The Foodie Scientist.


I’ve been absent, I get it. My hands are up in surrender. But I’m here now and shouldn’t that count? And as a little bit of an apology, this post is going to be inundated with yours and mine’s favourite, food.

I’ve loved cooking and baking and it goes without saying…experimenting. Mind you, this love affair only began once I realised that cooking wasn’t a chore and onerous task. The first mess up I made, I don’t even remember the dish, my mum simply said start again and don’t worry about the mess. That made me see that the kitchen was much more like my lab. You don’t give up after a single failed experiment, you change parameters, you optimise and you try again. You start off following protocols, but you adapt to make it work for you and your conditions. And that’s exactly like cooking, you start with a recipe and you adjust it to your taste and what you have available. Except please don’t taste your Ringer’s buffer and your SDS-PAGE gel!

I’m really not embellishing when I say ‘inundated’ with food…take a look for yourself! I won’t lie, I’ve found much easier to post my foodie exploits on my Instagram page (I know! Nazra has moved into the 21st Century with social media!) @q.nazra 🙂

 

Khaman Dhokla

Chicken Jalfrezi with rice

Butter chicken with naan

Steak and Chips from Toro’s steakhouse, Manchester

Quarter peri peri chicken from Toro’s steakhouse, Manchester

Refreshing mocktails from Toro’s steakhouse, Manchester

Halal full English breakfast from Millie’s tearoom, Hayfield

The Indian inspired Veggie breakfast from Millie’s tearoom (and B&B), Hayfield

Rose, Lemon and Pistachio drizzle cake

Oven roasted Salmon fillet with herb roasted potatoes and mint salsa verde!

Spinach pesto and chilli pasta

Salt and pepper chicken with veg noodles from Oodles chinese, Coventry (my fav takeout!)

Cake Box (can never say no to cake!)

Fruit scone from Rising cafe, Coventry

Smoked salmon and poached egg breakfast from Cosy club

Veggie breakfast from Cosy club

Garlic mushroom from The Farmhouse, Coventry

Passionfruit Daiquiri (mocktail of course!), The Farmhouse, Coventry

Steak! From The Farmhouse, Coventry

Indian fish and chips from The Farmhouse, Coventry

Cardamom panna cotta with a strawberry coulis

Chana daal with gourd (dudhi/kaddu)

Palak paneer, made with tandoori spiced paneer! It’s soo good!

Brownies! Recipe inspired by Roojie The Foodie #RTF

Curried cauliflower

Lasagna

Veggie Hot Pizza from Pizza Hut

Rava idli with sambhaar!

Oodles chinese! Kung pao and crispy chicken

Egg fried rice

BBC Good Food recipe – nutty chocolate bread!

Chicken and green bean curry

Chicken 65 – recipe from Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun (FKF)

Mixed veggie curry (aubergine, potato and pigeon peas)

Creme caramel

Cheesy pasta

My famous ‘Flaounas’

Achaari chicken!

Semolina pudding (sooji)

Chicken khao suey

Veggie pasta

Fudgy Oreo brownie cake

Las Iguanas dessert

Mac n cheese @ Las Iguanas

Masoor gosht with rice (brown lentil and lamb curry)

Fish curry – Sea bass

Egg and kebab curry

Creamy Philadelphia tagliatelle

 

The lazy bird hits the hay.


I seem to be getting more and more terrible at keeping up with my posting, and it’s not for a lack of content, thought or passion. I simply lack the energy. I suppose the only ‘silver lining’ is that it’s not long until I embark on my journey of a lifetime…much needed for me as a person right now, and I know that it will recharge me. I’ve been a lot more ‘ill’ than I can ever remember being and needing trips to the hospital – which is quite frankly unheard of for me. I hope it’s just a bad phase that I’m going through and I hope that my body can recover and isn’t just warning me of something lurking (I can’t even delve there right now…not strong enough).

But nonetheless, I have been cooking where possible (and when I am able to stand without screaming in pain) to distract myself of the pain of a having a job that I have no passion for, a body who is clearly aging in number and function (and I’m still only late twenties! Oh dear!) and the sudden change that is married life. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married, I get to be with my best friend always and live in our home together…but I miss depending on my mum and dad and them knowing how to take care of me when I’m sick. I know they’re not that far away…but sometimes being alone in the house feels just like that…alone. I don’t deal well with the quiet and I need distractions, perhaps a reason why I enjoy cooking so much.

I’ve contemplated leaving my job and just taking a breath…but it’s a not financially feasible option, I wish it were different. I miss being a student, I miss the opportunities of learning and honestly, if my current job was what the role is ‘supposed’ to be, I would’ve been learning and perhaps not been so miserable. Science is beautiful, and I miss actually being in the lab, holding that pipette and using it as precisely as possible, I miss experiments and figuring out why you have a response, I miss articulating my thoughts through literature and observation and above all else I truly miss feeling like I have something to leap out of bed in the morning for. I hate being stuck at a computer (blogging in no way counts!) and with my right eye acting up (scaring me incredibly and also causing the need to go to eye casualty) it’s not very comfortable doing ‘computer’ work. If I had wanted to be sat in front of a PC all day, I would’ve gotten an office job. I hope that a research position that offers the chance of learning but using my skills and passion is out there somewhere…part of me is scared to search with all the rejections I’ve faced. But you won’t know until you try, right?

Anyway, here’s some more food that I’ve been busy making, I haven’t baked anything sweet in a while, perhaps I’l do some of that today!

NQ out.

Pizza pinwheels made for Eid

Chicken karahi with rice

My favourite, Daal gosht with rice!

Who doesn’t love a good cream tea!

Chicken and vegetable pie

Kidney bean curry…purely vegan

I love runny yolks for breakfast!

Kebab and potatoes with roti!

Gujarati staple…Kadhi, bhaji and rice

Bhaji (spinach) with potatoes…also vegan

Lamb karahi with rice

First time making Dhoodh kurma (also known as Seviyaan) without a recipe and just going by taste and memory! Did very well!

Grilled mint chicken, paprika roasted potatoes and cheesy garlic bread (bought from Basement Browns!)

My Eid platter! Pinwheels, sakkar para, chicken wings, gajar halwa and chocolate covered strawberries

 

 

 

 

PS. Super weird that a former colleague who was always a bit jealous (no idea why!) of me wished me a Happy Birthday…before my friends!!! So weird!

Twin Shadows. The beginning.


It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally all real and all settled in. No, I’m not yet in the research job of my dreams, but Dr NQ has just added to her life, my very own live in bestie. Also known as a ‘husband’. That’s right! Nazra got married! Wahay! Almost encroaching a month now and things have settled despite families to please, setting up the house and of course working in between.

I would describe the events in detail…but they truly are 4 days of just blurs. Great blurs. I actually enjoyed everything, which is almost like saying that Pluto IS a planet. It was amazing fun and having my friends share the experience with me was the most I could ever ask for, everyone was happy (which for a wedding…is incredibly rare!), the food was great and I got to do the important things my way. Make up free for my entire wedding. Wearing white. No henna and no jewellery. Just the way I like it. We planned a million things, I had bought so many extras…and none of that manifested, but what happened was spontaneous and so much better. I loved my wedding day. An incredibly strange feeling for a non-girly ‘girl’ (I feel like being in my twenties means I can still get away with ‘girl’) who has never enjoyed weddings, not even the thought of them. I surprise myself far often than not. I surprise myself with the strength and belief I have in myself, with how much I have been through, all the heartache and tears…but they all made me the stronger person that can proudly be assertive, authoritative and all the way remain realistic and grounded.

But enough about me, let’s talk about the important stuff! Food! The last 3.5 weeks has been cooking, eating out, exploring and getting used to the idea of my own home. Awesomeness.

Here’s some of the food I’ve devoured. More to come. Yuminess infinitely…well, at least according to the husband.

Lasagna – first ever meal!

Set mung daal prep (my sister’s fav)

Dry fish curry – Seabass

Chicken stir fried egg noodles

Twin shadows – The beginning of forever

BBQ day with the in-laws

Deadly fruit salad (kiwi!) and mocktail!

Chicken Karahi!

Label maker obsession

Masoor lentils

Lamb curry with potatoes

Breakfast with homemade wedges

Cauliflower, cabbage and pigeon pea curry

Tonight’s dinner…Butter chicken.

 

The next post hopefully won’t take as long to come up! Expect some reviews on food and hopefully more food pics, just in time before the best month ever descends…Ramadhan! Can’t wait!

 

Dr/Mrs NQ out.

What time is it? It’s Vegan time!


Yummy vegan and vegetarian food!

The ‘Wicked Kitchen’ range of exclusively vegan food is actually Wicked; from what I’ve managed to try, they’ve managed to get a lot of flavour into their products, which is something I often find lacking in most packaged foods, especially catered for vegetarians/vegans. My favourite has to be the sourdough caponata pizza with mint salsa verde (tasted amazing!).

So as the title may hint, I’ve been experimenting with a changeup of my dietary habit, just because! I’ve always liked vegetarian/vegan food, but it’s always been very Indian, and as I’ve mentioned before a lot of Gujarati food is vegetarian, in fact on closer inspection it’s actually vegan. So I figured why not!

It started off quite easy and for the first two weeks (the last two of Veganuary) it was great, I was very strict with what I would eat and I actually found myself more focussed and more energetic, probably because I wasn’t binge eating as much nor was I indulging. I actually really enjoyed the vegan food I cooked at home, and sometimes it would end up being vegetarian if I couldn’t escape certain ingredients, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed cooking and eating freshly made food at home! I even managed to re-write my results chapters for my thesis and write the majority of my conclusion too.

But the great start was not to last, a few cravings later and I found myself seriously wanting a different texture and taste, notably chocolate. And of course, since JamJar recently opened in Coventry, it was a no brainer. The mix chocolate cookie dough was divine! Very indulgent but perfectly sweet, not too much and not too little and the hazelnut gelato was a much preferred accompaniment to the hot cookie dough over vanilla ice cream served elsewhere. If I had more of a sweet tooth I would be going back regularly! But luckily I’m not overly hyped on dining out! Save the pennies AND the pounds! A necessity for a student.

So whilst it lasted it was certainly interesting, I lasted a lot longer than I had initially given myself credit for and I think I’m certainly going to change my dietary habits, mostly cutting back on the binge eating and trying to consciously include freshly cooked vegetables into my everyday eating pattern. And although ‘Wicked Kitchen’ is incredibly pricey, I will certainly be looking out for offers and marked down prices, because the food is good and the tub is reusable! Perfect!

 

PS. Food listed from left to right, top row: Mustard seed potatoes (Gujarati – rai vara bataka), Chana masala, Delhi dal makhni (ready to eat range from Ashoka). Bottom row: Gluten free mac and cheese with spicy mushrooms, Spiced brussel sprouts and sugar snap peas, Mushroom curry.

Ready, Steady…Bake/Cook/Eat!


I believe that this is a much needed post, with all the surreal calamities befalling the globe…be it man-led or natural, I feel like we need something to distract us. To make us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside again, so that maybe, just maybe…we can at least realise what it means to be human again. I can’t help but have a serious undertone to my words, and that is because I find it impossible to ignore what it going on…why do we allow the few of the human race to dominate and undermine what it is to be human?…you know what, that is a question for another post.

I promised myself that I was going to keep this light-hearted…not just because I need it right now, but because we all do. And what’s better than food to keep us going when times are tough.

This is a montage to food…a montage to my food, my cooking. I love cooking/baking!

 

IMAG4032.jpg A comfort food common to almost ALL Gujaratis…Rai vara bataka (Potato with mustard seeds).

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A Fruity number, blueberry and raspberry traybake…I sort of over did it on the fresh fruit aspect and so it was more tart than nice! Well, at least the pigeons enjoyed it!

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Chicken enchiladas…pre-cheese melting! Yum! I love Mexican inspired food, almost as much as I love my Indian food. I like the depth of flavours of things and the spicy, tart, sweet combinations that flood your palate!

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Quintessentially British! I love a good Cream tea! Tart raspberry jam with velvety clotted cream. It’s always jam first for me!

 

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My very first attempt at a hidden Oreo surprise cupcake! Went down unbelievably well…had to stop the siblings fighting over the last one! I was too overwhelmed by sugar in the days before baking this (night before Eid! As always lol) so didn’t try it, but I’ve been assured it is very much in demand! The buttercream was a last minute addition courtesy of my aunts recipe (milk is a must! Her words!), which I proceeded to make on Eid day, dressed in my Eid clothes. God knows how I managed to keep it clean!

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Hot chocolate volcano with custard! I love custard! I went with a colleague of mine to Creams, and this is what I got. Well worth the dairy induced stomach aches! Yumm…custard and chocolate (my love for custard later inspired a disaster…see below!)

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Oreo bubble waffle…tasted nice, but ever so slightly overrated. I think personally, I prefer a straight up regular criss-cross waffle.

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Nachos a la Nazra…pre-grilling! These were amazing, the vibrant colours of the chilli (I ran out of Jalapenos!), the salsa and the tortilla combined with the explosive flavours beautifully balanced with sour cream was an explosion of love in your mouth! Too bad I accidently forgot about turning off the grill and the cheese caught a little…tasted so good that no one cared!

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The theory of this little disaster was far more successful than its actual existence. A jam doughnut inspired mug cake with dairy free custard. Note…over cooking the mug cake makes it feel like a sponge…(very dry and oddly airy), and almond milk is a no no for custard. Stick with milk or just water!IMAG4028.jpg

My slightly over done lasagna…it’s not my fault! The kids want crispy cheese, so they get crispy cheese! I love lasagna. I love starch…yummmm.