Today's guest post comes from Sumayya who you can follow on Twitter. Sumayya writes one of the most inspiring food blogs I read, filled with beautiful stories of life and food, her recipes instantly make my mouth water. I love to read her posts as she fills them with sublime stories of love and loss, memory and the present all connected by food. We have fantastic conversations on Twitter, about everything from apple martinis to rhubharb and yoga. I am really looking forward to meeting her in person which I hope will be soon.
Over to Sumayya ...
I grew up in a sunny climate. A simple thought yes, but now living in the UK I realize that I complained far too much and took the constant elating sunshine for granted. A sunny climate gives birth to a sunny people and the ability to go that extra mile for others. I come from a land of happy, cheerful and hospitable people who would rather go hungry than not feed their guests their last scrap of food. These are a people whose hearts are bigger than their pockets. I feel blessed to have been born in Pakistan and despite it’s worrying media reports, it’s a land of opportunity, talent and beauty – and of course fantastically fresh produce and food with deep historical roots of the Indian sub-continent.
Food plays an integral part in our lives and meat features a lot on the menu but vegetables do so equally. In my home we always ate a lot of vegetables. My mother, who is my inspiration for cooking, always created recipes from traditional laced with cross-cultural influences, I suppose I do the same.
This recipe is an example of my food philosophy: traditional flavours with cross cultural inspiration - this has a bit of a South Indian twist with the use of curry leaves, coconut and mustard seeds but it lends itself a bit to my Pakistani roots, where we use a lot of tamarind and jaggery in difference savory dishes. Indian cheese, Paneer can be substituted with firm cottage cheese or even firm tofu - Jaggery can be substituted with dark brown sugar or molasses. The balance of flavours is what sub-continental and Asian cooking is about and here there is an equal blend of sweet, savory, hot and sour and the ‘umami’ element of the asafodetia (hing) and curry leaves ‘lifts’ the flavour of this dish. This can be eaten on it’s own, with some lovely warm flatbreads or fragrant basmati rice. Fry off the paneer/firm tofu/firm cottage cheese first and then make the tomato-based sauce which then just coats the panner in the end.
- · 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- · 2 cups of Indian Paneer cheese cut into small chunks (or tofu/firm cottage cheese)
- · 1 tsp mustard seeds
- · 1 tsp cumin seeds
- · 1 pinch asafodetia (hing)
- · 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- · ½ inch ginger, crushed
- · 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- · 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- · 2 tbsp tamarind paste (can be bought prepared, but best to buy raw dried tamarind, soak for an hour in hot water, then squeeze and strain the tamarind paste
- · 10-12 fresh curry leaves, if not available, dried could do (in which case use about 6-7)
- · 1 tbsp jaggery, available from most supermarket’s ethnic counters or Indian stores
- · ¾ cup fresh grated coconut or desiccated coconut if fresh in not available
- · handful of chopped coriander leaves for garnish
- Fry the panner off in a frying pan with a little oil until brown on all sides. Set aside. Put a little more oil in a wok style pan and heat under medium heat. Now add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and once they start to pop add the pinch of hing and then the ginger and garlic paste and fry quickly not allowing the contents to burn. Add salt to taste.
- Once the raw smell of garlic leaves the pan add the tomatoes and cook until soft, you may need to add a little water to ensure that the sauce doesn't burn. Add the tamarind, curry leaves and jaggery and once the sauce is cooked, and the oil starts to rise up, add the coconut and turn off the heat. Pop in the fried paneer and top with more coconut and coriander leaves.
This week I’m –
· Inspired by – the courage of sick children
· Reading – Curry, a tale of cooks and conquerors by Lizzie Collingham
· Listening to – Brighter than the sun – Katherine McPhee (Smash soundtrack)
· Pondering – about the next supperclub menu
· Eating / Cooking – eating fresh cashews from Sri Lanka / cooking veggies all week in aid of National Vegetarian Week
· Thankful for – my parents, my daughter and my husband and my loving Siamese cat
· Visiting – Bath this week, magical and inspirational, my favourite city in the UK
My Blog: http://www.pukkapaki.com/
About page: http://www.pukkapaki.com/about-me/