Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

I have a soft spot for doughnuts. Doesn’t everyone? My allegiance lies with the pillowy, jam-filled variety with a light sugar coating. It has to be caster sugar as opposed to powdery icing sugar and the jam *must* be raspberry. It’s the law.

The smell of fresh doughnuts frying is like nothing else. If they bottled it, I’d wear it as perfume, leaving a faint whiff of “funfair” trailing behind me everywhere I’d go. You’d smell me coming a mile away and know I’d been around hours after I’d gone. From a purely practical point of view (and not at all a gluttonous one), this would also make me a very hard person to kidnap. I should probably stop watching so many Netflix true crime shows.

Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

Back to doughnuts.

My vegan doughnut dough has a stretchy-smooth quality, as well as a slight sweetness which I find hopelessly irresistible once fried. Despite being made up of flour, sugar and oil, each pillowy puff is lighter than air. A combination of almond milk, lemon, yeast and baking powder give them an ethereal weightlessness that you only get when you eat them hot, as soon as they’re made. I defy anyone to spot the lack of eggs and dairy in this recipe.

In my book, no variety of cakey baked doughnut comes close to the utterly fuzzy feeling you get from eating a yeasted, fried doughnut. It of course, involves hot oil and for you to set aside a bit of therapeutic baking time but there are moments you can break away to catch up on your favourite TV show, drink wine and/or have a power nap. The results are special and not at all cake like. The dough needs to be left to rise and this is when the magic happens. Keep it in a warm place like an airing cupboard or even in the oven with just the light left on inside.

Swap almond milk for soy milk or oat milk if you want to make a nut-free version of these doughnuts — both work beautifully. Over the years I’ve realised you can add most of the ingredients to the hot milk mixture with little to no compromise on results, which makes the dough-making process much easier. There’s no adding of butter in stages involved either. Reserve the salt and baking powder and add them to the flour mixture. Once the warm-ish milk hits the flour, all of those lovely raising agents join forces to work their magic as the gluten in the flour develops through the kneading process. You can use your hands to knead the dough if you have arms of steel and the stamina to do it for 25 minutes or so. I do not have such superpowers and my stand mixer is my friend.

More ideas: You can switch the cardamom sugar for cinnamon sugar and fill these with your favourite thick vegan custard instead of jam. Or better yet, fill them with both jam and custard. I’ve done this before and I don’t want to say everyone liked me more that week, but they definitely did. Vegan lemon curd is also a noble choice of filling and it works particularly well with cardamom sugar. I have also successfully steeped my warm milk with saffron strands for a saffron flavoured doughnut and it was dreamy, like the best marriage of Indian mithai and a classic funfair doughnut. Be creative and report back with your results. I’d love to hear from you.

Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

These lighter-than-air vegan doughnuts are oozing with raspberry jam and coated with a delicate cardamom sugar.

  • 500 g strong white bread flour ((plus 20g extra for rolling out))
  • 12 g fast-action dried yeast
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 100 g vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 250 ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 L rapeseed oil, for deep frying

For the filling:

  • 200 g your favourite raspberry jam ((seedless))

For the cardamom sugar:

  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.

  2. Next, add the milk, butter, sugar and vanilla to a saucepan and heat over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool at room temperature to about 38°C or just warm. Add the lemon juice and yeast and stir. Set aside for ten minutes.

  3. Add the milk mixture to the stand mixer and switch it on to slow. Once the mixture has come together, knead on medium-high speed for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on your mixer to ensure it doesn’t overheat or climb its way across the worktop (I speak from experience here). Once the dough is soft and smooth, the dough is ready to proof.

  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the sides of the bowl with a tablespoon of oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Allow to rest in a warm place for 60 minutes, until it has doubled in size.

  5. Knock the risen dough back to remove large air bubbles but do not knead it again. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough out until it’s about 2cm in thickness. Use a round cookie cutter to stamp out circles of dough and arrange on a tray lined with parchment paper. Leave some space between them, as you don’t want them to stick together while they prove again.

  6. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place for for 30 minutes.

  7. To make the cardamom sugar, mix together the sugar and ground cardamom in a bowl.

  8. Fill a heavy-based saucepan halfway with oil. Heat the oil to 175°C.

  9. When the oil is heated, carefully slide the doughnuts from the tray using a floured spatula. Taking care not to deflate them, put them into the oil. Do 2-3 per batch, depending on the size of your pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan. I did 2 at a time.

  10. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. They will puff up and float to the top of the oil, so you will need to gently move them around the pan to ensure they colour evenly.

  11. Remove the doughnuts from the fryer and place them on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

  12. Place the jam in a bowl and microwave on high power for 20 seconds. Stir well to loosen slightly.

  13. Fit a piping bag with a medium, round tip. Using a straw, make a small hole in the side of each doughnut, about halfway until it reaches the centre. Fill the doughnut with the warm raspberry jam through this hole, about two teaspoons of jam per piece. Repeat for the remaining doughnuts.

  14. Gently roll the doughnuts in the cardamom sugar until evenly coated. Serve warm.

Store the doughnuts covered and at room temperature. Best consumed within 24 hours. Will they all be eaten before then? Definitely.

 

Pin it for later!

 

Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

Love Sanjana




Melt-in-the-Mouth Butter Pau Bhaji

“Tak-tak-tak-tak-tak” went the metal potato masher against the tyre-sized pan. The fire beneath it was roaring and the smell of kerosine in the air was only making the lava-like Pau Bhaji smell more delicious. The skilled street vendor was hand pounding the spicy vegetable curry within an inch of it’s life whilst juggling another giant cooking vessel to his left. On top of the second pan was foaming butter, ready to become one with the fluffy white rolls, known locally as Ladipav. After a few seconds, they would be sporting a crisp, golden crust ready to be served with yet more butter, finely-diced onions, tomatoes and coriander. A wedge of lemon would complete the dish. I was about to dive in to my first Pau Bhaji on the streets of Old Town, Mombasa. With the bustling crowds and honking horns of oncoming traffic, I could have easily been in a buzzing Mumbai back street.

Melt-in-the-Mouth Butter Pau Bhaji

For me, the Indian food of East Africa is some of the most delicious food that exists. There’s no shying away from scorching hot chillies and the tang of lemon. This combo seasons everything you eat, wherever you go and whatever you order. From raw mangos on the beach, to fire-roasted maize and fried cassava chips on the salty-aired streets, it’s the typical seasoning Kenya’s rustic coastal towns. I hope to visit India to enjoy street-style Pau Bhaji in its birthplace of Maharashtra, India, but my first experience of eating this iconic street dish was in Kenya, the home of my Indian immigrant grandparents.

Pau Bhaji is a great dish to make for big get-togethers. It’s easy to scale the recipe up to feed more, since the rolls (pav) are almost always shop-bought and making more curry (bhaji) simply requires doubling up the veggies and sliding in some more masala.

Melt-in-the-Mouth Butter Pau Bhaji

My Pau Bhaji masala is magic dust. Not only is it a beautiful blend for this buttery vegetable dish, it also makes daal more delicious and peps up any Pulao (Indian fried rice). I often make up a triple batch of the masala recipe below and store it in an airtight container for using in other dishes. For this recipe, just work with the measurements below and use it all in the Bhaji recipe. It might look excessive but trust me, your buttery veggies are crying out for some spice.

The beauty of Pau Bhaji is that you can use any vegetables you like, since they’re all getting mashed like crazy anyway. The most common ones are potatoes, cauliflower, peas and carrots. This also happens to be my favourite combination but feel free to add red peppers, aubergine and green beans if you like those. I typically add in some sweet potatoes for colour and sweetness without having to add sugar or food colouring. It’s very common for some street vendors to add red food colouring to their Bhaji for a rich appearance. I find a combination of tomato passata (sieved tomatoes), sweet potatoes, turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder do a great job of giving my bhaji a deliciously-deep colour without having to do that. Use your judgment and add it if you like though.

This is one of those dishes where the garnishes are as important as the main component of the food itself. Don’t skip the lemon wedges, finely diced red onions, tomatoes and coriander topping. And don’t skip the extra butter on top either. It adds the special, indulgent touch that separates good Pau Bhaji from average Pau Bhaji. Nobody likes average Pau Bhaji.

Lastly, the bread must be soft, white and most importantly, cheap rolls. Don’t get fancy with artisan rolls from a French bakery. The rolls are going to get bathed in salty butter anyway (the best kind of bath, IMO). In the end, they’re a crispy carrier for spicy, melt-in-the-mouth vegetable lava and erm… even more butter.

Melt-in-the-Mouth Butter Pau Bhaji

Melt-in-the-Mouth Butter Pau Bhaji

Flavour-rich mashed vegetable curry with toasted fluffy buns. This Indian street food favourite is so comforting and my version is cooked with plenty of salted butter.

For the vegetables (Bhaji):

  • 250 g cooked potatoes ((peeled and roughly cubed))
  • 200 g cauliflower ((stalks removed and florets chopped))
  • 150 g cooked sweet potato ((peeled and roughly cubed))
  • 100 g carrots ((peeled and finely diced))
  • 100 g peas ((fresh or frozen))
  • 500 g tomato passata
  • 100 g salted butter ((+ 50g for mashing in once cooked))
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 large red onion ((finely diced))
  • 4 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 500 ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp sea salt

For the Pau Bhaji masala:

  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 green cardamom pods ((husks removed and seeds crushed))

To garnish and serve:

  • 1 red onion ((finely diced))
  • 2 large vine tomatoes ((finely diced))
  • 50 g fresh coriander ((chopped))
  • 50 g salted butter ((cubed))
  • Lemon wedges
  • Chopped red or green chillies ((optional))

For the bread rolls (Pau):

  • 12 soft white bread rolls
  • 100 g salted butter ((softened))

For the Pau Bhaji masala:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the pau bhaji masala. It will look like a lot but you will need to use it all, trust me.

For the vegetables (Bhaji):

  1. Melt the 100g butter in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the onions, bay leaves and salt and sauté until slightly browned, about 10 minutes. The salt will draw out moisture from the onions and help them to brown quickly.

  2. Add the garlic and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds. Next, add in the passata, cauliflower, cooked potatoes, cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, pau bhaji masala and water. Give everything a good stir and cover with a lid. Cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. If it starts to dry out, add more water and continue to cook until everything is very tender.

  3. Switch the heat off and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Now, add the reserved 50g of butter, grab a potato masher and give everything a good mash until it resembles a coarse purée. Adjust the consistency by adding more water if necessary. It should be slightly runny, like lava. Add salt and lemon juice and continue to mash until well incorporated.

  4. Return the pan to the heat with the lid on and simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes.

To prepare the bread rolls (Pau):

  1. Slather both sides of the rolls with butter and toast in a frying pan until golden all over.

To serve:

  1. Sprinkle the onions, tomatoes and coriander over the top of the pau bhaji. Serve with more onion, tomato and coriander, as well as extra butter, lemon wedges and the toasted pau. Chilli lovers can also top with chopped fresh chillies if they dare.

Melt-in-the-Mouth Butter Pau Bhaji

Love Sanjana




Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

Hot, sour, sweet, salty and spicy are the famous characteristics of perfect Aloo Chaat. As well as having what’s known as “chatpata” flavour, the potatoes must be crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It’s the law.

Aloo Chaat is a spud-packed street food dish that’s traditionally served in a bowl and enjoyed on the go, right? Not today. I’ve got a fun little treat for you and it constists of swapping the traditional plastic or banana leaf chaat bowl for a crispy potato skin bowl you can devour along with the mouth-watering aloo chaat inside.

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

This Aloo Chaat Potato Skin platter is a sharing feast that will be a hit at parties and celebration meals alike. Create an explosion of flavours with just a handful of spices and fresh herbs, topped off with sweet pomegranate seeds and a cooling yoghurt drizzle.

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

The best thing is that it’s a great make-ahead dish you can prep the day before if you like. I like to cook the potatoes fully and keep them covered in the fridge so they’re nice and firm when it comes to cutting the flesh and prepping the skins. You can also make the yoghurt, prep the pomegranate seeds, chop all the herbs, onions, ginger and chillies, keeping them all covered in bowls in the fridge. The next day all you need to do is fry the potatoes and assemble right before serving. The only rule is that this must be eaten hot, as soon as it’s ready.

I pick the biggest potatoes I can find for generous potato skin portions in which I can fill lots of crispy aloo and flavoursome toppings. I’m just greedy like that. You could also make cocktail-sized Aloo Chaat Potato Skins this serve as canapés.

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

This Aloo Chaat Potato Skin platter is a sharing feast that will be a hit at parties and celebration meals alike. Create an explosion of flavours with just a handful of spices and fresh herbs, topped off with sweet pomegranate seeds and a cooling yoghurt drizzle. 

  • 4 large baking potatoes ((such as Maris Piper or King Edward))
  • 1 medium red onion ((finely diced))
  • 1-2 green chillies ((finely chopped))
  • 50 g fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves ((chopped))
  • 1-inch piece ginger ((peeled and julienned))
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds ((toasted and ground))
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds ((toasted and ground))
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp gram flour sev, to serve ((optional))

For the masala yoghurt:

  • 150 g plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds ((toasted and coarsely ground))
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds ((toasted and coarsely ground))
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  1. First, the potatoes need to be cooked. I recommend either microwaving or baking them. To microwave, pierce the potato several times all over, place on a microwave-safe plate and cook on High power for 10-12 minutes. To bake, individually wrap the potatoes in foil and bake at 200C for 1 hour. In both cases, allow the potatoes to cool completely.

  2. In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the yoghurt, cover and refrigerate.

  3. Once the potatoes are completely cold, cut them in half lengthways. Use a spoon to scoop out the middles, leaving a 2cm border around the potato to keep the skins sturdy for filling later. Try not to break the flesh of the potato too much. The skins need to remain whole and 2cm thick as these will be cooked again and then filled.

  4. Set the skins aside and cut the flesh of the potato into 2cm cubes. They don’t have to be perfectly shaped as the craggy ones will crisp up beautifully once fried.

  5. Fill a large, deep pan or wok with sunflower oil. Once the oil reaches 200°C, fry the potato skins over a medium-high flame until crispy and golden. Set aside to drain on a tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper.

  6. Next, the potato cubes until golden and crispy. Set aside to drain on a tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper.

  7. Toss the fried potato cubes with the toasted cumin and coriander seeds, ginger juliennes, chopped fresh chilli, chopped onions, lime juice, chaat masala, pomegranate seeds, Kashmiri chilli powder, freshly chopped coriander and salt.

  8. Fill the crunchy potato skins with the hot, sour and spicy aloo chaat. Serve with the masala yoghurt and sprinkle over the sev if using.

Optional: You can garnish the yoghurt with a pinch of Kashmiri chilli powder, ground toasted cumin and fresh coriander leaves.

Pin it for later!

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins




Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

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

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

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

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

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

A few tips and notes before you start.

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

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

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

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

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

For the tandoori marinade:

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

For the coriander and mint chutney:

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

For the Coriander and Mint Chutney:

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

For the Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pin it for later!

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka




Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts (Vegan)

Jambo! Flicking through hard to come by East African cookbooks fills me with that familiar, comforting feeling of when I cosy up with my favourite Indian ones. Exotic spices, simple veggies and coconut milk everything is what makes it feel so fresh, vibrant and soul warming.

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

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

For my generation, it feels like the Indian influence on East African cooking is a hush-hush camp, with recipes hidden away inside the spirits of expat grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles. As sad as it may sound, I’m a 29-year old who’s worried that Zanzibar Trail Mix, Malindi Halwa and Ugandan Kasodi will one day be forgotten. We can’t let that happen, guys!

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

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

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

The leavening agent in my version is yeast but many recipes also use baking powder. Traditionally, they’re made using rice that’s been soaked overnight but I’ve simplified it slightly by using rice flour which is so readily available in shops these days. Of course, if you can’t find rice flour, go ahead and use soaked raw rice.

My fluffy Vitumbua are perfect with tea in the morning or if you’re a bit more adventurous, with a spicy kidney bean and coconut stew for dinner. Sweet and savoury is so lush!

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

If you have a Vitumbua or Appam/Paniyaram pan, please use one. If you don’t, you can use a greased cupcake tin. You’ll need to bake them in a 180C oven for 10 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time.

I’ve dusted my Vitumbua with cardamom sugar which isn’t traditional but it adds a delicious additional cardamom kick on top of what’s already in the batter. I find that finishing a dish with gentle spices is a bold way of bringing another dimension to the table.

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

These light and fluffy East African coconut and cardamom doughnuts just melt in your mouth. They’re perfect with masala chai and are a popular street food all over Tanzania.

For the vitumbua batter

  • 220 g rice flour
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 7 g fast-action dried yeast
  • 200 ml warm water ((approx. 32°C))
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds (from 5-6 cardamom pods) (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract ((optional))

For the cardamom icing sugar

  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 whole cardamom pods (seeds remove and finely ground)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the rice flour, plain flour, sugar, salt, ground cardamom and dried yeast.

  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then add the coconut milk, warm water, oil and vanilla/almond extract (if using). Whisk the ingredients well until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. It should be the consistency of dosa or idli batter. Cover with cling film and allow the batter to rest in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

  3. Grease a 12-hole vitumbua or appam/paniyaram pan with sunflower or vegetable oil. By now, your batter should be bubbly and frothy. Allow the pan to heat up a little and then use a small jug or cup to fill the holes of the pan with the batter, almost right to the top.

  4. Cook on a low heat until the tops of the batter is looks dry to the touch, about 3 minutes. Use a cocktail stick to flip the vitumbua over. They should be golden brown on the bottom. Cook the other side for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Use the cocktail stick to remove them from the pan.

  5. To make the cardamom sugar, combine the icing sugar and ground cardamom. Use a tea strainer or small sieve to dust the sugar over the top. Serve the vitumbua immediately with hot masala chai or strong coffee.

  • This recipe makes 48 small vitumbua, serving about 8 people.
  • I bought my paniyaram pan from an Indian kitchenware store in Leicester, UK. You can also buy these online. Look out for a heavy, non-stick piece of kit rather than steel to make removing the vitumbua easier.
  • Alternatively, you can also use a cupcake tin. Your vitumbua will be larger, disc shaped doughnuts but they’ll still taste great. Ensure the tin is well greased and fill the cupcake holes just halfway before popping into an oven pre-heated at 180°C for 10 minutes. Flip them halfway through baking.
  • Store cooked vitumbua in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

Pin the image below to save to your Pinterest board for later!

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts




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




Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura

Happy New Year! Firstly, I’d like to say I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL for some time now. I promise I have a good reason. We did it; we finally bought our first house!

It has a small kitchen, huge amounts of natural light and wait for it… room for a photography studio! I can’t believe I have a space fully dedicated to my passion. 8 years ago, I started out with this blog, no camera and no clue. Now I have actual shelves just for props. I hope I’m able to produce more delicious recipes to share with you this year, all from my little studio in my little house. Totally overjoyed.

Fluffy Bhatura

So I’ve been spending the last few months working out what we need to furnish it, upcyling old furniture (which I am loving, btw) and spending my life on Pinterest. Although we’ve still got a fair way to go with getting the house finished, I’m in a good spot to get back on track with blogging. I kid you not, I have a list of 89 recipes waiting to be shared this year so brace yourselves.

Throughout the winter months, I crave belly-warming dinners to soothe my soul after a long day at work and a chilly commute. This traditional Channa Masala with Fluffy Bhatura (or Chole Bhature, if you like) does the trick every time. I make a big batch of my own spice blend, keep it in an airtight jar and sprinkle it into an assortment hearty bean and lentil dishes to ramp up the flavours. It includes a medley of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg predominantly – earthy and aromatic enough to engulf the chickpeas in the wave of intense flavours they so demand.

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala

I add a shot of strong-brewed black tea to my chickpea curry, for both a rich colour and aroma. If you’re using dried chickpeas, add two teabags and soak overnight before boiling and adding to the dish. However, I’m all about the shortcuts, so use tinned chickpeas and add the tea straight into the sauce for a whack of flavour and unashamed ease.

This dry curry with hot and sour flavours makes it the ideal partner for fluffy fried bread and a tall glass of ice-cold lassi. Go on, the weather is crap and your belly needs this.

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura (Chole Bhature)

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura

For the Homemade Channa Masala Spice Mix (makes enough for this recipe plus leftovers):

2 tbsp green cardamom seeds
3 black cardamom pods
9 cloves
4-inch piece cinnamon
6 tbsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tsp amchur (dried mango)
1 tsp anardana powder (dried pomegranate seed)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg
1 tsp mace

For the Channa Masala (serves 6):

2x 400g tins chickpeas
300g passata (sieved tomato pulp)
240ml strong brewed black tea (1 teabag steeped in hot water for 8 minutes, squeezed)
1 large onion, chopped
100g butter
4 green chillies, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-inch piece ginger, grated
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
3 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp homemade channa masala spice blend

For the Fluffy Bhatura:

135g plain flour
120g plain natural yogurt
Juice ½ lemon
120ml warm milk
7g fast-action dried yeast
30ml sunflower oil
¼ tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
1 tsp salt
Oil, for deep frying

Method

1. To make the Homemade Channa Masala Spice Mix, toast all the ingredients in a dry frying pan until aromatic. Don’t take your eye of it because it’ll burn quickly. Grind in a coffee grinder. Pass through a fine-holed sieve and store in an airtight jar.

2. To make the channa masala, heat the butter in a large pan, add the cumin seeds and chopped onion. Cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into your slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Stir it every hour.

3. Next, make the dough for the bhatura. Combine the yoghurt, lemon juice and milk in a large bowl (it will increase in volume and get frothy). Stir in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes. Next, mix in the sunflower oil, ajwain, flour and salt. Bind to make a dough, kneading for 10 minutes.

4. Place in a large, deep bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to double in size for two hours.

5. Once risen, knock the air out of the dough and knead briefly.

6. Get the oil ready for deep frying. Pour into a large, deep pan (I use a wok) and heat to 160C.

7. Make yourself a cup of tea.

8. Use a rolling pin and wooden board or flat worktop to roll out the bhatura dough to approximately 3 inches in diameter and 3-4mm thick. Place it into the hot oil very carefully and use a slotted spoon to agitate it. It might take some practice to get them to rise each time but you’ll get there, I promise.

9. Drain in a colander lined with a paper towel.

Some bhatura tips:

  • I found that the smaller I rolled them, the more they rose so try not to make them too thin.
  • Use your hands to pick up the dough, swivel it round and roll again to make a circle.
  • Only ever roll one side of the dough, not both.

Gujarati Far Far Crackers

Serve your channa masala and bhatura with sliced red onion, chillies, yoghurt and far far, (because who doesn’t love those multi-coloured crispy crackers?), plus a glass of salted lassi.

Love Sanjana

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.




Best-Ever Bombay Sandwiches

Triple-decker toasted sandwiches filled with potatoes, spicy coriander and mint chutney, red onions, grilled paneer and tomatoes are what makes these pimped-up Bombay sandwiches the ultimate Indian-inspired snack.

With Indian street food vendors popping up all over the UK, selling everything from Kati Rolls to Pau Bhaji, and Masala Dosa to Samosas, we’re becoming accustomed to having delicious Indian street food on tap… and we want it fast. Not only that; but it better be damn perfect too. Believe it or not, but I’ve heard students in King’s Cross complain there’s far too much tadka on top of their dosa chutney and ajwain in their samosa pastry. We’ve become a nation of Indian street food connoisseurs and it’s bloody brilliant.

Best Ever Bombay Sandwich

Re-creating street food classics like these Bombay Sandwiches at home is so simple. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a sandwich. But not just any sandwich. Traditional Bombay sandwiches consist of two pieces of bread with slices of boiled potato, mint and coriander chutney, onions, cucumber and tomatoes on sliced white bread, I’ve taken it a step further by adding a slice of flavour-packed toast slathered in green pistachio chutney to the middle, grilled paneer (because why the hell not), sliced gherkins (because I can’t deal with warm cucumbers, sorry) and then griddled the whole thing. It’s quite a mouthful but I reckon that’s the beauty of it.

I’ve never met another Indian who hasn’t used up leftover potato curry in toasted sandwiches the next day – it’s a no brainer. I like to think of it as the ultimate ‘Dad meal’. Quick, easy and perfect with green chutney on the inside or for dipping on the outside. Of course, a slice of cheese is optional but for me, that isn’t even worth thinking about.

Trust me when I tell you this is three layers of awesome you don’t want to miss out on.

Best Ever Bombay Sandwich 2

Best Ever Bombay Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches

6 slices bloomer bread – whole wheat or white
2 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced thinly
2 x 60g paneer slices, try to cut them wide
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 large pickled gherkins, thinly sliced
60g grated Cheddar
1 large avocado, sliced (optional)
Melted butter, for brushing the outsides of the bread

For the Coriander, Mint and Pistachio Chutney:

100g coriander
30g mint
2 small green chillies
6 shelled, unsalted pistachios
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
50ml groundnut oil

Method

1. Blitz all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender until smooth. Add a drop of water if necessary. The chutney should be the consistency of pesto.

2. Toast two slices of bread. Griddle the paneer on both sides.

3. Butter the outside of the bread and place buttered-side-down on a cold griddle. Spread some of the chutney on the top, lay over potato slices, red onions, tomatoes gherkins and a little bit of Cheddar.

4. Spread green chutney over both sides of one of the slices of toast. Place on top of your sandwich and repeat the layering process, this time adding the paneer. Take the final bread slice and spread green chutney on the inside and place chutney-side-down on the sandwich. Butter the outside of the top slice.

5. Repeat to make the other sandwich.

6. Griddle on both sides until golden, about 5 minutes.

Serve with crisps or masala chips, chai, limeade or beer and prepare to take the biggest bite of your life.

Love Sanjana