Thursday, 31 May 2012

Once up on a time in Leicester...

tea, chai, namkeen, mithai, cake, crisps, pistachio, rose, baking, boutique, indian, inspired, cakes, pastries, anglo-indian, spices, cardamom, chai, afternoon, tea, british, raj
Pre-lunch snack...

Deep in the rural suburbs of Leicester a real Saturday morning kitchen was taking place, much like it did every week in this typical Indian home.  The smell of fresh chapatis being cooked on the cast iron plate filled the room, aubergine curry was cooling down on the table &  a bowl of freshly mixed mango pulp was glowing in the corner.  Since lunch wasn't going to be ready for another half an hour, we sat down to a snack before hand...in our family, if you go for more than 30 mins without eating or drinking something it's a sign of a poor host and nobody wants to run that risk! 
 
aubergine curry, chapatti, rice, dal, keri no ras, mango, milk, yoghurt, chutney, salad, lunch,pistachio, rose, baking, boutique, indian, inspired, cakes, pastries, anglo-indian, spices, cardamom, chai, afternoon, tea, british, raj
Actual Lunch!
sev, milk, cardamom, spice, warm, indian, dessert, kheer, pistachio, rose, baking, boutique, indian, inspired, cakes, pastries, anglo-indian, spices, cardamom, chai, afternoon, tea, british, raj
Vermicelli Pudding
The rest of the weekend carried on in much the same fashion with warm vermicelli pudding being made in the afternoon - one of my favourites - delicious eaten warm when the cardamom just sneaks through the silky milk but equally good cold for breakfast the next morning like an indulgent creamy yoghurt, if there's any left! 
indian, kitchen, pistachio, rose, baking, boutique, indian, inspired, cakes, pastries, anglo-indian, spices, cardamom, chai, afternoon, tea, british, raj
The Toolkit!
Just being in someone else's kitchen is always an adventure for me, looking in the cupboards to find different pots & bowls that are exciting to unfamiliar eyes. Glancing around my Aunt's kitchen I caught sight of a familiar yet nostalgic scene of items that had just been washed up and were waiting to go away.  They reminded me of the days when my nan used to cook for us and the tools she would use to grind the spices and pastes, stir the dal & lift the hot handle-less saucepans with.  Whilst these items look like they might have been lifted out of a surgeon's tool kit, they are very much the heart of every Indian kitchen, drying here ready for their next meal.


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Sweet Pan Masala

On Sunday morning my uncle & I sneaked out early while the others got ready as I wanted to wander indulgently in the Indian grocers.  I was surrounded by 25kg bags of chapati flour, 50L aluminium storage tins & woks big enough to serve 100 servings of rice.  At these prices it was now clear why everyone bought in bulk (apart from needing to fill the oversized containers and meal frequency of every 30 mins) and why everyone had the same stuff.  I managed to find my way to the spices & loved that they were stored in 25L containers with a large scoop, because why would you possibly need less? From cinnamon bark to tea to lentils, they had it all, but i went straight over to the pan masala section for inspiration.  My white chocolate tarts currently use a
traditional sweet fennel, anise & menthol blend my shortbread.  I found some mukhwas ( a stronger version of the fennel blend) from
pistachio,rose,baking,boutique,indian,inspired,spiced,spices,chai,anglo-indian,cake,pastries,chococlate,tarts,mithai,rekha,mehr,afternoon,tea,british,raj
Mukhwas Shortbread
 Calcutta, so rich in colour and aroma, with whole betel leaves as well as silver foil and I knew I had to buy some.  I also found a pink version of the green mix above which is much lighter in flavour.  24 hours later back in my London kitchen I had created this mukhwas shortbread - a beautifully aromatic crumbly biscuit, delicately infused with warming spices & decorated with a sprinkle of the fennel blend.  Coming to a food festival near you soon!

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