Tag Archives: healthy

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.

Baharat roasted potatoes with aubergine and spinach

13 May

Baharat roasted potatoes with aubergine and spinach

 

Baharat roasted potatoes with aubergine spinach

The lines between ‘going back’ and going on holiday have blurred now, after this many visits to the UAE.  My three year old has made three trips out there and now has a collection of memories and a definite sense of identification with some of our regular haunts.  Neither me nor my husband are from the UAE or have family there but to be honest almost all of the people I talk to in Dubai are ex-pats.

Whilst in Oman, Muscat I reminisced about our honeymoon in Thailand because the mountainous back group and still waters evoked those entire serene and tranquil honeymoon images in my mind. Except this time, the people we made passing conversation with were a whole world away. We met an Australian family in the kid’s club and I remarked to my husband that it was they, not a nanny with their two young daughters. Most of the other children in the kids club were accompanied by a nanny that had joined their family to the resort. Australian dad now worked in Qatar and Australian mum was fond of truffles. She emphatically told me about the school her daughters attended and how her children didn’t see race or colour because their friends were of all origins; Indian, French, Japanese. She told me several times over, which I found curious.

People like to guess where you are from when on holiday don’t they? Most of the time people assume that I am from Arabic origin, in fact this happened to me at college and university too but it’s only in the UAE that people never assume that. The entertainer in the kids club remarked on my Indian eyes and English accent and asked if I was a full time mum, for again, I was the only mum in attendance there. An Indian (as in, from India) dad dropped his two smartly dressed children who were also decorated in 24ct gold jewellery, with entertaining lady and after he left she told me that he holds a very high position in the hotel and has since moved to LA to head up operations there. She herself is from a family of 7 sisters and 1 brother in the Philippines.

My little boy likes trains, unsurprisingly and the ones in Dubai are much less congested so this made for fervent and endearing conversation. Indian chap quipped that he should be on YouTube, not the head of a leading bank like he was. My boy replied, ‘maybe when I am 17 I will.’

So, as we stood at the floor to wall screens leading into the aquarium, for shark and stingray viewing my boy patted the screen guardedly inviting the sometimes smiling and sometimes frowning creatures to swim past him. Whilst he pressed his forehead against the cold glass and chattered away about what the fish must be doing, thinking, eating and travelling from a very pink, vivacious blonde haired little girl grabbed the arm of ‘Shanti’ as she explained where she saw similar looking coral. Shanti had a really peaceful demeanour and very smooth and very dark skin on a red-green-gold simple sari so I wondered if she was from southern India. Blonde mummy tried to join in the conversation but those wide eyes were mirroring only Shanti’s imperturbable smile. I wondered if this is what happens if you get caught up in the mode of, ‘because I can have hired help I will’. Or was shanti a friend? Was she the nanny?

‘Come…’ called Shanti and held the little blond girl close as she scooped her up, posing and prompting the parents to take pictures. I don’t know if Shanti heard, but I certainly did when they said, ‘just get her in there on her own, and hold it, that’s it…’

I picked up some freshly ground Baharat spice mix at the same supermarket that I go to each time that I am in Dubai and I know there must be more authentic places but you know, it was there in a big and inviting mound of freshness. A Lebanese lady next to me told me that she uses it in rice dishes and I wondered which other medley of dishes I could use them because the key ingredients are; cardamom, cassia bark, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, all spice, peppercorns, chilies or paprika. For whatever reasons the smoky aubergine, crisp potato and smooth spinach all work with this spice for a healthy vegetarian meal. Although I picked the blend up from Dubai with lasting effect in the suitcase, the spice blend is available in UK supermarkets too.

Ingredients to serve two

3 medium potatoes suitable for roasting

1 tbsp. rapeseed oil

Two medium aubergines

One tin of chopped tomatoes

4 dessert spoons of finely chopped spinach

One large red chilli

Salt to taste

2 tsp. Za’atar spice

3 tsp.  Baharat spice

150g fresh mozzarella cheese

 

A handful of cherry or plum tomatoes, quartered

Method

  1. Cut the potatoes into even sized cubes and boil them for 7-8 minutes before draining them and letting them dry completely. Then toss them in salt and the oil before roasting them in the oven at 190 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.
  2. Roast the aubergines whole at 180 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until the inside is soft and then allow them to cool before scraping away the skins.
  3. Mix the tinned tomatoes with the chopped chilli, salt, pinch of pepper and spread them onto an oven proof dish.
  4. Combine the aubergine pulp with the Za’atar spice and a pinch of salt.
  5. Now layer on the spinach and the roasted aubergine on top of the tinned tomatoes.
  6. Once the potatoes have caught a golden colour, toss them in the Baharat spice mix before adding them on top of the spinach and aubergine.
  7. Tear the aubergine and add them to the top with the tomatoes before returning the tray to the oven for approximately ten minutes.

Aubergine ‘meatballs’ (eggless)

5 Mar

Aubergine meatballs by Deena Kakaya
There are many questions that I do not know the answer to and over time, I have learned.
I have cultured the knack of softening a response to questions like, ‘muuuum, are people that hit bad?’, or ‘it is mean to eat a fish’.
My fingers are more nibble with Google referencing to questions like, ‘Can you throw the stones from Saturn’s rings into Saturn?’
The other day, we were in the temple and as my three year old stroked my face and said, ‘I love you mum, thank you for giving me a good day’, the congregation of around a dozen people softened a bit more out of their silent prayer. He carried on with, ‘why does God sit in the sky when so many children’s are hungry’.
I have developed that customary pensive sigh and pause when friends ask me, ‘do you think his behaviour is a road blocker?’
I chant positive affirmations when students ask me during lectures; ‘why don’t I understand this?’
When people text message and ask me ‘I hope you get some rest tonight?’ I reply with thanks. I don’t tell them that I will be up till 2am.
As I type away on this post, my three year old snores next to me and a couple of stray grey hairs shimmer under the lamp. My husband is in Australia and the laundry is waiting along with Lecture preparation. I have Mango and lime water with chia seeds waiting in the fridge for me and I am reflecting on this question I get asked via social media, ‘aww, how are you coping this week? Bet you haven’t been eating properly, not fun cooking for one is it?’

Well. This is a question that I can respond to with a picture-no words needed. I eat whilst my husband is away, it is true. He eats whilst he is away too. He doesn’t sob over soggy toast and neither do I. Its great isn’t it? Though there are shortcuts and easier meals involved because I have to do the cleaning up all by my 5ft 1 inch self. There are sandwiches involved but not cold and limp ones. There are vegetarian meatballs involved and they are full of gusto. There is nothing whimpering or diminishing about them. They are healthy, mighty and juicy. They are easy and peasy. They need time though. The knack with these Aubergine vegetarian meatballs is that the aubergines must be cooked on a low flame for a long time until they are golden and soft. They won’t be golden if you add the salt and garlic too early; they’ll just be wet and icky. The meatballs are sweet but remember not to add the spices too early otherwise they will burn and it will all taste bitter. Don’t forget the lemon juice, it really helps. I have accompanied my meatballs with a tomato and Harissa sauce. It’s a gobful this meal.

Ingredients to serve 4
2 tbsp. rapeseed oil
2 large aubergines cut into small cubes (approximately 2cm cubes)
3 fat cloves of garlic
1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
Salt to taste
A generous pinch of black pepper
The juice of one lemon
6-7 tbsp. breadcrumbs
Method
1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the aubergines. Cook them on a low flame until they are soft enough to pierce and golden brown on the outside. It took me roughly 40 minutes to get them this way.
2. Just before the aubergines are cooked add the salt, garlic, coriander and cumin pastes with the paprika and sauté for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the aubergines to cool to room temperature.
3. Put the aubergines in a food processor and add the black pepper and lemon juice and blitz them until they are almost smooth. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse until it looks like patty mixture.
4. You should be able to form equal shaped meatballs now. If the mixture is too wet add more breadcrumbs. If it is a bit dry, add a splash of olive oil.
5. Put the meatballs on some baking paper and leave them in the fridge for an hour or so, to firm up.
6. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, add a splash of oil to a non-stick pan and add the meatballs on a low flame. Cook them until they are golden brown and lightly crisp on each side.

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.

 

Roasted cauliflower, fennel and walnut soup

17 Dec

Roasted cauliflower, fennel and walnut soup

I don’t like sweet soups.

But then again I don’t like much sweet stuff in my savoury food and so raisins and apricots appearing in my dinner make me queasy.  It just feels odd to me, when there are gentle and definitely pleasant savoury flavours in a warm and spicy dish, out pops a raisin to ruin it. And this is also why I can’t cope with butternut squash curry.  My tongue is furring up in repulsed resistance as I type. I know, I know, I understand that the balance of sweet and heat works but I can’t make a meal of it. I may enjoy a forkful or two but I cannot make a meal of a sweet food. Years ago, before twitter became as massive as it is, I said something of this tune when flicking through foodie magazines and watching Saturday kitchen in bed. This was obviously back in the day before my boy and when I could work during sociable hours and I was still acquainted with free time. Anyway, I said something like, ‘oh no not another butternut squash curry’ and I have to say, it wasn’t a popular comment.

Roasted cauliflower, fennel and walnut soup by Deena Kakaya

Now that it is just ridiculously cold I am getting cosy with soup again, and this one is my current favourite. Roasted cauliflower is mildly sweet, but not in a sugary sort of way and that, I love. There are also lightly, suggestively sweet onions and delicately aromatic and tenderly sweet garlic and oh, creamy dreamy walnuts. The fennel seeds bestow this soup with generous aroma and lovely warmth. It’s a calming and soothing sort of soup this one, even the colours are neutral and I am finding myself in need of some calm. But you have to make sure that it isn’t lumpy…especially the walnuts.  I used my Optimum 9400 froothie and I got a superbly smooth and creamy result.

My head spins just looking at the queues at the supermarkets these days. I am thinking calm and warm thoughts, of an unquestionably savoury kind.

Ingredients to serve 4

One medium to large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

One large red onion, cut into thick chunks

Rapeseed oil to coat the onion and cauliflower

1 ½ tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and crushed

5 tbsp. walnuts

Whole milk to soak the walnuts in

6 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed

6 cups of vegetable stock

One medium potato, cut into chunks

1 tsp. cumin seeds

A pinch of garam masala

Method

  1. Coat the onion and cauliflower in the rapeseed oil and roast them in the oven, with the garlic at 180degrees until they are lightly golden and releasing their aroma.
  2. Soak the walnuts in the warm milk (enough to cover them)
  3. Heat the butter in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow the seeds to sizzle and add the potato, coating it in the butter.
  4. Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, before introducing the cauliflower, onion, and garlic and garam masala.
  5. Blitz the walnuts smooth (there should be no lumps or chunks) and then add them to the soup.
  6. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes before blending it smooth. Add more water if you need to loosen it up.

 

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking class with Natco Foods

28 Oct

Oh my goodness. I am still smiling; the busy London kitchen got hot and steamy. Puffs of clouds lifted and carries the aroma of spices. Banter and laughter mixed with the sounds of sizzling pakora, bubbling curries and tinkles of pots and pans. 

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking classes www.deenakakaya.com

A fabulous bunch of people joined us for a cookery class that fused the world together on one vegetarian plate. Each of the recipes was introduced by a demonstration and people worked together to cook up dishes like kale, red onion and banana pakora. We even made cashew cream in the class to use in a curry.

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking class www.deenakakaya.com

Some people came in pairs and some came alone. Either way, as the exotic drinks flowed, the group bonded and friendships grew.

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking classes www.deenakakaya.com

We ate a lot too. Attendees ate their own cooking, they ate each other’s cooking and of course I had to taste-test too!

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking classes www.deenakakaya.com

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking class www.deenakakaya.com

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking class www.deenakakaya.com

This class was heaving with spice. We sniffed them, tasted them, broke them and ground them. We talked about the health impacts of each of the spices and I shared some personal experiences such as dill water to increase breast milk supply! On the less shocking side we talked about fennel and it helping to clear the tummy, cloves to soothe toothaches and turmeric to fight a cold. All of the spices were fresh and those who came along were able to take some gram flour or spices away with them thanks to our sponsors, Natco

Deena Kakaya vegetarian cooking class www.deenakakaya.com

My favorite bits of every class? Has to be the pride when attendees cook a dish that works, to their own surprise. I enjoy seeing people overcoming fears, such as frying. I delight in the camaraderie that spreads through the room and especially so when people walk out in groups exchanging contact details. I revel in the comments like, ‘I am definitely going to cook this at home’, ‘I am going to treat my friends to this recipe when I host the next dinner party’ and even, ‘I could use this method with other ingredients that I like’.

If you would like to join us for a, hands on, fun and valuable vegetarian cookery class in London then please look out for the next dates on the site or click here

You will walk away with recipes, containers full of food and some experience that you can use in different ways. I am really looking forward to seeing you at a future class. x

Book onto my next class by clicking here

Steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in a roasted red pepper gravy

25 Oct

Steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in a roasted red pepper gravy

Is it just me or are people less obsessed with being thin these days? Is it my age (thirties), where people grow into themselves more, or is it my life stage (mum of toddler and prefer sleep, family time, me-time and just some food over the less necessary stuff)? I don’t know but mostly, people say they need to lose weight but eat the brownie anyway, right? I made some a really gorgeous batch the other day with saffron, rose, cardamom and pistachio and nobody said no.

Steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in a roasted red pepper gravy by Deena Kakaya

However, my body has a way of telling me that I need to be kinder to it and right now; I have gone off my food (as in the taste rather than eating itself). If you have ever watched a cheesy television serial and I am old enough to admit to recalling the crashing sounds and multiple replays of dramatic scenes in Dallas (and every Bollywood serial I come across) then this is what is playing in my mind right now. I, Deena, have gone off the tastes in my food.

At first I thought it was the onset of a cold. But it didn’t appear. Then I thought perhaps it is just over-working and exhaustion. But then I realised that I do feel hunger, it is just that I am not enjoying eating so much. I want to feel the thrill. But I am not.

SO, I have surmised that there are many culprits to this condition of mine; exhaustion, A LOT of cooking recently (maybe too much of my own cooking), overindulgence and heavy tastes, eating more functionally than socially (a lot of eating alone or in a desperate rush). Explains a lot doesn’t it?

You know I have been putting myself into solution mode more and more these days and not focusing on the problems, ‘think solutions, not problems’ – chant, chant, chant. My solution is this steamed kofta of spinach and paneer in light and easy roasted red pepper gravy. It is the curry that thinks it is naughty, but really is quite virtuous. Deceptively simple, ridiculously soothing and fun to eat too! I like that I want to get my fingers into them, but should really wait for the gravy to join the kofta. Let me know if you do a better job at waiting to scoff the lot together, won’t you.

 

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

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