Sunday round up. 21/02/2016

This week has been a little up and down.

Mainly ups, but some downs. Then I read this article thanks to my best friend, Jodie, and things seemed to gain a little perspective. If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to. I think it’s applicable to most people. It’s addressed “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind In Life” but is a particular good read if you’re possibly, potentially, maybe having a brief  ‘mid-twenties’ crisis. You’re welcome.

A highlight of this week, without a shadow of a doubt, was curry night at my old man’s. It’s also his birthday today – so shout out to Pete and happy birthday from your number one favourite blogger, Sophie’s Scran!

Dad loves curry. He always has done, always will do. His recent stint living in north Manchester and desire to take a ‘healthier’ approach to eating curry almost daily, saw him ditch the takeways and has started making his own from scratch instead.

Curry Night at Dads (9)
chicken tikka, wholespices and spices simmering in the pan with masala gravy

Inspired by a cookbook he got this Christmas (Atul Kochhar’s Curries of the World), he’s been experimenting will all sorts of new, authentic Indian flavours and techniques. So on Wednesday he made Atul’s British chicken tikka masala complete with homemade chapatis and chickpea dhal. Served with wholespice infused basmati rice. We even tweeted a picture to the twice Michelin starred man himself (Atul, that is), and he kindly tweeted back with his approval. Well done, Dad!

 

Curry Night at Dads (10)
homemade fresh chapatis, ready to be dry-fried in the skillet
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
puffing up to perfection, Dad’s homemade chapatis
homemade masala gravy - the basis of many curries in Atul's book
homemade masala gravy – the basis of many curries in Atul’s book
the finished feast ❤

Sticking with the positives, we are dog-sitting this week for Brad’s parents. It’s so lovely to have their staffy/collie cross, Vinnie, with us this week. We took him on a three hour trek around Tatton Park yesterday, which also gave me the opportunity to browse their food offerings…

In the Housekeeper’s Store they sell all sorts of fancy local ingredients including venison reared on site. I’m making a Moroccan tagine for friends next week, so picked up some mutton, which I thought might be nice instead of lamb. All will be revealed next week!

In the meantime, here’s a cute picture of Vinnie absolutely living the dream after his walk!

It's a dog's life!
It’s a dog’s life!

Have YOU had a good week? I sure hope so. Happy Sunday, anyway.

Sophie -x-

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Cheshire Food Blog

Review: Recipe Kits

My life has been a little hectic as of late. I won’t bore you with too much of the detail, but there’s been a fair bit going on. So over recent weeks, I have found myself looking for a little help in the kitchen, with a view that I could put a little review together of each item for you all. Yes, I’m talking about those handy little ‘recipe kits’ you can buy in the majority of supermarkets these days… And I’ve had quite a bit of fun doing it too!

I’m not talking about those fajita kits… Although they always were very popular in my University digs. The sort of recipe kits you can get now are much more adventurous, and along this mini home-culinary journey I’ve created some really authentic flavours from Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Jamaica, all reasonably (fairly) priced and easy to put together. Some I’d recommend higher than others, and below is a summary of them all in terms of taste, ease and value for money. I have scored them all out of 5 🙂  1 = worst, 5 = best. I hope you enjoy!

Waitrose Cooks’ Recipe Katsu Chicken Curry Kit, £3.99, serves 2

Contains: 1 pouch of katsu curry sauce, 1 pouch of panko bread crumbs and 1 sachet of gochujang chilli paste.

Shopping List: 1 egg, 2 chicken breasts, rice and oil to cook.

Verdict: Overall, this was a fantastic tasting dish. The katsu curry sauce is fruity, spicy and really authentic (I’m comparing to decent restaurant versions). The gochujang chilli paste is an excellent, sweet yet spicy addition. In terms of value for money, I think £3.99 is a little steep, as other supermarkets (such as Tesco) do a version which also includes the rice for only £2.99. However, based on the quality and authenticity of the katsu curry sauce and addition of the gochujang chilli paste, I’d say overall this is a fantastic, cost-effective alternative to a Friday night takeaway for you and ‘bae’ 😉

In terms of ease, it couldn’t be simpler. The instructions, although brief, are easy to follow and the results looked and tasted great. The chicken breasts I used were quite large, I cooked them for about 7.5 minutes on each side over a medium-high heat, and used Rapeseed oil to shallow fry them. Just make sure you check the chicken is fully cooked through before serving!

Score 4.5 / 5

Tesco’s Vietnamese Spring Roll Meal Kit, £1.99, serves 2

Contains: 6 rice paper wrappers, vermicelli noodles, peanut dipping sauce.

Shopping List: Cooked prawns or meat, fresh crunchy veg and coriander.

Verdict: Overall, this was easy and they did taste good. The peanut dipping sauce, however, was a little on the tangy-side for me. But then again I was recently spoilt at the launch party of Vietnamese restaurant Pho, in Manchester’s Corn Exchange, so I might just be being a peanut-dipping-sauce-snob.

The instructions were simple, with little illustrations to demonstrate each stage. In terms of value for money, the price  is OK to just serve 2, and only 2 (makes 6 rolls) but if you wanted to make any more buying the ingredients separately is much better value.

I wouldn’t buy this kit again, as rice paper sheets and vermicelli noodles are so cheap. If they don’t sell them in your local shop you can easily order them online. The best thing that came away from this experience was the desire to create my own peanut dipping sauce that rivals that of Pho restaurant. Yuuuum.

Score  2 / 5

Spicentice’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken, £2.00, serves 4

Contains: 1 pouch Jamaican Jerk Spice Mix.

Shopping List: Chicken (12 Wings or 8 drumsticks or 8 thighs), 1 small onion, 5 spring onions, 1 lime, 2 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp cooking oil.

This isn’t really a recipe kit, it’s a spice kit, but I am including it anyway because it tasted amazing. It probably tasted amazing because you add so many fresh ingredients to it, but hey-ho, it tasted great and was actually pretty healthy so it’s worth a mention! You do need a food processor or blender to prep the paste, which I guess is a downfall if you don’t have one. The instructions are thorough, clear and include handy tips and extra information which is a nice touch. I got mine via the Portly Grocer,  but you can also purchase them direct from their own website.

The instructions are to skin and wash the chicken and score it several times, so the marinade really penetrated the meat perfectly, and you lost all the fat content of the skin. Win win. The paste clung to the chicken and it says to marinade for at least 30 minutes, I left it for 3 hours or so which worked well. Overall, an easy bit of Jamaican sunshine right into your own kitchen. Highly recommended.

Score  4 / 5

Taste Thai’s Easy Pad Thai Kit, £2.29 in Tesco, serves 2.

Contains: Rice Noodles, Pad Thai Sauce and ‘Peanut Mix’.

Shopping List: King Prawns or Veg, 1 egg, fresh coriander, a lime to serve.

Verdict: I do really like the Taste Thai range, their curry pastes are delicious and so is their palm sugar. So I had quite high expectations for this Pad Thai sauce to be authentic and delicious. And it was. The rice noodles were a decent portion for 2 on a weeknight, but Bradley was pretty hungry about an hour later, so next time I would bulk it out a little with more veggies.

The instructions were thorough and straightforward and I guess the best thing about this experience is that now I’ve tried this recipe out at home, next time I’m going to re-create my own ‘pad Thai sauce’ by combining tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar and chilli. Overall though, a cracking little recipe kit!

Score 4.5 / 5

What sort of recipe kits have you tried recently? Have I missed any which you would recommend trying?

Drop me a note in the comments box below or use the hashtag #sophiesscran on Twitter / Instagram to show me your creations!

The Portly Grocer, Knutsford

I recently received a wonderful artisan food hamper from The Portly Grocer, a Knutsford-based company who work to support Britain’s finest artisans. Always one to support local businesses, I was delighted to learn that they wanted to send me some of their offerings to try, so I didn’t hesitate to get stuck in.

The hamper itself was packed full of goods – from Prince & Sons Tea Co. Jasmine Pearls tea bags to an array of Spice Entice Spice Kits (Thai Green Curry, Jamaican Jerk and Rogan Josh to be precise). Also packed in was the most delightful array of C&B CHOCOLATE BISCUITS, which really went down a treat with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon and on a dull Tuesday in the office. I can also now say I’ve tried Wild Boar Game Pâté (delicious), and that Aubergine and Basil Paste is sooo the new pesto and if you haven’t tried it, you should… It’s heavenly.

The Portly Grocer is a husband and wife team who operate an online fine food & drinks business specialising in new up-and-coming, mainly British artisan foods.  They started nearly 12 months ago and aim to help small food producers launch their products and provide free business advice. They also don’t charge the producers to sell on their (lovely) website. Whatsmore, they have a rather wonderful story that dates back to 1884, which explains how and why they came to be in the business of sourcing and selling fine food products. If you fancy a nice little read, find the full story here.

Artisan Food Hampers

When the box promptly arrived, I was first impressed by the sheer range of goodies inside. Other things it contained included Amaretto flavoured ground coffee, luxury breakfast granola, a salad dressing vinaigrette, some chutneys and a range of rather ‘grown up’ crackers made by Cartwright & Butler. So to save this being the longest blog post in the world, here’s my thoughts on a few key products.

Spice Entice Thai Green Curry

This little spice kit promised ‘lovingly selected herbs and spices with a recipe to make a delicious dish of Thai Green Curry, to serve four’. The shopping list was quite long, but luckily I had most of it in; soy sauce, fish sauce, stock, coconut milk, palm sugar… that sort of thing, plus some fresh ingredients like garlic, onions, birds-eye chillies, veg, and chicken. I was surprised not to see fresh ginger on the shopping list for this curry, but not all green curry pastes contain it. As I had some monkfish in I was eager to use, I substituted this for the chicken. I would highly recommend this, just reduce the cooking time a little to suit the fish instead.

The recipe was really easy to follow, you do need a blender to whizz up all the ingredients for the paste (it perhaps should say that on the outer packaging) but that’s my only gripe as it was quick, simple, nutritious and delicious. Just how I like it.

Mellow Yellow Classic Vinaigrette

Apologies for the photo of the half empty bottle, but I think that goes to show how much I am enjoying this item! The main ingredient is Rapeseed oil so it’s lighter than olive oil dressings, which it really nice. And very convenient for my ‘health kick’. It’s scent and flavour is tangy as you would expect from a classic vinaigrette, and it seems to have the perfect balance of oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, herbs and seasoning. Below I have served it with a simple couscous salad with baby spinach and cherry tomatoes. Very easy to put together for a working lunch and absolutely maximum flavour with very little effort.

Olive Branch Aubergine & Basil Paste

This stuff came as a real surprise as it was wrapped so beautifully, which is part of the service if you wish, complete with cute personalised labels! At first I was a little unsure of what to make of it. Was it a pesto, a dip, a sauce? Turns out it’s all three… Such a versatile little jar of deliciousness. So far I have used it as a dip with the Cartwright & Butler Linseed and Sesame Flatbreads which worked really well. I’ve also used it in a simple pasta dish, instead of pesto and it made a really creamy, yummy sauce to coat the pasta.

Olive Branch Paste
Olive Branch Paste

Sweet Treats – Breakfast Granola and Chocolate Biscuits

Other highlights were these delicious sweeter items in the hamper. Sensible Dave’s Strawberry Granola with White Chocolate shavings is a real delight. I wouldn’t eat this on a regular basis for breakfast, but, on a Saturday morning after being good all week it’s the perfect treat and much quicker to put together than a bacon sarnie!

The Chocolate Oat Crumbles were also a firm favourite. Beautifully rich and creamy chocolate, and the biscuits were buttery and crumbly and very, very morrish. The wafers and dark chocolate and lemon varieties were also lovely, but the oat crumbles stole the show for sure.

Packaging & Attention to Detail

As The Portly Grocer’s story dates back to fine foods during the 1920’s, they are keen to replicate the attention to detail of that era; by hand-wrapping each product in luxury brown paper, and tying each one with twine in a vintage style. I must admit, the products look as good as they taste and it really makes it clear you’ve got something special on your hands.

Overall, I am really impressed with The Portly Grocer’s range of products, packaging and the service in general. Their website is also beautifully simple and very easy to navigate. It also has a lovely blog and some fantastic recipes ideas. They seemingly sell products to suit everyone – teas and biscuits for Grandma, Curry Kits for Dad’s and a huge array of everyday products that are bound to jazz-up your experience in the kitchen, all whilst supporting independent artisans – the ethos at the very heart of what they do.

If you’re looking for a gift idea for literally any type of person and for any occasion – then I would highly recommend you give these guys a whirl!

They also have an alcohol licence and have started retailing British produced spirits, with plans to expand into British gins, cassis and wines later this year. Also, you can look out for their pop-up stalls at various food & drink events in the North West.

Visit their website at www.theportlygrocer.co.uk and make sure you follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and give them a Like to show your support on Facebook.

The Home & Fine Food Co.
T/A The Portly Grocer
Booths Hall Estate
Chelford Road
Knutsford
WA16 8GS

0161 241 2791
info@theportlygrocer.co.uk


The Portly Grocer sent me this hamper to sample on a complimentary basis, but, as always my review is as honest and objective as possible ❤
Food at Glastonbury 2015

Food at #Glasto15

So I just spent the last 6 days in a field, at Glastonbury, camping and watching some of the best live music acts I have ever seen. I made some amazing new friends, ate some unusual but tasty food and managed to survive the whole time without a hot shower (which was easier than I thought it would be!)

This isn’t going to be the longest blog post, as at times my phone was so low on battery I couldn’t even take a photograph of my food, let alone video some of the live acts I went to see (Florence and the Machine, The Libertines, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Groove Armada, Andy C, Jamie T and Mary J Blige – to name a few!) So here’s a little summary of what I got up to, including, of course, what I ate…

Food at Glastonbury 2015

Being ever-prepared for pretty much anything, me and my man Bradley took along a stove, kettle, frying pan and some essential ingredients. So, with a chilled cool-box in tow, we were able to make our own food for the first 2 days. This was a great way to save some money, although we generally didn’t find the food on offer at the festival too over-priced (average price for breakfast is a fiver, average price for a main meal is £7-8). Meals during the first 2 days consisted of homemade bacon butties, egg butties and sausages… all served with BBQ sauce (as we forgot the Ketchup). All in all, pretty decent meals which gave us plenty of energy; much needed considering the sheer size of the festival, walking distance from place to place and of course, the all night rave parties…

Each morning, a guy would come round the campsite selling fresh milk. This was a total life saver, as it meant we could make a brew for ourselves and friends AND make use of the cute mini packs of cereal we brought along (Crunchy Nut, Cheerio’s and Shredded Wheat). Winning at life.

If you can pack light, I would certainly recommend taking a stove and some easy, quick and fuss-free meals with you like we did. It saves you having to shell-out for meals everyday, and will certainly increase popularity at the campsite if you can make a proper brew for a your fellow camp buddies.

As the third day approached, our supplies were either low or no longer edible, so, it was out to forage for food in the markets – and BOY were we spoilt for choice…

A breakfast favourite was Tea & Toast. Basically the coolest, cutest, brightest yellow Citron HV van called Nelly. They served totally yummy vegan and vegetarian breakfasts and stunning teas at various sites across the festival (I spotted 2 in total, but the one we frequented was in The Park.) The best cup of tea I had all weekend was here. My friend bought a cup of tea for the same price from a different nearby vendor – and it was literally grey in comparison. I opted for a toastie (Somerset Cheddar Cheese with Sundried Tomato Tapenade). The bread they use is unbelievably fresh and super-thick and squishy. I only wish I had taken a photograph, but the phones were dead and we were desperate to eat, so as painful as it was I had to go without the usual ‘food porn’ shot… Shame, I KNOW!

Next and worth a mention for sure was Jumping Bean Burrito. My (new) friend Johnson was literally craving a burrito, and it didn’t take too long for us to stumble across this place. They had a pretty big queue too, which seemed like a good sign – so off Johnson went to order the Botanas Beef Burrito, which consisted of: a massive soft tortilla, coriander and lime rice, lean beef Chilli Con Carne, sautéed onions, marinated sweet peppers and black beans, mature cheddar cheese, sour cream, spicy homemade salsa and guacamole. Now, as this wasn’t mine, and I was only allowed one bite, I can only vouch for how tasty that bite was. But, having eaten a lot of burritos in my time I can confirm, it was excellent. I later spotted Jumping Bean on a few locations across the site, so they are seemingly a very popular choice with festival-goers!

The next meal certainly worth a big mention is the Chicken Katsu Curry from Notso Sushi. Katsu curry was pretty popular across the festival, and I tried a couple of versions – this one was by far the best. The rice was perfectly cooked, hot and sticky as it should be and the Katsu Curry sauce had a great little kick. The chicken again was hot a fresh – moist in the middle but the crispy coating still maintaining it’s crunch on the outside. To top it off, and what really set this aside from the other Katsu curries (apart from how good the rice was), was the pink pickled ginger and fresh crunchy edamame beans they served on top. Absolutely delicious. The second-best thing I ate the whole festival.

One of the first meals I ate at the festival was a ‘Diner Deluxe’ Beef Burger from Deluxe Diner, served with American cheese and ‘Burger Sauce’. It also included a pickled Gherkin, sliced tomato and was served on a super-soft white bun. The burger itself was cooked well, slightly pink in the middle and I didn’t get ill… Certainly a good sign! I did think £7.50 was a little too steep for just a burger.. However, the beef did seem of good quality, nothing like the cheap frozen burgers I have seen on sale for similar prices at other festivals. It also tasted great – so I was content!

The ultimate food highlight for me at #Glasto15 has to be these little beauties – Vegan Sushi Wraps from Happy Maki. Their sushi wraps are vegan, vegetarian and super-fresh. The van they serve them out of is also one of the cutest at the festival, it certainly gives Nelly’s the Tea & Toast van a run for his money! Happy Maki start off by reminding punters (on a handy sign,) that sushi is rice, not raw fish. A great marketing move, I thought. So the queue was about 30 people long but I didn’t care – I was eating Sushi on the last day of the festival! Boy oh boy was it worth the wait (about 25 mins). It took me the whole 25 mins to actually decide which one I wanted, but in the end I was not disappointed with the Hoisin ‘Duck’ Sushi Wrap. I asked for extra wasabi, and it comes served with crispy vegetarian duck, hoisin sauce, avocado, roasted sesame seeds, spring onion, cucumber and green pepper. So filling, so easy to eat. The best thing I ate the whole festival.

My boyfriend Brad was tempted by some of the Jerk Chicken on offer across the festival. We came across Fancy That Caribbean Food which was located right next to Happy Maki sushi. He ordered the Jerk Chicken and Rice, with a healthy dollop of sweet mango sauce. Although the jerk chicken was good and full of flavour, it was a little lacking in spice and freshness that some of the other jerk chicken stalls seemed to have. As there was no smoke bellowing from this stall, we assumed everything had been pre-prepared, whereas the other stalls were barbequing jerk fresh and serving on the bone. So in this instance, it was more of a jerk stew – but it was tasty all the same!

Whilst meandering from Glade to The Other Stage to watch Ella Eyre perform, we stumbled across this cute little Samosa place, aptly (although not very creatively) named ‘Samosa Indian Street Food’.  We decided to go for their 4 samosa selection, which cost £5 – overall pretty reasonable. The 4 samosas on offer are outlined above, however, upon tasting each of them I am pretty sure we ended up with 2 of the ‘Bangkok Parcel’s’ – which meant we missed out on one of the 4 flavours on offer (the Spicy Lamb one, I think!) This aside, the other 3 we did taste were delicious, hot and fresh. They also came served with a wedge of fresh lime, fresh coriander and one of 3 dipping sauces (Spicy harissa, mint raita or lime pickle). We went for the Harissa which was combined with yogurt, so not as spicy as I would have liked, but generally hit the spot!

I finally want to give a quick mention to the wonderful Soulful Food Co. who specialise in Stews, curries and hotpots. I did see their lovely stall at Glasto but had already eaten – but I already know how great their food is from my previous blog feature on them, which can be found here. Hoping they had as good a time at the festival as I did!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my round-up of the food I ate at Glastonbury festival 2015, and I hope it’s shown you how diverse and varied the food is across the whole event. This really doesn’t do the sheer variety on offer justice! I also want to say a massive hats-off to the stalls who actually cook all their meals on site too, it’s brave and confident and must be so much fun. I sincerely can’t wait to go back next time and get my teeth around more. The independant foodies do so well to feed all of the drunk and hungry festival punters, well done to all of them for doing such a truly great job!


 

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron & Pea Rice

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron and Pea Rice

This beast of a curry is easy to put together and is a fantastic winter warmer. It’s indulgent and packed-full of a variety of spices that gently compliment each other really well. It’s slow cooked, so chose a casserole steak. If you have a little extra budget (or if you’re feeling fancy) you can use a better quality cut like Sirloin which is what I used.  I asked a local butcher and this is what he recommended. It gave it an amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation… so if you can, go for it.

You can vary the heat by upping the amount of chilli used (fresh or powder) – but I would strongly recommend you don’t, as you will lose the delicate aromas of the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and coconut. The curry is also paired with a super-easy pilaff rice which compliments this perfectly, and will also go well with many other different curries, so you could also try the rice with a different dish if desired.

I serve this with mini garlic and coriander naan breads, which I make the ‘cheats’ way by buying plain mini naan breads from the supermarket and topping with butter, some ‘Very Lazy’ jarred garlic and chopped coriander (stems and leaf) before popping them in the oven and cooking as per the instructions. Easy!

This dish can be knocked together in about 2.5 hours and this recipe serves 5 people. It’s perfect for a weekend dinner party, so if that’s what you’re planning, double the quantities to serve 10 – and you might even have some left over for lunches in the week. All round win-win situation. I really hope you enjoy!

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron and Pea Rice

Beef Curry – What you need:

  • 2-3 tablespoon of Sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fresh root ginger, grated
  • 1.5 cinnamon sticks, halved
  • 3 cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 fresh chilli, left whole (optional)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.5 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1.5 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 kg diced casserole steak (or Sirloin as mentioned above)
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 200ml water (if doubling the recipe to serve 10, skip the water and use 3 tins of coconut milk)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • a large bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beef Curry – What to do:

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Gently fry for about 10-12 minutes until the onions are soft and golden.

2. Mix in the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes, then increase the heat slightly and once the onions are sizzling, add the beef with a pinch of salt and pepper and fry until lightly browned.

3. Next, add the coconut milk and water (or just coconut milk if you are doubling quantities). Also add the fresh red chilli if you want to infuse a little extra heat, and the kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, to let the beef gently braise and absorb the flavours.

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry simmering on a low heat
Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry simmering on a medium-low heat

4. Stir in the ground almonds and continue to simmer with the lid off (so any excess liquid evaporates) for 30-40 minutes – until it reaches the desired consistency.

5. Before serving, allow the curry to rest for 10 minutes off the heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks, whole chilli and kaffir lime leaves and garnish the curry with plenty of fresh coriander leaves.

6. Serve with the saffron and pea rice (recipe below) and garlic & coriander mini-naan breads for the ultimate taste sensation! 🙂

Garlic & Coriander Mini Naans
Garlic & Coriander Mini Naans

Saffron & Pea rice: What you need:

  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • a pinch of salt
  • dash of boiling water
  • 450ml water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 150g frozen petits pois

Saffron & Pea Rice: What to do:

  1. Grind together the saffron and salt using a pestle and mortar or in a small bowl with the back of a teaspoon, add a dash of boiling water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized, heavy based saucepan and once hot, stir in the shallots. Gently fry for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden.
  3. Add the bay leaf, clove and peppercorns and gently fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Mix in the rice, stirring until it is well coated in the oil. Fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the frozen petits pois and saffron water mix, followed by a further 450ml water. Cover and bring to the boil over a medium heat. As soon as the rice boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. You can stir once half-way through, seasoning with salt to taste.
  6. After cooking for 10 minutes, the water will be absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tea towel. Leave to steam for 10 minutes until serving.

 Hope you enjoy, Scranners! -x-

Lunchtime trip: Chapati Cafe, Chorlton

Fabulous, friendly service
Fabulous, friendly service

If you have an appreciation for good homemade food, Indian/thali cuisine, different flavours, textures and spices all on one platter – this place is a must-try.

It’s laidback cafe style, quick, super-friendly service and value for money are all second-to-none for a lunchtime jaunt or a bite to eat with your buddies. They are open from 11:30am – 7:30pm, so it’s ideal for lunch or an early dinner. This place is awesome.

Their mint and coriander sauce was a highlight for me amongst all their other amazing flavours and textures. It is refreshing and sharp and really works well to cleanse the palate between bites. You can have any combination of tender meat and lovely veg dishes, I went for the one meat 2 veg option, which worked really well. We were in-and-out within about 25 minutes, perfect timing as we were on our lunch break from the office. It is safe to say we all loved it, and at an average price of £5.50 per Thali (steel plate pictured below) we will certainly be back for more!

Here are a few snaps of our visit there a couple of weeks ago:

Spiced lamb curry, bombay potatoes and a dahl (lentil) dish, served with a samosa, chutney, rice & chapati
Lightly spiced minced lamb curry, bombay style potatoes and a tasty dhal (lentil) dish, served with a veggie samosa, pickles, rice & chapati
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art really caught my eye. The mismatched tiles on the wall look great, I want them in my kitchen!
If you like to turn up the heat...
If you like to turn up the heat… a handy bowl of freshly chopped chilli on the counter – a nice touch and an easy way for spice lovers to turn it up a notch!
Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, extra pickles and no extra chilli's!
My buddy Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, and the chicken curry instead. Both of which were highly commended by her. She had a cold too, so the she welcomed a bit of spice to help!

For more information, please visit: www.chapaticafe.co.uk and if you’re in the Manchester area, make sure you pay them a visit!