Tag Archives: asian style breakfast vegetarian

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

Roasted tomato, basil and paneer curry

18 Mar

 Roasted tomato, basil and paneer curry

The natural rhythm

There’s this park that has become a piece of my history. I can’t say that it’s anything spectacular, unusual or impressive and neither do I harbour much residual excitement for it or even love. But it’s there. Not here.

As a child it was the making of a special day out. The reason to gather cousins and friends, balls and bats and eat ice cream and thepla (spicy fenugreek chapatti because no picnic was ever complete without them). It was a reason to run fast and free, get wet and exhausted. The park felt enormous, an oasis in a city beating with samosa and cheese. It was a proper day out, from pet’s corner, café, boat riding to walking along the oriental bridge.

As teenagers my best friend and I, whom I met when we were just four, would take walks of distraction through the park. It felt much smaller now, as we walked fast to burn off those empty calories we had consumed during exam preparation with the drizzle on our faces. We would laugh and crack ridiculous jokes to ease the pressures and discharge the studious tones of the day. We would normally end up in the café, which looked like it had frozen in time a few decades ago. The counter revealed tray bakes with hundreds and thousands on them and sloppy icing. We giggled.

In our late teens my friends and I bonded on the bench that overlooked the boating lake. We had a hidden spot, or so we thought. I had overheard my mum and her friends talk about one of their colleagues who had an affair with a bloke and they would secretly meet on the same bench.

So we talked and shared. The more we shared the closer we felt and this was important at that age. Aspirations, family life, crushes, university, where we would like to live. Possibilities, opportunities, prospects and potentials; it was all open and we chattered about all the reactions surrounding this openness. Except now we weren’t beaming when squirrels came to greet us because we were busy scowling at glaring teenage boys and eventually we stopped frequenting that spot when we saw enormous rats scuffle along the trees behind the bench. Had they always been there?

In our early twenties, my now husband and I would find space in the park. Space to hold hands, to talk or to have it out about our frustrations. I had graduated but was in a London-Leicester limbo and he was working and missing me. We didn’t have a home of our own and when everyone else’s talking or eyes descended, we averted by walking in the park.

We took my boy and my niece to the park the other day when I was visiting the family. I could see the factories beyond the walls and hear the busses and cars swooshing past. My boy wanted to run free and fast.  The kiddies held hands as we showed them the ducks and the bridge looked small. The café wasn’t heaving with squeals or smiles but still sold sloppy looking tray bakes and chips with cheese on them. The faces were unfamiliar and there were fewer flowers. The rabbits were sleepy and fat. Had my rhythm changed, or is the past just the past.

It was good to be home. The house looked cleaner than I remembered leaving it and I wanted something to revive me from the fatigue and sleepy memories. Tomatoes are more intense and deep coloured when roasted, with more sweetness and that’s what got me started. There is no pairing like tomatoes and basil and a curry cajoles me into my natural rhythm, always. It was meant to be. This curry is unusual, but you know it will work, don’t you.

Roasted tomato, basil and paneer curry

Ingredients to serve 3-4ss

250g paneer cut into 2cm cubes

6 deep red tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic

2 cardamom pods

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. mustard seeds

2 cloves

1 small stick of cinnamon

200ml water

75g basil, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)

1 tsp. paprika

¾ tsp. paprika

Salt to taste

4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped

2 green chillies, slit and halved

½ tsp. turmeric

2 tbsp. oil for the curry and 1 tbsp. for shallow frying the paneer

Method

  1. Cut the tomatoes and in half and drizzle them with oil. Sit them on some baking paper with the cut side upwards and roast them in the oven at 150degrees until they look lightly brown and intense. Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, mid-way add 4 cloves of garlic in their shell and let them roast too.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan and add 1 tbsp. oil to shallow fry the paneer until it is lightly golden. Remove onto some kitchen paper and drain off the excess oil.
  3. Once the tomatoes and garlic are roasted, lightly blitz them together so that you have a chunky sauce.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp. in the non-stick pan add the cumin seeds, turmeric, chillies, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon and allow the seeds to sizzle before stirring in the onions and salt. Sauté for a couple of minutes.
  5. Pour in the tomato and garlic sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer before sprinkling in the paprika and garam masala and then the paneer with water.
  6. Simmer for 7-8 minutes before mixing in the basil and then simmer for a further two minutes.
  7. Serve hot with chapatti or rice.

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

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