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 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.

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
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!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

New Delicous Discoveries

I want to continue the sharing of my new discoveries this month so here they are...

Duke of Delhi

A brand very much after my own heart - re-creating authentic Indian foods with a subtle British angle.  The Duke brings spiced savoury snacks (aka bombay mix to the masses) and lightens them with aromatic orange, chunks of chocolate or extra nuts for a more refined way to enjoy this every day snack.  Check out his website for the full product range and find out more about the company.

Raman's Chutneys was lucky enough to have the lovely ladies behind Raman's as my neighbours at Hampton Court and their big smiles were the perfect brightener under the rain clouds.  Their relishes are created using Indian spices, British vegetables and modern cooking techniques which give a deep yet fresh tasting chutney.  You can use them as a stir-in sauce, marinade, accompaniment to any meal or one of my favourites - piled on top of mature cheddar in a crusty bread sandwich.  They've also appeared on Hairy Bikers and I would definitely recommend popping along to see them at their next event.

Afia's Samosa Shop the smell of freshly fried samosas and bhajias came wafting down to my Hampton Court Stall, I followed my nose and met the family two doors down all pitching in to Afia's stall.  Her samosa batter was the perfect balance of crisp (outside), soft (inside) and moist (throughout) and the fillings were well spiced.  My favourite was the scotch bonnet spiced vegetable but the chilli chicken was a close second.  She also creates a gluten-free recipe so that everyone can enjoy them!

Heavenly Hendricks Gin
Ok so actually not a discovery but their stand was definitely a fan's haven.  Dressed in tweed, the ambassadors of this delicate spirit presented their apothecary-themed counter with trays of minature drinks, perfect for hard-working exhibitors ;-)  Cool, crisp cucumber acting as the perfect compliment to this delicious drink.  All that was missing was the warming rays of the sun but instead I cooed over their centre piece - this beautiful roll top bath appropriately surrounded by 'medicinal' bottles of gin...

I'd love to know if you've already seen these guys and if so what you think so please do comment as great foodie finds are all about the sharing!
Lamb kofta & beautiful salads at Ottolenghi
Hello my small but perfectly-formed audience.  Once again I'm opening this entry with an apology about the lack of update which, quite frankly, is just dull.  I am therefore vowing from this point forward, to commit to a weekly entry to be filled with all relevant news about my week and if I feel it's been less than productive, I'll just write about the delicious food I've eaten.

So since the last update I took the infamous chocolate naans to the Great Brixton Bake Off where they came first in the bread competition which was very exciting. Judges included the owner of Patisserie Valerie & Levi Roots the lovely Mayor of Lambeth presented our gift vouchers very generously donated by Morelys department store.

We also popped up at Hampton Court foodies festival & Little Venice Calvanacade over the wet bank holiday weekend.  Hats off to all those that braved the showers in the name of good food (although I can think if no better cause)...I definitely got some inspiration for my umbrella shopping!
The winning tasting box
I did my best to put the damp weather to bed by  setting the mini naan oven on fire, twice.  If my poor customers were bold enough to brave the cold, the least I could do was put on a flaming chocolate naan show.

It was the first time the miniature chai & pistachio rose cakes came out to play & were a big hit so they'll definitely be a regular feature in the future.  We also decided to giveaway a taster box containing every product which went to a lovely lady called Bernadette from Weybridge in exchange for her email address, simples.

I want to say a big thank my cousin Vikam, who has helped me at every food festival over the last month - his enthusiasm, passion and humour have been amazing & kept me sane when operating on little or no sleep.

I'll be back next week and I'm off to spend my weekend with my sister in her newly-purchased house as a first-time buyer and visit some family who are over from India...I think a lot of food is about to come my way! 

Have a great weekend,

Rekha x

More Foodies Festival Dates

Amazingly delicious Ottolenghi