Saturday, 19 December 2015

Some lovely homeware from homesense.

My love and obsession for food props is one that I am always sharing here on my blog. This year while shopping I discovered some really pretty homeware in Homesense that I fell in love with immediately. I thought about leaving subtle hints with photos of the items for the family to buy for me for Christmas but to be honest I could not wait that long so I have declared a new trend in the household; one must buy a pressie for oneself each christmas. At least you are guaranteed one present that you know is exactly what you wanted!!!!

Really christmas presents should be wrapped and put under the tree  ready to be opened and enjoyed on Christmas day. But I am going to give you a sneak preview of what I bought before I do that.

There really christmassy set of  4 gold dishes in the flower shape are gorgeous.They are perfect for serving nibbles, chocolates etc I love the shimmer on them, they are gorgeous.

My second find were these amazing blue dishes with the gold pattern. The set of 4 dishes are really unique, each has its own intricate pattern and are very original. The dishes are in a shiny gold finish with the most eye catching blue glass, they are perfect for serving nibbles, icecream or just dotted around with some potpourri in them.


Although these were  supposed to be a pressie to myself for christmas I could not resist using them in a photo shoot before I wrapped them. Naughty I know but they do look lovely in the photo.

I also love authentic cookware and when I saw this beaten silver karai I immediately fell in love with it. It will be perfect for serving curries in it.

Beautifully shiny with two handles this is a really authentic little dish from India.I am now looking for a matching plate to go with it.

My last find was this really sturdy ice cream scoop. You will not believe it but in the past year I have gone through 4 ice cream scoops the two plastic ones cracked and the handles broke, the metal one was not stainless steel and rusted so when I came across this really good quality stainless steel scoop I had to add it to my shopping basket. Hopefully this is the last time I have to buy an ice cream scoop.

This are my four presents to myself for christmas. I love shopping at Homesense, the variety and choice is lovely and you can get the most unusual gifts in there. I am planning to go back in the new year to get some lovely cushions that I have seen.

I was sent a homesense voucher to spend in homesense all the views and opinion in this post are my own.

Friday, 27 November 2015

#LightsCameraCurrys- A photography event at Nikon school of photography.

I was recently invited to spend an evening at the Nikon school of photography to learn some tips on food photography. It was  such a wonderful opportunity, that I  jumped at the chance to attend especially as I have a Nikon DSLR camera and it would be great to learn how to use the camera and its functions to its full potential.

As always when we arrived we were fed and watered with some delicious sandwiches, nibbles fruits and cakes and there was plenty of wine and soft drinks to fill us up before the session. 

After a brief intro and talk about ISO, shutter speeds, lighting and light sensitivity we were let loose to get our creative juices flowing . There were four different  food settings with different lighting, we were encouraged to try our hand at capturing the setting using different modes on our cameras.

These were the subjects we were going to photograph.

Best Tip of the Evening:
One of the best tips I picked up from the evening was how to Pre set the white balance prior to taking a photo. Go to menu, select white balance, click on Pre and take a photo of a white area near the place where you are going to take photo.If you don't have a white area photograph a sheet of white paper/ tablecloth. Set the white balance and save it .Now take a photo using this calibration and see what difference it makes to your photos. It made dramatic difference in my photos.

Here are a few of my attempts:

Attempting to get depth of focus by blurring the background.

Trying to capture a closeup of the cut pomegranate.

Capturing photo to show depth of focus.

Capturing photo to show depth of focus,

I had a wonderful time learning about photography. I would like to Thank Nikon and Currys for inviting me to the event.
You can read more about the event here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

3D Table top Christmas Tree

Christmas does not feel like christmas without a christmas tree up. Many people live in flats or bedsits and there is no where to put up a full size christmas tree and often have to  miss out. This little 3D tree can be made in any size using simple card. It's easy to make but looks great on a table, desk, window ledge or on a shelf.

To make the 3D Christmas Tree you will need:

  • 1 piece of white a4 paper
  • 6 pieces of Green a4 card 
  • Pva Glue (or glue stick)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Gold, silver, red, green decorations such as gems, berries, bells, buttons, stickers.
  • 1 small glittery foam gold star ( or you can cut out a star from gold card)

1. Fold the a4 sheet of paper in half and place the sheet with the folded side to the right in front of you.

2. Draw a Christmas tree shape with a pencil as per picture below.

3.Cut the tree shape out.

3. Using the white paper tree template cut out 6 identical trees from the green card.

4. Fold each green card tree in half. You should have 6 folded trees.

5. Place two trees of the folded sides next to each other and spread glue on one side and stick the two tree halves together.

6. Continue following step 5 until you have all 6 green card trees stuck together like a concertina.

7. Once all six green trees are stuck together, stand the tree up and fan it out to create a 3D tree.

8. Using any decorations of your choice and plenty of imagination decorate your tree as desired. Finally stick a gold star at the top of your tree.

This post is in collaboration with viking direct . I purchased the green card, white paper and glue from Viking Direct who supplied the  equipment in this post.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Restaurant review Mangal 1.1

On a cold october evening, what is more welcoming than a restaurant that has log fire, low beamed ceilings, rustic tables and chairs and a warm ambience. You can find all this at Mangal 1.1  based in Shoreditch at The Comedy Cafe and Bedroom Bar at 68 Rivington St London, Greater London EC2A 3AY

The restaurant serves middle Eastern Cuisine. A variety of kebabs cooked on charcoal grills all served with warm bread and salads are a favorite with non vegetarians. The vegetarians can easily enjoy the fresh Mediterranean salads and vegetarian meze dishes and falafels.

My friend Heidi and I had the opportunity to sample the food at Mangal 1.1.We started off with some juices to wet our appetites and than munched on fresh bread served with Hummus a dip made with chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice, Cacik a dip made with cucumber and yoghurt, Ezme a salad of finely chopped vegetables and herbs and Patlican salad made with grilled aubergine and chopped peppers. 

All the dips with the hot bread were really delicious and a perfect start to the meal. I could have easily munched through another plate of these delicious salads and dips instead of the main course.

For our main course Heidi had the lamb shish, marinated cubes of lamb grilled on skewers served with a green us salad, she said it was delicious. 

Being a vegetarian, there were only two options to choose from; the Falafel deep fried chickpea balls or the Sebzeli Guvec which was a dish made with courgettes, aubergine, potato, green and red peppers with mozzarella cheese.

I was offered the Falafel which was served with salad and Hummus. The falafel were a little dry for my  taste, I guess this was probably from the double frying. 

For dessert we shared a plate of baklava, a sweet nut filling encased in filo pastry and drenched in sugar syrup all washed down with filter coffee. Baklava were delicious and had a very authentic flavour.

Mangal 1.1 is the perfect place to grab a quick meal after work whilst in London.
Heidi and I were invited to the Mangal 1.1 as guests to try out their food, all the views and opinions in this post are of my own experience.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Moru Kachiyathu with Mango and Bananas (Seasoned Buttermilk)

print recipe

Moru Kachiyathu with Mango and Bananas (Seasoned buttermilk)
A delicious buttermilk curry seasoned with mango and bananas tempered with South Indian spices.This is a very traditional buttermilk dish that is regularly served in Kerala.
  • 400 ml Natural Yoghurt
  • 1 large Ripe mango
  • 1 large Banana
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric 
  • 1.5 teaspoon Salt
  • 15 Curry leaves
  • 2 Green Chillies
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 2 Dried Red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon Sunflower oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds


1. Slice the onion thinly into long strips and keep aside.2.Slit the green chillies and keep aside.3.Slice the mango on both sides on the stone so you have two halves and remaining mango on stone.4. Slice one half of mango into thin slices keeping the skin on and keep aside.5. Peel the skin off the remaining mango and cut the flesh into small cubes. Do this with all the mango flesh on the stone as well.6. Add the diced mango to the Optimum 9400 Blender and puree it to a pulp.7. Once mango is pureed add the yoghurt,salt,ginger and turmeric to the mango and blend it for a few seconds.Transfer the mango yoghurt mixture to a large bowl.8. Slice the banana and add it to the yoghurt mixture together with the mango slices that were kept aside. Mix together.9. Add oil in a pan and when it is hot add the onions and saute them for a few minutes, add the onions to the yoghurt mixture and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish.

10. Add a little more oil to the pan and when it is hot add the mustard seeds , green chillies, red chillies and curry leaves. Pour the tempering on top of the yoghurt mixture and its ready to serve.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: serves 4

I got the inspiration for this recipe from a South Indian Cookery class I recently visited at Food at 52.

I made my recipe in the The Optimum 9400 blender which was sent to me by Froothie to try out, you can see the original review here. 
The Optimum 9400 is a really powerful and versatile blender, not only does it blend liquids, it can pulse, grate and grind ingredients. It crushes ice in seconds and you can create the most amazing icecreams in minutes. But that is not all, you can also create hot soups and sauces in the same blender too.I love using the blender for creating smoothies, soups, icecreams and nut butters too. It can even make scrambled eggs!!!

The Optimum 9400 is available to buy at £349.00, It comes with a 1 MONTH TRIAL - MONEY BACK GUARANTEE (includes return postage costs for UK customers) For citrusspiceuk readers you can get a extra two years warranty  if you order through this post. Just put "Special Ambassador Offer" in comment box on order form.
If you like the sound of this awesome blender, please order it through here.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Food photography props.

It has been a while since I have shared any updates on my addition to my food props collection. As my regular readers will know I have a rather soft for food photography props and there is never a missed opportunity when ever I am out and about.
 I recently went to Axminster Devon for a bloggers day at River Cottage HQ. Together with my foodie friends we decided to stay over in Devon for three days, this gave us lots of spare time to explore the nearby coastal town of Lyme Regis and Beer. Both these coastal towns are really pretty with cobbled alleyways and lots of quaint shops.

In Axminster we accidently stumbled on this amazing recycling shop that was stacked from floor to ceiling with every type of crockery, houseware and old artefacts. My foodie friends Tina, Manjiri and I had an amazing time rummaging through the stack load of crockery for food props. It was really hard not to buy up everything in sight as we had travelled by train and there was no way we could manage to take it all home.

After much deliberation and will power, I bought some bright hand painted wooden bowls with spoons. I am looking forward to doing some sort of Mexican dish to serve in these bowls.

I also bought some really pretty antique look spoons, and the two brass bowls. 

I am excited to feature these in my food photos soon. My favorite spoon is the really tarnished one (second in photo), don't you think it looks really good? Funnily enough the lady in the shop said to me you will need to clean this one up and I thought to myself Nooooo!!. I am buying it for the worn tarnished look.

Finally my last buy was there pretty lace hankies. I can just picture a little old victorian lady having these in her purse. They will be lovely in a cake photo draped under a floral bone china cup and saucer. This little collection is on day one of my trip, you will have to wait to read my next post to see if I managed to control my prop addiction or not for the rest of my trip! 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Afternoon tea at the Amba and visit to Audrey Hepburn exhibition at the Tate

What better way to spend a sunday afternoon than spending time with like minded foodie friends walking around the Tate gallery reminiscing at the Audrey Hepburn exhibition. The Exhibition was a photographic recollection of Audrey Hepburn's life from 1929-1993. The exhibition had more than 70 photographs, vintage magazine  covers and film stills of Audrey Hepburns's life. After spending over an hour at the exhibition we went to the Amba our host for a wonderful afternoon tea.

The Amba hotel is housed in an elegant Grade II listed building beside Trafalgar Square, the 4-star Amba Hotel Charing Cross offers excellent service in historical settings. It is set in London next to charing cross station in the heart of London. Tastefully decorated with vintage look, high ceilings and sweeping staircases the Amba hotel is the perfect location to end a glorious afternoon in London to enjoy afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea means dainty sandwiches and scrumptious cakes served in beautiful teas cups. Amba hotel did full justice to the buffet afternoon tea they served us. Platter after platter of sandwiches, cakes, scones and pastries were laid out for a group of hungry bloggers to devour. An array of teas and coffees were served in beautiful floral china and the prosecco flowed all afternoon as if on tap.

You can book and enjoy a proper sit down afternoon tea experience at the Amba hotel  in their terrace restaurant overlooking the strand.

The Amba hotel catered really well for all dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegetarian and dairy free. The cakes and sandwiches were delicious and the afternoon was really enjoyable.

I was an invited guest to the afternoon tea and the Audrey Hepburn exhibition by Amba hotel. All the views and opinions shared in this post are my own and of my experience of the afternoon. To read more about the after noon you can see the Amba hotels post here.