Radha Krishna Bhavan – Tooting , a review

On a dreary Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago after my weekly Indian shop form Dadu’s at Tooting, not feeling particularly in the mood to cook , we walked into Radha Krishna Bhavan for an early lunch . The place was open and barring one table we could pick and choose where to sit , unusual for a Saturday afternoon , little did I know that minutes later the place would be buzzing with activity.

 

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This is a sea food lovers heaven with authentic ,well balanced south Indian cuisine. We ordered a starter of spicy Vadas – flat, fried lentil dough spiced with green chillies and onion , this was crunchy and delicious and just the thing needed on a boring Saturday afternoon when the weather was playing traunt ! (£2.95)

 

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The first thing I noticed was the many sticker on the glass outside with various ratings from the Good Food Guide, Square Meal etc  and a bright yellow mini menu saying ”3 courses for just £5.95′ ! Super ! That definitely drew us in.

 

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But we decided to go a la Carte and ordered for some Kerala Fried Rice (£4.50)and Kerala Fish curry (£7.50) .The fish curry was yum but the portion size was a bit small to share , same with the rice and we found the rice had more than a generous use of oil but it was delicious all the same.

 

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Hungry for more we decided to experiment with some Vellappam – a pancake made of fermented rice with ground coconut and coconut milk with a  lacy egg like appearance . These were light yet  filling and 2 panckakes per dish came with the curry at a combined price (£7.95 ) .The pancakes were mopped up with the accompanying  curry –  a spicy King Fish Malabar.

 

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With no room left for dessert after this we decided to skip and just get ice lollies on our way home 😉

 

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I’d definitely recommend you visit Radha Krishna Bhavan if you are looking for delicious and authentic  flavours of South India at budget rates in a clean , welcoming atmosphere with quick service head (opposite Sainsburys on Tooting High Street)

 

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*This review was written by me of my own accord . I bore the expense of this meal. All views  expressed as always are my own and no monetary compensation of any sort by provided to me by either the restaurant or any other third party.All opinions expressed are valid for this particular visit .

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London’s Hottest Food Trends with Loyd Grossman

Excited to know that I would be introduced to Londons Hottest food trends at an ”Evening of flavour” I made my way to the Underground Cookery School –   @cookinglesson . I love going to events hosted at this venue and I seem to have developed a great comfort level with the warm staff who always make our evenings special.

 

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The mention of Loyd Grossman sauces – @LoydFood #GetFlavour- brings to mind their telly ad showing  the man himself as a young boy keen savouring food seasoned with sauces made by him and that always comes back to when I see the bottles on supermarket shelves, as it did when I saw a huge table full of various jars and sachets of  their cooking sauces .

Cru Coffee aka Cru Kafe –   @crukafe , helped set the mood for the evening with their rather nice looking coffee based cocktails and many of the bloggers even tried their hand at mixing some of the cocktails , but I was already under the grips of a massive hay fever attack around that time and steered clear of the cocktail counter, although I must admit it took all of me to not steal a sip or two off my friends glass – darned Hayfever …. few months of sunshine with an opportunity to drink cold beer and eat plenty of ice cream and this mad Hayfever keeps me away from all of it …

Predicting food trends is probably as or even more difficult than predicting who stocks will rise or fall in the stock market ,but The Food People @thefoodpeople  – seem to have it all figured out and they shared some of their research with us foodies that evening.Their research also takes into consideration what the twitterati and food bloggers talk about,and is an indication of the future of food blogging in a way me thinks..

A staggering 37000 food outlets cater to London’s hungry tummies alone, which is quite a number,one that makes one wonder what tricks one would need to have up their sleeves in order to survive and stand out from the crowd?! So what exactly are the Hottest Food Trends that will dominate  London city ,and rule the cities taste buds?

The folks at The Food People shared  :

  • Burgers ,fries and all things American are here to stay including the rather fantastic cronut! ( Cronuts,Duffins and now Crodough – what WILL people come up with next ?!) (I had a huge craving for sinking my teeth into a juicy burger with smoky crispy bacon yesterday and I did just that by cajoling my colleagues – they didn’t need much coaxing really ,  to go to our fav high street burger haunt – I guess that says a lot about how trends affect our choices huh? )
  • The magic of Mediterranean cuisine is not going to fade anytime soon, so lovers of Greek and Lebanese food – rejoice!
  • Mash – ups ( think ”Ramen burgers” (!!) and ”Nacho lasagne” ) are hot right now too, classic meets new age mantra in a savoury war with gastronomically pleasing results – who can complain?

Top Trending styles are :

  • Small plate or tapas style dining with loads of opportunity to sample various dishes and have sharing platters doing the rounds. I can safely say I like the sound of this trend the most.( I spent yesterday evening at an authentic Spanish tapas bar and I can easily say that it is something I enjoyed thoroughly and my opinion is no way skewed by nature of having consumed over 6 glasses of the most delicious Sangria I’ve ever had!)
  • Meaty, smoky, spicy and moorish – no not the only BBQ  food just plain and simple ”Dude Food” has charmed not just the dudes !

The flavour trending  in 2014 is CHILLI – whether fiery or  sweet, Chilli that is the STAR of the trend wagon! Now that one made me smile! ( I love using chillies in my cooking, think it has to do with how we prepare and relish our food back in India ,where chilli powder has a place of prominence in our beautiful round spice boxes which are a must in every Indian kitchen. So enamoured am I that even though I have very less space in my kicthen the size of a postage stamp , I still went ahead and  purchased 2 small potted chilli plants one with bright yellow chillies and one with with deep aubergine coloured ones to keep on my kitchen window sill. They taste so good, promise to have them feature in my recipe posts soon! )

Future Trending cuisines are going to be Persian ( fresh,light and plenty of choice for vegetarians! ) , Israeli ( Lucky me I have an autographed copy of Ottolenghi’s book ,thanks to FBC this year!) and Greek ( Not the heavy ,oily stuff that been churned out but the beautiful,authentic flavours that feel like summer on your plate!)

 

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John Quilter also known as the ‘Food Busker’ – @JohnQuilter – then went on to cook some brilliant fusion food for us using Loyd Grossman cooking sauces , all the while entertaining us and telling us how he has added his own imaginative touch to all the dishes based on the food trends.This fusion of food and format came onto our plates as :

Lobster Thermidor with juicy ,buttery lobster in a cheesy pot with a small amount of samphire for that salty taste of the sea.

Korean Fried Chicken topped in a thin ,drippy batter infused with vodka which lends a fabulously crisp quality to the coating ,so unlike thick bulky batters that we see otherwise.These were topped with ribbons of crunchy spring onion which were dipped in ice cold water to give it a sharp crispy edge.These vanished off the plates as they were passed around , I lost count of how many wings I gobbled that evening 😉

 

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We also had Sashimi, Iberico Schnitzel and oxtail sliders. All finished by a show stopping Panacotta with just the right wobble beautiful vanilla specks all over with a side of peaches smothered in amaretto and a crumbly sprinkling of buttery crushed biscuits.

 

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So Londoners , those food trends should keep up in the know of how the food scene in our vibrant ,multi-cultural melting pot will be tickling our taste buds. Thanks to the ‘Food Busker’ we relished food that has yet to hit city restaurant menus created using the well researched and flavourful sauces from Loyd Grossman. So next time you are in a mood for a culinary adventure and shudder at the thought of cooking from scratch ,confidently reach out for a jar of one of these sauces knowing that it can create something as brilliant as the Korean Fried Chicken! ( Need an easy recipe to make some yourself this long weekend? Give me a shout in the comments below and will send you the recipe that was shared with us ,in a flash !)

Check out what Helen had to say about the event go here here.

Disclaimer: With Thanks to Loyd Grossman Sauces for a fabulous ‘ evening of flavour’ with the Food Busker – John Quilter. Many thanks to Cru Coffee and the efficient team at Underground Cookery School.

 

Amani – Fine Dining, Indian Style at Chelsea Harbour

Who can resist an invitation to dine at a fine dining restaurant that faces Chelsea Harbour, make that Indian cuisine and its a double whammy.So come Thursday evening and hubster and me made our way to Chelsea Harbour, just one stop on the train from West Brompton it was a very quick journey for me from home.Bonus – time saved on commute is time spent sipping more wine 😉

We were seated at a table in the corner but still with a fairly good view of the harbour ,thanks to the weather playing spoil sport on us we couldn’t sit the balcony and risk our popadum’s flying out of the plate like little flying saucers could we? !

The friendly Manager Azad got us settled in with some white wine and our huge mixed meat and seafood platter.Hardly had we started with working our way through it that we had another platter on our table – the Bombay Street Food Platter with Paani Puri, Samsosa Chaat and Aloo patties . This mixed chaat -very Mumbai street food style platter certainly got us smiling.Its been ages since I had good, tasty pani puri and sadly not many places in London can get anywhere remotely close to the mouth watering taste of typical pani puri dripping and heaving with loads of mashed potato bits and spices floating around in ice cold spicy ,tangy flavoured liquid watery taste heaven …ummm Elco Pani Puri how I miss thee!

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This is the first time ever I have tasted this hybrid version of Pani puri, with no spiced watery chutney ,which is the norm but they were still tasty, I could have done with more pani puri on that platter and done without the samosa and papri chaat altogether but then that would destroy the purpose of a tasting platter wouldn’t it?

The mixed meat and seafood platter was superb with the lamb chops totally stealing the show but the galouti kebabs were equally good , only I haven’t had them before in London…even better .These minced red meat kebabs in a complex mix of spices that is great dipped in the tamarind chutney.

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R- L : Fish Cakes in batter deep fried,Tandoori King Prawns in a rich cheesy,creamy yoghurt marinade,fresh green spiced chicken,spicy red grilled chicken from the tandoor,Lamb Chops in a marinade which has seeped deep into the meat not charred but done just perfect – smoky,spicy,soft – basically perfect,Galouti Kebabs served with a side of cucumber and yoghurt dip, green mint coriander chutney and tamarind chutney.

The chef really did go a bit overboard and spoilt us royally, this spread of mains is proof that he was all set to impress us , all guns blazing. But honestly after I sunk my teeth into those lamb chops I didn’t need any more convincing that they know their spices and how to work them just right.

So spicy portuguese lamb curry,butter chicken ,dal makhani , fish curry with steamed rice, pulav and butter naan in full portions arrived at our table. In fact there was so much suddenly that we had to move and occupy 2 large tables! Ha!

Now for me faced with fish curry and steamed rice which is a meal that makes me blind to anything else I had to taste the lamb curry for as you who read me regularly have learnt by now, is a huge weakness- really huge . Humm Catch 22 situation? Yup!

So had to tear myself away from the hot fish curry sending invisible hands towards me to draw me in, I served us some dal makhni and butter chicken with the naan. I dread ordering naan in London because it is absolutely disgusting having to chew hard naam that is thick and lumpy but this naan was so light with papery layers and melt in your mouth delicious! How do you do it guys? want to let me in on the recipe? Think Not!

The butter chicken had loads of kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves ( much more than say Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe would ask you to add into your butter chicken),which cleverly balance the otherwise sweet gravy, this is almost how old Delhi style butter chicken is supposed to be , except its really easy to get it terribly wrong and an overtly sweet version means either leftovers have been given mew life by adding an onion puree or the chef tried some experiment that well umm went wrong. This butter chicken is great with the pulav we ate ,the pulav had a generous topping of freshly fried thin slender slices of onion sitting temptingly on the top and it was not an oily heavy pulav which is again a really good sign.

The dal makhani (black lentils in a thick gravy with loads of fresh cream) was very fresh and had a distinct twist to it, the deep fried garlic and onion gave an alternating crunchy and delicious punch as we worked our way through it with ease mopping large mouthfuls with the soft and layered  naan, the thick gravy hiding in the folds of the naan just about as close to a moment of sheer foodgasm.

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R- L : Spicy n Hot Portuguese Lamb Curry, Dal Makhani – which you see in the centre, Butter Chicken ,Fish Curry,Butter Naan.

Unfortunately by the time we got to the fish curry we were quite full but we couldn’t just let it sit there staring at us begging to be eaten! Now the creamy coconut thick gravy and the fresh fish which itself was perfectly cooked and tasty in itself was much sweeter than we make our curries in Konkan, I need atleast 4 small potently HOT green chillies in one cup of freshly grated coconut and coriander marinade for my curries. This fish curry nevertheless is very satisfying and perfectly paired with steaming hot basmati rice ,I suggest you abandon your spoons ,roll up sleeves and go desi style to truly enjoy this curry and rice. Dont worry if you muck up your wine glass with grubby fingers, Azad and team won’t mind and am sure the guests at neighbouring table will kick themselves for not ordering themselves a portion of this fish curry 😉

We had to stop eating now and I think we had slipped into a coma of carb induced happiness but Azad wasn’t going to let go of us just yet! The mention of hot ,freshly prepared gulab jamuns can make any self respecting foodie go weak in the knees surely? Throw in a rare find – Thandai ice cream and I use my old excuse that ice cream and gulab jamun can find a tiny little space in my full tummy and hide around other morsels of food which have just found their way inside. Hummm – gluttony? Of course! Guilty as charged!

The bang of crushed pepper in the cold Thandai ice cream with the warm gulab jamun is so so good. what is that you just asked? Oh yes – let me tell you what Thandai back home is all about – this dry fruit and saffron flavoured milk  is traditionally prepared as an offering to Lord Shiva during the festival of Mahashivratri. During Holi however a rather notorious concoction is brewed by adding lots of crushed cannabis leaves to make what is called Bhaang – it is infamous for getting people drunk after they drink large glasses one after another thinking that it is nothing but an innocent little milk shake and KABOOM it suddenly hits you like a bolt from the blue and snap! An internal switch gets to repeat and whatever it is that you were doing or worse saying when the switch flipped ,its pretty much what you will continue to do on repeat mode for say the next few hours;) Sounds like fun,no? But relax this Thandai ice cream is all innocent and yumm with no naughty additives – alas 😉

It was good to see many other guests also working their way through the meat platter and the happy clinking of glasses around us. It was wonderful seeing the surrounding buildings with soft yellow lights throwing long dancing shadows on the now dark and beautiful waters of the Harbour. The madness and pace that is London seemed to fade somewhere far away.

If you looking for a fresh new place to get your Indian fix and would like to do it in style then head to Amani at Chelsea Harbour for a relaxing meal ,authentic Indian cuisine with touches of coastal Indian flavours thrown in,and  stunning views of Chelsea Harbour thrown in free!

For those guests put up at The Windermere Hotel,especially this is an absolute treat, just turn a corner and your inside Amani,kills the headache of thinking about transport back to your room and allows you to have more wine – guilt free.

*With thanks to Amani  for the invite and to Azad and his team for a fab evening.No monetary compensation was provided for this post.All views expressed are my own.

 

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Square Meal

Chicken and Red Lentil Stew – a complete ONE POT meal (Suran & Red Lentil Stew)

There are times when I really want a hearty meal but don’t have the energy to stand and cook an elaborate meal. Its a times like that I turn to One pot meals, served with a warm baguette it is a filling , healthy and easy and quick to meal option which NO compromise on taste whatsoever! Moreover its home made , has flavour and is a satisfying experience to make .

I had been meaning to try and cook a stew using red lentils (masoor – Marathi for red lentil )for some time , they are my most favourite lentils and I am ALWAYS stocked up on a large 2 kilo pack of dried red lentils split and without skin , from my local Indian grocery shop at Tooting called Dadu’s. Also since all the other fresh ingredients were procured from my local LIDL this dish is GREAT value for money too! Am totally in love with the FRESH fruits and vegetable selection at LIDL right now.I bought some bright red long crunchy sweet peppers, a pack of medium hot chillies, fresh chicken breast fillets, a very cute packet of garlic, mixed pack of cauliflower and broccoli florets and a packet of gorgeous looking Shallots.( I have always wondered why the lentils are called RED when clearly they are a  lovely light orange colour !)

I love inventing a recipe as I go along and when I got my vegetable tray out on Sunday morning I had all these lovely vegetables staring at me and I just threw in what I thought would taste good together and VOILA ! A Steaming hot , thick, wholesome and tasty chicken and red lentil broth was born.

I love having some baby potatoes in stock and they are always handy in a stew , besides being quite the self proclaimed ”queen of curries” I always am well stocked on Indian spices so bay leaves and cinnamon sticks aplenty in my kitchen larder – oh yes

Please don’t feel put off by the ingredient list , trust me they marry well together in the taste department and the end result is well worth your time and effort!

The biggest bonus of this stew recipe is that you can create your OWN vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with Quorn or if you don’t for some reason like or have never tried or have no access to Quorn then try replacing the chicken fillets with  Suran/Elephant Foot Yam, it can be chopped into big chunks and it takes up flavours very easily. But with the yam the cooking time drastically will reduce as it can go from just right and chewy to soft, goeey or totally disappear into the stew ! My aai (mum) always used suran as a meat replacement and marinated it well in the spices we would use for chicken or lamb and made a thick gravy dish with it, when I was younger she has managed to fool me many times over thinking it was mutton 🙂 – Aai I miss you and all the food you cook – sigh…. no India trip in sight anytime soon 😦

(Dangerous though it looks the elephant foot yam is very very tasty! )

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Cross Section:

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Above 2 Images Credit here

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Serves:4  Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cooking time:35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentils / Massor Dal -3/4th cup
  • Chicken breast mini fillets – 750gm / Comparable Quorn fillets
  • 5-6 baby potatoes
  • 6 shallots approx 200gm
  • 2 large sweet and crunchy pointed Red Peppers – approx 200gm
  • 2 short medium hot chillies
  • 2-3 bay leaves dry
  • red chilli flakes as per taste
  • sea slat as per taste
  • 1 veg stock pot
  • 3 dried red kashmir chillies
  • 1 large roll of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • handful of Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
  • 2 large tbsp of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder
  • Sugar 2 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the red lentil in water to soften them so they cook more quickly then get on with all the other chopping and cutting prep’s.
  • Chop the shallots lengthwise.
  • In a large stew pot or huge saucepan heat the oil and add the bay leaves,cinnamon stick and dry red kashmiri chillies which I have a very big packet of and am trying to finish , they only add colour and no heat so if you don’t have these you can totally leave them out – no harm done here.
  • Now add red chilli powder and sugar and just when the sugar starts to caramelise add the shallots and shallow fry them till they reduce and begin to turn a lovely brown colour.
  • Now add the 2 large tbsp’s  of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped and stir till it mixes well with the shallots.
  • Add the roughly chopped long red peppers and baby potatoes and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  • Add the washed chicken fillets/suran (elephant yam), soaked red lentils with the water it was soaked in.
  • Add the washed and roughly chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower florets and now add enough water.
  • I did not measure the water I added but add enough to get a nice thick stew , while the ingredients are cooking together on a low flame ,feel free to top up with more water as the lentils easily soak up as much water as you feed it with. Having said that you don’t want to end up with a watery stew so don’t add more than 3/4th cup at one go.
  • Season with sea salt , I love MALDON SEA SALT which I use and I have a few packets ALWAYS stashed away, great n salads it is!
  • Then sprinkle red chilli flakes and gently place a veg stock cube on top on this lovely pot of goodness bubbling away. I prefer the KNORR veg stock cubes , they have a great bouquet of flavour and are very handy at times when am exhausted and need to quickly cook up something tasty!
  • Stir well, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame.
  • The red lentil will froth as they cook not to worry simply stir now and then and mix well, don’t allow the stew to get too thick we want enough lovely gravy to slurp this stew and dip the baguette into!

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I was so hungry that I didn’t click any photos of my lovely fresh ingredients but it was a brilliantly sunny day yesterday and after this wholesome stew for lunch we had to really force ourselves to go and get some much needed fresh air at Morden Hall Park – I happily left my smartphone behind so photos to share but suffice to say that it was a gorgeous walk through the huge grounds and we saw many happy families ,happy couples and cute old folks and even happier kids and dogs romping around in the muddy park  fun! And because we were so good we treated ourselves to hot tea and a sandwich at a local Turkish Cafe 😉 hehehe

Am very happy and proud of this new original recipe creation from my experimental kitchen. Next time I make this stew I will smoke the sweet and crunchy long red peppers and peel off the skin , to add a deep smoky flavour to the stew and not have the skin floating around – double whammy I say 🙂

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Am linking this recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Mark at his wonderful  blog called  CookinwLuv

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Egg Curry/Anda Curry/अण्डा कारी from my college days

Egg curry and soft paav or square buns are the most common hostel food that one can make with a saucepan,some eggs and a few basic ingredients.It is hugely popular as a filling,tasty curry and there are as many variations as the imagination, ones budget and availability of ingredients on a particular day will allow 🙂

This version is what I always make and is sort of derivative of what would be made in the North of India.I sometimes like to make it into a coastal flavoured one by adding fresh grated coconut but that’s only if I want to make it posh but that’s very, very rare. After all this is a quick ,save the evening sort of curry!

It’s National Curry Week and it’s wonderful to see how Britain has embraced an Indian food habit and made it, its own over the years, spinning off British Indian versions of popular Indian home cooked curries.

I wanted to start of my posts for National Curry week with this one because of how easy it is to make and a great recipe for students everywhere 🙂

Serves:2

Total Preparation Time :20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs and use the same proportion of 2 eggs per person to scale up (for very hungry fells the more the merrier 😉
  • 2 medium-sized red onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • fresh coriander to garnish
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – it’s easier on my conscience , use any oil or butter or ghee in dire straits!

Method:

  1. Boil the eggs in an open saucepan and leave aside to cool
  2. Roast the chopped red onion on a saucepan and spritz it in the mixer with the chopped tomatoes and green chillies.(If you want a coastal touch add 2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut in this mixture and puree it together,ensure to use atleast 3 finely chopped garlic in the pan as they set of the taste of fresh coconut beautifully)
  3. In a saucepan heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida,then add the chopped garlic and roast till it’s a light brown ,then add the ginger paste,turmeric,red chilli powder,garam masala,coriander and cumin powders.
  4.  Stir in the onion and tomato puree.
  5. Cook on a low flame for 2 minutes.
  6. Then add some water to make a gravy like consistency and ad the boiled, peeled eggs after cutting them in half, add salt and cook for a further 5 – 6 minutes.
  7. Serve with hot chapartis/naan bread,paav,soft fresh wholemeal bread or with steaming hot boiled white rice – to make the rice taste heavenly drop a blob of butter, the steam trapped in the grains of rice will melt the butter into a golden pool of gooey goodness – pour the egg curry into this and enjoy the best and simple pleasures of curry!

Anda Curry

Looking for a Curry Recipe? You might also like:

Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice

The first time I ate jerk Chick was at a pop up Caribbean food stall near Haymarket Station, it was served with some tasty rice with red kidney beans and the most deliciously sweet plantain. Ever since I have been waiting to experiment and make this spicy chicken at home. Please resist the temptation of using a jerk sauce out of a bottle, it’s almost a crime because in the recipe I used from the BBC Good Food guide,it makes preparing the marinade a thing of joy. Not only will you learn how each ingredient lends its individual flavour but you van learn how to adjust the ”heat” in this amazing marinade. An advance warning, if you have sensitive skin PLEASE use gloves to marinate the chicken as Scotch Bonnet peppers are PACKED with heat. Ensure you THOROUGHLY wash your hands after you handle these ”hot babies” too! Humm now for the recipe, it’s essentially what was in the original but of course I have added my own touches and I think they make quite an impact 🙂 so read on folks. Prep Time: 45 minutes. Plus overnight marination for chicken in marinade Ingredients for Jerk Chicken:

  • 12 chicken thighs with bone
  • 1 big gralic sliced through the middle to go in the oven
  • 2 lemons halved to go in the baking tray
  • 1 pair of clean gloves if you have sensitive skin – to marinate the chicken

For the Jerk marinade:

  • 4 Garlic Cloves de-skinned
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh spring onion roughly chopped
  • 1 piece ginger size that fits inside your closed fist, washed,skinned and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme – I had none so I used 1 tbsp of Mixed Italian herb powder
  • 3 scotch bonnet chillies, de-seeded if you cannot handle very spicy
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oil – I used sunflower
  • 4 heaped tbsp brown sugar – I used dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice powder
  • Juice of 1 lime

Method

  • Blitz all the ingredients for the marinade in the mixer/food processor/blender and make a thick paste, do not add water as far as possible to ensure a thick puree like grainy paste
  • wash and dekin the chicken thighs and make cuts using a knife
  • Then generously apply the marinade paste all over rubbing into the cuts made to ensure the flavour really seaps into the chicken.
  • Marinate overnight in the fridge.Cover vessel with cling film.
  • Keep about 2 tbsp marinade aside for adding in the baking tray.
  • When you are ready to prepare the chicken pre-heat the oven to 180 – 200 C , I have a fan oven.
  • Prepare the baking tray by greasing with some oil ,place the marinated chicken pieces and surround them with the lime slices and place the garlic halved.
  • Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes or until juices run clear.
  • When the chicken is in the oven start with the rice

Ingredients for the Coconut Rice with Peas:

  • 200g Basmati Rice
  • 400g Coconut Milk can
  • 1 bunch fresh spirng onion finely chopped
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 large cloves of garlic skinned and chopped very fine
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 200g green peas

Method:

  • Wash the Basmati rice under cold running tap water
  • In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the washed rice and coconut milk, chopped spring onions,thyme,garlic chopped and all spice
  • Add 300ml water ,mix and add salt to season.
  • Cook with lid on a medium flame till water begins to boil
  • Stir with a wooden spatula and then add the green peas
  • Reduce flame and do not cover completely, leave a bit of space for the steam to pass.
  • Cook until done.

Jerk Chicken & Coconut Rice with Peas

All though the recipe I followed uses red kidney beans since I was already using them in my Caribbean Sweet Mini Pepper Salad , I choose green peas for my Coconut Rice. I made my own home made replacement for allspice powder too , it’s very easy and I intend to make it fresh each time I need instead of the store bought one, simply because its so quick and fun to make! Actually allspice is a spice by itself but it tastes similar to a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper. According to an article I found about allspice on About.com: ”Allspice is a spice made from the dried berries of a plant known as Pimenta dioica. A member of the pimento family, allspice is used in Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cuisines, among others.  The flavor of allspice is similar to . Allspice can be used to flavor desserts as well as savory dishes.  Allspice can be used in ground form or whole. Whole allspice berries are sometimes used in pickling and brining.

Also Known As:

  • Jamaican pepper
  • Newspice ”

My Home made version of all-Spice Powder recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 heaped tbsp Cinnamon powder or if you have a cinnamon stick take one abt the half as tall as your thumb.
  • 1 small tbsp pepper powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp of cloves
  • 1 full nutmeg grated

Method:

  • In a pestle and mortar mix the ingredients and grate the nutmeg into it.
  • Then smash together to makes a grainy powder.
  • Some bits of the clove you may not be able to grind fine, I wouldn’t worry about it unless you want a fine powder then the smallest attachment on your mixer. I have an Indian mixer which I use for my coconut chutneys and it has 3 jars I used the one with 3 blades .Or else just use the pestle and mortar it should work.
  • Store away the remaining home made allspice replacement powder in a tiny air tight container.

A note about the brown sugar vs. dark muscovado sugar

Dark Muscovado sugar is the unrefined form of brown sugar ,its stickier ,heavier,has a longer shelf life than refined sugars and adds a more intense flavour to marinades and since it is stable at high temperatures is great for baking.If you do not have brown sugar its ok to replace it with dark Muscovado sugar. Although as the water content dark muscovado holds is higher one should accordingly taper the use of water in the recipe.

Brown sugar is white sugar and molasses and hence the colour and soft texture. It has the light and dark brown sugar varieties and the lighter it is the milder the flavour.

Muscovado,White & Light Brown Sugar

I am linking this post to the Flavours of the Caribbean event, run by Simply.Food and guest hosted by The Spicy Pear.

Wine tasting on a frosty cold evening…a heart warmer

What better way to begin penning down this blog post than sip on a nice red and watch ‘The Mary Berry Story” on telly ?! I am warm and the house is toasty….but when I was rushing to go for my first ever wine tasting , London was enveloped in a blanket of snow, steadily heavier in it’s flow, it was my first ever snowfall experience…couple that with the late hour ,my hands going totally numb and my cell battery dying , it was well,what I’d like to call a recipe for disaster !Thanks to a warm hearted couple on their evening stroll I managed to finally find the venue, it was fairly easy to find but somehow looking for an address scrawled on a soggy bit of paper on cold winter evening is not fun!

So in the basement of a massive storage company in a cosy tasting room was a massive neatly arranged table , most the people attending had arrived. Emma  Dawson, the wines and spirits buyer of M&S, was all set to make a presentation on East Mediterranean Wines. On my right was a vibrant young lady – Josie, who was such a pleasure to talk to , she particularly enjoyed reading through my notes , I hope to share most interesting snippets in this blog though not the entire sheet for fear of boring all of you ..and hey no excel sheets and tables in a food blog ! Well unless they involve weights and measures , then I shall be able to sneak in such things as scary calculations .

Umm coming back to the lovely people , there was this handsome couple sitting across the table , the lady salt pepper hair and so very polite , her companion a dapper gentleman ,I did like chatting with them , yes , they are a made for each other kind of couple and good to talk to…umm

The cheese ,olives and select meats and small eats on the table seemed so tantalizing…  …I was a bit hungry but more so quite eager to sip on some exotic wines!

Cheese Board Close-Up

The Cheese Board & the sausages

We started with the White wines ,six of them,all tempting us with with their beautiful aromas. I loved the Quercus Pinot Grigio from Slovenia, light in appearance, felt silky smooth and fruity on the palate and I really thing it would pair well with a white fish done served with a tangy green chutney,ummm.  The white wine from Greece called Atlantis Santorini would pair amazingly well with a Bengali Bhetki (Indian River fish ,Asian Sea Bass )and some steamed white rice , it seemed to explode with zing of lime on my palate and on the nose it felt fresh, airy like free fall backwards on a meadow on a huge heap of hay!

The 6 whites

Close Up White Wine

Emma enthralls us

Golden Valley Graevina,Croatia

Now the much awaited red’s made an entrance – ta ra ra pum pum 😉

After we had tasted all 6 we had a show of hands to vote for the crowds fav Red and Lebanese Cadet de Ka (Cabernet Sauvignon,Merlot,Syrah) was top of the pops, I’d say on the nose it was deep, dark ,mysterious – almost like a woman with a secret and passionate lover ,even took me into a well stocked spice cabinet with a thick teak wood door,imagine Nigella cooking up a posh steak or a rack of lamb with fancy sauces , food porn,oh yes , well this is wine porn if there is any such thing !

Red-ay steady -ah well- Goooo!

The Greek wine Red on Black Agiorgitiko from Nemea ,Greece hits the palate and makes it jiggle like a belly dancer oh yeah,fruity and with a great depth of flavour. The Croatian,Pilato Malvasia Istarski would pair nicely with a rich dark brown sauce and meat, on the nose it sort of feels like a first date, a romantic on,maybe at the village fair. The 150 year old Chateau Ksara Clos St Alphonse from Lebanon is to be served at a family get together, a celebration , one befitting such a lovely fruity wine with  hidden surprise – notes of spice and chocolate.

Emma doing her thing

We were all really happy by now,no not tipsy, no sir!So  do not blame it on the twelve wines though;) the whole atmosphere was light, it was snowing heavier , the room was cosy , conversation was fun and Emma had managed to take us on a virtual tour through Slovenia, Greece,Croatia,Turkey and Lebanon so effortlessly so it may seem. I had always wondered what a wine tasting would be like, I imagined a massive room with wine barrels all around ,floor to ceiling wine bottles displayed along the walls, a massive room which smells of cheese and well wine ,rich mature full bodies Wine, some chairs around a sturdy old well used mammoth of a table, lots of wine glasses, several varieties of grapes, cheese…lots of cheese, some pretty table napkins, the sound of laughter n the clinking of glasses …lets just say that thanks to Emmas excellent selection of Wines and Jimmy Smith from West London Wine Schools excellent arrangement at the cosy tasting room,it was a perfect ”first wine tasting do” to be at,and yes thanks to Josie as well, you made me smile – a lot. And yes the kind couple whose name I didn’t get who took the bus ride with me, it would have been quite spooky waiting for the bus all alone and I was glad for the company.

The Lovely Josie!

Aahh…now to use that discount voucher and procure some wine bottles from M&S..whilst I am at it .. why not pour myself some red and sip it while I upload these snaps and fix some dinner…it’s chicken peri peri by the way with gluten free,wheat free bread, but ..more on that later , now for some late evening relaxing at home ,Good Night Folks in this part of the world .

Moi

IMG_1010 (Copy)

(Well that’s one blog post that’s out of my drafts folder, better late than never I say ! Since most of it was written in Jan  this year it has lots of winter references, well Summer isn’t really here is it ?! grumble grumble )

Prawn Khichadi (Pulav/Pilaf/Poolav)

This is NOT just a  recipe,it’s a Family Heirloom passed down from generations and cooked with great relish by my mother-in-law and her mum who is now 82 years old and still can stir up a some to-die-for finger licking dishes !

But before I start off rattling the ingredient list , a ”slice” of some history about the origin of this rice and prawn union.Coastal cuisine in the western Indian state of Maharashtra relished by the Maharahstrian community relies heavily on the use of all versions of the coconut , the most potent form being as part of the goda masala. This and of course the abundant availability fresh sea food has given birth to many delicacies many of which most are age-old like this dish.

It’s also my prized comfort food and guarantees a great Sunday afternoon nap 🙂 and will ensure your crowned kitchen queen and master chef of all things nice hehehehe

Ok here goes, the ingredient list – This dish serves 2 adults for 2 meals with 2 generous helpings each and leftovers for the next day.

  1. Prawns or Koolambi as they are called in Marathi – 500gm
  2. Plain rice – I use basmati , I use 2.5 cup measures of my rice cooker measure
  3. Bay leaves -3-4
  4. ”Goda” Masala
  5. Tumeric Powder
  6. Red Chilli powder
  7. Half a slice
  8. Cooking Oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Ginger and Garlic Paste
  11. Wet coconut grated and make a fine puree with it – the wet coconut is available as a frozen product at any Indian Grocery store – use about a handful.
  12. Two Large red onions finely sliced
  13. Cinnamon (Dalchini)- 3-4 large bits
  14. Few cloves
  15. Green Masala – Use a bunch or coriander and 2 green chillies and give them a spin in the mixer , store this fine paste in the freezer and use as and when needed, it’s one of the most basic marination masala’s in most Maharashtrian non veg dishes especially sea food.

Method:

  1. On a pan on low heat saute one finely chopped onion and the fresh wet grated coconut till the onions starts to caramelise, after this cools give it a spin in the mixer and make a fine paste.
  2. Marinate the washed rice in some the above wet grated coconut and onion paste,some goda masala, a squeeze of half of a lime,salt ,ginger & garlic paste and some Cinnamon. Keep Aside.
  3. De-vein Prawns , wash under tap water and marinate with red chilli powder,turmeric and green masala.
  4. Take oil in a vessel and saute the marinated prawns for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Heat Oil in a vessel big enough to cook the rice and prawns together that will hold the water as well , add the cloves , remaining cinnamon and one very finely chopped red onion, add the marinated rice and stir it , do this on a low flame .
  6. Then add the marinated prawns and water , for rice dishes water is always double the measure of the rice used so for 2.5 cup measures of rice use 5 cups of water.
  7. Cover and cook on a low flame.
  8. Serve piping hot with curd or pickle .
  9. I generally serve this with a spicy Curry.

Spicy Curry

In a pan heat some oil and add asafoetida one pinch , add puree of 2-3 large red onions and one tomato and puree of 1 handful of wet grated coconut , season with red chilli powder , turmeric,salt, green masala, goda masala and cook on a low flame with enough water to ensure a thick curry , Amp up the red chilli powder and green masala to your level of tolerance of spicy food !

Do let me know via comments if any of you made this dish and what you though of the recipe !

P.S: Forgive the poor image quality , I have a Simple Canon Camera which I am unable to use too well  and add to that the total lack of any photography skills but well the food   tasted awesome :), that’s what counts right , hehhe!

Update in 2013

A few days after I published this recipe ,A gifted me my first DSLR Camera – a shiny new Canon 600DS and I’ve been clicking away like a happy bunny ever since 🙂

To my absolute delight he helped me add a new lens to my kit and gifted me a 50mm f 1.8 lens this year on my birthday.It’s great for close up food shots and true to it’s reviews it works well in low light conditions.

Here’s an example:

The image below is from my kit lens where am struggling to fit everything in frame and focus on the prawns, I have sharpened the image,adjusted light and cropped it using Picasa 3.

Ingredients for Prawn Khichadi with old lends

 

Now see the difference in the image below, I love how the prawns are in sharp focus and how am able to easily adjust and fit everything in the viewfinder.I have adjusted light and sharpened the image very slightly, I am truly pleased with the results 🙂

prawn khichadi with new lens

bay leaves n cinnamon in pan

prawns sautee with khichadi spices

 

prawn khichadi plated n styled

 

To learn Food Photography and hone your skills ,why not join in the Bloggers Buzz Photography Club? I have been to two sessions and there’s a celebrity blogger to give expert advice after each session for the assignment. It’s a fun learning experience! Click here for details!

Ressurecting LEFTOVERS !

 

Heya all ye blog readers, followers or mere net trawler’s !

I have a simple yet effective way of resurrecting plain white boiled/steamed rice and conjuring up a tasty spicy dish to allow for a guilt free ,time saving recipe which will not only help you NOT die of guilt for throwing away rice that’s perfectly OK but just stale and also having teh pleasure of cooking an easy peasy meal all on your own. Of course it’s NOT my own recipe but a hand me down from my mother ! GAAH and YOU actually thought I was that creative …giggles to herself and continues typing …

Well you need , yes ! Of course my dear genius some leftover white plain cooked rice.

Depending on bow much rice you have say roughly a medium sized soup bowl for example , you will need :

1.2 tablespoons oil

2.2 cloves of garlic with skin

3.1 medium sized red onion finely chopped and I mean FINELY !hehehe I like trying to sound very professional , am just joking here , chop it how you will !

4.few fresh green lovely curry leaves.

5.Turmeric Powder

6. Salt to taste

7.Chilli Powder

8.Pinch of Asafoetida

9.  A pinch of each Jeera (Cumin seeds) & Mohri (Mustard Seeds)

10. A tiny squeeze of lime

11. Some finely chopped freshly coriander for garnish

12. One or two green chillies chopped

Ok now heat the oil in a pan , add the Hing (Asafoetida powder) , add the Mustard seeds and Cumin seeds and wait for the mustard seeds to crackle in the hot oil, then add the garlic finely chopped with the skin and let it turn brown and crisp , believe me,it adds a power packed punch to the flavour of the rice,then add some green chillies chopped to a size that you can pick them out if you don’t want to set your tongue on fire ! Then,in go the curry leaves and the chopped red onion,after the onions are nicely tossed and turned in the oil to give them just the soft and crunchy texture you need,toss in the rice and slightly turn it with your hand before you do to prevent it from sticking , it should open up so that the flavours of the tadka (seasoning ) touch EACH grain and coat it with their heavenly goodness !

Then add the turmeic powder,red chilli powder and mix well,cover the vessel and cook on a very low flame so as to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan at the bottom. Steam for some time and open the lid,squeeze a generous bit of lime(everytime I think LIME or LEMON , I think of the way Jamie Oliver talks about it and uses it generously in MOST of his preparations, I am LOVE with LIME !) on this dish and garnish with fresh coriander, you can even add a few bits of chopped fresh tomato of you like.

Serve HOT with any curry or ”leftover” dal reheated.

I LOVE eating this plain with a big dollop of curd or plain yogurt too !

See told you it was eay peasy !

Shahi Khichadi

I have decided to finally upload some of the recipes which received a lot of comments on my Facebook food album and I ended up sending out the recipe by email to many of contacts . Here is one of the easier and more popular ones . When I was a kid when my mother said ”khaichadi” in response to what’s for dinner ? it usually meant that one of us feverish and needed something gentle on the tummy or one of us was trying to recover from an upset tummy .Of course the taste of the boiled rice and green gram halved and with skin on or the yellow version without skin , is ultimately satisfying a great comfort food when served piping hot with a dollop of ghee and some warm milk ,a good night’s sleep guaranteed !

But my version is spicy ,with a tasty twist and a lot of fun to cook and even more fun to eat .

I adopted this recipe from the way my mother makes khichadi and also from how my pal S of http://www.jainfoodie.com makes Jain Dal Khichadi . I choose to call it Shahi meaning Regal or Royal here because it is rather a posh version of the humble boiled version. Khichadi meaning an Indian for a slurpalicious RICE and lentil dish cooked like a pulav /pulao/pilau /pilaf.

Ingredients (enough to serve 2 with second and maybe a third helping !)

  • Rice 1 cup
  • A Mix of the following in equalish parts in the same cup used to measure the rice – Massor Dal also called Red Lentils-split and skinless, Moong Dal also called Green Gram yellow we will use the  spilt skinless variety and the split green moong dal with green skin on , Urid Dal also called Black Gram halved with skin ,some Toor Dal also called pigeon peas – yellow spilt and skinless .
  • 1 large red Onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  •  Bits of Cinnamon bark
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed with skin on
  •  2 green chillies
  •  Jeera / Cumin
  •  Hing / Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  •  2 small potatoes
  •  Few Curry leaves
  •  Few Cloves
  •  Few black whole peppercorns
  • 18. Oil for sauteing
  • Some Ghee – maybe 2 spoons – Clarified Butter

Method :

  • Wash the rice and lentils and place them in a pressure cooker ,add 4 cups (use same cup as the one used to measure the rice and the dals) of water and another to make it a little softer than regular rice ,pressure cook till 4 whistles are done.
  • Once the steam slowly releases from the cooker , you can open the lid and it will look like the picture below but a bit different in colour because when I made this I was short on red lentils so didn’t add them . Actually even you make this dish with rice and only yellow moong dal it will taste just as good 🙂

  • While the cooker is cooling down ,chop the potatoes into longish strips and stir fry them in hot oil till they turn brown, add some salt, sprinkled over them just as they get done, these potato fries are our garnishing to add that REAL REGAL or SHAHI touch to the dish . Once done keep them aside and STOP yourself from munching on them before your dish is ready , my husband managed to gobble quite a few ,pretending he was helping me ”stir” the onions while I clicked pictures ..grrrrr

  • Now Lets prepare the tadka /tarka or the tempering. First slice the onion and the tomato vertically into thinish slices .
  • Add oil about 2 large tablespoons into a pan and one teaspoon of ghee just for flavour and aroma , when this mix is hot add some hing , then add the jeera and the crushed garlic and the 2 green chillies spilt along the middle lengthwise as it opens them up and allows the pungent seeds to spread through the tempering , one kick ass way to add that hotttt KICK to the dish ,trust me this one is explosive spicy HOTT as it has all the ingredients to help the taste explode in your mouth, saute till the garlic is brown and the garlic’s skin starts to crackle , then add the cloves, the whole black peppercorns , bits of the barks of Cinnamon ,curry leaves, bay leaves and keep stiring this mixture to prevent charring or over heating ,it will look like in the picture below :

  • Then add the chopped onion, It should look like the picture below:

  • Then after a while when the onion has begun to turn a lovely pinkish ,brownish colour and looks the picture below it’s time to add the tomato .

  • Now add the vertically sliced tomato slices , I can assure you that now the potent aroma of all those lovely spices and the onion are stirring up quite an appetite inside you and making you hungrier every passing minute .

  • I dislike chunky bits of tomato floating in my mouth while I gobble up the khichadi so I jus a flat wooden spatula and gently ensure that the tomatoes are totally mashed  in a way that allows the mixture to become one entity, it should look like in the picture below :

  • Add just a bit of red chilli powder and some turmeric powder to the mixture above and add salt to taste ,Now add the cooked rice and lentil mixture to the above tempered mix of spices ,onions and tomatoes ,mix well stirring well, add salt again enough to flavour the rice and lentil mix .

  • It’s almost done , just keep this on a low flame for about a minute or two to allow the flavours of the spices to penetrate deep inside the rice and lentils .

  • The SHAHI KHICHADI is now ready to be garnished! Yay 🙂

  • WOW now doesn’t that look awesome ? I am quite proud about this creative production from my kitchen , hope you relish it as much as I did errr we did , hubby had to agree 🙂
  • If you fear that all the spices may be a bit too much for your sensitive palate prepare a quick cooling cucumber and curd accompaniment . Beat 2 spoons of set yogurt or thick flowing yogurt and add tiny square bits of fresh cucumber , season with a bit of salt ,some sugar and some jeera powder to taste .

Enjoy !