My father is a free mason, and when he used to go to the lodge, this is one of the more popular dishes that he would take as the vegetarian option. I remember my older sister helping our mother to make them for him to take. It is a good dish to serve as a snack, with afternoon tea or at parties. Because these can be prepared in advance and then baked before serving makes it good to serve at dinner parties. We tend to use the same filling and pastry as the vegetable pie, however I have also made these buns with the same filling as the toasted sandwich. Experiment with the ingredients you have or enjoy to make the buns.
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I find this dish to be one of those that has the comfort factor, fond childhood memories and something warm and spicy to eat in the cold weather. We tend to use the basic mix of vegetables similar to what is put in samosa filling – potato, carrot, peas, sweet corn, and onion, however you can use any mix of vegetables you like. As the filling is not very saucy, the addition of the white sauce and tomato ketchup, gives it a wonderful creamy moist texture, and a surprisingly good combination to add as my husband put it. I enjoy eating the pie on its own however, you can serve it with some salad.
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My younger sister and two of my nieces love spring rolls. I have never really liked the taste of ready made vegetarian spring rolls, always preferring the home made ones. I tend to make them in a large batch and freeze them so as they are ready to have when ever I want to make a complete Chinese meal. There are many different versions I have made. Out of them it is the Thai and Chinese versions that I truly enjoy.
Some of the dishes we learnt at a very early age, used to be at the ladies club. We used to meet up on a regular basis and food, flower arranging, house hold tips etc. used to be demonstrated. This is where we learnt how to assemble spring rolls, I remember when my mother and sisters used to do it all together, like a production line. Now when I make them on my own I have fond memories of how we used to listen to music and were gently coaxed into making sure we have enough paste and roll it tightly. After a few broken ones, we got there in the end 🙂 Of course it is much easier now that we buy the ready made frozen pastries, as opposed to rolling them out ourselves, which is where we started – Oh the joys and convenience of ready made items to make cooking life easy 😉
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I had a version of this soup at a friends house, when I was pregnant, it was so tasty and different to what I normally make, i.e. plain tomato or with pasta & vegetables (carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash etc.) In the past I have tried cauliflower soup and found it to be very bland, however the way that this has other vegetables and multi grains gives it a good depth of textures and added flavours. So you guessed it, as always I recreated it at home. My friend used the shop bought multi grain mix, however I made my own mix at home from the individual grains. You can put what ever vegetables you have – it does not have to be what I have used.
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As we were growing up in Malawi, we rarely used to have the western fast foods, i.e. burgers, chips, onion rings etc. Then when we moved over here to England, we tried a few of these fast food places, but were always sceptical because we never really knew what the ingredients were and how it was made. Being a vegetarian, who does not even eat eggs, sometimes the fast food places that serve vegetarian burgers leave us wondering is it really vegetarian?? I have enjoyed the Burger King spicy bean burgers in the past, and have also tried various brands of frozen vegetarian burgers at home. Each one has their own unique way of presenting the vegetables and other ingredients, and hence each one gives a different taste. So I tried to recreate them at home, and came up with my own version instead which is filled with lots of vegetables and herbs, packed full of flavour. After many attempts at trying out different quantities of ingredients and many a broken patties, due to not binding very well, I finally perfected the recipe to what I thought was good. At least I know what I am putting in and can adjust the taste to what we would enjoy, this way the doubt at the back of my mind is not there. For this recipe I am posting I actually had to measure all the ingredients as I normally just put everything together 🙂 I guess the ultimate compliment was when one of our niece’s friend tried them recently and was really amazed to know that I had made them at home as opposed to the ready made ones that you just pre-heat. It is at times like this that you know you have done well…
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As we were growing up I remember my mother telling us that on the 14th of January, India celebrates the end of winter and start of spring, the change in seasons and wind directions. They celebrate with the festival of Uttarayan also know as Sankrant, Lohri or Pongal. In Gujarat, in particular, they celebrate by flying kites and she would tell us how the skies would be filled with lots of kites in different colours and sizes, and tell us about all the foods eaten that were traditionally associated with the season. However it wasn’t until I went and spent my university placement year in India that I really got the opportunity to understand or appreciate what this and other festivals really meant. I have very fond memories of my Uttarayan experience, the sky was really filled with colourful kites flying high. So many thoughts and memories, which are difficult to put into words – reach for your dreams and set your thoughts free to fly high ….
Associated with this festival are certain foods which are quite abundant around this time. There are certain foods that are eaten around this time like sesame seed balls, and various curries made with fresh green vegetables, like Undhiu. Undhiu is a good all round curry made with all the fresh vegetables of the season and some spicy dumplings (muthais), which are the best bits of the curry :). In keeping with this tradition I made undhiu yesterday, still remembering my experience in India, as if it had happened yesterday, even though it was actually 11 years ago. Isn’t it amazing how certain foods bring back fond memories and traditions which remain with us for life. The reason why I enjoy this curry is the fact that the masala mix is also made from all fresh ingredients, unlike the other curries which I normally make with dry spice mixes and a tomato base. I have created my own version of this traditional curry by looking at what my mother and other relatives have used, and by getting inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe and other recipe books.
Today (19/01/2009) as I was looking at Jaya’s site Spice and Curry, and I came across a festival that is being hosted by Preeti (Indian Khana) for Sankranti or Uttarayan, so I thought that since someone has made an event out of a festival I should take part in it also.
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I remember when we were growing up in Malawi we used to grow our own vegetables, and always used to enjoy cooking the first crop of peas into this curry. It is a good combination of sweet and spicy flavours and is another simple curry that is good to serve as a main or accompanying another curry. Over the holiday period my son was taught a particular song about peas from his Montessori for his performance, and he regularly kept on singing that. So it was quite appropriate to have the curry and let him sing the song.
Sugar snap peas are also known as mange tout and are eaten with their pods.
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