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!

Grilled Lime and Chipotle Salmon Tacos

I haven’t disappeared! I realise I haven’t posted anything for a very long time and I think it’s time I made up for that. How about something fresh and exciting? I love making Mexican food, but there is only so many chicken fajitas I can eat. So I thought I would give this a try.

I absolutely love salmon and could possible eat it everyday. So I decided to make soft fish tacos using salmon fillets. I marinated the salmon with rapeseed oil, fresh lime juice, smoked paprika and chipotle paste. You can find this spicy Mexican paste in any supermarket and it has a great smoky flavour to it. And then I placed it on a hot griddle pan and let it cook through. Delicious!

Then its simply about making the different fillings for your tacos. You can make whatever you want but I thought I would try a contrast between dark spicy beans and a light and fresh guacamole and a red cabbage and mango slaw.

For the beans I fried off half a chopped onion and a chopped garlic clove in a frying pan, and then added the black beans (these are already cooked from a packet). I also added a teaspoon of chipotle paste to give it some heat. Apparently black beans are incredibly healthy and have more protein than chicken! Win.

For the guacamole I roughly chopped an avocado, 2 small tomatoes, half a red onion, half a mild chilli, a squeeze of lime juice, coriander, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

For the red cabbage slaw, I finely sliced red cabbage, added half a chopped mango, a squeeze of lime juice, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.

I used soft tacos rather than the crispy shells and just heated them up on the hob to make them soft and malleable. And then you are ready to assemble! Top your loaded taco with yoghurt mixed with chipotle paste and spring onions.

It was absolutely delicious and very messy. Not recommended for first dates.

Thanks for reading!

www.jbimagery.co.uk

Grilled Salmon Tacos w

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!

www.jbimagery.co.uk

 

Healthy Carrot Muffins

So you see the word ‘healthy’ before something that is supposed to be a treat, and you automatically think it is going to be horrible right? Wrong! I’ve never tried one of those recipes that replaces every normal ingredient for something exotic and hard to find because I simply can’t be bothered to look for these ingredients. Plus the staff in the supermarkets might think I’m weird if I start asking for agave nectar and egg substitutes.

But I found this recipe for carrot muffins on cookieandkate.com and they are absolutely delicious. Kate uses coconut oil in this recipe instead of butter and sweetens it with maple syrup and the natural sweetness from the carrots and the raisins. It even has yogurt in there!

What I loved about this recipe is that it used ingredients that you are bound to find in most homes. I didn’t have to go searching the aisles for any unusual ingredients and could whip them up really quickly.

It’s also great to give to children (or hungry husbands) and you don’t have to feel too guilty about it. Now I am all for a treat now and again, but I seem to crave it too often so this is a great alternative. Plus they taste really good!

Click on the link above to see the recipe and give them a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for reading 🙂

www.jbimagery.co.uk

Baba Ganoush and Flatbread

Baba Ganoush! Have you ever tried it? I think I just made it because I like to say it…Baba Ganoooooush. Go on say it with me, I can hear you trying to pronounce it.

Baba Ganoush is a mezze or dip that is made from roasted aubergines and it widely eaten in Lebanese cuisines. Now I know what you are thinking, it is not the most attractive looking dish, but what it lacks in appearance it makes up in flavour.

It is very easily made and you can whip it up in no time. Just roast an aubergine in the oven until dark and soft (don’t forget to prick the aubergine with a fork before roasting, otherwise it will explode and you will end up wearing it) and leave to cool afterwards. Then scoop out the flesh and roughly chop it up. After this, simply add 1 tsp tahini (sesame seed paste), 1 fresh garlic clove (minced), lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. You can spice it up a bit with some cumin seeds if you want that extra flavour and it’s done!

It’s a great dip that can be eaten with flatbread, pitta bread, or veggies. Yes it is slightly unusual and people might frown at it, but my husband is known for loathing aubergines, and he happily lapped this up. I think the freshly baked bread helped though.

I made a flatbread called ‘Maneesh’ from Paul Hollywood’s recipes (click here for the recipe) and it is so delicious. Easy to make and soft and airy.

So next time you have some people over, why not give it a try? Thanks for reading!

www.jbimagery.co.uk

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

I went to Brixton yesterday and found myself in a small converted shipping container called ‘Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen’. A tiny restaurant with a big personality! Brixton is full of great pop up places to eat, from jerk chicken to fresh ramen, you are spoilt for choice.

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is run by, guess who…Zoe! She cooks the most amazing Ghanian food like I have never tasted before. I tried the most succulent lamb chops marinated in a number of spices and served with a peanut sauce. Next, traditional fried chicken – Ghana style! The chicken was the crispiest chicken I have ever had with a wonderful blend of spices, including nutmeg. Delicious!

If this hadn’t filled me up already, I tried some plantain chips. Soft, sweet and flavourful served with some beans. A local ingredient that I’ve tried before, plantain can be baked, fried or made into chips. Its so yummy and very comforting. Lastly, Zoe made some Yam balls, she mashed the yams and mixed them with garlic and spices and then deep fried them. All served hot with a spicy dip and salsa.

I love this place, it is quirky, stylish and very welcoming.  I can honestly say I will go back there for some more traditional home cooked food, or better yet I might go to Ghana! But I think a trip to Brixton might be cheaper.

Check it out! http://zoesghanakitchen.co.uk/restaurant/

www.jbimagery.co.uk

Chinese steamed buns…yum!

It’s the best time of the year again! For me, Christmas is a time to try lots of different recipes and push the boat out. Whether you are having family and friends over or simply want to have a special dinner before the big day, I think trying something new is great fun.

Chinese steamed buns are absolutely delicious and surprisingly easy to make. Also, the great thing is that you can fill them with anything you want, whether its slow cooked pork or beef, Chinese chicken or even tofu. I got the recipe for the buns from YouTube and it worked like a dream. It’s a great recipe to do on your day off during the holidays and it will definitely impress everyone around you!

It’s a very simple dough made with plain flour, yeast, baking powder, sugar, oil and water. Click the link above to see how it is made. The two raising agents make the dough really light and fluffy (again a technical term there). Once my dough was ready, I simply cut it into chunks, rolled them into round circles and folded them in half after brushing them with sesame oil. Then I steam cooked them. Easy!

I filled mine with shredded chicken and any veg I had in the fridge, but I am thinking of making them again next week for my family and will most likely fill them with slow cooked pork, hoisin sauce and crunchy veg. Top it off with some toasted sesame seeds and you have a delicious dinner! It’s so much fun to make at this festive time and makes those days waiting for Christmas a bit more exciting. It’s also a slightly lighter meal, which we can all do with this time of year!

What do you eat the days before or after Christmas? I would love to know what you like to eat this time of year. This is great fun and very satisfying, and after all, if you can’t splash out at Christmas time when can you?!

Thanks for reading and check out my portfolio at www.jbimagery.co.uk