Archive | January, 2014

Mung bean and barley broth in tahini, a dash of Harissa, roasted mini peppers and torn mozzarella

10 Jan

Mung bean and barley broth in tahini, a dash of Harissa, roasted mini peppers and torn mozzarella

Do you plan? There’s the daily commute planning, school timings, work planning, menu planning, grocery planning…but I mean you know… do you ‘plan’.

I’ve always been a planner. I’ve planned at work and I planned the holidays. I took it upon myself to plan the savings plan and I even planned our weekends and outings at the best rates for weeks ahead. It goes without saying that for years I have sent my husband a weekly menu plan with a flag that tells me that he has received it and also a call to action his confirmation that he is happy with the plan. I like to feel like I’m in the driving seat, that I was taking the bull by the whatsits and generally, good girls planned and if we plan, things will come into fruition.

Well, that’s what I thought. I didn’t plan for my life to be this way. It’s different to what my mind had conceived. I don’t think it just ‘happened’ to me. In some shape or form by taking decisions, listening to instincts, or making priority calls…here we are. In the same breath I am much more open and mellow about what the future holds. I didn’t know I would be here and I don’t know what ‘there’ looks like.

Speaking of mellow, here’s a healthy detoxifying broth that is fitting of my mood lately, and my will to be healthier this month. Mung beans are the food that my mum fed me if I was sick as a child but this version is cooked in tahini, a dash of Harissa, barley for depth and some sweet min peppers for tingly sweet bite. I’ve even chucked in some fabulously fluffy mozzarella, weird I know but heck it works!

Mung bean and barley broth in tahini, a dash of Harissa, roasted mini peppers and torn mozzarella
Ingredients to serve 4-6

175g mung beans
100g pearl barley
500ml vegetable stock
One large red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1-2 bay leaves
8-10 mini, sweet peppers
2 litres of water
The juice of Half a lemon
1-2 tbsp Harissa
4 tbsp tahini paste
Salt to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
200g fresh mozzarella
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
Coriander to garnish

Method

1. Boil the water, mung beans and barley together together for about 45 mins on a medium flame. When the beans are cooked most of the juices should have left into a thick soup. The beans should be mushy
2. Drizzle the peppers with some oil after cutting them in half or quarters and roast in the oven until they have browned lightly.
3. In a large and deep pan heat the cooking oil and add cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle add the onion, bay leaves and salt. Sauté for a couple of minutes then add the ginger and garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.
4. Add the mung beans and barley with the vegetable stock, then the tahini, lemon juice, pepper, Harissa and the simmer for 8-10 minutes. It should then look thick and broth like.
5. Stir in the peppers and tear some mozzarella before storing for another minute or so. Don’t over cook the mozzarella as it will go string. Keep the mozzarella fully and warm.
6. Serve with a garnish of coriander and slice of lemon

I am linking this recipe to Anneli from Delicieux and Louisa from Eat your veg because this is a virtuous recipe image

Blueberry and basil, papaya, spinach salad with a chilli and agave pistachio nut topping

8 Jan

Blueberry and basil, papaya, spinach salad with a chilli and agave pistachio nut topping

I feel too young for aches and pains and body complaints. My knee is creaky and my back is full of rocks; it is muscular tension. Sniffles and coughs, fatigue and sleep deprivation. It’s all self induced.

My uncle was, and still is, one of the patriarchs of our family. A strong and disciplined man, he is giving and loving and he was always firm and fair. Growing up, when he would visited us and was offered tea by my folks, he would always reply that he would drink it only if I made it. He was one of those that limited his food intake and I actually never saw him indulge.

He’s now deteriorated in his golden years and knowing this has provoked much thought on how I should be grateful and look after this one and only body I have. It is true that some things we simply can not control or avoid and chips taste very good. It is true that making time for exercise is tough and that eating well is sometimes expensive. But, life is short.

My blueberry basil, papaya and spinach salad with chilli and agave pistachio is good for the body, the eyes, the taste buds and is very easy to put together. Blueberries are often talked of a superfood and I eat them like sweeties. Spinach is fabulous and best raw I reckon and let’s talk about papaya. I ate loads of the stuff after giving birth to my boy, it’s said that it has healing properties. This fresh and easy salad will liven up any table at this time of heat and will encourage picking on fruit, not crisps.

Blueberry and basil, papaya, spinach salad with a chilli and agave pistachio nut topping

For the full recipe, head on over to great British chefs

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar

7 Jan

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar

Carrot halwa is the warm, sticky, juicy and fragrant indian dessert of festivities and joyous occasions. Not a belly goes without a sinking sigh when served a delicate mound of bright orange halwa flecked with cardamon, infused with saffron and decorated with pistachio. This might just be the best thing to happen with carrots and I’m not kidding.

I’m really excited about this recipe and I knew it would work and I was affirmative about it being phenomenal. Now, although carrot halwa is the darling of indian desserts, there’s nothing new about it. It’s perfect as it is and that’s that. I’ve used agave nectar rather than sugar, so it’s not as sinful as the traditional recipe.

Monday morning. Husband in Hong Kong and toddler on my hip. It’s cold, grey and very windy. Everyone is tweeting and Facebook updating about going back to work. I stand at the fridge, knowing that I need to stoke the internal flames but also need to stop getting fatter. Conundrum. I’m hungry and always crave sugar or cheese when I’m hungry. I think about lemon drizzle cake. It doesn’t work for breakfast. Sort of. I think of saffron. I think of all the tweets about savoury breakfast concoctions. I have carrots in the fridge and they are massive and juicy. They wold make perfect carrot cake or carrot halwa. But i can not get any fatter, I should eat porridge. Bingo.

And there we have it. Let me tell you that my mum said that this was the best porridge she’s ever had. EVER. I’m really excited about this recipe, did I tell you that? Try it. Love it. I’m sure you will.

Carrot halwa breakfast porridge with agave nectar
Ingredients to serve 2

2 large carrots, grated
1 tsp margarine
Agave nectar to taste, I used about 4 tbsp.
400ml milk
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
A small pinch of saffron strands
2 tbsp of shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely ground
3/4 cup porridge oats

Method
1. Heat the margarine until it melts in a deep pan, then add the grated carrots and and cardamon then sauté them on a medium flame for about 4-5minutes.
2. When the carrots have softened, add the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the saffron with the agave nectar and allow them to infuse into the milk. Simmer for a further 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the porridge oats and then simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
4. Serve hot and steaming with a sprinkling of pistachios in top.

Roasted tomato, orange and chilli soup

4 Jan

Tomato, Orange and Chilli soup by Deena KakayaEverything halts, doesn’t it? Play dates get cancelled and kids stay at home, away from nursery or school. Grown-ups either martyr on without thanks or, ‘work from home’. Dinners out with friends get postponed and any outdoor activity is null and void and substituted with snuggling under a blanket and intermittently catching daytime TV between uncomfortable snoozes. Yes, it is the season of sickness.

We have been fortunate in our house to have escaped many of the rounds that the bugs have done, so far. We all generally have pretty robust immune systems and I like to think that in part, this is due to what we eat, although though the festive indulgence did get the better of me. Not only did I suffer from horrid food poisoning, I spent a good couple of weeks popping heavy, greasy, cheesy or chocolaty concoctions into my mouth like they were air-filled. I felt queasy, bloated, heavy and sore in the tummy. I felt lethargic and constantly sick and clearly, my body is meant to eat clean, natural, colourful and light

for the full recipe, head over to great British chefs

Soya bean, Barley, lettuce, feta and roasted lemon salad in a dill and chilli vinaigrette

2 Jan

Soya bean, Barley, lettuce, feta and roasted lemon salad in a dill and chilli vinaigrette

Soya bean, Barley, lettuce, feta and roasted lemon salad in a dill and chilli vinaigrette
The indulgent holidays were concluded with a healthy salad, the busy mess has been hoovered and dusted into the past. The sun has been shining today and when I woke my feel felt a little heavier. My bed had been moved closer to the heater and the long window, so I was warmer and more light washed over me, but it was the end of the happy lull.

I saw lots of social networking posts about 2013 being amazing, full of achievements and success. Many of my parent peers used the opportunity to announce that their family will be extended and some people told us that they bought bigger or newer houses or travel widely in 2013. New job, promotion, bigger and better. All very wonderful stuff which I’m really pleased to hear about.

I was part of that way of thinking too. I want to share with you something quite profoundly awakening in my life. Pre-2011, each year I would meet with friends on NYE and also go and see the fireworks in London. Each year my husband would tell me, ‘this is going to be your year’. As the fireworks lit up the skies of my beloved london, I’d think about all that I had manifested in that year. How was I doing career-wise, Had I grown enough? Had I travelled enough? Am I fit enough, did I attend enough gym classes and am I in good shape? Did I save enough money? Did I write for magazines extensively enough?

So, then after a few shake-ups at the end of 2011, NYE for impending 2011, 2012 and 2013 filled me with nerves. What had I actually achieved?

For the first time this year, whilst welcoming in 2014 there were no flutters in my heart. There was peace. I had a take-away, put my feet up, thought about buying a onesie and whether its time to potty train my boy. I thought about all the recipes that I’m prepping for next week and for whom. It’s taken a long time, but it’s a phenomenal thing to just smile and have peace of mind.

So, as I wake with a less polluted tummy and a clearer mind for it, it’s time to keep going and keep doing and being grateful. My salad is light, filling, zesty, salty, herby, nutty, colourful, smooth, silky, crunchy, a bit of heat…you have it all, what more do you need?

I wouldn’t eat the lemon, it gives so wonderful colour and concentrated taste, but the rind is still the rind.

Ingredients to serve 3-4

100g pearl barley, cooked per packet instructions
2 lemons
One large red chilli
2 tbsp olive oil
15g finely chopped dill
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt to taste
100g feta, cub into bite sized cubed
Half a head of lettuce, shredded
180g soya beans, boiled for 3-4 minutes and drained
1 tbsp sumac and a little for presenting, if you like
2 cloves of garlic, minced
One red onion, finely diced
One large red chilli, finely diced

Method.

1. Slice the lemons thinly, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for aproximately 20 mins at 200degrees. Watch them, they could burn easily. Once they are roasted, allow them to cool.
2. Combine the barley, lettuce, red onion, soya beans, lemon slices and feta in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the dill, salt, chilli, olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic and sumac.
4. Drizzle over the dressing and then toss it all together.

I served with my hummus recipe and lots of lovely flatbread.

I am linking this recipe to Karen at Lavender and Lovage because this recipe uses citrus image

Start the year as you mean to go on- tomato, pomegranate and roasted mini pepper salad

1 Jan

Start the year as you mean to go on- tomato, pomegranate and roasted mini pepper salad

The husband and I ate hurriedly, quietly and messily from one plate today. It had been a long time since we shared a plate, but the salad was very good.

Back in the day, we shared a plate a bit more frequently. Sharing food is a lovely and warm thing to do isn’t it. Nowadays we focus on feeding our boy and eat in between offering him cars or dinosaurs that find my little guys food so yummy and scrummy in the tummy.

I loved sharing fresh and hot donuts with my mum and brother in the open market in Leicester when growing up. They were hot and doughy and sprinkled liberally with sugar. I remember fondly sharing Chinese take-away boxes from Camden market with my husband when we were students or falafel wraps from edgware road late in the evening and it became a tradition for him to unravel it for me.

Now our bodies can not cope with too many late, heavy, fried or generally indulgent meals. Christmas and New Year meals have left my tummy feeling tender and polluted. It’s time for fresh, clean, colourful and juicy foods. Salad. It doesn’t have to be boring…

My tomato, pomegranate, roasted mini pepper salad is fresh, zingy, spicy, sweet and herby. The juices from the tomatoes, pomegranate and spices and herbs all blend into a fresh and refreshing utterly moorish mix. I’m so pleased at how well the pomegranate works with the tomatoes. I’ve used a red chilli, oregano and chaat masala to give it a real kick and aroma. Do invest in some chaat masala, it’s a salty and peppery spice blend that really livens up dishes and works fabulously well with tomatoes or cucumber.

I served this with flatbread and my recipe for hummus.

Ingredients to serve 2-4

350g plum tomatoes
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Salt to taste
The seeds of one pomegranate
Half and avocado, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp oregano leaves
1 mild and large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp chaat masala
A couple of glugs of olive oil
About a dozen tiny red or yellow peppers, roasted in a light coating of rapeseed oil.

Method
1. Toss the tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, roasted mini peppers and avocado chunks togetherimage
2. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, pomegranate molasses, salt, garlic, chilli, chaat masala, white wine vinegar and oregano leaves.
3. Drizzle the dressing over dressing and serve with lots of flatbread and hummus

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