Sushiba’s Nankatai

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I made this heirloom recipe a few days before Diwali
I’ve been going back to all sorts of memories from my childhood these past few weeks over the festive week.
I remembered my late grandmother – a quiet, kind, generous and demure woman that none could fault.

I love these images of her when she was young.
Nerali's Ba - sewing

Nerali's Ba

I loved visiting her in Durban during the school holidays. She lived in a small flat. Her kitchen was smaller than the size of my bathroom is…maybe just 5m2 in area. Despite this, food was always abundant. We always woke up to piping hot tea ( I think thats where I picked up my habit) and fresh thiki poori or thepla, with her famous home made pickled mangoes.

Late night cravings were satisfied with the best biscuits that never seemed to run out.

My granny… we called her Sushiba. She made the best nankatai – a fragrant spiced eggless Indian biscuit.
I spent days digging up my mums old recipe books looking for the recipe. Finally, I found it in an A5 feint-ruled notebook. The pages were yellow with age, and the recipe scribbled down in brief point form that I just managed to decipher.

It had been a long time since we last made nankatai. I was on a mission to make them for Diwali, for my family to slip into nostalgia. I made them slightly larger than my grandmother used to make them. Usually she made them bite sized.

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Although, I couldn’t resist adding a touch of pink to give them some colour, my heart just told me that next time I will leave them to their original colour. I’m not sure how to explain why…

Makes +- 20 biscuits
Prep Time: 10 minutes Baking Time: 20minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups ghee
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 cup plain cake flour
4 tbsp semolina
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground elaichi (cardamom)
a handful or so of sliced or whole almonds
*food colour of your choice ( although, they’re beautiful when they’re left plain)

Method:

Cream the ghee and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Sift and combine the dry ingredients, except for the cardamom.
Slowly fold in the sifted dry ingredients until gently combined with the ghee mixture.
Stir in the cardamom.

Shape into little circles (about 3cm). Place them on a greased baking tray, and then gently push down with a fork.
Finish with a sliver of almond in the centre. I wanted to use whole almonds but didn’t have any in stock.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. You will be able to notice a golden change in colour.

Allow to cool, and sprinkle with glitter! Again.. I did this in the spirit of Diwali!

My mum was really impressed with my nankatai – something I did not expect at all.

A little tip she gave me: you know you’ve got it right when the nankatai shows tiny cracks on the edges, and melts in your mouth on the first bite.

Rojho enjoyed his Diwali treat;)

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Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Ever since my school days I really wondered what my carnivorous egg-loving friends enjoyed so much about quiche.
Being a vegetarian, I never dared to take a bite to find out;) I hated it when the caterers at school breakfasts, parties and events would INSIST that the quiche was “vegetarian”. I’m happy that now I have crossed a simple thing like quiche off of my bucket-list.

I’ve been day dreaming of eating a quiche for breakfast for two weeks now. I’m not sure how I got the urge! I think I’ve been reminiscing on an amazing vegetarian quiche my friend Dimple once made. (Hoping when she reads this she will send us the recipe) I’ve decided that I have to me more generous with myself in order to connect with my readers! In that case….I have to confess that her quiche was SO good, I think I may downed one too many slices in the backseat of her car while travelling to Tzaneen. ( Half the tupperware,maybe?)
Gluttonous , I know.

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This was my first try at an adapted, “healthier” version of an egg-free quiche.
I’m really thrilled that the crust has NO butter in it – cutting back on all those delicious calories of flakey shortcrust pastry that we all love.
I made the crust using whole wheat flour, a little bit of brain ( to make it seem EXTRA healthy) and some olive oil. I think thats quite a win if you’re trying looking to cut down!

prep time: 20 minutes (work effectively!)
cooking time: 30min serves : 6

Ingredients:

For the pastry:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp wheat bran ( you can add wheat germ too )
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water – must be very chilled ( I added a block of ice to my cup)
1 1/2 cups of rice or baking beans

For the filling:

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp green chilli
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp olive oil
+-4 cups chopped, uncooked spinach ( I estimated a big bunch )
1 1/2 cup chopped portobellini mushrooms ( or any mushrooms you prefer)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese or crumbled paneer
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 tbsp goats cheese or feta
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp reduced fat fresh cream
2 tbsp corn flour
black pepper
salt

Method:

For the Pastry:

Mix the flour and salt together.
Add the olive oil and rub through until completely combined.
Gradually and slowly ,add the water and combine until the mixture sticks together when pinched.
On a floured surface, roll out the crust until its about 7mm thick.
Gently lift and shape it into a tart tin.

Prick holes into the crust. Cover with a sheet of baking paper. Firmly press the rice down. This is to make sure that your pastry doesn’t rise during baking.
Bake at 180 degrees for 20minutes. Remove the rice and baking paper and bake for a further 5-7 minutes.

For the filling:

It would be a good time-saving idea to prepare your filling while the crust is baking.

Roughly chop the spinach. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the cumin and chilli and fry until sizzling.
Sauté the spinach and mushrooms together until they’re just cooked. Don’t aim to wilt till dead here!
Add the nutmeg, a good amount of black pepper, and a tiny bit of salt to taste. Cook for a further 5minutes.

In a processor, or by hand, mix the ricotta, milk, cornflour and cream together. You can add a touch of paprika to this mixture like I did! I just couldn’t resist. Add a pinch of salt too.

Once your crust has cooled slightly, spread a little bit of cheddar cheese to cover the base.
Add the spinach and mushroom filling, and top with the creamy ricotta mixture.
Sprinkle a bit of pepper and finish with a final layer of the remaining cheddar and feta.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before digging in!

By mistake, I doubled the quantity of the pastry dough. I think it turned out to be quite a great idea – I made some extra filling so that my family can enjoy a slice of quiche and fresh green salad for lunch tomorrow!
The more time the quiche has to rest, the better it sets.

A really good “make – ahead” dish for busy people like you!

P.S…I’ve corrected the ONE spelling mistake I made in this post for my observant friend Misha. ( Yes I made sure I counted) :)

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Sunday Scones with Cinnamon Cream

If there is any reason to wake up on a Sunday at all…it’s breakfast!
Breakfast is my FAVOURITE meal of the day.

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During the week I’m usually pressed for time ( I need to wake up earlier!..something else I should work on!)
I mostly manage oats, a little bit of fruit and tea in a mug on my way to work.
If there were ever a drink-tea-and-drive contest, I’d win. I’ve mastered the art of non-spillage and perfect timing on my way to work, finishing an almost bottomless purple mug of my favourite masala tea.
On weekends, I can’t resist the urge to indulge in breakfast, more than any other meal.

My dog has recently learnt how to wake us up at 6am with constant desperate barking. He needs his morning fix of paw paw before he takes his mid-morning nap.
This morning, he couldn’t resist the smell of fresh scones in the oven, and waited patiently while maintaining this expression:

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How can one say no to this face??

These scones are really quick to make! I’d suggest making a double recipe to last you through the week:)

Ingredients: Prep Time: 15 minutes Baking Time 15 minutes Makes 15-18 scones

2 cups plain cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes ( I used unsalted but I’m sure salted will be fine)
3/4 cup buttermilk, chilled + 2 tbsp for brushing over

Method:

In bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles soil.
Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together in a ball. If you need extra liquid, add a tablespoon of milk.

On a lightly floured surface, gather the dough into a bowl and knead gently for two minutes. The dough does NOT need to be smooth at all,rather just combined.
Lightly roll the dough into a circle about 14mm thick. Cut dough into 7cm rounds with a lightly floured cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet about 2cm apart, and brush with buttermilk.

Bake until golden brown, for about 15 minutes.

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I couldn’t keep myself away from the scones as soon as I took them out of the oven.
I was almost heartbroken when I realised that we were out of strawberry jam and fresh strawberries!
I think that qualifies as scone-sin!

Before my family arrived for breakfast, I quickly whipped up some cinnamon fresh cream to go with the scones.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup fresh cream
2 tbsp castor sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Whip the cream at high speed until it is soft and cloudy. Gently stir in the castor sugar and cinnamon.

Spread generously over a hot scone and be elevated to sunday breakfast heaven!

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