Lope Ariyo: Star of African Food and The Winner of The Red Magazine and HarperCollins Competition

Lope Ariyo is the next big star of African Food as she wins the amazing competition by Reg Magazine and HarperCollins which consists of a major big deal and national exposure. Her unique recipes which are a combination of eclectic Nigerian flavours and European influences. Her passion and enthusiasm were a hit with the judges (Who’s For Dinner’s very own Ronke Lawal being one of them) and her food on the day really was delicious.

Lope Ariyo

“Despite having been tasting dishes all day at the judging session we all found room to devour her perfect lamb curry, sweet and sticky hibiscus chicken and flaky, rich tilapia. Lopè feels like an exciting new face in food, someone who knows how to turn everyday ingredients into something extraordinary, and who has the drive to bring Nigerian-inspired food to a wider UK audience.” – Pip McCormac, lifestyle director of Red Magazine.

“We all thought Lopè’s food was exceptional and Lopè’s food writing is wonderful. We’re hugely looking forward to working with her to produce what we think will be a brilliant book”. – Grace Cheetham, publishing director at HarperCollins.

This is an exciting time for African cuisine to breakthrough and make an impact across The UK and ultimately the world. The PR drive behind this competition and Lope’s success means that food from across the continent will finally be given the exposure it deserves. Congratulations to Lope and well done to the team behind this competition.

Quotes taken from The Bookseller.

Ayamashe: The Nigerian Green Pepper Sauce That Will Spice Up Your Life

I bought  a jar of Hot Ayamashe at an event a month or so ago and just wanted to give a quick shout out to “Ayamashe” ready made sauces which is a great business idea, making this delicious traditional sauce accessible to the world. Ayamashe is sauce made from green peppers, green chillis, scotch bonnet, onions and palm oil. I love to make ayamashe from scratch but if anyone who has ever made it will tell you, the palm oil* bleaching process is a serious one, so make sure you have good ventilation before attempting it. Here is a recipe if you are interested in making your own homemade sauce: http://www.9jafoodie.com/ayamase-ofada-stewsauce/.

ayamashe sauce

If however you just want that ready to eat experience this is a great alternative – you can eat this with plain white rice or fried yam. Make sure you add meat or fish (or any alternatives if you are vegetarian). I purchased the hottest in the range at £3.99 which was still not hot enough for me but still very delicious. I love to see Nigerian food products breaking into the mainstream food market, Nigerian food has so much potential and I can only see great things in the future for this cuisine.

Order a jar today and make sure you read the story about the origins of Ayamashe sauce: http://ayamashee.com/

* Just a note that the palm oil used in West African cooking is made sustainable unlike the palm oil sourced from regions in Asia which causes damage to the environment and wildlife. It is very important to make this distinction as many people have tarnished palm oil globally when the palm oil produced in West Africa is different.

Kashmir Restaurant

A Taste of Culinary Paradise at Kashmir Restaurant

I was lucky enough to be invited to have lunch at Kashmir restaurant in Putney as their guest recently. About a 5 minute walk away from Putney Rail station, Kashmir Restaurant is located on a side street just off the busy high street and really does feel like a peaceful oasis in London. It is the first restaurant in London dedicated to Kashimiri food and brings an authentic taste of this delicious cuisine that goes above and beyond the standard high street curry. Founded by husband and wife team Rohit and Shweta Razdan, both originally from Kashmir, one of the first things that struck me about the restaurant was Rohit’s warm welcome, followed by the beautiful interior. I don’t normally mention restaurant interiors but I have to make a point of mentioning how good the interior design of the space is and how it added it to the overall calm and peaceful nature of the restaurant.

Kashmir Restaurant Putney Kashmir Restaurant Putney

To start with I had a mango lassi to drink before ordering some starters with my sister. My sister ordered Kabargah which are lamb ribs boiled in milk with Kashmari spices and deep fried to perfection. They are supposed to be eaten dry with no sauce to ensure you get the full impact of flavour and they were definitely memorable. Moist and full of flavour, this unique starter is definitely worth trying. I ordered the beetroot and corn kebabs which are pan seared mashed corn and beetroot patties which come with a delicious mint sauce. The balance of beetroot and corn made them a moreish starter which were not too heavy before the main courses arrived.

Mango Lassi Kashmir Restaurant Kashmir Restaurant Kashmir Restaurant Kashmir Restaurant

The main courses were an absolute the delight, our kind host, Rohit really took the time to explain each dish with so much passion and enthusiasm.

Kashmir Restaurant Main courses Bhuna Gosht

Lamb Roganjosh, Dal Bukhara, Murg Tikka Labbabdar

Lamb Roganjosh, Dal Bukhara, Murg Tikka Labbabdar

We ordered Murg Tikka Labbabdar, chicken tikka cooked with tomato, onion, cream & butter which was melt in the mouth delicious. If you like creamy chicken dishes then this is definitely for you. The Lamb Roganjosh is a lamb on the bone dish cooked with chilli powder and kashmiri spices which is warming and spicy, I really enjoyed the taste and texture of this dish. The Bhuna Gosht is perfect for curry lovers, it is slow cooked lamb cooked with tomatoes, onions and Indian spices. The portion is generous and the meat is definitely high quality, the slow cooked process makes it a pleasure to eat as the spices have really had the time to marinate into the meat. We tried the Dal Bukhara made from black lentils which are simmered overnight on a slow charcoal fire, The Kashmir restaurant is the only restaurant in London which serves this dish so you really are being invited on a travel taste sensation. The Dal Bukhara was definitely one of my favourite dishes on the menu, as it is cooked in cream and butter it is a rich dish which goes perfectly with the heavier meat dishes. My sister ordered the Baigan Ka Bhartha which is a smoked aubergine dish made with green peas and tomatoes, it was the perfect way to balance out our meat dishes and tasted wholesome, although I would have liked it to be a bit spicier. To accompany our meal we had Kashmiri pulao which is long grain basmati rice made with cashew nuts, almonds, saffron, cottage cheese, green peas and kewra water. This rice dish is packed with flavour so be ready to explore something new and unique beyond the usual plain rice. We also had some space for garlic naan and onion green chilli culcha (which my sister described as quite possibly the best thing she had ever tasted!).  Rohit convinced us to try some dessert so we went for the Phirni which is a traditional Kashmiri semolina dessert consisting of pistachio, almond and saffron, it was sweet and a pleasant treat but I was so full I couldn’t finish it!

Phirni Dessert

I have to commend Rohit and his team for this wonderful menu and such a great concept. Every dish we sampled took us to Kasmir and Northern India, even though I have never been, the authenticity of each dish was evident and like nothing I have tasted before. I urge to you take the time to visit Kashmir Resturant in Putney even if you don’t live in the area it is worth the trip. You will not be disappointed, we certainly were not!

To book a table visit: http://kashmirrestaurants.co.uk/