Hot and Sour Aubergine

 

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This is one of the recipes I adored as a guest in a jain friend’s home. People following the religion of Jainism are vegetarian and do not consume any root vegetables. Hence, their food has always been a mystery to me as I come from a culture where garlic and onions are considered as essential ingredients in most recipes.

Anyhow, every Saturday we’d follow a religious day and only eat vegetarian, that meant not eating root vegetables either. So, my mum would often pick up inspiration from jain recipes and this is one of the things I grew up eating. It is easy, quick and the spices are easy to find.

Ingredients:

1 whole aubergine, diced

1 tbsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp tumeric powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder (more if you like it hot)

1tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp sugar

Tamarind paste (to taste) or vinegar/lemon juice

Salt to taste

2 tbsp oil

Method:

Heat oil in a pan and temper cumin seeds. Add aubergine and the spices with a splash of water. Cook the spices until the water has nearly evaporated and then add more water, tamarind paste, sugar and salt. Let it simmer until the aubergines are cooked and the water is dry.

It has a sticky constancy, not too dry, not to runny.

Serve with rice and dal. It also makes a nice side to be served with pasta or a bed of couscous.

 

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Hot Cross Buns & Chess Anyone?

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We have been having quite a relaxing Easter break at my soon to be mother -in-law’s house in Stourbridge near Birmingham. Dogs are running around in her big garden, kids are climbing trees and are being read to, I am cooking for everyone and Ed is enjoying some time out to read. It is all very nice and cosy, although we are missing out on the sunshine here. But the fireplace is keeping us warm and the smell of my future mother-in-law’s hot cross buns are making us hungry…

So here is the recipe for her delicious, glossy and homely hot cross buns:

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Ingredients:

Dry:

3 cups white spelt flour

1 cup brown spelt flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp ground cloves

a handful of raisins

Wet:

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tbsp of butter

1 tsp yeast

Syrup:

2 tbsp brown sugar

sprinkle of water

a knob of butter

For the crosses:

2 tbsp White flour

1 tbsp Butter

Water

 

Method:

Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Warm milk in a pan to blood heat. Add sugar, butter and yeast. Let it ferment for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add beaten eggs.

Mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and knead. Leave it to rise in a warm place.

After 30 minutes:

Pre-heat the oven on 200 – 250 degrees. Place a tray of water at the bottom of the oven to make a steamy atmosphere.

Knead the flour lightly. Shape them into buns and place them on a greased baking tray. Brush them all with a mixture of egg york and milk.

Make the pastry for the crosses, cut them lengthwise and stick them on top of the buns. Allow them to rise again in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

Once risen, put the buns in to the oven to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool the buns and make the syrup by putting all the ingredients into the pan.

Once ready, dip the top side of the bun into the syrup and let it sit and cool down.

Enjoy with a cup of tea, dollop of butter and cream/jam.

Happy Easter!