Thursday, 6 October 2011

Happy Dussehra

Dussehra is the festival in the Hindu calendar which celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana, thus symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.   In India, the build up to the festival is over nine nights with the tenth day being celebrated as "Dussehra".  I miss the festivities the most living away from India.  The music, the dancing, visiting friend's houses and the traditional 'Haldi kumkum' in the West and the giving of 'Vetala Pak' in the South - all things I grew up with.  

Living so many miles away from home, we don't always get to celebrate all the festivals with the fervour that we would were we living in India.  I love that festivals in India are so colourful, so vibrant and so full of life. 

I wanted to involve little miss J in making something for the house this Dussehra.  So we decided to handcraft a 'Toran'.  A 'Toran' refers to a decorative door hanging, usually decorated with marigold flowers and leaves of the mango tree, or a string that is tied on the door with the flower on it as a part of traditional Hindu culture. A Toran may feature colours such as green, yellow and red. 

I cut out some leaf shapes out of cardboard and little miss J painted them. 

I had made some flowers out of tissue paper. They actually look a lot like marigolds!!

Then I took some garden twine and stuck the leaves and flowers with some double sided tape.  Our 'Toran' now hangs on our door and will stay there till Diwali comes around - I'll follow that up with a separate post :).

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Roasted stuffed butternut squash

The heatwave is gone and autumn has definitely come a knocking! I've pinned a host of autumn recipes I want to try, but I saw this recipe from Nigel Slater on a television show the other day and couldn't wait to give it a go.  I was not disappointed.  

I tweaked the original recipe slightly.  I used leeks instead of onions, threw in some chopped red pepper for colour.  I also added a tiny sprinkle of some cheddar on top, because I love my cheese and some finely chopped coriander to garnish. 

Dished up with a side salad - it was very very satisfying! :)

Its not a very heavy meal, so if you want to bulk it up, you're probably going to need some potatoes on the side.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Stewed plums with yoghurt

Usually when I try a new recipe, I've looked at it quite a few times before I actually get around to making it.  This one was an exception to the norm.  Little Miss J wasn't very well today and had gone off most of her food, but she loves yoghurt and I thought it would help soothe her tummy so I wanted to make it a bit interesting and include some fruit with it.  

I had some plums that needed using up, so using a combination of recipes I found on the internet, I made some stewed plums and mixed it into some natural yoghurt, except it turned out so good that it was what I had for dessert tonight! Mr. J who is not a fan of sweets & desserts kept stealing spoonfuls from me and then even asked for seconds which is no mean feat!

This would also be great served warm with some vanilla icecream and literally takes about 5 - 10 minutes of prep time.  The remaining 20 - 25 minutes is just simmering time and letting the heat do all the work!

Here's what you need (this makes roughly 4 - 5 small servings): -

2 cups plums, chopped into tiny pieces
1/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 inch stick of cinnamon (or you could use cinnamon powder if you prefer)

Put in all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil on low heat and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool and mix with some natural yoghurt and dig in! 

Much better for the little ones that store bought stuff and tastes scrummy! 

If you have palm sugar (also known as jaggery), this would work great too.  However, jaggery melts and thickens quicker than muscovado sugar, so you might want to let the plums stew for about 10 minutes first before adding the jaggery.  You can vary the amount of sugar depending on how tart the plums are.
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