatoes into small wedges and toss with oil, garam masala and salt. Bake at 200C for 40 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Next, make the slaw by combining together all the ingredients and mixing well. Allow to chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the sliders.

Now, make the tamarind glaze by mixing together the tamarind paste, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and water. Bring to the boil and allow to reduce by half. Add the ground fennel and set aside.

Grill the tofu on both sides until a crisp skin forms on the outside. This will take about 10 minutes each side in a domestic oven – less on a barbecue. Remove from the oven and brush the glaze all over the tofu steaks. Return to the grill until just bubbling.

Slice the buns in half and toast. Build the sliders with the glazed tofu, chilled slaw and your favourite hot sauce. Serve with the masala wedges and a cold beer.

Tamarind Glazed Tofu Sliders (2)

Love Sanjana




Tandoori Paneer Samosas

  Tandoori Paneer Samosas

Attention all paneer lovers! There’s nothing more satisfying than taking a big bite out of a crispy, spicy samosa with a fabulous filling. Whether it’s soft potato and pea, hearty mung daal or juicy tandoori paneer, these little triangles of heaven are an iconic element of Indian cuisine.

Let’s be honest, making samosas from scratch is a labour of love and well worth the effort once you’re finally able to take a spicy bite. My advice? Enlist the help of a slave to help with the rolling and folding.

I love nothing more than fresh samosa pastry made with chapatti dough. The hearty texture of homemade dough surpasses unsatisfying filo pastry samosas by a mile. Reminiscent of the samosas made by street vendors in the heart of Mumbai, and the kind Indian mothers make for their families, the roti dough pastry gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

A good tandoori paste is deeply aromatic, hot and sour. The combination of Kashmiri chillies, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and peppercorns makes this paste intensely flavourful and perfect for adding rich flavour to paneer. I make my own at home using my recipe below, however, you can buy it if you’re short of time. I won’t lie, shop-bought won’t be as good.

I use concentrated tomato puree to give my tandoori paste a rich red colour and also to add some of that traditional sourness which characterises good tandoori masala. Not a drop of food colour in sight.

You can also make these using fresh, homemade paneer but to be honest, I didn’t have the patience to press it long enough for it to be sliceable. Another thing worth mentioning is that traditionally, tandoori paste has yogurt in it to tenderise the paneer. Instead of doing that for this recipe, I add some cottage cheese to give it that yoghurt flavour and help bind the filling together (because of the little nuggets of cheese).

A handful of chopped spring onions and coriander gives the filling a hint of green colour and a burst of fresh flavour.

I serve these with sweet and sour tamarind chutney to cut through the richness of the paneer filling. My recipe for the chutney takes just 10 minutes and is delicious will lots of Indian starters. I’ll post a recipe for the chutney later this week. For now, here’s my recipe for the samosas.

Tandoori Paneer Samosas

Tandoori Paneer Samosas
(Makes 16)

Ingredients

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

3 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tbsp ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced

To cook the filling:
1 tbsp oil
2 small onions, minced very finely
475g firm paneer, cut into 1/2cm pieces (I did it in rough pieces of various shapes for a more interesting texture than just cubed)
3 tbsp low-fat cottage cheese
150ml water

5 spring onions, chopped finely
Handful fresh coriander, chopped finely

For the pastry:
320g flour
160ml cold water
5 tbsp oil
½ tsp salt

Method

1. Toast the dry spices in a dry pan until lightly aromatic. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind to a very fine powder. Mix in the tomato puree, lemon juice, sugar, salt, ginger and garlic.

2. To make the filling: heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add the onions. Cook on a medium heat for five minutes. Add the tandoori paste and 150ml hot water. Cook through for 15 minutes, stirring all the time. If the mixture becomes dry, add a splash more water and continue to cook.

3. Add the cubed paneer and cottage cheese. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and then stir through chopped spring onions and coriander. Set aside.

4. To make the pastry: in a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dough. Knead until firm and non-sticky.

5. Get to work rolling out and lightly cooking your fresh pastry sheets (I rolled mine to around 4 inches- step 2). Use my step by step below as a guide. I cook my pastry sheets on a dry frying pan (step 7) making sure they do not brown. You just want them sealed enough so that you can work with them.

How to Make Samosa Pastry

6. Sandwiching two circles of dough together with oil and flour and lightly rolling over the top of them (steps 3, 4, 5 and 6) makes the pastry thinner and the whole process a little quicker. When they are cooked, carefully peel them away from each other (step 8), then half the circles into semi-circles (step 9). Wrap these in a tea towel until you need to use them to prevent them drying out.

7. Next, in a small bowl, make a sticky paste from flour and cold water. You will need this to seal the edges of the samosas when you fold them.

8. See my tutorial for folding samosas from homemade pastry below. Ensure the filling is cool before filling the samosas.

Folding Samosa Pastry

9. Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry the samosas on a medium heat until they are golden brown all over. Place on kitchen paper to drain away any excess oil.

Tamarind Chutney

Serve with Tamarind Chutney and lemon wedges.

Love Sanjana

 




Mombasa-style Daal Kachori

Mombasa-style Kachori

Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry

Deep fried starters; once you eat one, you’ll always go back for a second. Fact.

Kachori are like the forgotten little sister of samosa – the underdog starter that accidently slipped through the fingers of Western restaurateurs.

I cannot emphasise enough how good lentils are with sweet, hot and sour flavours. The addition of sour green mango cuts through the richness of the daal and spices and balances the deep heat of the chillies, ginger and cinnamon perfectly.

Mombasa-style Kachori (3)

These kachori are inspired by those sold at the famous Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya. My entire family raves about Kenya-style kachori and these, along with Bateta Vada, are guaranteed to put a smile on my dad’s face. And I can vouch that he has great taste.

Kachori come in all flavours, shapes and sizes. You can stuff the classic flaky pastry with crushed green peas, urad daal or even potatoes. They can be made into UFO-like patties and topped with yoghurt, chopped onions and tomatoes to make chaat, or formed into rounds and served with chutney.

Mombasa-style Kachori (4)

Popular at weddings and parties, the dough and filling for these kachori can be made a day or two in advance, wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge. Ensure they come to room temperature before forming them and chill again before frying. This will ensure they’re gorgeously crisp once fried.

I toast 1/3 of the mixed flour before adding it to the rest of the flour to make the dough. This will give the pastry added depth of flavour.

The trick to perfect kachori is to ensure the pastry is short, yet pliable enough to wrap thinly enough around the filling without creating holes which may break them whilst frying. Make sure your kachori are perfectly fried by tapping the pastry once they’ve had a chance to cool – they should sound hollow.

Mombasa-style Kachori (2)

Mombasa-style Daal Kachori – Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry
(Makes 25)

For the pastry:

155g plain flour
70g chapatti flour
40g coarse semolina
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp ghee, softened (replace with oil for vegan kachori)
Around 115ml cold water

For the filling:

100g mung daal, soaked for 2-3 hours in cold water
1 green mango, grated
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 green chillies, minced
1 tbsp oil
500ml hot water
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
60g crushed sev or gathia (available in most Indian supermarkets. If you can’t find them, use 60g ground peanuts instead)
1 tbsp fresh coriander, very finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

Method

1. First make the filling. Place the soaked and drained daal in a blender with 60ml water and grind to a very coarse paste.

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the daal, green mango, ginger, chillies, turmeric, 500ml water, salt and sugar. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick and burn. Once cooked, add the cinnamon, coriander and crushed gathia/sev or ground peanuts. The mixture should become like a paste. Allow to cool.

3. Next, make the dough. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Take 1/3 of the mixture and in a dry pan, toast until nutty and fragrant. Add back into the rest of the flour. Rub in the ghee and oil until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to form a soft dough. If it’s too hard, add more water. Knead for 8 minutes until soft, smooth and pliable. Think pizza dough softness. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour or so.

4. Roll the daal filling into 25 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Remove the dough from the fridge and give it another knead. Divide into 25 pieces. Remove the daal filling from the fridge. Take the first dough ball and using a rolling pin and a flourless surface, roll into a circle until around 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a ball of the daal filling in the centre and pull the dough around it, pinching the dough closed and removing some excess using the length of your index finger and thumb. Roll the ball gently between your palms ensuring there are no creases or holes in the dough, especially where you sealed. If there are, the kachoris will burst whilst frying and the filling will become really greasy. Repeat for the rest.

6. Refrigerate for around 20 minutes.

7. Heat enough oil in a wok to deep fry the kachori. Make sure the flame is low because they need to be fried slowly. Remove the kachori from the fridge and gently slide them into the wok. Don’t overcrowd it. Each batch needs to be fried for around 20 minutes until deep golden brown; move them around so they get even colouring. Remove from the wok and drain on a kitchen paper-lined colander. They should sound hollow to the tap.

8. Repeat the frying process for the remaining kachori.

Mombasa-style Kachori (5)

I like to serve these with fresh coriander chutney, tamarind and date chutney or fig chutney.