Archive | October, 2015

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.

 

Roasted tomato & pepper, chickpea and fennel soup

4 Oct

Roasted tomato & pepper, chickpea and fennel soup
Roasted tomato & pepper, chickpea and fennel soup by Deena Kakaya I’ve become one of those green tea swigging and sloshing mothers; you know the type that inhales some fruit infused concoction in a wooden-chaired, Wi-Fi friendly café with parking spaces and then tackles daily activities of child work and home with many coloured pens, diary updates and sighs. It can’t be healthy.

Come to think of it, that inconvenient traffic in the mornings, every morning except for Friday but especially Mondays, that can’t be good for me either.  That strenuous sense of urgency, the persistent red lights and agitated looks of people all around and even the bit where my heart skips a beat at the prospect of turning up late. Unhealthy. Maybe that cereal in the morning was a bad idea too; I mean its granola…what of the sugar content. Maybe porridge would have been a healthier choice but goodness I don’t have/make the time every day.

Maybe the porridge would curb the visits of the posh-crisp-eating fairy that depletes my supplies curiously quickly. I think she liked the Moroccan spiced ones this week. This is of course unhealthy. Probably just as unhealthy as the obligatory cookie ‘tasting’ today; my boy made them at nursery so of course it had to be done. There are a few cookie crumbs on my laptop even though honestly, I just ate a quarter. The laptop, it is often warming my lap and I keep thinking I should use a cushion because surely all this energy can’t be god good for my body or my eyes…goodness my eyes need testing again as those headaches are telling me.

The husband is frequently nudging me to either resume exercise classes or cancel my membership; healthy body, healthy mind? Maybe. On the one hand those endorphins from being in the pool, taking time away from the home and just talking to people outside of my usual routine feels good for me but the frequency of my visits has err, lapsed. Not the healthiest lapse I have had.

But what is healthy and deliciously easy is this wholesome roasted tomato & pepper, fennel and chickpea soup. The chickpeas shouldn’t ever be gritty or lumpy so there is a light and nutty creaminess that holds the soup together. It’s lightly sweet, a little smoky because of those peppers and spiced with fennel so smells an absolute treat. At first I was reluctant to share a soup recipe with you- Is it just too simple? But my goodness, it really is so freaking good.

I used my Optimum 9400 froothie and I got a superbly smooth and creamy result on this soup which is especially important for the chickpeas; there is no grainy or gritty bits and we are far from lumpy on the texture here. Luckily the size of the jug is plenty big enough to contain the soup without splashes or spills.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

6 large and deep red tomatoes, quartered

2 large red peppers cut into large chunks

One medium sized bulb of garlic, unopened

One large red onion, cut into chunks

Rapeseed oil for drizzling

2 tsp. fennel seeds

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

600ml vegetable stock

Method

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the tomatoes cut side up and then distribute the garlic, onions and peppers onto the tray. Lightly drizzle them with oil and then roast them until they catch a crisp colour and the peppers are soft enough to pull apart.
  2. Blitz the chickpeas into a completely smooth puree using ½ cup of water.
  3. In a large deep, non-stick pan heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil and then add the fennel seeds and allow them to sizzle before adding the ground cumin and allowing it to infuse for a few seconds.
  4. Now add the tomatoes, peppers and onions and then the vegetable stock.
  5. Bring the soup to a simmer before squeezing in the roasted garlic. Take the soup off the heat and then add the chickpea puree and blitz the soup with a hand whisk.

I served with fresh wholegrain bread with melted talegio.

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