Monday, 28 October 2013

October 2013 Favourites List

Here we are in October. Before we know it, it will be the "big push" to Christmas. My students and I are being kept busy with work, but we're keeping our spirits up.

Last October, I listed my favourites alongside pictures of cute Halloween goodies from Konditor and Cook, Grays Inn Road. Well, this year, they've invented even more creepy delights. So I've gone back with my trusty digital camera to share the spirit of the festival.

Many of you will know that I am a music fan. I don't see as much live music as I'd like. Sometimes this is because of evening teaching, but also because I can't be doing with standing at gigs. If you're five foot one inch, the last thing you need is strapping geezers standing in front of you. So I go to places where I can get a seat. I won't start on about how hard it can be to get tickets for gigs, my other great barrier to more live music, because that would be a rant which could go on all day!

Well, this month I was blown away by one of my all time musical heroes, Johnny Marr. So much so that I felt compelled to write my first ever music review, which was published on the Flush magazine website. You can find it here:

I bring this up because Halloween is Johnny's birthday. He will be 50 years young. He's as vibrant and energetic as ever, and as you can see, looking fine. 

Happy birthday, Johnny Marr, you legend, inspiration, and genius!

Johnny Marr, Camden Roundhouse, picture by Snigdha

Blogs Worth Following:

Gluten free living, with lots of recipes:

Chef and cooking tutor shares his recipes:

Indian food blog with emphasis on the regional variations across the country:
Konditor & Cook's rotten pumpkin brain cake!


How to make Baba Ganoush, the traditional Lebanese aubergine dip:

Thrifty one pot supper dish from Tony Singh (one of the Incredible Spice Men):

Another thrifty Indian dish, this time Atul Kocchar's Sweet Potato and Chick pea curry:

Simple weeknight pasta supper, with sausage, brocolli and tomatoes:
Magic toadstool chocolate, anyone?

A lovely new way of presenting recipes - a gorgeous animation for a very pretty warm apple and beetroot salad.

Chicken Yakhni Pullao, spicy rice steamed in stock, one pot Indian/Pakistani meal:

Fascinating artefact of 1970s style, keen cook Liberace wrote a cookbook, recipes include Pierogis, Gazpacho and Beef Stroganoff! Find it here:

An attempt to recreate Leon's Kale and peanut salad:

Two Moroccan style stews, one meaty, the other vegetarian, easily made simultaneously:

Mark Hix's chilli recipes - Corn and chorizo chowder, Crab-stuffed chilli peppers, fiery truffles (hotties), blackcurrant chilli jelly:

Into juices and smoothies? Kale, peach, banana and grapes make this smoothie - Peaches And Green:

Vietnamese stir fried beef with fresh noodles (pho rice noodles), by Uyen Luu from her new book:

Thrifty Autumnal salad with lentils, spinach, feta and beetroot (pre-cooked packs are cheaper): 

Autumn/Winter pasta with bacon, chestnuts, leek and ricotta from Angela Hartnett:

Spooky grave to bury your diet in!
Articles/Know How:

Great blog post by Comfort Bites' Jo Romero comparing cupcake mix with homemade. What do you think wins?

Head Sommelier at Tate debunks some wine myths. A nice little article, but something of a shame that the Telegraph think that matters relating to wine are for men only.

Words to avoid when writing about food:

If any of you grow tomatoes and have a glut, this is how to preserve them (bottling):


Rabbit-Proof Fence

Revenge: A Love Story


Peaky Blinders


Johnny Marr - The Messenger (natch!)

Eisley - Currents

The Maccabees - Given To The Wild

Disclosure - Settle

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Uyen Luu My Vietnamese Kitchen Book Launch

Uyen Luu very kindly invited me to her recent book launch, and I was delighted to attend. Uyen is a very talented woman, whose cooking class I attended last year (blog post here: Since then I've stayed in touch with her. So I know how much hard work she has put into creating her first cook book "My Vietnamese Kitchen".
Uyen's finished work!

Uyen started off running cooking classes and her Vietnamese supper club to share her culinary heritage. However, she is also a filmmaker and photographer. As a result, her Love, Leluu blog ( became a go-to place for authentic Vietnamese recipes and pictures of the more difficult to source ingredients. This was exactly how I found her! 

Of course, others came to notice her blog and hear about her cooking classes, such as Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc. Vietnamese food is one of the great cuisines of the world, but is only beginning to take off in popularity in the UK. As a result, there aren't many good quality, well written and clearly presented Vietnamese cook books available here. The answer was obvious, Uyen would be perfect to write a book of authentic recipes. Uyen's clear style can be found at her blog, but she also wrote a guest post for this blog which can be found here:

Uyen's Banh Mi recipe from the book, alongside the real thing!

Uyen decided to hold her launch in her much beloved East London stomping ground. She chose Hurwundeki, a funky and stylish Korean cafe and restaurant with a hairdressers under the arches of the railway running to Cambridge Heath. 

For just £9 or £14, guests could have their hair cut in just 15 minutes. All they had to do was put their names on the chalk board, and wait their turn!

It was a very popular attraction indeed, as people sipped wine and waited for their names to come up.

Although the hairdresser were kept rather busy, Uyen found herself even more busy.... signing copies of her book for her many friends, fans and admirers! 

Of course, food was provided, and this was an opportunity for Uyen to demonstrate her recipes. 

These were the Beef Banh Mi, full of contrasting textures, and complimentary, fresh herby flavours. Yummy!

Summer rolls filled with prawns, herbs and rice noodles. A rich, sweet and thick dipping sauce was also provided. I had more than my fair share of these, so if anyone didn't get to have these, I am SO sorry. Please forgive me!

Scrumptious chicken pate puff pastry mini pies, the puff pastry part of the French influence on Vietnamese culinary traditions.

The food was very popular, being scoffed with enthusiasm by the guests. No wonder the staff found themselves having to prepare more!

It was lovely to see so many people gather together to celebrate such a big achievement. People mingled about with big smiles of pride, whilst enjoying the delicious snacks and a couple of glasses of wine. 

Many of us dream of getting published, but the work and graft involved means it is a dream requiring real commitment and dedication to come to fruition. So it is wonderful to see  my friend's name on a book jacket and book spine, but it cannot be overlooked that this has been a labour of love for Uyen.

I am so proud of Uyen, and I hope the book is a big success. It's out in time for the Christmas market, and let's hope our desire to expand our culinary palettes inspire people to buy it.

The night was very successful. People left clutching their lovingly signed books, and many left with a smart new haircut! A night to remember, with many taking home a couple of special souvenirs.

Although I'm glad I didn't have to do the sweeping up at the end!

Snigdha was grateful to be invited by Uyen Luu as her guest.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Chai and Chat - Curry For Change, how did we do?

I have been very vocal on my blog and on twitter about my support for Find Your Feet. It's a very small charity with a fantastic positive attitude to helping people in need - through empowerment, skill building and education and not through aid.

From the first moment I was asked to understand and support their Curry For Change fundraising campaign to pay for their work, I knew I was in. So I attended their launch event, an amazing, informative and fun evening where I learnt to cook from Dhruv Baker, Vivek Singh and Anjum Anand. Since then, I've tried to support their work through this blog, through my twitter stream and by actually donating real cash money. 

I was recently invited to a "Chai and Chat" event organised by Find Your Feet to review what has been achieved. I was only too proud and pleased to attend. 

Curry For Change has managed to raise £10,000 for Find Your Feet, with a mysterious trust benefactor (I am not kidding here!) agreeing to match that total pound-for-pound! The result is £20,000 raised to further projects in India and Nepal!

But what does the money do? Well take a look at this. Here is Teresa.

She has six (yes, six!) children. She's a member of a self-help group in her remote rural village in Jharkhand, India. When I say remote, I mean it. There are NO roads and there is NO electricity. Life is spartan and hard. Water is incredibly scarce. This means it is terribly difficult to grow enough food. 

Find Your Feet has trained her on principles of sustainable agriculture. In addition they have taught her how to make simple leaf plates. The plates are sold for use at weddings or at the village market. The extra income pays for necessities.

Teresa says: “We have learnt new agriculture techniques and have grown enough rice for all our food needs. If we get good rains next time, we will make a surplus to sell. I have also learnt to make leaf plates. I get 5 rupees for 20 plates (6p) and I can make up to 20 rupees a day (25p). Now through my crops and the plates I have sent two of my older children to school. Now we are free from moneylenders, we have money for agriculture, medicines and emergencies. But most importantly we can send our children to school.”

Yes, the ability to earn £0.25 per day is the difference between a woman's children going to school or missing out. It's a sobering thought, isn't it?

If Teresa's story inspires you, how about donating a little something right now? Go on, I have!

This is Savitri Sharma, the Director of Find Your Feet's operations in India and Nepal. She wanted everyone to know just what a difference the funds would make. She spoke to us passionately about the dignity of the people she assists and how much they want a head start rather than handouts. Coordinating all of the project across two nations takes so much strength of character and determination. I was full of admiration for her poise, dedication, and kind nature. What an amazing woman!

The Chai and Chat was held in London's Anise Bar, run by Chef Vivek Singh, whose Cinnamon Kitchen Restaurant is just next door. It's a super bar with some innovative cocktails and mocktails. There's a link to their Lychee Goji Bellini below, if you want to recreate one of their lovely creations.

The other Curry For Change champions, namely food writers, cookbook authors and bloggers were in attendance to find out the progress report and celebrate Find Your Feet's success. 

This is yours truly with The Spice Scribe, Zoe Perrett. She has probably the best knowledge of Indian food of anyone I know. A bona fide journalist and writer, you'll find her writings in The Times of India and elsewhere, but her excellent blog is here:

I had the chance to catch up with my friend Kavey. I owe her a debt of gratitude as she is the person who told me all about Find Your Feet and Curry For Change. Kavey is obviously the brains and talent behind the brilliant Kavey Eats:

I was delighted to meet some amazing new people. One was the cook book author and curry expert Monisha Bharadwaj, who has long been a TV chef and cooking tutor. I had a fascinating discussion with her about west London's Indian food scene and heritage. (Her website can be found here:

I also had the pleasure of meeting the exceptionally dapper and exceedingly charming Urban Rajah, AKA Ivor Peters. Ivor is a rising star of the Indian Supperclub scene. His book "The Urban Rajah's Curry Memoirs" is out now. His website, which includes a blog AND recipes is here:

I had a wonderful evening nattering, munching on snacks and having a couple of long and lovely drinks. But more than anything, I felt proud and privileged to have helped something bigger and more important than me or my blog. I felt I'd somehow helped with something much more worthwhile.

My previous blog posts can be found here:

Curry For Change Masterclass: 

Dhruv Baker's Prawn Malaba Curry:

Vivek Singh's roast saddle of lamb with root vegetables and pickling sauce:

Anjum Anand's Pomegranate Souffle:

Anise Bar and Cinnamon Kitchen's Lychee Goji Bellini:

Snigdha would like to thank Find Your Feet for inviting her to Anise.