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Monday, 30 September 2013

Sunshine on a Plate - Book Review

Squash & Mustard Fricassee 
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With summer coming to an end, you can prolong it a little longer with a great book from last year's MasterChef winner, Shelina Permalloo. Sunshine on a Plate is a colourful and vibrant showcase of Mauritian cooking, which is fusion cooking at its best, incorporating French, Indian, African, British and Chinese influences. Think chillies! This book is hot and spicy, but you can easily tone the heat down to suit your own tastes.

Sunshine on a Plate has over 100 easy recipes, most of which are accompanied with gorgeous, full page, colour photos. There is a brilliant section on the essential ingredients, spices and techniques needed for this cuisine, and most of the ingredients can be bought from the supermarket, or from Asian supermarkets. I like that alternatives for hard-to-find ingredients are given too.

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Inside view of the book, showing Sea Bass with Coriander & Chilli

Some of the recipes I have bookmarked to make include Bread Croquettes (spicy croquettes served with a tomato chutney), Moolkoo (little fried snacks), Potato & Kidney Bean Daube (Mauritian stew), Dal Puri (classic Mauritian street food) and Mango, Rum & Lime Syllabub. There are chapters on Gajaks (Mauritian sharing dishes), fish, meat, vegetables, rice, noodles, bread and pasta, and also a desserts chapter which show Shelina's love of mangoes - she was nicknamed the 'Mango Queen' on MasterChef after using the fruit in most of her dishes!

There is a lovely introduction where we read about Shelina's background and a little about Mauritius. One paragraph had me scratching my head though, as Shelina describes trying to cook a dish and it not working out, apparently her mother hadn't given her the 'complete' recipe. She then goes on to say that she would do the same if she had children! Why would you do that - wouldn't you want your kids to gain confidence with cooking and not spend months and money on a dish that doesn't work?

This book is perfect if you are looking for something different to serve up, the recipes are easy and achievable to recreate at home. Although most of the recipes do have full page photos, I would have liked every recipe to have a photo (a small one would do), mainly because it's an unfamiliar cuisine and it's important to me to see how the finished dishes look.

Squash & Mustard Fricassee 
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I made a dish called Squash & Mustard Fricassee, which is traditionally eaten at weddings and celebrations. Made with a small ambercup squash, the recipe uses garlic, ginger, chilli, mustard seeds and curry leaves to give it a fiery kick!

I also tried a beautiful cocktail from the drinks chapter because Shelina says, 'no Mauritian meal is complete without an accompanying drink or cocktail'. Mango Fever is perfect served over ice and you can almost hear the waves breaking and feel the warm breeze while sipping it!

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Mango Fever
Adapted from Sunshine on a Plate by Shelina Permalloo.
Serves 2

100g fresh mango, (or 100ml mango juice)
Juice of 1 lime (or more to taste, original recipe uses 2)
100ml sanguinello blood orange juice (find in the chilled juice section in supermarket)
100ml Pineapple juice
6-8 ice cubes
Mint and lime slices to garnish

Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until thoroughly combined.
Serve in tumblers, garnish with the mint and lime slices.

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Sunshine on a Plate book cover IMG_9558 
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The book can be bought from the Random House Group, Amazon, and all good bookshops.

Sunshine on a Plate
by Shelina Permalloo
£20.00 / Hardback, 226 pages
Publisher: Ebury Press
June 2013
ISBN: 9780091950811

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the cookbook from Ebury Press, but all views expressed above are my own. 

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Nazima, Franglais Kitchen said...

Lovely review Nic. I love the style of Shelina's food and am sure this book will be ending up on my bookshelf in the near future! (perhaps once the sun comes back though!)