Last night I sliced and baked aubergine, red pepper, tomatoes in olive oil and oregano. These fruits don’t need much to bring out their flavours.

My intention was to make Ajvar. It’s a condiment made from sweet red peppers and also sometimes with aubergine added. Chillies can be included if hot is the preference. Tomatoes don’t go in, I just had them to use.

I let the fruits cool then today had them on sourdough toast, drizzled with the olive oil they baked in, accompanied by slices of avocado, cucumber and some rocket to complement the reds and purples with greens – hot with cool.

If you want to make Ajvar ‘extra’ then add some smoked paprika and garlic, but I like it as it is. Today I will mash up the roasted fruits and keep my Ajvar in the fridge for immediate consumption rather than conserving it. It will go nicely with tacos later.

It’s not commonly known in the UK and is found predominantly across Southern Slavic Europe and the Balkans – so from Croatia across and including Turkey. It’s a delightfully tasty alternative to hummus if you want an extra dip or something to spread on bread.

The origin of the word is Turkish from – hayvar, made in the Balkans when peppers arrived.  Like many things  we share its recipe across borders, along with filo, domaca kafa, baklava, burek, cevapi, and so on.

It can be found in Euro and Eastern mini markets here now and  in Holland and Barrett!

Have you investigated Granny’s Secret? It’s a UK-based company run by a woman who makes conserves, preserves, juices – all from fruits.


Check out Granny’s Secret website link above – see what you think, and go get a jar of Ajvar!


And read some more about it on Hindustan Times!

Gold stars for everyone who can pronounce Ajvar correctly!


Honey, ginger and oat cake

It’s a rainy day and amongst the admin work I have time to cobble together an experimental cake. This one is a little like the tray bake Yorkshire parkin and a little like the Jewish honey loaf made for Rosh Hashanah – which begins this weekend.

It’s not made to be looked at – I don’t worry about such things! Mix it like muffin ingredients – loosely and quickly then bung in the oven.

It’s also vegan!

You will need:

A greased tin

Dry ingredients:

1 cup of oats

1 cup of a plain flour – GF or not

1 cup of rice flour

2 tsps of mixed spice

Chopped fresh ginger – however much you like

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Wet ingredients:

1 tblsp clear honey

2 tblsps golden syrup

1 tblsp vegan margarine

1 cup of water

Do what’s necessary and there should be a sweet, dense cake filled with the flavour and aroma of ginger.

Or nip over to the Lake District …








Indian Delights on a Weekend

Here in the North of England people tend to refer to all Indian Cuisine as ‘curry’. It’s still popular amongst many to go out drinking or to an event followed by a late night curry, especially after a week of hard graft.

I stopped doing this a long time ago and fell out with meaty, excessively hot dishes served for British palates, finding them all too rich and filling. I also discovered that ghee didn’t agree with me.

Instead I turned to perfecting the art of cooking Indian dishes  – vegetarian and vegan – with the help of Madhur Jaffrey.

Long-time favourite has been Saag Aloo, then Chana Masala, Baingan Barta and absolute supremo – Aloo Gobi Masala. I am lucky to live in a diverse place where spices and all kinds of vegetables are readily available, from around the world, at good prices. Stocking up, from turmeric to cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and more, has always been a delightful aspect to my grocery shopping here. Not forgetting large bundles of coriander!

To accompany I go for either brown rice fused with whole spices – cinnamon sticks, cardamom, start anise, saffron – or chapatis. Sometimes there are samosas, pakoras. Always minty yoghurt and mango chutney to make the palate tingle.

Essentials – onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, sunflower oil, turmeric, chilli. Then whatever grabs you. I learnt to be generous and adventurous when it came to Indian cuisine over the years. My early attempts were dreadful. I became less fearful of what I was creating and it stopped being a brown mush and slowly became full of heady aromas.

Fear doesn’t make for good cooking, like everything else in life. Love and savour every ingredient of everything made, when you can.