Earl Grey is Not Just For Drinking – My Take on Kashmiri Pilaff, Mums Masala King Prawn Curry And Kachumber

File 29-07-2015 11 32 40Its been a while since the last posting mostly due to some health challenges which are being sorted, as a result of having to put work on pause, much time has been spent looking at cookery books, watching cooking on T.V. digging for some inspiration to get into the kitchen, and generally ‘chilling’ out (Doctors orders!). My last post was a review of ‘Steenbergs’ Nasi Goreng mix, which had been sent to me as part of a tasting panel and very good it was too. Since then I have also had the opportunity to try their Organic Lemon Oil, in a home made Chilli, you can see the rest of the ingredients below. Apologies for the picture quality in this post btw, its proof that my beloved Nokia Lumia 1020 takes better pictures than an iPhone 6 in kitchen conditions, (unless I am doing something wrong that is)! 
File 29-07-2015 12 37 11The Chilli was the usual mix of Mince Beef, Tomatoes and a trusty can of those well known Beans but the magic was in the mix of spices above. Five (yes 5) different types of Chilli, both whole (thanks to the South Devon Chilli Farm), dried, care of Steenbergs and The Spicery (who also do Piment d’Espelette, a very special French Basque Pepper) which is quite challenging to get hold of. I might post the recipe one day but its really easy and very tasty so maybe have a go yourself using the ingredients above and just add slowly and keep tasting. The three whole chillies were Ancho Mulato, Chipotle Morita and Pasilla, soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes, I removed the seeds and chopped them up before adding to the Chilli.

File 29-07-2015 11 33 37Anyhow, back to the Curry and Pilaff, this is where the idea came to try another of the tasting panel samples from Steenbergs, the Fairtrade Organic Earl Grey Tea. I decided to steep the Golden Raisins (Part of the Rice Pilaff), in the Tea, about 1/2 an hour did it becoming soft, juicy and fragrant. The following ingredients will be needed for the Kashmiri Pilaff and was inspired by a similar recipe in Anjum Anands ‘New Indian’ cookbook.

  • 2 Pouches Ready Cooked Rice (I used Basmati, this recipe is really quick!)
  • 1/4 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 5-7 c.m. Length of Cinnamon Bark
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Handful Ready Fried Onions (Or 1 Onion, chopped and fried until Brown and Crispy)
  • 15-20 Grams Almond Flakes
  • 15-20 Grams Pistachio Nuts, Lightly Crushed in a Pestle & Mortar
  • 10 – 15 Grams Golden Raisins
  • 1 Large Cup of Earl Grey Tea (Steenbergs Organic is very good and Drinks well too)
  • 4 Green Cardamon Pods
  • 1 Pinch Afghan Saffron (Steenbergs do this and it supports and excellent cause, click Saffron to find out more)
  • 2 Tbls Hot Milk (The Saffron Steeps in this for 10 minutes to extract flavour and colour)

File 29-07-2015 11 35 09The whole meal takes no more than 30 minutes to prepare, including the ‘Kachumber’ salad side dish. The spices need frying to release their flavours so pop all the spices into a pan with a small amount of Ghee and cook over a medium heat until you can smell the aromas filling the kitchen, about 5 minutes. Next add the handful of crispy fried onion and cook gently for another couple of minutes just to warm through.

File 29-07-2015 11 34 52In a separate pan you can prepare the Prawn Curry, which is really easy and takes no time at all thanks to Mum’s Masala. The sauce base needs cooking for 5 minutes before adding the Prawns (or other protein), and then cooking for a further 5 minutes, then adding some water as per the instruction on the bottle and continuing until the protein is cooked, it’s as easy as that. I did my usual trick of adding some extra Kashmiri Chilli as I like my food slightly more spicy.

File 29-07-2015 11 33 53I mentioned ‘Kachumber Salad’ was to be included with this particular meal, a very simple dish mine was a Jack Hawkins Tomato thinly sliced, 1/4 of a Cucumber, de-seeded and thinly sliced, 1 small Red Onion thinly sliced, 3/4 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds, dry roasted in a frying pan, a glug of Rice Wine Vinegar, about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Kashmiri Chilli powder, 1/4 teasppon of Chilli Flakes and some chopped Coriander leaves, that’t it.

File 29-07-2015 11 35 26The kitchen should now be smelling very aromatic indeed, the spices nicely cooked, the Onion adding a sweetness and crispy texture to the Pilaff, the next stage is too add the Rice. For speed I chose a couple of packets of pre-cooked Basmati Rice which are easily available and take no time at all to prepare, in this case all we need to do is squeeze each pouch to separate the grains and tip the Rice into the pan, mixing thoroughly with the spices and Ghee.

File 29-07-2015 11 36 03Almost done now, the rest of the ingredients can be added, the Saffron Milk, Nuts and Earl Grey Tea steeped Golden Raisins (remember to drain the Raisins 1st, you don’t want to add the Tea into the Rice!!).

File 29-07-2015 12 20 00So it seems the Saffron is quite significant, which I found out whilst doing my usual research for this post. This saffron comes from a women’s association in Afghanistan which is promoting growing  saffron as a viable alternative to opium growing. Now that’s really cool, but there is another twist in this story which only became clear when I looked at a map of the region. Kashmir is the north western region of South Asia and borders Afghanistan so geographically related, not something I had realised when I started this tasty dish.

1024px-Kashmir_region_2004So there you have it, once you have added the rest of the ingredients you only need a couple more minutes and everything is good to go. Again apologies for the pictures, I will be going back to the trusty Nokia in future as the results are some much better,

File 29-07-2015 11 36 25The Kasmiri Pilaff was delicious, had good texture and the Earl Grey steeped Raisins were amazing adding a slightly fruity shot of flavour with a citrus note. The Curry was as good as before and the Kachumber salad provided some contrast and a cooling element. In fact the mixing of hot and cold temperatures and sweet and spicy food works extremely well, as I have found out before with an Ottolenghi inspired dish that I did last year.

So thanks to Anjum (and Rick Stein for the Kachumber), have a go, it’s delish.

Until next time……………………………………………L8ers…………………………………………………..










So the Saffron is quite significant, which I found out whilst doing my usual research for this post. This saffron comes from a women’s association in Afghanistan which is promoting growing  saffron as a viable alternative to opium growing. Now that’s cool, but there is another twist in this story which only became clear when I looked at a map of the region.Kashmir is the north western region of South Asia and borders Afghanistan

A Rockin’ Indian Sauce Base – Mums Masala, You Gotta Try It!

WP_20150314_18_17_53_ProThis post is a bit unusual, you will notice 1 jar of cooking sauce and only one spice (and that was only because I could only get a ‘medium’ and I do like my food spicy)! My usual posts included loads of ingredients and lengthy cooking processes, here is a simple and seriously tasty dish you can produce in no time at all.

I work in an interesting and dynamic industry, and one that from time to time, forces people to change direction and do something different, or move to a similar company and carry on (that’s me).

I was really delighted to hear a friend for over 10 years, had taken the plunge and decided to set up his own company, making a range of Indian sauce bases. To be clear from the outset, I purchased this sauce in a retail store with no discount (well 2 actually), and have not been paid, or asked to favour. I don’t write bad reviews (a recent case of a lady in France that ended up in court with big fines is an example of why you have to be careful), If I don’t like something I move on to the next….and ignore. If its get to print, it good; simple as that.

For me, the impressive is that the sauce is already stocked in Morrisons, has a stamp of approval from Heart U.K. and a Global Ambassador in Sally Bee, who regularly features on daytime T.V.

So here’s what i did.


Luckily, I had planned a trip to my local Oriental Supermarket See Woo to get some ingredients for a mothers day special I was cooking, Weeping Tiger Salad, I also grabbed a bag of Tiger Prawns, which was to be the protein in my quick curry. Just around the corner there is a Morrisons so a chance to pickup a jar of Mums Masala sauce base, something I have been keen to try since hearing of my friends new venture.

Wanting to add a bit of texture to the dish, a Green Pepper was chopped and a fried with some Onion before adding the sauce. you DON’T have to add these ingredients, but it just that way I do things!

WP_20150314_19_46_37_ProThe mixture was gently fried for 2 -3 minutes, just to take the harshness away before adding the jar of Mums Masala sauce base.

WP_20150314_19_48_32_ProSo, lets get to the point. I DON’T use jars of cooking sauces (until now that is!), the proliferation of brands that fill the supermarkets shelves leave a lot to be desired. I have tried numerous over the years and they are; Bland, Too Salty, Too Sweet, Stuffed with Saturated Fats, Too much Tomato, Full of stuff I don’t recognise as a food, disgusting, horrible.

Rant over, this is the reason I started my blog in the 1st place, to try and encourage people to cook, I am not a professional, but cooking from scratch is a relaxing break from my daytime, ‘Generation Y’ world of Tech…… This was going to stretch me a bit as its all a bit ‘simple’.

So whats in the jar; Onion, Diced Tomatoes, Rapeseed Oil, Ginger Puree, Water, Red Chilli Puree, Garlic Puree, Garam Masala (Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Ground Cassia, Ground Black Pepper, Ground Star Aniseed, Ground Ginger, Ground Green Cardamom, Ground Pimento, Ground Black Cardamom, Ground Cloves, Ground Bay Leaf, Ground Nutmeg), Turmeric Powder, Salt, Tomato Paste, Cumin Seeds, Concentrated Lemon Juice, Acidity Regulator: Acetic Acid, Cornflour, Dried Fenugreek Leaf.

If you are wondering, Acetic Acid is the pure name for Vinegar, and an Acidity Regulator is used to ensure Bacteria does not grow. I recognise ALL the ingredients in Mum’s Masala so that is 1 BIG tick in the box. If you compare the ingredients to other sauces there are some subtle nuances, the use of the word ‘Puree’ instead of powder, real ingredients!!!!!WP_20150314_20_03_14_Pro

So, after 5 minutes of cooking I added the bag of Tiger Prawns, and gave the mixture a thorough stir to coat all the Prawns, then following the instructions on the jar, added just under half a jar of water, to slacken the mix. I also added 1 Teaspoon of Kashmiri Chilli Powder, which is why the dish changed colour to a deeper red. The ONLY reason I did this is I like a spicy curry and could only get a medium version of the sauce base.

As this was to be a quick meal, I had got a couple of Coconut Rice Pouches, some Geeta’s Mango Chutney (which is really good), some ready made Poppadoms, and knocked up a quick Onion Salad.

WP_20150314_19_08_44_ProI have a thing about Onion Salad, and feel another minor rant coming. On the occasions where an Indian Takeaway is used, there is never enough Tomato, or Fresh Coriander in the Onion Salad. Mine is packed with both, alongside some subtle cucumber and a sprinkling of Cumin.

WP_20150314_20_19_59_ProSo, to my good friend Narinder, the brains behind Mum’s Masala you really challenged me when I found out about your sauces. I was really sceptical, and wasn’t sure what my fussy palate would think. I was also worried that if I didn’t like it, things might be ermmmmmmm awkward….

But hey, you have NAILED IT buddy, bloody well done.

The Boss is equally as fussy as me, sometimes I think more so. In fact, when I said what I was going to do, she questioned my utter madness based on both our previous experiences and disappointment with jars of ready made sauces and did take some persuading before going along with my plan.

Its a VERY GOOD sauce base, simple to use (great when you don’t have hours to prepare a meal), its VERY healthy and if you don’t believe me, just read the article below.



I am going to develop some recipes using the sauce as a staring point so watch out for future postings, and in the meantime, hunt out your local Morrisons and get a Jar or two of Mums Masala for yourself, you will be eating quick, tasty AND healthy in no time at all.