Born to Indian parents, food writer and school nurse Ashia Ismail-Singer was raised in Malawi and the UK. Her grandparents moved from India to Malawi in the late 1940’s, when India and Pakistan were partitioned, and Ashia grew up in a large Indian community in Malawi. Aromatic, spicy, tangy and sweet . . . these are the words that describe Ashia Ismail-Singer’s earliest food memories. Inspired by her mother’s cooking, Ashia’s first cookbook My Indian Kitchen is published this month and it is full of delicious recipes that transcend a mere list of ingredients and measurements. For Ashia, they are food experiences that have been passed down through generations, connecting Ashia with her childhood, culture and family overseas.
After moving to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband when she was in her twenties, Ashia began recreating her mother’s dishes and experimenting with new ones. She also started writing a food blog, to show people that cooking Indian food doesn’t have to be difficult.
One of four girls, food has always played an important part in Ashia’s life. She sees it as one of life’s great pleasures and was taught to cook by her mother, learning the traditional Indian way – without shortcuts – but since then, has combined influences from Malawi, the UK and New Zealand into her cooking. Using simple spices and a blend of East and West, Ashia creates authentic Indian inspired dishes, drawing inspiration from the different countries she has lived in and creating modern Indian food to suit the way we live today.
Ashia is passionate about her Indian culture and cusine, and is a regular contributor to New Zealand House & Garden and Taste magazines. She has also appeared on TV show Whanau Living. Ashia works as a school nurse and lives in Auckland with her Kiwi husband, and two children. Ashia blogs about food here: http://www.ashiaismailsinger.com/.
Quick and easy, with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and fridge, Ashia’s recipes feature traditional Indian dishes alongside a range of modern Indian tastes and textures. As you turn the pages of My Indian Kitchen, you will find inspiration on every page – from chutneys, grazing and bites, to light lunches, mains meals, desserts, home baking, and more. Who can resist Kebab pastry twists, Spicy chill prawns, Cardamom cake with mascarpone & rose icing?
My Indian Kitchen is divided into six sections and boasts nearly 100 recipes, including popular and less familiar Indian dishes, with ingredients that are easily found in New Zealand. Ashia’s food is brought to life by luscious photography by esteemed photographer Manja Wachsmuth’s.
Anjum’s vegetable bhajias
This quick and easy recipe is one of my twin sister’s recipes. Anjum first made it for us at a dinner party and we all loved it. The bhajias are perfect for a sharing platter with apple chutney. The dish has quickly become one of my favourite appetisers.
Makes approx. 30. Prep time: 20 min. Cooking time: 20 min.
- 1 kg frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrot, sweetcorn works best)
- 1 large potato, peeled and grated
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1–2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 4–6 tbsp gram (chickpea) flour
- 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
Thaw the frozen vegetables by running through water and then add to a large bowl. Either use a potato masher or a hand blender and combine until you achieve a thick paste.
Add the grated potato into the mixture, then the onion, salt, turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, garlic, coriander, baking powder and gram flour. Mix with a wooden spoon or by hand until thoroughly combined and the mixture is of a thick paste consistency. Add additional flour if the mixture is too runny.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan until medium hot. Once heated, add tablespoons of the bhajia mixture into the oil and batch fry for 8–10 minutes until golden.
Remove from heat and drain the bhajia balls on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Serve.
My mum began making this recipe in the UK.
We had a small apple tree in the back garden, laden with tart apples that worked well as a chutney. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any appetiser or on the side as a relish.
Makes approx. 1 litre. Prep time: 15 min. Cooking time: 40–50 min.
- 500 g sugar
- 1½ cups water
- ¼ cup sultanas
- ¼ cup chilli powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4–6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 12 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I like to use Braeburn)
- 750 ml apple cider vinegar
In a separate pot, make a syrup with the water and sugar. Mix together and then bring to a simmering boil until it’s of a medium syrup consistency.
With a stick blender, make a paste out of the sultanas, chilli, salt and garlic. Set aside.
Add the apples and vinegar to a heavy-bottomed pan and put to boil, for about 45 minutes. When the apples are soft, add the paste and the syrup and cook for 20 minutes, until the consistency is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Cool slightly and bottle in jars. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.
My Indian Kitchen by Ashia Ismail-Singer
Published by Potton & Burton, hardback, RRP: $49.99