Recipe book review: Saffron Soul

I love trying out new dishes in the kitchen and what better place to get inspiration than from a beautiful recipe book. I often sit on the floor surrounded by cookbooks trying to decide what to cook for dinner. Seriously, I can while away hours in a little food recipe world.

So I’m always delighted when I have a new book to try. I recently went to the launch of Saffron Soul by Mira Manek and was treated to some of her delightful dishes for breakfast. Most notably, the amazing tofu scramble with numeric and spices, topped with pink peppercorns and served with peppered sweet potato wedges and cumin tossed kale. Never has tofu tasted so good, like a spicy version of scrambled egg!

Mira’s quest in this book is to show us how Indian food can be healthy and delicious at the same time. Her range of vegetarian recipes are inventive, tasty and easy to make once you have all the relevant spices. She explains the importance and health-giving values of the main spices used in Indian cooking. For example, turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, cumin is good for digestion and fenugreek may help control blood sugar levels and cholesterol. And of course they make dishes taste fabulous, too.

I cooked several recipes including the amazing spinach parathas. A recent love of mine – I’d never cooked parathas and was surprised at how well they came out! The cauliflower and pea curry was crunchy and packed with flavour. But my absolute favourite of the dishes I’ve cooked so far is the Gujarati dal, an amazing dish made with yellow split peas and an orchestra of spices.

How to make Gujarati dal

Here’s Mira’s amazing dal recipe. You will note that she says some of the spices are optional – I would advise that you put absolutely everything on the list in as they produce an amazing depth of flavour.

I used yellow split peas which I bought from my local supermarket.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

The ingredients

200g toor dal, yellow split dal or pigeon peas

1.2 litres boiling water

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

Half tsp fenugreek seeds, optional

1-2 dried red chillis, slit lengthways

2 cinnamon sticks, optional

2 cloves, optional

On quarter tsp asafoetida

10-15 fresh curry leaves

5 fresh tomatoes, chopped or 5 tbsps tinned tomatoes

Half tsp ground tumeric

Half to 1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1.5 tsp sea salt

3 tbsps brown sugar

Handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Juice of 2 fresh limes

The instructions

Rinse the split peas in a sieve under running water until the water is clear, then tip into a saucepan.

Add the measured boiling water and boil for 1 hour on a medium-low heat until the dal is a porridge-like consistency.

With a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the dal so that it becomes completely smooth or blend it in a blender until smooth.

In a large, non-stick saucepan melt the coconut oil, then add the cumin and mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds have popped, add the dried red chillies, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add the asafoetida and curry leaves, then the tomatoes and stir for a minute.

Add the ground turmeric, red chilli powder, grated ginger, salt, sugar and coriander to the tomato mixture and stir.

Pour in the blended dal, squeeze the lime in and leave to simmer on a low heat for 10-15 mins until it turns orange-brown.

Taste the dal and add more lime or sugar, as required.

My copy of Saffron Soul is bookmarked with several slips of paper, ready for my next Indian vegetarian feast. This is a book I know I am going to be returning to frequently. And here’s how to win one of your own.

Reader giveaway

The prize

One copy of Saffron Soul by Mira Manek worth £13.20.

How to enter

Tell me what your favourite Indian spice is in the comment section of this post.

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 28 May 2017 at midnight.

The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date.

The winner will be notified by email.

No cash alternatives to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Saffron Soul by Mira Manek is published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group. Out now.

Available from all good retailers. Photography credit:  © Jacqui Small

To find out more, visit www.miramanek.com

Competition: Win £25-worth of Amazon vouchers

Competition: Your chance to win Amazon vouchers

As summer approaches (at least I hope it’s approaching, it’s definitely on the chilly side at the moment), we’re all thinking about our much-longed-for summer holidays. Wherever I go, one of the greatest holiday joys for me is that that time for totally uninterrupted reading. How I love picking up a book and putting it down (or not) when I want to – or even when it’s finished if it’s that good.

Ever since I learned to read as a small child, a magical world opened up to me. I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book. Not so great for my social skills, but hey, I was happy. As such a voracious reader, going on holiday could be something of a challenge. A suitcase full of books can be on the heavy side. Of course that’s no longer a problem with my trusty Kindle which goes everywhere with me and is always packed with potentially exciting reads.

Almost as much as I enjoy the holiday reading, I enjoy making my choices. There’s so much on offer and I obviously have my favourite genres. So to get out of that zone of always reading the same type of book, I try to pick at least one that is set in or near the area I am visiting. Sometimes it’s an almost otherworldly experience, like when I read Room with a View in Florence – it felt a bit like I was living a double life in different centuries.

I generally choose novels rather than factual tomes on the area, though of course this is also a good idea – an easy chance to learn – it all seems so much easier to absorb those facts when you’re sitting in the middle of them.

For great tips on picking your perfect holiday book, click on holidaygems.co.uk

And here’s a taster from my past and present reading lists to inspire you. Can you guess where I’m going on holiday this year?

Plus your chance to win £25 to spend on amazon.co.uk – time to stock up on those summer reads.

If you’re still undecided on where you want to spend some time this summer, have a look at www.holidaygems.co.uk

Some past favourites

Room with a View by E M Forster made Florence seem even more magical.

Competition: win Amazon vouchers

A Long Finish by Michael Dibdin added a touch of adventure (and horror) to my trip to Tuscany

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon made Barcelona seem much more intriguing.

Competition: Win Amazon vouchers

Some ideas for this year

Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica by Sara Wheeler

The Boy in the Blue Pyjamas by John Boyne and Oliver Jeffers

The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene

 

The prize

£25 of Amazon vouchers to spend on anything you like on amazon.co.uk

How to enter

1 Follow eatingcoventgarden.com by entering your email in the box at the top in the right hand column.

2 When you receive the email (which should be immediately), confirm that you want to subscribe.

3 Answer the following question in the comment section of eatingcoventgarden.com

Which city is Bridget Jones’ Diary mainly set in?

A London

B Madrid

C Hong Kong

D Nairobi

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 21 May 2017 at midnight.

The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date.

The winner will be notified by email.

No cash alternatives to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Find holiday inspiration by visiting www.holidaygems.co.uk

Competition: Win Brushed Gold Coffee Cups

Win Brushed Gold Coffee Cups from MiaFleur

Brushed Gold Coffee Cups from MiaFleur

Add a touch of glamour to your morning coffee

I love a good cup of coffee – it’s something to look forward to at the start of each day – and throughout the day now that I think about it! And today I’m bringing you the chance to make coffee time even more enjoyable with these beautiful brushed gold coffee cups from MiaFleur.

They’re made of stainless steel with a luxury brushed gold finish with glass inserts in a double-walled design that helps keep the coffee warm. The perfect way to add a touch of glamour to every sip!

The prize

A set of two La Cafetiere Brushed Gold Coffee Cups worth £29.95.Brushed Gold Coffee Cups from MiaFleurHow to enter

1.Answer the following question in the comments section on eatingcoventgarden.com

Complete MiaFleur’s motto, Because life is too short to be ……

A. Bored

B. Minimalist

C. Miserable

D. Dieting

2. Follow MiaFleur on Instagram by clicking here.

3. For an extra entry follow MiaFleur on twitter by clicking here.

Brushed Gold Coffee Cups from MiaFleur

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 9 April 2017 at midnight.

The winners will be chosen at random after the closing date.

The winner will be notified by email .

No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Find out more about MiaFleur’s stunning range of stylish items for the home and garden by clicking here.

Competition: Win fabulous Scandinavian-inspired homeware

Competition time. It’s been a while since I’ve offered you the chance to win something special for your home. So today I’m pleased to say it’s something really lovely. Three stylish items to be exact.

The prizes are from the Scandinavian-inspired homeware brand Isak which was brought to life by Swedish designer Sandra Isaksson in 2006.

Her latest designs, the Midnattssol range (Swedish for midnight sun) is a celebration of her Scandinavian heritage. The ceramic enamel is dishwasher and oven safe up to 180C. It is smooth, durable and chemical resistant – and it looks so stylish too.

The ceramic pieces are produced ethically and sustainably in Indonesia. Each piece is fired at a temperature of 1300C to create an incredibly strong and fine porcelain that is dishwasher, oven and microwave safe.

You can also read Sandra’s inspiring food and travel blog isakstable.com

The prizes

There are three stylish prizes from the Midnattssol range.

Enamel coffee pot (worth £32) with a capacity of 1.5l.

Enamel cooking pot (worth £25) with a capacity of 3.5l.

Serving bowl with lid (worth £25)

 

Competition prize: Midnattssol enamel coffee pot

The Midnattssol enamel coffee pot

Competition prize: enamel cooking pot

Midnattssol enamel cooking pot

Competition prize: Midnattssol serving bowl

The Midnattssol serving bowl with lid

How to enter

1. Answer the following question in the comment box on eatingcoventgarden.com

What does Midnattssol translate to in English?

A. Morning sun

B. Midnight sun

C. Night rain

3. Follow the Isak  Facebook page by clicking here

4. Follow Isak on Instagram by clicking here

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 26 March 2017 at midnight.

The winners will be chosen at random after the closing date.

There will be three winners, each receiving one of the items above.

The winners will be notified by email .

No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prizes are not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

 

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Competition: Win gold kitchen utensils from MiaFleur

It’s competition time and today you have the chance to win these fabulous gold utensils from MiaFleur. A great way to add a touch of glamour to your kitchen, they’re practical too and will make serving and cooking easier. It’s simple to enter, just follow the instructions below.

Everyone who enters will also receive a 10% off code to use at MiaFleur which has a wonderful range of home accessories and furniture to choose from.

If you want to double your chances, you can enter for a second time via twitter once you’ve fulfilled all the intial conditions. Simply click here to tweet and enter again.

MiaFleur- Gold Ladle £24 (1)

The stylish ladle for easy soup serving

MiaFleur- Gold Serving Spoon £19.95

Dish up with the shiny serving spoon

MiaFleur- Gold Spatula £20 (2)

Flip eggs with ease with a golden spatula

The prize

Three gold MiaFleur kitchen utensils: One spatula, one serving spoon and one ladle, total value £64.90.

How to enter

1. Follow eatingcoventgarden.com by entering your email address in the box on the top right of the website.

2. When you receive the email (which should be immediately), accept to subscribe.

3. Sign up for the MiaFleur newsletter by clicking here.

If you already follow eatingcoventgarden.com, simply complete step 3.

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 28 February at midnight.

The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date.

Winner will be notified by email .

No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prizes are not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Recipe: Cheesy pork steaks and potato rosti plus the winner of a handy Microplane Cube Grater

It’s time to announce the winner of this fantastic Microplane Cube Grater. Congratulations to Elaine from Oxfordshire who will soon have a lovely addition to her kitchen.

The perfect way to make preparing food so much easier, the grater features three original Microplane blades. The Fine blade is ideal for grating citrus, spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic and ginger and Parmesan to sprinkle liberally on your pasta.

The Ribbon blade, which conveniently grates in both directions, is ideal for grating chocolate, apple, soft and hard cheeses and a variety of vegetables, like onion, carrots and courgettes.

And then there’s the Coarse blade which is best for grating medium to hard cheeses like cheddar and a range of fruit and veg like apples, ginger, coconuts, carrots and potatoes.

This space-saving grater includes a durable, transparent cover that is also a box to contain whatever you’re grating, so no mess. It also has handy measurement marks on two sides and is available in black, red and green.

To celebrate this handy little grater I’ve came up with two tasty dishes that I needed to grate ingredients for. Altogether it’s a simple and amazingly tasty meal that you have to try.

Cheesy Pork Steaks

Serves 2

4 thin pork steaks

2 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 beef tomato, sliced into four large slices

1 cup grated comte cheese (or any strong-flavoured cheese like cheddar)

Pour the oil into an ovenproof dish. Add the pork steaks and make sure they are well coated with the oil.

Lay the tomato slices on top of the pork and sprinkle with the oregano.

Top with the grated comte cheese.

Place in the oven at 180C and bake for about 20 mins.

stage1

Top the pork steaks with the juicy tomato slices

stage2

Top with the grated cheese before baking in the oven

 

pork

The delicious dish straight out of the oven

Simple potato rosti

I love potato rosti! It comes in many different forms and every chef has their own favourite. I’d never made it before today so decided to try the simplest method I could. Here it is, basically one ingredient and so tasty – obviously grating those potatoes makes some kind of magic.

Makes enough for two as a side dish (with a little left over for later)

2 medium potatoes

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Boil the potatoes until they are tender but not soft. Allow them to cool then chill for about an hour.

Grate the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Heat half the butter and oil in a heavy-based non-stick pan until it is sizzling. Add the grated potato and cook for a couple of minutes, then shape the potato into a flat cake by pressing down on it gently with a spatula.

Cook on medium for a couple more minutes, then gently shake the pan to make sure it’s not stuck to the bottom.

Cook for about 10 minutes until golden.

Place a place on top of the pan and invert it so the potato cake sits cooked side up on the plate.

Add the rest of the butter and oil to the pan and slide the cake in with the uncooked side on the bottom. Cook for another 10 minutes until crispy and golden on the other side.

rosti

A portion of deliciously golden rosti

Cube Grater - Green

And here it is in green…the handy Microplane Cube Grater

You can find out more about Microplane at www.microplaneintl.com