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!

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.

Vegan-Friendly Coriander Chutney Recipe

This dip is bursting with fresh, vibrant flavours guaranteed to satisfy all your dinner guests. With a list of ingredients that conforms to the strictest vegan diet, this coriander dip (or chutney) does not suffer at all from being dairy-free. In fact, this is one of my favourite dips or sauces, and I love to serve it up with anything from onion bahjis to daals and dosa. The delightfully deep green colour is a treat for the eyes as much as the stomach and is a low-fat alternative to other high calorie dips containing yoghurt or loads of sugar.

Ingredients:

Fresh coriander – lots and lots of it! (If you by coriander from Asian shops then use 1 bunch or if you buy from a supermarket use 10 packets)
1 heaped tsp chopped garlic
1 heaped tsp green birds eye chilli
The juice of one whole lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 squeeze of tomato ketchup
½ tsp jeera powder (or ground cumin)

Method:
Roughly chop the coriander and pop it in the blender/food processor and blitz
Add in all the other ingredients and give it another blitz
Taste it now and adjust it to your liking, whether you’d like it saltier, more tart or sweeter.

Serve it up with your favourite Indian snack or meal!

Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu

During the festive period, with all the added demands on our time it’s important to look after ourselves by eating well and use nourishing ingredients. With germs flying about from kids and colleagues, even friends and family, and with exposure to the cold impacting our immune system, it’s easier than usual to come down with a cold or worse, the flu.

I have an amazing Indian remedy that has been passed down from my family for generations and still to this day I use it on myself and my child. It can be made easily with everyday ingredients and I also add a little twist for an adult option; a sneaky shot of brandy. This healing remedy will make you feel warm and fuzzy and acts like a boost to your system.

How it Works:

GINGER: Ginger root contains essential oils and oleoresin and contains compounds including a variety of hydrocarbons, aldehydes and alcohols. Ginger contains at least a dozen antioxidants, plus a protein-digesting enzyme called zingibain, which appears to relieve arthritis pain by reducing inflammation.

Ginger is rich in two groups of compounds known as the shaogals and gingerols. These compounds prevent cells from premature destruction due to exposure to environmental toxins and by-products of the metabolism. Furthermore, these compounds are potent anti-inflammatory agents, and are proven to relieve inflammation throughout the body. Given that oxidation and inflammation are part and parcel of all chronic degenerative diseases, ginger can play a key role in disease risk reduction.

HONEY: Known for its antioxidants, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help us fight the common cold and its symptoms, honey and cold symptoms have been long-associated because honey helps to soothe the sore or scratchy throat naturally. Honey boosts the immune system, which helps us recover faster and helps reduce the chances of cold in future.

BLACK PEPPER: Pepper is antibacterial in nature, and therefore helps to cure cold and cough and alleviate chest congestion, often caused by pollution, bacterial, or a viral infection. You can add it to hot water and eucalyptus oil and take steam. Given that black pepper is rich in Vitamin C, it also works as a good antibiotic.

TURMERIC: Containing curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, turmeric root possesses natural oils, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and phytochemicals that combine to provide healing properties for almost every area of the body. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant compounds that boost the healthy functioning of cells, tissues, organs, and systems. These compounds include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, analgesics, and a wide variety of protective, preventative, and health-promoting derivatives that help support the natural functions of the body. The powerful phenols contained within the flesh of the turmeric root are varieties of curcuminoids: curcumin, desmethoxycurcumin, and bisdesmethoxycurcumin, which not only help combat germs, bacteria, and viruses but also help aid in digestive processes, support immunity, improve energy, maximize metabolic functioning, cleanse the blood, regulate blood sugar, and increase mental processes.

Cold and Flu Remedy Recipe

Ingredients:
1 big clump of Ginger (5x5cm)
1 tablespoon Honey
½ tsp Turmeric
Pinch of Black pepper
Pinch of salt
Water
OPTIONAL – 25ml of brandy

Method:

  • Add all the ingredients in a pan (except the optional brandy)
  • Add ½ cup of water
  • Simmer for 5 minutes
  • Let it cool down and strain all the juice into a cup to remove any ginger pulp
  • After it’s cooled, you can drink 3 times a day
  • If you add a shot of brandy stick to drinking this before bed only