ANZAC cookies

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. Urban legend says that these cookies were baked by mummies and wives for their sons and husbands respectively when the latter were fighting in the Gallipoli war. However, there is no real historical evidence to support this claim other than that they were baked to raise so called “Patriotic Funds” during wartime. Legend or not, these cookies are delicious and great for dunking into a cup of tea.

The supermarket version of ANZAC’s tend to be rock hard and thin. At home however, it is quite easy to make them thicker and softer if you like. You can also make slight modifications – for instance, I add some grated lemon rind because I love the flavour and some mixed spice would go quite well too. Of course the cookie would stop being traditional but ah well.

This recipe is a slight modification on one I ripped off an in-flight magazine on an Air New Zealand flight.The page says that they ripped it off Lois Daish’s cookbook called “A Good Year”.  It is very easy but be aware that every batch will turn out differently including two lots from the same dough as I’ve shown below.

ANZAC day is a couple of months away (25th April) but there’s no reason why you cannot make the cookies right now.

Anzac cookies

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Sajjige/ Kesari bhath or Semolina dessert

“Sajjige” is the Kannada name for this dish. “Sojji” is what it is knows as in Tamil and “Sheera” is its name in Hindi, parts of North Karnataka (see map here) and Maharashtra. In our home, it is requested for by the name “Semolina thingy”. Whatever name it goes by, it is a delicious, rather filling and almost nutritious (if you leave out all the indulgent bits).

Sajjige is commonly served as part of breakfast in the state of Karnataka where I come from. It is often served with its savoury counterpart “uppittu”  in little breakfast joints all over big and small cities. In these breakfast joints, they come out in a bright yellow or bright orange colour which of course is food colouring but gives it its alternate name of “Kesari bhath” where “kesari” refers to saffron which is meant to give a yellow-orange hue to the dish. “Bhath” refers to any dish where all the ingredients have been premixed . For instance if you mixed dal and rice together and wanted to present it to someone, you’d call it “Dal bhath”. Here, I use real saffron and not any food colouring. The sweetness of this dish is controlled wholly by you and my grandma often has it without any sugar as she is a diabetic and her version is still very tasty. Hope you like it as much as we do!

Sajjige or Kesari bhath

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A map of India

I have put a map of India on this page to give you a feel for where the food I make comes from. Also, to show you how big a country it is and when I say each state has its only style of cooking and specialities, the map will give you a feel for what I mean. There are currently 28 states and 7 Union territories (think of them as mini states).

A lot of the food I describe to you in my blog comes from the southern states of Karanataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh as that is where my family comes from. These states each have their own language (not dialect) – Kannada, Tamil and Telegu respectively. Some of the dishes I describe have names that are from one or more of these languages. For example, ‘Rasam’ is Tamil and ‘Badnekai’ is Kannada.

Outside of India, the food sold as “Indian” tends to originate mainly from Punjab in the north of India and bordering Pakistan. North Indian food is rich and creamy and is often served with bread such as naan, kulcha, roti or paratha. Occasionally, you will see food from Gujarat which is in the west of India also feature on the menu. Gujarati food tends to be mostly (but not exclusively) vegetarian, has an underlying sweetness and usually has potatoes in one form  or another.  If a restaurant says “South Indian food” then it usually refers to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. South Indian food is generally rice and lentil based and lacks the creaminess of its North Indian counterparts. The richness is often added in the form of Ghee or clarified butter instead of cream. Kerala being coastal has a lot of its own unique dishes featuring seafood and coconut though the majority of Kerala food is still rice-based.

In England, I’ve found Indian food to be a bit of a hit-and-miss. In a city as large as London, it is possible to find authentic north/south Indian food but in smaller towns there is a lot that is passed off as Indian food can be quite terrible. I find the proof for north Indian food is in the naan – if it is as thick as your finger, undercooked and greasy as all hell, don’t go back for more. A real naan is cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor and should be light and puffy and non-greasy (unless you asked for a “butter-naan”).

I will add more information to this page as I write my blogs.

Badnekai mosuru bajji or charred spiced eggplant in yoghurt

‘Badnekai’ is the Kannada word for eggplant/aubergine. ‘Mosuru’ means yoghurt in Kannada. ‘Bajji’ means different things (including a deep-friend vegetable fritter) but in this context it means mashed vegetable. This recipe describes a dish that I wasn’t a huge fan of as a child because of its smoky flavour. However, as an adult, I love it and its variations. You will recognise the smoky flavour if you are a huge fan or have tried baba ghanouj (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_ghanoush).This dish is one that my grandma and mum both make and can be eaten with pita bread (or any other thin bread). But being brought up in south India, I’ve always had it with hot rice and some ghee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghee). Perhaps omit the ghee if you care for your arteries.

A charring eggplant

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Chocolate and raspberry moelleux or lava cake

THIS RECIPE IS NOT MY OWN !!

Source: François-Xavier http://fxcuisine.com/Default.asp?language=2&Display=135&resolution=high

Upturned moelleux

Notes: 

This is the most decadent, delicious and chocolatey thing I make in my kitchen. It has been voted best dessert ever by my partner.

The proportion of ingredients is perfect. If you halve the recipe, you’ll get exactly 6 muffin sized moelleux; if you take 1/6th you’ll get 2 muffin sized moelleux and so on.

The pictures on François’ page are amazing and mine barely do justice but I have some work-arounds that I thought might be worth sharing. Don’t worry if yours don’t look as perfect as François’ – I can guarantee that they will still taste amazing.

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Super sticky, sticky date cake/pudding

This is another recipe from an ex-colleague of mine. I don’t know if this is true of all sciences, but as I biologist, I have always found myself amidst a lot of foodies, bakers and excellent cooks. While doing my PhD, we had cake bake-offs to raise money for the student society. It was at one of these bake-offs that I tasted and fell in love with the sticky date pudding. I hadn’t eaten one until then. In typical fashion, I chased the baker of this cake and annoyed him until he parted with the recipe for it. He even mentioned that the version I’d tried was with gluten-free flour so that one of his colleagues who was allergic to gluten could eat it. It was delicious!

I have made this cake a few times since I got the recipe – for pot luck dinners, afternoon tea at work etcetera and it has always been a hit. The occasion that sticks in my mind is our leaving party prior to moving to England. It was a hot autumnal afternoon and the party was due to start at 2pm in a bar. I was in a sari just because I wanted to be which made walking a bit difficult. We were carrying two enormous sticky date cakes that I’d made earlier that day in two rather heavy cake dishes. In addition,  we’d had to take public transport so we could have a few drinks at our own party.

By the time we got to the venue we were sweaty, our arms were sore, our guests had already arrived and I had one fuming boyfriend. However, we handed the cakes over to the chef at the bar and sat down to have a few drinks. Later that evening, the kind chef warmed my cake, cut it into pieces, drizzled the butterscotch sauce I made over it, sprinkled icing sugar over the top and brought it out to serve to our guests. It was a hit and the pain in transporting them was soon forgotten. Thankfully, one of my friends who is a more talented photographer than I captured the cake with my camera – a memory that I’m delighted to share with you.  I hope you like this cake as much as I do.

Sticky date pudding in all its glory

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Gingernuts

Gingernuts are my favourite tea biscuit! The word ‘gingernut’ always reminds me of a dear German friend. Like me, she too loved gingernuts. So when we set off on an Easter road trip through the North Island of New Zealand we made sure we were well stocked with gingernuts. Half way through this trip, a conversation about gingernuts lead me to inform her that there weren’t any nuts in gingernuts. She felt a bit let down by this but her love for gingernuts lived on (I think).

This particular recipe is from one of my ex-colleagues. She brought them to a meeting once and I loved them so much that I annoyed her until she parted with the recipe. She said that the biscuits never taste the same twice  and I have discovered that this is indeed true. Sometimes they are soft like gingerbread and other times hard and crunchy and great for dunking into a cup of tea/coffee/milk. I hope you like this recipe as much as I do.

Gingernuts and tea

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