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

Cape Malay dishes at Jonkershuis in Constantia

Today we’re having a family lunch at Jonkershuis, in Cape Town’s Constantia valley. Jonkershuis is set overlooking vineyards and mountains with a beautiful outdoor area reminiscent of the boulevards of France. There’s also a lovely indoor courtyard which is the perfect sun trap and offers protection on a windy Cape Town day.

The menu offers something for everyone, with a range of tasty salads and a fish, pork, beef and venison selection. And Cape Malay dishes – which for me has got to be the way to go every time.

Cape Malay cuisine is a fusion of South African and Asian influences. When the Dutch colonised the Cape in the 1600s and 1700s, they brought people from the East to work as slaves. They came mainly from Indonesia which was a Dutch colony for several centuries.

Cape Town’s attractively colourful Cape Malay Quarter is on the slopes of Signal Hill and called the Bo-Kaap. Worth a visit if you’re in town.

Adaptations of traditional Cape Malay dishes like bredie, bobotie, sosaties and koeksisters are now staples in many South African homes – in fact I’ve even made my own versions. You can find my recipe for bobotie by clicking here – do try it out and let me know what you think.

You will also find European and Indian influences. The dishes are characterised by the wide use of spices, producing full-bodied flavours – though not a lot of chilli. Seafood is a big favourite (well there’s plenty around) and fish dishes are usually salted, curried or pickled. Chutneys and atchars also play a role – gotta have a good sambal selection, after all.

Today there was pickled fish on the specials board. I can’t tell you how many people pull a face when I say I love pickled fish…well, they are wrong, it’s simply delicious. Fish fillets are marinated in vinegar and spices including curry powder, turmeric, ginger and coriander with plenty of soft onions. The dish is served cold – perfect with salad – and the process produces the plumpest of fish fillets and wonderful flavours.

Pickled fish at Jonkershuis

Love a plump and juicy piece of pickled fish

Ordering dilemmas rule my restaurant-going life and today was a big one. The fabulous Estate Tasting Plate is a must-have at Jonkershuis – it’s a large offering and for me can’t be enjoyed to the full on top of a starter. And today there were two starters I wanted to sample. So a quick bit of negotiation and I got my husband to agree that I could have a taster of his Tasting Plate. As a result I can taste everything my heart desires today.

My second starter on order then. Local black mussels in spicy masala and mango cream served with coriander and a baguette. I’ve eaten a lot of mussels this summer in Cape Town and very good they’ve been too. Today’s sauce was fabulous, creamy, sweet and spicy and the beautiful baguette, as soft as cloud inside was just what I needed to mop everything up.

Mussels at Jonkershuis

Mussels in a creamy, spicy sauce

The appearance of the Estate Tasting Plate evokes order envy in everyone! First of all, the plate of what are basically your accompaniments to the main event – sultana and almond turmeric rice, oven-baked cinnamon butternut, a quick fried poppadum and an angry beef samosa.

Curry accompaniments at Jonkershuis

The plate of side dishes waiting for the curry addition

And then the meaty selection. Oven-baked bobotie, Karoo lamb curry and chicken breast curry. You see, anyone would have to be envious of this order.

Curry and bobotie at Jonkershuis

Curry and bobotie all in a row

Also there’s the selection of house sambals – sweet tomato salsa, apricot chutney and spicy vegetable atchar.

Sambals at Jonkershuis

Can’t be without a plate of tasty sambals

If you’ve never been to Jonkershuis, you really should go – and take my advice – don’t even look at the menu, just go straight for the Estate Tasting Plate – you’re gonna love it. Especially relevant if you’re seeking a good selection of Cape Malay cuisine in one hit.

Finally, I can’t leave you without today’s autocorrect challenge – my system doesn’t like sambals and keeps trying to insist I change it to samba!

Today’s price point

Starters range from R62-R98 (£3.70 to £5.80 at today’s exchange rate).

The Estate Tasting Plate is R188 (£11 at today’s exchange rate).

Jonkershuis is at Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town.

 

Lunch at Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg in Cape Town

Today we’re heading to beautiful Steenberg about half an hour’s drive from the centre of Cape Town. Steenberg claims it’s the Cape’s oldest farm – established in 1682, and who am I to argue? There’s a lot going on here. A beautiful five-star hotel, a world-class golf course and vineyards producing award-winning wines. Plus two restaurants – and we’re visiting Bistro Sixteen82 – no prizes for guessing how they chose the name.

Bistro Sixteen82 sets next to Steenberg’s winery. It’s a bright and contemporary space, surrounded by lovely gardens, a terrace and water features. And great mountain and vineyard views.

Chef Kerry Kilpin’s menu is influenced by her love of Thailand, so you’ll find a lot of Asian flavours popping up in classic dishes.

As well as an extensive menu choice there’s a board with specials chalked up and I went for the mussel special. And it was very special, beautifully plump mussels served in a creamy saffron sauce. I’m loving the Cape Town mussels, just can’t get enough of them.

Mussels at Sixteen82

Creamy, sweet mussels

One of the favourites on the menu are the tempura prawns. Served with red cabbage, coriander and peanut noodle salad, miso mayo and red chilli syrup. An irresistible combination of flavours and textures, and a pretty plate of food, too.

Tempura prawns at Sixteen82

Crunchy prawns on a bed of Asian flavours

And how’s this for an exotic dish? Curry dusted calamari is served with avo pulp, babaganoush sauce and soy syrup. They’re built up into little parcels of deliciousness.

Calamari at Sixteen82

Colourful calamari parcels

Our waitress did offer us the option of starters in main course portions, which is always a good thing. I often find that I’m more tempted by the starter selection. Having said, that, today was  hard enough to make a main course choice as it all sounded tempting.

The braised lamb neck was stuffed with herb ricotta and sultanas and served with sweet potato puree, greens and rooibos and rosemary jus. I love this mix of South African and Italian ingredients.

Lamb at Sixteen82

A tower of lamb delight

So after plenty of umming and aahing my main course choice took a sudden swerve when faced with the pressure of ordering and I went the pork belly. I’ve eaten a good selection of this delicious piggy cut in my Cape Town summer – it seems to be on most menus. Served with  smoked cauliflower puree, a fennel and apple salad and cider jus, today’s dish is right up there on my list of favourite PB’s. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth and the zestiness of the apple and fennel made for a good contrast to the richness. Also, the cider jus was light and I loved the addition of slow roasted tomatoes which weren’t even mentioned in the description. Thumbs up!

Pork belly at Sixteen82

Happiness is the ongoing pork belly tasting

The beef fillet was grilled and served on a bed of potato roost, with asparagus, pea and tomato salsa and a creamy black pepper jus. Lovely tender fillet and another great sauce. Kerry is certainly a sauce-loving type of chef as you can clearly see by these pictures. And wonderful sauces they are too.

Fillet at Sixteen82

A fillet and black pepper jus extravaganza

Our lunch today was shared with four of our lovely Cape Town friends (thanks guys for an awesome lunch). So there were plenty of dessert lovers insisting on some sweet treats. I’m aware that I often don’t order pudding because I’m not that much of a sweet eater. So today you’re lucky to be treated to what was actually the highlight of a very good meal – and that’s even for a non-dessert eater.

Like this plate of pinkness. The yogurt panna cotta was served with rose vanilla ice cream, a phyllo cigar, fresh berries and lemon curd. Now I am quite partial to a panna cotta and eaten with the rose vanilla ice cream it was simply wow.

Panna cotta at Sixteen82

Panna cotta and pinkness

And how’s this for a work of art. The salted caramel chocolate ganache was served with peanut pinwheels, vanilla cream, peanut butter ice cream and a lace biscuit. Heaven for chocolate and peanut butter lovers – I mean peanut pinwheels?! What joy.

Chocolate pud at Sixteen82

Chocolate and peanut butter flavours to savour

Pud number three is the banana cheesecake and peanut macaroon. It’s served with sesame ice cream, creme anglaise, popcorn praline and honeycomb. Seems like six desserts in one!

Banana cheesecake at Sixteen82

A bundle of beautiful sweet treats

Well, those desserts simply blew me away – it’s worth visiting just for a plate of sweet treats. Although I certainly wouldn’t be able to resist the mains – or the starters come to that. Settle in at Sixteen82 for a long three-course lunch and savour Kerry’s delicious dishes.

Oh and here’s today’s autocorrect annoyance. Steenberg being corrected to Sternberg EVERY TIME…clearly autocorrect doesn’t learn from being corrected – is there an irony in there somewhere?

Today’s price point

You will pay around R350 per person for three courses. That’s just over £20 at today’s exchange rate. All the courses are pretty substantial – making for very good value.

Bistro Sixteen82 is on the Sternberg Estate, Steenberg Road, Tokay, about half an hour from Central Cape Town.

 

Beautifully tasty lunch at Terroir at Kleine Zalze

Welcome to Terroir, Kleine Zalze

What is your favourite restaurant? A question I regularly get asked and one I find extremely difficult to answer. I don’t know how people make their judgements for all those “Best restaurants in the world” lists, it’s  a tricky business. Having said that, today we are having lunch at a restaurant that I would certainly put up there at the top of my list.

Terroir opened in October 2004 and I’ve been at least once every year since then when I visit Cape Town. It’s almost like an annual pilgrimage that I have to make. The restaurant is set on the Kleine Zalze wine estate near Stellenbosch and on a balmy summer day you sit under the shades overlooking the De Zalze Golf Course and the terraces of vineyards. Simply walking down those steps to Terroir gives me a sense of contentment – and of course anticipation for the food to come.

You’re know you’re going to eat beautifully presented plates of seasonal, modern South African cuisine and drink wonderful wine. The menu is chalked up on the board and as the waitress talks you through the dishes on offer freshly baked bread is served. And a bowl of their wonderfully smoky olives. Today we had a choice of four dishes per course.

Bread at Terroir

Freshly baked bread and wonderful smoked olives

Sweet and sour salmon with a difference

It was one of those days when the choice was made easy for me with two dishes I couldn’t wait to try. For my starter I chose this stunning seared salmon dish served with bacon, watermelon, sweet and sour sauce and kewpie mayo. An unusual mix of ingredients but one that worked beautifully. The salmon melted in my mouth, the sauce had a lovely sweet/sour balance with its crunchy watermelon and crispy bacon. Kewpie mayo is Japanese mayonnaise and considered by many to be the king of mayo – it was rich and creamy. And what beautiful colours!

Terroir salmon

The spectacularly sweet and tangy salmon

The perfect prawn risotto

The prawn risotto with Americaine sauce is Terroir’s signature dish – and has been on the menu as far back as I can remember – the only dish that remains on the ever-changing menu. I think there would be such an outcry if it was ever removed that they don’t dare to! I have friends who don’t even look at the menu but simply order prawn risotto every time. They can serve it in starter or main course portions. And yes, it does taste as good as it looks. This version of sauce Americaine (a classic French sauce) is truly spectacular, makes me want to lick the bowl clean.

Terroir prawn risotto

The ever-fabulous signature prawn risotto

Beef tartare to dream about

This is one of my favourite dishes and I’ve eaten it in many, many restaurants around the world. Terroir’s version is served with a soft quail’s egg, basil pesto, charred aubergine puree and asparagus ribbons. And a silken sauce to pour over. Such a pretty and indulgent plate of richness.

Terroir steak tartare

Compact and rich steak tartare

The flakiness of Kingklip

Today’s fresh line fish was kingklip, one of my favourite fish with it’s great firm texture and sweet flavour, It was served on a bed of spinach with chorizo, crispy pieces of squid and mild red pepper.

Terroir kingklip

Flaky, juicy kingklip with squid

Bring on the pork belly

The quest to eat pork belly in every corner of the Western Cape continues. The confit pork belly was served on a luscious pea veloute, with crushed potatoes, delicate sprout leaves and pickled onions.

Terroir pork belly

Sweet and tender pork belly

As I ordered two starters (one instead of a main, not as well as) I decided to treat myself to a truly indulgent side – truffled mac. Bubbling in this beautiful little pot, the rich earthy flavours and creaminess were wonderful.

Terroir truffled mac

Richly earthy truffled mac

Don’t try to resist the pudding

Desserts are equally beautiful like this amazingly dedication mille-feuille of apple with fennel, rose and vanilla ice cream.

Delicately delicious dessert

Terror does a good cheese board selection which several of us opted for. A lovely range beautifully presented with a basketful of crisp breads.

Cheese at Terroir

Tasty local cheese beautifully displayed

Biscuits at Terroir

Crunchy homemade biscuits

Menu at Terroir

Terroir’s blackboard of choices and the view beyond

Another great lunch at Terroir – as these stunning pictures prove that. I love that you can always depend on that. I can see I’ll be back again next year because it’s just too good to resist.

Today’s price point

Terroir is one of the more pricey restaurants in the region – but still great value, especially with the quality of the cooking.

We paid R1,100 for three courses for two people without wine. That’s about £65 at today’s exchange rate.

The wine list offers a good choice, including the estate’s own wine. Their delicious Kleine Zalze Merlot sells for R150.

Terror is at the Klein Zalze Wine Estate off the R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

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.