Diwali Goodies from Amma Spices

OMG What a fantastic day I have had. There was a terrifying windy gale (blowing a hoolie is a term that applies) last night and tonnes of rain but I braved it all to drive into Edinburgh to see a friend. We got a bit of culture in the amazing Edinburgh Portrait Gallery and then onto the National Gallery on Princes Street.

However, I have a teeny tiny confession to make. I was only willing to go into Edinburgh to visit our favourite spot for Indian shopping – Amma Spices. Earlier this week, the owner posted that he had sweets in stock. INDIAN SWEETS. and DIWALI cards. I was beyond excited as it’s nigh on impossible to get cards in Edinburgh (one year, I was super lucky to get them at Carlton Cards on Princes Street but alas, the store is no more).

Patience was defo a virtue today as the sweets were very late in coming. I parked my card near the store at 11am, got into town for a bit of art and then came back at 4pm, salivating. Only to be turned away. An hour away (and over £50 lighter, thanks Sainsburys), I returned and became the annoying customer who demanded all the boxes be opened so I could get my goodies. Now, they didn’t have the mix box of sweets I like so I bought this lot instead. And some lovely cards too. Very very happy. Only 4 days to go before I stuff my face though the pani puri is going to wait until we are back from visiting the family.

The Amma Spices lads. Unpacking all their goodies.

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Amma Spices, 267 Gorgie Rd, Edinburgh EH11 1TX

tel: 0131 629 6847

My haul safely home in my kitchen. I’m going to divvy some up for hubby to take to work, and the rest is going firmly in our gob. Except the pani puri which I’m saving for after Diwali. OMG I just can’t stop squeeling with delight.

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Persimmon shiro

CPC Persimmon Halwa

Only 2 days to go and it’s my favourite time of year DIWALI!!!!

I have to admit that I haven’t made as much as I had planned this year – life has got in the way. However, I had some gorgeous looking persimmon in the house and wanted to make something new with them. I used the same method as Gajjar Halwa (carrot halwa) but the final result was more like the popular Gujarati sweet called suji no shiro (semolina based sweet). The night I made it, we ate it without any additions and it was very tasty. You cannot really taste the persimmon as the fruit has a subtle flavour but the sweetness was definitely there. We all enjoyed it but felt that in future it would benefit from sultanas being stirred through and topped off with almond slivers.

Ingredients:

350g persimmon

1 tablespoon ghee

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup milk

2 green cardamom

1 pinch of saffron steeped in a little water

 

Preparation:

IMG_1349IMG_1351  IMG_1352Toasting green cardamom

  • My persimmon were still firm but ripe. I didn’t want the flesh to be too wet. To prep, I washed, cut of the flower end and peeled the fruit. I removed the inner core and any black bits. Then I blitzed it in my little blender.
  • I lightly toasted the cardamom pods before grinding the inner seeds in a pestle and mortar
  • I soaked the saffron in about 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Grease a dish

 

Cooking:

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  • I heated the ghee in a large heavy bottom pan
  • Added the pulped persimmon flesh, mixed well in the ghee and cooked for about 15 minutes, stirring all the time. The plan was to dry out the fruit
  • Added the sugar and milk. I didn’t want the dessert to be too sweet. So if you have a go at making this, then adjust according to taste.
  • Added the saffron water and ground cardamom
  • Kept stirring until the milk evaporated and the mixture was coming away from the sides of the pan
  • I then put the mixture it into the greased dish and pressed down before putting it in the fridge to chill.  In future, I will stir in 1/2 tablespoon sultanas and leave it in a bowl. Before serving, I will add about 1 tablespoon of almond slivers.

 

Raspberry and apple crumble (review)

CPC Apple and raspberry crumble

In my mind there is nothing better than a hot, fresh from the oven dessert, especially on cold, snowy Spring days. I’m currently doing a Healthy Eating course and there are some great desserts on the menus.  This one is a winner with my kiddo who likes it with a small scoop of icecream (bang there goes the healthy eating but gets her to eat fruit so I’m OK with that).

It’s so easy to make that there is no excuse not to give it a go.

Availably publicly on Change4life site

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Serves 4

 Ingredients

  • 2 large eating apples (or 3 small eating apples)
  • 100g / 4 oz frozen raspberries (can use any frozen berries. This time round, I used frozen forest fruits)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 40g / 1.5 oz margarine
  • 75g / 3 oz wholemeal self raising flour
  • 40g / 1.5 oz demerara sugar
  • 50g / 2 oz rolled oats or oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder (not part of recipe but added by me. Mixed spice would work well too)

 

Method

  • Heat the oven to 180°C / 350 °F / gas mark 5.
  • Peel, core and slice apples, and mix with raspberries.
  • Place apples and raspberries in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with tbsp of water.
  • Rub margarine into flour; mix in sugar, oats and cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle on top of the fruit mixture and press with a fork.
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown

Just beet it, BEET IT, BEET IT, you will never be defeated

Hahaha sorry everyone but I couldn’t resist. I’m going a bit beetroot mad. Since roasting the beetroot earlier this week, I see the Jan edition of the Asda magazine has a recipe for roasted beetroot, sweet potato and feta cheese salad which looks delicious and ever so healthy. I’ve also seen some recipes for tarka dhal with beetroot added which has me intrigued. There is also a spicy cooked salad that I normally make with chillies, carrots and cabbage which I want to try with some raw beetroot added – will let you know how that goes when I do.

However, this recipe is for CAKE, glorious cake it’s so yummy when the wind is blowing up a gale and snow is smacking you in the face. Yesterday, I made Fiona Cairn’s Chocolate and Beetroot cake recipe. I had to tweak mine as I didn’t have any cocoa powder so used a block of 83% dark chocolate bought from Lidl*. I melted it in the microwave and added it to the wet ingredients.

The end result was a cake that didn’t taste very chocolatey (should have used the Green and Blacks instead) but it was very light and easy to eat. The beetroot flavour is not in your face; it’s subtle and gave a nice edge – I’m sure today it will be stronger. My kiddo doesn’t really like chocolate cake so she just ate the pink icing off the top – this is a good cake for pink obsessed girls.

I think the cake could do with a layer of buttercream coloured with the beetroot juices to just make it right for us. But you may prefer to stick to the original recipe which just looks amazing.

Here are some pictures to tempt you. I boiled my beets in the pressure cooker which took all of 10 mins!

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* a good substitution table for ingredients can be found here: Joy of Baking Ingredients Substition

Also on the Joy of Baking site, if you look under the chocolate recipes section, at the bottom is a very useful guide to all different types of chocolate ingredients.

And finally, get the Asda mag it has an useful article on the different types of fats

Diwali Gajjar Halwa – carrot fudge

Well I have been a bit lazy updating this blog with recipes. I’ve got some new ones scribbled down on paper that I’ve been trying out and will post those up.

Today was a rather hectic one as it’s Hindu Diwali – my absolute favourite day of the year. It’s the Festival of Lights but should be renamed the Festival of Food as in our household growing up Diwali always meant Mum being in the kitchen weeks beforehand making gorgeous savoury bites for any visitors that were going to pop in. On the actual day we would have a very yummy meal.

I love the day but my preparations have come to a halt as my daughter has been ill since last Friday with this horrid tummy bug/cold going around. Even today, I felt guilty going into the kitchen whilst leaving her alone to watch Diwali bits on cbeebies. Luckily, she got some lovely presents in the morning so was actually feeling rather chipper.

So rather than a load of Diwali delights, after bleaching the kitchen surfaces to get rid of any lingering germs, I managed to make some shak, rice, dhal and gajjar halwa. You will find many recipes for the latter on the web – including very easy ones done in the microwave. However, I like to make mine by hand and prefer it to be gooey fudge like rather than dry. Today, I was really lazy and just stuck it all in a pot and hoped for the best. I say lazy but this took me about an hour to make….was rather relaxing after the stresses of caring for a  poorly child.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ghee
  • 300g grated carrots
  • 300ml full fat milk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A few strands of saffron
  • Slivers of almonds to garnish

Cooking

  • Melt the ghee over a medium heat in a heavy based pan (I used my wonderful bright orange Crueset casserole pot which I love for making sweets)
  • Add in carrots and cook until both ghee and carrots are well combined and slightly softening
  • Add in milk and sugar. Turn heat down a tad and cook the mixture until the milk has evaporated. When it’s about half way there, test to see if the amount of sugar is fine for your taste – if not add more. If you have too much, there is not much you can do I’m afraid but after all, it’s a sweet.
  • It takes ages but do remember to stir frequently, especially near the end when it’s really thcik and  liable to start sticking to the pan
  • When the mixture has really thickened (the quantity has reduced to about a quarter) add the saffron and cardamom
  • Keep stirring and cooking over a very low heat until you are happy with the thickness
  • Pour into a ghee greased dish and garnish with slivers of almonds. You can stick it in the fridge if you like.
  • Serve either warmed up with ice-cream or cold with double cream.  We had ours with double cream…yes very fattening but it’s Diwali and I can start my diet after Christmas!

Happy Diwali and a wonderful New Year for all my Hindu friends and readers. Happy Bandi Chhor Divas for all my Sikh friends and readers. xxxx

Sugar and spice…granny smith

Take one granny smith. Cut it into half. Use one half to make a spicy mint chutney and the other to make a dessert filling.

Well let’s start with the spicy mint and apple chutney using a recipe from An Indian Housewife’s Recipe Book . This uses a combination of mint, apple, onion, chillies and some spices to make a chutney. I didn’t have enough mint and was in no mood to blow my head off with the amount of chilies in the recipe. So what I ended up with, whilst still very spicy, was a bit watery. We had it at dinner tonight with some black pepper papads but I’m afraid it was a bit blah.  I’ve stuck it in the fridge and will see how it tastes tomorrow.

That left me with half a granny smith. Well sugar with spice is a bit nice. So I decided to chop the apples up, bung them in a pan with a spoonful of sugar and a smattering of cinnamon.

  

Whilst the apple stewed, I waltzed over to the freezer and took out some ready made vol-au-vents. These are the simplest things to use, heat the oven, brush edges of cases with milk or egg, cook for 15-17 minutes turning halfway through. Unfortunately, sometimes simple is still too complicated. I mean what does turn me – rotate or flip over? Anyhoooo, the first batch burnt. I blame it on our new non-fan electric oven that has a rather odd smell to it. The second batch worked out just fine. After they were cooled, I loaded them up with the apple sauce and put the back in the oven to stay warm …the oven though off would take a long time to cool down.

And the result….Absolutely delicious served with some Mackies vanilla ice-cream which offset the sour apple filling just perfectly. Will definitely be making those again.

Baked plaintain

I am sooooo glad that I decided to give plaintain another shot. In the past, I’ve unsuccessfully managed to fry it in a pan West Indian style. However, when popping into the local Morrissons, I couldn’t resist picking a large plaintain up. I’m pretty chuffed that this branch is selling “ethnic” foodstuffs so am trying to keep encouraging them by buying stuff.

A quick google took me to the Oven Baked Sweet Plantains recipe. I’m not a huge fan of cooking sprays as they seem to leave a residue on the pan that ruins it. However, reading through the comments, I liked the idea of olive oil and also coating the baked goods with sugar and cinnamon. The results were a tasty little treat good for either after dinner or an quick sweet snack.

Ingredients:

 

  • One plantain, ends chopped off, peeled then flesh sliced diagonally
  • Enough olive oil to cover the plantain in an oven proof dish
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 dessert spoon icing sugar

Cooking:

  • So easy. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (less if using a fan oven)
  • Place plaintain in an oven proof dish and toss about with olive oil until well covered
  • Cook for about 15/20 minutes. Half way through turn the pieces
  • Once cooked, remove from oven an allow to cool (unlike me who left them in while we ate dinner and they burnt slightly)
  • Once cool enough to touch, toss in cinnamon and icing sugar