Archive | January, 2015

Buckwheat, banana and passion fruit pancakes

30 Jan

Buckwheat, banana and passion fruit pancakes

On my first, accidental date with my now-husband he asked the waiter, ‘can I have some passion please’, whilst maintaining purposeful and unbroken eye contact with me. I am still cringing about this but laughing too and as they say, they can either keep you laughing or crying.

 

Roughly 16 years ago (ouch, that many) he persuaded me to go on a visit to a new temple, which had become something of a tourist destination for its grandeur and exquisite architecture. Reluctantly I agreed, but I did caveat my interest by declaring no particular devotion towards the central saints revered by worshippers in the temple. But we went and somehow, the ‘group of visitors’ ended up being just he and I.

Buckwheat, banana and passion fruit pancakes

 

We, as two university students travelled by bus and foot and we talked, laughed and ate (samosa, dhokla, chutney smothered sandwiches) through the whole journey. I could see those young, stress-free eyes gleam with that new awe and it was quite charming.  We didn’t check emails on our phones and that’s not just because the facility didn’t exist back then. There was no social media, no phone calls or any other disturbance because we didn’t want, or need it. We were very young so there was none of that screening process happening in my mind, unlike some of my friends who screen suitors now; does he have his own property, is he tidy, is he career conscious, what are his friends like, does he have savings, and does he want/have children? For us then, it was very simple.

This weekend gone I was determined to get something of a lie in, I had been up until 2am preparing lectures after a whole day busying around my toddler. One of the things I find hardest to stick to in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is actually just getting enough sleep. So I asked my husband to give my boy breakfast, whilst I sleepily addressed the very important matter of what my body was craving. Unlike those days of care-free eating my body is now giving me warning signals (as well as my doctor) and though weight isn’t the challenge here, my family has a history of diabetes and I cannot fight the genes with sugar and win. I had never really seriously considered buckwheat pancakes as an alternative to the plain flour version; the healthy option isn’t usually as tasty is it? Well, let me tell you my friends, these are so fluffy and light that I had to share the recipe with you. They are moist and airy, not gritty or clumpy at all so don’t worry on that front; I didn’t add any sugar but you could if you really wanted to. The banana is chopped into small pieces rather than mashed to avoid making them heavy and the passion…it comes through. I used pure maple syrup on top, but just a few drops. Pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday is coming up remember…

Buckwheat, banana and passion fruit pancakes

So then, I walked over to my husband who had his nose in emails and mortgage renewal papers and asked him if he wanted some passion.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Wild rice salad with home-made satay dressing

27 Jan

It was my birthday last week.

I have never been one for parties or commotion but I do like indulgence. As I swiped through my social-media well wishes telling me to ‘have a lovely day’, I offered the third lunch alternative to my cold-ridden and self-confessed frustrated toddler who refused to eat anything. Unchanged from the morning and desperate for a bath, I bashed updates into my phone, telling my business-conventioning husband that this is NOT the way birthdays were supposed to be. Thank goodness I had macaroons to stifle the onslaught of tears and spits of ‘no I do not have plans’ that my poor brother got the end of. Deep breaths. My cousin shrugged, ‘well, this is what happens when you have kids love’. What finer and truer ways to tell me get a grip?

Thankfully I didn’t have to hold that grip for too much longer as the weekend brought redemption in the way of a much needed facial and utterly required massage. As I heard the knots click in my back, I wondered if I could have a snooze whilst the face pack dried. Anyway, I was treated to some vegetarian Thai fine dining in London in the evening, giving me an excuse to dress in sexy lace sleeves and wear make-up. I have to tell you that when they served the satay sauce warm with the tofu skewers, I had high hopes and my goodness they were delivered to a dizzy levels; I wanted to drink the stuff. Unlike shop bought stuff the satay sauce was deeper, lighter, disclosed a few crunches of peanuts and unveiled just a little heat. It wasn’t thick and heavy like we often see. Normally I would have asked for how they do it but I didn’t on this occasion and I regret it. I really do.

Wild rice salad with home-made satay dressing by Deena Kakaya

Like all good things must, I have gone back for more…well, not to the restaurant already but I have satay’d at home with a healthful and abundant serving of wild rice, full of life’s colours and sweet balance from roasted peppers and sweet potato. It is nutty in itself and works so well with a couple of tablespoons of satay dressing per serving.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

For the wild rice

175g of wild rice, cooked per the packet instructions

One yellow pepper, diced

One red pepper, diced

150g sweet potato, diced

100g small broccoli florets

4 spring onions, diced

One tin of chickpeas, washed drained

4-5 shallots, skinned and halved

40g basil, finely shredded

5 tbsp. cashew nuts, lightly toasted on a non-stick pan

For the satay sauce

2 tbsp. peanut oil

2 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter

1 tbsp. brown sugar

One small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

One large red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp. red chilli flakes

1 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

One can of coconut milk

Method

  1. Roast the peppers, onion and sweet potatoes in a light coating of rapeseed oil in an oven preheated to 180 degrees until they are lightly browned.
  2. Boil or steam the broccoli for 3-4 minutes or until tender
  3. In a large bowl, add the rice once it has cooled to room temperature.
  4. Now mix in the roasted vegetables, chickpeas, broccoli, cashews, basil and spring onions and combine well.
  5. To make the satay dressing, heat the oil gently before adding the onions, garlic and chilli and sauté on a low flame until the onion has softened.
  6. Now mix in the coconut cream, soy sauce, peanut butter, chilli flakes, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and gently simmer for 4-5 minutes before turning off the heat and allowing it to cool until it is just warm.
  7. Serve each bowl of salad with a couple of tablespoons of dressing.

 

Pea, spinach and brown rice patties (vegan and oil free)

17 Jan

Are you doing the healthy eating thing this month?

People around me are having salads at lunch time and my friend last week even had hers without the dressing. I know.  On instagram, more people are asking me about ‘how to’ on roasting veg or other healthy vegetarian stuff, not tips on creamy curries or frying pakora.

I am off to a good start this year. No, I haven’t cut out bread, cakes, and biscuits or curry (as evidenced on my instagram profile). I am off to a good start because you know how I told you, that every year New Year’s Eve for the last four years I have been filled with dread?  I felt anxious as the year turned over that I had not done enough or not moved enough. I created, shaped and grew a larger monster of my normally hushed down feelings of confusion and mislaid bits of identity since my boy has been born and my redundancy. Am I still clever? Can I still be successful? Could I still earn what I used to?

Well, guess what? For the first time in four years, I didn’t feel it. I thought a little bit, my heart was still and my mind was sleepy. That my friends, is a healthy start to 2015. I have grown.

Pea, spinach and brown rice patties (vegan and oil free) by Deena Kakaya

So, with a healthier mind, I share with you green freshness and goodness. The pea, spinach and brown rice patties are oil free and vegan friendly. I am myself surprised that they have held so well and they are so moist on the inside. The oats and breadcrumb give a crisp exterior and even after freezing a batch and cooking them the other day, they are still moist inside. Even my two year old enjoyed them.

Pea, spinach and brown rice patties (vegan and oil free) by Deena Kakaya

Ingredients to make 12 patties

300g frozen peas, boiled for 3 minutes and then cooled

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 green chillies

125g baby leaf spinach, shredded in a food processor

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. chaat masala

65g brown rice, cooked per packet instructions and then cooled

50g jumbo oats

80g breadcrumbs

  1. Combine the peas, garlic, spices and seasonings into the food processor and blitz them into a lightly lumpy paste. Then add the spinach and blitz again.
  2. Turn the pea paste into a large bowl and then add the oats, breadcrumbs and cooled, cooked brown rice and form it all into dough.
  3. Put the patty mix into the fridge for 15 minutes and then bring it out to form equal sized patties, placing them onto baking paper.
  4. Place the patties back into the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Once the patties have set to a more firm shape, bake them in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until they are lightly golden on the outside.

Eggless, mushroom and quinoa vegetarian burger

6 Jan

My boy turns three soon and I have been racking my brain for where to take him on his birthday. In fact he will have two days out, one on his birthday with me and one we will all have as a family when his dad returns from Germany. The problem is that the bar is set quite high. Already at three he has had two international holidays and eats out most weekends. Our pre-nursery school days together have been filled with visits to the farm, aerodrome, and kids swimming centre, London markets, butterfly world and the zoo for which we have passes. He’s been to the space centre, IMAX, national history and science museums as well as the aquarium and let’s not touch on the topic of soft play centres or rainforest café-all done. I know there is an element of spoiling him here but the truth is that I am indulging myself in his childhood.

mushroom quinoa burger by Deena kakaya

Turning three is a big deal. It is the birthday before nursery school and now that he has his place we are frequently talking about how exciting that will be. After he is three he will have birthday parties too, with his friends in attendance. Up until now, I have steered away from hosting parties for him as I didn’t want to overshadow the special feelings with the complexities that grown-ups bring to parties. It will all be different next year.

The trouble is that these excursions aren’t cheap and are often sinful for the vegetarian tummy. These days I have been looking out for ideas like the RAF museum in Hendon, which in my opinion is little talked about but utterly impressive (I am not being paid or sponsored to write this). It is a little boy’s paradise with planes hanging off the ceiling and a few accessible for entranced exploration. There were old planes and newer planes and the whole place reminded me of that film, ‘a night at the museum’. We worked up an appetite walking around several buildings full of planes and at lunchtime I ordered from the on-site restaurant a vegetarian burger and some chips for the boy; something I said I would never do (before I had him). The problem was that there was no vegetarian alternative and normally I take his food with us, but it was post-Christmas. Anyway, my burger was a couple of baps with some grilled peppers and courgette tumbling out of it. I could spiral into a discussion about why restaurants don’t do vegetarian food so well, but that would be repetitive wouldn’t it.

The next day, we had another excursion planned with my boy’s cousin, to the national history museum in Tring. This time, I made burgers.

mushroom quinoa burger by Deena kakaya

Now, I have tried innumerate versions of the veggie burger but none have made it onto the blog. Is a burger, ‘special’ enough to blog about? Besides, many of the iterations felt either too; wet, or eggy, dry and crumbly, or just doughy. I simply wanted a burger that’s lean and an option for healthy vegetarian eating but I have been mindful about retaining the moisture and of course it has to have a crisp exterior. Otherwise what would be the point? I like colour and depth and succulence, as all burger lovers do. I am particularly pleased with recipe because I have managed to pack in some quinoa and even some iron-level boosting dried apricots. So, I am sharing with you this burger recipe because it really does the job.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Indian spiced sweet potato filo tart

1 Jan

‘Make sure you switch the Christmas lights off before you go to sleep’. Who would have thought that this line would be enough to fill my eyes?

Indian spiced sweet potato filo tart  by Deena Kakaya

The list of ‘make sure you do’ starts about a week before my husband flies off on his looming foreign business trip and although many people have now presumed that I am used to it and now longer ask how I am, it still makes my heart sink a bit each time there I hear one of the many, concerned reminders.

‘Please don’t stay up too late’ and of course I get the text reminders about locking the doors and not falling asleep on the sofa and a week before he leaves, I listen to the repercussions of missing iron tablets. Every burden and apprehension seems magnified in the silence of the evening, but I’m sitting here with phone in hand and virtually supporting friends who have horrible bosses, kids going through a difficult phase and husbands that just don’t get it. I do sympathise and sincerely want to help. At the same time, I want to remind them that they have jobs, albeit with manager woes. They have the smiles of children filling their hearts, as well as the mental draining that they bring with them and they have a friend that is a husband, even though they may be a long-distance one at time.

It might be easy at times like this to wallow; to sleep erratically, to overthink and to fall quiet. It might be easy to not eat very well, for eating for one isn’t much fun I think. But, I have my little companion don’t I? And the wells dry as I smile through writing this. My best buddy told me today that we should make fresh pesto pasta and he wasn’t kidding. I thought he was but when we finished the dish he exclaimed, ‘mumma thank you, I told you I wanted green pesto pasta’. So we eat well. At just two, he will throughout the day randomly declare his love for me and today he told me, ‘daddy’s gone to America, but you are my best friend and so can we go to borough market’, so I laughed. Because the afternoons are cold we went bowling with friends, and so we talked and I involuntarily chased him around each time he scored and roared in delight. Then we cooked, in a very much collaborative way and eggs are, I realise, fabulous for easy cooking with kids.

This is a light and sweet tart, deep and filling and great for picking and returning to. It’s easy and a soul-soother too. I lightly cooked the sweet potato first with the spices and the result after some time in the oven was sweeter than I expected, but in a really good way. The spices come through wonderfully, but not too strongly and that is a good thing as I know that you will understand if you cook with eggs. Pays to be kind to yourself, doesn’t it.

Indian spiced sweet potato filo tart  by Deena Kakaya

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

%d bloggers like this: