Me and my mum!
Lots of love,
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.
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.
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?
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.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Here are a couple of my favourite pictures of me, should that help in any way.
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).
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).
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).
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!
I’m very excited to share the news that you can try a delicious Mamta’s Kitchen curry on the new Autumn Winter 2011 menu launching at Leon restaurants today. With both a chicken and a vegetarian option available, we hope the rich, well-balanced flavours will appeal to Leon customers, new and old.
See full menu
So how did Mamta’s Kitchen dishes end up on the new menu?
A year ago this month, I was invited to the launch event for the second cookbook from Leon, the small chain of restaurants aiming to offer food that not only tastes good but is healthy and affordable too. Launched in 2004 by partners Henry Dimbleby, John Vincent and Allegra McEvedy, Leon now has 11 outposts and I imagine there are more in the pipeline.
Leon invited customers to make wishes from which they would choose a selection to grant on the night of the launch.
“Why not?” I thought, and entered a wish of my own.
It would be great fun, I said, to work with the Leon team in developing a recipe to feature on their menu. Not convinced I had any great creative insight of my own, I suggested we turn to my mum for inspiration, and work on an Indian recipe from Mamta’s Kitchen.
During an initial chat Henry, mum and I decided that the most useful menu item for Leon would be an Indian curry sauce that could be served over either meat or vegetables, allowing two menu dishes to be offered using the same sauce.
And so it came to be that Henry Dimbleby and Toph Ford, the new head of food, came to lunch at my parents’ house. Mum showed them how she makes her basic curry sauce and also two others. And we sat down to a delicious lunch. Henry and Toph left with samples of the three sauces and mum’s recipes for each one.
More recently, I accompanied Toph to the Bighams factory site where we tasted and commented on development versions of the basic curry sauce Leon had chosen to take forward, and then watched for 2 hours whilst an enormous Bratt pan of the sauce was cooked from scratch.
I was able to see how closely they had stuck to mum’s original recipe. Cardamoms and curry leaves were used whole, fresh tomato slices were added towards the end to add texture (as opposed to the tinned tomatoes added earlier on) and various spices were added at the right stages of the process. They had made a few minor tweaks, mostly to account for scaling up the recipe and ensuring a consistent and rounded flavour. But the end result really did taste like mum’s curry sauce. To my delight, I was even able to propose a (minor) change to process to better allow the garam masala to combine properly into the curry sauce.
Just a few days later, Toph confirmed that the two menu items they were offering were a chicken curry (serving the sauce over grilled chicken) and a pea and squash curry (serving the sauce with fresh peas and roasted butternut squash).
The new autumn and winter 2011 menu launches today.
We would love to hear back from those of you who try the dishes featuring mum’s curry sauce!
In our previous Mamta’s Kitchen cookery classes we’ve made a selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes which proved very popular with our students so far.
For our next class we are considering offering a pescetarian or fully vegetarian class instead.
This will depend on demand.
The date has tentatively been scheduled for the 5th November.
Please email me as soon as possible if you are interested in attending and have a preference on whether the class should be as previous, pescetarian or vegetarian.
For information on future courses you can also 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).