My memory of eating Chapatis goes back to when I was a small child. I remember the excitement of seeing my mum make these and having them hot off the stove! I would say Chapatis are a staple of the South Asian cuisine, you can even say there are numerous versions of this flat bread across the world. These are made to be eaten with your hands and are ideal to dip into a delicious curry. If you have friends for dinner, you can get them involved in getting their hands dirty and making their own one…it’s a great fun.
This is one of the things i learnt to make from my lovely grandma, i must say my mum tried to teach me but we always ended up bickering over the size of the Chapati and that i was too slow - sorry mum ;-). I started making these at the age of 10, I remember getting frustrated that they didn’t turn out the “normal way” instead of being round they ended up looking like a map of Africa! Time has flown by so much with experience that i can make these with my eye closed and so will you
Makes 9 - usually not larger than 6-7 inches in diameter but feel free to make them smaller or larger.
Takes up to 20 minutes (depending on how long it takes you to make one)
- 250g Chapati flour – ideally wholewheat as this is a healthier option
- 1 tbs of oil
- 200 ml of warm water – you may not need all the water
With the high fibre spinach and the Indian cottage cheese this dish has been a weekly staple in my family. Saag Paneer is something you will find in pretty much any Indian restaurant and many homes. When I have had this in the past, one of the things I remember this dish having is lots of Ghee (clarified butter) and the Spinach being over cooked in a pressure cooker until it loses its healthy goodness. It doesn’t have to contain the extremely heavy and unhealthy Ghee (clarified butter) and neither do you have to cook the Spinach until you can no longer taste the Spinach! (no offence)
Everyone makes this their own way. I started off by understanding the basics of this recipe and worked my way up to create what I have now. One thing I will say, is with Indian cooking you can make any Indian dish your own – don’t be afraid to try and experiment new things. I choose to have this with Chapatis, however you can have this with rice (white or brown), Naan bread, Poppadoms or even an accompaniment to another great curry. If you would like to make homemade Chapatis, which is very simple to make then take a look at my recent post Authentic homemade Chapatis – An ideal Indian flat bread to have with any curry
A lot of people I have spoken to have either not come across Paneer or have been too scared to try it. Paneer is a wonderful accompaniment in many dishes and is used widely around the world. It has a dense but yet soft and fresh texture. You could say it’s similar to mozzarella but only that it doesn’t melt. Paneer is an Indian version of cottage cheese, it’s made using yogurt and milk that has been cooked, then strained for a period of time. I have to admit I have not attempted to make this at home, simply because it’s easily available in many supermarkets and Indian stores (and because i’m a bit too lazy)!
Cooking and preparation time 1 hour
- 350 grams Spinach
- 226 grams Paneer
- 1 large Onion
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 tbsp or a thumb sized piece of Ginger
- 2 Green Chillies (depending on how hot you like your curry)
- 1 tbs Cumin seeds
- 1 tbs Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Lovage (optional but makes all the difference)
- 1 tbs Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- Salt to taste
- half a tsp Nutmeg
- 1 to 2 Cassia Bark pieces
- 1 cup water
- The spinach - Put washed spinach in a pan, on high heat. Add half a cup of water and occasionally stir to ensure all the spinach has cooked. Once the spinach has wilted (this shouldn’t take longer than 5/10 minutes at the most) take off the heat and put to one side for 10 minutes, or until cooled a little. Now puree the spinach in a processor, you still want the texture of the spinach so one or two pulses should do the trick. Once pureed, leave to the side for use later.
- Paneer – Cut the paneer into 1cm cubes or bite sized pieces. Heat some Fry Light (or oil) in a pan and cook the paneer until golden brown. Once this is cooked, leave to one side for later.
- Spice mix – In a pan on medium heat, put in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and lovage. This will temper the spices to bring out the flavours, try not to burn the spices as this can have a bitter taste. Once you can smell the spices and they have browned, remove from the heat and crush in a mortar and pestle (or a spice blender). Try to finely crush the spices as much as possible.
- Last but not least, puree the garlic, ginger, onions together with the chilli’s.
- Heat a pan on medium to low heat with Fry Light (oil). Add the garlic, ginger, onion, chilli paste, along with cassia bark and let this cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Now add the spinach puree and paneer and leave for a few minutes. Next add salt to taste, nutmeg, garam masala, turmeric and ground coriander. Leave to cook for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to cook and mix in well. Once the saag paneer has cooked, serve with your choice of chapati, naan bread, rice and enjoy your nourishing meal…
Hello my fellow people,
I would like to apologise for not posting anything on my blog lately. I have recently moved house and for those that have moved, I’m sure you can understand how hard it is. After three weeks of non stop work on the house, I am finally able to start enjoying the simple things like having a cup of tea and relaxing in a clean house that doesn’t look like a hoarders house (no offence).
It was sole destroying not being able to cook for the first two weeks, we ended up eating ready meals which lost its novelty after the second day. Unlike most people who tend to start the “lets get healthy regime” this time of the year, I have had a late start due to the house move…this has given me time to research and think about what is actually healthy and what should I be eating. By all means I’m not intending to go on a diet where I cut down on food and starve myself for a month - I just want to have a balance of good food which is healthy, has the nutrition I need and I can sustain on an on going basis.
Watch out for my post folks, as I have been looking forward to sharing with you the things I have learnt and some great recipes that are healthy but still tastes delicious! Hopefully you will enjoy these as much as I have
Any feedback on the recipes are more than welcome.
I came across Jamie Oliver’s Diner with my partner and daughter on New Years Eve. My first impressions were that it’s going to be expensive for what you get. Looking at the kids menu, a meal was £9. I thought to give it a go, as it was New Years Eve and it’s something different to try (we rarely visit London). There was a waiter at the door who let us in. Walking up the stairs it was like being in another world. It was like entering an American style diner with desserts in a revolving glass holder, Dinosaur phrases marked around the restaurant and a lively atmosphere.
When arriving up the stairs, there was a waitress who took us to our table, She was very friendly. whilst we took a seat and looked at the menu, I was mesmerised by the funky surroundings and liveliness of the restaurant.
I have to say the variety for a vegetarian option was very poor, I would have expected more! Never the less, I decided to order the only veggie choice for a main meal on the menu – the Happy Cow Veggie Burger, which came with a side of House Rainbow Slaw and Pickles. I also ordered a side of Skin-On Fries to share.
I must say the service was very fast, I was expecting a long wait but within 15 minutes of ordering our food, it was on the table. They definitely did this right! The burger was amazing which consisted of smashed Edmame, Chickpea and Pinto beans. The texture held very well, unlike other bean burgers which can contain a more sloppy texture. Along with the delicious burger, I had the not so ordinary fries, which had Jamie’s twist of thyme cooked with it…it made all the difference. The Slaw was crunchy and had the right amount of dressing which was not over powering at all. This finished off with a bite of crunchy cucumber pickle and a tangy chilli made the meal above the average burger meal. My partner and daughter also enjoyed their food.
Overall, worth a visit but vegetarians be warned….you’ll get bored if they continue to have little options for us!! I must say the price was actually spot on, in fact, it was the same as paying for a meal at Nandos…great value for money.
- Food Quality 5/5
- Atmosphere 5/5
- Choice 1/5
- Price 4/5
- Overall 4/5
I thought I would share my sister-in-laws idea for making simple but scrumptious pizza. She came across this idea a few years ago when we were having a Halloween party. Ever since, I have moved away from the frozen pizza and have been making these fresh and delicious pizzas.
This has worked a treat at parties. It’s inexpensive, takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and it’s so simple to make. Everyone from a small child to an adult will enjoy these tasty bagel pizza’s. I haven’t taken any pictures as they were eaten so fast but I promise to take pictures next time I make them.
As it’s New Years Eve tomorrow, I thought I would post this for anyone who wants to add this to their list of party food.
Makes up to 16 slices based on a bag of four bagels. Takes roughly 20 minutes to make.
- 1 bag of bagels
- Cheese – quantity varies on your preference
- Passatta (you can use any pizza sauce)
Step 1 – slice the bagles across to make two halves and place on a baking tray
Step 2 – Add pizza sauce and cheese (or a choice of any topping)
Step 3 – Place in the oven at 220oC for roughly 15 minutes
Once cooked I usually halve the bagel again, to make it easier to hold.
I made this a few years ago with my sister-in-law as a starter for our Christmas dinner. It went down a treat, so much so that it’s now a Christmas tradition in our family! My sister-in-law had been given this recipe from a friend of hers and now I will pass it on it you to enjoy. Simplicity is the key to great food, so don’t let the recipe fool you – yes, it really is this easy to make. You can even make this the night before, ready for the big day. It actually tastes better this way as the flavours enhance over night.
Serves 6. Cooking Time 45 minutes.
- 12 Red peppers
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic – chopped (you can never have too much garlic in my eyes)
- 1 red chilli – de-seeded (this should only give a gentle heat to the soup, so amount may vary depending on the heat of the chilli)
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- 2 table spoons of Henderson’s Relish
- Salt to taste
- Pinch of pepper
- 1 table spoon of chopped Parsley
- Half a lemon (optional)
Chargrill the red peppers by placing them directly under the top shelf of your grill for approximately 20 minutes. The outside of the pepper should turn black (charred). The peppers can also be charred by placing them on a medium heat on the gas cooker, either way, it does the same trick. Once the peppers have charred, peel the skin and roughly chop the peppers.
Now heat a pan with a dash of olive oil, then add the onions and leave on a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Next add the garlic and chilli, after two minutes add the peppers and leave for a further 5 minutes. Then add the vegetable stock, salt, pepper, Henderson’s Relish, lemon and parsley. Leave to simmer for half an hour. The final step is to blend the peppers into the smooth consistency. The key to good food is tasting as you cook, if it needs more salt or a dash of the relish, then by all means add this in. This recipe, like all other recipes depends on your palate for it to work. Once you’re happy with the taste, serve the soup with warm crusty bread.
Tasty Pakoras and Spicy Onion Bhaji’s – Simple to prepare and tastes amazing…. Ideal for Christmas and New Year parties!
As it’s the festive Christmas season, in true tradition, my work colleagues decided to have a buffet today. I had a hundred ideas going through my head on what to make, especially as I’ve just created the recipe for Risotto Pani Rotondi. However I have promised you a variety of recipes and ideas for party food. So, I decided to try out my take on a recipe for Onion Bhaji’s and Pakoras! These are straightforward to prepare and taste amazing….it’s a very popular crowd pleaser
Makes 50 to 60 portions in total. Cooking time approximately 1 hour.
- 500 grams of Gram flour
- 1 tablespoon of toasted Cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon of toasted Fennel seeds
- 90 grams of Spinach (finely chopped)
- 1 medium potato (finely chopped)
- A handful of fresh coriander
- Salt to taste (roughly 1 and a half table spoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 to 2 chilli’s (depending on heat preference)
- 500 ml of cold water
- 500 grams of Gram flour
- 4 Onions (finely diced)
- 90 grams of Spinach (roughly chopped)
- A handful of fresh coriander
- Salt to taste (roughly 1 and a half table spoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of Fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder (depending on heat preference)
- 600 ml of cold water
For the Pakoras: Simply add and mix all the ingredients for the Pakoras into a large bowl. Hint – to toast the cumin and fennel seeds, place in a pan on a gentle heat. Take off the heat once seeds have turned brown. Must ensure the seeds do not burn, as it will have a bitter taste. Once the ingredients are mixed, fry the batter by either using a spoon to place the mixture in the oil or use your hand. Fry on a medium heat until cooked inside and brown on the outside.
For the Onion Bhaji’s: Just like the Pakoras, add and mix all the ingredients for the Onion Bhaji’s into a large bowl. Once the ingredients are mixed well, the batter should consist mainly of the onions and spinach. Fry on a medium heat until cooked inside and brown on the outside.
As with any food that is fried, although crisp when just out the fryer, it can turn soft once cooled. The best way to keep the crisp coating and reduce the oil content, as to put them in the oven at 220oC for 10 – 15 mins. Trust me, you’ll noticed the difference. You can even cook this the night before and re-heat in the oven the next day, ready for the buffet.
Risotto Pani Rotondi (Risotto round breads) – Easy to make unique delicious snack, ideal for Christmas and New Year buffets!
As most of you know, making a selection of food for a party isn’t easy. So I tried to think of something that’s easy to prepare, doesn’t take long to make and most importantly looks and tastes great! With Christmas and New Year around the corner (literally), I will be posting a variety of recipes and ideas for buffet food, I hope you find this as enjoyable as I did.
You just have to try this recipe for Risotto Pani Rotondi, it’s delicious, can be prepped the night before and most of all it’s something different to bring to the table! J
Makes approximately 20 round breads.
For the Risotto:
- 2 Shallots
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 250g Risotto rice
- 100 ml of white wine (a very generous amount…why not…it’s Christmas)
- 700 ml of veg stock
- 1 table spoon of Italian herb seasoning
- Fresh ground pepper – to taste
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder (optional)
- A handful of fresh parsley
- You can make the bread crumbs by simply blending bread in a processor. Add a pinch of chilli powder to the bread crumbs…trust me it makes all the difference in taste.
- Beat about 2 eggs until mixed in a separate bowl
Start off with putting a knob of butter in a medium heated pan. Add the shallots and garlic. Once these have softened add the risotto and stir. After a minute add the white wine and stir. Now add one ladle of the vegetable stock and stir continuously. As the rice cooks, you will notice the stock reduce, once this has happened, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process until the rice has almost cooked. Now add the parsley, baking powder and pepper and cook until the rice has cooked. Ideally the rice should be al dente but nice and fluffy. Remember to stir continuously, this is very important. Once the risotto has cooked, leave on the side to cool and place in the fridge until cold.
Before When almost cooked
When you’re ready to fry the risotto, start making small round balls until you have used all the risotto. Now double dip the balls in bread crumbs and beaten egg (gently coat the ball in egg, then breadcrumbs and repeat once more). To get the perfect coating, I swirled the rice in the bowl of bread crumbs. All that’s left is frying each one, until they are crisp and golden.
The last time I went to this restaurant, I didn’t really have the best experience. Despite this I thought to give it another chance and boy was that a mistake!
It’s a shame about the food…once again. There was very little choice for vegetarians. They had a veggie pizza which consisted aubergines and courgettes….I mean why would you put this on a pizza? I ended up choosing a pasta dish from their Christmas menu and for dessert the apple pie.
Firstly, the pasta was overcooked and the sauce was watery, it was like a tin of tomatoes was thrown in at the last minute…not what i expected. Secondly, when my apple pie was brought to me, it was cold. I told the waiter, who apologised and took it to the kitchen. After waiting half an hour for another apple pie, it was finally brought to me but this time it was overcooked from the top, burnt at the bottom and still cold in the middle, When I complained to the waiter, he told the manager who attended to me.
The manager was apologetic and spoke to the chef, upon her return to my surprise she said “It’s the first time this is on the menu and the chef cooked the apple pie as per the instruction he was given by the head office. It’s head office’s fault, as they tell us how long to cook the food for and the chef just followed instructions. So he can’t do anything about it”….. in all the years I have been dining out, I have never heard the chef/manager blame head office for the poorly cooked food! When you go to a restaurant you expect the chef to cook the food….it’s pretty simple. I’m amazed and disgusted a manager can say this to a paying customer. I tried to tell the manager the pastry is uncooked and the top and bottom of the pie is burnt by showing her the piece of food but all she could say is “I’ll tell the head chef when he comes in tomorrow, to take a look at it as we are given instructions by head office”….. why? Is it not merely a case of telling the chef to pay attention to his cooking??
I can’t speak for the other locations of Bella Italia but what I will say is DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY IN THIS PLACE. It’s very poor for vegetarians and not worth the hassle!!
I went to this restaurant with work colleagues, a few days ago. I didn’t know what to expect as I have not dined here before. Looking at the menu, it seemed like a restaurant that served great food.
Walking in the restaurant, my first impressions were that it looked like a great local family pub which was elegant and had a sense of warmth to it. There was ample space within the dining area and the bar. The staff were friendly, helpful and even gave us extra portions at no cost (which I don’t think they are supposed to do). The menu was great for vegetarians, they had a variety of food from mezze’s to risotto balls, to fresh salad etc. Although I would have loved to have a starter, I chose to have a main course with a dessert.
I had the Gnocchi with roasted butternut squash & spinach, ricotta, sage & pumpkin seeds. It was truly delicious and so fresh!!
For dessert I had Earl grey crème brûlée & home baked butter biscuits now this really exceeded my expectations. All I can say is WOW!
The only point I would urge you keep in mind is that the car park is pay and display. So make sure you get a ticket as the wardens are often wondering around, the pub is happy to refund any money spent. It only cost me £2 for a few hours and I got that back straight away.
Overall it’s a great family pub with elegant food, that’s cooked with love and care. If you fancy something to eat, which is going to be fresh and scrumptious, you have to try this place. There’s something on the menu for everyone. I’ll definitely be going back to try the rest of the menu and I cant wait!
- Food Quality 5/5
- Atmosphere 5/5
- Choice 5/5
- Price 4/5
- Overall 5/5