Tag Archives: World Food

Curry Kit’s A Hit

14 Dec

Regular readers will know how much I love a cooking kit – from little cakes to a full menu – not being a natural cook I thrive when every tiny thing is written down and weighed out for me.

So I was more than happy to try out a curry kit from Hari Ghotra. I chose a Xacuti Kit because I liked the name, but I should have done a little research first as this was one hot and spicy dish.

Anyway – the kit is a tiny bundle of spice sachets with an easy guide – you just add the meats and vegetables you like. I decided on lamb and here is mine waiting to be curry kitted:
curry1Add the first little bag of tumeric to the lamb and let it sit while you get on with making the paste. Now this is a little fiddly as you have to toast the spices from the second bag (but how do you know when they’re done? I trusted my nose and stopped just when they started to smell lovely and… toasty!).

curry2You grind this concoction up and add it to water – et voila your very own curry paste. Aren’t you clever?

Then there is the very small matter of mashing up some tamarind in hot water while you cook your meat and paste together. Just add this sieved water near the end with the final bag of spices (some lovely nutmeg which I never think of adding to a curry) and you’re done!

It tasted incredible, although I did add maybe a little too much water and this particular curry choice was a little hot – but hey you’ve got to live a little right?

The sauce was more than enough for two people, reasonably easy to make and absolutely a far better bet than buying a ready-made sauce full of stuff that has no place being in a curry. Or ordering in a takeaway obvs.

Plus it makes your house smell completely wonderful and had my family considering the very unusual fact that I might actually be doing some ‘real cooking’ for a change.


No, I didn’t make the bread.

PLEASE NOTE: This curry kit was provided to me free of charge for an honest review from someone who can’t cook.


Eggs do not a Stir Fry make

25 Feb

I have a problem with boring food, I always try to jhush it up a bit (well how do YOU spell that word?) which often leads to my downfall.

Take this recent stir fry that went on in my kitchen. To be fair it was barely even that, being just some noodles and raw broccoli in a wok with some oil and soy sauce. I was trying to be good, eating bland, basic food after a weekend of indulgence.

All was going well (boring) until I just thought I had better crack an egg into it all. Why? What’s an egg going to do? It’s hardly going to elevate my boring noodles into a sumptuous Pad Thai is it?

Well I did it anyway and then worried I would end up with raw egg in the broccoli florets and so overcooked the whole lot until it was little more than dry noodles with some crispy scrambled eggs over the top. The broccoli however managed to stay raw – how does it do that?

I ended up eating a Grab Bag of crisps, so indulgence continued…

IMG_2830 (3)

Not a Pad Thai. Sadly.

How can Italians stay slim?

5 Aug

I’ve just returned from a weeks sojourn in Southern Italy, staying in Sorrento and visiting the wonderful island of Capri. We were surrounded by incredible scenery and very rich and beautiful people. We also ate a lot of amazing Italian food.

In fact I did little more than indulge in all of my favourite things – pasta, pizza, Peroni, Prosecco, panini and other things beginning with P – for the full seven days. And of course throw in the odd Insalata Caprese which is hardly a salad really when it is served up with huge succulent pillowy mozzarella balls the size of my fist.


 (This is a litre of lager, I could have drowned a puppy in it)

It got me thinking though as I shovelled yet more delicious, perfectly made (moist yet crunchy) pizza into my mouth how did all of the Italians surrounding me manage to stay so damn slim when every restaurant table groaned with baskets of bread and bottles of scrumptious olive oil before you’d even opened a menu?

Of course I realise that Italian people don’t always eat what we believe to be ‘Italian food’ – same as the lovely Chinese family I used to work for never ate the takeaway food they sold – but there’s just so much of it and it’s just so good.

But I did come home with a little theory, I am so stuffed with delicious carbs that after a week of it I felt like I wanted nothing more than to eat just green leaves for the rest of my life. In fact if I ever see another pizzeria again it will be too soon. Maybe I’ve started to think more Italian, yes it’s great eating but not for every day right?

italy1(the view from a local restaurant, made me want to eat more)


Some rather racy Thai thanks to Racey

11 Jul

Years ago I used to live in a lovely flat in Notting Hill with a lovely friend called Rachel, I always say that while I lived there I had the time of my life (and I really did), Rachel and I had a lot of fun but I won’t go into any of that here. I knew she had spent a lot of time in Thailand and travelling the far east but I certainly don’t remember her cooking for me and I certainly didn’t for her (I don’t think we ate a lot in those days) but now Rachel is a fully grown up food blogger writing about beautiful, easy Thai food over on Racey’s Easy Thai(ish) Cooking.

We met up recently and in amongst the memories of our shared flat we also discussed me trying out a couple of her (easier) recipes, and so this week I did! She suggested the simplest might be her ‘Lovely Mince & Noodle Thing’ (it doesn’t have a name) and try out her technique to make perfect rice.

photo 1

First up Mince & Noodles.

It certainly seemed simple enough, and I prepped all the ingredients easily:

This is the mince mixed with soy sauce, curry powder, salt, pepper and flour. Plus chopped celery and garlic, a jug of stock and some red wine vinegar mixed with chilli flakes.

I then browned the mince mix in a frying pan in a little oil before adding the celery, garlic and stock to the pan to simmer for about 15mins.


photo 2This bubbling away made the whole kitchen smell lovely .

As soon as the celery started to soften and the stock had absorbed I was left with an unctuous mix that a pack of ‘straight to wok’ noodles was added (well I wouldn’t spoil it by making my own).

After another couple of minutes I added the vinegar and chilli mix and turned it out onto a plate to serve with some salad.

Well…. I have to say it was incredibly tasty, so if you actually have all the right ingredients and follow a recipe exactly as someone has described it works really well? Who knew?

photo 3

As I was on a roll I tried out Rachel’s rice the very same night. Now me and rice do NOT get on very well as this blog will testify. I now use the microwave sachets – which taste terrible – just because I cannot take any more burnt pans, sloppy rice pudding or grains like little bullets, but I thought it was worth another go.

Again I did exactly as Rachel explained, no washing, no  banishing of starch, no stirring, I just put some rice in a pan of salted boiling water and after 12 minutes took out and let it steam in a sieve for another 10 minutes above some remaining hot water. And look – fluffy and separated well cooked grains of rice – a cautious but well received success! My husband couldn’t believe it, and neither could I.
photo 4 Thanks Rachel!

Pot Noodle and I Grow Up

27 May

I used to love a Pot Noodle when I was younger, they seemed incredibly modern and were very useful during my early ‘vegetarian years’ when I lived at home and refused to eat anything my family cooked (and of course never cooked anything for myself).

I grew up, moved out, moved on, started eating meat again, but the hankering for the naughty noodle remained. Chicken and Mushroom was my favourite or Chow Mein at a push (never Beef and Tomato) and so usually once a year the feeling would over take me and not be satisfied until I had mixed up my little sachets and boiled that kettle. Sometimes I couldn’t even wait until it had all softened up and chose to eat those noodles hard.

However, my very real MSG intolerance caught up with me and my beloved PNs had to go because of course they were full of the stuff, which is why they tasted so great. Sigh.

Now I am a lot older and not only have to deal with the fact I can’t eat MSG but wheaty things give me a terrible bloat and almost everything causes my stomach acid to come back up – but that’s a different story – the thing is I have to be a bit more careful with what I eat. So I am always MORE than happy to find things that not only stop my tummy blowing up but are easy and remind me of being young.

photo[1]Bring forth the Kabuto Gluten Free Rice Noodles – and praise them for what they are, for they are decent, tasty noodles in a pot that you activate with boiling water but without that wheat protein that causes me a bit of trouble. Simple enough for students, the inebriated, the hungover, me, everyone. And about as far from a Pot Noodle as you can get without going too far if you know what I mean?

And having just downed both the Chicken and Miso versions I can confirm that there is no sign of any bloating. Win, win, I’m in.

Thanks to Kabuto for sending me some of their Gluten Free Rice Noodles to test out, it’s like they knew about my early love affair with Pot Noodles, it’s like they knew about my poor digestion, it’s like they can see into my very soul…


Friends Provide The Spice of Life

12 Feb

I have some very lovely friends who often help me out with kitchen tips and ideas.

Creative cook Claire made me up a beautiful parcel of exciting foodie items to help me out recently and I’ve enjoyed trying out various things such as pomegranate molasses, vanilla sticks and harissa. As a big fan of flavours from around the world she also packed in two lovely new spice packs I had no idea even existed! Sumac (or Somaq) and Za’atar:

photo 1Claire gave me some ideas of what to do with them and because I love North African and Middle Eastern food plumped for a chicken and chickpea tagine. (Normally I would buy a paste or a packet marked with the words TAGINE or CURRY or SHEPHERDS PIE so there could be no mistake as to what I was attempting).

I hoped my new flavoursome additions would raise the basic taste of that lovely bird into something all together meatier. And indeed it did! I happily threw my spices around with wild abandon – you know me – and ended up with this gorgeous looking dish:

photo 2The Sumac added the citrusy tang of lemons and the romantic sounding Za’atar provided the spicy, warm depths.

See – It’s not all doom and gloom in my house when it comes to cooking. Sometimes I can spice things up a bit (with a little help of course). Thanks Claire!

Why Did The Mexican Push His Wife Off A Cliff?

4 Oct

That’s a rubbish joke.
Do you know what else is rubbish?
My Mexican night.

I’ve discussed my love for food from this country before here. So I won’t do it again. But I do love it…
I decided a TexMex night was way overdue (and I do love my themed nights) so bought an Old El Paso nachos kit (no sniggers at the back please) and some chicken, corn and rice, I mean how hard could it be to throw all that together?
I also had some hot sauce so knew whatever happened I could just smother everything in that.
Continue reading

Crispy Plastic Duck

16 May

Proper, almost, disaster this week!
As a treat I bought a huge tray of crispy duck. I love this stuff, I order it from Chinese restaurants and adore the supermarket versions you can bake at home as a mid-week indulgence.
They come complete with little packs of pancakes, chopped cucumber, spring onions and sachets of hoisin or plum sauces, that you take out of the tray and put to one side before cooking the prepared duck.
It’s so simple, you just take out all the accompaniments and bake the duck for nearly and hour and then serve with the bits and pieces, that you have taken out of the baking tray before putting in the oven.

Once you have cooked your duck you can prepare all of the little bits and pieces that you have taken out of the tray previously and put it all together into delectable crispy duck pancakes. How lovely.

Well, you can see where I am going with this… Duck happily in the oven, my little packets of cucumber and pancakes are on the side waiting to be rolled up. But there is a smell in the air, a black acrid smell of something dangerous burning. Duck must be ready?

Well yes, it was ready, but the little plastic sachet of sauce I had left under it had melted into a hellish pit of bubbling black goo. The kitchen filled with possibly toxic smoke. Brimstone Takeaway anyone?
duckAs you can see we ate it. We haven’t died.
But there might just be some melted plastic reforming inside me somewhere…
Sometimes I can’t believe I am allowed to use an oven.

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cooking courtesy of me, please see here.

A Deluxe Delivery

13 Feb

Look, here’s a nice idea. Treat your foodie self and do good all at the same time…
Order a box from DeluxeBite and not only do you get to try out different gourmet foods every month but they’ll donate a meal to a hungry family (via UK foodbanks) at the same time. Win, win.

It’s like a posher version of the fruit and veg box, but one that helps you to try out foodstuffs you wouldn’t ordinarily buy yourself, and I love being prompted to try new things, as you know I am a great kitchen experimenter (Is that a word?).   Everything is from artisan, independent or local food brands (which gives them much needed exposure) and not as expensive as you might think.

My box contained some beautiful sauces and chutney, great coffee, a big venison chorizo and fruit crisps all beautifully packaged, but of course every month would be different. It was great fun and I loved getting my box, it elicited plenty of oohs and aahs from the family! Look:

Just so you know: I was sent a sample box from DeluxeBite for free but was under no obligation to write this post and for which I have received no payment. I hope you enjoyed reading it. x

Food Through The Post! Dutch Delights

31 Jan

I’m on a roll…. three FoodiePenpals from abroad in a row!
I’ve had booty from beautiful Belgium and sensational stuff from Switzerland.
This month it was all happiness from Holland!

My chosen FoodiePenpal, Coja from The Netherlands, put a most delightful box together for me. Yes, the box too, not just what was inside, check out the decoration:
blogAnd what was inside certainly didn’t disappoint. Coja had taken the time to wrap everything up individually and attach instructions or details to each item. Almost too good to unwrap, look:
blog1My box was quite literally full of delights. Including:

  • a box of dutch tea to drink with…
  • a bag of Stroopwafels
  • packets of nutmeg and sage
  • delicious herbal meat rubs
  • liquorice
  • anchovies
  • a dark red cabbage (yes really – through the post!)
  • and some quite lovely stylised food stickers


And as I say Coja included some great recipe ideas for my new ingredients – taking into account the fact that I can’t cook so everything was really easy, which was very kind indeed! So there were handwritten notes for:

  • Cinnamon Glazed Carrots
  • Meatballs
  • Hollandaise Sauce (the clue’s in the name)
  • Rode kool met appeltjes – an unctious appley way to make red cabbage and apparently a much loved side dish in Holland!
  • Green beans with almonds

Well needless to say the Stroopwafels have gone, in fact they lasted less than a day and I have decided that anyone who sends me a packet of these is a firm friend for life. Why don’t we sell this as standard in the UK? And yes they go beautifully with a cup of Dutch blend tea.

The cabbage has been served as described and I can confirm it is delicious and I’ve had a steak marinated in one of my lovely rubs. The stickers are yet to be allocated but I am saving them for something special…

Going Dutch really is delightful, who knew!? Thanks Coja.

More FoodiePenpals goodness next time – can’t wait. And if you can’t either then check out #foodiepenpals on Twitter for other posts. If you want your own FoodiePenpal full details can be found here – hosted by the UK representative This is Rock Salt.

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