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Onion and tomato curry

Recipe taken from from Biting Biting: Snacking Gujarati-style By Urvashi Roe

Biting Biting book cover

Urvashi Roe was brought up in a family who loved to snack. Any news of impending visitors would prompt a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Within 30 minutes her mother and aunties would have the ‘biting biting’ prepared – a spread of vegetarian and vegan snacks made with store cupboard ingredients and leftovers.  

Cupboard ingredients

Biting Biting is a celebration of this delicious family custom, and of the food of the Gujarati diaspora in Africa and in the UK. 

Extremely tasty, quick and easy to prepare these snacks will set your tastebuds buzzing. Next time you have guests for tea or you need a little something that’s not quite lunch or dinner, you can simply reach for some Biting Biting inspiration. 

Urvashi Roe and aunties

We are extremely happy to be publishing this wonderful Biting Biting cook book in September 2022. So we thought we would give you a taste of what delights you can expect by sharing this tasty Onion and Tomato Curry recipe taken from the book with you to try out and enjoy over the summer.

Enjoy your Biting Biting!

A Brief Introduction To Shaak

In Sanskrit saka means ‘vegetable but in Gujarti it is the word we use for ‘curry’. Depending on which part of Gujarat you are from, you might say shaak or saak. My family all say shaak except for my friend Kavita who says saak. Shaak can be dry or with sauce, and it can feature a stuffed vegetable, single vegetable or combination of vegetables. It is often associated with certain rituals or functions – for example, at weddings you will often see potato shaak, mixed vegetable and dumpling shaak and some form of lilotri or green vegetable shaak.

Shaak section page from Biting Biting

Usually on weekdays we have one shaak with rotli. On a weekend or at family functions we may have a few more. When I first got married my husband always got three of four shaak at dinner as he was the Jamai (son-in-law) in favour. Nowadays he gets one unless my mum needs a job doing around the house or garden.

Onion And Tomato Curry (Shaak) Recipe By Urvashi Roe

When you literally have a bare fridge and are not in the mood for a complex cook, this is your recipe. It is guaranteed to fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma and bring warmth and comfort at the end of a long, tiring day. It’s fast to make and you can eat it unceremoniously with your fingers on cold leftover rice, crusty day-old parotha or even on toast or in a sandwich. We like it with torn baguette too. You can omit the ghee but I find it adds a velvety, buttery sheen, making this dish one you’ll want to lick off your plate. Green tomatoes or tomatillos work exceptionally well. 

Curry spices

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp ghee

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp amchur

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, grated (optional)

4 large tomatoes, halved and cut into 2cm slices

Urvashi Roe

Method

Heat the vegetable oil and ghee in a wok or large saucepan until the ghee has completely melted and started sizzling. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and allow them to fizzle and pop for a few seconds. Quickly add the sliced onions and sauté them briefly so they are well coated. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, ground cumin, amchur and salt and then toss well so everything is thoroughly combined. Add a shot glass of water and the garlic if you are using it, cover and cook for five minutes on a medium heat until the onions are just starting to soften. 

Take a moment here to inhale the aromas and commend yourself for making this epic dish. 

Carefully fold in the tomatoes, then cover and cook for a further two minutes so the tomatoes are soft but still retain their shape. Eat immediately! 

If for some crazy reason you have leftovers you can spoon the cold shaak over buttery toast and top with a fried or poached egg. Or this makes a great topping on hummus scattered over with toasted sunflower seeds and scooped up with pitta bread. 

You can pre-order Biting Biting direct from us here

Urvashi Roe and aunties
Portrait pic of Nasim Mawji

Kitchen Quiz

With Nasim Mawji

Some of you will already have noticed that last year we gained a new editor and member of our team here at KP HQ. For those still not in the know, we decided to introduce this exciting new addition via a new episode of our delightful Kitchen Quiz series.

So KP people, please will you welcome Nasim Mawji!!!

Nas has worked in book publishing in London and New York for over two decades principally for the highly regarded DK Publishing. An experienced project editor for large format, illustrated lifestyle titles, she has all the hard earned skills needed to survive in the world of independent publishing.

Having relocated from NYC’s Big Apple to the Athens of the North that is Edinburgh, we soon connected with Nas and put her considerable skills to good use. In particular, she was responsible for pulling together the excellent Eat Bike Cook project in 2021 working alongside Kitty Pemberton-Platt & Fi Buchanan.

Eat Bike Cook Book Cover

Hailing from an Indian, African and British background Nas has been influenced by many cultural food traditions which sits perfectly with KP’s international approach to food and cooking in general. Food has always been at the heart of her personal and family life.

We caught up with Nas recently on a cold, grey and wintry day and asked her a quiz or two to get to know her just a wee bit better.

Q: Hey Nas, welcome to the Kitchen Quiz. So was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: I would say the River Café Cookbook. When it came out it was so original. The design seemed daring because it had large type, coloured pages and beautiful food shots interspersed with lots of messy behind-the-scenes kitchen photography. The recipes are, on the whole, uncomplicated. I was eating a lot of pasta and risotto in 1995 when this book came out, so those pages are pretty well thumbed.

But I also really like the Leon cookbooks. I especially like the Ingredients and Recipes, which is the original one, I think. It’s good for family-friendly cooking and I love the scrap-book feel of it. My copy is food splattered and held together with tape!

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I have a garlic chopper I bought from Ikea years ago.

It looks a bit like a space capsule and is a rip-off of a Slap Chop (infamously advertised in an exhausting infomercial). When I need mass quantities of garlic, chopped quickly (which is fairly often, actually), this is the device for the job. 

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: I always have the radio on. I listen to BBC Radio 6 for music. My tastes are all over the place and they normally play something I like. Over the past few days I’ve heard Spiritualized, DJ Shadow, Little Simz, John Grant, Pulp, Air and LCD Soundsystem – all great. I also have a soft spot for Steely Dan. Otherwise I’m a Radio 4 addict.

On the podcast front, there have been two favourites recently. First the Lazarus Heist, which is about North Korea and cyber crime (fascinating and full of unbelievable twists and turns).

Then there is Sweet Bobby, which is about a victim of a decade-long catfishing operation and is absolutely addictive listening.


Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: Somewhere tropical, within easy reach of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Maybe Zanzibar.

I could swim there in the sea and then make little meat samosas with coconut and coriander chutney, followed by either coconut crab or coconut prawn curry with fresh mango for dessert. And a very chilled glass of white wine. I think the past couple of years, and now winter and lockdowns, is starting to get to me.


Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: Always read the recipe the whole way through before you start! 

Thank you Nas! We are so excited to have you on board at KP and can’t wait to see what other amazing cookbooks you bring into the kitchen and onto the table.

You can buy Eat Bike Cook direct from us right here x

Welcome to Kitchen Quiz our new series of short interviews focussing on the wonderful people who write our cookbooks for us!

Episode 1: Gillian Veal (The Parlour Cafe & Cambo Gardens Cafe)

The Parlour Cafe Cookbook was our very first publication way back in the mists of time. We owe its spectacular chef and author Gillian Veal a massive debt for launching our book list in such exquisite style.

cover of the Parlour Cafe Cookbook

So we thought it was only right to kick off this series with Gillian, especially as we are currently working with her on a brand new title [trumpet sounds]. 

The new cookbook is based around the food she creates at Cambo Gardens in the East Neuk of Fife. Her cafe is set in the old stables of the historic Cambo manor house amongst gloriously kept walled gardens which are packed full of vegetables and herbs for her to use in her culinary creations. It is a magical setting for any chef and Gillian has simply thrived there, so we are very pleased that soon she will be sharing that magic with you all.

view of cambo gardens in the sunshine for Kitchen Quiz

Meanwhile we caught up with her at home and asked her a few wee questions….

Portrait of Gillian Veal Kitchen Quiz

Sit back and relax. It’s time for KITCHEN QUIZ!!!

Q: Hi Gillian, was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: The River Cafe Cook Book was the one. I loved the relationship between the two owners. It was inspiring how they bounced off each other with their knowledge of ingredients and simple approach. It set me on the path that led to The Parlour Cafe Cook Book.

River Cafe Cook Book, Gillian's Kitchen Quiz pick
Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I love all my gran’s old pans and baking stuff. They simply don’t make them like that anymore. And I recently treated myself to a thermo mix ,which is a bit like having a second chef work with me.

Salads from cambo cafe for Kitchen Quiz
Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook along to?

A: Oh impossible to choose any one song or genre in particular.  It’s like my food, I mostly decide what I’m going to make that very day. Same with the music.  It’s a good day when the right music and food comes together. I’m lucky I have so many friends around with a passion for music, so I get introduced to all sorts in the cafe.  My only habit is I always listen to the radio from when I get to work till 10am. It’s like my timer to prepping for the days service. I normally listen to Radio 6, but flip over to Radio 4 as well if I’m not feeling it.

Some of the apple varieties grown at Cambo - Kitchen Quiz
rpt
Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: There are so many places I still have to visit, but for now Andalucia in Spain would be my number one choice. It has the perfect variety of food and cooking styles. So probably an outdoor kitchen at the top of a beautiful beach from around 4pm till sunset. And perhaps with the odd glass of vino…

Andalucia view
Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice to someone about cooking then what would that be?

A: My one piece of cooking advice would be to engage all your senses. It’s not just about following a recipe.  If something doesn’t smell, taste or feel correct then do something about it. You have to feel it. While cooking it might even involve getting to know the right sound an ingredient makes when it hits the pan. It should be a passion and not just work.

Cambo feast for the Kitchen Quiz

Thank you so much for doing our Kitchen Quiz Gillian. We can’t wait to try out your new recipes from Cambo very soon!

Buy The Parlour Cafe Cookbook here

new cookbooks for Autumn 2020
First copies of our new cookbooks for Autumn 2020

The most exciting day in any publishers week – next to publication day – is when the advances arrive. The first copies of Tomorrow’s Kitchen and The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool arrived on our doorstep this week, and the excitement in the office was palpable. Don’t take our word for how beautiful these cookbooks are: pre-sales are now open for both titles over at https://kitchenpress.bigcartel.com/ so be the first to get your hands on a copy.

Launch Events

Well, Covid ain’t gonna put paid to all our plans. We have a glorious array of online events organised so you the reader can meet the authors and will let you know in the next few weeks how you can get involved. And keep your eyes out in the press for features and interviews about our cookbooks. In the meantime you can find out more about our collaborators on Tomorrow’s Kitchen here and meet the people behind the Seafood Shack here. We’ll see you in the kitchen very soon.