Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Aubergine Masala

So Tesco was having an offer on aubergines which with any offer resulted in me buying a few too many of the said vegetable. I used one of the deep purple aubergines to make a Puttanesca sauce when it dawned on me that I could try whipping up an Indian version of Puttanesca. Take away the Italian elements like the olives, olive oil and oregano and replacing them with Indian inspired ingredients like chilli powder, the cumin seeds and turmeric and you’ve got yourself Aubergine Masala.

*Puttanesca is a spicy, tangy, somewhat salty Italian pasta dish comprising of olives, capers, anchovies, chilli peppers, garlic and so on. [Wikipedia]

Aubergine Masala

Serves 4


3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
Half an onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
½ inch of ginger, grated
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp curry powder
1 medium aubergine, cubed.
A can of chopped tomatoes

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, on medium heat. Add the onion and fry until it turns to a medium brown colour, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Stir in the grated ginger, chopped garlic, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and continue frying until aromatic.
  3. Add the chilli powder, turmeric and salt and cook for about a minute. Add the aubergine and give it a good mix to ensure all the aubergine cubes are coated evenly in spices.
  4. Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes and give it a good stir. Put the lid on the pan and let it simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes or until the aubergine becomes mushy and sweet.
  5. Delicious served with rice or slices of toasted bread for a lighter meal. 
  6. As with most curries/masalas, this dish tastes even better and more flavourful the next day.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Vegetable Briyani

Quite often, when I’m craving a home-cooked Malaysian dish, my mind wanders to the afternoon in Madras a few years ago. It was the start of a family vacation across India and my brother and I were recuperating (from the very early morning flight) in the hotel room whereas my parents, being the overactive individuals they are, were excited about starting off their holiday asap. They left us to sleep off the tiredness and promised to bring us back some lunch. 

What they brought back was probably the best briyani I have ever eaten in my entire life. It was spicy, flavoursome and plain right delicious. And then there was THE egg. Just a simple, boiled egg hidden in the depths of the rice. The perfect surprise.

And that is one of my favourite food memories.

Seeing as mum made a similar dish over Christmas I thought I’d try it out myself and so after a couple of quick email exchanges between mum and I, I now owned the secret behind the amazingly yummy briyani. She did warn me though that to perfect this recipe, it would require patience and many tries. 

Although this is a recipe for a vegetable briyani, feel free to add chicken, lamb or seafood when frying the spices.

Vegetable Briyani

Serves 4


Rice [half a cup per person is usually quite substantial]
Half an onion, sliced
An inch of ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A variety of spices. I've used half a stick of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds and a couple of bay leaves
2 tomatoes,chopped.
Red/Green chillies, sliced. Quantity depends on how spicy you want the dish to be.
Coriander leaves, chopped.
Mint leaves, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons of fresh yoghurt
2 tablespoons of coconut milk (I used milk as a substitute)
2 tablespoons of curry powder. Add a few drops of water to turn it into a thick paste.
Vegetables. Any type of vegetable that will hold its shape such as potatoes, carrots, peppers and cauliflower. I used green peas as well but added it as a last minute addition.
Boiled eggs

  1. Start by frying the spices, garlic, onions, ginger and chillies in hot oil until it produces a fragrant aroma. Add the chopped tomatoes and curry paste. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the paste and continue frying for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables and coat it in the spices and curry paste. Let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat or until the vegetables are partially cooked. Add the rice, coriander and mint (if using) and sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Finally add the yoghurt, salt, milk and enough water to cook the rice. Mix thoroughly. 
  4. There are two ways to cook this dish. You can continue cooking it on a low heat on the hob or you can transfer the entire dish into an over-proof dish and cook in the oven at about 180'C for 30 minutes.
  5. Bury the boiled eggs into the rice and add the peas about 5 minutes before end of cooking time.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Banana Walnut Crumble Muffins

Overripe bananas are always a problem in most households. The common solution is to use these overripe golden bananas to make banana bread or cake. Occasionally the idea of making another banana loaf can seem dull, so what better than to mix bananas, walnuts and crumble to create beautiful muffins with a crunch. Those who say muffins are ugly cupcakes clearly haven’t tried these!

Banana Walnut Crumble Muffins

Muffin Ingredients 

190 grams plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

3 ripe/overripe bananas, mashed.

100 grams brown sugar

75g melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

1 cup of chopped walnuts

Crumble Ingredients

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

70g brown sugar

1 tbsp butter


  1. Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon into a bowl. 
  2. Combine the mashed bananas with sugar, butter, vanilla and egg. Add the chopped walnuts and give the banana batter a quick mix. 
  3. Combine the sieved flour combination with the banana combination and bring together to form a thick batter.
  4. To make the crumble, rub the butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon together with your fingers or alternatively use the end of a wooden spoon to mix until small clumps are formed.
  5. Fill 3/4 of a muffin liners with batter and bake at 180'C for 15 minutes. Take the muffins out and sprinkle the crumble on top of each muffin generously and bake for another 5 minutes.

A funny thing happened whilst I was trying to photograph these muffins in my garden. Rusky, my dog was lurking around, innocently. Well in hindsight, not so innocent. He was pretending to be uninterested in the muffins set on the garden table. I should have known he was up to something! Dogs never resist freshly baked cakes! Next time I knew, he was next to me, paws on the table, gobbling down a muffin. The prettiest of the batch as well!

As I was uploading the pictures onto my laptop, I realised I caught Rusky on camera. I must have accidentally snapped a picture when trying to push him away.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Lemon Posset

A posset you ask. What is a posset? 

Posset (noun).  A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was originally a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century. 

Since then a posset has evolved to become a thick creamy dessert, flavoured usually with lemon. This version of a posset uses a mere three ingredients which results in a delicious tangy dessert, perfect for the summer. Imagine sitting in the sun, languidly licking a spoonful of lush lemony goodness. What could be better?

Lemon Posset

Makes 4 portions

Recipe from Ooh Look


70ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on its size)
300ml double cream
80g caster sugar

  1.  Mix cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally 
  2.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 3-4 minutes, stirring, until mixture thickens.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. It should resemble the texture of custard.
  4. Let the mixture cool for about 30 minutes then pour into ramekins. Cool slightly before refrigerating for   about 3 hours.
Note: At no time should you vigorously boil the mixture as this will inevitably curdle the posset.

-       p/s. Best served with acidic berries. Not only is the colour contrast magnificent, the berries also helps balance out the sweetness of the posset.