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Recipes: Gujarati snacks from Great British Bake Off finalist Urvashi Roe's new book, Biting Biting

It features vegan and vegetarian dishes

Published: September 8, 2022
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“Eat!” The simple instruction my poor husband receives upon entering Mum’s kitchen. The poor man doesn’t stand a chance. My entire life has revolved around the conversation of what should we rustle up next because we Gujaratis eat. A lot. I’m not talking about the standard three meals a day he grew up with in St Andrews. Nope. I’m talking little bites. All. Day. Long. After 25 years of marriage he has learned the hard - but delicious - way that it is far easier to just say yes to my clan. The saree is mightier than his kilt.

It is customary to offer ‘katak batak’ when someone visits. Small bites, snacks, a little something. Katak means ‘small piece’ and batak means ‘bite’. In my family we say Biting Biting. Bitings are made with leftovers or store cupboard ingredients and a few essential spices. I really do mean a few because Gujarati cooking is incredibly simple and that is really what my book is about – easy base recipes which can then quickly be turned into delicious Biting Biting. As a mum of two teenagers with a full time job at KPMG, I really don’t have time for faff.”

Extracted from Biting Biting by Urvashi Roe, £20, Kitchen Press

Pawa (LEMON AND TURMERIC SPICED FLATTENED RICE)

Pawa are dried, flattened flakes of parboiled rice which you can buy in most Asian grocers. They’re very quick and easy to cook up and I’ve always got some in my store cupboard. When I’m really hungry but can’t be bothered to make anything fussy, I make this. On Sundays I make a double batch, to have immediately with fried or poached eggs and then tompack with some chopped tomatoes and onions to take to the allotment with a Thermos of tea.

Serves 4–6

50g sunflower seeds

300g medium pawa

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50ml sunflower or rapeseed oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

200g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes

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1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

2 tsp finely chopped green chillies

half a lemon

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100g fresh coriander, finely chopped

20g toasted sunflower seeds

seeds of half a pomegranate (optional)

a wok with a lid

1 Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan ’til they are just starting to turn golden brown and set aside. Put the pawa into a large bowl, cover with warm water for two or three minutes and then drain through a sieve.

2 Heat the oil in a non-stick wok over a low to medium heat. After a few minutes add the cumin seeds. They should fizzle and pop but if they don’t, give them a few minutes to do so. This is aroma number one. Add the curry leaves – aroma number two – and then the potatoes in quick succession. The lowish heat is important here because if your oil is too hot the potatoes will stick. Add the turmeric and the salt and mix ’til the potatoes are evenly coated.

3 Reduce the heat to low, pop the lid on and leave to cook for three or four minutes until the potatoes are just starting to soften. Add the green chillies and toss in the lemon half – this is aroma number three. Cover and cook for another few minutes until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the pawa with 50ml of water and squeeze in the juice of the lemon that was cooking with the potatoes. Toss everything together so that the pawa is evenly distributed amongst the potatoes. Cover and leave to cook for a few more minutes. Turn the heat off and let it steam with the lid on for a further five minutes. Pile into a serving bowl and scatter over the fresh coriander, toasted sunflower seeds and pomegranate seeds if using.

Reveya (PEANUT-STUFFED BABY AUBERGINES)

I never liked aubergines at school. They were always dense, oily and tasteless, whereas at home my mother would stuff them with crushed peanuts, cumin and tomatoes to make these reveya which I couldn’t eat fast enough.

Serves 4–8

100g blanched peanuts

100g tomatoes, roughly chopped

30g jaggery, grated

1½ tsp salt

2 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp finely grated ginger

100ml plus 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

100g fresh coriander, finely chopped

12 baby aubergines

2 tsp cumin seeds

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Put the peanuts, tomatoes, jaggery, salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and ginger into a food processor and blitz together. The peanuts should be coarse in texture so use the pulse setting so you don’t get too much of a purée.

Pour this mixture into a bowl and add 100ml of the oil. Reserve a spoonful of the finely chopped coriander and then add the rest to the peanut mixture and stir everything together so it’s nicely combined. The mixture should be like a thick paste so you can really push it into the aubergines.

Prep the aubergines by slitting them into quarters from the base and leaving the stem intact. Gently open out an aubergine and stuff it with a few tablespoons of the peanut, tomato and spice mixture. Repeat with the remaining aubergines.

4 Lightly oil a roasting tin or ovenproof dish. It needs to be large enough to snugly fit all the aubergines. Place the stuffed aubergines into the tin. If you have any spare mixture you can spoon it onto the aubergines. Pour 50ml water into the gaps between the aubergines, then drizzle over the remaining three tablespoons of oil and sprinkle over the cumin seeds.

5 Push the tomato halves in between the aubergines. Bake for 30–40 minutes. The aubergines should be tender and squidgy, oozing with the spicy mixture.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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