"The greatest Indian cook in Britain"Jay Rayner "The Observer"
"Cook with love. Love your cooking" Gita Mistry

Monday, 2 November 2015

Navaratri and Indian fudge


Saffron and Cardamon Penda

Hindus in India and around the world have been celebrating Navatri . This is a 9-day festival of dance and song.  The name comes from “nava” which means “nine” and “ratri” which means “night”.  The festival leads up to Diwali which means “festival of light” and takes place between 11 and 15 Nov this year.

Navatri occurs  in Autumn which is a time of renewal.  Just as the shedding of leaves makes way for fresh growth so Navaratri rejuvenates the inner spirit.  The festival encourages us to look inwardly, to find renewed energies for the spirit and to feel creative with our lives.

 Garba dance

The festival is celebrated in many ways. Local community groups get together for dancing and feasting.  Garba and Dandiya rass danced to worship Goddess Durga s. The sticks dance representing her swords. Representing good over eveil. There are special foods to cleanse the body none of which contains meat.  It has to be remembered that India has 400 million vegetarians - several times the population of the UK - a topic to which I shall return on another occasion.

One of those special foods is saffron and cardamom penda which is a bit like fudge.  I made some for the festival and here is my recipe.

Ingredients

1½ cups milk powder . ½ cup sugar . ½ cup ghee . ½ cup  milk.2 to 3 strand of saffron . Drop orange food colouring.10- 15 cardamon pods ( green) . Pistachio s to decorate.

Method

1. Boil the milk add a few stands of saffron and simmer on a lower heat. Add the sugar and dissolve and ghee and allow it to cook though for 4- 5 mins until the milk has reduced a little. Stir regularly.

2. Lower the heat further and stir in the milk powder along with some cardamom seeds powder to taste. Remove seeds from the pods and crush using a pestle and mortar. Cook for further 3- 4 mins. Stirring continulously. You will know when its done as it starts to come away from the pan sides.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the food colouring and stir in and allow it to cool for15 mins.

4. Spread  it out evenly on a baking tray until set and cut into cubes and press in a half cut pistachio into each cube.

5. Alternatively omit the food colouring and make little round balls and flatten between your hands and add shavings of pistachio nuts on top.

These can be stored for up to 2 weeks in  an airtight container. These pendas can be presented to the goddesses for their blessing. The blessed food is called Prashad to be shared out amongst friends and family.



















Monday, 26 October 2015

Gita's Healthy Happy Chips!

Last night I fancied some chips but not from the "chippy" as we say in Yorkshire. The fish and chip shop to every one else around the Globe.  

So I made my healthy happy chips at home. Here is my recipe that I liked to share with you. Chips made from 1llb (500g) chips and just 2 teaspoons of oil. 



For my recipe you need to peel the skins off or as I have done keep the skins on (making sure to give them a good scrub). I like mine fairly chunky but I will leave that up to you. I would recommend a floury potatoes that enables a softer centre and and a crispier skin. Varieties I suggest are Maris Piper and King Edward . 

So, you will need:


Ingredients
500g gm of potatoes 
10 ml of vegetable oil
(salt and vinegar to taste) or spices if you prefer.

Method:

Heat the oven at 200 oc and the baking tray
Prepare the potatoes into chips or wedges

Place them in a bowl and pour over the oil, using your hands coat them evenly, sprinkle over a little salt.

Place them on the hot baking tray and spread them out evenly. Cook for  for 25 mins. Open the oven once half way through cooking and giving them a turn. Once golden and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle they are ready. To give them that chip shop style feel and taste wrap the chips in cat paper or grease proof paper and place them back in the oven for 5 mins (switched off) - sprinkle on some more salt and vinegar.

Alternatively try this spice combination to jazz up those spuds and have them with a spicy mayo for which you will need a large dollop of good mayonnaise. Mix into that- pinch of smoked paprika, Himalayan pink salt & pepper, crushed roasted cumin and coriander seeds and small pinch of nutmeg and glove and touch of cardamon.

Enjoy!


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Spiced fruit scone recipe (vegatarian)

Here's a quick recipe for some a brilliant for an egg free fruit some scones which I baked over the is weekend.

(c) 2015 Gita Mistry, all rights reserved

Put oven on: gas mark 6, 180 oc fan assisted 170oc
Grease a non stick baking tray (I find using a roasting tin bakes a softer scone)


Ingredients:


8oz self raising flour
2oz hard butter
1tsp baking powder
1oz caster sugar (more to taste - But I find this perfect as the dried fruit is sweet)
Pinch of salt
3oz dried sultanas or raisins
1/2 tsp of mixed spice
A drop of vanilla essence
120ml cream, milk or butter milk (can be mixture of them)


Method


1. Rub the butter into the in to the flour and add in baking powder and pinch of salt. (Rubbing is a method using your finger tips -take small amounts of mixture and rub the flour into the butter until is resembles breadcrumbs. Raise the mixture to some height whilst doing this over the bowl to aerate it.


2. Mix in the sugar and fruit and spice.


3. Add in 120ml of liquid, vanilla essence and bind it together with a flat knife


4. Using your hand bring it together to form dough.
Pat out in an 8 inch circle (1 inch in height) score the top in 8 pieces like the picture. Brush the top with milk (not the sides to give it colour contrast)


5. Bake for 20 mins and remove onto a cooling rack and simply enjoy with some best butter and jam is desired.


Of course this is not just for vegetarians! I took this bake to a party last night and they went in a shot...


Monday, 24 August 2015

Serving Mangoes


 A present from my mother who is now in her 83rd year 
My friend tells me that she once visited the home of her best friend’s father in law in Lahore.   Her host had been a senior officer in the Pakistani Police.   He gave my friend a mango and invited her to peel it.  This was the first time my friend had been presented with a mango.   Not surprisingly she made  a nonsense of it with juice, peel and flesh all over plate.   Disappointed, my friend’s host dexterously carved away the skin of the whole fruit with his knife in a single strip and plated them with golden slices while discarded the large stone with very little waste and hassle.  Apparently that method was called “the English method” in Pakistan,

 With their tough and sometimes hairy, sinewy flesh and large stone a mango has more than a little in common with a joint of meat.    There is a knack to carving it so let me show you how

Step 1. - Hold the mango upright on a chopping board with one hand (the stem should be at the top) making sure the cheeks of the mango are to the left and right of you

Step 2. - Cut down one of the cheeks (making sure the knife edge is running down the stone and do the same on the other cheek.

Step 3. - Now turn the mango 45 degrees to the left or right and cut down the edges again with the knife edge running down the side of the stone again (both sides)

Step 4.- Discard the stone or as I used to do eat any last morsel of mango off it like eating a spare rib.

Step5.-  Slice and eat , My father always liked to take his mango with a pinch of salt and ground cumin- a tradition in Gujarati cuisine.

Mangoes are plentiful in India.  It produces the largest quantities and also most varieties. China is the next largest producer.

Raw ripe mangoes are simply delicious. They can also be made into sweet and savoury chutneys,. Their pulp can be eaten with fresh puris or served in lassis. However I prefer to eat them as they come.

Fruit formed a major part of my diet when I was growing even though I was living in Yorkshire in Northern England. I was given fruit each day by mother after meal and it was always chosen and bought very carefully. My mother did all her shopping at an Indian grocer which was conveniently located at the end of our road. I would tag along with her on her shopping trips. I would watch her inspect the stock and gauge what she wanted to buy with her keen eye. She introduced me to some weird and wonderful fruits like fresh tamarind, guavas, pomegranates, watermelons, fresh sugar cane and chickoos which I will write about on another occasion.

Mangoes were the star fruit in our household and I would look forward to their coming into season which was between May and June. The varieties were always Kesar, Alphonso andRajapuri.  Imported from India.  It was a real education shopping at this gem of an Indian store with her, When I was  a child it was exciting and delightful to see her cut into one.

Tip 1. - To buy a ripe mango ready to eat, choose one that gives slightly under a little pressure from your thumb.
Tip2.- Smell the mango ( stem side). It should have a sweet fruity aroma. Avoid a sour alcoholic scent as that indicates an over ripe mango where the sugars have started to ferment.
Tip3.- Look for a full bodied plump mango. Do not worry about little brow flecks. That's a characteristic of the fruit.
Tip 4.- If the stem falls off very easily- it’s a another sign that the mango is over ripe.
Tip5.- Store them at room temperature. Only place them in the fridge when they have ripened to the desired  taste, Eat them  the same day  and watch out for dribbles as mango juice stains clothes badly.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

India s independance day

photo:one Indian .com


Today is Indian s Independence day. Marking the end of the British Raj in 1947 in India . Raj means rule.

The Sanskrit name for India is Bharat Ganarajya. Sanskrit  is ancient language of India.

Indian  now has a population of 1.2 billion spread across many regions. From those  regions there is a vast array of mouth dishes.

To help you celebrate Independence day I share with you my recipe for mango pickle with a Gujarati influence..

To make this you will need:

Ingredients:                                                                
1 medium size green mango (firm)
1 tbsp of oil
1/2tsp crushed fenugreek seeds
1tsp chili powder ( less or more to tatse)
A pinch of turmeric
2-3 tbsp sugar
Heaped tsp of coriander powder
A few cardamon pods (slightly crushed)
Salt to taste
50ml water     

Method
Cut the mango into chunks (steam for 10 min's) - cool and mix with the sugar and leave to rest for one day in a jar. Then in a pan add oil and spices. Cook this through until the spices and oil have combined into a loose paste. Add the water 60 ml and stir- then add in the marinated magoes. Simmer for a few 10 mins on a low heat. Cool and store in a jar. The sweet pickle should be sticky and a little orangery brown in colour.  A rested chutney for a couple of days is even tastier so be a patient. This recipe is yum and it can be served simply on fresh Indian bread.

Try this recipe for quick rotlis ( make 4)

Ingredients
2 handful scoops of chapati flour ( 100g)
A knob of butter
Enough warm water to form a dough (100ml)

Method
Form 4 dough balls from the mixture
Roll each into15cm diameter using slightly floured surface
Cook in a non stick flat pan for 40 secs on a medium heat, flip it over for a 1 min until brown flecks have foamed , flip it back over turning the heat up and press on one side of the rotli with a clean tea towel on one half of it allowing the hot air created inside of it to puff the rotli up, and then do the same on the other half - once it has fully puffed up remove it from the pan. The rotli should have brown flecks now on both sides now-  do not cook it for more than 40 secs firstly as it will not finally puff up fully when its turned over.

Slightly cool and spread the rotli with pickle roll it up and enjoy!




Monday, 20 July 2015

Eid Mubarak.


Eid al Fitr (Sweet Eid) is the first Eid of the year and celebrates the end of Ramadan.  It also marks the anniversary of the Quran being revealed. Eid al fitr is the feast of breaking the fast. Ramadam is a period of either 29 or 30 days of fast from dawn to sunset. Muslims around the world embrace this fasting period with great focus and respect.You may remember my article on Global  Festivals and holy days in which I mentioned the second Eid al- Adha (salty Eid) celebrated later in the year. 


Through out the period of Ramadam each day after sunset - the fast is broken usually by eating a date. The date is believed by many Muslims to be a super food and that the best dates come from Medina in Saudi Arabia, which is where the prophet lived and also where he died. See my article 


 Ketupat
There are of course Eid celebrations all over the world and it usually starts with a bath and dressing up in new clothes, after which dates are eaten and then a visit their local mosque for special Eid prayers. According to wikipedia the Muslim community make up 23 %  the worlds population which is a considerable size of  all the religious groups:  There are 1,600million Muslim people. So there are lots of special dishes from a variety of countries on offer like; Ketupat (rice cakes) served in Korea. Dolma (stuffed vegetables) served Bosnia and Brongkos (Oxtail meat tofu and beans (served in Jakarta) 

Some Muslims I have spoken to express how calm they feel through out this period . And that is a time for peace and reflection and that it gives them great focus; including the Birmingham cricketer Moeen Ali   who claims fasting and playing cricket for England is no distraction - in fact quite he opposite.

Eid - al Fitr is a celebration with many types of food and dishes which may be eaten with friends and family. In my last artcle about Eid - al Adha I gave a recipe for  Tal Hue GhostHere is a quick sweet recipe for you to try that  help  celbrate this sweet Eid al Fitr

Barfi

Ingredients

125g Full cream Powdered milk
250 Caster sugar or add less
125 Water
 5 Green Cardamoms pods - seeds crushed
12  pistachio nuts shelled and chopped( unsalted)
Butter for greasing

Equipment

Sallow dish or baking tin lined with grease proof paper
Pan
Wooden spoon
Knife and chopping board

Method
  1. Place the sugar and water into the pan. Boil and then allow to simmer for 6-7 minutes, until the mixture turns into a  sticky syrup
  2. Add the powdered  milk, crushed cardamoms. pistachio nuts and mix well
  3. Pour this mixture into the dish and leave to cool pistachio flakes on top
  4. When the barfi has set cut into diamond shapes pieces
Tip:  Try adding a drop of rose water for a subtle fragrance, or desiccated coconut to the mixture before setting it. Or you could be very indulgent and cover the top with melted chocolate 

 Eid Mubarak


.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Eid Mubarak.


Eid al Fitr (Sweet Eid) is the first Eid of the year and celebrates the end of Ramadan.  It also marks the anniversary of the Quran being revealed. Eid al fitr is the feast of breaking the fast. Ramadam is a period of either 29 or 30 days of fast from dawn to sunset. Muslims around the world embrace this fasting period with great focus and respect.You may remember my article on Global  Festivals and holy days in which I mentioned the second Eid al- Adha (salty Eid) celebrated later in the year. 


Through out the period of Ramadam each day after sunset - the fast is broken usually by eating a date. The date is believed by many Muslims to be a super food and that the best dates come from Medina in Saudi Arabia, which is where the prophet lived and also where he died. See my article 


 Ketupat
There are of course Eid celebrations all over the world and it usually starts with a bath and dressing up in new clothes, after which dates are eaten and then a visit their local mosque for special Eid prayers. According to wikipedia the Muslim community make up 23 %  the worlds population which is a considerable size of  all the religious groups:  There are 1,600million Muslim people. So there are lots of special dishes from a variety of countries on offer like; Ketupat (rice cakes) served in Korea. Dolma (stuffed vegetables) served Bosnia and Brongkos (Oxtail meat tofu and beans (served in Jakarta) 

Some Muslims I have spoken to express how calm they feel through out this period . And that is a time for peace and reflection and that it gives them great focus; including the Birmingham cricketer Moeen Ali   who claims fasting and playing cricket for England is no distraction - in fact quite he opposite.

Eid - al Fitr is a celebration with many types of food and dishes which may be eaten with friends and family. In my last artcle about Eid - al Adha I gave a recipe for  Tal Hue GhostHere is a quick sweet recipe for you to try that  help  celbrate this sweet Eid al Fitr

Barfi

Ingredients

125g Full cream Powdered milk
250 Caster sugar or add less
125 Water
 5 Green Cardamoms pods - seeds crushed
12  pistachio nuts shelled and chopped( unsalted)
Butter for greasing

Equipment

Sallow dish or baking tin lined with grease proof paper
Pan
Wooden spoon
Knife and chopping board

Method
  1. Place the sugar and water into the pan. Boil and then allow to simmer for 6-7 minutes, until the mixture turns into a  sticky syrup
  2. Add the powdered  milk, crushed cardamoms. pistachio nuts and mix well
  3. Pour this mixture into the dish and leave to cool pistachio flakes on top
  4. When the barfi has set cut into diamond shapes pieces
Tip:  Try adding a drop of rose water for a subtle fragrance, or desiccated coconut to the mixture before setting it. Or you could be very indulgent and cover the top with melted chocolate 

 Eid Mubarak


.