I’m excited to be blogging about my experience with the Bite Buddies project in Croydon!
Bite Buddies has been set up to bring younger and older people in Croydon closer together through food and tech, one bite at a time. Their aim is to encourage both groups to work more closely together to learn new skills, whilst having fun cooking, eating and sharing their experiences.
I was introduced to Bite Buddies by totally random chance when a friend of mine on Twitter asked me to help them find a venue. This is because I run my own cooking dinner club and finding a venue has always been a challenge for me.
After meeting Julie and having a long conversation I came to realise that we share a similar outlook on one particular topic: We are both conscious of the knowledge and wisdom that is locked up inside the minds of both the younger and older generations. Totally extreme and opposite sides of the coin, with a massive bridge in the middle just waiting to be “crossed”. Bite Buddies aims to be that bridge, and this is what I love about it.
My interests are quite varied – I have a Software Engineering degree, I play 2 instruments, I like to cook and eat healthy, I have an interest in science, nutrition, fitness, astronomy, people, volunteering for various social causes, and bringing people together!
To kick things off though, I’m quite happy to start with cooking.
I learned to cook from my mum, who refused to let her son go to college without knowing the basics of cooking, in this case it was mostly Pakistani/Indian cooking. I started off making basic curries, chapattis and parathas of course.
I have since expanded my repertoire to include quite a few other things. These days I try and avoid processed foods as much as possible so I stick to gluten-free / grain-free recipes as much as possible, however I am happy to make whatever we fancy!
I do not proclaim to be a cooking expert though! I’ve still got a lot to learn and I do make mistakes! But that’s how you get better.
Here are a few recipes of mine that I’m happy to teach someone at Bite Buddies. They vary in difficulty of course.
Toor daal (lentils)
The simplest of dishes, yet one of the most satisfying, I find.
A very easy and tasty dish to prepare and quite different too because a lot of people are not familiar with okra.
Classic mexican dish that is really easy and simple to make.
Making the meatballs will take more time here and I add a few extra steps of my own to give the sauce and the meatballs extra depth of flavour and punch!
Seekh kebabs (beef/lamb kebabs)
An all-time favourite, can be as spicy as you like.
Ox-tail stew / soup
A very hearty dish with a great depth of flavour. Great for those cold winter nights.
Beef mince with peas or potatoes
A staple dish in many Pakistani households, this is an easy one to make. You can substitute a lot of different things for the peas – spinach, dill, potatoes, they all work!
Beef meatballs with potatoes
A favourite of mine, this one is slightly more complicated but very rewarding when it comes out right.
Daal Gosht (Lentils with meat)
This is another unusual dish that happens to be one of my all time favourites! It’s lamb / mutton or beef meat with lentils and it goes great with some pickles.
Preserved Lemon and Chicken tagine
A classic Moroccan dish that everyone should make. You don’t need a proper tagine to make it either.
Coconut chicken tenders
This is a gluten free dish that goes great with the spicy mango dip that you make alongside it. Very similar to a chicken nugget but much healthier.
Leg of lamb with roast vegetables
Sounds complicated but this is quite a simple one to make. The lamb just needs enough time to cook through and the roast vegetables are a doddle.
Lamb / Chicken biryani (rice)
One of the more complicated dishes on the list, this requires multiple steps, as well as a final “layering” step before we finish it off.
Nargisi kofte (Beef scotch eggs curry)
Another ambitious dish, this can be used to “wow” your friends. The trickiest part is wrapping the cooked meat around the eggs and trying to make sure it doesn’t fall back off, especially while cooking.
Easy no-bake cheesecake
This can be made really quickly with just a few ingredients.
Homemade dark chocolate
Yes, you CAN make your own chocolate! This is ideal to give as gifts to friends, albeit it can be a bit expensive to make!
Gluten-free Chocolate Peanut butter fudge cupcakes
These are gluten-free and extremely rich but they MUST be kept cold in the fridge!
Gluten-free Dark chocolate dipped coconut macaroons
Everyone I’ve made these for goes absolutely nuts over them! They are so simple to make, you must try them!
Gluten-free Banana and peanut butter muffins
Really nice and moist due to the use of really old and sweet bananas instead of flour.
Gajar ka halwa (Carrot halwa)
One of my most favourite desserts of all time. This is a carrot fudge type dessert and is quite time consuming to make, but the results are amazing.
Dairy free Gajar ka halwa with homemade ice cream
This is really 2 recipes – homemade ice cream is really not that hard to make, especially with an ice cream maker. Adding this ice cream on top of the carrot halwa was a huge winner! The carrot halwa can be made dairy free by using coconut milk.
Gluten-free bread substitutes:
Finally, here’s a few things I’ve made in order to try a more gluten/grain free alternative.
Cauliflower pizza base
This is obviously no substitute for the real thing, but it’s VERY close! The cauliflower taste does not come across as strongly as you might think.
This is definitely no where near a real paratha but it was a decent-ish alternative when I really didn’t want normal parathas.
This is simply a rice substitute, and ideally you’ll need a food processor to make this one.