Has been ages really. I have not been cooking or writing for the longest time but have been doing a lot of other exciting stuff which I am going to tell you all about. Life is definitely very unpredictable. What one plans is only part of the journey. The twists and turns makes the journey more interesting and sometimes challenging. When I started blogging, I thought, this is going to help me when I open my dream cafe. However, after blogging for couple of months, I wanted to become a chef. But soon after that, I realized my passion lies in photographing food and telling food stories through photos. Since then, I have been learning a bit about photography. I bought a new DSLR camera, bought few books on photography, bought some camera gear and not to forget the food props (I can actually spend all my money buying these!!!). My excitement and passion then took me to London for two months whereby I joined the London School of Photography.. yay!!!
 

Two months in London were awesome! I had great fun, made some amazing friends (for life) and loved the courses at LSP. I will always cherish the fantastic time I had in London. Learnt a lot in terms of photography trends, kinds of photography and the industry in general. London is definitely far ahead in this field and it is a dream for any amateur photographer to learn and shoot the food culture in London. As soon as I got back, I did my first commissioned photo shoot…yay once again!!! Being my first photo shoot, I was nervous yet super excited. The day began at 10 in the morning and finished at 8 in the evening but how time flew, I have no idea. One of the memorable days for sure. I did have a stiff neck the next day but no complains at all:)
 
As I continue to explore this space, I have two amazing middle eastern recipes for you to try. The salad is mind boggling if you like simple yet robust flavors. The hummus recipe is brilliant in terms of texture and consistency. I resisted making hummus for the longest time but now NO to the store bought hummus for sure! Definitely give them a chance…you won’t be disappointed.
 

 

 

Homemade Hummus
Serves 6
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Ingredients
250 gm dried chickpeas
1 tsp soda bicarbonate
1.5 litres of fresh water
270 gm tahini paste
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, crushed
100 ml ice cold water
salt
Pine nuts
Parsley
Instructions
1. Soak the dried chick peas in cold water a day before. Leave them overnight
2. Next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan on high heat and add the chickpeas and soda bicarbonate. Cook for about 3 min, stirring constantly.
3. Add 1.5 litres of fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas can cook for anywhere between 20 to 40 min, depending on the type and freshness. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
4. Drain the chickpeas.
5. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1 1/2 tsp of salt.
6. Finally slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mic until you get a very smooth and creamy paste, about 5 min.
7. Transfer the hummus into a bowl and cover it with a cling film. Let it rest for about 30 min. Drizzle a bot of olive oil, sprinkle some toasted pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley on it. Use straight away or refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 min before serving.
Adapted from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem
Adapted from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem
Swati Bansal Rao http://swatibansalrao.com/
Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds
Serves 4
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Ingredients
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
100 gm Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
30 gm unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pitas, about 100 gm, roughly torn
75 gm almonds, roughly chopped
2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
150 gm baby spinach
2tbsp lemon juice
Instructions
1. Put the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Leave to marinate for 20 min and then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add the pita and almonds and cook them on medium heat for 4-6 min, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown.
3. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chill and 1/4 tsp of salt. Set aside to cool.
4. Toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large bowl. Add the dates and red onion, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
Adapted from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem
Adapted from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem
Swati Bansal Rao http://swatibansalrao.com/

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