Mamta is my mum. In 2001, Pete, mum and I created this family cookbook on the web, a collection of recipes by mum, family members, friends and readers. Most recipes are Indian, but there are others from around the world. Visit Mamta’s Kitchen.

 

Long before I started this blog, I was sharing recipes online at Mamta’s Kitchen, our family cookbook on the web, named after my mum who has contributed the bulk of the recipes, with many more given by family, friends and readers. Mamta’s Kitchen has been going strong since 2001 and is a wonderful way to share the joys of cooking with people from all over the world. Mum continues to add new recipes and respond to reader queries via the discussion forum.

I’ve heard from friends about mothers who refuse to share their precious recipes even with their own sons and daughters, presumably gripped by a need to keep kudos for themselves, to be known as the only one who can make the very best victoria sponge, steak and kidney pudding, tandoori chicken, even at the expense of the recipe being lost to the world when they pass away. In some cases, a recipe is shared but a key ingredient or step miswritten or omitted entirely, all the better to cling to top dog status and ensure that no-one else can match them.

But that’s not how my mum is at all, nor any of our family or friends. Mum is quick to point out that she has learned how to cook from so many others – not just her immediate family but the wider extended family of in-laws and cousins and cousins of cousins not to mention a lifetime of friends, cookery books and TV cookery programmes.

In turn, mum loves to share her recipes, investing them with all the tips she can think of to help others achieve the best results possible. If she finds a better way of explaining how to do something, another way of helping someone understand, she goes back and updates the recipe accordingly.

And if others can make a dish that is just as good as hers by following her recipe, that doesn’t lessen the deliciousness when she makes it herself!

Indeed, I’ve come to see how it adds even more joy – I can no longer make my mum’s Lucknowi-inspired lamb biryani without thinking fondly of all the people who have made and loved the recipe (and come back to let us know).  The recipe we call “mum’s chicken curry” is now made by many other mums across the world, and I hope their children love it as much as my mum’s children do! There are many London friends who have not only tried my spicy tomato ketchup but are aware that the recipe was passed down from my grandfather to my mother and now to me and many others.

Unusually for his generation, my maternal grandfather (my “nana” in Hindi) was fond of both gardening and cooking. A sugar chemist by trade, he spent a few years of his early career making not only sugar but confectionery, sauces, pickles and chutneys the recipes for which he carefully recorded in a ‘Preserves’ notebook. Mum has translated these recipes, many of which were for cooking in bulk, to suit a domestic kitchen, and many of them are shared on Mamta’s Kitchen. Not only are they wonderfully tasty, they give us a way to connect with my grandfather, who passed away when I was very young. He may be gone but he is still part of our our family tree and our recipe tree.

This recipe for tomato ketchup can be adapted to your tastes and I’ve made batches with ripe red and yellow tomatoes and also with unripe green ones, adding a little extra sugar to compensate for the tarter fruit.

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Spicy ketchup made from ripe red and yellow (sungold) and unripe green tomatoes

 

My Grandfather’s Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Ingredients
1 kg ripe tomatoes, unpeeled, chopped if large
Half a small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Whole spices in fabric bag *
5-6 cloves
2 black cardamoms, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon whole black peppers, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 small pieces of cinnamon or cassia bark
Ground Spices
Half teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
2 level teaspoons mustard powder
40 grams sugar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
50 ml cider vinegar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt

* Instead of wrapping my whole spices in muslin tied with string, I use fill-your-own teabags for speed. These are easy to fish back out of the pot and throw away once used.

Method

  • Sterilise your jars and lids. I boil my lids in a pan on the stove for 20 minutes before laying them out to dry on a clean tea towel. I sterilise my glass jars in a hot oven, leaving them in the oven until I’m ready to fill them.
  • Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and bag of whole spices into a large pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to stop the tomatoes catching at the bottom before they release their own juices.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.
  • Blend into as smooth a puree as you can.
  • Press through a sieve to remove skin and seed residue.
  • Place the sieved liquid into a pan with the nutmeg, chilli powder and mustard powder and bring to the boil.
  • If your liquid is quite thin, boil longer to thicken. The time this takes can vary wildly. In the past it’s taken anything from just give minutes to half an hour.
  • Add the vinegar and sugar and continue to cook until the sauce reaches ketchup consistency.
  • Add salt.
  • Taste and add additional vinegar or sugar, if needed.
  • Remove the sterilised jars from the oven and pour the ketchup into them while both ketchup and jars are still hot.
  • Seal immediately with sterilised lids.
  • Once cooled, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard. ~

~ As this recipe has only a small volume of sugar and vinegar (both of which are preserving agents), you may prefer to store the ketchup in your fridge and use within a few weeks. We have stored it in a dark cupboard, eaten it many, many months after making, and been just fine. However, we are not experts in preserving or food safety, so please do your own research and decide for yourself.

 

This post was commissioned by McCarthy & Stone for their Great British Recipe Tree campaign. Recipe copyright remains with Mamta’s Kitchen / Kavey Eats.

 

I love biryani!

I mean the real deal, with beautifully spiced meat between layers of fragrant basmati rice…

NOT stir-fried rice with a few bits of meat thrown in, served with a side of sloppy vegetable curry, that is sold as biryani by so many curry houses across the UK. *rolls eyes*

Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the difference between pulao (pilaf) and biryani it is in the cooking method rather than the ingredients: rice is the core ingredient in a pulao, often supplemented by meat or vegetables, just like a biryani, however all the ingredients of a pulao are cooked together. In a biryani, the meat or vegetables are prepared separately, then assembled into a cooking pot with the rice, before the biryani is baked to finish. In some variations, the meat and rice are par-cooked before assembly, in others they are added raw.

Biryani” comes from the Persian birian / beryan, which is a reference to frying or roasting an ingredient before cooking it. The actual dish was likely spread across the wider region by merchants and other travellers many centuries ago.

Biryani was very popular in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors who ruled between the early 16th century to the early 18th century and it remains a much-loved dish in India today.

The Mughals were a Central Asian Turko-Mongolic people who settled in the region in the Middle Ages; their influence on architecture, art and culture, government and cuisine was significant. Mughlai cuisine is today best represented by the cooking of North India (particularly Utter Pradesh and Delhi, where my mother and father are from, respectively), Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Hyderabadi area of Andhra Pradesh in South East India. It retains many influences from Persian and Afghani cuisine.

There are many versions of biryani but two of the best known in India are Lucknowi (Awadhi) biryani and Hyderabadi biryani. For a Lucknowi biryani, the meat is seared and cooked in water with spices, then drained. The resulting broth is used to cook the rice. Both the pukki (cooked) elements are then layered together in a deep pot, sealed and baked. Hyderabadi biryani uses the kutchi (raw) method whereby the meat is marinated and the rice is mixed with spiced yoghurt (but neither are cooked) before being assembled in a deep pot and baked. The flavours of the meat and rice components in a Hyderabadi biryani are quite distinct, as compared to the Lucknowi biryani where they are more homogenous.

Also popular is Calcutta biryani, which evolved from Lucknowi style when the last nawab of Awadh was exiled to Kolkata in 1856; in response to a recession which resulted in a scarcity of meat and expensive spices, his personal chef developed the habit of adding potatoes and wielding a lighter hand with the spicing.

What is common to most variations is the dum pukht method – once the food has been arranged in the cooking vessel, the lid is tightly sealed (traditionally using dough but foil or rubber-sealed lids are a modern-day substitute) and the pot is baked in an oven or fire; the steam keeps the ingredients moist and the aromas and juices are locked in.

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Biryani is often served for celebratory feasts such as weddings, though most don’t take it quite as seriously as the two families involved in a cautionary tale that my friend alerted me to – a wedding was called off after an argument between the two families about whether chicken or mutton biryani should be served at the reception!

My mum, who grew up in Utter Pradesh, makes a delicious pukki method biryani, in the Lucknowi style. However, rather than using the liquid from the meat to cook the rice, she makes a fragrant lamb curry (with just a small volume of thick, clinging sauce rather than the usual generous gravy) and she flavours the rice with fresh coriander and mint and rose or kewra (screw pine flower) essence. Her recipe involves slowly caramelising onions, half of which go into the lamb curry and the rest of which are layered with the meat and rice when the biryani is assembled. The pot is sealed tightly and baked until the rice is cooked through.

You’ll notice that I specify basmati rice for this recipe – and that’s because it’s the most traditional rice used for Indian biryani. Of course there is the taste – basmati is a wonderfully fragrant rice – but it is also important that the grains remain separate after cooking; some rice varieties are much stickier or break down more on cooking. Longer grained basmati is prized over shorter grain, perhaps because rice must be carefully harvested and handled in order not to break the grains or just because it looks so elegant?

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Tilda, the best known brand of Basmati rice in the UK, recently launched a new product into their range. They describe Tilda Grand as a longer grained basmati rice, particularly well suited to making biryani and other Indian and Persian rice dishes.

Mum comes from a Basmati growing region of India and has seen Basmati planted, growing and harvested many times. Her family in India buy large sacks of rice when it is newly harvested and store it to mature because the flavour gets better with age; indeed I remember mum telling me how her parents saved their oldest basmati rice to serve to guests and on special occasions. Since I was a child, mum has always bought Tilda Basmati rice, so I asked her to try the new Tilda Grand and give me her feedback.

She didn’t find it as fragrant as usual but confirmed that it cooked much the same as the rice she regularly uses and commented that the grains remained separate and were longer than standard. That said, the grains weren’t as long as she was expecting; she has come across significantly longer grained rice in India in recent years.

This biryani, made to my mum’s recipe, is the first I’ve ever made and it was utterly delicious!

 

Mamta’s Lucknowi-Style Lamb Biryani

I have halved mum’s original recipe. The amounts below serve 4 as a full meal.

Ingredients
For the rice
500 grams basmati rice
Large pinch salt
1.25 litres water
Small sprig mint leaves
Small sprig coriander leaves
For the meat
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
3 large onions (about 600 grams), peeled and thinly sliced
500 grams lamb or mutton leg or shoulder, cubed
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, grated or pureed
2-3 teaspoons (0.5 inch piece) ginger, finely chopped or grated
2 brown cardamoms, lightly crushed to crack pods open *
3 green cardamoms, lightly crushed to crack pods open *
1-2 inch piece of cinnamon or cassia bark *
2 bay leaves *
4-5 black peppercorns *
4-5 cloves *
0.5 teaspoon black cumin seeds (use ordinary cumin seeds if you don’t have black) *
1-2 green chillies, slit lengthwise (adjust to your taste and strength of chillies)
0.5 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to your taste)
1 teaspoon salt
60 ml (quarter cup) thick, full-fat natural yoghurt
100-150 grams chopped tomatoes
Small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
Small bunch of mint leaves, chopped
Half a small lemon, cut into small pieces
For the biryani
1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
A few strands of saffron soaked in a tablespoon of warm water
A few drops of rose water and/or kewra (screw-pine flower) essence
Optional: Orange or jalebi food colour, dissolved in 1 teaspoo water
Optional quarter cup of cashew nuts or blanched almonds

Note: The quality of the meat is important, so do buy good quality lamb or mutton. I used lamb steaks for my biryani.

Method

  • In a large pan, heat the vegetable oil or ghee and fry the onions until they are dark brown, stirring regularly so they do not catch and burn. This is a slow process; mine took approximately half an hour.
  • Remove onions from the pan and set aside.
  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, then add the whole spices (marked *) plus the ginger and garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes to release the aromas.
  • Add the lamb, salt and chilli powder and stir fry to brown the meat on all sides.
  • Add the yoghurt, tomatoes, two thirds of the mint and coriander that is listed for the meat, the sliced green chillies, lemon pieces and half of the fried onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is done and only a little thick gravy is left. This may take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the quality and cut of the meat.
  • Once the lamb curry is made, turn off the heat and set it aside.
  • While the meat is cooking, prepare the rice. Boil briskly with salt, the mint and coriander leaves listed for the rice until the rice is nearly cooked. (When you squash a grain between your fingers, only a hint of hardness should remain).
  • Drain, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.
  • Grease a large oven proof dish or pan with ghee or vegetable oil.
  • Spread a third of the par-cooked rice across the base of the dish.
  • Spread a quarter of the reserved browned onions over the rice.

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  • Sprinkle a little saffron water, rose and kewra essence over the rice.

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  • Spread  half the lamb curry over the rice.

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  • Repeat to add another layer of rice, onions, lamb curry and the saffron and flavourings.

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  • Top with the last third of the rice, the remaining browned onions and another sprinkling of saffron and flavourings.

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  • Dot the surface with a little ghee plus a few drops of colouring, if using.
  • Sprinkle cashew nuts or blanched almonds over top, if using.
  • Cover the pan tightly with foil and then the lid.
  • Preheat oven to 180° C (fan) and bake for about 30-40 minutes.
  • Serve hot.

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Kavey Eats received samples of Tilda Grand rice from Tilda; as usual, there was no obligation on my part to write about it or to review favourably.

Mar 102013
 

Me and my mum!

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MINIMamtaPlaited Kavita MINIMamta Kavita Beach
MINIMamta Kavita Parrots
 MINIMamta Kavita Carousel

Lots of love,
~Kav

 

Remember how one of mum’s recipes came to be on the 2011 / 2012 Autumn Winter menu at Leon Restaurants?

Leon Full leon main dishes

The two dishes did pretty well. I loved catching some of the positive feedback sent to Leon on twitter from customers, who seemed to really enjoy the curries.

So, when it came to writing Leon Book 4: Family & Friends, author Kay Plunkett-Hogge asked if we’d be willing to have mum’s original recipe included in the book. Not just that recipe, but a couple of others as well.

Back and forth went the emails, between mum, Kay and myself, selecting the recipes, fine tuning and double checking the wording, writing the recipe introductions and additional stories and scanning and sending photos of mum and I from days gone by.

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The book was released in October and I was very excited to receive my copy (which arrived in the post about 5 minutes before we left the house to travel to Japan)!

Leon’s books have always included recipes from friends and family of the Leon team, but this book is all about them. Kay and John Vincent (Leon co-founder and co-author of the book) have gathered a wonderfully wide selection and there are many that catch my eye. Hopefully I’ll try some out myself soon and I can let you know how I get on.

In the meantime, photos of our pages, of which we’re very proud. Don’t they look great?

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Leon Book 4: Family & Friends by Kay Plunkett-Hogge and John Vincent is currently available on Amazon for £17.50 (RRP£25).

 

Last year, we ran a few classes to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mamta’s Kitchen. We’ve just noticed the site has recently passed the 10,000,000 hits mark and this has nudged us into scheduling some more dates, as we’ve been promising for a while.

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Dates:

  • Sunday 5th August
  • Saturday 8th September

Time:

  • 11.30 am to approximately 7 pm (though may run later as we’ll finish with an evening meal)

Location:

  • Mamta’s Kitchen, Luton, Bedfordshire

Price:

  • £95 per person

Plan:

  • Welcome with tea, coffee and biscuits
  • Introduction to spices and key ingredients
  • Make lunch together: pakoras, an Indian salad, lassi
  • Sit down and enjoy lunch together at the table
  • Make dinner together: two starters, a main dish with some tips on easy variations, a vegetable dish, raita, pilaf rice, an Indian bread, dessert
  • An afternoon break, during which we’ll make masala chai
  • Sit down and enjoy dinner together at the table

Included:

  • Tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival
  • A light lunch that you will cook together
  • A tasty dinner that you will cook together
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner
  • Tea, coffee and biscuits during the day
  • Printed recipes

Notes:

  • Class size is limited to 4 students. They will be joined for the meals by Mamta’s little helpers, Pete and Kavey, and possibly one or two other family members for dinner.
  • As the class is being held in a domestic kitchen, with a single oven and stove top, students will be working together to create the dishes and will need to take turns to participate. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of hands on experience throughout the day.
  • The (Luton) address will be provided on confirmation of booking. Plenty of (free) parking is available. Alternatively, you can train to Luton station which is a short bus/ taxi ride from our house. We may be able to collect you from the station if we can coordinate your arrival times (and drop you back afterwards).
  • Our first few classes included a range of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. The last one we ran was pescetarian (fish and vegetables only). Please let us know what you are looking for, as the exact choice of dishes for these 2 dates has not yet been finalised.
  • We will need at least 3 attendees booked in order to run any given date. Talk to us about our discounts for booking more than one place in a class.
  • We can also offer private classes, where we can accommodate up to 5 and can adjust the contents of the class to suit your needs.

Booking:

Please email kavey@mamtaskitchen.com to book your place.

For information on future courses subscribe to our email mailing list. (The list will only be used to send you information about Mamta’s Kitchen Cooking Classes and nothing else).

 

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Mar 082012
 

Holi is a Hindu festival, also known as the festival of colours, and is celebrated all over India. It is divided into two parts, Holika Dahan and Holi. Scheduled according to the lunar calendar, it is celebrated at the end of the winter, on the last full moon day in the lunar month of Phalguna, which falls in February and March.

This year, Holika Dahan falls on the 8th March and Holi on the 9th.

There are many aspects to the origins of Holi and many different reasons to celebrate it, today

Originally, it was a festival to celebrate the coming of the light and fertility of Spring, after the cold and dark Winter.

For religious believers, it commemorates events in the religious myths or stories of Hinduism. Long ago lived a race of giant demons, the Daityas. Their king, Hiranyakashyap, prayed long and hard to the great god Brahma, and was rewarded with a boon that protected him from death. He could not be killed by man or animal, god or demon, or by any weapon made under the sun. Safe from all enemies and heady with power, he began conquering the world, declaring himself king of the underworld, the earth and finally, of heaven. He defeated Indra, king of the gods, and the others fled, and took on the appearance of ordinary men and women. As ruler of the world, Hiranyakashyap ruled that no one could worship any being but himself. But his own son, Prahlad, disobeyed, singing the praises of Lord Vishnu. In fury, Hiranyakashyap ordered his attendants to kill his son. But their swords failed to hurt him. Hiranyakashyap called upon the snakes of the underworld and the great white elephants of the sky but none could harm Prahlad, who claimed the protection of his god, Vishnu. Finally, Hiranyakashyap enlisted his sister Holika, who had also received a special boon – no fire could harm her. A great fire was built, and Holika was ordered to carry Prahlad into the fire, which would surely kill him. To the king’s surprise, once the fire had died down, he saw that his sister Holika was dead, but Prahlad survived.  When Prahlad again thanked Vishnu for saving him, Hiranyakashyap roared in anger, slapping a stone pillar, asking, if Vishnu was everywhere, where was he, was he in the stone itself? The pillar broke and from it emerged a creature, half-man and half-lion – Vishnu in the form of Narsimha. He rushed at Hiranyakashyap and killed him with his claws, neither man nor animal, and using no weapon made under the sun. Order was restored to the world, the gods took their rightful places once again and Prahlad became the king of the Daityas; a just and kind ruler. At the end of his life, instead of dying to be born again like other mortals, Vishnu took Prahlad into himself. Holi is a celebration of this victory of good over evil.

These days, what many love about Holi is the custom to put aside rigid social structures, allowing those of different ages, sexes, castes, professional status and wealth to behave as equals and celebrate together. Formality is forgotten, and there is an atmosphere of fun, exhilaration, celebration, love.

Traditionally, Holika Dahan is celebrated with a bout of spring cleaning in the home, big communal bonfires out in the street and lots of neighbourhood socialising. Then, Holi itself is a frenzied day of throwing and smearing gulal (coloured powder) over everyone else. People prepare for the onslaught by dressing in their oldest clothes – white is a good choice as it allows the colours to show well. Youngsters enjoy catching their elders with the dyes; workers can colour-bomb their managers with impunity.

My understanding is that the significance of throwing of coloured powders is two fold: the powders were once made from medicinal herbs and spices prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners to protect against illness and the bright colours also represent the colours of Spring.

At the end of the day, one goes home and bathes away the coloured dyes, dresses in new clothes, and sits down with family for a traditional meal. You can find many of our favourite family recipes at my mum’s site, Mamta’s Kitchen.

There are many traditional foods and drinks served during Holi, but one you might not expect is the ingestion of bhang (cannabis), most commonly in a drink sometimes referred to as bhang lassi but actually called bhang ki thandai. The buds and leaves of the cannabis are ground into a paste with ghee and spices such as fennel, cardamom and saffron and mixed with almonds, milk and sugar to make a drink. The paste is also used to make a green bhang halva and other cannabis-laden sweets.

Happy Holi!

 

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The majority of my friends are real killjoys when it comes to fancy dress, so I seldom indulge. But last year, I went to town with hair dye, skeletons, cobweb scarf, spooky jewellery and green nails.

I think I got the “demented witch” look down pat!

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You can learn more about the origins of halloween in my pumpkin carving post from last year.

Happy Halloween from Kavey Eats!

If your interest in pumpkins veers more to the eating than the carving, here are some great Indian recipes for pumpkin from Mamta’s Kitchen, my mum’s website:

And lastly, a recipe that’s also perfect for Diwali celebrations:

Enjoy!

Oct 262011
 

Today is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Happy Diwali!

The name itself means “a row of lamps” and describes the traditional ghee-filled earthenware lamps which are traditionally lit in their hundreds and thousands. An unforgettably beautiful sight.

There are a number of different reasons and stories behind the festival which you can read about here and here.

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In our family, we light a candle in every single room of the house, and also place one at each external door. Mum cooks a wonderful Indian vegetarian meal for us to share.

My favourite dishes include mum’s simple potato curry with gravy served with fresh, hot, crispy pooris.

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image by Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons

This year, my personal Diwali celebrations started early, when I was invited to a Diwali-themed supper club hosted by Luiz (The London Foodie), catered by Maunika (Cook In A Curry) and sponsored by Tilda Basmati Rice.

This was a great coming together. Luiz is a consummate host and I’ve enjoyed many a wonderful evening in his beautiful home. The newly extended and refitted kitchen was even more envy-inducing than the old one, and is a fabulous venue for his regular cooking clubs and supper clubs.

I regularly find myself salivating when reading Maunika’s twitter stream, as she describes in loving detail the many fabulous Indian dishes she cooks on a regular basis, both at home and in her career as private chef, food writer and radio presenter. Born in Bombay, Maunika has researched and become an expert in the many varied cuisines of the Indian subcontinent and shared several of her favourites with us during the evening.

The unique properties of basmati rice – the magical flowery scent and woody undertones – are well known. Tilda is a brand that has been associated with sourcing and selling top quality basmati rice since the late 1960s, when it started a business importing and selling to the immigrant Asian community in the UK. Today Tilda’s rice is readily available in the UK and over 40 more countries worldwide. If you are of the mind set that “rice is rice” and surely all basmati rice is much of a muchness, I set you the challenge of buying a bag of Tilda and a bag of the cheapest value brand of basmati you can find. You will notice the difference!

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My favourite dishes of the evening were a Paneer Haraa Tikka for which Maunika marinaded cubes of paneer with garlic, chillies and sprinkled them with kala namak (dark Indian rock salt with a distinctive pungent taste from the dissolved sulhur), a fantastic Pineapple and Black Pepper Chutney, a flavour-packed Haraa Masala Chicken hailing from the Khoha community of India, full of coriander, mint and caramelised onions and a Keralan Fish Curry called Meen Moilee, consisting of moist fillets of sea bass in a rich coconutty gravy. Maunika’s Lamb Yakhni Pulao, made of course with Tilda Basmati, included succulent morsels of lamb mixed with rice that had been cooked in lamb stock and butter.

All delicious and very enjoyable. Thank you to Luiz, Maunika, Tilda and Wildcard for a wonderful evening. Happy Diwali!

 

Kavey Eats is long due a redesign.

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I’ll be moving from blogspot to self-hosted WordPress. I’ve been planning it for over a year, and have had the new layout and navigation nailed for almost as long.

But I’ve been struggling to come up with a look, centred around a beautiful banner image that conveys not only the title and tagline but a bit about me and my blog. From that will flow the design of the rest of the site, including colours, buttons and everything else.

So I’ve decided to ask for help.

And as an added incentive, I’m offering a really great prize to the person who comes up with a design that fits the bill.

If I choose your design for my blog, you win a free place on an upcoming Mamta’s Kitchen cookery class.

Mamta’s Kitchen classes are small in size, and take place in a domestic kitchen, in mum’s home in Luton. They usually run from 11.30 to about 8pm during which time students learn how to make lots of delicious dishes, which they enjoy for lunch and dinner, along with snacks and drinks during the day. Thus far, classes have focused on cooking Indian meals, but we’re planning future classes on pickles and chutneys, on Indian breads and more.

The banner design can be a text-only one, it can be mostly an artwork / graphic, it can include a portrait of me or not. I’m completely open to all suggestions.

I do have some very rough thoughts on a colour scheme, though only loosely and not set on paper let alone in stone. I can point at sites that have elements that I like. So if you do want that kind of input, please email me directly with your questions and I’ll do my best to oblige.

Alternatively, you’re welcome to work unencumbered by any of that and see what you can come up with.

Here is a sketch of the layout I’ll be using. You can see that I’m looking for a full width banner design for the space in which I’m showing blog title and tagline. I want some buttons above and some below the banner. And I’ll be using a two or three column layout for the main body of the content.

MockLayout

Here are a couple of my favourite pictures of me, should that help in any way.

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Now, it’s over to you!

Send in your entries by email.

Please note that no suitable designs were received by the original October 31st deadline, so I’m extending to the end of November.

Please note, if none of the designs submitted are suitable, the prize will not be awarded. If I broadly like your design but need to make or request small tweaks, the prize will be yours.

(The prize does not include travel or accommodation, however I am happy to collect and drop from Luton train station).

 

Thanks to Fuss Free Flavours, I learned about this lovely way of supporting UNICEF by naming a colour.

MK Colour 1

Our perception of colours in the world around us is limited only by the complexity and sensitivity of our eyes.

But when it comes to representing colours on a computer screen, things are much more precise. Helen explains it really well: “computers do things by absolute values and each colour is defined by the amount of red, green and blue it contains on a scale of 0 to 255, making a total of 16,777,216 colours that can be displayed.”

Dulux have come up with a novel way of raising money for children’s charity, UNICEF. For a donation of £1 (or more, if you like) you can choose and name one of these 16.7 million colours. All the money raised will go directly to help transform children’s lives.

The first two colours I’ve picked are the Mamta’s Kitchen logo colours, to celebrate our recent 10th anniversary, not to mention the fun of being featured on the Leon menu. (For those of you who don’t know, Mamta’s Kitchen is the family cookbook website that Pete and I run with my mum, Mamta).

MK logo ladle mini

I’ve called them Mamta’s Kitchen Chilli Red and Mamta’s Kitchen Turmeric Yellow (though eagled eyed among you will notice a missing apostrophe in the yellow – names can be no longer than 30 characters).

MK Colour 2

I am definitely going to choose and name some more colours; it’s well worth a teeny tiny pound for the fun let alone supporting a great cause!

I hope you name some colours of your own. Do let me know what colours and names you choose!

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