Wednesday 26 July 2017

Bakar Khani ~ Sweet Puff Pastry Biscuits from Pakistan

I love cookery books, not only do I like cooking from them but I like reading them from cover to cover. I admire the beautiful photos and imagine the author creating all the wonderful dishes in far away places. I own many recipe books but my most favorite ones are those that tell a story and take you back to the roots.

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani is one book that I totally fell in love with even before I had opened the front page. I loved the beautiful bold orange and pink cover with a paisley intricate flowery design. I immediately wanted to touch the book and peer at what it contained.

When I  looked at the book, I can say I was totally thrilled with the content. The book has recipes that are inspired from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea. The book has authentic Pakistani sweet and dessert recipes using amazing spices and Eastern flavours. The desserts are very lavish and beautifully captured.

Included in the book is a chapter explaining all the authentic ingredients used in the recipes which is extremely helpful for those who are creating the recipes for the first time and are new to the ingredients. The book takes you on a sweet and aromatic journey through mouth watering desserts.

There are so many recipes that I want to make from the book such as the Pakistani Jalebis which are crunchy spirals dipped in a sugar syrup. The Qawwami Seviyan, a roasted vermicelli topped with nuts and Bakar Khani which is a sweet puff pastry biscuit. I finally started with the Bakar Khani, you can see my recreation below which was made with a few minor changes from the original recipe .

print recipe

Bakar Khani (Sweet Puff Pastry Biscuits)
Sweet Puff Pastry Biscuits with nuts and poppy seeds
  • 1 sheet (320 g) Ready to Roll Puff Pastry
  • 2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
  • 60 g Pistachio, almonds and cashew nuts (coarsely ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Butter (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F 2. In bowl add the nuts, cardamom powder and sugar and mix together well.3. On a lightly floured surface unroll the puff pastry and smooth it out.4. Brush the pastry with the melted butter and sprinkle the chopped nut mixture on top.5. Roll up the pastry from the long side and make a swiss roll shape.Secure the end by pressing the pastry down with your finger, so that the biscuits don't unravel whilst cooking.6. Cut the pastry swiss roll into 1 cm thick rounds and place them on a grease baking tray.7. Using your fingers apply pressure to the outer edges of the discs to flatten them slightly to thin them so that when baking the centre of the biscuit rises to form a dome shape.8. Brush the biscuits with some milk using a brush and sprinkle them with poppy seeds. 9. Bake in a pre heated oven for 18-20 minutes, until the biscuits are a light golden brown in colour. 
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16

The original recipe did not have nuts in it , that was my personal addition. The Bakar Khani, turned out delicious and they were really flaky and delicious served with a cup of strong Arabic coffee. You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

I totally loved the book and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes Eastern desserts.

Book Details :
Mountain Berries & Desert Spice Book  by Sumayya Usmani
Retails  £20.00

My score for the book: 14/15 this is a high score but the book is definitely worthy of it.

Content -5/5
Recipe Instructions-4/5

 I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Friday 21 July 2017

Dinner at Est India Restaurant ~ London Bridge

The city of London is food lovers paradise, during the day its a place where you see office workers, commuters and tourists, rushing around carrying on with their daily business. By night it becomes a haven for entertainment, dining and socialising. As the offices close the side streets become alive with workers congregating outside pubs and eateries enjoy a drink or two whilst music lovers dance the night away at the many night clubs.

London bridge is one of those places, where there are many restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and bars nestled in around the side streets. It is lively and bustling with atmosphere. Est India Restaurant is an Indian restaurant not for from London Bridge Station. My friend Heidi and I decided to drop in for a bite to eat one summers evening whilst we were in London.

The restaurant is ideal to drop in for a meal, its decor is simple with wooden tables, no table cloths and cutlery in a pot on the tables cafe style. There is a fully stocked bar and outside seating too. The menu has most of the regular Indian dishes found in any Indian restaurant. We started with a platter of poppadoms and some condiments and chilled salted Lassi (yoghurt drink with cumin and salt), the Lassis can be ordered as mango too.

For starters Heidi and I shared the Paneer Tikki an Indian cheese marinated in spices, stuffed with raisin and a pan seared and some Vegetable Samosas. The samosas were delicious as was the paneer which was flavoured well but it was a little dry.

For the main course Heidi chose the Chicken Tikka Masala and I opted for the Saag Aloo (spinach with potatoes), the manger also recommended Kadai Paneer an additional side dish. We also ordered Pilau Rice and Raita to accompany. There were a selection of breads to order on the menu, but we wanted to keep room for dessert and so did not order any.

Heidi's verdict on the Chicken Tikka was that it was succulent and moist and not too hot so she definitely gave it the thumbs up. The vegetarian option of the Saag Aloo was fairly mild for my taste buds, however the mangers recommendation of the Kadai Paneer was absolutely wonderful. It was beautifully cooked in a lovely rich gravy with peppers and onions. The portion sizes were huge and plentiful.

To finish off our meal we ordered the Mango sorbet and a Pistachio Kulfi. The sorbet was very refreshing, the Kulfi looked like it had been taken out of a wrapper, it was presented on a stick, not how I would have expected a dessert to be served in a restaurant.

My thoughts on the restaurant were that its decor is a little dated and the place is great for a quick bite to eat, so if you want fine dining this is not the place. The initial service after we were seated was a little slow, however once the manager arrived we were given lots of attention and the conversation with him flowed. We learnt a lot about how the paneer is made within the restaurant kitchen and also got to know a little more history of the place. Our overall experience of the restaurant was pleasant and next time I am in London bridge I would probably go and try the lunch menu.

My Score: 10/15
Ambiance 3/5
Service 3.5/5
Food 3.5/5

** I was a guest at Est India restaurant and all the views expressed in this post are of my own as are the pictures. I was not asked to write a positive review.

Sunday 16 July 2017

Chickpea Tikkis (cakes) and Saffron Soul book review.

It has been ages since I added a cook book to my collection. Saffron Soul by Mira Manek, is more like a journal than a vegetarian cook book, exploring her family's traditional recipes that she has grown up with. I like this book as it shows the author's personality and heritage which is similar to my own and it brings back my childhood memories of learning to cook with my mother and grandmother.

The book features many recipes shared by her family, together with new fusion recipes that have been inspired and adapted with ingredients of this day and age. The recipes are easy to follow and beautifully illustrated. Other than the recipes, I loved reading  the snippets of personal family history the author has shared together with her family photos.

There are many recipes in the book that I have grown up with and I can see similarities, however I also loved the fusion recipes such as Warm curried courgetti salad with maple chillied seeds, Quinoa Bhel on chilled watermelon and the Spelt and quinoa rotis.

Book Details :
Saffron Soul by Mira Manek
ISBN 978-1-911127-18-5
Retails  £20.00

My score for the book: 14/15

Content -5/5
Recipe Instructions-4

 **I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I have chosen to make the Chickpea tikkis, which are savoury cakes from the book. I have recreated the recipe with a few minor changes.

print recipe

Chickpea Tikkis
Chickpea pattis cooked with spices and herbs and shallow fried.
  • 240 g Pre boiled white chickpeas.
  • 2 Spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 Red chilli finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Roasted peanuts ground coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon Corn flower
  • 1 tablespoon Water
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 3 tablespoons for shallow frying Sunflower oil
  • For serving-Hummus, pitta bread, salad and lemon wedges 

1. Put the chick peas in a large bowl and coarsely mash them with a potato masher.2. In a frying pan add 1 tablespoon of oil and when its hot add the spring onions and red chilli and saute for 2 minutes.3. Add the salt, chilli power, turmeric powder, coarsely ground peanuts and the mashed chickpeas. Mix together and cook for another 2-3 minutes until all the spices infuse.4. Take the mixture off the heat and allow to reach room temperature. Once cooled add the chopped coriander, lemon juice, corn flower and water so that you can bind the mixture into small golf sized balls.5. Flatten the balls into pattis and roll them in sesame seeds. Place on tray and chill f pattis or 30 minutes.6. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the pattis in small batches until golden brown on both sides, remove from pan and drain on kitchen paper.7. To serve toast some pitta bread and spread the inside with hummus, add salad and chick pea pattis and serve with lemon wedges.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 Tikkis

Thursday 6 July 2017

Mango- London Indian Restaurant Review.

London is a goldmine for restaurants, on every street corner you will find, Contemporary, Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Continental cuisine. You will find riverside dining, pubs, clubs and also street food, its a food lovers heaven.  In central London there are many hidden gems of restaurants tucked away near the tall office buildings and nestled in and amongst the side streets. Mango is one of these restaurants. Nestled in aside street, a stones throw from London Bridge Station, its a small Indian restaurant on Redcross Way very near Borough Market.

My foodie friend Heidi Roberts and I were invited to Mango to sample their Cuisine. As we made our way to the restaurant I felt rather sad walking past the street where the recent London terror attacks took place. Seeing the flowers placed on the street corner brought a lump to my throat. However the streets were still buzzing and people were carrying on as normal.

We went on a Tuesday evening thinking it will be nice and quiet, how wrong we were the restaurant was busy with a great atmosphere. It is perfectly located for office workers enjoying a meal before heading home.

The restaurant is fairly small and the tables are tightly packed, but we were fortunate as the waiter sat us at a window table. We started our evening with glasses of iced water with lemon as London has been experiencing an Indian summer and the temperature outside was sweltering. We nibbled on Papadums with a tray of condiments, the usual stuff like finely chopped onions, mango chutney and mint chutney.But what really got my taste buds tingling was a spicy red chutney that had the most wonderful tangy spicy taste I have ever encountered. I was rather cheeky and asked the waiter for the recipe which I hope to recreate.

The Mango menu was excellent and there was a good range of dishes to choose from. For starters  I chose vegetarian option of the Aloo Tikki (V) - typical Mumbai street food - potatoes and chick peas spiced with fresh coriander and cumin seeds served with a coriander & mint chutney. 

Heidi Chose the Aachari Paneer (V) slices of paneer marinated with pickling spices and slow cooked in the tandoor oven. Both our starters were delicious and extremely tasty. The Aloo Tikkis were well spiced had a lovely crunchy outer coating and the Paneer was well marinated, and really moist to eat.

For the main course we took advise from the waiter as to what dishes we should try, there were so many lovely vegetarian dishes it was hard to choose so he suggested to order them as side dishes so we could try a few. 

I ordered Dhai Baingon which was a dish made from baby Aubergines cooked with yoghurt, lightly spiced with turmeric and coriander. I am a big aubergine fan but have never cooked aubergines in yoghurt. The dish was truely magnificient in texture and taste and one I will surely recreate at home.

Lentils are a must and always accompany any Indian meal, our waiter recommended the Dall Makhni, slow cooked black lentils in a creamy sauce served with a drizzle of cream. The Dall was indeed rich and creamy and was the perfect accompaniment to the rice.

 I also ordered the  Saag aloo, baby potatoes and spinach lightly spiced with garlic and cumin seeds. 

The Sagg Aloo was mildly spiced, the sinach was creamy and the baby potatoes were tender and had absorbed all the spices making the dish delicious.

To complete the meal we also ordered pilau rice and a basket of breads to share and we had a complimentary side salad. The rice was perfectly cooked each grain separatist and fragrant and the selection of breads were soft and tasty.

Heidi on the other hand chose the Chicken Dum Biriyani , slow cooked basmati rice, caramelised onions layered and cooked in a dough sealed dum pot. It was served with Raita, a cooling yoghurt dip.Heidi was totally mesmerised by the presentation of the Biriyani, and she definitely said the taste was as good as the presentation.

All the dishes were delicious, each dish had its own unique flavour and they were moderately spiced. The portion sizes were huge despite the fact that they were ordered as sides and we were not able to finish the food which the waiter kindly packed for us to take home.

We were offered the dessert menu however we were so full at this stage we declined. In all our experience at Mango was a lovely one, the service was attentive, the food was piping hot and fresh and flavoursome. The only thing I would say was that the tables are really packed together so closely that it was difficult to not over hear diners on the next table and getting in and out of the chairs was really tight.

Total Score: 12/15
Ambiance 4/5
Food 4/5
Service 4/5

To see what Heidi thought about the restaurant please do check out her post.

I was a guest at Mango restaurant and all the views expressed in this post are of my own, I was not asked to write a positive review.

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Aldi's Summer Kitchen Extravaganza

For years I used to have to travel far to visit the Aldi stores as I like their home ware products and find that they are reasonably priced too. Last summer  Aldi store opened not far from where I live. I attended the opening and now I am a regular visitor to the store. I love all the specials that they have in store and my favorite area is the home ware section, where I have picked up lots of lovely items. This Thursday  6th July, Aldi are launching some fantastic new home ware so I am sharing with you my favorites from the range. You can check out the full range on line at Aldi

The New Aldi Retro Range is beautiful and you can get matching items in the range too.The Retro range comes in three lovely colours Red, Cream and Light Blue

Retro Microwave £49.99-A digital microwave with 6 Power levels,8 auto cook programmes and a glass turntable
Retro Juicer £12.99-Hand press juicer has a simple lever-arm design. It includes a steel collecting cup and strainer.
Retro Toaster £ 24.99- This retro-look 2 slot toaster with a crumb tray has a cancel, defrost and reheat setting and also an adjustable browning control & toasting time
Retro Kettle £24.99- This unusual style retro kettle  kettle  has a stainless steel body with a dry boil cut-off protection, automatic safety shut-off feature together with a cordless 360 base.  It also has a  high power of boiling at 2520 - 3000 W.

In the Kitchen you can get matching cookware too.The two tone range consists of matching casserole dishes, pans and oven dishes, they are made from carbon steel with an enamel coating making them durable and freezer safe too.

  • 2 Tone Oven Dish £12.99
  • 2 Tone Oven  Casserole £12.99
  • 2 Tone 16 cm pan £9.99

Retro Storage Jars £ 5.99 -These beautiful ceramic jars with wooden lids perfect for storage on Kitchen work top.

With the heatwave we are experiencing,  I am loving eating out doors , the reversible Aldi 3 in 1 grill can be used indoors or outdoors and its a bargain at £29.99. This versatile temperature control grill combines a hotplate, griddle and kebab grill. It has a nonstick die cast grill plate, with self rotating skewers, a drip tray and a detachable skewer rack.

There are many more items in the Aldi Range that is available to order on line or can be purchased in store from Thursday 6th July, so why not pop into your Aldi store to check out the range.

**I was sent samples of the Aldi home ware to test in my kitchen, all views and opinions expressed in this post are my own. All images are supplied by Aldi and used with their permission.
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