Posted on September 30, 2014
We all love a can of fizzy pop, but have you ever considered what you might be able to do with that left over can? Let us introduce Linda Peterson, a professional award-winning arts and crafts designer known for her unique eye for detail, and in her fantastic new book, Upcycled Jewelry, she’ll show you just how easy it is to transform everyday objects into stunning accessories.
Today we’ve got a project from the book that reuses soda can tabs to create a fantastic biker bracelet. If we saw this chunky number in a shop then we’d be sure to buy it, but then everybody else would have one too, so why not make it yourself with Linda’s simple steps and have the most unique, upcycled bracelet around?
chunky biker bracelet
I love chunky jewelry and this bracelet is as chunky as they come! It’s a great piece for both guys and gals. The rubber strip is slightly elastic and allows the bracelet to stretch so it is easy to get on, yet fits comfortably.
YOU WILL NEED
Bicycle inner tube
96 soda can tabs
1. Cut lace strips about 1/8 in. (3 mm) wide from the inner tube. Taper the end of one strip, push through the hole of four stacked tabs, and knot around the end. Place the first 12 tabs together as shown in groups of four, threading the lace through the row of aligned holes.
2. Add the next stack of four tabs in the center and again thread the lace around and through the aligned holes. Add a stack of four on the top and the bottom and thread the lace to secure. Repeat these steps until you run out of tabs.
3. On one end of the bracelet you should have a set of tab stacks on either side with a single set in the middle on the opposite end. Interlock these together and thread the lace through. Knot the ends of the lace and tuck the knot inside.
Remember to place the nice finished sides on the top and bottom of each stack.
Push the starting and finishing knots around so they are hidden inside the bracelet.
To make cutting inner tubes easy, I apply masking tape to the surface. This prevents it stretching while cutting and so keeps the strips uniform in size.
If you run out of cord in the middle, simply tie on another length and hide the knot inside the bracelet.
Upcycled Jewelry by Linda Peterson is available here.
Have a fantastic rest of the week everyone and stash away those drinks cans!
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Posted on September 26, 2014
We’ve finally reached Friday and oh, what a week! With all the excitement from Bake Off, a crazy few days in the office and autumn hitting us over the head with a swift chill, we’re definitely ready for a relaxed weekend! Think warming comfort food as the leaves start to fall and easy leave-it-in-the-oven dinners while we get on with our weekends…
We shared a delicious cinnamon, cider and apple doughnut recipe yesterday, so today we’ve continued the apple theme but have opted for something simple, savoury and oh so September… a ham and apple pie. Taken from the new Easy Kitchen book, Pies & Tarts, this recipe is sure to be very tasty and a great one to make for the family.
ham and apple pie
Serve this with a robust vegetable such as broccoli, cabbage or sprouts and boiled, buttered new potatoes. Cook in deep individual dishes if you have the time.
For the suet crust pastry:
225 g/1¾ cups plain/ all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
50 g/2½ tablespoons lard
50 g/4 tablespoons shredded beef or vegetable suet
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2–3 tablespoons ice-cold water
3–4 tablespoons milk, to glaze
For the filling:
450 g/1 lb. cooked ham, diced
3 tablespoons plain/all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
450 g/1 lb. cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 onions, thinly sliced
300 ml/1¼ cups dry (hard) cider
sea salt and freshly ground
a 900-ml/1-quart pie dish
a pie funnel
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, add the lard and rub in with your fingertips until combined. Stir in the suet and herbs and mix to a soft dough with just enough of the water to bind. Knead lightly until smooth, then leave to rest in a cool place until required.
Toss the diced ham in the seasoned flour to lightly coat. Mix the sugar and spices together in a separate bowl.
Put half the ham in the pie dish and cover with half the apples, then half the spice mixture and half the onion slices. Repeat these layers, seasoning between each one, then pour in the cider.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and make a small slit in the centre to fit over the pie funnel. Dampen the edges of the pie dish with a little milk and cover with the pastry. Brush the pastry with milk, set the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 and bake for a further hour until golden (covering the top with kitchen foil if you feel the pastry is becoming too dark).
The Easy Kitchen: Pies & Tarts is available here.
Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend everyone, and happy cooking!
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Posted on September 25, 2014
Things are definitely hotting up in the Bake Off tent! Last night’s episode was the quarter finals and creativity was a little bit higher, contestants were a little more focused and even Mel & Sue seemed to have upped their pun game! Definitely the best episode of the series so far, and it’s getting harder and harder to pick our favourites.
Advanced Dough Week fever fully set in at RPS towers and once we heard that the showstopper challenge was doughnuts, we were hankering after something hot, fried and sugary! So of course we turned to Hannah Miles’ fab book Doughnuts and we certainly found something to fit the bill! We rather liked the sound of Richard’s wonderfully autumnal Toffee Apple doughnuts last night, and these Cinnamon Cider Apple Doughnuts are very appealing too.
Cinnamon Cider Apple Doughnuts
These cinnamon spiced doughnuts are filled with apple purée and coated in a cider glaze. Served with a mug of warming mulled cider, they are the perfect fall treat.
¾ cup/200 ml milk, warm
¼ oz./7 g fast-action dried yeast
2½ tablespoons/30 g soft light brown sugar
2⅓ cups/300 g all-purpose/plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1¼ cups/160 g white bread/strong flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons/60 g butter, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
sunflower oil, for greasing and frying
For the Filling
14 oz./400 g apple pie filling
1 tablespoon apple cider
For the frosting and apple decoration
1 small dessert apple, cored
scant ½ cup/100 ml sweet apple cider
2 cups/300 g confectioners’/icing sugar, sifted
16 small squares of baking parchment
a piping bag with a round tip/nozzle
Whisk together the warm milk, yeast and sugar in a jug and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until a thick foam has formed on top of the milk. Meanwhile, sift the flours into a large mixing bowl, add the salt, eggs, butter and cinnamon and stir together, then pour in the yeast mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then increase the speed and knead for about 8 minutes until the dough is soft and pliable. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand for 15 minutes. The mixture will be very soft but should not be sticky, so dust with flour if needed.
Lay the squares of baking parchment on a tray and lightly dust with flour. Divide the dough into 16 portions and, dusting your hands with flour, shape each portion into a ball and place on a square of baking parchment. Cover them with a clean damp kitchen towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Reshape the balls and then let rise in a warm place for about 35–45 minutes, covered in lightly greased plastic wrap, until the dough has doubled in size and holds an indent when you press with a fingertip. Rest again, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
In a large saucepan or deep fat fryer, heat the oil to 375ºF (190ºC). Holding the square of parchment, transfer each doughnut to the pan, one at a time, being careful not to handle the dough or splash hot oil. Cook in small batches for about 1½ minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the doughnuts from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, then let cool on a wire rack.
When the doughnuts are cool, use a teaspoon handle to poke a hole in the doughnut and move around to make a cavity inside. Put the apple pie filling and cider in a food processor and blitz to a smooth purée, then spoon into the piping bag and pipe into the cavity of each doughnut.
Thinly slice the apple into rings using a mandolin or sharp knife. In a saucepan, heat the cider to a gentle simmer. Add the apple rings and simmer for a few minutes until the apples are just soft then remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Put the icing sugar in a bowl, add 3–4 tablespoons of the warm cider from the pan and stir until you have a smooth thick frosting. Spread the frosting over the top of each doughnut using a round-bladed knife and decorate with an apple slice. Leave to set before serving.
Doughnuts by Hannah Miles is available here.
More baking ideas and recipes in our food books section.
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Posted on September 23, 2014
We all know what it can be like. The weekend feels very far away and there’s any number of stressful meetings and appointments between now and then, not to mention that Very Important Presentation looming just around the corner. With the rise of digital media, it can be even harder to switch off from work life and we find ourselves just checking our emails one last time, or remembering that urgent tweet we have to send at 11pm. In her new book Mindfulness @ Work, Anna Black outlines the practice of being mindful, and suggests some quick and easy meditations that we can use throughout our working day to improve our focus and help cope with stress. Here is one of these meditations, which will help calm and de-stress even the busiest worker.
Any activity can be done mindfully — more often, the challenge is remembering to do so, particularly when we get caught up in the distractions of daily life. To help remind us and to make mindfulness an intrinsic part of our life, it is helpful to set aside a short period of time as often as you can when you can simply be with yourself—watching the breath or doing any of the other practices in this book. The attitudes and skills we cultivate through regular practice provide a foundation that gives us the steadiness and confidence to practice mindfulness when we are caught up in the challenges of everyday life. It is one thing to remain calm when watching the breath at home, but quite another when faced with a crisis at work or a customer losing their temper with us.
The Mindful Minute
“I don’t have time to practice at work,” is a common refrain, but we all have a minute. Michael Chaskalson describes this practice in The Mindful Workplace, and it’s the perfect antidote to the lack-of-time excuse. People often feel uncomfortable with the open-ended nature of meditation—particularly if they are doing it in the workplace. What I like about this one is that you can create a simple and time-limited meditation tailored to you that can be done anywhere. Simply work out the number of breaths you normally take in a minute and use this as a guide to take a Mindful Minute at work.
You will need a stopwatch or timer to determine the number of breaths taken in a minute. You may want to engage someone else’s help with this so you are not worrying about when to start or finish. If you are timing yourself, I’d recommend settling yourself for a moment or two before beginning to watch the clock or timer. When you are ready, begin.
Count every breath you take—breathing in and breathing out counts as one breath. Don’t worry about the number as we all breathe at different rates. This is to determine the number of breaths you take in a minute, not someone else (and it can vary hugely—in one group of 14 people, for example, it ranged from 7 to 15 breaths).
If you like you can always repeat it a couple of times to get an average.
Once you have your figure simply remember it and the next time you want to practice, settle your attention on your breath and count each in- and out-breath as one up to the number you determined. That is your Mindful Minute. If you can do this every so often throughout the day, you will be creating minutes of present-moment awareness with all the positive benefits this brings.
Mindfulness @ Work by Anna Black is available here. Additional meditation publications also on our site.
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Posted on September 22, 2014
We were so thrilled to pop out of the office on Friday to visit the wonderful new craft event, The Handmade Fair, presented by Kirstie Allsopp at Hampton Court Palace. With stalls and tents full of creative ideas, lots of exciting workshops and crafty folk that we couldn't wait to meet, the fair was a real joy and we came away with big grins on our faces!
Our fair highlight was a visit to Annie Sloan's stand which was buzzing after a fantastic workshop and didn't seem to quieten down at any point during the day! Visitors couldn't wait to create their own colour using Annie Sloan's famous Chalk Paint® and Annie's many beautiful books and stunning Chalk Paint® range were standing proud on display (rumour has it that Annie had a lone copy of her new book and a few lucky workshop attendees enjoyed a sneak preview!)
We hope the lovely sunshine continued throughout the weekend for the rest of the fair, as the cheerful crafty vibes were heightened by glorious weather and a beautiful setting in the grounds of the Hampton Court Palace.
We were so pleased to go along to The Handmade Fair and hope that you all had a fantastic time too! If, like us, you're now super excited for Annie's new book - Annie Sloan's Room Recipes for Style and Colour - and can't wait to add it to your collection, then you can pre-order on Amazon now (and at a real bargain price)!
Enjoy your week everyone!
More beautiful interior inspirations needed?
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Posted on September 19, 2014
You might have seen on our Facebook and Twitter feeds that we have a snazzy new Book of the Week feature on our homepage now. This week Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan kicked it off for us, and so we decided to share a recipe from this gorgeous book as your Recipe for the Weekend!
Earlier this week there was an excellent launch party for Café Kitchen held at Lantana Shoreditch, and you can read more about that here. Now, as we all know, any good party needs a good Morning-After Brunch and we think you’d be hard pushed to find something better than this! So whatever you’re doing this weekend, take some time with the papers and enjoy these eggs-with-a-difference!
Baked Eggs with Chorizo, Mushrooms & Lemon Crème Fraîche
There are many versions of this Middle Eastern dish on breakfast menus in cafés throughout Australia. I like plenty of sauce, which helps to cook the eggs and provides lots of juice to mop up with toast.
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
Turkish bread, to serve
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
120 g chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 x 400-g can plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 star anise
1 x 5 cm strip orange rind, pith removed
12 basil leaves, roughly torn
15 g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
4 Portobello mushrooms, sliced
Lemon Crème Fraîche
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
a baking sheet, greased
Begin by preparing the Chorizo Sauce. Put the oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan set over a low–medium heat and gently sauté the chopped onion for 7–10 minutes until soft and translucent, but not coloured. Add the sliced garlic and chorizo, and cook until the chorizo starts to brown and release its oils. Add 60 ml of water and all the remaining ingredients except the basil. Season with salt and pepper, turn up the heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes, until the sauce is thick and glossy. Remove from the heat, discard the star anise and orange rind, stir in the basil and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4.
To prepare the mushrooms, melt the butter and olive oil in a frying pan set over a medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and allow it to cook gently for 2–3 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Place the mushrooms on the prepared baking sheet and spoon over the garlic-infused butter. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until tender.
To make the Lemon Crème Fraîche, combine all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl, cover and set aside.
Return the Chorizo Sauce to a low heat and gently reheat. Add the Baked Mushrooms to the pan, making sure they are evenly distributed and half submerged in the sauce. Make four holes in the sauce with a wooden spoon and crack in the eggs. Cover and cook very gently for 15–20 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still a little runny. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve with Turkish bread and Lemon Crème Fraîche.
Café Kitchenby Shelagh Ryan is available here. If you're still hungry, these may stop your tummy rumbles!
Have a great weekend, and happy brunching!
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Posted on September 18, 2014
Last night we celebrated the launch of Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan at her beautiful café in Shoreditch and oh, it was a wonderful evening! With a room full of fantastically chatty people, superb service and lots of smiles from the Lantana staff, the most delicious canapés you can imagine (think crisp pork belly bites, tasty corn fritter blinis and the café's favourite Thai fishcakes!), all washed down with a glass or two of fizz (and some delicious Australian wine) - the evening was a huge success!
Shelagh's book took centre stage with a cracking display that had everybody talking. With everything from lazy brunches to exciting salads, coffee and cake to international feasts, the recipes in Café Kitchen are all about relaxed dining and enjoying good food with friends.
It seems fitting, then, that the evening was full of both good food and friendly folk!
Flicking through the books, guests were drooling over the Australian café style recipes, only to be presented with them in canapé form throughout the evening. We enjoyed these amazing chorizo, red pepper & pea frittata bites; the freshest, tastiest salt & pepper squid that sent you straight to the Australian coast; adorable miniature spicy pork burgers with mango salsa; sweet treats, including oh-so-good cherry ripe slices; and so much more! All of the recipes are in the book and while we certainly enjoyed the smiley service and constant flow of food, we can't wait to get into the kitchen and make them ourselves!
As if the book wasn't tempting enough already, we had a great offer for guests and Shelagh was signing copies!
So, all in all, a lovely evening to celebrate a lovely book. Congratulations Shelagh and thanks for having us!
Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan is available here. If you like that book, you're sure to like our other food books.
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Posted on September 16, 2014
With the summer fading away and all of our beautiful plants surrendering to autumn, we wanted to find a way to enjoy flowers around the office and in our homes right through the season! So today we’ve got a craft project from Paper Flowers by Denise Brown, a book full of lovely ideas using everything from tissue and crepe paper to giftwrap and pages torn from glossy magazines. These Faded Roses are reminiscent of our favourite summer blooms, yet their stylish vintage colours will match any home décor so you can set them on your table or in a little vase to brighten up the room!
There are origami versions of this folding method that are very precise and beautiful but I prefer the quirkiness of casual blooms made with crepe paper. You can make larger roses using a bigger paper strip but a cluster of tiny ones looks fabulous as a wrist corsage. It may take a while to master the technique but it gets easier the more you make.
Watercolors and paintbrushes
White crepe paper
Plastic sheet or waterproof surface
Absorbent kitchen towel
White (PVA) glue
1 Make a strong color first by dipping a paintbrush loaded with color into about three tablespoons of clean water. Test the color out on some spare paper, remembering it will look very different when dry. When you are happy with the strong color, transfer some to a new container and dilute it with more clean water. Then in a third container dilute again to achieve a very pale version.
2 For each flower, cut a strip of crepe paper 18 x 3in. (45 x 7.5cm) with the grain vertical to the strip. Lay the strip on a waterproof surface and dampen by brushing all over with clean water. The paper may stretch a little and it will be fragile so take care. Pick up excess water by dabbing with a piece of kitchen towel if necessary.
3 While the strip is still damp, load a paintbrush with the lightest color and paint onto a third of the strip. Painting with the grain is easier.
4 Load the paintbrush with the medium color and paint onto the rest. Use the dark color on one end of the strip, which will make the center of the rose. Let dry. If the color is too pale when dry you can dampen the strip again and add more color.
5 Lightly fold the dry strip in half lengthwise; do not make a firm crease because the petal edges should look soft. With the strip fold at the top, turn over one end toward you at 45 degrees and make a light crease so that the lower edge is just over halfway down the folded strip. Turn the strip so the new fold is now vertical and place a toothpick along the 45-degree crease right up to the top point, which will be the center of the rose.
6 Pick the toothpick up in one hand and begin to roll it into the strip. Just as the top gets covered, fold the top of the strip away from the toothpick at an angle with your other hand. Fold it over only a little—the idea is that the top of the strip is still a little higher than the central point of the rose.
7 Continue to roll the strip up the toothpick, folding the strip over and away from you as you go. This does take a little practice but you can unravel and reposition the petals if necessary. Try not to make a triangle shape each time but vary where you make the petal folds.
8 If you are happy with the shape your folds are making, add a dab of glue every now and then to hold them in place. Let dry.
9 Remove the toothpick from the rose and trim the base of the rose at an angle to approximately ½ in. (12mm) long. Cut a 6in. (15cm) length of wire, put a dab of glue on the end and insert it into the base of the rose.
10 Color some crepe paper in a subtle muted green and cut it into strips ½ in. (6mm) wide and approximately 16in. (40cm) long, with the grain vertical to the strip. Glue one end around the back of the rose and wrap the strip around the stem at an angle of 45 degrees, adding a dab of glue every now and then to hold it in place. Let dry and trim off the excess paper.
So, keep summer sticking around that little bit longer, and happy crafting!
Paper Flowers by Denise Brown is available here.
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Posted on September 15, 2014
19th-21st September, Hampton Court Palace
If you love making and creating then this brand new craft fair will be your perfect day out! With such a fantastic collection of industry experts and lots to see and do, we are so thrilled that author Annie Sloan will be there to offer you some paint and upcycling inspiration!
The Handmade Fair is presented by Kirstie Alsopp in association with Mollie Makes and sponsored by HobbyCraft. You can buy tickets here, priced at £29, or head to the website to find out what else is on.
Annie will be talking in the Super Theatre on Saturday at 4pm, inspiring you to upcycle your old furniture. She will also be holding Upcycling workshops in the Upcycling Tent every day.
Annie Sloan (pictured above with her son, Felix Sloan) is one of the world’s most respected experts in the field of decorative painting. She runs highly successful workshops from her store in Oxford, UK, and teaches in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Annie has written more than twenty books, leading to total sales of well over two million books worldwide, which include the bestselling Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture and More and Creating the French Look (all published by CICO Books). She has also featured prominently on PBS television and the Homes & Gardens TV channel. She sells her own highly acclaimed range of Chalk Paint® which is available from over 900 locations worldwide, each one an independent store that Annie has handpicked herself. She has also recently launched fabric and fragrance collections that complement the Chalk Paint® range.
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Posted on September 12, 2014
After a busy week publishing loads of wonderful books we’re very glad it’s Friday! We’re looking forward to getting home, cooking something nice and hearty and relaxing with friends and a film. Whatever you’re up to this weekend, we think this lovely warming curry from Jordan Bourke’s brand new book The Natural Food Kitchen will be the perfect accompaniment. This book is packed full of really scrumptious recipes that taste delicious, look beautiful and are good for you as well! We just couldn't wait to share this one!
Spinach Kofta Curry
When it comes to healthy and delicious vegetarian food, Indian cuisine really has it covered. This spinach kofta curry is just one such example, absolutely packed with flavour from all the spices and herbs, really comforting and warming, and yet good for you as well, with no cane sugar, refined wheat or dairy in sight. If you want the kofta to retain their crispiness, you can also serve them with the sauce on the side for dipping into.
220 g chickpea flour
250 g spinach, stemmed and roughly chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon red chilli powder
1.25-cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 onion (about 100 g), finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
pinch of baking powder
¾ teaspoon sea salt
vegetable oil, to fry
steamed rice, to serve
For the curry:
2 large tomatoes
2 fresh green chillies, deseeded
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2.5-cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons cashew nuts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon sea salt
handful of chopped coriander leaves
For the koftas, sift the chickpea flour into a large bowl, then stir in 120 ml water until you have a very thick batter with no lumps. Add the spinach to the batter with the rest of the ingredients and stir very well to combine. It should be thick with the spinach bound together by the batter – if it is too dry, add a little water; if it’s too wet, add a little flour. Add 1 cm of vegetable oil to a wide frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, place heaped tablespoons of the batter into the oil, using 2 spoons to shape into mounds. Cook in batches for 7–8 minutes, turning a few times until deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. For the curry, place the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, ginger, onion and cashew nuts in a food processor and blitz for a few minutes until smooth. Pour the oil into a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add in the cumin seeds, ground turmeric and ground coriander and fry for about 30 seconds. Add in the nut paste from the food processor, chilli powder, garam masala and salt and stir well to combine. Turn the heat down to low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
Add in 400 ml water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to low-medium, add in the koftas and simmer for about 4 minutes until they have absorbed some of the water and the curry has thickened. Add in most of the coriander and stir through. Serve in bowls with the remaining coriander and the rice on the side.
The Natural Food Kitchen by Jordan Bourke is available here. His other very popular book, The Guilt-free Gourmet, written with sister Jessica, is also available here.
Have a lovely weekend, and happy cooking!
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