All posts filed under: Vegan

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biscoff-cake

Darkest-Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake with Biscoff and Chai-Spiced Buttercream

I remember being six years old and fascinated by cake. Today, I’m 26 and still obsessed with it. I once had a tragic experience with Death by Chocolate Cake. I begged and begged for it until my parents gave in, probably knowing I’d regret it the next day. Needless to say, it did exactly what it said on the box. I didn’t look at another cake for a very long time. These days, I prefer my cakes with far less sugar… but still packing heaps of chocolate. There’s nothing better than the marriage between intense chocolate sponge and subtle chai spices. This four-layer cake stays super moist because the sponge is soaked with a little bit of dark rum. If you don’t want to use rum, you can use a bit of gingerbread syrup (like the kind you add to coffee) or just leave it out. As the layers are thin, the buttercream will do a great job of keeping it moist. For a rich chocolate kick, two teaspoons of good-quality instant coffee works a …

Homemade Chapattis

Homemade Chapattis – Gujarati Rotli

The smell that floods a home when the first chapatti goes on the cast-iron hotplate surrounds me with comfort and joy I cannot even explain. It’s my most favourite smell in the whole world because it represents my childhood, my family and every moment (both happy and sad) in our home. Gujarati chapattis (rotli) are the glue that sticks everything Indian families eat together… or should I say the bread the scoops up all of our daals and curries. They’re an everyday staple and without them, a weeknight meal would be incomplete. I’ve known men who won’t touch their dinner unless there are hot, freshly-made rotlis on the table. Softer and smaller than your average Punjabi or Pakistani Roti (the kind you’d get in most restaurants), these Gujarati Rotli have oil in the dough and are cooked on a super-hot cast-iron tawa/lodhi, leaving them delicious and toasty. I don’t cook them on an open flame because they’re so soft, they’d just break. They still puff up like hot air balloons as they cook on the lodhi. …

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4

Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

I live and breathe Gujarati food. Simple vegetarian dishes we’d eat every night when I was young are what have inspired my love of cooking today. Oroh was one of those dishes mum would cook as a midweek dinner after our evening swim at our local leisure centre. Oroh is simply a name for smoky aubergine cooked with garlic, onions, tomatoes and chillies. If you’re a fan of North Indian food, you’ll probably know it as Baingan Bharta – the Punjabi version. Oroh is the Gujarati name for it and here’s how we cook it at home. It’s really easy to be afraid of overdoing it with this dish. You might think it’s mad to add as much garlic as my recipe calls for but please do stick with it. The burnt aubergine needs flavours that can stand up to it so that the result is smoky, spicy, punchy and tangy. I learnt to cook this when I was 12 years old and it blew my mind. I thought it was insane to cook aubergines on …

Mombasa Kachri Bateta

Mombasa Kachri Bateta

I’ve always strived to be a great cook like my grandfathers. My parents tell me their Gujarati and East African classics like Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori, Jalebi Paratha, gathia were inspiring. Their tips and tricks are recalled in the conversations of our extended family with a joy that I cannot even describe. I wish they’d have been here long enough for me to watch them at work. Someone who had the pleasure of spending many hours in the kitchen with my Bapuji (paternal grandfather) was my wonderful aunt in Mombasa, Kenya. She’s an incredibly-talented cook with an edible garden I could only dream of. Packed with mangoes, coconuts, bananas, tree tomatoes and herbs, she’s an expert at cooking everything from Gujarati classics, to East African staples. When I visited their family home last year, I was treated to it all and my word was it dreamy. One of the dishes she cooked up was this Mombasa Kachri Bateta – a light potato stew with sour green mangoes, topped with coconut fresh from the garden and fried …

Daal Vada

Bullet Banana 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 …

Mandazi Barazi

Swahili Breakfast: Mandazi and Barazi/Mahamri and Mbaazi za Naazi

I spent some time in Mombasa almost five months ago. It’s safe to say I’ve missed sipping on fresh madaf (coconut water) on Bamburi beach, eating fried cassava crisps doused in lemon juice and chilli on the side of the road, and feasting in mind-blowing authentic Swahili restaurants by moonlight. I ate a lot that week. For me, the most incredible thing about East African food is the simplicity of ingredients that go into a dish and the unbelievable flavours that are produced. Basic seasonings like salt, sugar, lemon and chilli are paramount to everyday cooking. Spices like cardamom and turmeric are also popular, although they are used sparingly. Whilst cassava, beans and ground rice make up the majority of the diet, fruit and veg are showcased in such a simple, yet delicious way that vegetarian food is an absolute pleasure to eat. My wonderful aunt and uncle in Mombasa are blessed to have a garden full of palm trees, banana trees and fresh herbs, which allow them to indulge on the freshest exotic ingredients …

Tamarind Glazed Tofu Sliders (F)

Tamarind-Glazed Tofu Sliders with Kachumbar Slaw

Yes, 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. 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 …

Mombasa-style Kachori

Mombasa-style Daal 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. 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 …

Vitumbua - Tanzanian Doughnuts

Vitumbua – Tanzanian Doughnuts

Jambo! Flicking through rare East African cookbooks fills me with that familiar, comforting feeling of when I cosy up with my favourite Indian ones. 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 2009. 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 23-year old girl worried that Zanzibar Trail Mix, Malindi Halwa and Ugandan Kasodi will one day be forgotten by my Indo-Chinese-obsessed peers – and that’s deep, bro. In the name of doing my bit to preserve the East African cuisine my family are so proud of, I’d like to introduce you to Vitumbua. These Tanzanian rice flour doughnuts …

Mango and Courgette Salad with Jaggery-Lime Dressing

Mango and Courgette Salad with Jaggery-Lime Dressing

There are some ingredients in Indian cooking which attract gasps and sighs whenever they’re mentioned. Take ghee for example; no, it’s not good for you – but is a tablespoon of ghee in a curry for four really much worse than a dollop of butter on a jacket potato for lunch, or pouring cream over a freshly-baked crumble for dessert? Taboo ingredients like ghee receive bad press even in Indian households, and with good reason. Although I do have one rule: both biryani and paratha are not complete without ghee. Just don’t eat them every day. Gettin’ jaggery with it Jaggery (gor/unrefined cane sugar) is another one of these ingredients. Just like putting too many sugars in your tea, using jaggery in everyday cooking isn’t advisable. However when those hunger pangs hit, the deep, caramel flavour of this sugar is just.so.satisfying and an exciting treat once in a while. If you can’t find jaggery in the shops, you can substitute it with palm sugar or dark brown sugar. However, if possible, try to bag yourself …

Peanut Masala Stuffed Aubergines

Baby Aubergines Stuffed with Peanut Masala

Stuffing baby vegetables with spicy, nutty masala can be a beautiful thing. It’s nothing new, Gujaratis have been popping a tray of them onto their dinner party tables for years. Stuffed vegetables are, and always have been the ultimate show-off dish – the more extensive the variety of veggies you manage to wangle into the dish, the more fabulous you are. I remember when I was little it was just aubergines, potatoes and onions in our family kitchen. As I grew, we became more and more adventurous with what we put in; it all began with bananas (my granddad used to add these back in Mombasa), then we added peas to the sauce, stuffed baby courgettes, okra, paneer (you didn’t really think I’d miss that one out did you?) and no matter what it was, it still tasted amazing. Go ahead, be fabulous and experiment with your stuffed veggie curry. Today I’m downsizing. Not because I can’t be bothered, but because I know these fresh baby aubergines I got from the market (no lie, I …