Vegan Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

These toasted meringue cupcakes are fluffy, tender, moist and SO delicious! I’m sorry for using the “M” word. I’m told it’s okay when you’re talking about cake.

When it comes to baking, the more lemon that’s involved, the better as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t go weak at the knees for a slice of lemon drizzle cake or three. Have you?

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

One of my favourite flavour combinations has to be lemon and saffron. The humble, sharp lemon against the heady fragrance of saffron is such a winner. Whether you’re cooking something sweet or savoury, the two ingredients together are the perfect marriage of colour, taste and aroma. Sweet is most certainly my preference because once baked, they mingle with the smell of toasty flour and fill the house with the most gorgeous baking scent. It’s pure and strong, unlike if you were making a savoury dish with 10 other spices.

In the past, I’ve successfully combined the two to make cheesecakes and seeroh (sweet semolina) which were both delicious. This time, I wanted to give a simple cupcake recipe a special makeover. They’re light, fluffy and so moreish.

Each fluffy sponge is filled with a golden-hued saffron lemon curd which I veganised with cornflour, coconut oil and coconut milk in place of eggs and butter. Use unrefined coconut oil to ensure the flavour of coconut doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients. It’s the saffron that gives it a pretty daffodil colour. If you have any leftover lemon curd, pop it in a jar and spread it on toast or scones for a special tea-time treat. It really is spectacular.

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is a little riff on the Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes I posted a while back. It’s a straightforward one using almond buttermilk to give the cupcakes lift. If you have any questions about the cupcake baking process, check here for lots of detail (can you tell I could talk about baking forever?).

The meringue might seem daunting at first, but once you’ve got all your ingredients laid out in front of you, it’s very simple. You’ll need a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or robust electric hand beaters to get that meringue whipped up perfectly. Reducing the aquafaba and adding agar-agar will give it more stability and the cream of tartar and sugar will help it whip into a sweet cloud of fluffiness. I used a kitchen blowtorch to toast the tops but if you don’t have one, you can pop them under the grill for a 15-20 seconds — just be sure to remove the cupcakes from their paper cases first!

These are perfect for parties, bake sales and for when you just want to eat a cupcake or three, alone, on your kitchen floor.

Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Vegan Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Fluffy vegan cupcakes filled with a sharp, golden saffron lemon curd and topped with toasted aquafaba meringue. These cupcakes are little bites of heaven.

For the fluffy lemon cupcakes:

  • 225 g extra-fine self-raising cake flour
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 250 ml almond milk ((room temperature))
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 110 ml rapeseed oil ((or any flavourless oil of your choice))

For the vegan saffron lemon curd:

  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • Zest of 3 large lemons
  • 75 g icing sugar
  • 20 g cornflour
  • 30 g refined coconut oil
  • 50 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • Pinch of saffron

For the vegan aquafaba meringue:

  • 200 ml aquafaba, reduced to 100ml and chilled
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 25 ml water
  • 25 ml agave
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp agar-agar powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

  2. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper cupcake cases.

For the vegan saffron lemon curd:

  1. To make the saffron lemon curd, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and give everything a good whisk. Cook over a medium heat, whisking all the time until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of custard. The saffron will start to turn the lemon curd a beautiful shade of daffodil yellow. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  2. Once the lemon curd has cooled for 10 minutes, directly cover the surface with cling film to stop a hard skin forming. Refrigerate until needed.

For the fluffy vegan cupcakes:

  1. Mix together the almond milk and lemon juice in a jug. Allow to stand for ten minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the oil.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, caster sugar, cornflour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

  3. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and beat with a whisk for 1-2 minutes, until you have a smooth batter.

  4. Pour or scoop the batter into the paper cupcake cases, filling to about ¾ of the way up. Give the base of the tin a quick succession of taps on the work surface to remove any large air bubbles.

  5. Place the tin into the pre-heated oven and bake for 18 minutes, or until golden on top and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the aquafaba vegan meringue:

  1. To make the meringue, place the reduced and chilled aquafaba in a clean stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes until frothy.

  2. Combine the water, sugar, agave, vanilla and agar-agar in a saucepan and mix until dissolved. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often to stop the syrup catching and burning at the base of the pan. Use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature of the syrup. Once the syrup reaches 120°C/250°F, remove it from the heat and quickly pour it into the still running bowl of the stand mixer. Whisk the mixture for 15 minutes until white and meringue-like in texture.

  3. Use a teaspoon or straw to remove the centres from the cooled cupcakes and pipe or spoon 2 teaspoons of the chilled lemon curd into the centre. Fill top of the plug with a few cake crumbs.

  4. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large, round tip with the meringue mixture. Pipe the meringue on to the cupcakes. I chose to do a simple pillowy blob but you can also use a star piping tip if you like. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can also spoon the meringue on top.

  5. For a toasted finish, use a kitchen blowtorch to toast the tops of the meringues before serving. I do not recommend placing the cupcakes under a grill when using paper cases. If you don’t have a kitchen blowtorch and would like to toast the meringue, remove the cupcakes from their paper cases before placing under a preheated grill for 15-20 seconds.

Storage: Keep these cupcakes covered, at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Storing them in the refrigerator may cause the meringue to weep liquid and deflate.

 

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Saffron & Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

 

Love Sanjana




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.

 

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Vegan Raspberry Jam Doughnuts with Cardamom Sugar

Love Sanjana




Vegan Crispy Chicken-less Burgers

Happy New Year, everyone! To all my longtime readers, thanks a million for all the support over the year. It’s been a wonderful journey. Can you believe this little blog will be 10 years old this year? To all my new readers — welcome! I have absolutely no new year’s resolutions. Same old me, taking each day as it comes and enjoying every moment. See, nothing new.

Wanna see something that is new?

Crispy Vegan Chicken-less Burger

Behold! The vegan burger dreams are made of. This giant panko-crusted vegan “chicken” fillet (or should I say chicken-less fillet) is the star of the show. Nestled between the folds of a squishy sesame bun, it’s joined by fresh avocado, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and a spicy vegan mayo. Limp fast food veggie burgers can step aside, for there’s a new wave of vegan burgers hitting our plates, shops and restaurants. Soy, gluten, pea and bean-based burgers and other meat substitutes are all on the rise and non-meat eaters have more choice than ever. For me, a grilled mushroom between two buns has never hit the spot but thankfully, there’s so much more out there now. I’m not even sure why grilled ‘shrooms are classed as a burger patty.

Now let’s get straight to business. It’s full disclosure time. This is by no means a quick and easy recipe. It’s a labour of love and like with all good things, you must have patience and be prepared to wait. I think a burger this spectacularly juicy, fresh and nutritious is worth said wait. Although, I’ve found that if you break the steps down and tackle one bit at a time, it’s much easier. Making the vegan “chicken” is what takes the most time.

I’m a huge fan of chickwheat which is a high-protein wheat meat made with vital wheat gluten, tofu and white beans. Once a “dough” is made, it’s wrapped in foil, pressure cooked and left to rest. The result is a slab of textured, shreddy chickenless chicken that’s so flavoursome and versatile. I make big batches and freeze it so it’s always on hand for dishes like Vegan Seitan Butter “Chicken”, stir fries, tacos and Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks. I first heard about Chickwheat via The Seitan Appreciation Group on Facebook and Lacey Siomos of the Avocados and Ales blog. With vegan diets on the rise, seitan and other meat substitutes like this chickwheat are becoming widely recognised these days and vegan or not, I think it’s brilliant for those who’d like a varied choice. You were lucky to get a frozen bean burger when I was growing up in the 90s and 00s. Times are changing for the better when it comes to food options, culinary innovation and an open mindedness towards alternative diets.

Crispy Vegan Chicken-less Burger

As much as I like the convenience of shop bought, there’s nothing better than being able to customise your own flavours by making your own vegan meat subs at home. I order my vital wheat gluten online (Buy Whole Foods Online do a great one if you’re UK based – try Amazon if you’re not) and my chicken-style stock/seasoning of choice is Massel and Schwartz but you can use any. If you’re vegan or are cooking for vegans, read the ingredients to make sure the one you choose is suitable.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker for making the chicken, you can use a large saucepan with a lid and gently simmer (not boil) for 2 1/2 hours. An instant pot is also a great option – cook on high for 35 minutes. A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment is essential for this recipe. If the dough is not kneaded enough, you’ll end up with more of a spongy texture without the desired “pulled” effect. Knead the dough long and hard and keep an eye on your mixer to ensure it doesn’t wiggle across the countertop — they can shift fast! I wrap it tightly in foil to make sure the chicken doesn’t expand too much during the cooking process. We want it nice and compact. You could also use cheesecloth or muslin and string if you’re not keen on using foil, although it is a little messier. Be sure to wrap it tightly for a good shape and to stop the water leaking in. To sum up, It’s the long kneading, tight wrapping and long cooking that gives the chicken its perfect shreddy texture.

Crispy Vegan Chicken-less Burger

Panko are my coating of choice because I like the crunch you get with larger breadcrumb pieces. Switch in regular breadcrumbs if that’s what you have. You’ll need to dust the fillets in plain flour and batter of dairy-free yoghurt and chickpea flour first — this will help the breadcrumbs adhere well. It’s messy but fun and kids will love helping with this part! Feel free to customise the burger toppings to your taste; a slice of melty vegan cheese, wafer-thin pickles and a smidge of mustard or barbecue sauce is also a good idea. I’ve also been known to throw in a few jalapeños for a big chilli kick.

Crispy Vegan Chicken-less Burger

Vegan Seitan Chicken

This firm, textured vegan chicken is packed with protein and goodness. It’s made using tofu, beans and the magic ingredient… vital wheat gluten. Cube it, shred it and slice it for curries, stir fries, pasta, salad and wraps.

For the vegan seitan chicken

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu ((drained))
  • 1 400g tin haricot beans, inc. the liquid from the tin ((you can also use any other white beans, such as cannellini beans or butter beans))
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten ((I buy mine on Amazon))
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp white miso paste ((you can also use 1 tsp MSG if you can tolerate it))
  • 1 tbsp vegan chicken-style boullion ((I use Massel))
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste (or msg), boullion, salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste. 

  2. Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough. 

  3. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends. 

  4. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and wrap the “loaf” very tightly in 2-3 layers of heavy-duty foil or one piece of cheesecloth. Try to go for an oval shape. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop too much water getting inside. 

  5. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your seitan into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 40 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. 

  6. Once cool, remove the seitan parcel from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months.

  7. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your seitan is now ready to cut into fillets for the burger.

  • You can freeze the seitan whole or in pieces in a ziplock-style bag for up to 6 months. Defrost at room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

Crispy Vegan Chicken-less Burgers

Behold! The vegan burger dreams are made of. This giant panko-crusted vegan “chicken” fillet (or should I say chicken-less fillet) is the star of the show. Nestled between the folds of a squishy sesame bun, it’s joined by fresh avocado, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and a spicy vegan mayo. 

For the crispy seitan chicken:

  • 1 recipe vegan seitan chicken, rested and cold ((posted above))
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 200 g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp vegan chicken seasoning ((I like garlic, chilli and thyme))
  • 150 g dairy-free yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1 L rapeseed oil for deep frying

For the burger build:

  • 4 burger buns ((sliced in half))
  • 200 g gem lettuce leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced into rings
  • 1/2 vine tomato, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp your favourite hot sauce ((I like sriracha))
  • 4 tbsp vegan mayo ((I like Follow Your Heart and Hellmans))
  1. Slice the cold seitan into fillet-like pieces. You might have a few odd pieces left over – don’t throw them away! I like to use them to make nuggets.

  2. Set up a breadcrumb station. Place the plain flour on a plate. Mix together the panko and chicken seasoning and spread this onto another plate. In a bowl, whisk together the dairy-free yoghurt and chickpea flour.

  3. In a wok or large, deep saucepan, heat the oil to 175°C/350°F.

  4. Dredge the seitan in the flour, dip it into the yogurt mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Repeat the yoghurt and breadcrumb dip for a thicker coating but I found one dip in each was perfect for me. Ensure it’s evenly coated with panko. Repeat for all the fillets. Pop these in the freezer for 5 minutes to set the coating.

  5. Carefully fry two fillets at a time, turning gently in the oil to ensure even browning all over. They should be golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen paper.

  6. Mix together the vegan mayo and hot sauce. Spread the buns with mayo, top with an assortment of the salad and finally, the crispy vegan chicken fillet. Serve immediately. I love these with French fries!

  • Add a slice of your favourite melty vegan cheese for extra deliciousness.
  • You can freeze the fried fillets in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Allow to cool completely before freezing. Cook them from frozen in the oven – 175°C/350°F, 25-30 minutes.
  • After carving your fillets, use any seitan scraps to make nuggets.

 

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Vegan Crispy Chicken-less Burgers




Easy Cereal Chevdo

Who stole the chevdo from the naasto jar? Sanjana stole the chevdo from the naasto jar.

Our naasto (snack) jar is the equivalent of a cookie jar — one minute it’s full and the next only a few crumbs remain at the bottom. It’s most often filled with chakri (savoury rice sticks), gathia (spiced chickpea flour noodles) and chevdo (the spicy-sweet-sour mix of dreams). The moment when you sit down to masala chai and ‘naasto’ is when troubles fizzle away. The soothing, milky masala tea erases the furrows in your brow and the crunchy, savoury, sweet and spicy snacks are a welcome cuddle from the inside. It’s the kind of home comfort that becomes an occasion without even trying. Flawless.

Of course, there is no naasto time without chevdo.

Easy Cereal Chevdo

Chevdo is a crunchy, savoury Indian snack in which every ingredient is fried or baked to golden perfection before being tumbled together with salt, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, sugar and chilli. The ingredients vary from recipe to recipe but the essentials include: potato sticks, roasted moong daal, corn flakes, nuts, crispy curry leaves and sultanas. You’re probably thinking that this sounds similar to that notorious bar snack, Bombay mix? Let me assure you that it’s not the same.

Bombay mix is a form of chevdo in the sense that it’s a load of sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy ingredients but traditional chevdo isn’t made up of mainly chickpea flour noodles like Bombay Mix is. The flavours aren’t as complex in Bombay Mix which usually includes salt and chilli.

Easy Cereal Chevdo

I’ve created a quick, lightened up version of chevdo using a mix of unsweetened breakfast cereal and much less oil than the traditional recipe (which involves a lot of deep frying of everything). It includes all the usual spices for an explosion of flavour without all the deep frying.

The crispy curry leaves and spices are tempered in rapeseed oil and then mixed thoroughly with the cereal, nuts and potato sticks. My recipe makes 1.5kg — it sounds like a lot but in our home, it’s traditional to bag it up and share with friends and family, especially during special occasions.

Serve with masala chai or a cold beer for snacking that goes above and beyond your usual bag of nuts down the pub.

Easy Cereal Chevdo

Easy Cereal Chevdo

A lighter take on Indian trail mix with a surprising ingredient… breakfast cereal! Add a mix of nuts, spices, chilli and crispy curry leaves for a snack you simply can’t stop eating.

  • 375 g unsweetened cereal loops ((such as Cheerios))
  • 375 g unsweetened cornflakes
  • 500 g unsalted baked potato sticks or crisps
  • 150 g whole or halved cashews
  • 85 g whole almonds
  • 85 g whole peanuts
  • 70 ml rapeseed oil
  • 12 g curry leaves ((approx. 50 leaves))
  • 5 green chillies, chopped
  • 50 g sesame seeds
  • 30 g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 25 g raisins or sultanas
  • 30 g coriander leaves
  • 20 g whole fennel seeds
  • 10 g cinnamon ((approx. 1 stick, broken))
  • 2 g cloves ((approx. 15 cloves))
  • 6 g turmeric ((approx. 2 tsp))
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder ((optional))
  • 5 g citric acid
  • 12 g fine salt
  • 20 g sugar
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place the nuts on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

  2. In a very large container (I used a big storage container), combine the cereals, potato sticks and cooled nuts.

  3. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the curry leaves and coriander leaves. Sauté until crispy (about 3 minutes) and remove with a slotted spoon. Allow to cool on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Once cold and crispy, rub between your palms to crush into small flakes.

  4. To the remaining oil, add the green chillies, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves (be careful – these can pop), raisins, coconut and turmeric. Sauté everything, stirring all the time. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat until everything is well combined and toasted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  5. Add the seed and spice mix, the crispy curry leaves and coriander, salt, sugar and citric acid to the cereal and nut mixture. Use a large spoon (or clean hands) to mix everything together very well. Take your time over this to ensure everything gets well coated. I spent a good 15 minutes mixing.

  6. Cover the chevdo with a lid and allow to sit for 24 hours. You can give it a mix now and again to ensure all the cereal and spices mix well and infuse.

  • Don’t substitute lemon/lime juice in place of citric acid as they will add moisture and affect the shelf life of the chevdo.

 

  • You can also add toasted moong daal to the chevdo – I prefer it without though.

 

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Easy Cereal Chevdo

A lighter take on Indian trail mix with a surprising ingredient… breakfast cereal! Add a mix of nuts, spices, chilli and crispy curry leaves for a snack you simply can’t stop eating.




Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Is there anything more Christmassy than the sweet smell of toasted almonds and cherries wafting through the house? It’s an aroma that transports me to my happy place. Were it a fragrance I could wear as perfume, I’d purchase bottles by the dozen. However, standing in front of the oven will have to do for now.

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

If you love all things cherry bakewell, marzipan or frangipane, this is the cake for you. It’s a light and airy vegan sponge with nothing more than a dusting of icing sugar and a crown of fresh cherries. No buttercream, no fuss.

Serve it with masala chai for a hint of spice and all the cosy vibes.

My sponge is made with super fine self-raising cake flour, ground almonds and a little bit of cornflour to hold everything together without eggs. Almond milk, apple cider vinegar and almond oil give it lift and moisture.

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

I’m a sucker for a glacé cherry and I think they work wonderfully in this recipe. Fresh cherries will also work but bear in mind they will seep juice as they bake and this could make the sponge a bit soggy. I recommend baking this cake a day in advance. The flavours and textures get better after 24 hours. You might find it a little claggy if you eat it straight away and the almond flavour won’t be as prominent.

I wrap the cake in cling film or non-stick foil as soon as it comes out of the oven (let it sit in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn it out and wrap). This keeps the outside of the cake nice and soft.

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake

Light and airy vegan sponge, sweet almonds and juicy cherries make for the ultimate afternoon tea cake. No dairy, no eggs.

  • 340 g extra-fine self-raising flour
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 40 g ground almonds
  • 30 g cornflour ((cornstarch))
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 480 ml almond milk, room temperature ((you can also use soy milk))
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 180 ml almond oil ((you can also use rapeseed, sunflower or any other flavourless oil))
  • 60 g glacé cherries ((tossed in 1 tbsp plain flour))
  • 2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 80 g fresh cherries ((to decorate))
  • 2 tsp icing sugar ((to dust))
  • Gold leaf ((to decorate, optional))
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Line the base and sides of a 6-inch x 3-inch cake tin with oil and non-stick baking paper.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, cornflour, sugar and salt.

  3. In a separate jug or glass, mix together the almond milk, almond extract and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes, undisturbed. After 5 minutes, give it a brief whisk.

  4. Add the oil and milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently whisk for 40-60 seconds until smooth. Don’t overbeat the cake batter or you could end up with a tough cake.

  5. At the last minute, fold in the flour-coated glacé cherries with a spatula. Be gentle and swift.

  6. Pour the batter into the cake tin. 

  7. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. The cakw should be springy to the touch.

  8. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Carefully turn the cake out and wrap in foil or cling film. Allow to rest overnight at room temperature.

  9. Decorate with fresh cherries, a dusting of icing sugar and the optional gold leaf.

 

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Vegan Cherry Bakewell Cake




Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks

Along with tofu and soya chunks, one of my favourite vegan sources of protein is seitan. Made from white beans, tofu and vital wheat gluten, my recipe transforms a handful of simple ingredients into the most delicious vegan “chicken”. It has the perfect “shredded chicken” texture and it can be used to make all kinds of vegan dishes from curries and stews, to salads and tandoori-style dishes. I’ve used it to make Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken, Biryani and now these Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

“Hariyali” refers to the beautiful shamrock green colour of the marinade. My recipe puts a glut of coriander and mint to good use and the tandoori-style drumsticks pair perfectly with salad and freshly-made Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha and chapattis.

Even though the marinade is packed full of big, punchy flavours, the spicing is simple using lots of ginger, chillies and garlic. Cashews and coconut yoghurt give the super green marinade body so that it clings on the the “chicken” drumsticks with ease. Both vegetarians and meat eaters will be able to dig in to these party-ready vegan drumsticks so they’re a great option for big gatherings.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

I like to keep batches of vegan seitan chicken in the freezer. I make shreds, pieces, loaves and drumsticks so I can quickly whip some out and marinate them or pop them straight into curries, stir fries and noodles.

Traditionally, Hariyali Chicken is a mouth-watering appetiser which is popular in Northern India and is best enjoyed with red onions or kachumber (a mix of red onions and tomatoes) and chutneys. I like to top them with a handful of juicy pomegranate seeds for a burst of freshness.

Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks

Vegan Hariyali “Chicken” Drumsticks

Made from white beans, tofu and vital wheat gluten, my recipe transforms a handful of simple ingredients into the most delicious vegan “chicken”. Hariyali refers to the beautiful shamrock green colour of the marinade. My recipe puts a glut of coriander and mint to good use and the tandoori-style drumsticks pair perfectly with salad and freshly-made Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha and chapattis.

For the vegan “chicken” drumsticks:

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu (drained)
  • 1 x 400 g tin haricot beans, including the liquid from the tin (you can also use any other white beans such as cannellini beans or butter beans)
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten (I buy mine on Amazon)
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

You will also need:

  • 10-12 flat wooden lollipop sticks
  • Kitchen foil
  • A pressure cooker

For the hariyali marinade paste:

  • 120 g fresh coriander (including stalks)
  • 50 g fresh mint leaves
  • 2 thin green chillies
  • 3 tbsp coconut yoghurt
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp agave nectar

To serve:

  • 80 g pomegranate seeds (to garnish)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into rings (to garnish)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (to garnish)

For the vegan “chicken” drumsticks:

  1. In a blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste, soy sauce, salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste.Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough.
  2. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends.
  3. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Wrap each piece around a wooden lollipop stick into a drumstick-like shape. Next, wrap each “drumstick” very tightly in 2-3 layers of heavy-duty foil, trying to maintain the shape as well as possible. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside.
  4. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your drumsticks into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 45 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. If your pressure cooker is too small to hold all 10 drumsticks, you’ll need to cook them in two batches. In any case, keep the cooking time the same.
  5. Once cool, remove the seitan drumsticks from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours.
  6. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your vegan “chicken” is now ready to marinate.

For the vegan hariyali “chicken” drumsticks:

  1. To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients except the coconut yoghurt in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir the coconut yoghurt in. This will ensure the marinade doesn’t become too runny.
  3. Add the cold vegan chicken drumsticks and carefully coat each one in the marinade.
  4. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also prepare this 24 hours in advance.
  5. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Place the vegan chicken drumsticks on the griddle pan and cook each side until you have charred grill marks all over. Serve with red onion rings and scatter with pomegranate seeds and more coriander.
  • Grilling gives the vegan hariyali “chicken” drumsticks that delicious Indian restaurant-style flavour but you could also bake these in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 10-12 minutes if you prefer. They’re also delicious when cooked on the barbecue.
  • You can prepare the recipe up to stage 7 in the recipe and then pop into a freezer-safe container for later if you want to get ahead on the recipe or make the dish another day.
  • My frozen vegan “chicken” keeps well in the deep freeze for up to 3 months.

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Vegan Hariyali Chicken Drumsticks




Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat. Kathiyawad is a peninsula off the western coast of India, in the region of Saurashtra and it’s where my family come from. Made up of several districts including Porbandar, Junagadh and Jamnagar, many people who live there have farming in their blood and an appetite for simply cooked but flavour-rich fare.

Serve Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney as an accompaniment to any curry (aubergines work particularly well and are traditional fare), Indian breads like millet chapattis (Bajra na Rotla), wheat chapattis both thin and thick (Rotli and Bhakhri) and fenugreek chapattis (Thepla) are the ultimate pairing. It also livens up a bowl of warm, comforting lentil and rice stew (Khichdi). For a less traditional but equally delicious use for Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, stir it into warm vegetables, pasta sauces, stews and soups. Another thing that I like to do is to fold some into mashed sweet potatoes with a little butter. It is truly brilliant when you need instant garlic and chillies when making lazy curries – just dollop a spoonful in to your tempered spices and sauté. You could even beat it with plain yoghurt for a speedy drizzle or dip for chaat, mixed vegetable pulao and even fries!

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is something that’s often made fresh every day, our busy schedules often don’t permit us to pound fresh garlic chutney each day so I have a workaround. I make a big batch of Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney, pile it into a clean, sterilised jar and then each time we use it, I top it off with a layer of oil to ensure it stays fresh in the fridge. The oil and salt in the chutney itself help to preserve the fresh ingredients so it lasts absolutely ages. You only need a small amount of chutney to add big flavour to a meal so it’s worth making it in batches.

This is good old-fashioned farmer food so leave the blender in the cupboard and make it by hand. I like to use a garlic crusher and then mix all the ingredients together but you could also pound it all in a pestle and mortar for a coarse and deliciously-garlicky accompaniment to any traditional Gujarati thali.

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat. 

  • 3 large bulbs fresh garlic, peeled and crushed ((I use a garlic crusher))
  • 400 g Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 120 g fresh coriander ((finely chopped))
  • 270 ml sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  1. Use a wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. I don’t recommend using a blender as that will dramatically change the texture. A coarse finish is what’s traditional and it’s perfect. You could also crush it using a pestle and mortar.

  2. Pile the mixture into a large sterilised jar, packing it down as tightly as you can.

  3. Top with a coating of oil to preserve it and remember to to this every time you use it. Store in the refrigerator and consume within 2 months.

Makes enough to fill a 0.5L clip top jar.

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Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney (No-Cook Garlic Chutney)

Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney is the condiment to rule all condiments. It’s made with a tonne of crushed raw garlic, chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, salt and oil. That’s it. No cooking and no fancy spices. This is simple Kathiyawadi village fare from the heart of Gujarat.




Vegan Kadai Tofu & Vegetables

I get such a sense of satisfaction from emptying the fridge of the last of the vegetables. Knowing we’ve used up every last bit of fresh food without throwing anything out fills me with all the good feelings. A rogue carrot, a handful of mushrooms and a glut of peppers bought two weeks ago, they all have their uses.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Food waste is such a huge problem today and it makes no sense because there are also so many people struggling to feed themselves and their families. Along with supermarkets and food manufacturers, we’re all responsible for ensuring we do what we can to cut down on the amount of food we toss in the bin just because it’s a few days past the date printed on the packet. Tesco have recently announced they will stop printing Best Before dates on some fruit and veg products which is a great start. Having worked on a number of food TV shows in the past, I’ve seen an immense amount of (perfectly good) food being thrown in the bin for the sake of time and storage and it’s just a very sad thing to see.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Along with Pau Bhaji and Biryani, my other raid-the-fridge dinnertime favourite is this Kadai Tofu and Vegetables. You can make it with pretty much any veggies you have leftover in the fridge and it tastes like a restaurant-quality Kadai dish. All the flavour comes from the coriander seed, fennel seed and black peppercorn Kadai masala which is the star of the show. I raided the fridge and found tofu, mixed peppers, mushrooms, spring onions and red onions so that’s what I used but you could also use squash, cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus or mixed root vegetables if you like.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

For a vegetarian but non-vegan option, you could swap the tofu for paneer or even halloumi if that’s what you have. It will work with any non-melting cheese. I’ve also tried it with soya chunks and it turned out great. Adding all the veggies at the same time and cooking them very briefly on a high heat ensures they stay deliciously crunchy but with that smoky, charred flavour you’d expect from a restaurant-style Kadai dish. If you prefer your veggies tender, you can cook them a little longer. I add my chillies whole so I can pop them in my plate but the rest of the family can avoid them if they don’t want theirs too hot.

Serve this dish hot with soft chapattis/phulkas, jalebi paratha or simply with jeera rice, salad and a cooling cucumber raita.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Vegan Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

The Indian restaurant favourite, Kadai Paneer gets a vegan makeover with this smokey and fragrant tofu and vegetable version. Leave the veggies crunchy for a burst of freshness. Serve with hot chapattis or paratha.

For the kadai masala:

  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi

For the curry:

  • 300 g firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole green chillies
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 large red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 peppers, cut into wedges
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and quartered
  • 100 g button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint, to garnish
  1. To make the kadai masala, toast all the whole spices in a dry pan. Once they’re very light brown and aromatic, transfer to a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind. Set aside.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan. Toss the tofu cubes in the cornflour and add them to the hot oil. Cook on all sides until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan used to cook the tofu and add the cumin seeds. Allow the cumin to sizzle and then add the ginger and chillies. Cook for 30 seconds and then add all the vegetables, 3/4 of the kadai masala, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Cook on a very high heat for 5 minutes, allowing some of the veggies to scorch.

  4. Add the tofu and give it a mix, taking care not to break up the tofu pieces. Cook for a further 3 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkling over the remaining kadai masala and mint sprigs.

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Kadai Tofu and Vegetables




Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

Mung beans, plus water, plus 72 hours is my kind of maths. Watching the process of mung beans cracking and sprouting over three days has fascinated me since the age of seven and it still fascinates me now I’m 30.

The shrill pitter patter of the mung beans being poured into a bowl and the swoosh and clatter of them being washed and rinsed reminds me of waves lapping the shore at Bamburi Beach, Mombasa. It’s a place where I’ve had a bucket load of happy food memories.

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

First the mung beans bloom; They’re fat and full of water. Next, their sage skins crack and reveal the creamy white of the inside, rather like Japanese Kintsugi. After a few days and minimal TLC the mung beans begin to sprout delicate tendrils which get longer over the span of 24 hours. Full of goodness and earthy crunch, the mung beans are ready to eat.

Make your own sprouted mung beans by washing them and soaking for 24 hours. Once they’re plump, drain the water from them and scatter them into a colander lined with kitchen paper. Cover with another piece of kitchen paper and leave them for 48 hours, trickling a little water on the top piece of kitchen paper after the first 24 hours. Keep them on the countertop at room temperature. After 72 hours, they will be ready to eat. You can store them in the fridge for 24 hours.

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

You can pack the sprouted mung beans into lunchboxes, toss them through salads, stir-fry them with spices or eat them straight up with a spoon. I like to pack some protein into my breakfasts and my go-to ingredients to do this are sprouted mung beans, tofu, cheese and edamame. This dish puts sprouted mung beans to good use.

My lightly stir-fried vermicelli noodles are tossed with sprouted mung beans, crackled mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric for a big, punchy breakfast number you’ll cook again and again. Transform it into a filling lunch or dinner with the addition of pan-fried tofu.

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles

My lightly stir-fried vermicelli noodles are tossed with sprouted mung beans, crackled mustard seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric for a big, punchy breakfast number you’ll cook again and again. Transform it into a filling lunch or dinner with the addition of pan-fried tofu.

  • 150 g sprouted mung beans
  • 350 g dried vermicelli noodles
  • 2 medium carrots ((peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler))
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 3-4 fresh green chillies ((slit))
  • 1 medium onion ((diced))
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander ((chopped))
  1. Cook the vermicelli according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Add in the asafoetida, curry leaves (stand back, they will splutter), fresh and dried chillies. Sauté momentarily and then add the onion and ginger. Cook the onion until translucent.
  3. Next, add in the sprouted mung beans, carrots, turmeric and salt. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Finally, add in the cooked vermicelli noodles and toss to combine. Garnish with fresh coriander.

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Sprouted Mung Bean Breakfast Noodles




Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk with Bean Fritters)

What are your favourite food smells? For me, you can’t get any better than veggies roasting over an open fire. The flavours of corn, aubergines, peppers and okra and onions are all heightened when you introduce them to flames. I have such precious memories of holidaying in Mombasa, melting away in the smell of fire-roasted maize on the cob, mohogo and sweet potatoes. These, combined with the lingering smell of hot coals, gasoline and frying potatoes in the salty, coastal air transports me to a happy place that’s almost as comforting as the welcoming warmth of my bed at home.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

I’m lucky enough to have grown up with three cultures; British, Indian and Kenyan. I grew up in the 90s, lived in an all-white area and was forever told that my house/packed lunch/hair always “smells like curry” by my peers. If that wasn’t odd enough, I was also the only vegetarian at school (remember this was before “plant-based” and “vegan” diets were mainstream and instafamous). When my lunches weren’t cucumber sandwiches and crisps, they were eyeballed with a mixture of curiosity and fear. Ghee-cooked thepla, bateta nu shaak, dahi and samosas. Those lunches were always the most delicious. By the time I got to 15, I stopped giving a toss about what others thought, cooked shaak-rotli in my home ec classes and often came home empty handed because my friends had eaten it all. My parents were flabbergasted.

The self-conscious episodes of my youth have made me incredibly proud of my triple-cultured upbringing. Being a British Indian with East African roots is what’s made me who I am today. We ate the best, most varied meals and connected over food in the most wonderful way. Each meal was a talking point; it had a story and there were facts, techniques and anecdotes behind it. Even now, we talk about our favourite family dishes daily.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

British sweetcorn is abundant at this time of year and we’ve eaten it in so many different ways over the past two weeks. Now although I could snaffle an entire cob of buttery, roasted corn every evening, I wanted to share something special with you.

My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top. The bhajiya soak up some of the coconut milk like dumplings, yet still have a crispy, cragginess I adore. If you like Gujarati-style Kidney Beans & Sweetcorn nu Shaak, you will love this dish.

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over and in restaurants. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). The Makai Paka is vegan and usually incorporates large pieces of corn on the cob simmered in coconut milk but I wanted to create a version you need only a bowl and spoon to enjoy. Also, stripping the corn kernels off the cob after its been roasted is such a satisfying process.

The spices in this dish are simple, as with all East African dishes. Traditionally, you should let the ingredients do the talking and use spices sparingly to enhance them. The only rule is to balance sweet, salty, hot and sour, as is also the case with traditional Gujarati cooking.

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top.

For the Makai Paka:

  • 3 large whole sweetcorn ((you can also use 600g tinned or frozen corn))
  • 1 medium potato ((cubed into 1cm pieces))
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 350 ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt ((or to taste))

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  • 400 g cooked kidney beans, drained and washed ((I use tinned))
  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 green chilli ((chopped))
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder ((optional))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying

For the Makai Paka:

  1. Roast the sweetcorn over a flame on your gas cooker. You can also place it under the grill or on a barbecue until it has black spots all over. If you’re using tinned or frozen corn, dry roast them in a smoking-hot non-stick pan. Allow to cool.
  2. Strip the kernels from the cob and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, add the water, coconut milk, chillies, garlic, turmeric and salt. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes and corn. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and coriander and remove from the heat.

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  1. Heat a wok or deep pan with oil to 160°C/320°F. Use a teaspoon to carefully drop small portions of the batter into the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy.
  2. Serve the Makai Paka in bowls and top with the Maharagwe Bhajiya.

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Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)




Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Hot, sour, sweet and salty; These are the characteristics of the Gujarati dishes I grew up eating. From spongy Khaman Dhokla, to Sev Tameta nu Shaak, chickpea flour plays an integral role in the make up of regional Gujarati food. It’s used for batters and bhajiya (across India), as the basis for Pudla (chickpea flour pancakes) and as a thickener for soups like the yoghurt-based favourite, Kadhi. One thing all of these dishes have in common is that each one is famous for being hot, sour, sweet and salty.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Another savoury Gujarati snack that’s known for having these explosive and delicious flavours is Khandvi. It’s a village-style rolled pasta made with chickpea flour and yoghurt (in this case, soy yoghurt) which is always served with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies crackled in hot oil. The sound and smell of the smoking oil hitting the smooth surface of the pasta rolls gives me all the feels. The texture is soft, silky and it melts in your mouth, unlike the wheat pasta we’re all so used to. If you’re a pasta lover on the lookout for something a little bit more unusual, you’ve got to try these. Or maybe you remember your grandma making these for you when you were a kid…

I’ve always been fascinated by how food travels. All cultures have their own versions of pasta, bread, rice dishes, dumplings, pancakes and so much more. While Indian street food trends are currently all about Pasta Dosa and Maggi noodles, a brief look back into rich regional cuisines will reveal pasta-like treasures such as these Khandvi rolls, Daal Dhokli, Sev and Gathia. And boy, are they good.

I love Khandvi it because it requires very few ingredients to make and it’s also one of those rare Gujarati Naasto dishes (tea-time snacks) that isn’t fried. As much as I adore Bateta Vada (fried spicy potato balls), I know it’s not a treat I’ll scoff every day. These on the other hand, I’d go for Khandvi any time, any day.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Here are some things to bear in mind when making Khandvi (grandma style) as well as some new school tips for getting your noodle sheets rolled thinly and evenly.

  • Use a blender for a smooth, cohesive Khandvi batter. Lumps aren’t wanted here. Wait, are lumps ever wanted anywhere?
  • Cook the Khandvi batter in a non-stick pan, low and slow. It thickens pretty quickly so you want to give yourself time to get those pesky lumps out.
  • Use a silicone spatula or whisk to stir when cooking the Khandvi batter.
  • Pay close attention to the consistency of the batter. It’s ready when the batter no longer falls off the spatula when lifted and begins to set on the sides of the pan. Think peanut butter consistency. To check if the batter is ready to spread, you can spread a little bit over a steel plate or piece of foil, allow it to set for a few minutes and then see if it rolls up easily. If not, cook it a little longer.
  • This one is super important… You need to work quickly! Khandvi batter doesn’t wait around. Once it reaches the right consistency, it must be spread very quickly. It helps to have your foil sheets ready on the work surface before you even start cooking the batter.
  • A lot of recipes call for the surface of the foil or thali you’re spreading the batter on to be greased. Do this VERY lightly otherwise the batter is going to slide around and clump up like no man’s business. This will make it impossible to spread.
  • To spread the khandvi, I use a silicone spatula. Once it’s spread as evenly as I can get it (and still hot), I cover it with a piece of cling film and then use a rolling pin to roll it as thin as I can get it, about 1-2mm.
  • If you have one, use a pizza cutter to slice your set Khandvi – it’s so much easier and neater than trying to use a knife.
  • This recipe is for Vegan Khandvi and uses soy yoghurt but the traditional version just uses regular yoghurt.
  • Serve the Khandvi at room temperature simply by themselves, with masala chai or your favourite chutney.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Tightly rolled, bite-sized pieces of pasta made using chickpea flour and soy yoghurt. They hot, sweet, sour, salty and so delicious. Khandvi is a popular snack from Gujarat, western India.

For the vegan khandvi rolls:

  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 280 ml cold water
  • 285 g soy yoghurt ((such as Alpro))
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 20 g ginger ((grated))
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida ((optional – omit for gluten-free Khandvi))
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

For the tempering:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2-3 thin chillies ((pierced))
  • 2 tbsp fresh or desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp freshly-chopped coriander leaves

To make the khandvi:

  1. Blend all the ingredients for the khandvi rolls together to make a smooth paste.

  2. Place two large sheets of aluminium foil on a heat-resistant surface (about 1M long sheets) and grease them with oil VERY lightly.

  3. Pour the batter mixture into a non-stick pan and cook it over a low flame for 8-10 minutes, until it’s the consistency of thick, smooth peanut butter. Keep stirring constantly to stop it from settling at the bottom and creating unwanted lumps. I find the best tool for this is either a silicone whisk or silicone spatula.

  4. Working very quickly, spread half the batter on top of the first sheet of foil. Spread it thinly and evenly using a silicone spatula. Place a piece of cling film on top. Repeat for the second half of the batter on top of the second piece of foil. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough evenly between the cling film and foil. It should be 1-2mm thick. Allow it to set for 5 minutes.

  5. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim away any scrappy, uneven edges (those are for you to enjoy). Slice the Khandvi into long strips, all about the same width. Use your fingers to roll them up tightly. Repeat for all the Khandvi sheets and arrange on to a platter or plate.

For the tempering:

  1. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies and cook until the mustard seeds have finished popping. Pour this over the rolled Khandvi. Garnish with chopped coriander and coconut.

  • Serve the Khandvi at room temperature.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.

Find some video tutorials on making this Khandvi over on my Instagram Stories.

Click the image below to Pin this recipe to your Pinterest board.

Tightly rolled, bite-sized pieces of pasta made using chickpea flour and soy yoghurt. They hot, sweet, sour, salty and so delicious. Khandvi is a popular snack from Gujarat, western India.




Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Yes, you read the title correctly and no, this is not a drill. I’ve been experimenting with my Vegan Butter Chicken recipe for a VERY long time. After dozens of iterations, I’m finally ready and so excited to share it with you.

There were multiple components to get right here; the seitan chicken needed to be firm, pullable and flavoursome without being overpowering or overly spiced. The colour needed to be light inside, not brown. Next, the sauce. Perfect Butter Chicken sauce is the holy grail of modern North Indian cooking and everyone has their own way of doing it. It’s one of the most popular restaurant dishes around the world because of its subtlety and simplicity and it’s not always easy to find that balance.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

For me, the tomato sauce has to be silky smooth, lightly spiced, a little bit sour but with a touch of sweetness too. I like using aromatic spices in small quantities – it makes all the difference increamy curries. In my Vegan Butter Chicken, you can pick out heady cardamom, citrusy coriander seeds and caramel-like kasoori methi whilst still enjoying a mild curry the whole family will love.

From start to finish, the dish might seem like a labour of love and that’s because it absolutely is. The stages include mixing the seitan “dough”, pressure cooking it, chilling it overnight, making the Vegan Butter Chicken base sauce and blending it before finally simmering everything together.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

I’ve switched the butter in my Vegan Butter Chicken with almond butter which lends a rich, creamy texture to the fresh tomato sauce. You could also use cashew butter if you prefer that. A touch of coconut milk mellows out the spices and finishes the dish perfectly. I’d highly recommend using a high-powered blender, such a NutriBullet to blend the sauce. For the silkiest sauce possible and a true restaurant-style Butter Chicken finish, pass the sauce through a sieve or food mill to strain away unwanted tomato seeds and skin, as well as any coarse spices. You don’t want rogue spices ruining your heavenly Vegan Butter Chicken experience.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

If like me, you need a Vegan Butter Chicken experience once a week, you can always double up on quantities and stow it away in the freezer to assemble later. I always keep seitan pieces in a ziplock-type bag in the freezer (you can keep it frozen for up to 3 months). You can also freeze sauce portions. The sauce can also be used for other curries, such as butter tofu or mixed veggies. The protein-packed seitan pieces are great in stir fries, salads, pasta and wraps if you’d like to try something different with them. I’ll be posting some other recipes using it soon.

Kudos goes to the brilliant Skye Michael Conroy and The Seitan Appreciation Society on Facebook who are generous enough to share their wonderful passion, tips and recipes. The addition of beans to this recipe was inspired by the Avocados and Ales Chickwheat recipe. Thank you.

Vegan Seitan Chicken

I’m so excited to share this with you. I hope you love it as much as I do. Let me know if you make it, I’d love to hear how you got on.

Vegan Seitan Chicken

This firm, textured vegan chicken is packed with protein and goodness. It’s made using tofu, beans and the magic ingredient… vital wheat gluten. Cube it, shred it and slice it for curries, stir fries, pasta, salad and wraps.

For the vegan seitan chicken

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu ((drained))
  • 1 400g tin haricot beans, inc. the liquid from the tin ((you can also use any other white beans, such as cannellini beans or butter beans))
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten ((I buy mine on Amazon))
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp white miso paste ((you can also use 1 tsp MSG if you can tolerate it))
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste (or msg), salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste. 

  2. Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough. 

  3. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends. 

  4. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and cut it in half so you have two pieces. Wrap each “loaf” very tightly in 3-4 layers of heavy-duty foil. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside. 

  5. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your seitan into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 40 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. If your pressure cooker is too small to hold both parcels, you’ll need to cook them separately. 

  6. Once cool, remove the seitan parcels from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. 

  7. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your seitan is now ready to cube, shred or slice, season and use in your favourite vegan chicken recipe. 

  • You can freeze the seitan pieces in a ziplock-style bag for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

I’ve veganized one of North India’s most famous curries, Butter Chicken. Also known as Murgh Makhani, it’s known for having a lusciously-smooth and aromatic sauce laced with mild, fragrant spices. Seitan pieces replace the chicken in this recipe for a high-protein main course that pairs perfectly with roti, laccha paratha or garlic naan.

  • 1 kg seitan ((cubed))
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the seitan chicken marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder ((you could also use paprika for a milder flavour))
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic ((minced))
  • 2 tsp ginger ((minced))
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds ((ground))
  • 150 ml full-fat coconut milk

For the vegan butter chicken sauce:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp garlic ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp ginger ((chopped))
  • 1/4 tsp nigella seeds
  • 2-3 thin red chillies ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
  • 400 g fresh tomatoes ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 200 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi ((rubbed between your palms until fine))
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar or agave
  • Salt ((to taste))
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander ((chopped))

To marinate the seitan pieces:

  1. Combine the ingredients for the seitan marinade until smooth. Add the seitan chicken pieces and gently mix until coated. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and carefully add the seitan chicken pieces. Cook until golden on all sides. You might need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Place the pieces onto a plate and set aside whilst you make the sauce.

To make the vegan butter chicken sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the nigella seeds and chopped onion. Sauté until translucent. Next, add in the ginger, garlic, chillies and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes.

  2. Add in the fresh tomatoes, ground coriander seeds, garam masala, ground cardamom seeds, almond butter, coconut milk, kasoori methi and brown sugar or agave. Give everything a thorough stir and cover with a lid. Cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

  3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve, back into the same pan. Season with salt to taste. Switch the heat back on and add the golden seitan chicken pieces. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on. Garnish with fresh coriander, more kasoori methi and a splash of coconut milk, if desired.

  • You can freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. Defrost and room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

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Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken