Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Back on the Indian food trail - Pani Puri

I love how this country is becoming so much more diverse and open to trying different foods. We have so many foods here that are deemed as being 'Westernised' - dishes from cuisines which have been adapted to suit more western taste buds. Sweet and Sour Pork is a prime example. Theses dishes aren't a bad thing at all (depending on who you talk to), but I really like that I'm seeing more authentic dishes from various cultures. Having grown up scoffing Chinese foods all my life, it's nice to see a bit of pak choi and choi sum available at mainstream supermarkets these days, for example.

I love exploring different cuisines and I'm partial to Indian foods. The spices, aromas, sauces, breads and dips - mmmmm! When I was in Delhi, India a few months ago, we went to a place called Haldarim's which is a popular chain there. We had Indian snacks which I'd never heard of, seen or tried before. One of those was the pani puri. It's so different to any Indian food I've tried before and I really loved it. I was told by the local tour guide that it's a very popular snack in India and you can get this at so many places. It's basically a mixture of potato, onion, chickpeas, chutney and spices (pani) inside a crisp fried sphere (puri) and it comes with a wonderful mint and tamarind spicy water. It's a complete explosion of flavours and texture.

Pani Puri at Haldarim's
Delhi, India

So the other day, wandering about Westfields in Stratford and getting a bit peckish, we came across Indi-Go in the main food court. As we glanced over the menu, I was telling my cousin about the food the other half and I had in India. Noticing the round crisp hollow puri's, I very quickly got excited. It was something I'd never seen being served in the UK before, and my younger cousin was intrigued with my culinary experiences.

We decided to get a couple of dishes and I encouraged her to try an Indian Chai too. She, thankfully, loved them all! In fact, the whole weekend seemed to be a good foodie experience for her which I'm very pleased about. There was a lot she hadn't tried before, and I'm glad that she seemed to really enjoy it!

Pani Puri (Poori) at Indi-Go
Westfields Stratford City, Greater London

Anyway, back to these pani puri's - or poori's as they are called at Indi-Go. They tasted very similar to what I remember in Delhi, although a little less messy! As you can see from the first picture, everything is separated and it's a bit of a do-it-yourself job. But it does mean that you can put as much or as little of each item as you like into the puri. The ones at Indi-Go are pre-filled with the mixture and only serves the mint and tamarind water separately. This water has quite a kick, so for my chilli-adverse cousin, this was nothing but a good thing.

Looking back to my short trip to India, I remember having this little wonder pictured below which I blogged about in this post about the Indian Accent restaurant. At the time, I had forgotten what this was, as it was served ahead of anything on the menu we chose and I'd forgotten the name. Now, I realise that it's a pani puri - or at least an adaption of! I remember the pomegranate on the top and it also had some yoghurt inside which offered a fresh contrast to the spice and other flavours.

Puri at Indian Accent restaurant
Delhi, India
For the love of pani puri, I will certainly be heading back to Westfields for this. I'm thinking that I can probably get these from places like Wembley and Tooting. Anyone have any pointers?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Spring Onion and Gravlax Pancakes

Pancake day is one of my favourite days ever. I get so excited about it every single year! Even though I never do anything in particular for it, or cook anything fancy or special, I just adore this day. As far as I remember, it always falls on the first Tuesday of February, but in the past couple of years it has been pushed back to later in Feb with Easter being later too.

So two Tuesday's in Feb have passed and it's now Pancake Day again! I've no idea what we'll make later on, maybe just the usual simple batter and fill the pancakes with a mix of fruit, chocolate, honey, or the simple-but-still-delicious lemon and sugar. But already I've started pancake day with little fluffy spring onions pancakes and gravlax. It wasn't even planned!

We make gravlax quite often - we just love the stuff - and we have had quite a supply recently as I got a great deal on a kilo of salmon last week. Probably a bit too much salmon intake for two people over such a short space of time, but I'm not one to waste food, nor do I particularly like freezing fish. So, plenty of gravlax was made! My other half loves gravlax too, which is odd considering he really doesn't like smoked salmon. But after I gave it a go using a wonderful Nigella recipe a year or two ago, there was no turning back.

So with our stock of gravalax (which had significantly depleted after I spent most of the weekend out), spring onions growing well, and pancake day on the horizon, it just made sense to throw it all together! Check out the recipes below, hope you love it as much as we did :)

I'd love to hear what everyone else has made for pancake day! Any unusual recipes, or do you like to keep it simple?

Gravlax recipe

Spring onion pancakes and gravalax
400g (approx.) salmon fillets
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 heaped tsp english mustard
4 tsp gin
A small bunch of chopped dill

  1. Mix the salt, sugar, mustard and gin together to form a paste
  2. Smother the mixture all over the salmon fillets
  3. Cover the salmon with the chopped dill all over
  4. Wrap the salmon tightly in cling film
  5. Store in a container in the fridge for approximately 4 days.

It's ready when the salmon turns a more deep pink colour and has firmed up. To serve, slice slithers of salmon thinly and top with a few drops of the liquid mixture.

Spring Onion Pancakes recipe

Spring onion pancakes

Makes approx 10 pancakes

100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
150ml milk
1 egg
25g melted butter
1 chopped spring onion
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl
  2. Whisk in the egg and milk
  3. Mix in the melted butter and chopped spring onion, adding salt and pepper to taste
  4. In a non-stock pan on a medium heat, drop in approx. two tablespoons of mixture. Once the edges look cooked, flip over and cook on the other side.

The pancakes should be nice and fluffy.