Wednesday, 25 November 2015

November 2015 Favourites List

Hello readers!

Those of you who are regular readers will be aware that at the beginning of the year I went to Penang in Malaysia. (If you are a regular reader, thank you so much for your kindness, attention and support!)

As we near the close of the year, I thought it might be fun to look back on that trip to the street art (and street food) nerve centre of the world. 

When walking around Georgetown, you need to have your eyes peeled and your camera ready. There is street art in the most unexpected of places; in shops, above doorways, on stairs, on doors. The scene is vibrant and dynamic, so new works are appearing with no notice, no fanfare. The tourist authorities produce a brilliant map detailing where many of the works can be found, but it is possible that there are gems which are beyond its scope.

I am sharing with you a small collection of photographs of my favourite street art works from Georgetown. I hope you like them as much as I enjoyed exploring the city in search of them!


Mushroom, potato and chorizo fry-up, for Autumn days:

Melitzanasalata and borlotti bean "last minute" mash. Fab recipe post at Cookwitch Creations blog by Lisa:

Cold salvation in a mug... just made me some whisky hot toddy thanks to Jac's recipe!

Some food and drink ideas for Bonfire night... and a heavy dose of foodie realism from 

A simple one-pot dish made of chicken thighs for Autumn nights....

Low calorie, low carb chips made from butternut squash... One of my favourite vegetables.

Soak and cook one big batch of chick peas over the weekend. Get four dinners you can make for super efficiency!

Peanut butter butternut squash soup, an African recipe from Sierra Leone:

Vegetarian parsnip and paneer pastry recipe and the chance to win £50 in Waitrose vouchers with Deena Kakaya:

Articles/Know How:

Book review on Diana Henry's Bird In The Hand with a recipe for chicken with pumpkin, cream and gruyere cheese, from the fantastic Kavey Eats blog by Kavita:

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

Brand new blog post - Wor Tip Dumplings with pork and Chinese leaf by Ekachai - Easy dim sum recipe for home cooks!

I was very lucky to try some great beer and great food at L'Anima restaurant - because my fantastic friend Kavey let me tag long with her.

For anyone feeling under the weather - a Winter Warmer to deal with colds and flu... EVEN MAN FLU!

J20 Midnight Editions, Christmas Cocktails and a Winter Garden in Clapham:


The Sixth Sense (honestly – you notice much more when you revisit it!)


Adele at the BBC
Better than the Original: The Joy of the Cover Version
Cover Versions at the BBC
The Nation’s Favourite Beatles Number One


Adrenalin Baby – Johnny Marr
Dusty In Memphis – Dusty Springfield
Purple Electric Violin Concerto – Ed Alleyne-Johnson
Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

J20 Midnight Editions - cocktails and Winter garden in Clapham

Late last week I was invited to the Phoenix Pub in Clapham, South London ( to see their beautiful Winter garden celebrating the launch of J2O’s new seasonal limited editions. 

The Winter garden is intended to be a mystical place for people to meet during the next few days to enjoy a drink and a chat whilst immersing themselves in the woodland atmosphere, complete with twinkling lights, two romantic swing seats, outdoor log seating with throws and wraps to keep the chill away. The garden will be around to enjoy up to 22 November 2015, so do go and check it out!

The two new J20 limited editions are called Midnight Amber and Midnight Forest. Devised to be perfect non-alcoholic drinks in their own right for people attending Christmas and New Year parties, they have also been designed as super mixers and cocktail bases for the party season.

Midnight Amber is a Winter-inspired blend of fruit juices with a spicy tone. Think mince pies with their edge of warming cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. The blend of orange, lemon and mandarin juice is fresh and light. Previous J20 juice blends have been thicker and gloopier than this, and the change is a refreshing new move.

Midnight Forest is an unspiced fruit drink with a quirky list of ingredients; orange, cherry and chocolate… like your favourite Christmas confectionery! The deep red colour is perfectly seasonal. If you are sceptical that the addition of chocolate would make the drink too cloying or rich, don’t worry. It is fairly light and the dominant flavour is that of the juices. It is well worth trying this festive season.

Leeds based expert mixologists The Hedonists were present to demonstrate how these two drinks could be used to make 2 cocktails perfect for Christmas parties, whether you are having one at home or are running the office Crimbo shindig.

My cocktail guru from the Hedonists was Aaron, a dapper mixologist with nearly 10 years experience of developing his own unique recipes, influenced by his love of drinks, experimentation and cooking. Aaron is sceptical of those who say they don’t like cocktails, observing that everyone has three classic cocktail ingredients which are to their tastes. For him, the challenge is to counter their preconceived notions and work to find the perfect balance for each drinker. Truly passionate about his craft, I don’t doubt he can achieve his mission for virtually every punter.

So, let’s look at the Hedonist recipes for the J20 Midnight Limited Edition juice drinks….

Midnight Martini

Usually the name “martini” means the style of the cocktail, often referring to the glass in which the drink is served. This cocktail is a Martini because it actually contains Martini; Martini Rosso, the famous fortified wine, given extra strength through the addition of grappa. As I've said already, Midnight Amber is a juice blend of orange, cherry and chocolate. The concept is that these two components combine to create a long drink, served in a tall glass which is simple, easy to make, and keeps your guests going for longer. Better for busy hosts, better for a party; you don’t want people getting too merry on straight martini cocktails made of vodka too quickly.

Red wine (the base of Martini Rosso) and orange are a good match, due to their earthy tones. Hence their happy marriage in Sangria. Martini Rosso has been selected for this cocktail as the spices and aromatics in it add some Christmassy Wintry flavours; liquorice, tobacco leaf, espresso, cinnamon, anise, nutmeg and clove are among the goodies added in the fortification process.

Aaron advised us to take a double shot (50ml) of the Martini Rosso, pour into a highball glass, and to top up with the Midnight Forest J20. He reminded us to ensure the J20 is shaken thoroughly before pouring as the high natural juice content means it settles in the bottle very readily. Shaking will recombine the constituents quickly and effectively. Serve with a slice of orange peel for colour and aroma.

Midnight Spritz

In recent years, Aperol Spritz has become a hugely popular Summer drink. Drunk in the sunshine whilst holidaying on the Mediterranean, it’s a favourite with us Brits. But can it be tweaked for the Winter months?

Absolutely, says Aaron who advocates serving this delight in a wine glass. Why? To flag up the fact it is a seasonal update of the Aperol Spritz, but also to enhance the nose of the orange and special burnt orange peel decoration.

To make the cocktail you will need to take a large wine glass, pour in a double shot (50ml) of Aperol, add ice to 2cm to the top of the glass, then either use a spoon or a muddling stick to slow the flow of the 150ml of Midnight Amber J20 poured on top, to allow for a layer to form. Top up to the top of the glass with Tonic Water.

Next comes the moment of pure theatre – take a piece of orange skin, squeeze gently to release the oils from the zest. Then light with a cigarette lighter and FLAMBE!

Each of the cocktails should be served with the rest of the J20 bottle, allowing guests or customers to top their drink up and make it last longer. Christmas parties should be fun for everyone, and we shouldn’t be rushing our drinks, particularly if we are having a work Christmas social. Drinking responsibly has been factored into the serving.

I hope you will enjoy these creative cocktail ideas in your festive celebrations.

The Phoenix
348 Clapham Rd, London, Clapham SW9 9AR

020 7622 2645

I would like to thank the Phoenix Pub in Clapham and The Hedonists for making me so welcome.

Snigdha has not received any financial incentive or payment for this post.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Honey Rum Spiced Hot Toddy with Holy Lama Tea Masala

I have recently been down with a cold. When it hit initially, I thought I could cope and get on with life as per normal. How wrong I was! Honestly, without getting too graphic (as I realise some of my readers are of a gentle disposition), I have had burning fever, swollen sinuses, a blocked nose requiring semtex to unblock, and a throat rougher than coarse grade sandpaper…  Not to mention the headaches!

My fever dreams have been truly disturbing. I woke up in great distress, hot and sweaty over the visions I have had… not prophetic, I hope!

Hot lemon preparations, decongestants and painkillers from the pharmacy have all been employed. And when it became clear that poor Him Indoors had suffered cross-infection, the seriousness of the situation became clear. He has never caught a cold from me in our entire relationship. He was FAR from happy. We realised that over –the-counter remedies help for a while, for sure. But sometimes you need to call the “big boys” in.

I recently found on the Tinned Tomatoes blog by Jac, a recipe for an authentic Scottish Hot Toddy. You will find it here:

I gave it a try, and will confess it is pretty damn good. However, neither of us are whisky fans. Sorry, dear nation of Scotland, we love you, but we are perhaps too soft, too southern to cope with your noble tipple. So I had to think of another way….

I took my inspiration from India and its tradition of spice. Indian Chai (or spiced tea) is typically flavoured with cardamom, clove and cinnamon.

I have been enjoying Holy Lama’s Tea Masala in my morning tea for some time now. It makes a brew with spicy Chai flavours by just adding a tiny drop to a cup. I wondered if it would help with dealing with colds and flu. Their Tea Masala drops have nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, pepper, clove and cinnamon extracts in an oil base. Ocado featured them as a finalist in their best supplier awards in 2014.

So here is my Honey Rum Spiced Hot Toddy recipe. I used Ron Miel which I bought in the Canary Islands. A dark rum laced with honey, it is smooth and perfect for a Winter warmer. You could use white or dark rum as you see fit.
Thank you to Jac for her original recipe and inspiration for this variation!

Honey Rum Spiced Hot Toddy with Holy Lama Tea Masala

Makes 1 mug


1 tablespoon runny honey
2-3 slices of 1” of ginger
1 slice of fresh lemon, preferably unwaxed
1 small stick of cinnamon
1 clove, which you insert into one of the slices of ginger
2 tablespoons of Ron Miel
1 very small drop of Holy Lama Tea Masala
Boiling water to top up from your kettle (or saucepan)


1. Put the honey in the mug. Top up with 2-4 centimetres of boiling water to help you dissolve the honey. Mix well.

2. Now add the ginger, and cinnamon. Stir to disperse the flavour oils and aromatics. 

3. Add the rum and drop of Tea masala.

4. Top up with boiling water.

5. Stir thoroughly, and allow to cool to a drinkable temperature.


Snigdha has received no incentive for posting this recipe.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Wor Tip Dumplings with pork and Chinese leaf by Ekachai

Ekachai is a small group of four restaurants, three in London (Wandsworth, Selfridges and Liverpool Street) and Birmingham, founded in 1999.

Ekachai was founded by two friends, Thomas Tjong and Sidney Tsang. They came to the UK in 1975. Thomas was born in Indonesia to Chinese parents, moving to Hong Kong to study as a young boy. Sidney was working in restaurants in Hong Kong before moving to the UK.

On arriving in the UK, they found that the food they loved was not available anywhere. They wanted the simple, tasty, cheap and fun street food rice and noodle dishes that they could get back home.

Sidney found he was craving beef hor fun, wide gloopy rice noodles cooked at intense heat in a wok, stir fried with beef, beansprouts, egg and vegetables. Thomas, having grown up in Indonesia had a hankering for nasi goring, cooked rice stir fried with prawns in a strong, spicy and pungent spice paste mix.

The friends therefore decided they’d have to open a restaurant to fill the gap, which sells pan-asian street food classics. They are not at all worried that British diners will be daunted by these dishes. British diners crave authentic food these days. They are well travelled; many have visited South East Asia where they have tasted and loved the food.

Oriental food has been popular in this country for a long time, but travel and exposure to new dishes is helping make people much more adventurous. Ekachai wants to offer some less well known dishes alongside South East Asian staples reaonably priced, which is hoped appeals to many people.

They told me “our philosophy is to be honest, authentic and affordable. We aim to make great tasting food, cooked to honest and traditional recipes that are great value for money to our customers.”

Dim Sum is a style of traditional Cantonese cuisine. Prepared as small bite-sized portions, dim sum is traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates and accompanied by tea.

This is a recipe for Ekachai’s popular Wor Tip Dumplings with pork and Chinese leaf. The dumpling pastry can be found in a Chinese/Oriental supermarket. Forming the dumplings needs a little practice, but they taste great even if your crimping isn’t up to scratch and they look a little misshapen!

Wor Tip Dumplings
with pork and Chinese leaf

Makes 18 dumplings


Wheat dumpling pastry sheets
About 1tbsp vegetable oil
75ml water
Flour for dusting
Soy sauce for dipping

For the filling:
110g minced pork
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp rice wine
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions 
½ tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
75g Chinese leaves (or spinach)

Mixing bowl
Two lightly floured trays
Non-stick large frying pan with a lid
Slotted spoon
Dipping bowl


Arrange the pastry sheets on a lightly floured tray.

Mix up all of the filling ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl. 

Place about two teaspoons of filling in the centre of each 'pancake’ and moisten the edges with water. Fold the dough in half and pinch together with your fingers. 

Pleat around the edge, pinching with your fingers to seal well. The dumpling should look like a small Cornish pasty with a flat base and rounded top. 

Transfer each finished dumpling to the floured tray.

To cook, heat a large lidded frying pan (preferably a non-stick pan) until it is very hot. Add the vegetable oil and place the dumplings flat-side down into the pan. 

Reduce the heat and cook for about two minutes until the dumplings are lightly browned. Add the water, cover the pan tightly and simmer gently for about 12 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Check the water half-way through and add more if necessary.

Uncover the pan and continue to cook for a further two minutes. 

To serve, remove the dumplings from the pan with a large slotted spoon. 

Dip in the soy sauce, using your chopsticks and enjoy!