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Sugar & Spice with Yudhika: Almond Crusted Paneer

Yudhika prepares Almond Crusted Paneer on the Home Channel's  Sugar & Spice

Yudhika prepares Almond Crusted Paneer on the Home Channel’s Sugar & Spice

Caught up in the whirlwind of cooking classes, tv shoots and just amazing times, blogging sometimes takes a bit of a beating! I am back on track and please stay tuned to the blog, social media and the Home Channel to catch up on the latest episodes of Sugar & Spice on DSTV’s 176.

Here is a recipe from last week’s show, focusing on vegetarian meals! I marinated paneer in a tandoori style paste and patted on a handful of flaked almonds to form a crust…bake in a hot oven and serve with mint chutney! You have the perfect and quite unusual oven baked paneer.

Marinated Paneer crusted with flaked almonds ready for the oven....Sugar & Spice with Yudhika on the Home Channel

Marinated Paneer crusted with flaked almonds ready for the oven….Sugar & Spice with Yudhika on the Home Channel

Almond Crusted Paneer

Ingredients

4 litres full Cream Milk, preferably Clover
180ml white vinegar

Boil milk in a thick bottomed pot 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.

For the marinade

60ml chickpea flour
10ml Curry me Home Magic Masala or Indian Rub
20ml red chilli powder
2,5ml turmeric
5ml ajwain seeds (carom or lovage)
10ml garam masala
5ml ground black pepper
60ml fresh cream
50ml yoghurt

50g flaked almonds
Salt, to season
Sunflower oil, to drizzle

Place the spices, chickpea flour, yoghurt and cream into a bowl.
Stir well until the marinade is smooth.

Place a piece of baking paper onto a roasting pan or baking tray.
Drizzle with a little sunflower oil and spread two tablespoons of the marinade over the paper.
Place the paneer on top and coat in the remaining marinade.
Season with salt and gently press the flaked almonds over the marinade.
Drizzle with sunflower oil.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsius for 12 minutes or until the paneer is golden brown.
Serve with mint chutney.

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Spicing it up on Sugar & Spice…Saffron Apple Cake

Yudhika Sujanani's Portuguese episode on Sugar & Spice - DSTv 176

Yudhika Sujanani’s Portuguese episode on Sugar & Spice – DSTv 176

We are on the 5th episode of Sugar & Spice on DSTv’s Home Channel. I have been completely overwhelmed by the response and the emails and messages have been heart warming. Thanks to all of you for following the show and including some of my recipes in your cooking repertoire.

I do cook a fair bit of Indian dishes everyday, whether at Holi Cow or for my family…we love traditional Indian food but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the only cuisine that I prepare. Italian, Middle Eastern and Moroccan recipes are some of my favourites but also Portuguese cuisine! Portuguese food and I don’t mean the Nando’s type peri peri chicken, is popular and the Lusitoland festival shows just how popular it is.

On this season of Sugar & Spice, I have been stepping out of my curry zone and doing some of my other favourites with you…I challenged myself only allowing two Indian themed episodes. The team decided on Italian, Moroccan, Chocolate, Mediterranean, South East Asian and a whole episode dedicated to the love of chocolate!

This week features a Portuguese influenced Brazilian Pork and Bean stew with orange and cocoa….yes, it does sound a bit like a dessert and not a common combination for the South African palate but believe me, it does work like a charm. The Mozambican Style Prawns cooked in a buttery juice with onions, garlic and stock….and a Saffron Apple Cake with home-made custard!

We have the Portuguese to thank for making spices a part of global cuisine….and we also have them to thank for the Goan Indian Vindaloo….more about the Lamb Vindaloo later!

No matter what the theme is, the Home Channel together with Spar and AMC Cookware have given me an opportunity to share my love of all things spicy with you….it has been an amazing adventure so far and looking forward to the next season!

Yudhika's Saffron Apple Cake on The Home Channel

Yudhika’s Saffron Apple Cake on The Home Channel

Here is the recipe for the Saffron Apple Cake…this is a beautiful fruity cake and the appearance makes it impressive. You can use mixed spice, cloves, and cardamom to flavour the batter but I stuck to the classic cinnamon. For more recipes from Sugar & Spice, log onto http://www.thehomechannel.co.za and click on the food show tab.

Ready to serve...Yudhika's Saffron Apple Cake drizzled with home-made custard!

Ready to serve…Yudhika’s Saffron Apple Cake drizzled with home-made custard!

Saffron Apple Cake

Ingredients

Few strands of saffron
6 large Granny Smith Apples
15ml lemon juice
5 eggs, separated
225g butter
225g sugar
30ml ground almonds or coconut flour
370g cake flour
185ml full cream milk, room temperature
15ml baking powder
5ml vanilla paste or essence
5ml cinnamon
Pinch of salt

30ml sugar
Icing sugar, to dust cake

Pre-heat oven to 170 degree celsius.
Grease and line a 10 inch loose bottomed cake tin.

Heat the saffron strands in a dry pan for 30 seconds or microwave for 10 seconds.
Leave the saffron to cool and then crush lightly with your fingertips.
Peel and core the apples.
Cut the apples in half and slice thinly.
Lightly toss in the lemon juice to prevent the apples from discolouration.

Beat the egg whites until foamy and gradually add 15ml of from the 225g of weighed sugar until stiff.

Cream the butter until light in colour and gradually add the sugar.
Continue beating until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks with a teaspoon of flour and beat for a few seconds
Add the almond or coconut flour.
Gradually add the flour alternating with milk.
Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, crushed saffron and salt.
Beat well until the batter is smooth.
Lastly fold in half the stiffly beaten egg whites to ‘loosen’ the batter.
Fold in the remaining egg whites.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula.
Arrange the apples starting out at the centre and angling each piece working in an outward concentric pattern so its starts to look like a flower.
Use the smaller pieces to fill in the gaps – do not press the apple slices deep into the pastry. The should have a raised appearance.
Sprinkle 30ml sugar over the apples and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and shrinks away from the side of the tin.
Leave to cool slightly and dust with icing sugar.

Serve with home made custard.

French Style Custard

250ml fresh cream
5ml vanilla paste
2 egg yolks
70ml sugar

Heat the cream with vanilla paste, stirring continuously to prevent it from scorching.
Once the cream comes to the boil, place the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Mix the egg yolks and sugar into a paste and pour the hot cream over – this is an important step, do not add the eggs into the hot cream as this will cause the eggs to scramble.
Whisk the mixture and pour back into the pot.
Place the pot back on low heat and whisk continuously until the custard thickens.
Remove from the heat.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.
Serve drizzled over the sliced saffron apple cake.

Feast, Pray, Love…#1 Persian Pleasures in Kensington

Yudhika's Feast Pray Love in Kensington at Zaman on High Street, Kensington

Yudhika’s Feast Pray Love in Kensington at Zaman on High Street, Kensington

Feast, Pray, Love are three words that best describe what my life is all about…I celebrate through feasting and when I pray, it isn’t with a long list of things I need or want, it’s to be thankful…taking time to count every one of my blessings which makes me love life more everyday. Love…the most beautiful gift of all, what would life be without those we love and treasure!

Whether I am working, doing a show, or just being with my family…I feast, I pray and I love fiercely! The idea of putting together the ‘FPL’ section to my blog has been on my mind for ages, like coffee…my ideas keep percolating! Through my journey, highs and lows….I am learning to be kind to myself and forgiving too.

I love to travel, see new places and experience different cultures…on the 15th May this year, just a stroke past midnight, I was tapped lightly on my shoulder by an air hostess on SAA, waking me up to my birthday and a bottle of Taittinger Rose…it was a toast to new beginnings and what better way to kick off a new year with an adventure in London…with an exciting new project on the cards, the city was my oyster. I threw back my champagne and fell into the most delicious sleep.

The Iranian/Persian influenced stores on Kensington's High Street with Yudhika Sujanani

The Iranian/Persian influenced stores on Kensington’s High Street with Yudhika Sujanani

I had a bit of free time and took a walk down Kensington’s High Street which led me to a little pocket of Iranian supermarkets, green grocers and restaurants. I love Iranian food and Jozi seems to have lost Apadana, the only place I knew that made a good Fesenjun…which is chicken cooked in pomegranate molasses and walnuts. There is also an Apadana restaurant in Kensington. I popped into Zaman, the Iranian Supermarket…the store is crammed with everything from fresh and dried fruit, Persian sweets like cashew nut baklava, macaroons and something that looks like Indian jalebi to Iranian caviar…and spices. The Iranian community are pedantic about the quality of dried fruit, nuts and the saffron is fabulous.

Pomegranates...a persian must have ingredient

Pomegranates…a persian must have ingredient

Brightly coloured, juicy pomegranate rubies...the perfect walkabout snack on High Street #yudhikayumyum

Brightly coloured, juicy pomegranate rubies…the perfect walkabout snack on High Street #yudhikayumyum

Persian peaches....at Zaman on High Street, Kensington

Persian peaches….at Zaman on High Street, Kensington

Iranian Caviar...sights and sounds on High Street, Kensington with Yudhika Sujanani

Iranian Caviar…sights and sounds on High Street, Kensington with Yudhika Sujanani

The Iranian stores seem to be more like old-fashioned family run businesses. The fresh fruit display outside the store is inviting, colourful and very old school….bright pomegranate rubies are sold in little cups which make the perfect walkabout snack. There are also persian peaches, glossy deep coloured cherries, fresh herbs and veggies. For a Persian experience outside Iran, I recommend taking a stroll through this part of Kensington, it’s not only a feast for food explorers but for the eyes too!

The end of a High Street adventure...Yudhika Sujanani - May 2015

The end of a High Street adventure…Yudhika Sujanani – May 2015

I have been working on recipes for the Post Newspaper’s with Ramadan in mind and it’s the perfect opportunity to splash out with my saffron…here is my version of a Persian dish called Koresht-e-Mast which is chicken cooked with yoghurt and saffron. How can I best describe this dish…it’s almost a curry and also described as a Persian stew…a stew??? This is way too exotic and fragrant to be compared to stew…cumin, coriander, red chilli, teamed with fresh orange juice and finished with yoghurt. The dish is lightly spiced, aromatic and creamy. I used the Spar branded double thick yoghurt for this recipe as I find this one doesn’t split or curdle.

Yudhika's version of Persian style Koresht-e-Mast

Yudhika’s version of Persian style Koresht-e-Mast

Persian style Chicken – Koresht-e Mast

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

2,5ml saffron strands
50ml boiled water
1,6kg chicken thighs and drumsticks
45ml sunflower oil
1 bay leaf
2 onions, finely sliced
2,5ml salt
3 celery sticks, thinly sliced
10ml crushed ginger
10ml crushed garlic
10ml red chilli powder
10ml ground cumin
10ml ground coriander
2,5ml ground cardamom
500ml boiled water
2 stock cubes
Juice of 1 orange
6 sprigs fresh thyme
200ml Spar Double Thick Greek yoghurt
1 egg
30ml cold water
20ml Magic Masala, if you have…this is from my Curry Me Home range of spice

Sunflower oil, to brown chicken
Black pepper, to season
Fresh thyme to garnish

Here’s how:

Heat the saffron strands in a dry pan or microwave for a few seconds.
Crush the saffron using your fingertips and place in a little bowl.
Pour the boiled water over the saffron and leave aside to infuse.
Heat the sunflower oil in a 30cm AMC Gourmet Roaster.
Add the bay leaf and fry until fragrant.
Add the sliced onions with the salt and saute until pale golden in colour.
Stir the celery sticks into the fried onion and saute until they soften.
Add the crushed ginger and garlic.
Place the chicken into the fried onion and stir well to coat.
Sprinkle the red chilli, ground cumin, coriander and cardamom over the chicken pieces.
Stir well to coat, pour in the boiled water and crumble the stock cubes into the pot.
Pour in the orange juice, add the fresh sprigs of thyme and saffron liquid.
Lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is tender.
Remove the chicken from the pan.
Heat an AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan and grease with non stick spray.
Place the cooked chicken in the pan with the skin side down, turning them often to ensure they brown evenly.
Remove from the pan once they are golden brown.

Whisk the yoghurt with egg and water.
Important step: Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the yoghurt mixture while whisking the sauce continuously – this prevents the sauce from splitting.
Add the Magic Masala – if you have some!
Simmer on low until the sauce thickens and then return the brown chicken to the pot.
Once the chicken heats through, season with black pepper and garnish with fresh thyme.
Serve with steamed basmati or pilau rice.

Sugar, spice and all things nice….Date Chocolate and Pecan Pie

Sugar & Spice with Yudhika Sujanani on DSTV's Home Channel 176

Sugar & Spice with Yudhika Sujanani on DSTV’s Home Channel 176

It’s been an eventful week with the first episode of a whole new season of Sugar ‘n Spice airing on The Home Channel. It’s pretty special because up until now, I have been doing short food inserts on Saffron TV, Great Expectations on Etv and appearing on SABC 2’s MELA! When the Home Channel approached me earlier this year, I was gobsmacked at their offer and thrilled to have my first very own show!

Taking it up a few notches from a food insert, it’s taken us 4 months to complete the series and it’s been a roller coaster ride with my family, team and the crew! I have once again been incredibly lucky to work with such amazing people from the Channel….big thanks to Michael Porter and Simphiwe Gamede, the crew…Africa Vezi and Sipho, who tolerated many crazy out take moments, takes and re-takes, and the awesome team at Holi Cow….for the early mornings, long nights, and my long prep sheets! And then, there are those special people who always find a moment in their day to send me a beautiful message of love and encouragement…thanks to my the people out there on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the food love and sharing my posts and links…thanks and thanks again! And my family, who I am most thankful for….what you see on telly isn’t just me, you see the team effort with me being the ‘front lady’ and that also includes the crazy make up artist/stylist…Stavroula Georgakis! Spar has once again sponsored our ingredients and AMC Cookware just keep me cooking in their fabulous pots! I just realized how big this team really is…it’s huge!

Episode one...Pecan pie with dates and chocolate by Yudhika Sujanani

Episode one…Pecan pie with dates and chocolate by Yudhika Sujanani

In the first episode, we spiced up old favourites…leftover butternut was recycled into a delicious salad with hazelnut dukkah and prawns, a french chicken casserole got a spicy makeover with saffron, chilli, cumin and coriander…and the classic pecan pie was turned into a chocolately one with dates too!

For more information and recipes from the show, check out The Home Channel’s website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter, http://www.thehomechannel.co.za/shows/food/sugar-and-spice

Yudhika's Sugar & Spice...check out the show times on DSTV's Channel 176

Yudhika’s Sugar & Spice…check out the show times on DSTV’s Channel 176

I first made this recipe for Eid last year. It’s fruity, crunchy, buttery and purely decadent! Here is the recipe for pecan pie with dates and dark chocolate.

A slice of gooey pecan nut pie with dates and chocolate...by Yudhika Sujanani for Sugar & Spice

A slice of gooey pecan nut pie with dates and chocolate…by Yudhika Sujanani for Sugar & Spice

Chocolate Date and Pecan Pie

Pastry:

120g butter
200g cake flour
65g sugar
1 egg

Rub the flour and butter together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and mix. Lightly beat the egg and knead gently into a soft dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Roll the pastry on a lightly dusted work surface until it is about 5mm thick and is large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 23cm loose bottomed pie tin.
Line the tin with the pastry and press down into the base and about 3,5cm up the sides.
Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Place a piece of baking paper over the paper, cover with dried beans and bake blind for 10 minutes.
Remove the beans and the paper and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Leave the pasty case to cool completely.

For the filling:

125g butter
175g brown sugar
75ml golden syrup
3 large eggs
1 cinnamon stick
200g pecan nuts
90g chopped dark chocolate, chopped
75g chopped dates, chopped

Whipped cream, to serve

Place the butter in a 28cm AMC Chef’s Pan, and melt on low heat.
Add the brown sugar and golden syrup.
Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Leave the mixture to cool till slightly warm.
Remove the cinnamon stick.
Lightly whisk the eggs, then add the melted ingredients.
Scatter the pecan nuts, chocolate and dates over the bake pie crust, then pour over the egg mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes at 150 degrees celsius, then reduce to 140 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
Leave the pie to stand for a minute and then remove from the tin.
Serve slices of the pie warm with whipped cream.

Sorry is…such a sorry word!

Yudhika's Spicy Lamb Rosti Bake

Yudhika’s Spicy Lamb Rosti Bake

Is it just me or does the word sorry irritate anyone else? My thoughts and feelings percolate over time. This is not something new or a revelation of sorts and no, I haven’t had my heart-broken over the weekend…the word just irritates me! I can’t remember when it first struck me. Perhaps it was when my kids were little and bashing each other in a fight over a toy but I can still remember my son, Rushil, saying, ‘Sorry doesn’t even help!’ Over the past few years and somewhere in the midst of my latest ugly divorce, the dreadful word ‘sorry’ has been thrown carelessly into life changing conversations. Sometimes ‘Sorry’ comes only after years of someone forcing you to accept that an apology wasn’t necessary and by then, it is too late.

Sorry isn’t enough…the word has made the world a worse place to live in. People have become careless with those most dear to them. People take chances knowing that when the cracks appear all they need to do is say sorry. Think back to being a child at school and playing with your friends…if you hurt or wronged anyone on the playground, we apologized by saying, ‘Sorry’…how many times did you say it without real emotion, regret and remorse? It has always been a mindless almost insincere response.

Human beings are flawed….we all are and mistakes are a part of life and us growing emotionally. In this modern tech savvy world we live in, is it not possible that we have become emotionally unintelligent? Whether you are ill, being cheated on, just lost your job or experienced some sort of tragedy…it’s met with the same generic response, ‘I am sorry!’ How can such a small word possibly become the ‘one size fits all’ plaster for life’s wounds, whatever they might be? I was in a relationship once and my partner dated his ex girlfriend…he said, ‘It was no big deal’. If it was no big deal, why was it not mentioned when I made him dinner the next evening or when he chatted to me for hours the next day? Why did he actually do it? He took the chance and me for granted is the short answer thinking that all he had to do is say, ‘Sorry’ and that would come only if I found out, of course! Well, he didn’t anticipate that it would not be enough to fill in the cracks it left in the relationship….and the one thing about cracks is that they often expand and distort our feelings. My question is was he really sorry or sorry that I found out?

Is this me moaning about my relationship experiences….absolutely not! I have been lied to, cheated on and emotionally distraught at different stages of my life. It is wretched and the most important thing I have to share is that at no point was ‘sorry’ ever enough to take the pain away. When I have been left feeling wretched, I often heard the same thing which is, ‘Well, I said I was sorry…Didn’t I…What more do you want?’ and it simply wasn’t enough. I have been soul searching, wondering what was wrong with me and why an apology wasn’t the plaster I thought it would be. I realize that these apologies lack sincerity. Why isn’t it good enough? What do we want? More than words….once the trust is broken, it’s a long hard road back. Maybe it is a women thing…I wanted to know why and deal with the underlying issues and was met by the, ‘Sorry, can we sweep this under the rug now?’

Over the last while, I have had my share of generic sorries…but it’s taught me a lesson too. I would like to share my advice, if I may that is…I have been thinking, agonizing over the apologies I have not accepted and going forward ask you to live your life after erasing the word ‘Sorry’ from your vocabulary. Imagine making decisions and considering the people around you knowing that if you messed up, sorry would not be an option. I know that this would not erase any chance of making mistakes but we have become careless….maybe it would get us to think for a moment about everything that is precious and taken for granted.

When we are wrong, we have to work harder than just an apology…we have to work harder than ‘Sorry’ to find a remedy, support the person we are apologizing to and put the ‘no big deal’ mentality aside! ‘Sorry’ is not an apology…it’s a word and it has no magical powers!

Sorry is a sorry word….it is one of the most useless words in the dictionary. I have yet to write a blog about my carelessness and the things that I have been sorry about and apologies I’ve made….coming soon!

It’s been cold over the past few days and all I want to do is tuck into some comfort food. It could be the weather but my guess is that my thoughts have also been keeping me busy and craving the comfort of Wintery bakes…I am endlessly entertained in my own company…with some comfort food of course! Here is a recipe for a deliciously spicy lamb rosti bake! I love a traditional Cottage Pie but with the weather playing up, I spiced this recipe up along the lines of Keema Masala or Curried Mince. It is delicious, quick to prepare and comforting! I used the spices from my Curry Me Home range and at first glance it looks like there is lots of red chilli…keep in mind that lamb and beef ‘hold’ a lot more chilli and it is the base spice of the dish. Mince tends to often be flavorless and bland so you have to spice it up a fair bit!

Spicy Lamb Rosti Bake

750g lamb mince
50ml sunflower oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
5ml cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
7ml coarse salt
30ml ginger and garlic, crushed
30 – 45ml red chilli powder
10ml ground coriander
5ml garam masala
2ml turmeric
200g chopped tomatoes

700g potatoes, boiled in skins – I used Up To Date variety
Salt, to season potatoes
100g butter

Here’s how:

Heat the sunflower oil in an AMC Paella Pan.
Fry the cinnamon stick and bay leaf until fragrant, add the cumin seeds.
When the seeds start to splutter, add the onion and salt.
Salute the onion until light golden.
Add the crushed ginger and garlic and fry for a few seconds.
Add the red chilli powder and warm through for 3 – 5 seconds.
Stir the lamb mince into the red chilli and fry until it changes colour.
Add the ground coriander, garam masala and turmeric.
Stir for a few minutes and add the tomatoes.
Simmer until the tomatoes soften.
Place the lamb mince into a casserole dish.
Peel the potatoes and grate them over the mince.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Melt the butter and pour it over the potatoes.
Bake the lamb in the oven at 180 degrees celsius until the potatoes are golden brown which would take about 35 -45 minutes.

The Hunger Games….

I wrote this blog a while ago…it still makes me want to pinch myself for two reasons. One being that I have grown enough as a person to share my experience and the second, I can’t believe that it actually happened and how my life has changed.

Some may read this and look down upon me…that is just fine by me. I am what I am and what I am today is largely because of where I come from. I share it not to shock, but to inspire somebody out there who perhaps is going through a similar experience.

It’s World Hunger Day….reach out if you can because every little bit counts and you can make a difference!

Thanks for stopping by!

yudhikayumyum

This is an uncomfortable blog to write….it takes me back to a rather sad and unpleasant time in my life….fortunately, I have had many ‘happy endings’ which makes writing this much easier!

I have experienced hunger a few times….my family were not wealthy and putting a meal on the tables at times was just not possible. Growing up in an Indian community meant that everything was ‘hush-hush’ – I did not speak about it…actually nobody spoke about it! It was a game we played…pretending that everything was fine!

A packed school lunch was a luxury – my dad tried, I suppose but it just wasn’t enough. I cried sometimes…just feeling so overwhelmed by such poverty, helplessness and embarrassment. Don’t get me wrong, there were good times too but every now and then, our lives were punctuated with hunger! I did not starve, but I sure know what it feels like…

View original post 488 more words

Very vegetarian….Paneer and Spinach Koftas

Paneer and Spinach Koftas....by Yudhika Sujanani

Paneer and Spinach Koftas….by Yudhika Sujanani

I recently joined a group on Facebook called ‘Strictly Vegetarian Recipes’ and it has been an inspiration. The group was started by Prathna Singh in memory of her mom who was a vegetarian. I have been so amazed by the recipes posted but mostly the enthusiasm of the members. From eggless baking to old fashioned recipes, the group share their love for all things deliciously vegetarian.

I have been raised in a meat loving home where veggies were for days that were financially challenging. Preparing veggie meals has not been at the top of my list but the ladies of ‘Strictly Vegetarian’ keep me on my toes and thinking of new ideas to share.

With the rise of the celebrity and masterchef generation, we tend to forget to acknowledge the home cooks and chefs from the older generation….there is no TV audience but it is where most recipes come from! Aunties and grannies, mothers and neighbours…recipes were shared through the local grapevine….I would also like to thank the members of the group for their amazing work and spirit in keeping the page alive and brimming with decadent ideas.

Some of the contributors on the page are Mrs Priscilla Ron Sha, Prathna Singh, Usha Singh and Sherry Baijnath. Thanks ladies for the delicious shares! This blog is a celebration so don’t forget to enter the AMC Cookware Competition, click here for the details…https://yudhikayumyum.com/2015/05/04/cookware-for-queens-and-a-few-kings-too-the-amc-cookware-competition/ Don’t forget the hashtags…#amcforlife #yudhikayumyum in your comments!

Here is a recipe from my veggie files…I used a combination of Indian and Thai flavours in the sauce. Coconut milk, lemongrass and lime leaves combined with Indian spices make this sauce utterly decadent. Lime leaves can be found at Asian supermarkets and can be kept in the pantry for over a year. When I am short on lemongrass, I just add a few extra lime leaves to mimic the citrus zing….it does work so don’t panic if you can’t find the lemongrass! When using coconut milk, I recommend the following brands…Mae Ploy, Aroy D and Chao Koh or you can use the Spar brand coconut cream (with the yellow label). Some of the brands are really watery and ruin the sauce. For the basic paneer recipe, click here…https://yudhikayumyum.com/2013/11/01/how-to-make-paneer/ – just remember to use Clover milk for the recipe…from my recipe testing, it seems to work best for paneer.

These recipes can be sent directly to your inbox…all you have to do is click follow on the bottom of the page…scroll down to the very bottom of the page!

Paneer and Spinach Koftas

200g grated paneer
2 large boiled potatoes, grated
150g baby spinach, finely shredded
7,5ml crushed ginger
7,5ml crushed garlic
2 green chillies, finely chopped
5ml ajwain (ajmo)
5ml fine salt

Chickpea batter
500ml chickpea flour
2,5ml ajwain
2,5ml salt
Cold water, to make batter

Sunflower oil, to fry koftas

For the sauce:
750g chopped tomatoes
250ml cold water
2 cloves garlic
5ml crushed ginger
6 lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass
4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
15ml red chilli powder
5ml ground cumin
5ml ground coriander
5ml garam masala
5ml sugar
125ml coconut milk
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Here’s how:

Place the grated paneer, potato and baby spinach in a mixing bowl. Add the ginger, garlic, chopped chillies, ajwain and salt.
Mix well until the ingredients are combined.
Mould the mixture into balls and leave in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Make a batter with the chickpea flour, ajwain, salt and cold water.
Dip the koftas in the batter and then deep fry in hot oil.
Remove from the oil and leave to cool slightly, then dip in chickpea batter and fry again.
Leave to drain on a wire rack.

To make the sauce:

Place the tomatoes in a 24cm AMC pot and bring to the boil.
Pour in the water, then add garlic, ginger, lime leaves and lemongrass.
Place the cardamom pods, and bay leaf into the pot.
When the tomatoes soften completely, pass the mixture through a sieve.
Use the back of the wooden spoon to press the mixture through ensuring just the whole spices and lemongrass is left in the sieve.
Discard the pulp and bring the liquid to the boil.
Add red chilli powder, ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and sugar.
Simmer for a 3 – 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk and simmer until the sauce is glossy.
Place the koftas into the coconut sauce and garnish with fresh coriander.

Hope, Happiness and Hummingbirds…a visit to the Hummingbird Bakery

The black forest style cupcake by Yudhika Sujanani

The black forest style cupcake by Yudhika Sujanani

We grow up being mesmerized by fascinating creatures and when I was little, hummingbirds fascinated me the most. My mom once told me that this tiny little bird could even fly backwards. She described the way it would hover and draw out the nectar from flowers and it captured my attention forever. I have yet to see one but there is also another hummingbird that caught my attention while I was eating my way through London..The Hummingbird Bakery! I will come back to the bakery just now but first I want to share a few special messages that come from the mystical world of this bird. Ancient folk law has many myths about hummingbirds but mostly they remind us of how to live a happier life.

It’s called ‘the bird of the impossible’ – it can fly backwards which not only means that you can achieve the impossible, but it also symbolizes that we should re-visit our past but not dwell in it. While we fight to move forward in our lives, sometimes the answers can be found in our past. Take the lessons from the past, learn from the mistakes so you can move forward joyfully. Far too often we are encouraged to sweep things under the rug, box them and move on without processing it. We are pushed into believing that it is what we must do, but surely not what we should be doing? When the past remains unresolved, we carry the baggage forever, and forever is such a long time!

These tiny birds are able to fly thousands of kilometers during migration. They have the tiniest wings that make no aerodynamic sense at all! Take a closer look at your life and chose how you wish to spend your energy. We have limited resources and places and goals we wish to reach. Are we making the right choices or wasting our energy on things and people that don’t matter? From my own experiences, most of my energy was spent on fearing the unknown, worrying about issues and the worst of it is the people that seem to drain positivity out of your life. What will be, will be and the reality is that you will have to face it. The impending dread of dealing with a problem is far more agonizing than the problem itself. Take a beat, catch your breath and deal with the issue in your own time.

The hummingbird hovers over flowers for most of the day, tirelessly gathering up the nectar, but it never damages the plant. Sharing is not the issue, but we live in a society that takes until there is nothing left and too much damage is done. If you want something, do you need to harm the giver to get it? Do we take until there is nothing left? The greed that consumes us is what destroys our lives and the people around us. The hummingbird takes what it needs, not more! I have come across givers and takers, and things do swing in roundabouts…sometimes there are more givers, sometimes more takers but I changed so much about my life to ensure that although my circle is smaller, it is occupied by precious people. We experience joy in different ways and there is no right or wrong…so whether you are closing huge deals worth millions or collecting books for kids, it makes no difference. It’s your happiness! For many years one of my ways of experiencing joy is by sharing my generosity and love for food with my friends and family. I have learnt that not everyone values this gift. True generosity of spirit is my way of celebrating the successes and failures in my life.

Yudhika at Notting Hill's Hummingbird Bakery

Yudhika at Notting Hill’s Hummingbird Bakery

On a recent visit to London, I just had to stop in at the Hummingbird Bakery for a cupcake quick fix. I had first come across this amazing bakery while indulging in my penchant for recipe books. The first cook book was a collection of delicious, easy to make, home style cupcakes but it was the pictures that got my attention first. You see, I read my recipe books at bed time just as any person would read a novel. I pore over the pictures taking in every last bit of deliciousness. Most of the time, it’s this sort of food watching that leads to me raiding the refrigerator for midnight snacks. Life is full of little pleasures, isn’t it?

Yudhika at Notting Hill's Hummingbird Bakery

Yudhika at Notting Hill’s Hummingbird Bakery

What's in the box...Yudhika takes a  closer look!

What’s in the box…Yudhika takes a closer look!

I popped in at the store while visiting the Portobello Market in Notting Hill…yes, I had the whole Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts moment! Well, a short corny moment anyway. The store is tiny by South African standards…and the cupcakes delicious. I would be fibbing if I said I remembered how much the cupcakes cost, but a slice of cake is about 4 to 5 pounds….I was trying not to convert, it was way too depressing! I have been planning to write this blog for a while and thinking of a great cupcake recipe I can share with you….so here is my black forest cupcake recipe! There are a few steps to it but they are super delicious and worth the effort! A word on these…it’s my version – it is not authentic but being tired of commercial black forest cake with mass produced pie filling. This is a great way to use up strawberries that are over-ripe…remember the riper they are, the better the flavour. You can make up the jam or use a good quality store bought version to cut out a few steps.

The Hummingbird Bakery does not disappoint...Yudhika's visit to London

The Hummingbird Bakery does not disappoint…Yudhika’s visit to London

While I was in London, I was much like the hummingbird….hovering from one deliciously happy experience to the other…enjoying every moment…savouring every experience! Thanks to my lovelies that entertained me and spoilt me rotten! Before I launch into the recipe, I urge you to become the hummingbird…stay joyful, take all of life’s nectar with out hurting or destroying and most importantly to spend your time wisely with people that really matter! Wishing you all of life’s sweetness and joy!

Another London inspired cupcake by Yudhika

Another London inspired cupcake by Yudhika

Black Forest Style Cupcakes

Makes 16 – 18

Ingredients

100g soft butter
200g sugar
200g flour
50g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
15ml baking powder
2 eggs
7ml vanilla essence
250ml full cream milk, at room temperature

The strawberry and cherry filling.....in an AMC pan.

The strawberry and cherry filling…..in an AMC pan.

For the filling:

300g strawberries, hulled and quartered
200g sugar
Juice of 1 lime
5ml vanilla paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 x 400g tinned black cherries, drained and chopped

45ml kirsch

250ml double thick cream
125ml single cream
15ml sugar
Drop of vanilla essence

20g chocolate, grated
Maraschino cherries, to garnish

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Line a cupcake pan with cases.
Place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Process the ingredients on a low speed until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
Combine the eggs, vanilla essence and milk – beat lightly and gradually pour this into the mixer.
Beat until the mixture is smooth and lump free – do not over mix the batter.
Scoop the mixture into the paper cases.
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling….this can be prepared a few hours in advance.

Leave the sliced strawberries in the refrigerator to dry out.
Place the strawberries in an 28cm AMC Chef’s Pan and add the sugar.
Stir well to coat the strawberries in the sugar – the sugar crystals start to turn pink.
Gently heat the pan, stirring from time time while the sugar melts.
Once the sugar melts, add the vanilla, cinnamon stick and lime juice.
When the mixture starts to boil, skim the surface to remove the foam.
Simmer the strawberries until they break down and the mixture thickens.
Add the chopped cherries, water and kirsch.
Simmer again until the cherries break down and thicken the jam like filling.
Pour the filling into a sterilized glass jar and leave to cool – this can be kept in the refrigerator and also used as a topping for crumpets etc.

For the cream…
Place the double thick cream and single cream into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and vanilla essence and whip until soft peaks form. Leave in the refrigerator until needed.

To assemble…
Use a paring knife to hollow out about 2 teaspoons of each cupcake, taking care not to cut through them.
Fill each cupcake with the strawberry and cherry filling.
Top the cupcakes with a scoop of cream and grate over a little dark chocolate.
Decorate with a maraschino cherry and enjoy!

Bankers and Mash….choose your bankers and bangers wisely!

Yudhika's blinging up the bangers with this Meatball Macaroni

Yudhika’s blinging up the bangers with this Meatball Macaroni

There has been a lot on my mind recently. And for those of you that follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I am sure that you know that I have been asking Investec some questions. The purpose of my blog is to share not only recipes but information and experiences too. This is the common thread amongst all bloggers…we share! I have shared some of my most intimate memories on my blog…some of those memories have made me feel wretched and others have been ones that uplift the spirit. This is one that should raise a few questions around your financial security with banks.

The story with Investec began with me blocking a user’s access to my business account last year. Whether its a main account or an additional account – the user was blocked! I also moved some of my funds into an First National Bank account. P.S – I am loving FNB…banking with them has been an awesome experience! Somehow, and this part really boggles my brain, is the blocked user gained access to the Investec account and transacted through their call centre facility. Things get slightly more complicated when the blocked user is an employee at Investec and has been at the bank for decades, holding a senior position too. Surely after 30 years you are well versed in banking regulations? Is the senior management team of Investec miraculously not asking the same questions and opting to soft soap the person in question? An age before integrity stance, perhaps? Is this what is known as Banksterism?

For the record, it hasn’t actually created the business and personal hurdles intended but it has blown the lid on what seems more than just a random banking mistake! Questions around favors and privacy have been posed to the bank! The can of worms is open….and I intend on getting answers from Investec. The Ombudsman for Banking Service has also been hugely helpful in understanding procedure and the irregularities in this matter.

I would have thought that the bank would have called a meeting as a starting point to understand the issues with their employee and although there are many questions being raised, they still haven’t and prefer to claim to have exhausted all avenues in answering. My response to this was ‘the lack of a response has not gone unnoticed’. I did receive further communication with mentioned a mistake and an apology but I read through it and was left thoroughly confused. The next question posed was, ‘Exactly what are you apologizing for and what exactly is the mistake?’ There has been no response to my questions except a claim that my statements are factually incorrect and that Investec’s rights as a bank remain reserved if I make any factually inaccurate or defamatory statements. A veiled threat or is that just more generic letter writing? And why would they apologize if my statements were incorrect – surely, I should then be apologizing! Amazing how Investec never tells you what your rights are and that they also remain reserved at all times, of course! The bank now claim that they will not respond directly to me – and I should approach them through a mediator or the Ombudsman. Is it a stalling tactic and the bank assuming that I will be deterred by the admin intensive process? I have addressed this issue on social media and spoken to consumer journalists, – if it wasn’t for social media, there would actually be no response at all! Does this institution allow bankers to become banksters?

We all have bank accounts…here is some food for thought!

Do you actually think about the bank employees that access your personal account details and for what purpose? What stops somebody from asking a pal at the bank to check out his competitors account…if you find out where the payments come from, surely you find out who the clients are? How should a client feel about not being allowed access to what they call employee records? If an employee record logs queries on your account, surely the bank and the client should have access? Is this to cover up employees that actually have nothing better to do that play banking Peek-A-Boo?

Do you hold an account where your spouse is employed and have you considered what would happen if the relationship turned sour? Maybe you should consider what happens to your business and how this would affect your personal circumstances?

What regulations are in place to prevent cronyism? The ‘do me a favour and check on this account’ phenomenon? Should an employee use privileges at the bank to wage their personal wars especially in a divorce?

How do you feel about being tracked via credit card transactions? I may be completely wrong but is the moral of the story that you are not safe at a bank that employs your spouse or is it just that you’re not safe at Investec?

I requested information from Investec – a report on who accessed the account and would like to compare it to the dates of legitimate queries I have made. I want to know how many additional queries were made and if cronyism comes into play. They have refused to supply this information which in my book says plenty. Investec are aware that the reason these questions are raised is to find out if there has been an abuse of power but also, ‘What’s with the fiddling?’. If there wasn’t an issue, I wouldn’t be asking. Or am I not allowed to ask? Does Investec question the mental state of the employee and the desperate bid to fraudulently transact? And how could this employee be adding any value when they have clearly embarrassed himself and the bank by obviously focusing on his personal agenda and not his work? A case of setting the cat amongst the pigeons?

If you are an Investec ‘citizen’ as they call it and happen to be reading this, I hope that you have not indulged a staff member access and information to something he was blocked from in the first place. This applies to anyone who has worked at a bank really and after a few discussions with senior staff at other banks, one thing is really clear – insider information and meddling is a dismissible offense and so is taking a chance and transacting after an employee has been blocked from an account. It does not only bring the ‘blocked user or Investec employee’ into question, it questions the integrity of the entire Investec team and makes them accomplices too. My queries to the call centre have been discussed with the blocked user – what does ‘blocked user’ mean at a bank or is it not possible for an employee to be blocked? Shouldn’t this be made clear if it was not possible?

Who actually cares about the bank’s status or positioning and what is exclusivity without integrity to back it up? When I made queries about opening another bank account with Investec, I was given the whole nine yards with their rules, requirements and for not much in return! It got me thinking where are the rules when the back of house staff break the rules! Another instance where the rules are for the clients and but what about the citizens of Investec? Let’s get one thing straight, a bank is not doing you a favor by opening your account! And to treat a client like they are privileged is foolish and arrogant. Based on my account and previous history with FNB, I actually got a whole lot more than I was looking for! Shop around – and find a bank that will work with you and not against you! We all have our experiences…good and bad…but if you have a bad one, just move on to find the one that’s right for you! I certainly have and enjoying my banking pleasures at First National Bank.

If you are in the banking world, I would love to hear from you….and for those of you who have had similar experiences, please feel free to share them in the comments section!

I looked at a pack of bangers and it made me think of dodgy bankers…plump and arrogant…It’s no secret and not my original thought that bankers don’t have great reputations but they have much in common with a banger, chose the wrong banger and its also a whole lot of bad ingredients minced together and disguised as a tempting treat. I won’t prepare them in the same old way, grilled with a heap of buttery mashed potato. Not in the mood to flatter a banger, I chose to grab the bangers and squeeze out the sausage meat and turn them into something extraordinarily delicious…sometimes you need to squeeze the bankers, but let’s get on with a recipe that squeezes the bangers! The banger squeezing was most therapeutic!

Meatballs can be quite tasteless not unlike a bad banking experience. A combination of sausage meat and beef mince works really well and I have used some chilli flakes to spice things up. Fresh herbs also add lots of flavour and aroma to these meatballs. If you want the short version…just cook up the meatballs and serve with spaghetti! My kids love meatballs and my son, Rushil, said he could pretty much handle the meatball making on his own! Rushil has obviously been paying too much attention during my tv shoots – love the way he talks about wine and AMC Cookware! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq9YRwG8Qd8&list=UU-twiG9NWyVR9OH9F7gSbMg

Good enough to eat with spaghetti and cooked in the best AMC Cookware!

Good enough to eat with spaghetti and cooked in the best AMC Cookware!

Meatball Macaroni with Squeezed Bangers

Ingredients

700g beef mince
700g bangers, I used deli bangers from Broadacres Superspar
1 onion, chopped
Sunflower oil to fry onion
1 egg yolk
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Handful chopped coriander
Handful chopped parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
10ml chilli flakes, optional
Salt and black pepper to season
250ml red wine

For the meatball sauce:
50ml sunflower oil or cooking olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml coarse
3 x 400g tins chopped Italian tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to season

For the sauce:
75g butter
75g flour
900ml milk
150g cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to season

500g macaroni, cooked as per packaging directions

Here’s how:

Heat a little sunflower oil in an AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan. Saute the chopped onion until translucent. Remove the onion from the pan and place it into a mixing bowl.
Place the beef mince into the mixing bowl with the onions. Squeeze the sausage meat out and discard the skins. Add this to the beef mince and then add the garlic, chopped herbs and thyme leaves, egg yolk and chilli flakes. Lightly season with salt and add black pepper.
Mix the ingredients together and then mould into meatballs.
Reheat the 28cm AMC Chef’s Pan and add a little oil.
Fry the meatballs in two batches until they are browned.
Remove from the pan and then pour in the red wine to deglaze. Stir the wine around and scrape the base of the pan.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the red wine is reduced by half.

In an AMC Paella pan, heat the sunflower oil and add the bay leaf.
Add the chopped onion, salt and saute until light golden brown.
Stir the chopped tomatoes into the sauce and add the reduce red wine.
Simmer until the tomatoes dissolve, using the back of a wooden spoon to break down the lumps.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the meatballs and reduce the heat.
Simmer until the sauce thickens.

Prepare the sauce:

Heat the butter in a 24cm AMC pot.
Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
Cook the flour for 2 minutes and keep stirring with a wooden spoon.
Gradually pour in the milk and keep whisking to prevent lumps from forming.
Once the all the milk has been added, continue whisking with the meat on medium.
Add half the cheese and reserve the rest for the topping.
Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat.

To assemble,

Place the cooked macaroni in a casserole dish.
Top with the meatballs and sauce and ensure the meatballs are evenly placed.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the meatballs.
Top with the reserved grated cheese – you can add more cheese if you like.

Bake in a hot oven until the cheese is melted and golden brown – the sauce should bubble around the edges of the casserole dish.