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Healthy Heritage Recipes from India and Sweet Inspirations from Pakistan

Review By Lola Agondogo Hegba

The chance to try new food and recipes is too good to be missed and so being sent two cookbooks which celebrate Indian and Pakistani cuisine is a true delight.

Indian food is an internationally popular cuisine, yet it is sometimes considered to be heavy, rich and indulgent. As more people turn to healthy home cooking as an alternative to eating out, there has never been a better time for a fresh and lighter take on Indian food – one that Mira Manek is creating with her vibrant and healthy cooking style in the Saffron Soul Cookbook. With this cookbook, Mira goes back to her roots to show how basic ingredients: the lentils, vegetables, grains and most importantly the spices, are all brimming with health benefits. Inspired by her mother and grandmother’s cooking, Mira’s style of food is a modern interpretation of Indian classics, creating utterly delicious and naturally healthy dishes. If you want to cook a Saffron & Lime Chia Pot, an Indian Summer Salad, a Thali, a Masala Almond Milk or a Mango Shrikhand Cheesecake, Mira’s recipes combine the best of the core elements of Indian cooking with original health-promoting twists. Here is just one recipe that I tried which was easy to make and understand from this well put together cookbook.

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt
Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt
This is a recipe that has true depth of flavour and such a wholesome taste! The spices work well with the chickpea, a real delight, it was excellent and super simple to do, with a family and a busy schedule this was particularly important for me. I think the next time I will make them, they will have the form of blinis accompanied with chilli yoghurt to add freshness to the dish and enjoy it in easy to eat mouthfuls. It would make the perfect aperitif. With this recipe my family and I made a beautiful discovery which we cannot wait to try again.

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt

Saffron Soul by Mira Manek

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt

The next cookbook I had the opportunity to review was Mountain Berries and Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani. In this cookbook the author shares the exotic cuisine of her native Pakistan, sharing the secrets of her home country’s incredible and varied desserts and sweets. The book is a modern take on recipes inspired by the cultural crossroads of Pakistan, in which she explores the unique significance of the country’s traditions and geography. The 70 authentic and family recipes travel from the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains in the north (where berries and fruits grow in abundance), via the fertile Punjab (with its rice- and grain-based desserts) to the Arabian sea in the south, where saffron- and cardamom-laced sweet recipes are a favourite. Just reading the synopsis made me hungry for more!

Mountain Berries and Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani

Hunza barove giyaling
I was initially surprised by the texture of these pancakes given how few ingredients were needed but it still turned out to be a very good recipe.
Be careful not to put too much water. I added a little more water than expected in the recipe because as I said above, the dough appeared too much thick to me. The pancakes were perfect, true happiness … a real treat!  I was pleasantly surprised two pancakes recipes without egg and without milk! Which makes them much more digestible and light, and very good, perfect healthy alternative particularly if you are lactose intolerant or vegan.

Hunza barove giyaling

Both cookbooks were sent as gifts to review.

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln, £20.00

Saffron Soul: Healthy, vegetarian heritage recipes from India by Mira Manek published by Jacqui Small £20.00

6 Reasons Why Shito Sauce Is So Sexy!

Shito sauce is one of my favourite sauces, having discovered it at a Ghanaian friend’s house many years ago and I have never forgotten that foodie experience. It is a deliciously sexy sauce made primarily using vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish/shrimp, garlic, tomato puree/paste, peppers, chilli flakes and spices and everyone should try it at least once!

Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. Shito Sauce goes with pretty much EVERYTHING! I eat it with plain boiled yam and have tried it with fried yam, fried plantain, boiled plantain, rice…you name it! Be creative and try it with something you like today, even if the combination doesn’t work at least it’s an excuse to eat shito sauce! Here’s a reenactment of me every time I eat something with shito sauce:

2. It looks beautiful in a jar (but better on a plate)! Take a look at this jar of shito made by Eat Jollof doesn’t this look like a work of art and can I just say for the record that it tastes as good as it looks. You could just stare at is as the oil glistens around the chilli flakes of passion, flirting with you to scoop a dollop up and devour it with your meal!

Shito Sauce

3. It is easy to buy! You can find it in your local major supermarket stocked in the “World Food” section as well as any African food provision stores so it’s easy to find and affordable, ranging from £2-£3 a jar depending on the brand and jar size.

4. It’s moreish! Once you open that jar you’re going to want to eat it again and again and again. This was a jar of Ghana’s Best Shito I bought from Tesco and I don’t think it lasted a week…but then again I was truly craving it so there was no way it was going to last long.

Shito Sauce

5. It is low maintenance and relatively easy to make and the ingredients can be purchased from most good quality supermarkets/local grocers. You might have to go to an African provisions food store to find certain items but the magic of the internet also means that you can order ingredients online! Click here for a great recipe from Freedes, Founder of My Burnt Orange. Here’s a video from Abena’s Kitchen, you can use it or just watch it as the recipe is brought life and flirts with you on your screen.

6. It’s saucy and spicy and quite simply a sensual delight for your taste buds! That’s all I have to say. If you must eat any sauce in this world at least once then you must eat SHITO!

A Simply Delicious Prawn And Broccoli Stir Fry Recipe

Who’s For Dinner was recently sent a fantastic Ken Hom Wok from the team at Debenhams in celebration of Chinese New Year. I also received some Good Grips gadgets to test out which make the cooking experience not only easier but fun too!

Chinese cuisine varies in levels of complexity, some dishes require lots of ingredients that you can source from your local Asian/Chinese groceries, others are very easy and can be made with ingredients that you probably already have at home and taste great. What also makes chinese cooking fun is the stir fry! Stir frys are a wonderful way to eat your favourite meat/vegetables/fish and if you use the right quality of wok you can make tasty stir fries for yourself, friends and family for years to come!

Here’s our “simply delicious Prawn And Broccoli stir fry” recipe we made using the Ken Hom carbon steel wok – easy to make with ingredients that you can find in your local shop (if you don’t already have them in your fridge/pantry at home).

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (or any alternative which suits your palate)
  • 2cm fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove (sliced with the good grips garlic slicer)
  • 1 green birds eye chilli
  • 400g raw king prawns
  • 200g Broccoli
  • Half Sweet red pepper
  • Half Red Onion – sliced
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce

Wok cooking is about heat! Make sure that you heat your oil well. Add the garlic and onions, fry for 1 minute until soft but not brown. Add the prawns and stir fry for at least 3 minutes until the prawns turn pink. Now add all other ingredients and continue to fry, add soy sauce at the last stage. This can be eaten with steam rice or noodles and is the perfect starter dish for those who are new to wok cooking.

The Ken Hom Wok is deep and high quality, the carbon steel ensures that the heat is spread equally which allows for the ingredients to be cooked thoroughly. It might be deemed as a little bit heavy but you should get used to it relatively quickly and the quality of the finish is second to none.