Ränginäk packageOnly a few of us residing in Finland have heard of Zanjan, a city of nearly 400 000 inhabitants in the northwest of Iran. The image we attach to it has little to do with reality -a rich heritage of astonishing handcrafts and an incredibly tasty cuisine. Too often the scandal-oriented media shapes our worlds and defines people’s destinies. Vahid Mortezaei, a Zanjan-origin food designer residing in Helsinki, knows that it takes colossal amounts of courage and determination to break these stereotypes.

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Famu & Bar brings together a modern Nordic atmosphere with a touch of granny's kitchen.Recipes from a little, black, metaphorical book.

FAMU is an urban granny who has travelled around the world and throughout her travels has collected recipes in to her little black leather bound recipe book. When she gets home to cook the food from that notebook, however, she doesn't remember exactly what the food looked like and how it was when she ate it. So the end result of her cooking is a dish that has elements and ingredients and main flavours of a classical dish, but may look different.

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An artist at work. Manu Torchio serves up his latest batch of flavours.Modern tapas restaurant launches quietly in Helsinki.

"HOLA!"

The waitress greets each customer who steps through the door of Mercat. It is a windy, finger-numbing cold outside but inside it is an easy Mediterranean evening: the combination of warmth, foodies of all ages chatting energetically, and a dash of turquoise on the walls is reminiscent of Southern Europe, a vibrant restaurant by the ocean. The warmth and Southern European vibe beckons the desire for a smooth glass of wine, the cold outside just about forgotten.

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With generous space, Onda is not only a restaurant, but an art gallery as well as a music hall.An ambitious start for this new international restaurant in Kallio.

In Latin America, onda is a wave, or a vibe. It is turquoise water awoken by a lazy warm afternoon wind, its surface the pinks and purples of the sunset, its composed movement reaching for white sand. Like a wave, a good vibe has the ability to defy the confines of time and allow a moment to last. In Helsinki, onda is a spacious room. Its walls and windows stretch high, a buffet table sits at its centre and its tables are dressed in tablecloths woven in shades of pomegranate, mandarin and avocado. Candles burn slowly in dark bottles and music is trumped by talk.

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Baby lamb hot dog filled with tsatsiki, olives, feta cheese and red onion.Street food meets fine dining in Helsinki.

IT'S DINNERTIME. Customers step through a heavy door, and descend a small set of stairs to enter the basement like interior of Kaartin Hodari & Hummeri (or "Hotdogs & Lobster"). Before them is a scene seldom found in Helsinki: wearing hoodies, the youth stand in line to the right, waiting for hot dogs to take away. At a table to the left, in trousers and blazers, twenty-somethings munch on parmesan and truffle fries. At another table, a couple enjoy a glass of champagne while they wait for lobster. Yet at Hodari & Hummeri, this happy melange is a regular evening.

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Golden chickpea and curried lamb pilaf.With this dish, we're in back-to-basics mode. What is a rice pilaf if not a pre-modern-era rice bowl? This preparation is hearty enough for main-course fare, with possible leftovers that taste swell at room temperature.

The caramelized tomatoes are a nice component and call for low-maintenance multitasking while the pilaf is cooking.

We cooked this in a wok, which made for easy additions and stirrings of ingredients.

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Mixing berries such as lingenberries into porridge offers a good way to introduce children to new foodsAfter widespread media reports in recent months on the harmful effects of sugar and fructose, many parents with small children have expressed concern over the high sugar content of some baby foods. Fructose added to the Finnish Piltti pureed fruit for small children sparked surprised and worried comments.

Should parents avoid giving their children baby foods that contain added fructose or fruit juices?

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The lights outside Café Talo illuminate the gloom of the cooler months.The provider of a public living room in Hakaniemi, restaurant-bar Café Talo has been going strong since 2009. The laid-back atmosphere, funky interior and friendly service guarantee a relaxing visit for anyone who appreciates quality in both their beverage and music.

I discovered Café Talo a couple of years ago. To me it was like a well-hidden secret – I had been living in the area for a while and had never noticed its existence. Situated along the busy Hämeentie where you would avoid walking as it's crowded with buses and other traffic, I had managed to miss this little gem.

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Beef and pineapple red curry – light, yet its flavours bring warmth.Curries seem just right for this time of year. This one has only a few ingredients to prep and tastes light, yet its flavours bring warmth. To keep things on schedule kitchenwise, we start with a container of fresh, peeled pineapple pieces, found in the refrigerated produce section.

We tested this with sirloin steak, which was called for in the original recipe, and filet mignon (beef tenderloin). The latter, a more expensive cut, remained tender through the brief boil, so we recommend it here.

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