Karuna Keshoor & Shiv Narandas

PHOTOGRAPHED BY OLLIE SIMON

 
 
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Shiv is not just an ex-colleague, he is a great friend of mine. He is also the graphic designer behind the online store, aesthetic and logo for Petley. Shiv is the most genuine, kind and creative person. You always get the exact same Shiv in any situation, this is what makes him an easy going friend, and very fun and energetic person to be around. After meeting his gorgeous Mum, Karuna it all made sense. Karuna is so warm, welcoming, very easy and so interesting to chat to. This cute mother son duo are so funny to be around, and it was nice to see the same Shiv around his Mum, whom he affectionately called “bro” like he would anyone else.

 

Shiv was born and bred in Auckland, it wasn’t until he was 7 or 8 that he visited India and the village where his Mother grew up. Karuna was born and raised on a produce farm in the small costal village Dandi in West India. Karuna lived in the village of about 200 until she was 13, which is when, prompted by her Uncle, her family moved to New Zealand. The village Karuna grew up in is the same village Gandhi ended his Salt March in 1930. Her Mother can still remember as a child delivering food to her Father who was in jail, as he was one of the 60,000 or so people arrested for marching to abolish the tax on salt.

 

While Shiv was growing up, Karuna would cook mainly Indian food for him and his two brothers. His favourite food growing up, as confirmed by his Mum, was lamb. As for Karuna, she preferred vegetarian meals, which her Mother and her Aunty both taught her how to cook from a young age. After hearing about her rich and fresh produce heavy culinary upbringing, it’s no surprise she prefers vegetarian food. Shiv is not quite as gifted in the kitchen as his Mum, but she did tell us that he recently made nachos for the Family which were “beautiful”.  He does know that he’s got the best teacher on hand, and he promises to learn one day.

 

Karuna was raised on a working produce farm that was started by her Father at only 11 years old. Sadly her Father lost both his parents at this young age, so as the eldest of three siblings it was up to him to provide for the Family. The village of Dundi is costal, so more sand than soil. The elders of the village thought Karuna’s Father was mad when he bought a large piece of land with the purpose of building a produce farm. Even though they told him that nothing was going to grow, he began his farm anyway. As nothing nourishing grows in sand, he had to start from scratch and replace the large salt mountains, with rich, fertile soil. With the guidance of his Aunty, Karuna’s Father began by growing peanuts. Although her Father never went to school, she says that he was a smart man. He learnt a lot through other people, by observing how they would do things, or as Shiv put it, he was “mad streetsmart”.

 

The farm surprisingly flourished, and not only was Karuna’s Father successfully growing peanuts, he had cows, about 48 buffalo, four giant ponds filled with fish, as well as eggplants, beans, chili’s and coriander. He supplied the local market in the village, as well as markets in the nearby cities with the fresh produce he grew. He also provided the large Muslim community in Mumbai with his Fish. This farm is still going today, and is being run by some very good friends of the family.

 

Food and growing food ran pretty strong on both sides of Karuna’s Family. Karuna’s maternal Grandfather had a mango farm which her Mother would use to make mango pickle. She would pick the stoneless mangoes while they were in their infant state, when they are about the size of grapes, and make pickle to sell at the local markets. Karuna’s Mother still makes the same pickle from the same trees and always brings jars over when she comes to visit New Zealand. The tiny mangoes were also used as thirst quenchers in the hot summers when Karuna was a kid. Karuna told us these same infant mangoes would be soaked in salt water over the winter months to be eaten in the summer time. The amount of salt in the mangoes was designed to make you thirsty so you were encouraged to drink more water during the hot summers, as well as being a nice treat to eat.

 

Karunas background is so full of food memories it’s impossible to include everything she told us about. Although the food gene may have not quite have reached Shiv yet, the growing gene is certainly very strong. Over the past few years Shiv has become a self taught, home horticulturist. He has built an incredible green house, which in only 3 months is already full. He spends a lot of time searching for rare indoor and outdoor plants, he teaches himself how to propagate them, and then sells them. His collection and passion for plants is admirable and very similar to that of this Grandfather and how he learnt to grow.

 

It was a huge honour to be welcomed into Shiv’s family home to have his beautiful Mother Karuna cook for us, and talk about her fascinating childhood. Thank you so much Shiv and Karuna for such an amazing meal, and for teaching me how to roll roti, and to eat with my hands.

Curried Eggplant

 

I have never tasted eggplant quite like this, this dish was INCREDIBLE, and unbelievably simple. The eggplant was so soft and fragrant. My hands smelt like this delicious meal for days.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 medium eggplants

  • 2 - 3 fresh green chillies

  • ½ tsp fresh ground garlic

  • ½ tsp ground ginger

  • 3 - 4 tbsp fresh coriander

  • ½ tsp ground cumin powder

  • ½ tsp ground coriander powder

  • ¼ tsp ground garam masala

  • ½ tsp turmeric powder

  • Curry leaves (not essential if you don’t have any)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Extra fresh coriander for serving

PREP

  • Roughly chop chillies, ginger and garlic

  • Using the rough cut chillies, ginger and garlic, make a paste using a pestle and mortar, or a blender

  • Roughly chop coriander

  • Slice eggplant into circles, about 2cm wide

METHOD

  1. Add oil to a nonstick pan, and place on medium heat.

  2. To the pre prepared chilli, ginger, and garlic paste, add the fresh and roughly chopped coriander.

  3. Then add in all the dry ingredients to the paste and mix well.

  4. Using your hands spread the paste generously over each side of the eggplant.

  5. Once the pan is hot, place the eggplant into the pan.

  6. Sprinkle the eggplant with a small handful of curry leaves (if you have them).

  7. Cook for each side of the eggplant for 10 minutes.

  8. Add extra fresh coriander before serving,

Enjoy with Roti (Chapati), pain Paratha (Kwan Brand), bread, or rice. We had our eggplant with all three. I can highly recommend doing that.

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Curried Fish

Again, this fish dish was amazingly good. I didn’t realise at the time that the process and the ingredients for the eggplant and the fish were so similar, as the end result is quite different. The fish was so rich in flavour, and the very quick cooking time means it melts in your mouth. I cannot wait to cook this for myself.


INGREDIENTS

  • 6 - 7 pieces boneless fish

  • 4 - 3 fresh ground red chillies

  • ½ tsp fresh ground garlic

  • 3 - 4 tbsp fresh coriander

  • ½ tsp ground cumin powder

  • ½ tsp ground coriander powder

  • ¼ tsp ground garam masala

  • ½ tsp turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Extra fresh coriander for serving


PREP

  • Roughly chop chillies, ginger and garlic

  • Using the rough cut chillies, ginger and garlic, make a paste using a pestle and mortar, or a blender

  • Roughly chop coriander

  • Cut fish into cubes about 5cm in size


METHOD

  1. Add oil to a nonstick pan, and place on medium heat.

  2. To the pre prepared chilli, ginger, and garlic paste, add the fresh and roughly chopped coriander.

  3. Then add in all the dry ingredients to the paste and mix well.

  4. Using your hands spread the paste generously over the entire piece of fish

  5. Once the pan is hot, place the fish in the pan.

  6. Cook the fish for 4 - 5 minutes on either side.

  7. Add extra fresh coriander before serving,

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Jess / Ellen J Hemmings

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JIHO YUN

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Spending time with Jess Hemmings is like a meditation. She is so laid-back, and very considered, “its my temperament to take things slow”. This slowness comes with a messiness that is equally as laid-back as her temperament, she describes herself as a “total mess”. She is a total mess, she’s making banana loaf and there is flour everywhere. But she’s got such a cool and calm nature you don’t even see the mess, and she is completely unfazed by it.

 

I met Jess properly while she was working at Welcome Eatery. Before that, prompted by a mutual friend, we connected through Instagram over a love of spoon making. From there Jess as a photographer and stylist has used my work in her shoots, and I have used her amazing skill set to shoot and style my products, and through all that we have become friends.

 

Jess is unbelievably creative, I love the way she quietly works merging colours together, making arrangements out of things that aren’t typically used, and playing around with light. The balance she achieves through different textures, colours, and objects feels so unique. I love working with her, it always feels very special, you know you are going to get something very genuine and completely thought out.

 

Jess’ fine precision, now displayed in styling and photography, was first realised back when she was at school. Her mind was blown at the sight of her home economics Teacher flattening out a cup of flour with the back of a knife to make it an exact cup. Jess was a real sugar fiend, and this little trick was the gateway to a world of sugar possibilities, and so she began to master the accuracy needed for baking. Her go-to was chocolate cake. After making it a few times she became skilled enough to know exactly how to tweak it to make it more to her liking. An extension to her crowd pleasing cake was chocolate cake truffles. She would roll the half baked chocolate cake dough into balls and dip it in melted chocolate to give it that hard shell. Real genius. Now when she bakes she’s not as precise as she was as a kid, but she’s got years of experience behind her and now likes to be perfectly over rather than perfectly exact. Which is still pretty precise if you ask me.

 

Apart from sugar and baked goods, Jess had no particular interest in food as a kid. She pretty much ate chicken nuggets wherever and whenever possible, she once tried her best to order them for breakfast at a pancake spot. It has been in the past few years that she has really become interested in food due to the time she has spent working in hospitality. She was amazed by how the food the chefs would cook for staff lunches were so simple but so full of flavour. Baking was easy to master as the ingredients and method are all there, if you follow it exactly it’s fool proof. In the environment of hospitality she really began to understand the balance needed to make something simple taste really good.

 

It seems as though the same energy Jess uses to experiment and create in her work is the same energy that she puts into her food. The precision that got her as a child is so evident in her work today. The lunch Jess made for Jiho and I was such a heavenly balance of comfort and fresh contrasting flavours. She considered every aspect of how each dish was going to come together. From which spatula she was going to use while making each dish, to how the colours of her dessert were going to turn out, through to how the table was going to look. She even chose a completely square loaf of bread for the toasties because she knew it was going to look better on the plate. Her attention to detail is mind blowing. I am so excited to see how she continues to create her world.

 

Pickled Tomato Toastie & Zucchini Salad

 
 

My new warm weather tomato abundance favourite, usually made with Vogels and Edam because that's what Rowan has for breakfast every morning. All our fridge staples are his fridge staples because I'm too sporadic to have staples. Even this pickle is influenced by Rowan because he's the one that loves to always have tomatoes in the house when they're around. I love zucchini/courgette, whatever you wanna call it. One of my favourite things about summer because it goes so well with other things I love - olive oil and basil. 

PICKLED TOMATO TOASTIE 

INGREDIENTS

  • Spelt sourdough bread from Wild Wheat, 2 slices per toastie

  • Butter

  • Gouda (cheddar is good too, ideally the cheese needs to be strong enough to counteract what's happening with the intensity of the pickle)

  • Pickled Tomatoes (recipe below)

  • Basil

PREP

  • Heat your pan or hot plate to a medium heat

  • If you are making multiple toasties and frying them one at time, pre heat your oven on a low heat to keep the toasties warm as you go.

  • Butter one side of each piece of sliced bread.

  • Cut enough cheese for one layer on each toastie.

  • Tear up the basil.

METHOD

  1. Place first slice of bread in the pan butter side down and arrange cheese to cover it making one cheesy layer.

  2. Add a few slices of pickled tomatoes on top, spread them out a bit as you don't need much

  3. Finish with pieces of torn basil.

  4. Place second slice of bread on top - butter side up. 

  5. Wait for the bottom side to go brown and crispy and then carefully flip over browning the other side. Make sure your pan isn't too hot, you want your cheese to melt while you are browning the bottom layer.

  6. Once browned, if you are serving for one eat this now. Or if you are making for more, place in the oven while cooking the rest to keep them warm and toasty like a toastie should be.

 

PICKLED TOMATOES 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 - 5 big tomatoes. I use cherry and smaller tomatoes so just measure by grouping in to how ever many it would take to make up the same amount of big tomatoes. 

  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp turmeric

 

METHOD

  1. Cut all your tomatoes in to slices, not too thin or they will fall apart too much when pickled. Place them all in a heatproof bowl.

  2. In a pan bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and mustard seeds to the boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

  3. Take the pan off the heat and stir in turmeric.

  4. Pour this liquid over the tomatoes and cover the heatproof bowl with a plate to keep the tomatoes submerged in the juice. 

  5. Leave overnight and in the morning jar them up. Leave them in the fridge for a day before eating to give them time to get tasty. Keep them in the fridge and they will last for a couple of months. 

ZUCCHINI SALAD

Amounts for the salad below are for 3 people as a side.

 INGREDIENTS

  • 2  smallish zucchini, cut in to thin slices 

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 handfuls basil

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice

PREP

  • Cut zucchini and place in a colander to drain the water.

  • Add salt and toss with your hands to spread it around. Leave for 15 minutes to do it's thing.

  •  Once zucchini is done squeeze it a little with your hands to get rid of some of it's water.

  • Remove basil leaves from the stalks.

METHOD

  1. Toss zucchini together with basil in a serving bowl, squeeze over lemon juice and drizzle over some olive oil before serving. 

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Banana Bread

 
 

For a few weeks while I was newly experiencing being pregnant hungry 24/7 this unintentionally became my middle of the night/before bed or any time of day small meal. 

 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed - the riper the sweeter, very important

  • 125g butter, melted

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 cup almond meal

  • 3 eggs, whisked

  • Big pinch salt

  • Maple syrup, to add once baked

 

PREP

  • Preheat oven on bake to 180 degrees celsius

  • Butter a loaf tin to stop the mixture from sticking

  • Mash bananas

 

METHOD

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl in the order listed and mix together until combined.

  2. Pour mixture in to prepared loaf tin and bake for around one hour.

  3. if a skewer inserted in to the middle of the loaf comes out clean then it's done. 

  4. Once done remove from the oven and while still in the tin drizzle maple syrup over the loaf, quantity of maple up to you.

  5. Leave loaf to cool in the tin and then turn out on to a wooden board/plate. Slice and serve up with a smear of butter. 

On this day we had Fine & Dandy earl grey to drink while we ate. 

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Rockmelon & Basil Icy

 

I love anything that resembles a slushy or ice cream. As in, I always make my banana smoothies thick enough to eat with a spoon. One of my favourite, peak of summer heat, drinks is a watermelon & lime slushy, the watermelon cut up and frozen before making to ensure perfect slush. 

 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1/2 Rock melon

  • Handful and a half of fresh basil

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

 

PREP 

  • Cut the rockmelon into cubes and freeze.

  • Remove the basil leaves from the stalks.

METHOD

  1. Cut up rock melon in to pieces and whizz together with basil in a blender

  2. Add honey and vanilla and whizz to combine. 

  3. Pour in to a tray and put in the freezer and leave until frozen. I just left ours in for a couple of hours while we ate our toasties and banana bread. 

 

 

To serve, scrape the mixture to break it up and spoon in to small glasses. Eat while still icy with a spoon. 

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Veggie Bolognese

PHOTOGRAPHED BY IZZY HARRISON

 

Growing up my family ate the standard New Zealand 80’s cuisine of meat and three veg. There were definitely some more adventurous meals in the equation, but without a doubt the most exciting culinary experience of my childhood was dessert. I have a real sweet tooth but I am not a baker nor do I make desserts. I can confidently say my mum IS a baker, and a dessert maker. Her pièce de résistance of desserts is her self saucing chocolate pudding. Oh my goodness! The most perfect sauce to cake ratio, as well as a beautiful balance of sauce soaked cake. But my personal favourite part was the warm, juicy raisins that go all soft and plump in the oven. I love raisins. Every bite that includes a raisin or two was pure heaven. I have tried many times to recreate this nostalgic, heart warming dessert, but I can’t, and I can now admit that. Dinner at home was always had around the table, I really enjoyed that evening ritual, there was comfort in it - even though I was probably dying to eat dinner on my lap while watching Shortland Street not talking to anyone. That childhood ritual has stuck with me, and it’s something that I automatically do now. I may eat by myself most nights but there is something so satisfying in the process of cooking dinner at a particular time and sitting down to really enjoy it - especially when you are eating alone, it’s even nicer to make an occasion out of it.

My favourite type of cooking is when it’s the end of the week and I am running on limited ingredients. I like being forced to be creative, I think it’s at these moments when I make some of my best meals. I need to start writing them down because I always forget.

The one meal that does need a proper plan is my Veggie Bolognese. I love pasta, and especially any kind of pasta with a tomato based sauce. I have to admit this recipe is not my own. I was gifted some very special recipes and culinary tricks by a lovely friend I met while living in London. He taught me that food is patience and that there is a beautiful moment of quiet enjoyment in that. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I always do.

To make this Veggie Bolognese you will need two flat pans. Use the larger of the two for SAUCE TWO.

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE ONE

  • 50g butter, or more

  • One white onion

  • Two cans of tomatoes, chopped or peeled, or the equivalent amount in fresh chopped tomatoes which is about 8.

  • Two carrots

PREP

SAUCE ONE

  • Cut your onion into half moons by cutting the whole onion in half through north and south poles, trim both ends, and remove the papery skin. Sitting the onions cut side down on the board with the cut ends facing away and towards you, cut the onion finely on the rounded side.

  • If you are using cans of tomatoes, open the cans. If you are using fresh tomatoes, cut the tomatoes into rough 2cm square pieces. Do not rinse and throw away the tomato cans. Once you have added the tomatoes to the pan, add about 1/4 cup of water to the tomatoey residue still in the can and set aside.

  • Grate the two carrots.

METHOD

SAUCE ONE

  1. Bring the smaller pan to a medium heat, then add the butter

  2. Once butter has melted and starting to bubble slightly, add the half moon onions.

  3. Enjoy slowly cooking your onions on a medium heat. You want them soft and translucent.

  4. Pour either the canned or fresh tomatoes into the pan with the moon shaped onions and butter. Let the tomatoes, onions and butter sit and mingle for a while so the liquids naturally blend. Gently begin to fold together, once softly blended let the tomatoes simmer away while you make SAUCE TWO. Keep watching the pan and stir every now and then. Scrape the cooked tomatoes down from the edge of the pan while you stir.

  5. At the same time you are adding the pesto to SAUCE TWO (step 9 below) add the water in the tomato cans to the pan of the simmering sauce, mix then add the grated carrots.

  6. Simmer on a low heat for a good 10-15 minutes. This simmering will happen at the same time at SAUCE TWO.

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE TWO

  • 50g butter, and a bit more to add later if you so wish

  • One teaspoon chilli flakes

  • One white onion

  • Five garlic cloves

  • One tablespoon of capers

  • A few anchovies, two or three big ones (if you don’t eat fish its ok to exclude, just add in some extra capers and olives)

  • Half cup green olives (black olives are fine too), I like using olives with the pips in

  • One heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard

  • Eight or so large portobello mushrooms

  • One cup of white wine (red is fine too if thats what you have)

  • 250g tub of basil pesto (a smaller amount is fine too)

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh basil and parmesan - optional garnish

PASTA

  • I like to use a gluten free spaghetti. The bolognese sauce is quite rich and more-ish, gluten free pasta doesn’t weigh you down as much as normal pasta. So this means you can eat more - trust me, you will want to.

PREP

SAUCE TWO

  • Chop the onion using the same method as above. After both halves have been cut into moons, bring the moons together like fallen dominos and cut into rough cubes.

  • Peel and finely chop the garlic.

  • Clean mushrooms by wiping with a damp paper towel. Snap the stems from each mushroom and finely chop. Set aside. Finely slice the whole mushroom longways and set aside separately from the finely chopped stems.

  • Roughly chop the capers

METHOD

SAUCE TWO

  1. Bring the larger pan to a medium heat, then add the butter and chilli flakes.

  2. Simmer together for a few minutes to release some of the warmth from the chilli flakes into the butter.

  3. Add the onion and the garlic. The onions should take on a slightly reddish hue from the chilli infused butter.

  4. Cook the onion and the garlic on medium heat until they are soft and translucent.

  5. Add the capers and whole anchovies to the pan. Simmer for a good 5 minutes, or until the anchovies have almost melted into the butter and onions. half way through this simmer, add the olives.

  6. Add the mustard and simmer again for another few minutes.

  7. Add in the finely chopped mushroom stalks. Once the mushroom stalks begin to soften add a quick splash of white wine and continue to simmer until the wine has reduced.

  8. Mix in the finely sliced mushrooms until they are fully covered in the chunky sauce, and begin to soak up the oils. Pour in the rest of the white wine, mix and simmer until the wine completely reduces and the sauce becomes thick and sticky.

  9. Add in the entire jar of pesto. Slowly mix and let this simmer on a low heat for a good 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is also the point when you add the grated carrots into SAUCE ONE, so both are doing their final seperate simmer at the same time.

  10. Once the pesto has settled into the sauce and the carrots in SAUCE ONE have softened, it’s time to mix the two together.

  11. Scrape as much of SAUCE TWO as you can to one side of the larger pan that it is in. Slowly pour SAUCE ONE into the empty side of the pan. Simmer the two sauces side by side for a few minutes without stirring.

  12. Begin to slowly push the two sauces together. I like to push one sauce into the other to create a yin and yang, simmer and repeat the slow pushing of the sauces until they are completely combined.

  13. I am a guts, so once the sauces have fully combined I will add more butter and a large drizzle of olive oil before letting the combined sauce sit and simmer for a final 10 or so minutes. This is probably a good time to taste and season with more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

  14. While the sauce is simmering cook your pasta.

This sauce is very rich, it doesn’t really require any parmesan on top - I will not judge you if you think otherwise. I like to top with basil, and make a rocket salad for a fresh and peppery contrasting crunch!

 
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