Bedtime Reading


I love my kindle and I use it well. Always reading before I sleep, a habit developed throughout stressful jobs in the past. I am also trying to become a little more minimalist about the house these days, but…I could not do without cookery books. It is one of a few things that borders on a bit of a sickness within me, some of the others being table cloths, shoes, little dishes, Chelsea FC, second hand china crockery, and so on. The cookery books really are treasured possessions, and I take them to bed to read. I love the ones that don’t just list recipes but which tell a story. A couple of years ago, I came by a Claudia Roden book “A New Book of Middle Eastern Food” and it is one of my favourite comfort reads. The recipes are also very straight forward but the stories transport me to another place – and time. Knowing this, Marmoset got me CR’s book The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day. I’m working my way through it gradually.

Another great read is David Thompson’s “Thai Food” the recipes are bountiful and informative and again it’s all the background knowledge that is so beautifully put together.

Recently, it has been Leith’s complete fish bible which is brilliant for improving technical knowledge. My version is a bit out of date and I’m not sure of they have updated for current sustainability thoughts but it is a great reference book and takes you through the finer points of preparation and things that have previously scared me to death about prepping fish from scratch. When doing my City & Guilds in Seafood – all advice was gratefully received. I’m still ‘improving’ at filleting but at least I understand what I am supposed to be doing now.

It will become apparent that I do worship at the feet of Rick Stein. It has been a long-standing affair, one the cherished Rocket has had to put up with, and he has done so with aplomb. Quiet apart from his obvious passion, Rick’s recipes are so faithful, so well tried and tested, so true. I have doubted Ricky on occasion, the first time I did the prawn stuffed papads and there is a bit of folding and sticking to do I thought it wouldn’t hold together and did some ‘my own way’ as well as his. Well guess what? You cannot imagine the excitement when Marmoset, myself and another friend Oceana rocked up in Goa a few years later and on our first night we were served the delicious articles alongside a cold beer.They are crunchy, spicy, utterly delicious AND the oneindia trip 069s I’d made turned out to taste remarkably similar – thanks to Rick. I LOVE RICK STEIN and I cannot lie!

Here is my take on the ones we had in Goa

Goan Prawn stuffed Papads

2 large onions; finely chopped
1 tsp Turmeric
Groundnut oil for frying
About 300g of raw tiger prawns, chopped into small pieces.
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
1 inch of root ginger – grated
Oil for frying
Uncooked plain papads/poppadum’s
½ a lime – juiced
4 tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped
½ tsp of fine sea salt
1 egg – beatenAbout 3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust these depending on heat and personal taste.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or I usually use a wok), add the onions and fry over a high heat, stirring now and then until they are deeply golden. Add the tomatoes to the onions and continue to cook until reduced to a golden ‘dryish’ paste. Add the chopped prawns, green chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder, lime juice and salt. Fry for a   minute or two until the prawns are cooked and remove from the heat. Brush the papads generously with water on both sides and leave to soften. Place 2 good tbsp prawn filling in the centre of each papad and brush the edge with beaten egg. Fold over so that the sides overlap and seal the open ends together – it should now be an oblong shape with the ends and folded edges all sealed. Make sure you don’t over fill them as they will burst in the pan. Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a clean frying pan and shallow fry three or four at a time for a couple of minutes, turning half way through until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen towel to remove excess oil Trim the ends off off and cut each into three pieces. Put cocktail sticks through to make picking them up easier. IMG_1350

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