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Indian Beauty Mask

Being a Hindu, turmeric plays a very big part in my life. It’s painted throughout our lives whether we’re ingesting it for a medical reason, drinking a turmeric latte at the cafe or sprinkling it in your curry. The significance of turmeric in Indian culture means it has a prominent role in rituals. The bride & groom are generally covered head to toe with turmeric paste before they enter the altar of the wedding ceremony.  In this context, turmeric is a symbol of blessing for a healthy marital life, it has the promise of radiance and a healthy natural glow. Tumeric helps to remove dead skin cells, revealing younger and rejuvenated skin. It’s known for its purification abilities, to cleanse and purify the heart and soul. It can be used to ward off evil and curb pre-wedding jitters. The active compound in turmeric is known as curcumin, and amongst other wonderous properties, it can be used as a natural remedy for headaches and anxiety.

So, I would like to tell you about a beautiful face mask, that I religiously use, and have done since my own wedding day. This mixture contains turmeric, honey, yoghurt, chickpea flour & lemon. And some of the benefits of using this turmeric mask are;

  • Leaves your skin bright and radiant
  • Helps to slow the effects of ageing
  • Excellent for acne
  • It can also help reduce redness from blemishes and calm skin conditions like eczema and rosacea
  • Reduces dark circles
  • Protects against sun damage & ageing
  • Improves the appearance of fine lines and brown spots caused by sun damage
  • It also helps prevent the loss of skin elasticity due to long-term UV exposure
  • Helps dissolve dead skin and tighten pores

Turmeric Beauty Mask Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp honey (Manuka, if possible)
  • 1 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 tsp of Chickpea flour ( Gram Flour /Basan)
  • 1 small squeeze of lemon juice (optional; this will help lighten dark spots whilst brightening)

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, and apply to cleansed, dry skin.
  2. Leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

Please note, if your skin is sensitive, please do try a test patch!

Mental Health Awareness Week

 

As it’s mental health week, I wanted to touch a subject that’s close to my heart… something I don’t reveal too much about. Why do I keep quiet about this subject? Is this because of my culture? Pride? Family? Or am I just simply embarrassed and worried about how people will look at me and define me? However, I’m going to be BRAVE and tell you that ‘I AM’ a silent sufferer of mental health issues. It started when I was pregnant, seeming to change something in me for good. It’s been years now since my first episode of mental illness, and I still occasionally have panic attacks and anxiety and an overwhelming feeling of not being in control. It seems to happen when I least it, especially when I’m on my own.

But I’ve been trying to take back my life and am currently receiving some wonderful support and help. I’ve found my passion again and I have started this amazing business journey. My advice to everyone is, be kind, be generous, be supportive, to friends and family even a complete stranger! That person might be going through a tough time. Give hugs, they are so important and listen. Listening to people, even if you don’t have anything to say can be so helpful and comforting to people in need. But most importantly, feed your mind with good fuel. Not just this week or when you’re struggling, but everyday. I have my beautiful aromatic Indian spices to help me, especially to boost my brain with goodness!

3 COGNITIVE SPICES that contain powerful brain-boosting benefits are:

Turmeric 


  • Curcumin has been found to support working memory, calmness, and satisfaction in coping with mental strain. It also promotes cardiovascular health and lessens physical fatigue.
  • It’s attributed to increasing the brain hormone BDNF, which improves the function of neurons, encourages their growth, and strengthens and protects them.
  • One of the key features of a brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease is the build-up of clumps of a protein called amyloid-beta. The latest studies on turmeric show that curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has the potential to help clear these plaques.

Cinnamon (powder or sticks)

  • It affects several physiological functions of the body. Cinnamon kills bacteria and yeasts that cause stomach ulcers and urinary-tract infections and helps the body regulate blood sugar.
  • But my favourite benefit is increased brainpower. A few years ago, it was discovered that just the smell of cinnamon could improve cognitive function. In that study, either tasting (technically it was chewing) or smelling cinnamon worked to improve brainpower.

Ginger

  • Another of my favourite spices that should be on everyone’s mind is Ginger. It was reported several years ago that ginger might indirectly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s through its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • As it turns out, ginger decreases prostaglandins. These are chemicals that lead to inflammation and perhaps other chronic diseases. So ginger may ease minor aches and pains in much the same way as aspirin without the side effects such as upset stomach while simultaneously helping maintain brainpower.

 

LOVE what you cook & Cook what you LOVE!

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This weeks advice to you would be; to LOVE!
Love what you cook, and cook what you love! 
If this is not applied in the kitchen, then it will show in your food. The flavours will not bond and turn into beautiful harmony. 

The way I get into the spirit of cooking is;
1- Find a recipe I  would like to cook.
2- Go shopping and find all the ingredients.
3- Play some music you love listening to help get you in the mood. 
4- Set up the kitchen so everything is at hand.
5- Make sure you have plenty of space to cook.
6- Give yourself TIME, so you’re not rushed.
7- Listen to your instincts.
8- LOVE the recipe your cooking, LOVE the ingredients, LOVE who you’re cooking for, and have fun.

 

Mum of two becomes ‘the best and loyal customer of Priya’s Kitchen!

Picture of Anna Walters   Photo Credit to Jodie Humphries

Priya’s Kitchen was founded in February 2018, and since then regular and new customers come through the door to taste the delicious fresh food that gets cooked and served from Priya’s Kitchen. However, you always have your best customers that can’t live without Priya’s spicy food!! The reason why people come through the door is because it is HOME-COOKED, FRESH, AUTHENTIC and bold with flavours. Some of the other the dishes that are not familiar to the western palette gets cooked in the kitchen, which is not seen in your regular takeout joints or restaurants. These are dishes that have been cooked in traditional Indian homes for centuries.

Throughout the year, I have seen in my books that ‘Anna Walters’ has ordered numerous times, not saying that she isn’t great in her own kitchen because she’s a fantastic cook herself and cooks endlessly for her family. However, Priya’s takeaways are the best way to look after yourself when you have a busy life with the kids!

So, I decided to award and recognise my customer, who LOVES Priya’s Kitchen. And that is ‘the beautiful Anna Walters!’ I wanted to interview her and get to know her better.

 

So here she is; Mrs Anna Walters!

Q: Please introduce yourself;

A: My name is Anna Walters and I live in the St Marks area of Maidenhead. I’m a mum of two and an artist www.annawaltersart.com    

Q: What types of food do you love?

A: I love to eat and like a wide range of foods. Favourites if I had to pick are probably Japanese & Italian.   

Q: Why do you enjoy buying from Priya’s Kitchen? & Why do you like my food?

A: Priya’s food is absolutely delicious. So full of flavour, fresh and so much healthier than any other Indian take-out. It’s become a Friday night treat when I’m tired and bored of cooking for my tribe every other day of the week.       

Q: What is your favourite takeaway from Priya’s Kitchen?

A:  Maharashtra Dumpling Curry in an Onion and coconut sauce.

Q: What’s your favourite food shop?

A: The Italian Shop on Denmark Street in Maidenhead.  

Q: What’s your food tip or hint?

A: I use buckwheat flour in my kid’s pancakes (they have no idea!). We also grow herbs and fruit & veg in the garden which the kids love. They eat cherry tomatoes like sweets when in season.     

Q: Would you recommend any of my services?

A: I can’t recommend Priya’s homemade food enough. The weekly take-out is just so good. The masala paste is also a great way to make-your-own at home. We made boxing day turkey curry with ours which was a massive hit.

 

Anna Walters is a wonderful Artist, she graduated and started her career in advertising, and like many women like myself have now changed their careers to look after their children. However, we all need to work and keep our sanity above board before we literally go stir crazy! So, I would love you to check out Anna’s webpage www.annawaltersart.com  as she has taken on her new profession as an Artist! She works with oil paints and only works on commission and believes that art should be affordable so is very reasonably priced.

 

Here are a few of my favourites!! 

As Anna, has been the best customer, she will be given a free family meal on the house!

 Thank you, Anna, for supporting a small business like myself and for apricating my heritage!

 

 

 

 

Engaging your senses!

 

Do you use your 5 senses when you eat? Sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch?

We should take the opportunity to stop, breathe and celebrate. We  forget how easy it is to get caught up in our everyday life and rush food down our mouths, eating mindlessly. Who sits down and looks at the food in detail and savours the aroma? If you pause to eat more mindfully, you will taste every spice, ingredient, texture and flavour.  We forget to glorify the little things that make our lives rich on a day-to-day basis, to celebrate the food we have in our hands.

Food can evoke negative emotions and positive emotions. When we are feeling negative and disconnected in the world, this is when over-eating plays a part a big part in our lives. However, when you are positive and full of life, this is when you enjoy the burst of flavours and feel the sensation of spice inside your mouth. You can change your relationship with food, and it starts with appreciation and choosing to be present. Slow down and engage all of your senses the next time you shop, cook or eat a meal, and the result will be a transcendent, extraordinary experience!

The first step in engaging your senses is taking time to experience the moment. Once you find the space to breathe and be present, you’ll be amazed at the joy your food has to offer you. When you engage all your senses, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, which elevate your mood and evoke feelings of trust, enjoyment and relaxation. The result is that you’ll enjoy your food in a new and exciting way.

Take in what you see. “We eat with our eyes first,” yet we rarely take the time to truly experience this. What you see will likely evoke emotion, and you may even associate what you see with flavours your love or hate. This is a great time to consider where your food came from and how it was grown, and if you’re eating a meal, you can reflect on the work that went into preparing it. Appreciating the beauty of food and its journey to your plate.

Touch, feel & smell. Do you feel your food? Even with your tongue? You smell your food before you eat it? Ever really paused to think about the sensuality of the experience? Explore the texture and immerse yourself in the tactile sensations you experience in the kitchen, from holding a knife to peeling garlic, chopping an onion or juicing a lemon. Get your hands dirty and play with your food, then slow down enough to really enjoy the experience. As you eat, think about the way a food feels in your mouth, which will, in turn, slow down your eating and engage you in the flavour of the meal.

Listen to, while you savour each bite. Challenge yourself to take a bite and taste your food before you even started chewing it. Chew mindfully; challenge yourself to chew your food at least 10 times and pay attention to each chomp and the way the flavour and texture of your food changes. By savouring each bite, you can enjoy less food – and still, feel satisfied.

Relish the aroma. There’s something so inviting about the smell of your home when you cook, as well as the aromas at your favourite restaurant. Scents evoke memories and emotions, which you can use to your advantage. How a food smells is directly related to your perception of how that food tastes.  Seasoning your food with beautifully fragrant herbs and spices can enhance the aroma and, therefore, taste. Take a moment before each bite to inhale and enjoy the way your food smells, which in turn gets you excited to mindfully eat it.

The soundtrack to your life. Though our sense of hearing seems abstract to our relationship with food, it isn’t. When you take an active approach to listen to the world around you, it can deepen your overall experience of life, including your relationship with food. Listen to the sounds created when you cut into a potato, or the sizzle as you sauté some vegetables in a pan. Be attentive to the sound of chewing your food, and delight in the melody of voices as you share a healthy meal with friends and family.

You may give this a go once in a while or incorporate a few of these tips on a daily basis, but either way, the act of engaging yourself in all that your food is offering will allow you to celebrate your plate in a way that takes the emphasis off deprivation.

Meet Davinder Ojalla – The Lightworker Coach, she’s a dear friend of mine and I would like to share her blog with you to help with this exercise. It’s so simple but yet effective and it’s called ‘The Raisin Exercise – Mindfulness Meditation’

Davinder’s Raisin Exercise can help us ignite a healthy love for food. This exercise is a great way to help with diets and health and it’s an holistic approach to our personal evolution and potential. Next time you eat one of my dishes or cook one of my recipes, I would love you to use your 5 senses and engage with the food. Tell me about the journey you’ve experienced!

 

 

The J Word on Food – Joseph Cogan


At the age of thirteen, I didn’t have the slightest clue on what to do as a profession. Well on Saturday 6th April, I had inspired a young thirteen-year-old boy ‘Joseph Cogan.’  He aspires to be a food critic and wanted to start a food blog.  Well, he had the perfect starting, as I was booked into teaching his father Will Cogan for an Indian cookery class on the Saturday at their beautiful home in Marlow. As he was dipping in and out of the kitchen, he was enjoying the aromas and couldn’t wait to dig in and taste the food. I was super impressed that a boy of thirteen has such ambition and he utterly loved the food, especially the Khachori (Green pea dumping’s) and the coriander chutney. You could tell he was a foodie as he appreciated all the flavours that went in.

I was then asked if I would feature in his blog, I was truly honoured that he wanted to write his first piece on me!!

So, without going into any more detail, I am going to leave it up Joseph to tell you about his food experience of the spread his father and I cooked!  

Please check out the link below!

http://thejwordonfood.com/

Ode to My Father

As I sit here reminiscing about my father, I’m recalling how he was a very loyal, simple, caring man, who had the traits of an ambitious chef in the making. His culinary adventures began back in India, when he had to drop out of school to help support his mother after his father passed away. This woman was my grandma Rukhi, and she showed him the way around a kitchen. Living in a poor town, during a poor time, nothing was wasted in Rukhi’s kitchen; every vegetable and morsel of meat was used.

My father was born in Uganda in 1957, where some of my cooking influences have come from. Like me, my dad used to put his spin on a dish that he had learnt. There was a dish that reminds me of him called Matoke (Plantain Stew) spoken as ‘Ma-tu-ghee’. It was a side dish that would go with his favourite mutton curry, and we would eat it with an Indian salad called ‘kachumber.’ The plantain banana stew is very similar to a tarka dhal, in the way it’s cooked.

However, lots of things have changed, everyone has moved on. My dad has gone to be with his mum and dad, and time has made us evolve, but one thing never changed and that’s our Sunday curry day! Everyone else would have a Sunday roast, but in our family, we had mutton or lamb curry on Sundays. We would drench the plantain stew with lots of lemon and the meat was always cooked on the bone for depth of flavour and it had a hint of smoky spice, with stewed tomatoes and onion running through to give it a rich, robust taste.

 

 

I never really thought my dad and I were much alike until I left home to live a life of my own and I could see that I carried his traits; ambition, the passion for food, and the love for life to be simple and stress free. Now, after his passing I truly believe I am my father’s daughter and I love every trait of his that I find in myself. He is always with me and will always stay with me! His ambition to cook new dishes and experiment will be carried forward with me on my culinary adventures. I spoke to him on his birthday in March, nine days before he died and I could hear the pride in his voice when I told about the way I’m sharing my food of love with you!

So, in honour of my father, I would like to share a recipe that’s close to my heart, my dad’s mutton curry.

Gujarti Mutton Curry Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp sunflower / olive oil
  • 2 x cinnamon bark
  • 3 x bay leaves
  • 5 x cloves
  • 4-5 x green cardamom pods
  • 1 tbs black pepper corn
  • 2 heaped tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 heaped tsp crushed ginger
  • 1-2 heaped tsp green birds eye chilli
  • 1 tin of chopped tomato
  • 1 kg of lamb/mutton (2 packets of shop brought lamb chunks)
  • 2 big potatoes cut in medium chunks
  • 2 big white onions, blended or very finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 tsp ground red chilli
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • Hand full of fresh coriander for garnishing
  • Sprinkle of Garam-masala

Method:

  • In a pan, heat the oil and add the cardamom pods, cinnamon barks, black pepper corn, bay leaves and cloves frying until they pop and become aromatic.
  • Add in the chopped onions, saute until very brown and caramelised (this is essential for depth of flavour).
  • Add in the ginger, garlic and green chilli and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and stir in.
  • Add in the dried spices, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder and the juice of half a lemon.
  • Stir and let the sauce simmer until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
  • Add in the lamb/mutton, and sear until the meat is sealed.
  • Add enough water to achieve a soupy consistency.
  • After 1 1/2 hours add in the potatoes and let the meat and potatoes cook on a low heat until everything is cooked thoroughly. This usually takes up to 2 1/2hour on a low-medium heat.
  • You may need to add more water as the potato and meat will drink up the water.
  • Just before you serve, sprinkle in the coriander and garam masala and stir.

TIP: You will find the right cuts of meat and mutton at an Indian butcher, like Gordon Stores on Gordon Rd Maidenhead, and sometimes ASDA. Because mutton is taken from an older sheep, it takes longer to cook and become tender, but tastes much better than lamb. Meat on the bone will also add a lot more flavour.

 

 

National Spinach Day

I bet you didn’t know that spinach had a special day? Well it does, and it’s called National Spinach Day and it’s on the 26th March. Spinach is my favourite leafy green. It’s a nutrional power house that has lots of health benefits and can be used in loads of dishes. In Indian cooking, spinach is often the star of the show, with a bunch of recipes and dishes that put this humble green leaf at the heart of the meal.

Why We Love Spinach

  • Native to central and southwestern Asia, it’s thought to have originated in ancient Persia. Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then it was introduced into China where it was known as “Persian vegetable.”
  • Catherine de Medici loved spinach so much that it was served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” reflecting Catherine’s birth in Florence.
  • Spinach is a true superfood. It’s packed with nutrients but low in calories. Dark, leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair, and bone health and they also provide protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Eating spinach can improve blood glucose control in people with diabetes, lowering the risk of cancer, improve bone health.
  • Spinach has been used by various cultures throughout history, notably in Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern, and South-East-Asian cuisines. It can be incorporated quite easily into any diet, as it is cheap and easy to prepare.
  • Spinach contains an antioxident known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase sensitivity, and prevent oxidative, stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

One of my favourite ways to eat spinach is saag aloo. Here’s my recipe…

 

Saag Aloo Recipe

Ingredients:
serves 4-6

 

3 tbs of olive oil ( Please note – if you are being extra healthy- you can replace the oil with water- this will just help the masala to cook down)

4 large floury potatoes (peeled and cubed) OR 1 Sweet Potato
2 bags of freshly prepared spinach
2 tomatoes washed and roughly chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 heaped tsp fresh garlic purée,
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1-2 green chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a large pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander cumin powder
1 tbs finely chopped fenugreek leave or kasuri methi
2 tbs fresh coriander
2 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Method:
Heat the oil in a large pan. When it is hot enough, add the mustard seeds and let them pop and crackle.
When they have popped, add the cumin seeds and the asafoetida, fry for a second before adding the onions if you are using. If you are not using onions then you can increase the amount of asafoetida.
Stir-fry until the onions turn translucent and then add the ginger, garlic and green chilli and saute for a minute or two without without colouring the garlic.
Add the fresh coriander and methi (fenugreek) leaves and saute until the leaves have wilted.
Add the tomatoes and cook until all nice and pulpy and some of the moisture has evaporated. Add salt and sugar.
Add the powdered spices and a splash of water and stir in the cubed potato. Stir everything through and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.
In the mean time, prepare the spinach by chopping it very finely.
When the potatoes are just over half-way cooked, add the chopped spinach and give it a stir. Cook until the potatoes are tender.
Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning (salt) and then add the lemon juice.
To serve, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with dal or kadhi, rice and chapati.

Behind the Scenes of a Pop-Up

Chef Priya & Chef James ; Photo credit by Jodie Humphies 

Behind the scenes of my pop-up events, there is lots that happens, and a lot of preparation is needed for a big event like this. As chef and host isn’t my trained profession it’s all still very new to me,  and while I still have so much to learn, I feel that it’s going in the right direction of the dream I had in mind.

It all starts with a date in the diary and then a well thought-out menu. I spend lots of time researching how to present and plate the food, I dig deep in to my life drawing from recipes that I have been brought up on. They are not dishes like rogan josh, baltis or jalfrezi. Those dishes have been developed to adapt for the western palate and vernacular. The recipes I do select, I am often hesitant about, as I don’t want to scare my guests by giving them something too unfamiliar. So to help my guests and patrons get used to these new flavours and textures, I introduce them slowly via the tasting menu which has a variety of eight dishes.

In between setting the date of the event; recipes are tested and presentation ideas are tried. The night only goes to plan if I have prepared and preparation is KEY which means I often start working up to three days in advance. Cooking for 35 people is never easy, so it helps if I cook the sauces and dips ahead of time, I can also cut vegetables and make the starters like samosas that take more than 6 hours to prepare.

My meats are always brought fresh on the day of the pop-up from a local supplier called Gorden stores in Maidenhead. They are an Asian food specialist store that supplies meat and a range of Asian goods to local restaurants. The meat I use is halal, that has been cut and cleaned, removing all the fats and unwanted bits. Once I get in the kitchen of the Pinkneys Arms, I have to settle in by arranging my spices and produce. If they’re not within arm’s reach, it will result in wasted time in the kitchen. I then set my god statue – Lord Ganesh on the side; he is my good fortune ‘The Remover of Obstacles, and The Deity of Good Fortune’. He looks over me and makes my night go well. Don’t get me wrong, as any cook knows –  things can go wrong in the kitchen, but having inner faith of god and spirit guides always helps.

 

It all gets under way from 3.30pm onward for the dishes to be ready on time for 7.30pm service. There’s lots pans on the hob and I’ve learnt over time, that multi-tasking is what a woman knows how to do best and has been ingrained in me since I was a child. The first thing I had to learn when I was a child from the age of 11, was how to make chapattis which may not have been a bad thing because now as an adult, as soon as I’m around food, I know what to do, and I’m in my comfort zone.

I have a chef who helps me in the kitchen; James Smith. He has years of experience in the culinary world and having him there to guide me toward service time, puts my nerves to ease. Serving 35 customers is never easy, one dish after another. This is when my adrenaline kicks in and I forget all the aches and pains in my body, the lack of sleep for the last three days and I get into the zone! Usually with a glass of Malbec in my hand.

 

From serving up amuse-bouche to desserts – time goes super-fast! Serving eight dishes is madness and every time I ask “why do I do this to myself?”  The answer is that I have a love of food and, truth be told,  I’m a feeder. I naturally love feeding my friends and family and an absolute love feeding my customers. It gives me a sense of belonging and value, and it showcases my heritage. Doing this opens me as a person. During the night I greet my guests and in between service and I love getting feedback on how I can make things better, but even more, I love hear the customers tell me how much they LOVED THE FOOD. One quote that still resonates with me is “It’s better than Sindu’s”  – which is owned by Chef Atul Kochhar. It’s wonderful to receive their appreciation and in the end it proves to be a terrifically satisfying experience every time.

Hearing the voices and laugher from the restaurant warms my heart and unbelievably they are all there to support my business. So here’s to YOU for supporting me in my culinary journey!

But my night doesn’t stop there, clearing up is not my favourite thing in the world. Nor is it for chef James. But we both get on and do it with the help of the pot washers and staff. After the kitchen is spotless, James and I can relax with another glass of Malbec and a beer – a drink well deserved! Thank you James You are my hero!

Thereafter I am a walking zombie until I finally get my energy back! I’m already dreaming about the next pop up – so stay tuned…