Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

29 Sep

I like having structure and purpose to my day. I like the feeling of being expended for a worthwhile purpose, one that is driving me towards productivity and something meaningful. I like talking to people and delivering. I want to contribute towards a bigger picture and I want to learn.

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

When I am hungry however, I am not the best version of me and so, whether I have worked the evening before or up and moving (frantically) around activities with my boy, a family day out or working from home; I need to eat.  I need to eat a proper breakfast. My recipe for coconut and spice quinoa porridge is generous, sustaining, nourishing, exotic in aroma and the spices of cardamom and star anise tickle the senses of escapism and luxury.  This is indulgence in the form of coconut milk and spice, but virtuous in the form of quinoa, which I have used instead of regular oats. There is even some fruit in here.

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

for the full recipe, visit the Great British Chefs link where my recipe sits.

 

 

 

 

 

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes

21 Sep

Nowadays my weekly menu is devised on bases a little like this; is it something that we can all eat, does it deliver on the ‘rainbow factor’, does it taste good, is it quick to make and can we cook it together? The latter is important because there are repeated demonstrations of my little boy’s best manners when he wants to get involved, ‘mammap please may I help you, it will be educational for me’.

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya

 

 

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya Today the answer was, ‘yes of course’ and oh my, the croquettes smell incredible; pillows of lightly sweet potato and mellow cauliflower with a subtle aniseed like flavour from the fennel seeds and most importantly, the creamy and oozy cheese.  I generally love anything with a crunch and there is most certainly an magnificent sense of pleasure in the crisp shell giving way to steaming hot and moist, cheesy filling.

I know this sounds a little bizarre but I got that sense of eating chips on a cool walk home with my dad when I was a child, or in Brighton with my husband (before kiddo was born)…sitting in the car and listening to the radio and watching the waves.  Except these croquettes have that ‘special’ factor.

Wyke Farm cheese asked me to try their cheddar and I found that the bold but not overpowering flavour really works well with delicately sweet and moist flavours of cauliflower and potato.  Its creamy, oozy and yet gentle enough to balance the dish.

Make sure to bake the potatoes and steam the cauliflower and avoid the temptation to boil them; boiling them will leave them wet and overly moist.  You can spice the croquettes up more if you like and I have used panko breadcrumbs for what I feel is a deeper crunch but you don’t have to, the croquettes still taste great with standard breadcrumbs. I served them with harissa, but I like them with a red pepper ketchup too!

for the full recipe please visit the Great British chefs page here

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya

5 Tasty Vegetarian BBQ recipes

22 Jun

5 Tasty Vegetarian BBQ recipes

Kale thepla / Kale chapatti

5 Jun

 

If anything, with parenting my boy, I want to assure myself and my child that I am doing my best. When I eventually look back at his wonderful, chaotic and fun and deeply pleasurable childhood I want to know that I did my best. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful does it.

And that is why we have had a LOT of kale cooking in our home over the last three months. We have spent three months being cautious and gentle with my boy following him being unwell. I have come to think of gentler activities to keep his mind and body content and find ways to preoccupy his attention during conversations with doctors and also, I have learned ways to pump his little body with as much goodness through food, to help him along.

Kale, for all its vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, iron properties seemed an obvious help but how to get into a 4-year old in decent quantities? I tried kale crisps, which seemed a hit but the initial enthusiasm wavered. We did better with kale khichdi and kale sneaked into pasta sauces although the clear winner has been kale thepla (spiced Gujarati influenced chapatti), for all their green goodness, portability, ease of independent eating for a child and also share-ability, because my child enjoys sharing his food with friends.

They do have a gorgeous colour and have a delicate aroma of the sea.  I will be packing them for lunches at the zoo, park, farm and other sunny destinations this summer. The only downside is that to make them, much like parenting, is a little labour of love. They are worth it though, aren’t they?

Makes  14 chapattis

Ingredients

60 kale

175ml water

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups of chappati flour

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil

½ tsp. ground turmeric

A pinch of ajwain seeds

A small bowl of oil, for greasing the chappati

 Kale thepla/kale chapatti If anything, with parenting my boy, I want to assure myself and my child that I am doing my best. When I eventually look back at his wonderful, chaotic and fun and deeply pleasurable childhood I want to know that I did my best. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful does it. And that is why we have had a LOT of kale cooking in our home over the last three months. We have spent three months being cautious and gentle with my boy following him being unwell. I have come to think of gentler activities to keep his mind and body content and find ways to preoccupy his attention during conversations with doctors and also, I have learned ways to pump his little body with as much goodness through food, to help him along. Kale, for all its vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, iron properties seemed an obvious help but how to get into a 4-year old in decent quantities? I tried kale crisps, which seemed a hit but the initial enthusiasm wavered. We did better with kale khichdi and kale sneaked into pasta sauces although the clear winner has been kale thepla, for all their green goodness, portability, ease of independent eating for a child and also share-ability, because my child enjoys sharing his food with friends. They do have a gorgeous colour and have a delicate aroma of the sea. I will be packing them for lunches at the zoo, park, farm and other sunny destinations this summer. The only downside is that to make them, much like parenting, is a little labour of love. They are worth it though, aren’t they? Makes approximately 14 chapatti Ingredients 60 kale 175ml water 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced 2 cups of chappati flour 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil ½ tsp. ground turmeric A pinch of ajwain seeds A small bowl of oil, for greasing the chappati Method 1. Combine the water and the kale and process them into a kale juice, or at least a very fine texture of kale. 2. Take a large, wide bowl (not one that is deep) and put the flour into the bowl. Create a well in the middle and pour in the oil. 3. Rub the oil into the flour, so that its evenly blended into a fine crumb. 4. Now add the salt, turmeric and ajwain seeds into the flour and ensure even distribution. 5. Add the garlic and then the kale ‘juice’ and then knead the dough. 6. Form 14 equally sized balls and then lightly flatten them. 7. Heat a non-stick pan and roll the chappati into thin circles before placing them individually on a pan. Once one side is cooked, drizzle oil onto it and then flip it over.

Method

  1. Combine the water and the kale and process them into a kale juice, or at least a very fine texture of kale.
  2. Take a large, wide bowl (not one that is deep) and put the flour into the bowl. Create a well in the middle and pour in the oil.
  3. Rub the oil into the flour, so that its evenly blended into a fine crumb.
  4. Now add the salt, turmeric and ajwain seeds into the flour and ensure even distribution.
  5. Add the garlic and then the kale ‘juice’ and then knead the dough.
  6. Form 14 equally sized balls and then lightly flatten them.
  7. Heat a non-stick pan and roll the chapatti into thin circles before placing them individually on a pan. Once one side is cooked, drizzle oil onto it and then flip it over.

 

 

 

 

Pistachio & coconut smoothie

3 Feb

The husband and I have been especially lovely to each other recently, so it wasn’t in any mournful or malevolent way that we nattered about where we would be and what we would be doing, if we had not ever met.

I guess it’s no great surprise, given that I have spent my entire adult life in his company, that my estimations of where he would be and his of mine married well with our own guesses. Him? He would most definitely not be living in the country. In fact he may even be a bit of a floater…I imagined him in Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia. A few years ago I would have said New York, but life has changed. He would have set up his own business, a bigger risk taker, wear mainly designer suits and eat out most days. He would have many friends, from diverse walks of life and probably dedicate more time to fitness and charity work.

Me? I would be working in the city still, working long hours and frowning most of the time. I would be a senior manager, as I was before I left that life or the head of something or another by now. I may have gone into the banking field instead of telecoms had I not met my husband, because work-life balance would have been less of a priority. More of a tigress than fluffy boots, I would have more property to my name, be taking singing classes maybe, and I would be someone that eats the city, rather than cooks in it.

But we did meet and life is healthier. As we negotiated over cheese toasties or pakora for our three year old who tells us that he likes hanging out with us, we smiled, felt peace and counted our blessings. Real ones. Healthy ones.

Pistachio and coconut smoothie by Deena Kakaya

And cheers to those real and healthy blessings, with my nourishing smoothie of pistachio and coconut smoothie. I generally step away from fruity concoctions even though I find them delicious, because years of trying to follow a low GI diet has reigned me in but I do like a bit of sweetness in life.

The sweetness in this smoothie comes from coconut water, something that everyone around me seems hooked on right now. I didn’t use a lot of it as it is sweet but it adds such a mellow and fresh essence. The aroma is uplifting and reminiscent of all the good and sunny holidays we have had, just what I need now with the nursery runs in the cold and rain. I used chia seeds soaked in coconut water for this recipe and added them to the other ingredients once they were blitzed together, because I like my chia seeds to be plump and slippery. If you prefer not to feel them, skip the step where you soak the chia seeds and blitz them with the other ingredients.

Pistachio and coconut smoothie by Deena Kakaya

I have written this recipe for JD sports, who asked me to write a healthy and delicious smoothie recipe for their new Pink Soda health club that they have created. You can find more healthful ideas over there, on beauty, fitness, diet and more!

I used my Froothie (optimum 9400) to blitz the nuts to a smooth consistency- I didn’t want nutty grains or bits in my smoothie so the froothie did the job!

Ingredients to make 2-3 large smoothies

1 avocado, peeled and chopped (stone removed)

½ cup of pistachios, soaked in ½ cup of milk

2 tbsp. desiccated coconut

½ cup of plain, natural yoghurt

1 ½ tbsp. honey (or to taste)

A pinch of ground cardamom

1 tbsp. chia seeds

250ml cold coconut water

Method

  1. Soak the pistachios in the milk for at least 15 minutes (in the fridge).
  2. Soak the chia seeds in the coconut water until the chia seeds plump up.
  3. Combine the yoghurt, avocado, pistachios with the milk, honey, desiccated coconut, ground cardamom and a drizzle of coconut water and blitz it all together until it is smooth.
  4. Now combine the coconut water with chia seeds and the blitzed  elements for your smoothie.

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties

31 Jan

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties

I do get exasperated at points; my eyes fill with foggy grey, disorderly purple, and at the moment I have a stream of lectures to prepare for, a fourth birthday party to plan, a husband in Hong Kong, leaking boiler, new after nursery activities starting up, recipe submissions in two different directions, a cookery class to get ready for…what else, a much needed orange and yellow holiday perhaps? All the while, I have a toddler following me around, chanting question upon question and he does this peculiar thing of asking questions to which he knows the answer already, like, ‘mumma, can you fall inside the craters in the moon’. And if I say, ‘mmm, perhaps’…’but mumma you can’t, there’s no gravity on the moon’.

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties by Deena kakaya

 

And then, I have these moments where I remind myself why I haven’t extended his nursery hours beyond mornings. Because as exasperating as it feels, this time is short-lived, so precious and mine and his. Just me and him. And just like that, with some hugs and kisses things were looking green again, as we made these lean, green, nutty and moist patties. They work well with tomato or red pepper sauces, on a crisp salad or even on chaat. I put them in some pitta with some salad with chilli sauce- oof!

for the recipe please visit the new pink soda hub, by JD sports here, where you will find a host of recipes, exercise tips, beauty tips, sportswear for women.

To make approximately 12 patties

300g new potatoes

200g edamame beans

50g quinoa cooked per packet instructions

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 large red chilli, finely chopped or chilli flakes to taste

1 tsp. toasted cumin seeds

Vegetable oil for crisping the patties

For the Asian sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

½ tbsp. of your favourite chilli sauce

1 tsp. minced ginger

 

Method

  1. Boil the new potatoes for 7-8 minutes or until soft enough to mash coarsely. You can boil them with the skin on and rub it off once cooked or peel in advance. As the skin on new potatoes is pretty thin, I usually go for the former. Once boiled, drain the potatoes, skin them and then mash coarsely.
  2. Boil the edamame beans for 3 minutes and then drain them and refresh in cold water.
  3. Cook the quinoa per packet instructions.
  4. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients and simmer them together for about ten minutes on a low flame. Allow the sauce to cool to a room temperature before adding it to the patty mix.
  5. Combine the new potatoes, edamame beans and quinoa, and then mix in the spring onions, chilli and cumin seeds. Then add the sauce and mix it all well.
  6. Forms equal sized patties (approximately 12) and then place them on some baking paper and place them in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve the patties, heat a non-stick pan and drizzle a little oil onto the base. Cook the patties until they are browned on each side but most importantly use a medium flame to ensure that they are warm all the way through.

 

Piri piri chickpea salad

24 Jan

On Wednesday I started at 6.30am (the usual time) by cooking for the long day ahead. I then went to a class of body attack. I always feel like I will collapse within the first fifteen minutes of that class, but I did it and it felt good! I came home, showered and changed and then went on the nursery run and collected my energetic and spirited little sweetie before taking him to eat pizza, as a treat. We chatted about the morning we had spent separately and coloured in pictures of super heroes together. Simple moments like these, I will hang on to forever. He was more delicious than the pizza. We then returned home for him to play around my ankles as I attacked the cleaning of the home in express mode, after which, I whipped off my apron and took my cherub to his swimming lesson. My body throbbed lightly and eyes dropped under the humid clasp of the internal swimming area, but I waved and gave him the thumbs up signal from the parents viewing area. We had practised privately on Monday and it had helped.

Piri piri chickpea salad by Deena Kakaya

Back from swimming, we waited in the car for daddy to arrive so that he could drop mumma off to the train station, because mumma had a cookery class to teach, an hour away in the city. As I arrived at the school, I smiled at the attendee list which had ‘SOLD OUT’ written in block capitals, double underlined. People arrived early and eagerly. One person travelled from Cambridge to cook with me. We brought Japanese, Thai, Indian and Malaysian influences to life and I carried the appreciative buzz with me to bed that night, when I was finally reunited at 11.30pm.

What I have learned about myself is that I am happier when I am moving. I need to fill my days with some sort of purpose and when I say I need to be moving, the direction doesn’t have to be definitive. I know, it’s January and I’m supposed to ‘set some goals and smash them’ but blah. My mind is healthier when I am moving and the world looks like a bigger place. No one small, meaningless, itty ridiculous thing can engulf me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an unhappy person; on the contrary I have gratitude for my many blessings. I just need to keep moving.

And with that, here is a dancing, lively, simple and portable salad of deep and forgiving chickpeas and spice mixture with a kick! Go easy on the garlic though wont you…

Ingredients

Two tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

One green pepper, diced

300g sweet potato, peeled and roasted

A bunch of parsley, finely chopped

The juice of one lime

50ml extra virgin olive oil

2 plump red chillies, finely chopped

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 small red onion, finely diced

For the spice mix

1 tsp. red chilli flakes, 1 tbsp. paprika, ½ tbsp. smoked paprika, 2 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. sea salt flakes, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1 tsp. caster sugar

Method

  1. Combine the chickpeas, roasted sweet potato, red chillies, red onion and green pepper and toss them all together
  2. Add the spice mix and coat evenly
  3. Now add the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, oil and the parsley and make sure there is even coverage.

Green beans and soya beans in red sambal

9 Jan

I had a lovely Christmas break. If you are reading this and you didn’t then I can relate to you. Things are not always the same.

green beans and soya beans in red sambal by Deena Kakaya
This year, it was lovely. We saw Santa four times; at the activity farm where we ice skated, made a bear, rode a tractor and saw a real reindeer. We also saw Santa at the children’s theatre, where the performance charmed my child into sitting quietly, eyes widened for the whole lot. We went to the cinema and guess what? I went to the cinema on a separate occasion to watch a grown up, Bollywood movie with a friend. We went to the zoo; it was blustery but we had thepla, smiles and each other. We spent time with treasured family and cherished old friends and revelled in the good times. We ate out most days, even if we were slurping noodles in Camden market or Churro’s in the park and yes we even had muddy fun in the park.
My baby took part in his first nursery school concert and he looked edible, if not too grown up. He assuredly and dramatically rehearsed every day and was totally in his element up until the big day. But I am not disappointed or upset because the reason and experience totally moved me; as he walked onto the lit-up stage, he waved into the darkness of the audience, aimlessly as he didn’t know where I was. As the elves, Santa’s snowmen and donkey’s sang away, he repeatedly whispered to his neighbours and teachers, ‘where’s my mum’…his eyes wandered and so did his mind. As it was his turn to go onto stage, he looked behind; he looked around and still couldn’t see me. It wasn’t until the last five minutes that he finally spotted me and there was a sudden and latent burst of energy. I will take this with me.
I want to share what I learned from this Christmas holiday. That element of fun, that positive energy and gratitude, that high-frequency of love, the time spent with chosen and energising people, that free-spirit and relaxed mind…why should that be confined to Christmas. Why shouldn’t I inject spurts of it into my regular routine…the very simple things and the very simple pleasures? So that’s what I am going to do. And with that, I share a very simple pleasure of a Malaysian inspired recipe, my green beans and soya beans in red sambal.

A little nutty, very luscious and delicately sweet; it makes for a lovely side dish, or is great just with some rice. I have even put into a wrap with a drizzle of yoghurt. The aromas are so lifting in the red sambal, which for me makes the dish. The sambal is a blend of spices, onions and garlic and become gentler as it’s cooked. Add more chillies if you like!

Ingredients
175g green beans
175g soya beans
4 lime leaves, crushed
1 cup of warm water
1 tbsp. tamarind concentrate
2 tbsp. peanut oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. chilli oil
2 tbsp. toasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely ground
For the red sambal paste
2 tsp. soft brown sugar
One large onion, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic
5 long, dried red chillies soaked
2 tsp. lemongrass paste
1 tsp. minced ginger or galangal
1 tbsp. peanut oil
Method
1. Blitz together the ingredients for the spice paste and then leave it to the side
2. Heat 1 tbsp. peanut oil and add the paste on a very low flame and cook it, stirring to avoid sticking for approximately 5-7 minutes.
3. Now add the tamarind concentrate, chilli oil, lime leaves, salt and peanuts and then fry for another three minutes.
4. Now add the water and simmer for ten minutes.
5. In the meantime cook the edamame beans for three minutes and the green beans for 4-7 minutes or until barely tender. Drain and refresh them.
6. Combine the red sambal and the green and soya beans together and serve hot.

Black bean and Halloumi Curry- Video recipe

6 Dec

 

One of the most popular recipes that is visited on my site is the black bean and hallomi curry.  It is also a recipe that is now close to my heart. Why? Well it was a very early recipe on the vegetarian blog and I really enjoyed all the banter it created about it being strange and wonderful…halloumi is not a common ingredient for a curry after all. It works though, and some of you have written to tell me as much and for that, I thank you. Halloumi, when cooked is succulent and juicy. It soaks up the curry juices and releases them generously with each bite. I love the depth and mellow nature of black beans and together, they are a cajoling treat.

I know it has been a while since I shared a video recipe, so I thought…why not?

Halloumi and black bean curry

Ingredients to serve 4

250g cooked black beans
125g halloumi cut into bite sized pieces
One red onion finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp minced ginger
4-5 curry leaves
125ml water
1 cup chopped tomatoes (tinned is fine)
Spices; salt to taste, 1/3rd tsp garam masala, 1tsp cumin powder, 1tsp coriander powder, 1/4tsp turmeric, 1tsp cumin seeds

Method

1. Shallow fry the red onion until it is golden brown and then leave it to a side to cool. Once it is cooled, purée it.
2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil and add cumin seeds, turmeric and the ginger and garlic. Sauté for couple of minutes before adding the cumin powder, curry leaves and coriander powder, then stir on a medium heat for just under a minute.
3. Add the beans and coat them with the spices before adding the tomatoes, fried red onion purée and the water.
4. Bring the curry to a simmer before adding the halloumi cheese. Cook for ten minutes and serve hot.

Indian spiced, coconut rice pudding and aromatic poached pears

29 Nov

Yesterday I sent my husband a song through the speakers in the kitchen, via my phone. He walked in, smiled and asked if it was an apology for it was the song he would play when I visited him in his student halls and it subsequently became my ‘walk in’ song on my wedding day. Nostalgia, music and food are all so evocative aren’t they?

I recently asked a question on the blog about your favourite milk recipe and quite a few people mentioned rice pudding and some even with the old favourite of a dollop of strawberry jam. I remember doing that as a child. There’s something about the creamy and smooth nature of rice pudding that sits so well with juicy and plump fruit. For me, rice pudding conjures memories of celebrations; rice pudding with all its saffron, cardamom and rose water glory was affectionately made on special occasions such as a family get together, a religious holiday or as a treat for decent exam results. Rice pudding is consequently a happy dish for me and one that feels so bolstering to eat, hot and steaming against the cool air of the winter. My nostalgic temptation has evolved the fruity dollop into some fine and glowing pears with an Indian accent. I spice poached the pears tenderly, in whole spices including saffron, which has given them a lovely colour. The star anise and cinnamon come through the robust of flavours, but you can most definitely sense the cardamom and cloves.

Indian spiced, coconut rice pudding and aromatic poached pears by Deena Kakaya

I made this rice pudding using a2 Milk™, was used to make the paneer for this recipe. Regular cows’ milk contains A1 and A2 proteins and for some, the A1 protein causes side effects such as nausea, bloating and mucus build up. A2 carefully select dairy cows that naturally produce the A2 protein and not the A1 protein. If you have had trouble digesting regular milk, a2 Milk could be for you.

For the rice pudding (to serve 4)

65g of pudding rice

1 litre of a2 milk (whole milk)

1 tin/400ml coconut milk

80g of caster sugar

A pinch of saffron (approximately 6-8 strands)

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

1 ½ tbsp. rose water

3-4 tbsp. desiccated coconut

Method

  1. In a deep, non-stick pan combine the pudding rice, a2milk and sugar and bring the pudding to a full simmer. Turn down the heat to a moderate simmer before adding the saffron and ground cardamom and cook the rice pudding for approximately 30-35 mins.
  2. Now add the coconut milk and rose water and cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  3. Whilst the rice pudding is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan and gently toast the desiccated coconut until it catches a golden colour. Allow the desiccated coconut to cool and then use it to sprinkle on top of the pudding when you serve the dish.

For the poached pears (to serve 4)

4 firm but ripe pears

1 litre of water

1 1/3 cup of caster sugar

A pinch of saffron (approximately 6-8 strands)

4-6 green cardamom pods

2-3 star anise

1 large stick of cinnamon

6 cloves

Method

  1. In a large pan, heat the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved before adding the whole spices.
  2. In the meantime, peel, core and trim the pears before cutting them into quarters, removing any stems.
  3. Now slip in the pears. Make sure that they are fully immersed, otherwise exposed parts may discolour.
  4. Turn the flame to a low simmer and cook the pears for about 20 minutes or until the pears are tender.

Indian spiced, coconut rice pudding and aromatic poached pears by Deena Kakaya

 

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