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

 

Christmas spring rolls made with paneer, butternut squash, puy lentils and beetroot

22 Nov

During Christmas my family and I eat throughout the day, you know to keep the energy up! There are no rules around the 5/7 a day or consideration of portion controls during the festive season and indulgence is high up on the agenda. The table is laid with abundance and variety and as we chat, chase children and chuckle we consume copious canapés like these pretty, seasonal and utterly Moorish spring rolls. They are filled with soft pillows of homemade paneer, sweet beetroot and butternut squash, nutty lentils and spice. The surprise ingredient is a hint of orange, because it’s Christmas.

Christmas spring rolls made with paneer, butternut squash, puy lentils and beetroot by Deena Kakaya

I made these spring rolls for demonstration at the Taste of London festival, at the tobacco docks.  I was on the busy and bustling a2Milk stand as part of the Great British Chefs team and wow, what an experience!  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.

Makes approximately 24 spring rolls

Ingredients

For the paneer cheese (makes approximately 150g)

1 litre of full fat A2 milk

2-2 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

For the spring rolls

35og butternut squash (peeled) and cut into 2 cm cubes

70g puy lentils, cooked per packet instructions

130g cooked beetroot, cut into 2cm cubes

The zest of one medium orange

The juice of one orange

2 ½ tbsp. desiccated coconut

Finely chopped green chillies to your taste (I used 4)

5-6 curry leaves

2 tbsp. vegetable oil for the tempering

Vegetable oil for deep frying the spring rolls

½ tsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Salt to taste

12 spring roll sheets

 

You will also need

Tightly woven fabric such as muslin or handkerchief material for making the paneer

Keep a finger bowl of water ready, this will be used when binding the spring rolls

Method

  1. Start by making the paneer. I would suggest making the paneer the night before you make the spring rolls, to allow the paneer enough time to set. It is important to use full fat milk, as any other milk will not contain enough fat. In a non-stick pan, heat the A2 milk until it starts to boil. Turn the milk down to a simmer and then add the lemon juice. You will see that the milk starts to curdle and large clumps that look like cottage cheese appear. Turn the heat off and allow the acidic reaction to fully separate the curds and whey; give it about ten minutes. In the meantime, line a colander with muslin in an empty sink. Pour the paneer cheese into the muslin and then tie the muslin and remove any excess liquid. You keep the whey and use it to thicken curry bases. Put some weight (like a saucepan) on the paneer and allow it to set. Once set, cut the paneer into 2-3cm cubes.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper and then coat the butternut squash with a light layer of oil. Roast the butternut squash at 190 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the squash is lightly crisp and soft enough to pierce.
  3. In a large bowl combine the (cooked) puy lentils, beetroot, orange zest, butternut squash, paneer (cut into 2cm cubes), orange juice, desiccated coconut, salt and toss all of the ingredients together.
  4. For the tempering, heat a non-stick pan and add the oil before introducing the cumin seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric. Allow the seeds to sizzle and then add the tempering to the spring roll mixture and then toss to ensure even coverage.
  5. Cut the spring rolls in half to create two rectangles. Leaving approximately 3cm centimetres space at the bottom and sides, place a dessert spoonful of the filling towards the bottom. Fold the sides inwards, close the bottom panel and fold the spring tightly in a cigar shape. Seal the end panel with a little water.
  6. Allow the spring rolls time to settle and the let the sealed panel dry before frying the spring rolls in hot oil. Fry them until they are lightly brown and golden and then use a slotted spoon to remove them from the frying pan, placing them onto kitchen paper

 

Deena Kakaya at Taste of London Deena Making paneer

Rose Harissa, parsnip and paneer puff pastry plait + you can Win £50 waitrose vouchers

15 Nov

A winter main dish, for me should be one that tickles all the senses; a bit of heat to stoke the internal flames, a little sweetness to lift the fog and some light and easy depth to satisfy the heart. What better way than to wrap it all in pastry? Home-made paneer tastes fabulous when heated through and even more so with the rose scented Harissa and sweet roasted parsnips that this pastry plait holds. Merry Christmas 2015!

 

Rose Harissa, parsnip and paneer puff pastry plait by Deena Kakaya

I have created and written this recipe for a2 Milk™, using a2 Milk to make the paneer. 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.

a2 Milk have kindly offered a £50 voucher for one the readers of my blog.  All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog letting me know  your favourite recipe, using milk as a key ingredient, and leave your email address (via the link) and a name will be picked out of the hat! Happy happy. Alternatively you can simply enter the prize draw here you have until 16th December to enter and win! Good luck!

(For more information on how to enter blog giveaways using Rafflecopter please see this short video

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

You will find the full recipe here

Rose harissa, parsnip and paneer puff pastry plait by Deena KakayaRose Harissa, parsnip and paneer puff pastry plait by Deena Kakaya

 

 

 

Street food style chickpeas and sprouted mung beans with sweet potato dumplings

25 Oct

Street food style chickpeas and sprouted mung beans with sweet potato dumplings

Sundays, simple Sundays.

It feels good to toss the autumn leaves around our boots; cheeks a little frosty and noses puffing warm mist into the cool air. I composed my boy into the middle of a tree, where the branches heavily parted ways and then took many a picture of his helmet clad, easy-going and shiny hair which looks golden under the sunshine and oh, those tight smiles of excitement. I felt happy. Even happier when he enjoyed his lunch, yes the lunch that he ordered after cycling around the lake. In fact he told me when it was time for lunch and for those of you who have been reading my blog over the years, you’ll know what a big deal it is for my child to willingly eat. So he ordered falafel, chips and flatbread and not forgetting the hummus for mumma. He ate and we talked and I felt joy; a really simple, pleasure.

Street food style chickpeas and sprouted mung beans with sweet potato dumplings by Deena Kakaya

 

These days, I have learned to let go a little more, for one day I won’t be here to take it all in. I feel that now. As in, really feel it. I am learning to let go of doing things and chasing things that I think that I should, in the name of ‘successes’, stickability, loyalty, ideology, or reality. I am learning that if it doesn’t bring me enjoyment or satisfaction then I don’t have to do it, even if I think I should. That project in the restaurant wasn’t meant to be and I know that the lectures aren’t making me a multi-millionaire or famous but I don’t need to be either of those and I like doing them. Simple. Its ok that I have to find a new cookery venue and chasing a zillion approvals just isn’t me. It isn’t.

I like to meet friends and talk, like we did today. The kiddos played ‘house and shops’ and we talked. It’s not just about how to grow our businesses or progress on a ladder but they make my world feel bigger. They all have their own pleasures and worries and it makes me happy to share in it all. The simple things.

The simple thing that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling of serenity is when I nestled into the arm of my husband with a blanket and watched some escapism on TV and then dozed off. I love snoozing like that, I felt so relaxed.

Over the last few months our Sundays have been so fluid, we start mooching around somewhere in London, perhaps in a market or by the River and eat what we see- whatever takes our fancy. Sometimes we hop into a taxi or a boat, much to the glee of my boy but often it’s into a train though mainly in the car. Sometimes we stick locally to where we are, play a little Golf with my boy (it’s the only sport he seems taken with so far) perhaps splash around in the pool or meet some friends for a walk and lunch. Most of the time it’s a fairly cheap eat, full of spice and a little fire- you know something to warm us up and give us something to talk about. I like ‘dirty good food’ at the weekend…like Indian street food, dim sum or macaroons. Total, unadulterated food porn. There, I said it. Yes, I do feel a little terrible for not thinking of nutrition, but here is where I come in with the recipe…

So, this recipe I have for you today is based around the Usal/Misal pav Indian street food recipe. Spicy, masala straddling, fire packed recipes which often use lentils, beans or sprouted mung beans and its often eaten with bread buns. In some recipes they use coconut and some use Goda masala, or black masala. In my recipe, I have kept it really simple but added some depth and nutrition with the sweet potato dumplings.

 

Ingredients to serve 4

1 1/3 cup of mung bean sprouts

1 tin of chickpeas

½ tin of tinned chopped tomatoes

2 medium onions

4-5 dried red chillies, soaked in water

Pinch of asafoetida

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tsp. minced ginger

2 tsp. minced garlic

10-12 curry leaves

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. coriander powder

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Salt to taste

½ tsp. ground turmeric

1 tbsp. tamarind paste

3-4 cloves

1 stick of cinnamon

1 star anise

2 green cardamom pods

2-3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

450ml of warm water

For the dumplings

2/3 cup of grated sweet potato

1/3 cup of rice

1/3 cup of gram flour

Spicy sev (crisp gram flour noodles) or sev mumra (mumra are puffed rice) for garnishing

Salt to taste

1 tsp. minced ginger

¼ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. coriander powder

Method

  1. In a deep pan add 3 tbsp. vegetable oil and add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and let them sizzle.
  2. Add the onion and salt and cook the onion until it’s transparent before adding the ginger, garlic, cumin powder, coriander powder, desiccated coconut and stir fry until the coconut is lightly coloured. Blitz the red chillies and add them to the mix, then the Kashmiri chilli powder. Add the tomatoes and black pepper and then the tamarind and bring the base to a simmer.
  3. Now pour in the water and then add the mung bean sprouts and chickpeas. On a low flame simmer for about ten minutes.
  4. In the meantime, combine the cooked rice, turmeric, salt, coriander powder and sweet potato and mix it all well before adding the gram flour. You should be able to roll them into equal sized balls, of about a dozen in number. You can make them smaller if you wish. Steam them for about 8-10 minutes and when they are cooked (pierce them with a skewer and if it comes out clean they’re cooked).
  5. When the dumplings are cooked add them to the mung bean sprouts and chickpeas and simmer together for about five minutes.
  6. Toast some buns and serve with the sev/sev mumra on top. You could even add raw chopped onions and tomatoes.

Creole spiced wild rice with carrots, edamame bean and tofu

18 Oct

One of the high-spirited (and what I call) ‘professional mums’ at my boy’s school exhales animated banter full of expletives and honesty in the mornings. I tell her that her dose of reality is like a second breakfast for me.  She comically exudes what most of us are thinking; the temper inducing traffic, the unpalatable lack of child-gratitude for what mum does, the fading of an identity of our own amongst school commitments, after school activities, cooking, driving etc., in-laws and the constant challenge of remaining healthy. Oh, it is all quite draining isn’t it?

creole spiced wild rice with carrots, edamame bean and tofu by Deena Kakaya

So I have made a few changes recently, some are embarrassingly simple but my goodness they have helped. In the mornings we sing rhymes together, the boy and I.  We sing them all through the traffic and when the car is still, I use my hands too- you know to count the ducks and to identify ‘peter pointer’. As we get closer to the school, we turn loudly into Bollywood pop music and we belt out a few tunes and park up in thumping and throbbing car. Maybe I shouldn’t but out bounds a dancing toddler who then wants to run with his friends. It’s better than having to cajole him and then peel him off my body at the entrance isn’t it?

When I am cooking the lunch and dinner at 7am each morning and finishing off the cooking at 5pm, it is usually to the tune of ‘muuuum, muuum, mumma, I need to ask you a question’. Or ‘mum, can you play with me’. ‘Mumma come and have a look at this, mum, pleeeeaase, I said please so I’m a good boy, please can you do it now’.  I really don’t like to tell him off for just wanting my time, so this week, the music went on. The floor piano has been rolled out onto the kitchen floor and equipped with instruments we have a little band playing whilst fresh chappati disco into the plate.

At bedtime I don’t like the silence. Especially when I am on my own. Usually the TV goes on and I fall asleep to some mindless soap starring beautiful actresses with questionable acting performances but the TV flickers on and I’m not sure how relaxing this is for my mind. My glasses stay on too, and these days my husband hasn’t been around to gently remove them. This week I took my glasses off, kept the lamp on and let Ravi Shankar’s music ease me into sleep.

The simple things. The healthy ways. The generous ways. The nourishing things. The happy things. The beautiful ways the smiling things. The spicy and colourful things like this vegetarian stir fry of wild rice, carrot and edamame beans.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

1 ½ cups of wild rice

3 large carrots, julienned

1 ½ cups of edamame beans

5-6 tsp. of creole spice mix (see below)

3-4 spring onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

The juice of one lime

200g of firm tofu, cut into bite sized pieces

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

2 tbsp. sesame oil

Salt to taste

 

For the creole spice mix;

1 tbsp. smoked paprika

2 tbsp. paprika

1 tbsp. hot paprika

1 tbsp. dried oregano

½ tbsp. dried thyme

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 tsp. ground pepper

Combine all of these ingredients together.

 

Method

  1. Wash and then boil the rice for approximately 15 mins before rinsing well and removing the water.
  2. In a non- tick pan heat a couple of tbsp. of vegetable oil and cook the tofu until it is crisp and lightly browned.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan heat the sesame oil and add the sesame seeds, onion and garlic and sauté for a minute before adding the carrots.
  4. Sprinkle in the creole spice mix and lime juice before adding the tofu and the wild rice.
  5. Boil the edamame beans for 2-3 minutes and then drain them and add them to the stir fry.

I served this dish with hot and crisp Gyoza, with lots of chatter with my pal who visited this week.

 

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