Mango Lassi

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“The choicest fruit of Hindustan for garden pride the mango is sought. Ere ripe, other fruits to cut we ban, but mango serves, ripe or not.” says Amir Khusro in his Persian verse.

 

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This is so true. Mangoes are loved the world over, not least in India where the mango is used to make kulfi (Indian ice-cream), chutney – see my recipe here, or as a sweet mango lassi.

At Boro Amma’s (my husband’s granny) house in Kolkata a mango tree stands bearing sweet fruit outside the kitchen window.  The rustle of the leaves in the gently breeze and the sweet scent of the mangoes is always tempting us. When the fruit is tok (sour) we prepare mango chutney, which is heavenly. As the fruit softens we sip on mango lassi, which cools us in the heat of the day.

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This year mangoes imported from India, including the legendary Alphonso mangoes, where banned by the EU after authorities in Brussels found some mangoes infested with fruit flies, which they fear could damage European salad crops. So while it is possible to buy mangoes here in the shops in the UK, we were not able to feast on the lusciously sweet Alphonso, much to the everyone’s chagrin.

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Making mango lassi does not necessarily require fresh mangoes however. Tinned mangoes will also work equally well and for this recipe I used tinned. It’s so simple and sweetly delicious I urge you to try it one hot summers day.

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Mango Lassi

Makes 4 glasses

2 cans of mango slices in syrup (approximately 230g of mangoes per tin after syrup has been drained) or fresh mangoes

250g natural yoghurt

300g milk

3 tbsp maple syrup, to taste

6 ice cubes

1/4 tsp of ground cardamom

1. After straining the syrup from the mangoes add all the ingredients and blend together in a juicer/blender. If you prefer it thinner in consistency simply add a little extra milk or water.

Serve in glasses on warm summer days.


Prague Adventures and Spiced Mulled Wine

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I’ve been on a little jaunt across to Prague since my last post. As is customary around this time of year my family like to spend a few days somewhere really cold where we can wrap up warm (I wore five layers most days), visit the christmas markets, eat lardy food and soak up a bit of culture. Prague hit the spot and besides I have always wanted to return as my last visit was interrupted the whole time by work calls from London. This time I vowed to turn off my phone and all communication with the outside world.

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The best way to explore any city is by foot or bike, although across cobble stones the former mode of transport is by far more advisable. So for three full days we walked around the old city across the bridges, through the various squares, visiting the cathedral, churches and palace and taking in some art – both old and new. Our days of walking were interspersed with tasty pit stops. My girls loved to eat these wonderful hot pastry rolls that were dipped in cinnamon sugar.

Whilst Mr B and I enjoyed sipping some festive mulled wine/gluhwein/vin chaud/glogg. Nothing beats drinking mulled wine when the outside temperature is close to zero. It warms you up from the inside out and gives you that renewed energy to keep exploring a little longer in the cold elements.

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It’s brilliantly easy to make yourself and is a great winter warmer for the holiday period. Over the Christmas break you can guarantee that I for one will be drinking a glass or two after our Boxing day walk. The warming smell of the cinnamon and cloves bubbling away in the red wine on the stove evokes so many happy memories.  I recommend using the cheapest bottle of red plonk that you can get your hands on – save your Chateaux Margaux for another occasion!

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Spiced Mulled Wine

Serves 6 (a couple of glasses each!)

2 bottles of cheap red wine

150g (or 100g if you prefer it less sweet!) caster sugar

1/2 freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tsp cloves

4 cardamom pods

2 sticks of cinnamon split in two

100ml port (optional)

a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

200ml water

orange peel strips to serve

1. In a large pan add the caster sugar and half a pint of red wine and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Add the remaining ingredients aside from the orange peel strips and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquid before serving and gently pour the hot spiced mulled wine into individual glasses or mugs and add a orange peel strip to each one.

You can make in advance and then reheat when needed. You can also store in the fridge overnight to be reheated the following day.

Note: If you have some muslin cloth you could add all the spices to this cloth and then simply remove before serving, instead of straining. 

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I bid you all a very happy Christmas and will be back with my next post in the New Year. Thank you for always stopping by and supporting me with your comments and likes over the last couple of years. Merry Christmas to you all.

Torie x

Take a sneak peek at a few of the other sights we saw in Prague below.


Spicy Virgin Mary with Rosemary Spiced Walnuts

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For as long as I can remember I have adored drinking a Spicy Virgin Mary and time and time again I have been a little disappointed by what some pubs pass off as a Virgin Mary here in the UK. Tomato juice with a little tabasco just really doesn’t pass muster, so it’s not unheard of me asking for the necessary ingredients and making my own. Cheeky I know, but hey! In my old life working as a headhunter in the city I would spend a fair amount of time in hotels around London and other European cities meeting up with candidates who wished to remain incognito. I am not a coffee drinker, other than iced coffee and in particular Vietnamese –  for the recipe click here, and there are only so many cups of teas, water and ginger ales you can drink in a day, so my drink of choice, come the afternoon, would be a Virgin Mary.

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The quality of these Virgin Mary cocktails on the whole were excellent, as you would expect from a five * hotel, however, I recall the ones served to me at Browns Hotel, London and The Four Seasons, Canary Wharf – London and Milan were ahead of the pack. They often came accompanied by some little bar snack – nuts, olives or vegetable crisps, which worked so well with the spicy drink.

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So alongside my recipe of a Spicy Virgin Mary I have found the perfect munchy, Rosemary Spiced Walnuts, which is easy to prepare and guaranteed to please those you hand the bowl to. In fact I have prepared it so many times since stumbling across it on fellow food blogger ‘Gastrogeek’s‘ site that it will definitely be imprinted on my mind as the snack for 2013.

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Spicy Virgin Mary

Makes 1 jug around 6 glasses

1 litre of tomato juice

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp tabasco

juice from half a lemon

2 tbsp horseradish

pinch of celery salt (or normal rock salt)

freshly ground black pepper

fresh celery sticks

extra lemon juice for rim of glass

1. Add all the ingredients together and taste. I do like my horseradish so perhaps add one tablespoonful then taste before adding the second.

2. To decorate the glasses first squeeze the extra lemon juice on a saucer and the freshly ground black pepper on another. Place the glasses first on to the saucer with the lemon juice followed by the saucer with the black pepper.

3. Add the Spicy Virgin Mary followed by a stick of celery in each glass and a slice of lemon and some ice.

If you want to ‘bloody’ the drink then just add vodka!

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Summer is the season for having friends around for a BBQ and generally chillaxing so I hope you get to try this fab drink/snack combo. What homemade snacks do you like to serve up when friends come over?

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Rosemary Spiced Walnuts

Adapted from the lovely Rejina over at Gastrogeek, who in turn sourced it from Lawrence Keogh, Head Chef at the Wolseley

1 tbsp butter if eating immediately OR a splash of olive oil if cooking ahead of munching

150g walnuts

1-2 tsp light brown sugar

4 springs of fresh rosemary, chopped into small pieces

splash of water

1 generous pinch rock salt

pinch of ground black pepper

1/2 tsp chilli powder (or you could try smoked/hot paprika/cayenne powder)

1. Heat the butter/oil in a saucepan and add the walnuts. Cover the walnuts in the butter/oil and keep them gently moving around the pan allowing the natural oils to resonate.

2. After a couple of minutes add the sugar and allow the nuts to begin to caramalise.

3. Add the chilli powder (I also sometimes make these with smoked paprika), fresh rosemary, rock salt and black pepper. Continue to stir and shake the nuts around, making sure that they do not burn.

4. After a couple of minutes pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle some rock salt on top.

Perfect with a Spicy Virgin Mary.

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