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Diwali food with Anjali Pathak

Thursday, 15 October 2009

It's the festival of Diwali this Saturday so Anjali Pathak is the perfect guest to talk about the whole meaning behind it and cook up some perfect festive recipes for the occasion.

ANJALI PATHAK

Anjali Pathak is a typical 26 year old from Bolton, Lancashire, who enjoys all the usual things young women do - but she also just so happens to be the next generation of the Patak's Indian food dynasty.


Today, Patak's products are distributed internationally to more than 40 countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and across Europe

A childhood infused with the exotic aromas and antalizing flavours of India, and a family that lives and breathes Indian food, meant it was only a matter of time before Anjali began to experiment with Indian cooking herself.

Anjali's approach to cooking is relaxed and informal. She is keen to dispel the myths that Indian food is time consuming to prepare and high in fat and calories. For Anjali, it's all about assembling fresh ingredients to create quick and easy dishes with an irresistible hint of spice.

Since she was a child, Anjali has been keen to learn the family trade. She spent time working in various areas of the factory and in the company's offices to get a feel for different aspects of the business. Taking inspiration from her mother, Meena - Patak's Director of Creative Development - she now spends most of her time in the new product development department, experimenting with different flavours.

Zamin Doz Macchi

An ancient recipe of stuffing a whole fish with spices, sealing it in an earthenware pot, burying it in the ground and covering it with natural heat fermenters. I have used the oven to replicate this style of cooking, and the aromatic marinade flavours the fish beautifully.

(Serves 2 - 4)

Ingredients
. 4 sea bass fillets, cleaned and skin left on
. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
. 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
. 2 tablespoons Patak's Tikka Masala Paste
. ½ leek, finely sliced
. ½ fennel bulb, finely sliced
. juice of ½ lime
. 1 teaspoon honey
. 1 tablespoon thick Greek yoghurt
. ½ tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
. 1 lime, cut into quarters
. salt, to taste
. 2 x 30 cm x 30 cm piece of foil

Method
1.
Make deep slits in the sea bass fillets on the skin side.
2. In a pan heat the vegetable oil and add the mustard seeds.
3. Once they start popping add the red chilli and sauté for 1 minute before adding 1 tablespoon of Patak's Tikka Masala Paste.
4. Sprinkle in some water and leave to cook for a few minutes. Add the leeks and fennel and cook for 2 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and squeeze in the lime juice and stir in the honey. Check the seasoning and adjust the salt if necessary.
6. In a bowl mix together the yoghurt, dill and remaining Patak's Tikka Masala Paste. Rub the outside of each sea bass fillet with the marinade, ensuring you the rub the marinade into the slits.
7. Lay a fillet on each piece of foil. Top with the vegetable masala.
8. Place another fillet on top and wrap up the parcel. Place in a preheated oven (180?C/350?F/gas 4) for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with a wedge of lime.
9. Serve with raita with radish and mint and aromatic basmati rice. Anjali will have this but won't be demoing it.


Anjali's Tip: This recipe works fantastically when using a large whole salmon. Just increase the cooking time. It looks fabulous when entertaining for family or friends.

Roast Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes taste wonderful when roasted in the oven with a few spices. This recipe tastes wonderful as a snack or as part of a banquet.

(Serves 2 - 4)

Ingredients
. 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean to remove the dirt, chopped into wedges
. 2 tablespoons olive oil
. juice of ½ lime
. sea salt, to taste
. black pepper, to taste
. 1 tablespoon Meena's Mango Chutney (optional)
. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Method
1. Put the olive oil in the base of a roasting tin and add the cumin seeds and Meena's Mango Chutney.
2. Toss the potatoes in the marinade, squeeze over the lime juice and sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt and black pepper.
3. Roast in a preheated oven (200°C / 400°F / gas 6) for 30 - 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
4. Serve with Stuffed seabass.


Raita with Radish and Mint

Raita is the traditional accompaniment to most Indian meals. Radish has a great flavour and is perfect for adding a little bite to the dish.

(Serves 2 - 4)

Ingredients
. 300 g natural yoghurt
. 8 radishes, chopped
. 2 tablespoons pine nuts
. 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
. ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
. pinch of sugar, to taste
. juice of ½ lime


Method
1.
Heat a frying pan on low heat and add the cumin seeds and pine nuts.
2. Continue moving them around to prevent them from burning.
3. After a few minutes they will begin to change colour to golden brown.
4. Remove from the heat and crush coarsely using a pestle and mortar.
5. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, including the roasted cumin seeds and pine nuts and stir.
6. Check the seasoning and adjust the salt and sugar to taste.
7. Garnish with freshly chopped mint and serve chilled.

Indian Lettuce Bowls

Chickpeas are a favourite amongst Indian food fans. This light dish is perfect for complimenting any meal as a starter.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients
. 2 baby gem lettuce, remove the leaves, wash and pat dry
. 1 tin cooked chickpeas, drained and washed
. 2 shallots, finely chopped
. 2 tablespoons Patak's Balti Paste
. ½ tomato or 3 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
. 1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
. 2 tablespoons plain thick yoghurt
. juice of ½ lime
. ½ green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
. salt, to taste

Method
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the shallots and green chilli (if using).
2. After 1 minute add the Patak's Balti Paste.
3. Sprinkle in some water to prevent the spices from burning.
4. Cook for 2 minutes before adding the chickpeas and stir well.
5. Add a few tablespoons of water if the mixture looks too dry.
6. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
7. Squeeze in the lime juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.
8. Fill the lettuce leaves with a heaped tablespoon of spiced chickpeas.
9. Top with a little yoghurt, tomatoes and finally sprinkle with coriander.
10. Simply delicious!

Raita with Radish and Mint

Raita is the traditional accompaniment to most Indian meals. Radish has a great flavour and is perfect for adding a little bite to the dish.

(Serves 2 - 4)

Ingredients
. 300 g natural yoghurt
. 8 radishes, chopped
. 2 tablespoons pine nuts
. 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
. ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
. pinch of sugar, to taste
. juice of ½ lime

Method
1. Heat a frying pan on low heat and add the cumin seeds and pine nuts.
2. Continue moving them around to prevent them from burning.
3. After a few minutes they will begin to change colour to golden brown.
4. Remove from the heat and crush coarsely using a pestle and mortar.
5. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, including the roasted cumin seeds and pine nuts and stir.
6. Check the seasoning and adjust the salt and sugar to taste. Garnish with freshly chopped mint and serve chilled.

Diwali (traditionally known as Deepavali)
Diwali is a time of the year when families, friends and communities come together in a spirit of celebration and joy. Diwali is the time, according to the version popular north of Vindhyas, when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile. Diwali is one of the biggest festival of Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in India.

However, the deeper meaning of Diwali is celebration of the message of Lord Ram's life of sacrifice and dharma. Spending 14 years in the forest was neither a fun-filled experience nor an easy life for Lord Ram.

Ram underwent exile in order to uphold a promise his father had made to Queen Kaikayi. Lord Ram's banishment to forest was thus a way of fulfilling his father's obligation to the queen.

Today Lord Ram is worshipped and revered for the life he lived. We say he is the embodiment of the 'perfect person', a God manifest in a human form.

According to one theory Diwali may have originated as a harvest festival, marking the last harvest of the year before winter. In an agrarian society this results in businessmen closing accounts, and beginning a new accounting year. The deity of wealth in Hinduism, goddess Lakshmi is therefore thanked on this day and everyone prays for a good year ahead. This is the common factor in Diwali celebrations all over the Indian subcontinent.
Both practical and spiritual, like all good things in life!!!

Patak's: A Family History
Patak's was founded by Anjali's grandfather, L G Pathak, 50 years ago. Arriving in London in 1957 with just £5 in his pocket, Mr Pathak began selling authentic Indian snacks and sweets to support his family. The following year, he was able to open a small shop in Euston's Drummond Street.

As a small boy, Anjali's father, Kirit Pathak, would help out in the family business by delivering the mouth-watering parcels of Indian treats. When he was 17, Kirit joined the business full-time, and spearheaded the company's meteoric expansion.

In 1976, Kirit married Anjali's mother, Meena, who later joined the business. Meena, who studied Hotel Management in Mumbai where she grew up, quickly rose to the challenge of creating new and authentic recipes for Indian food fans the world over.

Today, Patak's products are distributed internationally to more than 40 countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and across Europe.

For more information and recipe ideas, log on to www.pataks.co.uk.

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