Tag Archives: healthy comfort food

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

Garlic roasted cauliflower and red onion in za’atar and coriander, with chilli and toasted pine nuts

28 Dec

Garlic roasted cauliflower and red onion in za'atar and coriander, with chilli and toasted pine nuts  by Deena Kakaya

My belt is well and truly loosened and my pockets are emptier. My heart is fuller and my fridge now more revealing. The bins have flowed over and my insides feel a wee bit like them now. Ooof, it’s time to eat some natural, light and healthier meals.

I really can’t consume another roast potato or nibble on any more rich cheese. I will pass on the triple chocolate whats-it and close my eyes before being presented any fizzy drinks. I am ready to choose sleep over cold air blowing under my eyelids whilst shopping for presents or last minute ingredients. My husband has also signed up for the marathon, so let’s bring on some healthy foods.

Every time I tell my mum I’m having a salad as a meal, she starts her talk about how salad isn’t substantial enough, isn’t a meal as its not hot and isn’t balanced nutritionally. She has this image that I’m eating a lonely Greek salad for dinner. I love Greek salad, but there’s so much more to choose from.

My garlic roasted cauliflower and red onion is warm, lightly sweet and carries salty garlic through it. I’ve coated it in coriander and za’atar spices, topped it with a drizzle on rice wine vinegar, red chilli and toasted pine nuts. It’s immensely tasty, virtuous and really easy to throw together. Try it.

Ingredients

A medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
A couple of glugs of rapeseed oil
One large red onion, sliced
A generous handful of coriander, washed an finely chopped
2 large red chilies, thinly sliced
A handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp of white wine vinegar
4-5 tsp of za’atar spice mix

Method
1. Toss the minced garlic, cauliflower, red onion, salt and rapeseed oil together for even coverage and then pop it in the oven at 180degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until it is lightly golden and soft enough to pierce through. It should still have a bite.image
2. Whilst the cauliflower is still warm and moist, toss it in the za’atar spice mix and coriander. Plate it up and then drizzle on the white wine vinegar and top with toasted pine nuts and the red chilli.image

I served this salad with hummus and flat bread. Magic.

Deena’s Vegetable Dumplings Stewed in a Yogurt Soup/Curry (Kadhi)

16 Nov

I am, like many of you, really into comfort food in this season. I like being comfortable, comforted and ‘nice’.  I console and pamper myself from the elements of this season with long swaying sweaters, ear-soothing hats and blanket trousers – and oh, most definitely the secret snug of tights – and lots of them.  I nestle myself in front of the open hearth of our home, lulled to sleep by the glowing of coal and watching the mesmerising crackles and pops, which snap my attention back to the rice crispies adverts from years gone by but then I’m caught craving chocolate coated cornflakes. And then my mind wanders to open city streets and the smell of roasting chestnuts, despite never enjoying the taste as a child. I think it was just the idea of a sweet nut. Toes playing with fluffy layers of rug, elbow nestled in cushion and nose under the blanket that now inhabits the sofa. Even I get a wee bit lazier in the winter, but I can’t apologise for that? Where there is a (albeit lazy) will, there is a recipe from me!
 
You may find yourself trying to make the weekly shop last longer-particularly those of us that can’t forget being snowed in earlier this year! You may find that when the evenings are darker and colder you just can’t bear to creep out from the wallowing warmth of indoors, for extra food supplies. You may find that you always have leftovers of the big squash, cabbages, potatoes and onions because you just don’t get through it all.  Hopefully it’s not because you’ve been ordering too many take-a ways!
 
My recipe for Indian vegetable dumplings stewed in a gently spiced and thickened yogurt soup/curry (kadhi) hits all the magic comfort buttons, uses up leftovers and also it tastes flippin’ fantastic.  It’s a simple, humble recipe. No coulis. No jus. No precision, or layering to perfect angles on plates. It just is, in all its tastiness, a hearty and delicious meal in one bowl of sunny yellows and oranges.  As this recipe simmers away in the kitchen, you will find that the homely and calm aromas are capturing.

I grew up with variations of this recipe; it looks a little like vegetable sausages stewed in a sunny curry. Some people cook them with more flour than vegetables, for a firmer bite. I like mine soft and sweetened from root vegetables.  Some people use millet flour to help bind the dough, but I find that a little bitter.  Traditionally, I think people bind the dough with oil, but I really can’t bring myself to do that.  Some people use less gravy; I like a good slathering of ginger-spiked soupiness. Some people use very traditional vegetables like bottled gourd (tastes like courgette).  I like to use gourd sometimes, especially as it is so easily available in supermarkets, but more often I will use any of my root vegetable leftovers. If you are using leftovers, this recipe will taste like taste like you’ve gone to a lot of effort!

Deena’s Vegetable Dumplings Stewed in a Yogurt Soup/Curry (Kadhi)

Ingredients

1 cup cooked and cooled rice (that’s aproximately 1/2 cup when uncooked)

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 small/medium potato, grated

100g sweet potato, grated

125g of finely shredded cabbage

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 green chillies, minced and 1-2 green chillies chopped

1 tsp ginger minced

400g yogurt

Gram flour; 3 tbsp for the kadhi and 1 ½ cup for the dumplings

1 cup chapatti flour

4-5 curry leaves

A handful of chopped coriander leaves

The spices ½ tsp ajwain/Carom seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds (1 of which is toasted lightly), salt to taste, ½ tsp turmeric, pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp mustard seeds, stick of cinnamon, 2 cloves.

Method

  1. In a very big bowl, combine the cooked rice, cabbage, onion, sweet potato, potato, minced garlic, 1tsp of toasted cumin seeds, carom seeds, salt to taste, ½ tsp turmeric and the minced chillies and mix thoroughly to ensure the spices coat all of the vegetables.  Don’t drain away the water from the vegetables, but allow the wetness to come through and this will help in bind the dough.
  2. Mix together the yogurt and the 3 tbsp of gram flour until smooth and there are no lumps
  3. Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a big, heavy bottomed and deep pan and add the asafoetida, chopped chilli (es), curry leaves, minced ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds and mustard seeds and allow the mustard seeds to pop before adding the gram flour and yogurt mix and some salt. Add 11 cups of water and bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
  4. Then add the chapatti flour and 1 ½ cups of gram flour to the rice and vegetables, add 2tbsp of vegetable oil and 2tbp of water and mix thoroughly to make a dough.
  5. Grease your palms and make tight sausages no longer than the width of your palm and drop them into the kadhi that is simmering in the deep bottomed pan. When they are all in, simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring intermittently to avoid the dumplings sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will know when they are done as you wont see the grains of rice so much and the inside looks meaty, rather than floury.
  6. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves and serve hot!
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