Friday, 25 November 2011

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny is curry flavoured soup of Anglo-Indian origin. Translated literally from Tamil, it means ‘pepper water’. Don’t be deceived though; this soup is far from watery. Instead it is thick and hearty and takes on an almost curry-like texture.
It’s a lovely hearty soup for the winter, full of flavour with a subtle heat from the curry powder coming through.

I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule about what needs to be added to the soup as there are countless variations of the ingredients, some which include lamb, chicken, apples or rice. Lentils was my preferred choice this round as it not only gives the soup a creamy texture but also makes it quite substantial which is perfect for a main meal. We had this for dinner tonight, with a side of toasted foccacia and a dollop of tomato jam. Perfect.                                                                     

Mulligatawny Soup

*Original recipe courtesy of We Are Never Full 

Serves 6


2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1½ cup red lentils
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp turmeric
3 tbsp curry powder
6-8 cups vegetable/chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Juice of one lemon/lime
Optional: coriander leaves, yoghurt, cream

  1. Crush ginger and garlic using a pestle and mortar. Mix coriander seeds, cumin and black pepper and crush with pestle and mortar and set aside
  2. Fry onions, carrots and celery in a large pot with a drizzle of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add garlic paste and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the mixed spice, cinnamon stick, turmeric and curry powder and coat vegetables evenly.
  3. Add in the chopped tomatoes and lentils. Pour in 6 cups of stock, stir and let soup simmer for 40 minutes, or until lentils are soft.
  4. Remember to remove cinnamon stick prior to blending the soup. If it is too thick, add stock or water until desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Serve with a squeeze of lemon/lime, chopped coriander and cream/yoghurt.

Spicy, hearty soup ready, with a slice of lemon.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tomato Jam

Tomato jam has been on my mind for many months now since coming across it on Jennifer Perillo’s site. And as the family has requested that I make a few healthier dishes, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out my jam making skills! Because jam = healthy right?

Jennifer’s recipe is easy enough – chop the tomatoes, toss in all the remaining ingredients and let it simmer on a low heat for 3-4 hours. Halfway through the cooking process however, I found the jam too sweet and figured that by adding a whole sliced red chilli it would not only cut the sweetness but will also to add a bit more heat. As a result, the chilli worked perfectly and I may even consider adding a couple more for future batches. A note of caution; I am a self confessed spice addict!

Tomato jam is simply wonderful slathered on a piece of toast, or as an accompaniment to your cheese platter or even used to marinate or glaze a piece of ham. Bottled and labelled, it makes a perfect gift for the upcoming festive season.

So glad I finally gave it a go – definitely one of my favourite recipes of 2011.

Tomato Jam

1.6kg tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, diced
½ cup tart green apple, diced
1 red chilli, sliced
½ cup brown sugar
1½ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin
¼ cup cider vinegar
Juice of one lemon

  1. Put all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to allow ingredients to simmer and leave to cook for 3-4 hours until it thickens and takes on a jam-like consistency.
  2. To store, transfer jam into sterilised glass bottles and store in refrigerator for two weeks or for long term storage, use a hot water canning bath for 15minutes.

*The gorgeous jam jar labels are courtesy of Frugal Living

Friday, 18 November 2011

Sago Gula Melaka

Sago Gula Melaka is a quintessential Malaysian dessert that originated from the port city of Malacca. This dessert comprises of three parts, the sago pudding, coconut milk (santan) and Gula Melaka.  

The insipid sago when drenched with creamy coconut milk and a healthy drizzle of sweet caramel-like syrup becomes a wonderfully rich dessert you want to tuck into over and over again.  

Sago is a form of starch extracted from the pith of sago palm stems which are now commercially produced in the shape of ‘pearls’. These pearls take the form of dry opaque balls not more than 2 mm in diameter. Boiling sago can be a messy affair as the excess starch tends to get everywhere and can be quite the nightmare to remove. Don’t let this put you off though because the end results is something that will definitely impress!
Gula Melaka is palm sugar which is extracted from the sap of the flower bud of a coconut tree which then boiled until thickened and packed into bamboo tubes forming its cylindrical shape. The colour varies from dark brown to a light golden colour. It is widely used in South East Asia to flavour desserts, salads and even curries.

Screwpine leaves, or pandan leaves as they are locally known is a fragrant plant used to infuse fragrance to dishes and also to add colour. I find that it is used in the same way vanilla is used in the West.

In terms of the availability of these products, it is not hard to find. I would recommend popping into your nearest Asian grocer or even the Asian isle of the bigger grocery stores. Living in the UK for the past number of years, I have always easily located these items.

Sago Gula Melaka

Yields 12 portions


300 grams small sago pearls

250 grams Gula Melaka (Palm sugar)

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

300 ml coconut milk/cream

3 pandan leaves


Pinch of salt



  1. It is vital to use the biggest pot you have available as the more water used to boil the pearls, the less likely the pearls will stick to one another.
  2. Heat a pot of water and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, soak the pearls in cold water for 15 minutes. Once the water is boiling, add the sago and stir frequently to prevents the pearls from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. When the pearls turn partially translucent, with the white centre remaining, remove the pot from heat, put the lid on and leave it for 5 minutes. The boiling process should take no more than 3-4 minutes, any longer and the pearls will turn mushy and into glue.
  4. Pour half the water out, using a sieve at all times to catch the now translucent pearls. Rinse pearls with cold water 2-3 times to remove excessive starch.
  5. Spoon sago pearls into muffin moulds.  If you prefer to have your guests scoop up their own portions, use a casserole dish.  Also a little tip, wet moulds allow for easy removal.  
  6. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until sago pearls are set.
Gula Melaka
  1. Melt the Gula Melaka with sugar, pandan leaves and half cup of water over a very low heat until a thin syrup is formed. If needed, add more water by the tablespoon until you get the consistency you want.
  2. It may take a while to dissolve but don’t be tempted to turn up the heat. Sieve the syrup to remove impurities and set aside to cool.
Coconut milk
  1. Heat up coconut milk/cream and add a pinch of salt, which brings out the sweetness of the palm sugar.
To assemble, put chilled sago into a bowl, drizzle Gula Melaka and coconut cream over it and serve.

                                                                    Sago being boiled; Boiled sago

                                                                Cupcake tins are the perfect sago moulds

       Pandan leaves, gula Melaka and a pinch of salt