Wednesday, 30 June 2010

BBC Summer Good Food Show

This post comes in really late, merely because of my laziness and also cos I was a tad too busy the past 2 weeks. Anyways, like I'd mentioned before..Reena of Coconut Raita was giving away two tickets to the Good Food Show and I, won it! I was ecstatic because I NEVER win anything. This show was in Birmingham, about 2 hrs north of London and since my good friend and fellow blogger Swar of Swars kitchen was living in Coventry, I decided to drag her as well...some good girly time. I have forever been a fan of BBC Saturday Kitchen Live and so the Chef line up was pretty interesting. I had to catch James Martin, Thomasina Miers and the Hairy Bikers, if not anyone else. So off we went to Birmingham for a day filled with loadsa food, drinks and!!!!
Got there at around 11 and my first impression was, ' gosh its filled with this some sorta boring thing?' And then we realised there was a garden show in the next pavilion and assumed they were here for the flower show instead. Wrong we were! 
The advantage of this show (like the Regents Park Taste of London and the Hampton Court Foodies Fest) is the free tasting sessions each and every supplier provides. I mean you just have to walk through and every stall offers you something to eat, drink, smell etc. We completely took advantage of that and after about 2 hrs we were slightly tipsy from the numerous wines, cider, vodka and fancy liqueurs that were offered to us..needless to say, being asked for the id at a few places made us feel great but annoying after a point of time (its nice to know they still think you are under 21 or so). We picked up some taster pizza slices from Dr Oetker's Ristaurante Pizza, grabbed a sandwich and sat down to watch one of the Chefs from a well known Gastro Pub in London cook Salmon in a mussel sauce with some risotto and the works. 
He asked someone from the audience to cook along with him, but we chickened out, but got to taste what he cooked which was yummeee. 

We walked around again, had some ice cold Pimms, picked up some cupcake liners, Swar bought yummy strawberry and cream liqueur, did some more tasting and conveniently missed the Hairy Bikers' Show.

I bragged about it so much to Ro i had to atleast catch a glimpse of them, but again got side tracked when i saw Toffee you very rarely get to taste stuff like that right?

Then I got my priorities right and settled down to see Thomasina Miers, previous MasterChef winner and owner of Wahaca- an up market Mexican restaurant chain in London (I have reviewed it here and I actually didn't have a pleasant experience at her fancy pansy restaurant, but I still had to see some celebrity chef do some cooking). So we sat there and watched some guests from the audience do their bit of cooking and Thomasina give them tips etc etc.

And Andi Peters who was supposedly the runner up of one of the MasterChef sessions was doing give aways and asking us questions and Swar and me were so scared whether we would be pulled up to answer since we were sitting right up front. 

But we left half way through because we were hungry again (its the drinking i tell ya) and so had this amazing crepe with banana, toffee and ice cream and I said I wanted to come back to watch James Martin perform but it wasn't on for another hour or so and so we walked through the Gardeners Live area which seemed to amuse me much better than the food and so I ended up clicking more pics of the Garden and the awesome flowers than the food show itself.  Sorry if you are getting bored!

And then we found out I could catch any train back to London and so off we went to Birmingham city centre and shopped liked mad in the huge mega mall...yes I know what you must be priorities are all screwed..well who wants to choose food over shopping with a girl friend? well I did and had the time of my life the 2 hrs we spent at the mall. James Martin and Hairy Bikers, I can still watch on BBC but the girl bonding, which I was so deprived of, that i get once in a while, I was def not gonna miss. 
All in all I had a blast, but if you ask me whether id go for a food show like this again..well unless I get free tickets I don't think id want to because its almost all the same, the tasting sessions, the master class sessions etc..well unless Gordon Ramsey decides to grace the occasion, then I might just drop in to hear him say 'The F Word.' :)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Borrowed recipe- Tuna-Fish Pickle

After ten days of immense fun and frolic and non stop galavanting, I am back to square one..well almost. Its just today that i got to rest and while I'm typing this, I'm watching the nail biting match between Germany and England. I am not a football fan, but its impossible to not get involved with all that's happening around me (also the British commentator is pretty darn cute, in a kinda George Clooney way).
So anyway, I have been craving fish pickle for a while now and the store bought ones are so bloody horrible, I figured I should make it on my own if I needed to. When Maya And Lakshmi- the Yummy Team posted this recipe of Fish pickle, using Tuna (kinda the only fish I eat) I had to give it a go. Also, Ro kept asking for it so much that I felt like a bitch saying no every time. So about a month back (well ya, that long ago) I got off my lazy ass and decided to make the pickle. I kinda quartered the recipe because i wasn't sure I had the patience to complete the procedure and didn't want to ruin 2 1/2 kgs of fish. The pickle tasted awesome, but the gravy was kinda less which made it a wee bit dry. But we didn't complain. Ate it like a side to chapathi and rice, rather than a pickle. I am however posting my version here, but do hop on to the Yummy Team's website to get a better perspective of the recipe, and they have even posted the step by step recipe, which somehow gives me the assurance and the support to try a particular recipe :)

Tuna steak- 500gms, cut into bite size chunks

To marinate:
Pepper powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- t0 taste

Fresh garlic- 10 to 15 pods, peeled and chopped
Fresh ginger- 2 inch piece, sliced lengthwise
Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek powder- 1/4 tsp
White wine vinegar- a lil less than 1/4 cup or add according to your taste
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Oil- enough for deep frying
Salt- to taste

Marinate the fish pieces with pepper powder, turmeric powder and salt and keep aside for atleast 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the marinated fish pieces. Drain on kitchen towels. Keep aside.
Pour some of the left over oil from frying into another pan and fry the ginger and garlic slices and the curry leaves and saute till nice and fragrant.Keep aside
In the same oil (add more if required), splutter mustard seeds. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell dies.
Add the chilli powder and fenugreek powder and mix well. Throw in the fried ginger, garlic, curry leaves and fish. Mix them all together and check for salt spice etc.
Add the vinegar, bring to a boil and take it off the flame.
After it cools down completely, store in an air tight container.
Notes: Like i mentioned before the gravy was really less, since i cut down the vinegar and didn't add hot water. If ever i make it again, I shall do as required.
I had to eat it immediately and it tasted just as good. Although a week or two later would have been apt.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Ulli sambar (shallot sambar)

What's up peeps? Hows everyone doing? Long time right? Well i have just been unusually busy and I still am, but thought id just drop in and say hola to all my fellow bloggers.
I have a friend from Chennai days, staying with me for 10 days and we have just been travelling all over...did the usual London touristy thing last week, was at Dover on Sunday, heading to Windsor tomorrow and to Oxford on Wednesday and squeezing loads of gossip and shopping in between. Ro is going mad with all the giggling and the loud laughs that wake him up in the middle of the night, but I'm totally loving it. Last week Reena of Coconut Raita announced I'd won tickets to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham and so me and Swar of Swar's Kitchen headed for a day filled with food and fun. I shall do a post on that later, when I have the time, but for now, here's the recipe for a shallot sambar which I followed from Jugalbandi's blog. I saw the tiny shallots peeled and cleaned at the Thai store and enthusiastically picked it up to make some fancy mallu dish, but Ro beat me to it and decided he wanted Ulli sambar instead. My idli's always turned out hard and we had almost given up on making them when my mom in law suggested I add about 1/2 tsp soda powder to one packet (yes I buy the ready made dosa batter) and there, I had the most softest, fluffiest idli's ever. Thanks Mamma. That was an awesome trick.
I followed the recipe to the dot, except that I used 1 1/2 tsp of coriander powder instead of coriander seeds and 1/4 tsp tamarind paste and diluted it in 1/4 cup warm water. I also used 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder, instead of the seeds.
It was pretty different from the usual sambar I've had and i am sure I'll make it again.

Sending this to Priya's Healing Foods Event, where this months choice is Onion.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Pound Cake- two ways

OK I'm obsessed with TasteSpotting and Foodgawker. I'm adamant, I want my photos accepted. I think it totally boosts my self confidence when a photo gets published. Its so weird that the pics i think look nice, actually get rejected, but the ones i submit just for the heck of it gets accepted...some are not even that great. I have managed to rectify my first error of 'what i want in focus,' but the composition (rule of thirds), i just don get it. I always end up getting frustrated and no wonder TS and FG rejects it (well, FG more than TS). The use of natural lighting...well living in a place like UK doesn't help much...its either gloomy or raining or both. I am however making maximum use of the summer longer days which need not necessarily be brilliant with sunshine all the time, but somethings better than nothing right?
Anyhoo, I have created a TS page (FG shall follow) just to keep track of how many pics get accepted and whether I'm making any progress.
I'm a big fan of plain cakes and pound cakes in particular are an all time fav. No icing, no filling, no flavouring...just plain ol pound cakes. I had bookmarked this recipe long back, thinking i should try it and yesterday seemed like the perfect day....why because i was pissed off and i thought baking, since it is therapeutic, would help me..instead it tired me out even more and I would have been incredibly bitchy if the cakes hadn't turned out decent.
I first thought of just baking it in a loaf tin, but half way through i decided to incorporate some fruits and take it down to my neighbour...whom I met after living here for close to a year. She was really sweet and brought me a nice flower i obviously had to return that gesture and so i thought I'd bake a cake..since i pretty much suck at everything else. But after i baked it, i cut a slice to check how it was and then Ro bit into it and so we decided to chuck the idea and be selfish instead.

Condensed milk pound cake
Butter- 120 gms
Sugar- 45 gms
Vanilla extract- 1 1/2 tsp
Condensed milk- 1/2 cup
Plain flour- 120 gms
Baking powder- 3/4 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Eggs- 2

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Keep aside
In a free standing mixer (paddle attachment), or using your hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
Pour in the condensed milk and keep beating till they are all combined well.
Reduce the speed to about 1 (or minimum) and add the flour mix bit by bit. Scrape the sides and make sure the batter is well combined and that no lumps are should be smooth.
Next, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition..i increased the speed a bit here. The batter should be nice and fluffy.
Grease a 9 inch cake pan or line a cupcake tray and pour the batter till 3/4th full.
Bake in a preheated oven (175C) for 30 to 35 minutes if its for cupcake and about 50 to 55 minutes otherwise. Also insert a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean, you're good to go.
Cool on a wire rack and serve warm...drizzle some condensed milk on top, to make it more gooey and moist.

Raspberry pound cake drizzled with a raspberry compote
Raspberries- 200gms (i used canned ones, because the fresh ones always are a bit sour sometimes)
Butter- 3 tbsp
Sugar- 2 tbsp (or more if you are using fresh ones)

Butter a 9 inch cake pan and layer the bottom with parchment paper. If its a spring form pan, its even better. 
If using canned raspberries, drain the syrup into a glass. Keep aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar.
When it starts to slightly bubble, add the raspberries and on medium heat stir, till the berries are coated  well and becomes lightly mushy. Its ok, if it doesn't hold its shape. The mix shouldn't be too watery, it should be slightly thick in consistency. Keep aside to cool a bit.
Have the plain pound cake batter ready. Gently fold the berry syrup into the batter and pour into the baking tin.
If you want to do an upside down cake..then layer the bottom of the cake pan with this berry mix and scoop the batter on top. In this case, the berry mix should not be runny at all.
If you want to do a fancy looking cake, then layer the berry first and then the batter and twirl the batter 
with a fork, like how you do for a marble cake..Make sure you evenly distribute it though.
Place the cake tin on a baking tray (just to catch any syrup that oozes out)
Bake in the centre of a preheated oven (175C) for 1 hr or when a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
Take it out of the oven, and after about 10 minutes, insert a knife around the edges and insert onto a serving plate and let it cool. 

Berry compote
In a sauce pan, mix the syrup (what you kept aside from the can) and 1/4 cup fresh raspberries on medium heat, till they start to bubble and become a little thick..not too much since it needs to be drizzled. Add some warm water if its too thick though.

Cut the cake into huge wedges,warm it a bit in the microwave, drizzle some compote on top and serve with a huge smile :)
edited to add: peeps...this pic got tastespotted yaaaay :)

Notes: When you cut out the parchment paper, make sure its a little bigger than the bottom pan, because the syrup might seep through and this reduce the damage or can prevent it.
You can keep some of the berry mix fr the cake aside and use that for the compote as well.
You can substitute the berry compote with fresh cream or ice cream or even raspberry coulis. The cake has more of a pudding consistency..yes extremely soft and moist.
Its really not that hard at all, if such a long post made you feel so.

Even though id say summer hasnt really set in our side of the world, Raspberries sure bring that colour and brightness summer is all about. Submitting this dessert recipe to the Sizzling Summer Contest over at

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A twist (literally) on the Spanish Churros

Two posts in two days, I myself am surprised. Thanks to all who wrote in suggesting things to make with mango pulp. Have noted a few:)
Churros, I am not sure if you are familiar with it, is a Spanish/ Mexican dessert which resembles a doughnut with regard to taste. I actually have eaten it only at Mexican joints, but Wikipedia says it originated in Spain. Whatever it is, I love this unhealthy, oily piece of goodness. I first tasted it at the lovely Greenwich market filled with caramel and rolled in sugar and even though I could feel my waist expanding, I loved every bit of it. Even the caramel averse Ro couldn't stop at one bite. I have made it a point to try it at all the Mexican restaurants, but none has come to the Greenwich market standard. 
Now, they are supposed to be piped out..and should be a thick straight or slightly curled doughnut and dunked in melted chocolate. But the star icing nozzle I had was not too big and it churned out feather light churros which were breaking off, and so I decided to make small discs instead....cheeky huh? yeah you can call that 'no patience' also ;)

Full fat milk- 150 ml
Water- 150 ml
Sugar- 3 tbsp (optional)
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Plain flour- 100 gms
Eggs- 2

Oil- for deep frying

For dusting:
Caster Sugar- 25 gms
Powdered Cinnamon- 1/2 tsp or more as per your taste

Bring the milk and water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix well.
Take it off the fire and immediately add the flour and mix vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon until smooth. Keep aside to cool.
Get the oil for deep frying ready at this point. It takes some time.
Add the eggs one after the other, beat well to form a nice fluffy mix, but not too stiff. It should fall off the spoon without much effort.
Scoop the mix into a piping bag with a star nozzle and wait for the oil to be super hot.
Hold the piping bag over the oil (be careful here) and squeeze out long thick strips of dough into the oil or twirl it around like how I chose to do...making small spiral discs.
Fry both sides for about 5 minutes, turning continuously and then drain it on kitchen towels. It should be crispy.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and just before serving, dust the churros with the mix.
If you want to dunk it in chocolate...make a ganache with dark chocolate and cream and serve along.
Notes: I added some sugar into the main mix because I loved it sweet. This is purely optional especially if you are eating it with melted chocolate.
You can also use about 20 gms of butter instead of milk (says Gordon Ramsey)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Mango Lassi

I really didn't have to post this, and I have quite a few other posts from my drafts I can actually post, but laziness has caught on so much that I now think i bragged a lil too much on my previous post about not losing interest. I have been so busy whole of last week with a sick (literally) Ro to take care of. Yeah he's allergic to pollen and he was working from home which meant lunch, tea and dinner in succession, not to mention cleaning up which Ro would very nicely offer to do but I felt really bad and didn't let him. Well complaining about all that and rubbing it in that I am such an awesome wife kinda over powered the good i did, but anyways... ;)
Oh and also, right now I am brooding about a 46 quid haircut (I'm still crying here). I mean how difficult is it to find a salon in bloody zone 1 and 2 in London that doesn't charge you for your head also? I saw the bill and had to hold on to the railings to not faint (making a mental note: hide this months credit card bill). I'm still incredibly upset about that and i think il have to trek up to Wembley or some desi area to get a 20 quid haircut...sigh! what all a woman has to do to look good eh?
So coming to this post, its such a lame thing to put on a blog, but if i ignored the space, I will forever be lazy to do something about it. I made this some 2 weeks back when I got over excited after seeing mango pulp at the local grocers. I decided to buy the really really large can only to find out I didn't know how to make anything with mango pulp other than the panna cotta which, since id tried once already, didn't appeal to me any more. Story of my life...yes!
I made some mango ice cream and lost interest after the first two mixing intervals. Its still in my freezer. Then i thought id bake a mango cheesecake. I get better ones at Waitrose, so why bother? I was just left with the lassi option and in fact I actually forced it down Ro's throat saying its healthy (ya rt!). I still have loadsa mango puree left...anyone? any ideas?

Mango pulp- 1 cup
Chilled plain yoghurt- 1 1/2 cups
Water- just enough to loosen it a bit, say 1/4 cup
Condensed milk- 2 tbsp (oh ya baby, I went all the way out)
Sugar/ Honey- to taste/ optional (i added a bit cos i thought it wasn't sweet enough)

Mix everything together in a blender, serve cold with some ice cubes or chill in the refrigerator till you serve.
How boring was that post? No please dont answer..I know!

I picked up some juicy apricots the other day with the intention of baking an upside down cake. We ended up eating it just like that and I made the cake with canned ones instead; which was in a way good because it would have been a lil tarty if id used the fresh ones. Followed the same recipe as this. Served it as a dessert when we had friends over on Sat night, and as my luck would have it, it was more like a pudding than a cake..utterly moist and warm right outta the oven with the apricots adding that lil extra richness. Liked the pic i took, so thought id post it for TasteSpotting and foodgawker sake.

See ya later ladies.

PS: Don't they look like cute lil baby bums :)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Thai stir fried chicken with peanuts

The other day i was so jobless and going through my blog posts to realize that I completed one year of blogging this month..well 29th to be precise.  I mean I honestly didn't think id make it into a year. I thought, like everything else, I would lose interest within a couple of months..well good for me, and lucky for you... i didn't and here I am completing one year of food blogging...yaaaaay!
Took this as a good enough reason for me to start cleaning up the mess...tags, pictures etc etc. and boy was it a task. A few friends did mention about the labels, which I realized was pretty tedious since i had been very careless in tagging my posts from the beginning. I have now somehow managed to sort it out and have put it up on the side bar under 'select a recipe,' so navigation is easier. I do want to create a separate page for the recipe index (which will do me good, more than anything else) but its not priority at the moment. I have also de-cluttered my home page and have added a separate 'about me' section where I have rambled on and on. So its not in your face and you are not obliged to read. Have taken off Food Buzz and the weird Petit Chef cos they weren't really doing me any good.  I am working on my header and have changed my font colours, yet again. I think variety is the spice of life and get easily bored with repetition. The other day I even told Ro I was getting bored of how predictable he has which he replied, ' I'm getting a bit worried about how fat you've become.' That was totally unnecessary right? 
Now coming to the recipe. I finally managed to get to the Thai store over the long weekend and it was a treasure trove..two levels of Asian food, live sea food and a plethora of options. Picked up quite a bit of junk and was full enthu to finally make some food at home on Monday night after the entire weekend was spent eating out, binge drinking and ordering junk food, most of it to do with the Hampton Court Foodies Festival in Surrey (update coming soon). 
This is a very authentic Thai dish I must say, and we loved it to the last bit. 

Boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets- 450 gms, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces

To marinate:
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp (fresh would be ideal)
Green chillies- 3 to 4 depending on your taste, crushed
Lime juice- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste

For the sauce:
Fish sauce- 1 tbsp
Dark soy sauce- 1 tbsp
Oyster sauce- 1 tbsp
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Chicken stock- 1/2 cup
Salt- only add if necessary

Dry red chillies- 3, de-seeded
Unsalted peanuts- 1/2 cup
Red pepper- 1, roughly chopped
Onion- 1 sliced lengthwise
Garlic- 4 cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
Spring onions- 4 to 5 stalks, green and white part chopped into long strips + some for garnishing 
Oil- 1 tbsp

Mix the chicken with all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section and keep aside for a minimum of 1 hr.
Prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients listed.
Heat the oil in a wok and fry the peanuts till light brown in colour. Make sure you don't burn it. Keep stirring continuously. Remove and drain on kitchen towels.
In the same oil fry the dry red chillies till they slightly change colour. Drain and keep aside.
Cover and cook the marinated chicken pieces in oil till they turn a light golden colour and all the water has drained off. Add more oil if there isn't enough. Remove from pan and keep aside
In the left over gravy and oil, sauté the garlic till fragrant.
Add the onions and red pepper and sauté till the onions become transparent and the red pepper begins to loose its crunchiness...say about 6 to 8 minutes on medium heat.
Add the fried peanuts, dry red chillies and chicken and toss everything together for about a minute or so. 
Increase the heat and add the sauce. Stir fry for a few minutes, making sure the ingredients are all coated evenly.
Add the spring onions and give a final toss..stir fry for one more minute
Take it off the fire, garnish with spring onions (if any) and serve hot with rice or noodles or anything you please.
We had it with some instant noodles...and it was heavenly.

Notes: I picked up a sachet of the garlic and chilli sauce for meat and poultry at the Thai store and used that as the marinade along with pepper and lime juice. I have given you the ingredients mentioned on the cover, with approximate measurements. Do adjust according to your taste.
Please be careful while adding salt since the sauces and stock will have enough and sometimes more. If it happens, you can mellow it down with corn flour...i guess.
The chicken thigh fillets can be replaced with chicken breasts and the peanuts with cashew nuts if you please.
You can easily do a veggie prep using potatoes, egg plant, beans etc. A seafood version might also be interesting.