Gobi Aloo Kasoori Methi – Cauliflower with Potato and Dried Fenugreek Leaves

Cauliflower, in my view, is massively underrated. In the past it was perhaps thought of as a little bland, but when you boil anything I guess it could be described as bland. Growing up we had cauliflower cheese – which don’t get me wrong, is delicious – but beyond that people really didn’t tend to do much with it.  That has all changed though in the last couple of years, with dishes such as cauliflower rice, cauliflower base for pizza, roasted cauliflower, burnt cauliflower – you name it, people are getting creative with this humble ingredient. In Indian cuisine  it is hugely versatile and used in all manner of dishes.

Throw a little spice into the mix and you have yourself a very tasty little number. I thought I would show you one of my favourite cauliflower recipes that works well either on its own or as part of a larger Indian feast. Dried methi, or fenugreek as it is also known, is fairly easy to come by these days. Certainly the large supermarkets stock it, but I like to get it from one of my local Asian grocers. You can order online  – herfrom Asian Dukan. Easy.

Methi has a wonderful aroma, that works so well with the cauliflower. Only scatter the dried leaves over the cauliflower at the very end of cooking and gently fold the leaves into the dish. I cook this dish with the trinity of Indian spices: turmeric, cumin and coriander, but my mother-in-law likes to keep it super simple and literally just add, oil, dried chilli, salt and dried methi. It is also delicious this way, but try my slightly more elaborate way first.

Gobi Aloo Kasoori Methi – Cauliflower with Potato and Dried Fenugreek Leaves

serves 4-6 along with another dish or two.

2 medium potatoes, cubed into 2-2.5cm

3-4 tbsp rapeseed/vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 small dried red chillies

1 cauliflower, outer leaves removed and cut into small florets

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp salt, to taste

sprinkling of water

2 tbsp of Kasoori Methi

 

  1. Peel the potatoes and then once diced place them in a pan of boiling water and boil for around 8 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Strain and place to one side.
  2. In a large wide pan (ideally with a lid), add 1 tablespoon of oil and when it is hot add the cumin seeds move around the pan for 10 seconds before adding the dried chillies.
  3. Add the boiled cubed potatoes and cover with the cumin seeds.
  4. Place the cauliflower florets into the pan and move around so that they are also beginning to coat themselves in the cumin seeds. You will need to add a little more oil at this stage to help the cauliflower cook and soften. Add the oil at stages instead of all at once.
  5. Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander powders along with the salt and fold into the cauliflower.
  6. Keep the cauliflower gently moving around the pan at intervals. Sprinkle a little water to help soften the cauliflower and place a lid on the pan.
  7. Every few minutes move the contents of the pan around.
  8. Continue to cook gently, on a low heat for a further 10-15 minutes so that the cauliflower has softened.
  9. Finally add the fenugreek leaves – kasoori methi and gently fold into the cauliflower. Take off the heat and serve.

An alternative and even simpler way to cook this dish is to replace cumin seeds with methi (fenugreek) seeds, do not add any spice and then the kasoori methi. Obviously the dish is not as yellow in colour but still tastes really delicious. You can also omit the potatoes if you wish. 


Hot Spiced Tomatoes with Spinach

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Cooking at the end of the day when you are tired and exhausted can be a bit of a chore. I always have loads of tomatoes in my fridge – probably my favourite ingredient of all time – so am often coming up with inventive ways to use them – Indian style tomato chutney anyone?

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This recipe uses them as the star ingredient and as I always like to eat greens, a handful of fresh spinach  complements the dish perfectly. If you have some fresh fish, place it in the oven for 10 minutes (you may need a little longer if you have a large fish/portion) then you can quickly whip this tomato side dish to accompany the fish. Easy and no fuss.

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It’s also great to use alongside more on an Indian feast if you are feeding a crowd. It adds zing and heat in equal measure.

Hot Spiced Tomatoes with Spinach

Serves 4 (accompanied with another dish or two)

2 tbsp rapeseed/vegetable oil

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

450g large tomatoes (works out to be about 6), quartered

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (less if you like it less hot)

1 tbsp jaggery (or sugar if you don’t have jaggery see note below)

1 tsp salt

100ml water

1 handful of fresh spinach

  1. Gently heat the oil and when it is hot place the cumin and mustard seeds into the pan. They will sizzle immediately. Keep the heat low. After 10 seconds add the quartered tomatoes and move around the pan so that the spices cover them.
  2. Add the spices, salt and jaggery and then after 20 seconds add the water. Keep on a low heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the fresh spinach and take off the heat. The spinach will wilt from the heat of the tomatoes. Do not overcook the tomatoes as you want them to have soften but still to have held their shape as much as possible.

Serve with freshly cooked fish or chicken or as part of a large Indian feast.

Jaggery – also known as palm sugar – check out the health benefits of using jaggery instead of sugar here.


Homemade Naan Bread, The Black Forest and The Knights Templar

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Soft pillowy naan bread dunked into a bowl of dal has got to be THE ultimate comfort food. As those who have been reading my blog for sometime will know, whenever I return from holiday the first thing I cook is some dal. It’s quick, easy and you can determine the amount of fresh chilli that you put in it. There are so many dals you can make, but I often opt for  – red split lentil dal. You can add whatever vegetable you have to hand – tomatoes, peas, carrots – but I would advise not adding more than 2 max.img_4536-3

I had spent a week in the glorious Black Forest in the south west corner of Germany. Wifi is hit and miss – hence the lack of a blog post last week, apologies – so it allows you to unwind properly and relax in this beautiful part of the country. img_4524-3

 

The top of the hills were covered in snow, but down in the valleys the pastures were green, which gave us the option of walks in the meadows and through the forests or skiing at higher altitudes.

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We were blessed with clear blue skies and warming winter sun. A stunning combination.

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Whilst our days were spent out and about in the fresh air, our evenings were spent sitting by the roaring fires eating the local produce of venison, wild boar, cheese, breads, wine, an interesting salad leaf that can only be found in the Black Forest around February (name escapes me, but it was a cross between rocket and watercress) and Black Forest gateaux – naturally.

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We drove from London, staying over for a couple of nights in Strasbourg on the way, admiring it’s impressive cathedral and quaint streets. In many ways in reminded me of Bruges or nearby Colmar – definitely worth a detour if you haven’t been.

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Strasbourg is easy to explore on foot and has a number of museums and art galleries in close proximity. A boat trip on the waterways is also a must and helps you get your bearings.

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To break up our homeward journey we stayed in Laon, in the region of Picardy. If medieval history is of interest to you then this place is an absolute must. We stayed in one of the old canon’s houses (there were  84 canons at one time living in Laon – it was the largest chapter in France in the 12th and 13th centuries) up in the attic with a view of the cathedral. Our airbnb host was a charming and well travelled French man who was keen to show us his eleventh century frescos and ruins in his cellar. The cellar stretched under the whole of his house and when we had seen what we thought was the extent of it, he revealed another doorway with steps leading further down to another level. We proceeded to explore this level and then found further steps leading to another level. It was a cavern within a cavern within a cavern.  It was without doubt the most incredibly historical cellar we have ever been in and an archaeologist/historians dream. Over the ages new floors were simply added – we could make out the old stables on one level. Apparently there are many passageways linking up the canon’s houses surrounding the cathedral. I imagine many of them are filled in or perhaps not yet discovered by their occupants living many metres above.

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The Knights Templar spent much time both in Laon and the surrounding area. They built this magnificent church (above) modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1140. Unfortunately we only managed to spend a few minutes here before we were ushered out as it was closing time, so the museum that stands beside it will have to wait for a future visit.

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The Cathedral itself is worth a visit and in fact it was what initially drew us to this hill top city a couple of years ago, as we could see it’s towers from miles away. Laon is only 80 miles north east of Paris and only a couple of hours from Calais so  it’s a good place to stopover before catching the Euro tunnel home.

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Anyway enough of my travels and back to the matter at hand….naan bread. Believe it or not they are really easy to cook yourself. Making the dough is pretty straight forward and then you need to let it rest, in a warm part of your house, for 1-2 hours to let it increase in size.

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Then it is simply a case of rolling out the naan into small, thin, oval shapes. You can add nigella (black onion seeds) or sesame seeds on the top or keep them plain. Sometimes I like to add a couple of teaspoons of garlic paste to make garlic naan. You can be as inventive as you like in all honesty.

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I tend to cook mine in a frying pan – do not add any oil – but you can also cook them under the grill if you prefer, but be watchful as they bronze quickly.

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It takes no more than a minute or so to cook them and then I add some melted butter on top. Equally if you prefer you can add some melted ghee or even milk.

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My girls (and husband) love them both with a meal or an after school snack. Serve them warm and eat straight away. A wonderful treat and perfect for chilly February weather.

 

Homemade Naan Bread

makes around 9-10 naan bread

400g plain flour

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

5g dried yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg beaten

100g full fat plain yoghurt

100ml warm full fat milk

1 tbsp butter, melted

 optional: nigella/sesame seeds/fresh coriander as a topping

If you want to make garlic naan add a couple of tsp of garlic paste at the beginning and mix into the dough.

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour and then make a hole in the centre and pour in the oil, dried yeast, salt, sugar, baking powder and beaten egg.
  2. Mix gently using your hands and once it has become quite crumbly add the yoghurt and then continue to mix together.
  3. Now gradually add in the warm milk until all the mixture comes together.
  4. Remove from the bowl and place a little plain flour on a cold surface.
  5. Kneed the dough for 5 minutes until it become soft and pliable.
  6. Return to the bowl and cover with cling film and leave in a warm room for over an hour so that it can increase in size.
  7. When it is ready, split the dough into even balls and begin to roll them out thinly in oval shapes.  You may need a sprinkling of extra flour at this stage to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Pierce gently with a fork. If adding nigella/sesame seeds lay a few on the top and gently roll them into the top of the naan.
  8. Heat a non-stick frying pan. When it is properly hot add a naan bread and leave for around 20 seconds before turning over and leaving for a further 20 seconds. Turn once more for a few more seconds – or longer if it is not bronzing sufficiently.
  9. Remove from the pan and add a little melted butter to the top. Keep under a warm tea towel whilst you work on the remaining naan. As the naan’s I make are quite small I can often manage two in a pan at a time.

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Black Pepper Aniseed Chicken and Being on Editors’ Picks

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There has been a wonderful flurry of activity behind the scenes on my blog in the last 48 hours. My phone began to ping – indicating a new ‘follower’ and ‘buzz’ when a new like happened. They were happening more regularly than usual to the extent I began to wonder what on earth was going on. After a little digging around I realised that my blog had been selected as one of the ‘Editors’ Picks’ – The best of WordPress, selected by Editors at Automatic. I am beyond ecstatic as I have watched in awe over the years at the fascinating, motivating and uplifting blogs that are selected across a wide selection of genres.

So welcome to all the new followers of my blog. I hope you get the chance to have a good virtual wander around. I have so many recipes in my ‘recipe library’ that I hope to appeal to a wide audience. The common thread with all of them is that they will have herbs or spices working their magic within them. I am passionate about them and adore dishes from across the globe. When I come across a new ingredient I am the first to give it a whirl and see for myself if it is something that I can incorporate in my cooking going forward. In the last year I tried (and loved) kokum, (or as one sweet reader corrected me  kodampuli)  – see here  which has a tangy, distinct flavour, as well as sea urchin which I have been meaning to try for years – it was as delicious as I had envisaged.

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To get you started how about having a look and trying one of my Sunday go-to dishes Bengali red split lentil dal or perhaps you are more of a meat eater then try one of my fav Mexican dishes – Mexican chilli beef with butternut squash.  Keeping on the theme of butternut squash how about this vegetarian curry using the squash as the star ingredient – butternut squash, lemongrass, coconut and spinach curry . If you have more of a sweet tooth then this one is rather good and even made it’s way into the Telegraph newspaper in the UK – chocolate, chilli and cinnamon fondants with cardamom chantilly cream. If you can’t find what you are looking for just send me an email or leave a comment and I will try and point you in the right direction or will come up with a recipe for you in a future post.

Today however I wanted to share a south Indian chicken recipe with you that actually originates from Chettinadu. As Bengal is famous for cooking with mustard, so Chettinadu is renown for using black pepper to heat their dishes. This dish is one with great heat and packs a punch. If you are feeling a bit low with a cold then I can assure you this dish will more than perk you up again. You need to make your own masala, which takes minutes, and is so worth it, and then the actually cooking of the dish is completed within 40-45 minutes max. I have another Chettinadu dish on my blog (which requires more ingredients than this dish), which you may also want to check out if this recipe turns out to be a hit for you. Let me know how you get on in the comments box below.

 Black Pepper and Aniseed Chicken

2 tbsp oil

1 cinnamon stick

3 green cardamom pods, opened

2 white onions, roughly chopped

3 tsp garlic-ginger paste

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1kg chicken pieces on the bone (I find skinless thigh works well)

200ml water

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Masala

2 tsp aniseed *

2 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp black peppercorns

2 tsp coriander seeds

3 dried Kashmiri chillies

*if you don’t have aniseed you can use fennel seeds instead

  1. First heat a frying pan. When it is hot add the masala ingredients and move them around the pan for about 30 seconds to release their aromas. Place to one side then grind to a powder – I like to use my Krups one.
  2. In a different deep pan add the oil and when it is hot add cinnamon stick and cardamom pods followed by the onion and keep on a medium to low heat to allow the onion to bronze which will take around 8-10 minutes.
  3. Once the onion has bronzed sufficiently add the garlic-ginger paste and move around the pan for a couple of minutes before adding all of the ground masala.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently to allow them to soften.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and coat in the sauce. Add 100ml of water and place a lid on the pan.  Keep on a low heat and simmer for 40 minutes. You will need to add a further 100ml whilst cooking to give it more of a sauce (if you prefer it drier then omit this part). In the final 10 minutes remove the lid and allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Serve alongside rice or perhaps some Indian flat bread.

Baked Spiced Squash and Potato Samosa, Curry For Change Campaign and Wandsworth Radio

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I love it when friends bring edible gifts, especially ones they have been handmade or grown. The other day I was given this gorgeous blue looking squash that my pal had grown in her vegetable patch in the Cotswolds. We are not too sure what it is exactly but our guess is pointing us towards pumpkin invincible (we liked the name anyway). It looked beautiful, so I let it sit around in the kitchen for over a week for us all to admire. Part of me wanted to spray it silver or gold and have it sitting by the fireplace over the christmas season, but then again I knew it would be delicious as a lot of care and love had gone into growing it, it would be a shame not to eat it such a gorgeous gift.

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I broke into it yesterday – it definitely won top prize on ‘hardest squash to break into’. It’s flesh was bright orange with seeds slightly puffier than your regular pumpkins. I removed the skin from a quarter of it and then diced it up small. The rest I covered and placed in the fridge to use on another occasion.

A lovely idea would be to incorporate the squash into some gnocchi itself – you could use my recipe for gnocchi here or incorporate it with some store bought gnocchi here.

My plan was to use the filling for some spiced baked squash and potato samosas. I was going on to Wandsworth radio later in the day to talk to presenter, Emma Gordon aka Mrs Stylist, about the charity ‘Find Your Feet’ and their ‘Curry For Change’ campaign and hosting your own supper parties to help the charity. In addition the plan was to talk about alternative christmas snacks, so thought the samosas and my Indian tomato chutney were perfect for the occasion. You can hear the interview here if you fancy hearing me on the airwaves.

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For those keen to get involved in the campaign they are really having a push next week (21st November). The charity is all about helping those who live in rural communities in northern India, Nepal, Malawi and Zimbabwe to help them ‘find their feet’ – rather than simply giving handouts, through acquiring training and skills that can break the cycle of poverty by setting up their own business to allow them to feed themselves and their families. The idea is that we host supper parties. Natco and Kingfisher beer sponsor the whole campaign and will send those who sign up here a spice pack, which invariable includes lentils and other exciting goodies. Kingfisher will also send a crate of beer to  drink at the event. You ask diners to pay what they would ordinarily spend on a curry take out and the money then goes to ‘Find Your Feet’. Natco then double the amount you raise.  It’s a simple idea that is a win win for all involved. You don’t need to be a food blogger to take part. Everyone young and old can give it a whirl – even my mother has expressed an interest to take part. The curry for change website also has lots of inspiring recipes to help you plan your curry evening. You may even see one of two of mine listed on their site.

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Back to the spiced squash samosas.

The good thing about these snacks is that they can be prepared and then frozen, pre cooking, and then when you are ready to bake them you simply place them in the oven for 20 minutes from frozen. So simple. I often like to prepare a chutney to go along with a street food snacks, such as samosas. You can see my recipe for Indian spiced tomato chutney here. It is very quick to prepare and stores in the fridge for a couple of days.

Folding the samosas is easier than you think. Place the filling in the bottom right hand corner and then fold the pastry over so that a triangle forms. Then you fold the pastry up along the line before folding over to the left hand side, continuing with the triangle theme. Just keep in mind that you need to keep folding in alternative triangles and using water or ghee to stick the sides together. There are more photos showing how it is done on my post about ‘beetroot, feta and cumin samosas’ – see here. I like to sprinkle the samosas with nigella seeds, also known as black onion seeds, equally you could sprinkle sesame seeds or even chilli flakes.

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 Baked Spiced Squash and Potato 

Makes 20

700g squash/pumpkin of your choice, cut into small cubes

1 large potato (250g), cut into small cubes

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp nigella seeds

pinch of asafoetida/hing

1 onion, finely chopped

1 birds eye green chilli, finely sliced

1 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

100g frozen peas

2 packets of Jus Filo Sheets 270g each

2 tbsp melted ghee

  1. First place the cubed squash and potatoes in a pan with boiling water and let them soften, which will take around 10 minutes. If they are still a little hard, allow them to cook for a little longer. Strain and place to one side.
  2. In a separate wide pan add the oil and then add the mustard, cumin and nigella seeds followed by the asafoetida. Allow them to move around the pan for around 20 seconds before adding the onion.
  3. Allow the onion to soften for around 8 minutes, before adding the ginger paste and fresh chilli.
  4. Add the squash and potato and cover with the spices along with the cumin and turmeric powder.
  5. Using a fork or potato masher, gently squash the squash and potatoes. You don’t necessarily want it as smooth as mash, but certainly soften from it’s cubed form.
  6. Add the frozen peas and place a lid on the pan for a few minutes, adding a little water if it is becoming too dry. Take off the heat and leave to one side.
  7. Take the filo pastry out of its packet and using one sheet cut into in two horizontally. With the remaining filo pastry cover with a damp cloth.
  8. Working quickly you want to place a spoonful of the filling in the bottom right hand corner of the pastry (see photos). Place a little the melted ghee along the left hand edge of the pastry. Bring the bottom right hand corner of the pastry up to the right hand side at a diagonal to form a triangle (see photos above). Fold over from side to side until you reach the top. Stick the ends with melted ghee and either place on a plate to go into the freezer or one some greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds.
  9. Work your way through all the filling until it has all been used up. Freeze any left over filo pastry.
  10. If you are cooking immediately heat the oven to 180 degrees. Once the oven is hot place the samosas into the oven for 20 minutes – or until they are nicely bronzed.
  11. Eat when they are nice and hot with either a spiced tomato chutney or perhaps some tamarind and date chutney

If you host a curry for change dinner I would LOVE to hear about it. Take a photo and tag #chilliandmint and #curryforchange on twitter/instagram.

 


Maharashtrian Stuffed Aubergines with Cashew, Coconut and Tamarind

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I’ve been having quite a number of requests recently for aubergine recipes. At my local Indian grocers they have the full range from the small round ones, which I used for this recipe, to the small finger looking ones, to the more regular sized ones that you find in your general supermarket.

As far as recipes go I have quite a few already on the blog so do check them out:

miso aubergines

fried indian aubergines

aubergine, pork and rice noodle salad

moussaka

red Thai tofu, aubergine and egg curry

Indian aubergine peanut and tomato curry

baba ganoush (one of my favourites)

soba noodles with tofu, aubergine and mango

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The one that I wanted to show you today is very similar to the Indian aubergine, peanut and tomato curry, however it uses small oval shaped aubergines that are easy to find at Indian grocers. It also uses cashew nuts, desiccated coconut and tamarind and does not include onion. This recipe is a traditional Maharashtrian dish often prepared over religious festivals. As diwali – the hindu festival of light – is fast approaching this coming Sunday 30th October I thought it was apt to show you how to make it.

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Do not be put off by the length of ingredients as it really is pretty easy to make.

Maharashtrian Stuffed Aubergines with Cashew, Coconut and Tamarind

serves 6-8 if serving with a couple of other dishes (reduce the amount of aubergines if serving a smaller number)

12-14 small oval aubergines – slit (but not all the way through) crossways

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 Kashmiri chilli powder

10 fresh curry leaves

pinch of asafoetida

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 tsp salt

150ml water

Paste

70g cashew nuts

2 tbsp white sesame seeds

3 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 tbsp coriander seeds

30g fresh coriander – leaves and stalks

1 tsp salt

1 tsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp jaggery/brown sugar

 

  1. First make cross incisions in all of the aubergines being careful not to cut all the way through. Place in a bowl of cold water with pinch of salt added.
  2. Next make the paste. First dry roast the cashew nuts and when they begin to brown very slightly add the sesame seeds and keep them moving around the pan for about 20 seconds before adding the coconut and stirring for a further 20 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before adding to your spice grinder along with the coriander seeds.
  3. As my spice grinder cannot take liquid I then move to my mini blender where I then add the fresh coriander, salt, tamarind paste, jaggery and a splash of water to loosen it slightly – although it is important it remains a paste as opposed to a runny liquid.
  4. You then want to stuff each of the aubergines with the paste and place to one side. If you have any paste left over this will go into the pan so also leave to one side
  5. Heat a deep pan and add the vegetable oil. When it is hot add the mustard and cumin seeds, followed by the asafoetida, curry leaves, Kashmiri chilli powder and turmeric powder. Move around the pan for 15 seconds before adding any leftover paste and the diced tomatoes. Keep on a gently heat for a couple of minutes before adding the aubergines.
  6. Add around 150ml of water – you can add more later if it becomes too thick and keep on a gentle simmer for 25 minutes with the lid on. Turn the aubergines over at intervals.
  7. Taste the sauce and add more water if too thick. Add more salt or jaggery if need be.
  8. Serve with a scattering of freshly cut coriander.

Gunpowder – a new exciting Indian restaurant worth seeking out

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I rarely eat out at Indian restaurants these days – other than my old favs down in Tooting and perhaps Gymkhana if I’m in town. My other half is Indian so as you can imagine by default I cook and eat a fair amount of Indian food. When my mother-in-law comes to visit or we go and stay with her she spoils us with her traditional Bengali fare, so in many respects I am pretty spoilt when it comes to tasty, home cooked Indian food.

My other half had recently eaten at this new Indian restaurant, close to Spitalfields market and the Bangladeshi enclave of Brick Lane, named ‘Gunpowder’ and had waxed lyrical about how much I would love it.

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I did not need to be asked twice. It was relatively easy to find – literally 5 minutes walk from Liverpool Street station. The exterior, although small and low key, appealed; the font and paint work had been chosen with care. As there is a no reservations policy I arrived just past noon to find only one other table already seated. It was not long however, before the place filled up with hungry diners. Whilst I waited for my fellow guests the waiting staff were attentive and friendly, guiding me around the menu and the days special – partridge cooked in Indian spices, if I recall.

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Much like the restaurant itself, the menu was small and yet perfectly formed – it seats only 28. Although Gunpowder – named after a spice mix and a nod to the old artillery ground nearby – is on the premises of an old curry house, it is far removed from your typical cuzza. The restaurant is the brainchild of Kolkatan Harneet Baweja and his wife, who brought on board Mumbai-born head chef Nirmal Save, ex Tamarind and Zaika.

The menu choice is refreshingly original with dishes such as: chettinad pulled duck served with homemade oothappam, sigree grilled mustard broccoli, karwari soft shell crab and wild rabbit pulao, to tempt diners. The cuisine is not specific to an area, instead encapsulating elements across many regions.

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We started with ‘rasam ke bomb’ – which were the perfect spice explosions to kick off the proceedings. The ‘rasam’ – a spiced Indian thin soup, was presented in shot glasses. On top sat round crispy shelled pani puri. Within these little beauties was a lighted spiced potato mash. We were encouraged to bite, sip and bite again until we had finished both the ‘bomb’ and the shot. It was the most magnificent way to start the proceedings adding a theatrical allure to the whole occasion.

Whilst we waited for our other dishes to arrive we munched on tasty porzhi okra fries. Even if you’ve been put off okra in the past seriously try these, you will not be disappointed. Following the fries we feasted on spicy venison and vermicelli doughnuts, which looked similar to scotch eggs but instead had soft spiced venison incased within a crispy shell. The hot dipping sauce to accompany the doughnut added further zing and spiciness to the dish. We followed these with maa’s Kashmiri lamb chops, saag with tandoori paneer and a rather delicious spiced kale with a yogurt dressing. I loved the attention to detail and the genuine passion that had gone into making each dish.

The restaurant is onto a winning formula in that the menu is original and yet follows through spectacularly with flavour and heat. Those who love their spices will feel right at home at Gunpowder. This is not the place to come if you are looking for your chicken korma and other typical curry house dishes. I am already looking forward to my next visit.

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday

Lunch 12 noon – 3pm

Dinner 5.30pm – 10.30pm

Sunday closed

 

Address

11 White’s Row

Spitalfields

London, E1 7NF

 


Crispy Savoury Donut known as Medu Vada

IMG_2627I want to introduce you to a new kid in town that will seriously impress you.

Step aside donut and cronut (croissant and donut pastry) and make way for the Indian savoury donut known as ‘medu vada’. These savoury delicacies look very similar to their saccharin cousins the donut, but are filled with lots of wonderful spices instead of sugar.

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They are really fun to make and you can add your own twists to make them your own. They are a little bit naughty in that they are fried, but hey a little bit of fried deliciousness now and again is absolutely fine in books. They are made of urad dal – the white dal you can easily find in any Asian grocers-  that is soaked for at least 3 hours and then blended to form a soft fluffy paste.

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My daughters find them equally irresistible so they really are a treat for the whole family. They are typically eaten in southern India and Sri Lanka either at breakfast time or as a snack with a coconut chutney or possibly a dal or sambal. I could quite happily eat them for my breakfast but more often then not I make them for an afternoon snack with a cup of warming tea.

They are crispy on the outside and have a soft texture on the interior.

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My recipe makes around 13 little donuts, but if you want to make more just double up on the ingredients. There are no set rules here other than not making the dough too wet.

Medu Vada – Indian Savoury Donuts

Makes 13

175g white urid dal

1/2 tsp salt

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

 12 fresh curry leaves, chopped (optional)

1 green/red fresh chilli finely chopped (optional)

  1. Soak the white urid dal in a bowl covered with water for at least 3 hours.
  2. Strain the dal and place into a blender. Blend and if needed add literally a tsp at a time of water to loosen it slightly. Do not over water. You want it to have the same consistency as a fluffy light dough.
  3. Place the lentil dough into a large bowl and with your hand lift the dough, folding it over so that it gets air into it about 15 times.
  4. Add all the ingredients and mix well with your hands or a spoon.
  5. Heat a pan with cooking oil and when it is hot wet one of your hands and create a small ball (a little larger than a golf ball) and then place your thumb in the centre to create a hole through the dough. Then gently loosen the dough off your hand and place into the hot oil. Be careful when doing this as the movement from placing the dough into the pan and removing your hand needs to be super quick.
  6. Place a few donuts in the pan at once and leave them to bronze on one side for a couple of minutes, before turning them over with a slotted spoon for another couple of minutes.
  7. You are looking to get a yellowy bronze hue as opposed to brown, so be careful to watch them closely.
  8. Remove them from the pan and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.
  9. Continue to make the rest.
  10. If you are planning to serve them as a snack when friends come over simply place them in a preheated oven that has subsequently been turned off. They should stay warm for a good hour.

They are perfect to eat with a chutney, dal or sambal (see links in the body of my post).

Note: 

  • I often don’t add chilli so that all my family can comfortably eat them. For those who like the chilli kick, you can serve them with a hotter chutney, which keeps all parties happy.

 

 

 

 

 


Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry

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Bengalis love fish in a big way.  Mention ilish/hilsa or rui and their eyes will light up. In Kolkata the use of mustard seeds, mustard oil and mustard paste is used in a lot of their cooking. For this dish I have used mackerel as it is easy to source in the UK, is super tasty and is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids – the type of fats that are good for our health. For those who have been following my blog for quite a few years will recognise this recipe as I realise I posted a very similar one with bream back in 2013. You can see it here.

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This dish is something that can be rustled up in no time at all – from start to finish is max 15 minutes and unlike many mackerel curries, the fish is not fried. My mother-in-law cooks it fairly frequently so it has naturally become one of my staple dishes too.

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There is no need for onion or garlic in this dish, the ingredients are very simple: turmeric, nigella seeds, fresh chillies, chilli powder, wholegrain and English mustard and fresh coriander/cilantro. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

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Kolkata Style Mustard Mackerel Curry

Serves 4

3 mackerel, cut into 4 pieces (you can keep the head if you wish, which would make 5 pieces)

4 tbsp oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

4 fresh chillies, slit at the top to release some seeds

3 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard

2-3 heaped tsp English mustard

pinch of chilli powder

75ml water

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil and when it is hot add the nigella seeds, turmeric, chilli powder followed by both mustard pastes and the fresh chilli. Move around the pan for up to a minute.
  2. Add approximately 25ml of water, salt and then add the fish. Be careful not to move them around too much as you do not want them to break and fall apart. Place a lid on the pan.
  3. After a few minutes cooking add a further 50ml water and gently turn the fish over and replace the lid on the pan.
  4. Cook for 12 minutes and then take off the heat.
  5. Before serving sprinkle fresh coriander leaves. If cooking ahead of time gently reheat the fish adding a little more water and then add the coriander leaves.

Serve with rice or Indian breads.

As a side note: this dish is fabulous to eat as leftovers the next day. I like to add a little more water, a heap of fresh spinach and a couple of tomatoes quartered. It tastes delicious.


Bengali Vegetable Curry with Lentil Kisses

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Lentil kisses, known as bori, are little sun dried lentil nuggets that have often been handmade and left to dry in the hot, warming Indian sun. My mother-in-law often brings me back a jar upon visiting her beloved  home city of Kolkata. They remind me of a lentil version of Hershey’s chocolate kisses – the type that visitors from the US often used to bring me and my siblings when we were young. Making bori yourself is not too tricky – there is a lovely recipe here if you are keen – if you live in a country where you can rely on warm, glowing hot sun, but as the weather in the UK is at best erratic when it comes to sunshine, it would probably be rather tricky.

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Whilst I realise not everyone has a Benglai mother-law-in who can magic up bori at a whim, you can get hold of bori in London at any good Asian grocers. In Kolkata, bori is also cooked with fish dishes or with greens, but today I wanted to show you a simple recipe that uses up vegetables that you are likely to have in your fridge. It makes for a very satisfying and enjoyable vegetable meal that is perfect eaten on it’s own or accompanied with some dal, rice or flat breads.

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Good luck in your quest for lentil kisses. They are seriously not that hard to seek out. Let me know how you get on.

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Vegetable Curry with Lentil Kisses

1 large handful of bori (lentil kisses)

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 small dried red chillies

1 tsp panch phoron

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder, optional

2 carrots, cut into bite sized chunks

3 medium sized potatoes, quartered

1/4 of an aubergine, cut into bite sized chunks

2 tomatoes, finely diced

1 tsp salt

to serve

1 handful of fresh coriander

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil (or thereabouts) in a pan and when it is hot add the dried chillies and allow them to blacken a little, this will take no longer than a minute, but may make you cough a little so beware!
  2. Add the panch phoron which will begin to fizzle almost instantly. Then add the turmeric and chilli powder (if using the latter) and add the chopped carrots and potatoes. Move around the pan, lower the heat add a couple of tablespoons of water and place a lid on the pan and leave for 15 minutes, stirring at intervals.
  3. Meanwhile in a separate pan add another tablespoon of oil and when it is hot add the bori/lentil kisses so that they bronze slightly in colour. This will only take a few minutes, if you keep moving them around the pan. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll.
  4. In the main pan now add the aubergine, salt and fresh tomatoes and stir into the other ingredients. Add a little more water to help soften the ingredients, but not too much as you do not want the sauce to become too runny. Place a lid on the pan and leave for another 10 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes check to see if the potatoes and carrots are softening. Add the bronzed bori and gently stir into the vegetables. Place the lid on the pan and leave for a further 5 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots have softened sufficiently.
  6. To serve add freshly chopped coriander.

It is wonderful to accompany with some dal and rice or Indian flat breads.

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