Sri Lanka…A beautiful country :)

Who would have thought that a ‘small’ country like Sri Lanka would have so much to offer? My husband and I recently visited this beautiful island and immediately fell in love with it. The hustle and bustle of the busy roads, with street vendors on the side selling anything from fresh fruit and veg to swim floats and wood carvings, kept us very entertained.

The people were so friendly that each and every person we met asked us where we were from, as they were so intrigued by us! They were very kind and friendly and wanted to learn about new people. Nobody bothered us or tried to convince us that we need to buy a lucky necklace that will cure any illnesses. The children smiled at us and waved like we were A-list celebrities.

The one thing I have to talk about is the food! The food was so memorable that I am convinced my carnivore husband could live as a vegetarian out there. From fresh exotic fruit such as papaya, rambutan and king coconuts, to pumpkin curry, lentil curry, mango curry and any other curry you can think of!

As a British Asian, I have eaten my fair share of curries, but never have I tasted curries such as these. The contrast between sweet and spicy wakes up your taste buds and makes you yearn for more. A traditional Sri Lankan lunch consists of a number of curries served with red or white rice, accompanied with roti, poppadoms and fried lake fish. Most importantly, it was served with a side of spicy ‘sambol’, which is a combination of ground coconut, chillies, onions and lime, which absolutely makes the meal kick! Delicious.

They utilise so much of what they can grow themselves. For example, no part of a coconut is wasted; the water and flesh is used in cooking, the shells are used for carvings and the husks used as brooms; the oil is used for cooking as well as beauty products and the leaves  are woven together and used for shelter – you name it they make it!

I could go on and on about all the different experiences we had in Sri Lanka, such as releasing baby turtles in the sea or climbing Sigiriya rock, but I will be here all night. There was so much to explore in Sri Lanka that I would most likely visit again one day. And when I do, I’m going straight for a traditional lunch!

A beautiful country filled with warmth, vibrancy and excitement. A must see!

Check out my website www.jbimagery.co.uk Thanks for reading!

Bored of Onion Bhajis? Try these!

Yes we all love onion bhajis in the UK but how many can we possibly eat? OK we can eat a lot but have you ever been tempted to try something different? These are potato bhajis and are super simple to make. They are incredibly crispy and can be a great snack or starter when you have people over. These are my absolute favourite and is something that your friends and family will just love. Just watch them fly out of the bowl!

Every Gujarati person will have their own recipe for this dish, but this is how I made mine.

Potato Bhaji Bhavisha Surti

I peeled two or three medium potatoes and sliced them as thin as possible. If you have a food processor or a slicer that can do it for you then I highly recommend it, if not a good old knife will do the trick. Just watch your fingers.

In a bowl, mix the following ingredients:

  1. 2 heaped tbsp Gram flour (chickpea flour)
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1tsp turmeric
  4. 1tsp chilli powder
  5. 1tsp coriander and cumin powder
  6. 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
  7. 1/2 tsp green chilli (chopped)
  8. A handful of chopped coriander

I don’t really use measurements so these are just a guide, if you don’t like spicy food then you don’t have to add chilli, just adjust the recipe to your taste. Add enough cold water to make a pancake batter consistency and then add the sliced potatoes and make sure they are all coated evenly.

And that is it. All you have to do now is carefully drop each slice of potato coated in the batter into a deep fat fryer or a pan filled with oil. They will only take a few minutes to cook and will come out nice and crispy!

Take this from me, if you are the one making these then try not to eat them all as soon as they come out of the fryer or you will get a stomach ache. But it was worth it…

Serve with a spicy chutney or ketchup for those who don’t like it too hot. Enjoy!

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It’s Pancake Day!

I love pancake day! Or Shrove Tuesday…I’ll be honest, I don’t really know the meaning behind it but if it means that I am socially encouraged to eat pancakes then so be it. I guess I am just a conformist.

I went for the sweet option this morning, with lemon, sugar and blueberries but you can put anything on these bad boys. Sweet, savoury or a bit of both. They are so versatile and can be filled with anything, whether its with ham and cheese, Nutella or maple syrup. But just not all together.

I only made four pancakes this morning (and no I didn’t eat them all) and for that I used 50g plain flour, 1 egg and 150ml of milk and a pinch of salt. It’s the perfect combination for two people or one greedy person. Whisk it all together and get cooking! I was too afraid to flip them but one of these days I will put my mind to it and achieve my goals. Anything is possible!

So go ahead, have a bit of fun in the kitchen today, whether it’s with your kids, partner or dog. Whip up a batch when you get in from work and treat yourself.

Thanks for reading!

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Pancakes

The Great Yorkshire Pudding

The big day is nearly here! Are you ready to make an epic Christmas dinner? It’s the best part of the day and what would it be without homemade, fresh and crisp Yorkshire puddings!

I think a great roast dinner has to be served with the best roast potatoes and the best vegetables. I also think it has to have the best Yorkshire puddings! I have to admit, when I was young I remember eating ready made Yorkshire puds and didn’t think twice about them. And then I learnt how to make them and I have never looked back since.

They are so easy to make and very satisfying. I seem to find myself staring through the oven door and watch them rise. Yes I know, I need to get out more.

All there is to it, is 2 eggs, 100g plain flour and 100ml milk. Whisk it all together and add some salt. Get your muffin or cupcake tray and put a tiny drizzle of oil in each section and heat up in a very hot oven (gas mark 9). Once the oil is smoking hot, pour the batter into the tray and place back into the oven and do not open the door for about 20 mins. I turned the oven down after about 10 minutes to gas mark 6.

And there you have it, delicious, hot, crispy Yorkshire puddings ready to be dipped in some gravy. Go on give it a try, you will never look at another ready made pud again!

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Bored of the same lunch? Try something new…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my boring sandwich or same old salad for lunch and thought, surely I can eat something else? Especially in the winter, I long for something warm that won’t make me feel sleepy all afternoon.

So today I decided to make leek and potato soup, and it was very satisfying. I didn’t add any cream (even though I really wanted to!) because as a weekday lunch I didn’t want it to be full of calories . All I did was fry a medium sized chopped onion, two garlic cloves, 2 sliced leeks and one small sliced potato in some olive oil. I let them sweat down a little bit and then added some chicken stock. I boiled it until the potato was cooked through and then added a splash of semi-skimmed milk, seasoned with salt and pepper and blitz until smooth. I also added some fresh parsley to give the soup a bit of a lift.

I think soup is a great idea for lunch, you can make a batch on the weekend and then freeze into individual portions for the week and off you go. I’m not a fan of those packet soups because who knows what is in them and they taste a bit watery to me. I like to know that I am getting some real veg in me. And there are so many different combinations you could try, such as sweet potato and carrot soup or tomato and red pepper soup. What flavours do you like?

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Friday Night Curry…Butter Chicken

With all this hype about how butter is now good for us, I couldn’t not cook butter chicken and share it with all you lovely people. Now I don’t know if butter is good for us, bad for us, or simply tormenting us but what I do know is that it’s delicious and seems to make everything taste better. But yes, everything in moderation I can hear you say.

I based this dish from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube video on butter chicken by Maunika but gave it my own spin. It’s such a delicious dish and if you are not a fan of very spicy curries, then you have to give this one a try.

I basically followed this recipe but used Pataks Kashmiri spice paste rather than a powder. You can get this in most of the supermarkets and it gives the curry a great flavour.

I marinated the chicken (for the whole day) in yoghurt, ginger, garlic and chilli paste, tomato puree, Kashmiri paste, lemon, salt, chilli powder turmeric, ground cumin and coriander powder. I then placed the chicken on skewers and cooked it in the oven to get nice and charred.

To make the sauce I fried a chopped onion in some butter, and once browned I then added a chopped tomato, ginger, garlic and chilli paste, tomato puree and the Kashimiri paste. I added different spices such as turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander powder and let this cook into a thick paste. Next I added about 100ml of single cream to give the sauce a creamy taste. I let the sauce down with some boiling water and let it simmer. I preferred to do this than use lots of double cream so I would feel less guilty!

Once the chicken is charred I added it to the sauce alongside all its juices and its done! Add some fresh coriander and serve with naan bread or chapatis and basmati rice. Delicious!

If you are vegetarian you can always make this sauce and use hearty veg such as cauliflower and sweet potato. I like my curries a bit spicy but if you don’t then you don’t have to add any chilli, but go on…spice up your life! (Gosh that was cheesy)

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Butter chicken 1 wButter chicken 2 w

 

Why is baking so addictive?

I don’t know what it is but I will find any excuse to bake. I will happily admit that I am not the best baker in town but I like to give it a good go. I am guilty of changing recipes based on what I have in the house, which doesn’t always go my way. But I am a firm believer in having a well stocked cupboard and not running to the shops everyday. And I think my purse thanks me for it.

What is it about baking that is so much fun? Is it seeing a bunch of ingredients transform into something warm and delicious? Or is it the feeling of eating something afterwards that you know is slightly naughty? Yes that is probably it. We all have a dark side.

One of my (and my husbands) favourite biscuits are oatmeal and raisin cookies. I’m not sure if this is because the oats and raisins make us both feel like we are being slightly ‘healthy’, but then we are reminded by the butter and sugar in it and slowly come back to reality.

This is a very easy recipe that I got from one of Mary Berry‘s Bake Off books and it was delicious. A perfect combination of ingredients made the biscuit slightly soft and chewy rather than too crunchy.

The recipe is as follows: 125g softened butter, 150g muscovado sugar, 1 large free-range egg, 1 tablespoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 100g self-raising flour, 75g raisins, 150g porridge oats.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg, and then place the rest of the ingredients in and fold through. It’s as easy as that! I added a pinch of cinnamon too because I love it, but you don’t have to. Place small dollops (technical term there) on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until golden. Bake at 180 degrees C/gas mark 4. Let them cool properly on a rack if you can resist eating them straight away. Enjoy!

Baking is good the for soul…go on give it a try.

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