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Mouthwatering Indian holiday and festival food

March 30, 2015 11:30 am

India is famous as the land of a million festivals, thanks to its diverse population and vibrant mix of creeds and ethnicities. A complete guide to Indian holiday food would be a monumental task, so here's just a quick taster of the cuisine of India's most popular festivals.

Diwali

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated every autumn over a five day period. There is a big focus on sweet foods, including sweetmeats known as mithai, which are snack-like confectioneries that can be eaten throughout the day. Ball-shaped sweets called laddu (flour, dough and sugar) and slices of barfi (condensed milk, sugar, and either gram flour, cashews, pistachios or peanuts) are also popular, as are the slightly more complex sohan papdi, made with gram flour, sugar, ghee, milk and cardamom. Preparation...

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Cafe Asia food industry news: November 2014

March 27, 2015 3:16 pm

Welcome to the inaugural Cafe Asia news round-up! Every month, we’ll be bringing you a round-up of top headlines from the catering, manufacturing, cash and carry and foodservice sectors, giving you an insight into some of the major developments in these industries…

Regulation, Regulation, Regulation...

It’s been a big news month for the food and drink industry - especially in terms of regulation. The EU is implementing new food information regulations from December 13th onwards, meaning that any food that is sold unpackaged will need to feature allergy information. Prepackaged foods will also be affected, with changes to existing labelling legislation when it comes to allergens. In preparation for the new regulations, Fairway Foodservice are asking manufacturers to include this information (free of charge) in their Erudus One database, which is used by over 40 foodservice wholesalers who can use the system to view detailed information on over...

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Indian food – find out how it differs from region to region

March 26, 2015 12:30 pm

It’s a fact: Britons love a curry. According to statistics from The Curry Club, the UK’s 9,000 Indian restaurants attracted some 2.5 million diners every week in 2013. And who could blame them? Indian food is renowned as one of the most vibrant and diverse cuisines on the planet, and for good reason: successive waves of migration, invasion and imperialism have created a cultural melting pot on an enormous scale, and this eclectic history has left an indelible mark on the nation’s food.

At over 3 million square kilometres and with a population of more than one billion people, India is one of the largest, most populous and culturally diverse countries on the planet, so of course, there’s far more in the way of culinary fare than the curry house favourites on offer at your local takeaway....

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Top German snacks from food markets and street festivals

March 23, 2015 1:30 pm

Although the country is well-known for its breads and meats, a visit to any German snack market will quickly reveal a delicious range of foods that extend far beyond the simple bratwurst and pretzel, not that we’d have a problem with either! The food served at German markets is a popular choice around the UK, especially during winter, but what makes this European cuisine so especially excellent?

Spicy meats and treats

Germany is particularly well-known for its spiced meats and this is a well-earned reputation. The earliest cookbook known to man, from 2000 years ago, featured a recognisable German sausage recipe and it’s believed that the bratwurst has helped shape their culinary flavours. But what makes a bratwurst recognisable? Bratwurst recipes depend on the region where they are made and this can also affect the filling. Some bratwurst must...

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Tasty alternatives to traditional buffet fare

March 23, 2015 8:15 am

In the past, the UK buffet was frequently the least appealing element of any event or party. Plates of soggy sandwiches, dried up vol-au-vents containing a cream based filling which could be chicken, mushroom or something else (it was often hard to tell), pineapple and cheese on sticks, rice salad and silverskin onions were the norm. Nobody went to a party excited about a buffet.

This is no longer the case. With the vast array of alternative snacks and dishes available to chefs and home cooks there is no excuse for a bland, tasteless and uninteresting buffet.

Indian intrigue...

Some tasty options are Indian starters and snacks. Onion bhajis are always popular, as are meat or vegetable samosas and pakoras. These bite-sized, traditional Indian dishes are fantastic finger food, especially if they are served with...

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A bit on the side: international sauces and dips

March 18, 2015 12:00 pm

Many of us in the UK are infamous for throwing tomato ketchup on meals of all flavours and varieties, which some people consider an absolute travesty. However it’s equally true that there are some tried and tested sides and sauces that are incredibly popular when served with many Asian foods, especially their snacks.

A bit of ginger goes a long way

Those enjoying Japanese snack food for the first time may be surprised to find small packets of pickled ginger, known as gari, alongside their food. This is especially common when purchasing sushi to-go, to the extent that it’s often referred to as “sushi ginger” and its use is to cleanse the palate between different items. This allows you to fully enjoy the flavour of each item without allowing the flavours of different sushi varieties to influence one another. It also has a secondary purpose of quelling the...

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The difference between fresh and dried herbs and spices

March 16, 2015 12:30 pm

Herbs and spices have been an integral part to most cuisines since the first man or woman discovered that adding certain leaves, dried bark or roots to their food made it taste different and better. But what are the differences between fresh and dried herbs and spices, and what are the best ways to use them and store them to ensure that your food always tastes fantastic?

Flavour intensity

The main difference between fresh and dried herbs and spices is intensity of flavour. Dried herbs and spices have a stronger and more intense flavour and should be used more sparingly than fresh. If you are substituting dried herbs for fresh in a recipe the recommended ratio is 1:3, this ratio is reversed if substituting fresh herbs for dried. There is no set ratio with spices, although freshly ground spices have a more pungent flavour than pre-ground so it is advisable...

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Spanish snacks: from street food to home made cuisine

March 13, 2015 12:34 pm

Wander onto the packed streets of Madrid during the summer season and you’ll soon discover the incredible range of Spanish snacks that are available through the popular markets. Street food is a large part of Spanish culture and is considered to be a social event rather than picking up a quick meal on the go. This means that the food quality is high and the flavours are more complex than those found in some other cultures.

Well-known Spanish snacks

Of all the Spanish snack foods, the churro is probably the most recognisable. With its distinctive straight shape and dusted with cinnamon, the churro is also suited to a range of dipping sauces such as chocolate or caramel. Chestnuts are also a popular winter item when looking for a sweet snack. Spanish snack food often consists of individual portions of a...

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A change of flavours: from East to West

March 11, 2015 1:32 pm

The difference between Eastern and Western food is immediately apparent to anyone who loves world cuisine, but it can be surprisingly hard to explain. Is it as simple as the choice of spices? The sauces on top? Perhaps even the key ingredients? But meals with chicken, fish or beef taste incredibly different depending on the country in which they were made, so how can we recognise the fingerprint of a different culture?

Tracing recipe flavours from East to West

A scientific study of flavours in popular meals managed to reveal a cultural divide that clearly separates food from Europe and the Far East. A range of food flavours and key ingredients were collected and compared for similar and opposing traits. Fruits were collected together with similar fruits for example; dairy products were grouped closely, and this was carried across a palette of common flavours. The resulting map showed that...

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The popularity of the pakora

March 9, 2015 12:30 pm

The pakora is a fritter-like savoury snack food that finds its origins in Pakistani cuisine, though it's found all across South Asia and as far as Afghanistan and China. Pakoras, known by other names including pakodi, are usually made of gram or chickpea flour, with a filling of onions, cumin, tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, courgette, mangoes, tomatoes or cheese—to name just a few examples—and are then fried in oil or ghee (clarified butter) until crispy. They are often served with chaat masala, tamarind chutney or chilli sauce.

Sometimes different kinds of flour are used such as corn flour and bajra flour, and the outer layer can be made more bread-like, resulting in a soft pakora. The name comes from the Sanskrit word pakvavata, which roughly means 'a small cooked lump'. Not exactly the most poetic name, but don't...

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