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Mexican spiced cauliflower in an almond-sesame crust

8 Nov

A few years ago I shared a recipe for crispy, tandoori spiced potatoes with BBC Good Food magazine and I have to admit that when they adjusted my gram flour based recipe to use plain flour, I was a little bit perturbed. Just a little; but I trust the editor, whom I admire and like lots so I went with it, and tried it out.

Mexican spiced cauliflower in an almond-sesame crust by Deena Kakaya

I wish I could convince myself to take that attitude more often in life, you know, just try it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Maybe I would be living in a different country, carried out different jobs, different sports, and met new people and who knows what else? For now, I am learning to plunge a bit deeper, let go a little more, hold on a little less tightly and think a bit bigger, to be bolder.

I received a clean slate of a vegetable in this week’s Riverford box, a totally unmarked, brilliantly white and heavy cauliflower. I read recently that a celebrity chef called it the meat of the vegetarian world. Now I cannot say that this is a description that I find fitting, but what I interpret that to mean is that it’s a filling, bulky item that can easily be the main dish, rather than just one of those side dishes. I like it roasted, because it releases delicate sweet aromas and keeps that lightly firm bite!

Mexican spiced cauliflower in an almond-sesame crust by Deena Kakaya

Do you remember me talking about eating in a healthier way over recent posts? Have I gone on and on about that enough yet? No? Well OK then! My body is really crying out for some care so I am taking action. This recipe today uses my home made Mexican spice blend, none of the shop bought stuff. I have used no oil, and even the crumb for the crunchy cauliflower uses almonds and black sesame seeds rather that breadcrumbs. This is a vegan recipe but you could add an egg to the batter to give it a lighter, fluffier effect. I was pretty impressed that a wrap without cheese, with loads of green herby goodness and spice could taste like a weekday treat.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Apple, yoghurt, lime and cardamom pancakes

5 Jul

Apple, yoghurt, lime and cardamom pancakes

I have become a serial well-wisher. What about you? Are you overflowing with perpetual congratulation giving, spilling over with ‘well done’ encouragement and brimming with huge smiles and ‘that’s incredible’ commendations?

Apple, yoghurt, lime and cardamom pancakes

Back in the day I was encouraging and supportive on my friend’s achievements; grades, hockey team, someone playing netball or some art project or maybe even a musical instrument, a dance thing even. This then progressed to romantic relationships, holidays, buying first homes and getting married.  Everyone had their own thing didn’t they? Somewhere along the lines though, it changed.

Though these congratulating moments have stayed in my mind and still make me smile. When we got our a-level results my best friend didn’t get what she needed to, so we had to wait to find a university place for her and meanwhile I had scored a hat trick. We didn’t celebrate until she found her place, which she ended up being really happy with and it involved a lot of cheese in a regular Italian restaurant with a flirtatious waiter and even more cake. When we bought out first home we celebrated on the floorboards (there was no carpet or wooden floor) with a crowd of bums on cushions (we had no sofa) and chow Mein with fizzy apple juice lay on kitchen roll (no table, no tablecloth). More friends frequented that first place, which was tiny and awkward with the only bathroom flowing from the bedroom, than do our current home. More dinner parties were had on the cheap glass table in the first place than on the more solid and lasting wooden one we have now. Why?

As I scroll through my twitter timeline I see oodles of people who have done something tremendous. Every day, people are doing incredible things; writing books, climbing mountains, popping up in restaurants, TV, radio, magazines, all very wow-some. Then my Facebook feed is bursting with cute baby pictures and their older siblings and people getting married or visiting an incredible destination. Everyone on instagram is eating their way through the world. Wow. Everyone is amazing.

We stole 26 minutes of normality today. After dinner we were in the car and the boy fell asleep. We spent 26 minutes being nice to each other (the husband and I) and he again told me that he missed me. We talked about the old days, when life was simpler. We just went to work and the gym came home and ate and chilled and went exploring at the weekends. We smiled at each other and talked about the new kid’s pool I had discovered with shallow water and slides, a huge plus being that I wouldn’t have to hold the boy. We considered cinnamon donuts but decided that our bellies didn’t need sugar, but our lives certainly did.

So, I decided to do something nice in real life. Breakfast.  The breakfast that thinks it is naughtier than it is. Apples are juicy and good but don’t be fooled into thinking that they alone will make this dish. The light and fluffy pancakes need the sourness of yoghurt, the zesty lime and aroma of cardamom to avoid them feeling bland. In my opinion the yoghurt is the star of this show, but please will you let me know what you think? The sweet, sour, zingy and perfumed pancakes are the best way to start the day…being nice in the most real way.

 

 

Ingredients to serve four

200g plain flour

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

3 golden delicious apples, peeled and grated

350ml plain, natural yoghurt

The zest and juice of one lime

50g sugar

Oil for frying the pancakes

Agave nectar, honey or syrup for drizzling

Icing sugar for sprinkling on top of the cooked pancakes

Method

  1. In one bowl whisk the eggs together before adding the yoghurt and sugar. Mix thoroughly and add the lime juice and zest.
  2. Fold in the grated apples and ensure that the mixture looks even.
  3. Mix the ground cardamom and baking powder with the plain flour in a separate bowl before combining it with the wet ingredients
  4. Heat a very thin layer of oil on a non-stick pan and then add dessert spoonful’s of pancake mixture and then flatten them slightly. Lower the heat to a low-medium flame and once they catch a golden colour on one side, flip them over and brown the lightly on the other side.
  5. Serve the pancakes immediately with icing sugar dusted on top and a drizzle of syrup.

Spinach, ricotta, saffron and fennel cakes

21 Feb

ricotta pancakes by Deena Kakaya

 

This week I’ve been on my own with the boy, again. His daddy was in the states for work and so our week went with the usual mayhem of arts and crafts tumbling onto forbidden zones, the boy insisting on only pooping in the bath, his cupping my face and saying, ‘I love you so much Mumma’, lying on the floor and insisting on going to soft play, refusing to let me cook whilst giggling, swinging from my legs and emptying my kitchen cupboard whist eating raw panko breadcrumbs and the emergence of a new fascination with breaking or disassembling anything including my favourite sunglasses. All those on top of delivering a commission for some recipes and well, you know, ‘ordinary life

ricotta pancakes by Deena Kakaya

So, my diminished appetite was satisfied whilst reviving my sleepy taste buds with very quick and easy, simple yet fragrant dishes like this one.

 

These bright green pancakes are light and moist with ricotta, fragrant with saffron and carry the fennel so well. The spinach stays silky; the mouthfuls are easy and soothing. They look pretty, they taste like they have been paired with affection and they are so, so easy to put together.

 

Ingredients to make six pancakes to serve 2-3

 

1/2 cup plain flour

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cup shredded spinach

2 small pinches of saffron

Salt to taste

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 egg

1/2 cup of whole milk

A few teaspoons of ricotta to serve

 

Method

 

1. Mix the plain flour, salt, spinach and fennel seeds in a bowl, before adding the ricotta, egg, milk and mixing well.

2. Mix the saffron in a tablespoon of hot water and once it’s infused add that to the other ingredients and mix again.

3. On a non-stick pan add two tablespoons of cooking oil and once it’s heated add a heaped dessert spoon of the batter and cook until they are lightly golden on each side.

4. Serve hot with a little ricotta to top them.

 

Asian influenced savoury breakfast porridge-broth with tofu, sundried tomatoes, edamame beans

22 Jan

Asian influenced savoury breakfast porridge-broth with tofu, sundried tomatoes, edamame beans and cucumber

Never say never

A few weeks ago I was remarking on salt-inclusive   breakfast porridge of a fellow foodie. It was a very pretty looking stewed pinky fruit number with salt. Artistic and tempting, class and containing salt. Salt, in breakfast porridge, no way!

That said, my cauldron seems some wickedly unusual combinations at any time of the day, not least at breakfast. It was during one of these experimental moments that Zoe, the spice scribe suggested that Danny, the Food Urchin and I perhaps try a savoury porridge.

‘Eh’, ‘what’s the point of that’ , ‘ew’ , ‘why’ , ‘but that’s not a breakfast is it’.

Is that what you are thinking? That’s certainly what I was thinking, but not one to ever dismiss a suggestion by the very lovely and food-smart Zoe and not one to dismiss an opportunity to experiment in an otherwise little explored area, I thought…why not. Besides, the charming and talented Mr.Food Urchin was game, this is going to be fun folks.

So I thought about what I like to eat what’s good for breakfast. Protein, oats, a bit of immune boosting (and frankly tasty) chilli. Let me tell you, I surprised myself. It’s good. It’s nutritious. It’s a bit weird at first, but it’s filling and tastes like a thick soup. Go on, you have to try it….

Ingredients to serve 4

500ml vegetable stock
50g Amoy flour vermicelli
Half a block of firm tofu, cut into bite sized pieces
75g edamame beans, defrosted
50g sundried tomatoes, chopped into thin strips
2 spring onions, chopped
300ml water
3/4 cup porridge oats
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 1/2 tsp soy bean paste
100g thin strips of cucumber
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
15g basil, finely chopped

Method

1. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, then allow them to sizzle, before introducing the tofu. Sauté the tofu lightly until it starts to catch some colour then add the spring onion. Sauté until the tofu is lightly golden.
2. Add the vegetable stock with the edamame beans, cucumber and sundried tomatoes, rice wine vinegar and chilli flakes before bringing the pot to a simmer.
3. Add the porridge oats and vermicelli, basil and stir well. Add the water simmer for 4-5 minutes

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.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

21 Dec

Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you all smiles, peace and a heart full of love. I wish you all days where you wake up, looking forward to the day and I wish you nights where you will fall asleep smiling. I wish you all good, light and kind thoughts, you know the sort that shape your day to be just happy. I wish you joy without conditions and good health of the mind and body.

For the last three years, each New Year’s Eve, my husband and I watch the fireworks at midnight and he tells me, ‘this year will be your year’. This year I reminded him asked him if he will say this to me again, for the fourth time. Will he convince me about how this year really will be the one. Have I not had my year because I didn’t make it happen, or have they been mine but I’ve been too ungrateful to count my blessings.  This year, I hope I can release that pressure and just see how blessed I am. My loved ones are all alive and in reasonable shape. I have a beautiful, kind and smart boy now, a home and it’s all going to be…

Lets eat to that shall we? Here is a summary of foods that are special enough for Christmas.

18 Vegetarian recipes for Christmas, from me to you

Personalised Gifts

If you have left it too late to buy Christmas gifts or want I give something with a personal touch, why not try my Home made chilli oil with an Indian accent? It’s made with sesame oil to give a deeper, nuttier taste and smooth texture. It’s a hot oil with the aromas of cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cloves star anise. It’s definitely a special one.

Homemade chilli oil with an Indian accent

IMG_3928

If you prefer a sweeter texture, try my Hot Chilli and sweet lychee dipping sauce? It’s perfumed and sweet with a hot kick at the end. I use I with spring rolls, in sandwiches and even with chips.

 

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Homemade sweet lychee and hot chilli dipping sauce

Picky Pleasures

In our house we graze the day long..mouthfuls of crunchy or sweet nibbled are thrown into gobs whilst watching cheesy movies or playing board games together. I love these jaggery and spice crusted nuts so much. They ate smooth and crisp as well as sweet and aromatic with the cardamom.

Diwali and Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamom and cinnamon shell

Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamon and cinnamon shell
Christmas nuts-pecans in a crisp jaggery, cardamom and cinnamon shell

If you fancy something with a bit of a kick, try out my plantain chips with cranberries and nuts. Not only does it look pretty and festive, it’s quite moorish!

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon
Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

Sides, starters and party pieces

One of my favourites of this season has to be my smoked garlic, fennel, coconut, cumin and panko coated mushrooms. They taste crisp, exotic and nutty with a juicy and oozy mushroom inside. They’re magic.

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko
Crispy Mushrooms in a smoked garlic, coconut, cumin, fennel and panko- is it Christmas yet?

Everyone loves a good fritter. For me they are the ultimate picky food. Whether they evoke memories of eating paneer pakora in the monsoon rain during holidays to India, or falafels being fried in huge quantities by friendly chefs who rolled them off their hands like balls of cotton wool. Whether they are eaten whilst sat under warm showers with smiles from beloved family, or nibbled whilst perched on a stool in a busy restaurant in Cairo. There is nothing like biting into a steaming hot and crispy shell to show bright green and moist beans tumble into the mouth.

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

Festive nibbles- broad bean and paneer fritters

How about my Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora? These pakora have some of that ‘seaweed’ essence and are a bit bitter-sweet in a glorious way because of the banana and onion. These gorgeous and fluffy bites make great party snacks and are best devoured when crispy and hot. I’d suggest serving them with any of these chutneys.

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Trendy Kale, banana and red onion pakora

Brussels sprouts, the quintessential Christmas veg. How do mine look? pretty? tempting? These Brussels sprouts are treated tenderly, as they deserve to be but they aren’t your soggy or overcooked sprout. It’s a lively, lightly spiced and full of flavour, juicy sprout.

 

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts
Crispy, Indo-Chinese style purple Brussels sprouts

For something lighter, healthier and simple why not try my Christmas coloured nibbles of balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes with soybean and red onion dip. It’s red and green…Christmassy…get it? Alright, alright I know. It’s not exactly the whackiest idea for colours but it does look festive and it is fun. The tomatoes take on an intensely deep and sweet flavour when roasted and the garlic really comes through with a kick of chilli at the end. The dip left my husband in sigh’s of ‘mmm’s and he’s polished off the entire bowl of dip! I have to say that this nutty dip is really very good. The handy thing with this recipe is that it’s great warm or cold. I served with warm pitta and some smoked cheese.

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip
Christmas coloured nibbles-balsamic, garlic and chilli roasted tomatoes and soybean and red onion dip

I can’t tell you how delighted I am at how popular my recipe for Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter has been! I’m really excited by this one. It’s really quite special. When they are warm, the goats cheese is oozy and juicy and the case is fluffy, flecked with green spinach and sweet sun-dried tomatoes…does it get any better?

 

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter
Christmas starters and sides-Goats cheese pakora in a spinach, sundried tomato, fennel, cumin and gram flour batter

Chutney makes it taste even better

If you find those veg a bit plain, here are a couple of chutneys to lift them to gorgeousness. My Kerala inspired tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney has spruced up my sarnies lately and I’ve even had this chutney with roasted veg…just to test it out!

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney
Tangy, sweet, spicy Christmas food gift-tomato, pineapple and cucumber chutney

 

From halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

I was also inspired by fond memories of halwa to make a butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney that is divine with bread and cheese, do try it.

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

halwa to chutney- Butternut squash, almond and coconut chutney

 

The main event

It isn’t another nut roast, relax! I have nothing against a good, sumptuous and nutritious nut roast, but we can do better than that! How about my open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto. For me, this sums up a vegetarian Christmas in three, simple layers.

Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

Vegetarian Christmas recipe - open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto
Vegetarian Christmas recipe – open ravioli filled with a layer of mushroom masala, another layer of saffron and chilli spiced butternut squash and topped with coriander and parsley pesto

If you fancy a curry for the big day with a festive feel, try my Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes. This curry is one of those that warms the tummy and keeps it flickering and teases the taste buds. It’s a glowing bowl of aroma and an utterly balanced dish for the senses. It looks mor complicated than it is…once you’ve made the curry paste, it’s very, very straightforward. What you get is a heat, sweetness and zing. You get the perfumes from star anise, kaffir lime leaves and some wonderful lemongrass. The great thing is that the potatoes, Brussel sprouts and tofu soak up all these juices. The other good thing about a curry for Christmas is that you can make it before your guests arrive and then relax and spend some quality time with them.

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Christmas curry? Malaysian inspired curry of Brussels sprouts, tofu and potatoes

Sweet Stuff

I give the traditional apple crumble recipe an exotic and spiced twist. The juices burst through the top of the crumble and are a mix of the fruits and spices; it’s so good that I could drink it. It’s really good, try it.

Apple, Lychee and blackberry (coconut)crumble with rose, cinnamon, cardamon and star anise

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

Spiced Apple, Lychee and blackberry crumble

The iced cold weather and then warming up with spices and central heating. The colours the charm, the music…and that’s what I have tried to capture in my recipe today. The icy yoghurt has a lightly sour tang, because its yoghurt. It’s sweet with pineapple and sweetener. The chilli adds a perplexing heat and I’ve added a touch of cinnamon, so the fragrance is festively sweet.

A scoop of Christmas – pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

pineapple, cinnamon and red chilli frozen yoghurt

 

Now let’s have a drink

When the party is over, I get thirsty as heck. I want something soothing, fragrant , sweet and cold. I want the gola man from India to come and make me one whilst I have a foot massage (not from the gola man, let’s not get any ideas). I need a good soak in the bath with flowery fragrances. I fancied enacting one of those scenes from period films where the queen bathes in a pool of rose petals and warm water, with people passing her towels and drinks. Alas, I’m no queen but this cool, fruity, floral and fragrant cooler is a spa for the mind.

Dance, sing and drink a rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

 

Om shanti Om- pineapple, rose, ginger and cinnamon lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

Pineapple, rose, cinnamon and ginger lassi

 

 

 

 

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash savoury gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing – recipes vegetarian

2 Nov

Start the day as you mean to go on.

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing

So, I start my day as I mean to go on and a savoury Diwali breakfast is more important that the day before. The whole of the festive period is spent eating. Mithai (indian sweets) , fried samosa, sweet dumplings in a crispy flour case, or pakora or crunchy rice and lentil wheels. So then, it doesn’t make sense to have cereal or toast for breakfast, does it. Have something special and utterly full of flavour  and filling for breakfast on Diwali, of course it should be spicy.I started to think about things that I was grateful for. My good health, my loving family, I’m reasonably smart, I have talents. There were lots of good things that I had seen, experienced and achieved in my life and for that I was grateful. Now, when I wake up and I’m confused about my thoughts…I bring myself to the here and now and think of good things.

Now I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash. I’m not keen on very sweet vegetables. But in this dish it adds moisture and a little sweetness without it being overwhelming. Don’t worry if the pancakes feel very moist inside when to first bite them; that’s all part of the charm. They’re spicy, they’re fluffy, they are moist, deep and lasting. Go on…

If Diwali makes you happy, if talking, smiling, eating, being around loved ones makes you happy…the keep doing it.

Ingredients

For the pancakes

100g grated butternut squash
75g grated courgette
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
2 tsp baking powder
One green chilli, chopped finely
One small red onion, finely diced
100g gram flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
200ml water
3-4 tbsp oil for frying

For the dressing

1 tbsp sesame oil
5 curry leaves
One tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
250g whipped Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1 green chilli

Method.

1. To make the dressing, heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook the curry leaves and mustard seeds for 1 min. Stir in the chilli, turmeric and ginger, then cook on a low heat for 2-3 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Stir the cooled spice mix into the whipped yogurt along with the honey, then chill until you are ready to serve the meal. Can be made a day ahead.
2. To make the pancakes, combine the courgette, butternut squash, ginger, garlic, chilli, salt and spices together with onion and mix well. Add the gram flour and mix thoroughly before adding the water and combine until the gram flour lumps are removed.
3. On a non stick pan, heat 1-2 tsp oil and add 1/3 cup per pancake and fry until golden brown and then flip it over and repeat.

Serve hot and fresh.

I am joining in with Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month at Dinner With Crayons  thanks to Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

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Spiced papaya, coconut and toasted almond Breakfast porridge

11 Oct
Spiced papaya, coconut and toasted almond Breakfast porridge

Spiced papaya, coconut and toasted almond Breakfast porridge

Do you relate to any of these glimpses of my life that has been on replay?

I would walk slowly from the car to the on-site restaurant at work, dodging people and other obstacles because I was flicking through the long list of emails and email conversations whilst sighing and swearing. I was deep in thought about the problems, sorry ‘challenges’ that had occurred over evening to morning and gritting my teeth at the day ahead, full of poor shovelling. Great. I’d open the porridge pot and hope it wouldn’t be a thick sticky mess. I needed fuel to get me through, who knows if I’d get time go eat a decent lunch.

It’s was one of those days today. He didn’t quite want to accept that Thomas is broken and he didn’t want to be put down. Is it safe to make paratha whilst holding him? Probably not. TV? I shouldn’t. ‘Mama let’s go to Gambado’. (Soft play). ‘Mama, lets go to farm’.

After a lot of activity, it’s not easy getting him out. There’s s lot of protesting in the car and as a result of being distracted my car scrapes some bollards. He then falls asleep and wakes, annoyed as heck as I get him home. Can you imagine how the rest of it goes; he then doesn’t want lunch, doesn’t want to sleep, doesn’t want to talk. We have whimpering, cries and over exhausted squeals. I put him in the car and drive until he sleeps. It’s 2.30pm and I’ve had no lunch. I should have eaten porridge this morning.

Porridge. It’s humble. It’s un glamorous. It’s simple. It’s warm. It’s cosy. It’s heats the tummy up, drop by drop. It’s milky and sweet and thick and sleepy. It’s nourishing, cajoling and homely. It does the job. It’s funny how some foods conditioned in our minds to anchor us to certain times, moments or memories. Porridge throws me back to winters before school, that morning radio alarm, where the same song played every single day.

Porridge need not be boring. There’s so many ways to make porridge exciting, not just comforting. Don’t restrict yourself to toppings of fruit, nuts or chocolate. My recipe for spiced papaya and coconut porridge feels evokes memories of holidays in my mind…it’s bright and cheerful for dull days like these, with an aroma of sweet, creamy coconuts and this one has a toasty crunch.

Wake up, Brighten up, keep going. It’s going to be a good day. Eat porridge.

Ingredients to serve 2-4

One can of coconut milk
1 tbsp agave nectar
1.5 papaya
200ml cows milk
1/8th tsp cinnamon
1/8th tsp cardamom
A handful of flaked almonds
80g of porridge oats

Method

1. Remove the skin and seeds from the papaya and cut it into chunks. Leave a few to the side (for topping the porridge) and put the rest into a non stick pan together with the milk and sides and simmer until the papaya is pulpy. Add the agave nectar and then put the mixture into a food processor. Blitz until its smooth.
2. Pour the milky mixture back into pan and then add the oats. Stir intermittently for 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, toast the almonds until they are golden brown, then leave them to cool.
3. Pour the porridge out, top with almonds and a couple of chunks of papaya and enjoy it immediately.

I am sending this to this month’s breakfast club, hosted by Michelle where the theme is fruit.

Breakfast club

Spinach, spring onion and spice pancakes with lime and coriander crème fraîche

26 Sep

Spinach, spring onion and spice pancakes with lime and coriander crème fraîche
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We were in Dubai in June and my then 16month child lost a few hundred grams in weight over the first few days of our 10 day stay.

We were very lucky to be staying at the Atlantis, which is not only stunning with its in-house aquarium which felt as big as the London aquarium, beautiful clear views of the azure sea, towering heights and arches, shimmering lights; but it is architecturally astounding with its arabesque domes and spires. They couldn’t do enough for us and I lost count of the number of restaurants they had that served fresh and delicious foods from throughout the world. My favorite was the Lebanese restaurant; they served an entire table of vegetarian dishes at each course and I’m not kidding.
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So why, with such lovely and helpful staff and so much variety did my boy not eat? Why, when they made him whatever we asked for, either on or off the ‘menu for kids’, would he just not eat? The truth is, I don’t know. Could have been the heat, but then the hotel was air-conditioned. It could have been the time changes, but then we stuck to UK time for him. It could have been the fatigue of travelling, but surely that would settle after a couple of days. It could be because mumma didn’t make it. But come on.

So, as is typical of my assertive and self-proclaimed solutions-not-problems focused husband, he said, ‘babe, just go and speak to the chefs like you normally would and go into the kitchen and make what he will eat’. Normally I wouldn’t go and cook uninvited because that is so rude. But my baby wasn’t eating and this made me so sad that I felt like it was the only thing I could do.

The head chef came out to meet my boy. The restaurant manager came to meet him. The sous chef took the head chefs instructions and then I went in to tell them how he likes it. My boy doesn’t even know lucky he is. We made him what he has at home, a spinach uttapam. I make this south Indian style crispy pancake with fermented and ground lentils and rice, loads of spinach. My little monster guzzled it down and the whole team was happy, especially me. Naturally.

The thing is though, that I don’t always have fermented rice and lentils to hand when he asks for the pancake and I know that instant versions are available in a packet and that too at the major supermarkets, but I worry about the amount of salt in them. So, I created this recipe that my whole family enjoy…even my fussy old man (my dad) loved them. My chappati-loving mum let out high-pitched praise. My Italian and Caribbean neighbors loved them (I’ve trialed this recipe out a couple of times so needed mouths) and best of all, my boy loves them. For a kids version skip the chili and salt if this is your normal practice given your child’s age. My boy is young so that’s what I’ve done.

These pancakes are really well-balanced in terms of spice and depth, they are smooth and really light and fluffy. Herby and moorish, they are so easy to make and even easier to eat.

Ingredients to serve 3-4

225g fresh spinach, finely chopped in a food processor
75g spring onions finely chopped
2 green chilies finely chopped (leave them out for kids or cut the amount of chili if you don’t like it hot)
One whole egg
One egg white, beaten until you get soft white peaks
150g self-raising flour
150ml milk
50g butter
Salt to taste (I used 1tsp)
1 tbsp baking powder

The spices; 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp dried mango powder (amchur powder)

For the lime and coriander crème fraîche

250g crème fraîche
The zest of one lime
1 tbsp very finely chopped fresh coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Method

1. In a large bowl mix the spinach with the cumin, salt, garam masala, mango powder, spring onions and chilies and mix it well.
2. With a fork, mix in the flour and then add the milk, butter and egg. Whisk it all together, add the baking powder and whisk again.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until the egg whites are soft white peaks and then gently fold into the pancake batter.
4. To make the crème fraîche, add the zest of the lime into a bowl and add the coriander, salt and pepper. Mix it in gently with the crème fraîche and leave it in the fridge until you serve the pancakes.
5. To make the pancakes heat a non stick pan and grease it with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Pour a couple of tablespoons of batter onto the pan and ensure that the height is about 1 cm. Cook them until they are golden brown on one side before flipping over.

Serve the pancakes hot and with a dollop of the crème fraîche.

Juicy chaat masala mushrooms with goats cheese on toast

14 Sep

image imageJuicy chaat masala mushrooms with goats cheese on toast

The husband and I like to have special breakfasts at the weekends.  Something tremendous and indulgent.  Something voluptuous and pampering.   There is something quite dirty about a big, fat, yes-yes breakfast and I like it.
The tradition, as it now is, stems partly from the pre-baby practices of a lie-in on the weekends after loud and cheerful Friday nights.  We’d wake absolutely ravenous to TV in bed and before attacking a pre-jaunt ‘to do’ list, we’d eat liberally.  I think the tradition also stems from a love of hearty breakfast foods.  I adore a good fry up, as long as the the vegetarian sausages are home made.  I make home made ‘baked’ beans too.  You know what one of things I most looked forward to doing after I got married was?  I was popping with excitement about having a huge English breakfast in the hotel, after our wedding night. Even though we were, shortly afterwards, flying out to Thailand.  But listen, I didn’t get that slim/thin for the wedding on fried eggs and hash browns!
Oh, and pancakes soaked in lemon and sugar…heavenly. And what about my beloved Gujarati thepla (spicy chapatti with fenugreek)?  I always keep some Pathak’s hot and spicy pickle in the house so that I can eat it and the thepla and lashings of yoghurt.  My husband is quite fanciful of light and fluffy South Indian idli (steamed pillows of ground and fermented rice and lentils) with a fresh dhal. He also likes plentiful wraps and layered sarnies with proper beans such as black eyed beans in a fresh sauce, spinach and of course some crunchy potatoes. And cheese. Good cheese. Cheese good.
So, I bet you know where I’m going with this.  We are getting older and fatter.  Somehow, a hash brown doesn’t have the same appeal.  We aren’t as ravenous in the mornings and we don’t really want to burping beany-eggy-fried stuff the whole day.  But the tradition of wanting a large and loving, taste-powing and generally stupendous breakfast continues. My husband hasn’t traditionally been a lover of mushrooms but I have converted him and I owe the conversion to this mighty and fine recipe.
Have you ever eaten a chaat? The point is to tantalise the senses and the taste buds with a variety of textures; hot sour, crunchy and soft, cold and hot.  The spice that brings it all together is chaat masala. It’s a peppery and pungent mix with black salt in it.  Somehow it is just magical with exotic mushrooms.  The juices that release from the mushrooms and the masala, oh my goodness…I could drink it as a soup! Please don’t chuck it away when you cook this dish, let it soak through the bread.  This is a beautifully balanced and kind dish. You could have it as a light meal too. Go for it and let me know what you think.
Ingredients for two people
150g of exotic mushrooms.  I used yellow oysters, grey oysters and anis mushrooms
2 tsp of chaat masala
A few blobs of goats cheese on each slice of bread
2 spring onions washed and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp finely chopped, fresh thyme
2 fat cloves of garlic very finely chopped
2 tbsp of cooking oil (use butter if you wish)
Two splashes of lemon juice
I used jalapeño and corn bread from ‘your bakery’ at tesco. It’s soft and spicy.
Cooks tip; it’s probably most economical to get a pack of mixed exotic mushrooms. I bought the chaat masala from the ethnic aisle at a tesco megastore. Don’t add any extra salt to this dish as the chaat masala is salty, please be careful.
Easy-peasy Method
1. If your grey oysters are large, then chop them in half. Wash all of the mushrooms and leave them to a side.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the cumin seeds.  Once they start to sizzle stir in the onions and garlic and sauté for a minute.
3. Place the bread in the toaster and Introduce the mushrooms to the onions and garlic and mix it all together.  Sprinkle in the chaat masala, stir and add the lemon juice and the thyme.  Simmer on a medium flame for about 3-4 minutes until the juices release and the mushrooms have relaxed.  Don’t let them shrink.  Exotic mushrooms aren’t tough so don’t need much cooking.
4. Plate the toast, then top with mushrooms and add a few blobs of goats cheese. Drizzle the stock onto the toast and serve immediately.
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