Month: November 2013

Hitting the Jack Pot….

Yudhika Sujanani photographed by Ben Skinner, Make Up by Arwen Swan, Dress by Arwen Garmentry

Yudhika Sujanani photographed by Ben Skinner, Make Up by Arwen Swan, Dress by Arwen Garmentry

Yasantha Naidoo from the Sunday Times asked if I would write a column about a childhood memory….it’s no secret, I have not lived a charmed life…well not always anyway. Memories of those years came flooding back. It was a tough article to write but it was necessary. This is not by any means a name and shame blog…it’s about me, my hurt, my experiences and how all of this has shaped me. While discussing this column over the phone (she is based in Durban, you see), I shared this story with her and now, I will share it with you….

The Summer of 1986…Cindi Lauper’s ‘True Colours’ was blasting on the radio, and even when it wasn’t the song stuck in my head like an ear worm. I arrived home from school to find our possessions tossed carelessly on the driveway. The rent had not been paid again. Armed with black rubbish bags and cardboard boxes, we began to pack up our possessions. Neighbours and family arrived, not to help but to stare at our misfortune which was placed under the community microscope.

The Driveway....the spot where my family broke forever - Yudhika 9 years old

The Driveway….the spot where my family broke forever – Yudhika 9 years old

As the sun began to fade, the dread set in, the beady eyed scavengers appeared, looking greedily for the spoils of eviction. We spent the night at my aunt’s house and returned the next day to find people ‘shopping’ though our possessions. Cutlery, crockery, appliances, and even clothing. But there was something that was taken from my mom that tormented me for years….Her Breyani Pot! She bought it at a party and got a tongue lashing for doing so. After a lengthy period of scrimping and saving to pay for the pot, it arrived one day in a box so large that it was surely going to start-up another wave of grumbling and tirades. My dad insisted that the pot would be used to prepare a celebratory meal at this funeral.

The Breyani pot found a new home – it was hijacked by an aunt and it stood proudly in her kitchen. It was never spoken off and became the invisible cookware unit. Whenever her friends commented on it, I would feel my blood pressure rising. The pot stood on her counter. It mocked and taunted me to say something and every time I saw it, memories of the day we lost our home and my family broke flooded back. In those days, you were allowed to cry if you were bleeding. You were allowed to cry if your parents were around to protect you….I was without both so I cried on the inside. I cried silently for my mom, my family, my home and the protection that a united family had to offer. The aunt would also dish out a few ‘klaps’ (she didn’t do it with my other cousins, it was just me and sometimes my brother) and it made me feel ashamed of having a broken home. For the record, the aunt’s Breyani never tasted good and it probably never will! For my really fabulous lamb breyani recipe, click here:

Everyone in our community knew about the eviction, it was not the first time it happened. My brother and I were the black sheep of the family. We were often ridiculed and mocked – family members were the harshest and I often wondered why. It made no sense to me then and it still doesn’t. I don’t regret it, not in the least – it was the constant driver in my life and pushed me to achieve the goals I had set.

I got married in 1999 (round number one) and expected my aunt to arrive with the pot. She arrived with a set of cheapies she purchased at Hyperama for R300. It finally hit home, the pot would never be returned and it would never be returned. It was no longer our family heirloom…it would be a part of someone else’s legacy and not mine. My mom’s most extravagant purchase, the highlight of her shopping career was lost forever. It symbolized so much – my mom, her journey in life, the hand she was dealt and the struggle she faced.

My AMC Breyani Pot - bigger and better

My AMC Breyani Pot – bigger and better

After years of mourning my emotional losses and material ones, I hit the ‘jackpot’ (no pun intended) in 2011 when I was appointed the AMC brand ambassador. I work with a great team or should I call it a family? Chris Koekemoer (the boss), Kaye Cox and Nariman Arnold (my other bosses) have been a delight to work with. I was gifted with every cookware unit I could wish for – big, small, short, tall, electric and even custom ones made especially for me. It’s really remarkable, that a beautiful team working together at a company in Cape Town, have healed my childhood aches by sharing more love and good cheer than I could have wished for.

Win this AMC Paella Pot by posting a comment and sharing your thoughts on this blog!

Win this AMC Paella Pot by posting a comment and sharing your thoughts on this blog!

I would love to share my AMC love with you. One lucky reader will win this AMC paella pan worth over R3000. You too could win the AMC jackpot like I did….post a comment on this blog and give me some feedback. Maybe it will make a difference to you or someone you know….maybe it will give someone a little hope to keep fighting the fight. Most importantly, let’s talk about it, let’s talk about you!!!!

My mom and I still chat about it but no longer with a heavy heart. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry but we will never forget the 14th February 1986. I grew up a fighter, promising myself that I would make it and I did just that!

I will continue on my cooking adventures with this motto tattooed on my heart, AMC – ‘Cookware for Life’. Thanks to the AMC team for taking away my childhood heartache!

*Competition closes: 15 December 2013
South African entries only. Please supply your email address to ensure that the winner can be notified. If the prize is not claimed within 14 days, a new winner will be drawn.


Tanvi’s Birthday Blues….

The cast of the Tanvi's Diwali Birthday Show!

The cast of the Tanvi’s Diwali Birthday Show!

My daughter Tanvi was born on Diwali. It was such a surprise….I had lots of visitors and while Hetal, my first princess, received baby blankets and bibs…Tanvi hit the jackpot! Most Indians believe that the Goddess of Wealth visits on Diwali and Tanvi became the ‘auspicious baby’. She received coins, earrings, pendants and necklaces in gold! I am sure that Hetal will at some stage need some therapy sessions…all thanks to our Indian community!

Tanvi and I...beautiful times....

Tanvi and I…beautiful times….

I was just delighted that she was a happy, healthy and perfect. Like most things in life, there is always trouble brewing in paradise. Most of the people know by now, that I am divorced and re-married to a man who is not just a husband….he has been amazingly supportive of everything I do. Sometimes I do forget this…Sorry ROB! He is the ‘wind beneath my wings’ so to speak! My divorce was ugly…it took forever and the nastiness will remain with all of us forever and trust me ‘Forever is a very long time!’ With all the ugliness, my kids still remained close to their dad…they loved him without reservations…like the marriage this did not last!

Bruno joining in on the fun.....

Bruno joining in on the fun…..

Tanvi is the easiest, most loving kid out of my lot. She has been her dad’s greatest supporter/defender and it’s caused her lots of heartache. My ex husband got married, way before I did, and like most second marriages (mine included), his relationship with the kids changed. Last year, a few days before her birthday, Tanvi plucked up the courage to say that she would like to see her dad but requested that he visit her and take her out to movies….she was just not comfortable visiting him in his home….the result was that her dad never contacted her again. She waited for his call on her birthday but there was nothing….she will always be heartbroken!

The pirates...

The pirates…

The reason for this sad, and long story is that there are always new beginnings! We have built a new family with Rob as the captain…kids have become the swashbuckling pirates. It’s made Rob and I more committed to rebuilding what has turned into a mad, crazy home filled with love and laughter…giggles actually!

On Tanvi’s birthday, we have started a new tradition….which is not only a celebration of her birthday, its a celebration of our family…there are added extras like Michael and Julia (Rob’s kids) and my mom….the more the merrier…its become the perfectly rowdy home and we, the Sujanani’s and L’Etangs have built it! Tanvi did not get a call on her birthday…but with all the festivities and new birthday traditions, she is getting better at dealing with it all the time. We decided to have a formal sit down dinner, and even got dressed up….a big thank you to Arwen Swan and Ben Skinner for sorting out my brand new wardrobe…dressed by these incredibly talented people makes me feel like royalty (who wouldn’t in a beautiful animal print pussy bow dress?). I know that the clothes are going to fit perfectly….my curves are becoming a delicious issue! Contact Arwen on 011 447 0247 0 she is based in Parkhurst.

The Birthday Girl....

The Birthday Girl….

I made a six layered cake…one for every person in our home that has been a special part of her life and loved her happy again. It’s one for Rob, my mom who she calls Amma, Rushil, Tanvi, Hetal, one for her loving herself and one for me!!! Each layer was a different colour to represent what they bring into her life!

The three musketeers...Rushil, Tanvi and Hetal

The three musketeers…Rushil, Tanvi and Hetal

This cake is a whopper…six layers, cream cheese frosting, and macaron sprinkles. Do not prepare the macaron filling just the plain ones will do.
For the macaron recipe click here:

Here is the recipe for Tanvi’s Celebration Cake….

6 shades of cake....

6 shades of cake….

Makes 6 layers…make it in two batches

Ingredients for the six layers:

12 eggs
450ml sugar
750ml cake flour
30ml baking powder
180ml cold water
10ml vanilla essence
350ml oil

6 different gel food colors

1 batch of plain macarons – not sandwiched

Beat 6 eggs in a large metallic mixing bowl until foamy.
Gradually add 225ml sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light in color and tripled in volume.

Perfectly whisked eggs....

Perfectly whisked eggs….

Sift 375ml cake flour and 15ml baking powder into the mixing bowl.
Light fold the ingredients together and ensure there are no floury ‘pockets’ in the batter.
Pour the cold water, vanilla essence and oil into the mixture and continue folding.
The oil sinks to the bottom of the mixing bowl so lift the mixture and scrape the bottom of the bowl when folding to combine.
Divide the mixture into 3 x 20cm greased and lined cake tins.

Drizzle a little gel food coloring into the cake tins and swirl the mixture through with a fork…lift the mixture from the bottom of the tin.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees celsius.
You will know when the cake is done…when you can smell cake!
The cake should be light golden brown and shrink away from the sides of the tin.
Remove the cakes from the oven, leave to stand for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
Refrigerate the cakes for an hour or two to firm them up….makes frosting them much easier.

For the cream cheese frosting…

350g soft butter
500g icing sugar
2 tubs Spar Cream Cheese (this is the one in the box and not the tub!!!)
50ml fresh cream
2ml vanilla paste

I beat the butter in my trusted Kenwood on medium speed.
Then reduce the speed and add icing sugar….please reduce the speed to prevent clouds of icing sugar rising from the mixing bowl.
Once the mixture is light and fluffy, add the Spar cream cheese.
On a low-speed continue beating until the butter and cream cheese are combined.
Scrape down the sides of the Kenwood mixing bowl.
Add the fresh cream and vanilla essence.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and beat for 30 seconds.
Leave the frosting in the refrigerator until the cakes have cooled…please cover the bowl with plastic wrap so it does not absorb ‘fridge odours’.

To assemble the cake…

Frost and sandwich the cakes together – I scoop a bit of frosting on each cake to ensure that I do not run out.
Frost the sides of the cake.
Crush the macarons by putting them in a plastic bag and working out some anger by bashing them with a rolling-pin.
Sprinkle the macarons on the side of the cake.
Finish the cake with fresh roses on top – you could also use berries.

Paneer Makhani

Yudhika's Paneer Makhani...

Yudhika’s Paneer Makhani…

I am almost certain that by now, you have realized that Diwali is not a ‘Diet Friendly’ time of year. And this recipe is no different to any of the other Diwali favourites…a double whammy dish with cream and butter.

For a more sensible option try the ‘Seyal Paneer’ recipe:

I also use paneer as a pie filling in this Paneer Pasties recipe:

This Paneer Makhani recipe will get you a gold star for Diwali!

Paneer Makhani


600g paneer, sliced
60ml cashew nuts
125ml boiling water
60ml sunflower oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
5ml cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
7,5ml coarse salt
15ml crushed ginger and garlic
2 green chillies, chopped
20ml red chilli powder
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
15ml ground coriander
10ml ground cumin
5ml garam masala
Pinch ground cardamom
2ml turmeric
60g cold butter, diced
30ml fresh cream
Coriander to garnish
Gold leaf to decorate

Here’s how:


Slice the paneer into pieces.

Soak the cashew nuts in boiling water for 10 minutes and liquidize until smooth.
Pound the ginger, garlic and green chilli together.
Fry the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cumin seeds in oil until fragrant.
Add onions and salt, saute until light golden brown.
Add crushed ginger, garlic and green chilli, then add the red chilli powder.
Stir the chopped tomatoes into the spices.
Sprinkle in the ground coriander, cumin, garam masala, ground cardamom and turmeric.
Simmer until the tomatoes soften completely.
Use a potato masher to break down any lumps.
Add the cashew paste and 250ml boiling water.
Simmer until the sauce thickens.
Whisk the cold butter into the sauce, then pour in the fresh cream.
Gently place the paneer into the cooked sauce and heat through.
Garnish with fresh coriander and edible gold leaf.

How to make Paneer….

Yudhika Paneer recipe...

Yudhika Paneer recipe…

Paneer is an Indian Cottage cheese…it resembles feta but does not contain salt. For vegetarians, this is the equivalent of a ‘lamb curry with mushy potatoes’ (my favourite). I use paneer in pastries, breyanis and even in starters!

Please please please, do not use low fat milk – so far, Full Cream Clover milk works best for this recipe. I do experiment a fair bit and this blog is not sponsored by Clover! Use a good pot, (I use AMC cookware) so that the milk does not scorch and burn on the bottom which will ruin the paneer.

I am just about to post the Paneer Makhani recipe…I anticipate that there will be recipe requests for the Paneer…



4 litres CLOVER Full Cream Milk
180 -200ml white vinegar

Boil milk in a large 30cm AMC cookware unit and stir continuously to prevent the milk from sticking.
Once the milk comes up to the boil, remove from the heat.
Pour the white vinegar around the pot and gently move the milk – do not stir.
If the mixture still looks milky, add a little more vinegar.
Leave aside for 30 minutes.
The curd should float to the top and form a thick layer.
Place the curd in a strainer and use the back of a spoon to press out the excess whey.
Tip the curd into a muslin cloth and mould it into a ‘cake’.
Place the paneer on a chopping board and place a large pot filled with water on top.
This will help the excess moisture drain away.
Leave to drain for 2 hours.
Place the paneer in a zip seal bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Yudhika’s tips:
Always use full cream milk when making paneer.
Leave the paneer on the draining board while it is being pressed – the whey can cause a mess.
If the paneer is too soft, leave it unwrapped in the refrigerator to firm up.

Pecan Chana Magaj….

Yudhika Sujanani's Chana Magaj...

Yudhika Sujanani’s Chana Magaj…

The food world is changing at an alarming rate…new trends are constantly being introduced and with so much emphasis being placed on ‘painting a picture’ on a plate, we lose the plot. I have a different approach to food and opt to keep it traditional especially with recipes like this Chana Magaj…’Why change it?’ It’s delicious, flop proof and a hit with my friends and family!

I remember paying an absolute bomb for a tray of ‘Chana Magaj’ many moons ago…much to my horror, when I sliced it, it simply crumbled. I was completely dismayed and cross (I will use a more acceptable word). I looked at the crumbled mess and tried to massage it back into a block! I eventually melted a large chunk of butter and mixed it into the chana crumble….it worked like a charm. The moral of the story is don’t scrimp on the butter!!!!

The ‘Devil is in the Detail’…As with most traditional recipes, patience is the secret ingredient. Put on some music and pour yourself a glass of wine while you are stirring the chickpea flour….taking your time makes all the difference. Use a 30cm AMC pot for cooking the chickpea flour…I know I do go on about it but ‘like seriously’…you can’t use a flimsy thin based pot for this! I get my daughters, Hetal and Tanvi, to take turns with cooking the chickpea flour. Every now and then, they bill me for their work and they do a fabulous job!

Chana Magaj keeps for ages in the refrigerator…so keep a few blocks away for ’emergencies’. I confess, I have lots of ’emergencies’ especially when I know these treats are resting in my refrigerator.

Pecan Chana Magaj


500g chickpea flour
100ml milk, boiled
500g butter ghee
5ml ground cardamom
375g icing Sugar, sifted
100g Klim
100g pecan nuts

Place the chickpea flour and hot milk in a mixing bowl.
Rub the milk into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Leave the mixture to dry for an hour and then break down the large lumps using your fingertips.
Melt the butter ghee in an AMC pot on a low heat and then add the chickpea flour.
Continue stirring until the chickpea flour turns deep golden brown in colour – about an hour.
Leave aside to cool.
Grease a 25 x 25cm baking tray and line with plastic wrap.
Fold the wrap over the sides of the tray.
Stir in the ground cardamom, sifted icing sugar and full cream milk powder into the cooked mixture.
Work the icing sugar and milk powder into the chickpea flour using your fingertips.
Press the mixture into the baking tray – if the mixture is too dry, add a little melted butter.
Garnish with pecan nuts and leave aside to set.
Slice into blocks and lift the plastic wrap to loosen from the tray.