Tag Archives: Quick and easy meals

Courgette bhaji with a spiced pea, ricotta and dill puree in a wrap-National Vegetarian Week

20 May

Courgette bhaji with a spiced pea, ricotta and dill puree in a wrap

Courgette bhaji with a spiced pea, ricotta and dill puree in a wrap

I took the 7.12 train into Euston today wearing tights and a business suit. I thought I would feel like the old me, but I didn’t.

I felt hot, but seasoned with plenty of protective products. My face didn’t sting in the heat in the way it used to because maybe I am less sensitive, but I did feel the pangs because I had left whilst my tot was asleep. This was a first for us. I fully anticipated that when I settled into that train, I would make no eye contact with my fellow passengers and as I looked around I wondered how proud, fulfilled, happy or self-assured these folk were.  The pretty lady with gorgeous nail colour; did she look happy?  That loud, on-an-important-call banker, every line he spoke sounded like a routine verse etched into my memory from my own experience. ‘Let’s touch base, see where we are at, I mean it is what it is, look I’m going to be honest… great to engage with you Kate’.  Was Kate rolling her eyes as I was? My mind whizzed with upbeat and self-coaching quotes about success and failure both being fleeting sensations. My emailed pinged with disappointment and polite bluntness. My physiology didn’t react, today.

Do you know what though? I spoke (not on any social media, I looked up long enough to really talk) to a friend (and ex-colleague) who told reminded me that even though it has been a few years, I would surprise myself today. I listened, but didn’t really accept it. She kept telling me that what I have learned is ingrained, inbuilt, unspoken, invaluable, and great. It hasn’t left me; it is just that I left myself. I now had to summon the confidence to do myself justice.

So, in my business suit, hairspray and make-up I made mildly inappropriate jokes, learned about people; their interests, direction, loves and losses. I read, I ate plentifully and I talked and gesticulated whilst doing so, in a natural accent and walking up and down, bouncing on a heel at times. I saw two men in the audience smile and raise eyes at each other approvingly and I knew. Do you know what? My friend was right. It was all there, it is all there. After three years there has been a turnaround in my own thinking. Three years. Three years of doubt, three whole years of submerged confidence. My friend was right, I am better than.

Here is what I ate afterwards. Crisp courgette bhaji (Indian spiced, gram flour coated courgette fritters) give way to juiciness and they are enveloped in a dill and ricotta soaked pea puree. fresh pea shoots add crisp freshness. I have used red oxtail as I was lucky enough to be given some from the London produce show. I felt comforted, cajoled, soothed and utterly satieted. Perfect for National vegetarian week, for picnics, for eating in the garden or eating out and about, on-the-go.

Courgette bhaji with a spiced pea, ricotta and dill puree in a wrap

Makes approximately 6-8 wraps

Ingredients

Oil for deep frying

100g watercress or pea shoots

6-8 plain flour tortilla

For the batter

140g gram flour

200ml water

One large courgette, thinly sliced into 1-2cm rounds

1 tsp. minced ginger

1 tsp. amchur powder (dried mango powder) or the juice of half a lemon

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder

For the pea, ricotta and dill puree

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tsp. cumin seeds

3 tbsp. freshly chopped dill

125g ricotta cheese

350g frozen peas, defrosted

Salt to taste

1 tsp. coriander powder

Method

  1. Heat the oil for deep frying.
  2. Prepare the batter by combining all of the ingredients and beat it to a smooth (not lumpy) consistency.
  3. Dip the courgette slices into the batter and quickly lay them into the oil to fry. Allow them to catch a golden colour before removing them onto kitchen paper.
  4. Heat the cooking oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, allowing them to sizzle before stirring in the spring onions. Sauté with the salt and then add the peas, ricotta cheese, chilli and coriander powder and then once it has simmered for 4-5 minutes on a low flame, blitz It to a chunky puree.
  5. Simply assemble the wraps with a couple of tablespoons of pea puree, watercress and courgette bhaji.

 

 

Black-eyed beans and smoky aubergines in dill with a walnut and gujalio crème fraiche

1 Mar

 

Black-eyed beans and smoky aubergines in dill with a walnut and gujalio crème fraiche

I took my 24month old to the children’s library the other day; he adores books just like his mumma. After reading the same book a couple of times he mouths the words whilst I read the book. This always makes me smile within, I came in the top 5% of the county for my English A-level, many years ago now and this boy of mine is a little piece of me. Enough showing off, there is a point to this post that leads to a recipe and to the showing off itself.

So we have been walking down the road that leads to the library these days, because he insists on it. On the way we came across a couple of women with their kids, maybe 3-6 year olds. They stormed down the narrow path on their scooters and as they scoffed packets of crisps I heard their mother’s chuckle that they hadn’t had any breakfast. ‘Oi, how many fish fingers you having’ roared one of the mothers.

We seem always to bump into elderly ladies and I do like it when they smile at my boy chattering away. ‘Look at that lorry mumma, it’s incredible and amazing and HUge.’ Elderly lady asked him if he likes Lorries. ‘Yes, I like lorries and busses and planes and motorbikes’. Elderly lady told me that she has three children, one has moved to Australia, one relocated to Ireland where her husband is from for a better lifestyle with her children and one lives relatively locally. She told us about her grandchildren whom she sees some of the holidays but not all. I am always told before parting from old ladies to make the most of my boy’s childhood because it goes so fast. I am no teenager and I know that I must hold onto these rehearsed words every day.

When we got to the library, my little bullet darted around looking at dinosaur, alien, vehicle and animal themed books and we chose one from almost all of these finely selected categories. The woman who brings her child with a potty (she sits her on it in the actual children’s area) wasn’t there and I was mollified from not having to keep my child from running into a peeing toddler or her wet tights. We made small talk with the librarian on our way out before she proceeded to tell me how I should borrow some library books for myself as reading is important for adult education too and that it broadens the mind. She said that even if I read a few pages each day it is valuable. I tried to intervene to tell her, but she didn’t let me. She continued. I smiled. She spoke loudly and with eyebrows rising and I watched the fine whiskers on her upper lip tremble and she puffed her wisdom to me.

Black-eyed beans and smoky aubergines in dill with a walnut and gujalio crème fraiche

On the way I out I realised that the reason that the librarian had affected me was not because she didn’t let me tell her that I have a graduate and post-grad qualification or a professional background or that that I am food writer and that I keep a clean home with well- fed people in it and that we read and sing and grow flowers. It was because she had perhaps touched on a nerve.

I came home and made a loud, heaving, present and deep dish. Dill, smoky aubergines tomatoes and beans.  Simple yet chockfull. My favourite bit is the dip; smoky gujalio chillies with walnuts in crème fraiche. I am alive and I am still me.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

Two cans of black eyed beans, drained

Two medium aubergines

3 cloves of garlic

25g fresh dill, finely chopped

3 fresh tomatoes

One large red onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp. cooking oil

2 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt to taste

A good pinch of black pepper

50g walnuts

2 Guajillo chillies

200m plain natural yoghurt

300ml hot water

Method

  1. Wash and coat the aubergines in oil and roast them in the oven at 180degrees until they shrivel. It should take roughly 30-40 minutes. Once the aubergines have cooled then remove the pulp from the aubergines and mash it lightly to separate it.
  2. Soak the guajillo chillies and walnuts in boiling water for 15 minutes before draining it and then blitzing it smooth.
  3. Skin the tomatoes by soaking them in hot water until the skins start to split before whipping the skins off before chopping them.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep pan and then add the red onion, salt and garlic to sauté until the onion has softened.
  5. Add the tomatoes, black-eyed beans and dill and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the aubergine pulp and cook for ten minutes.
  6. Mix the walnuts, guajillo and salt together and when you serve the beans with gorgeous breads, pasta or even rice then top with the guajillo, walnut and crème fraiche dip.

Scrambled masala tofu, beet and bulgur salad pockets

12 Feb

A lot of people tell me that if they could negotiate more hours in the day, they would. If they could move to somewhere sunnier, more peaceful or beautiful, they would and if they could make their work-life balance more life and less work hefty, they would.

Scrambled masala tofu, beet and bulgur salad pockets

Many others tell me that they would choose a different, more personally (not financially) rewarding career given the choice and that if they could just come out of the race and live somewhere exciting, they would.

Unfortunately cloning ourselves, time travel and morphing aren’t options but maybe our own minds and actions are, options.  Insofar as negotiating time is concerned I have a recipe which may just help with that.

Warm spices infiltrate tofu so well; there is no chance that it will be bland and what’s an added bonus, is that it is a good source of protein and oh…it cooks so quickly that you may reconsider wishing more time in your day. I’ve paired it with beetroot; it keeps the tofu lovely and moist and adds fantastic light sweetness and colour. Bulgur wheat is nutty and filling, healthy too.

For the full recipe, please head over to great british chefs

Scrambled masala tofu, beet and bulgur salad pockets

Deep and Smokey Mexican-Asian noodle soup

9 Feb

Keep the song

Deep and Smokey Mexican-Asian noodle soup

 

My parents fretted that I was a bit of a hermit as kid.  It was somewhat the opposite as a teen but as a child I would hear my dad express his qualms about whether he was dipping me into social activities enough. Often when he asked if I wanted to join him on one of his frequent but small shops, I would say no.  My brother would always go.  The reason I stayed behind was so that I could sing freely, loudly, expressively and privately. I would day dream lots. I laid out piles of books around the room and became utterly lost in them, gleaning and storing snippets of them in a pensive haze. I remember how captivated I was by them both; books and music. So much so that when anyone hollered for me I wouldn’t hear them.

I took singing lessons as a teen. I sang on the way to lessons at college and even to exams. In fact I even had, ‘exam songs’. I sang in the park with my friends, whilst cooking and always in the bath. People tell us all the time that we should learn from our elders. I have to tell you quite honestly and humbly that I am right now in my life, learning from my younger self.

For I had a focus that I am only proud of now and wish that I still had. I knew that with every song and with my own decidedness I got myself in the zone. I knew that singing made my heart flutter and gave me a rush of energy. So why then had I let the song out of my life in recent years?

The radio in the car played the same nursery rhymes. The kitchen was quiet. The TV played as background noise and social media was the go-to.

I went on a girl’s night on Friday. I met the girls on my NCT group and the three of us have seen each other through big, emotionally-overhauling life changes.  We have spoken to each about stuff we wouldn’t normally say, candidly, angrily, ecstatically and most of all we have been exhausted together. We talked about our most recent changes in life. One of us is having a new baby; another is going through a separation. Then there is me.

I drove home at nearly midnight, eyes sore from fatigue. As I turned into the driveway I heard a song that threw me back to my teenage years. I closed my eyes and I was with my books and the windows were open, net curtains billowing…I was crouched on the floor, face cupped in hand, and hair everywhere. The romantic potential unlocked and singing, smiling, lost and with swelling with a beat.

knew that the moment I walked in through the door I would become a mother, so when the song had stopped playing I found it on youtube and played it again, thrice.

To fit the deep and smoky mood, I made this Mexican-Asian noodle soup.  I was sent some wonderful Mexican ingredients by CoolChille Company and I knew that I had to do it. The black beans are deep and earthy and brought to a further earthiness with soy bean paste. Guajillo chillies are wonderfully rich in colour and smoky. I toasted, soaked and then blitzed them to a paste and this has really released immense richness. Avocado brings silky and creamy quality and it works superbly with the soup. I have up epazote which is a citrus-medicinal type Mexican herb and works fabulously with black beans.  This one works as a bowl of surprise and sumptuous taste.

Deep and Smokey Mexican-Asian noodle soup

 

Ingredients to serve 2-3

200g cooked black beans

6 baby onions, quartered

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

700ml water

2 tsp.

1 tsp. soy bean paste

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

Half an avocado, sliced

6-7 baby corn, thinly sliced

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 large guajillo chillies

2 tsp. epazote

2 tbsp. cooking oil

A few sprigs of coriander to garnish

A couple of slices of lime to garnish

Method

  1. Start by toasting the Guajillo chillies on a non-stick pan to release the flavour. You will notice that the chilli will soften and will release a wonderful heat. Toast for about a minute on each side and then let them cool to room temperaturechillies 1
  2. Soak the Guajillo chillies in hot water for about 15 minutes, before grinding them to a paste.
  3. In a deep pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle add the baby onions and fry them until they brown lightly. Then add the garlic and baby corn and sauté for another minute
  4. Pour in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and the epazote and cook for another minute.
  5. Pour in the water and add the soy bean paste. Bring the soup to a simmer.
  6. Introduce the black beans and the guajillo chillies then add the noodles.
  7. Allow the soup to simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the noodles are cooked.
  8. Serve the soup and top with the slices of avocado, coriander and lime. The lime infuses beautifully with the soup.

Fragrant Indian spiced mung dhal, potato, feta, toasted coconut and beetroot salad wraps-leftover Lunches

28 Jan

wrap 1

It is one of those months where I need to grow ten extra arms, have superior and life enhancing technology, must have more restorative sleep, want to eat more energy-giving nutritious food, definitely spend less money, get hold of a magic wand, time machine…you get the picture.  Maybe not just this month but generally, we know that planning smartly helps in all aspects of life, not least food.

Vouchercodes.co.uk got in touch with me about a theme they are running which really resonates with what I am trying to do; making full, scrumptious and fabulous dinners that can then be incorporated for lunches for the next day…you know, the sort of food we enjoy and look forward to at lunch and not just a dull, lack lustre, floppy sandwich.

So here’s some colourful, deep and nutritious ingredients combine to deliver the sort of ‘salad’ that is modest with its simple ingredients but utterly enchanting to eat because all of these ingredients and spices so work in delightful harmony.

The bonus? Once you have a bag of mung dhal and desiccated coconut, you could make this salad again and you’ll just have to top-up on the fresh ingredients, which are pretty inexpensive.  Mung dhal cooks very quickly, so this is an added benefit!

Fragrant Indian spiced mung dhal, potato, feta, toasted coconut and beetroot salad wraps-leftover Lunches

Ingredients to serve 4-6

2 medium potatoes, peeled diced

200g cooked beetroot, diced

100g mung dhal

4-5 curry leaves

200g feta cheese, cubed

2½ tbsp. vegetable oil

2 long green chillies, halved and then slit open

1/3 tsp. turmeric

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. brown mustard seeds

30g coriander, finely chopped

1 cup desiccated coconut

8-10 plain flour tortillas

Method

  1. Wash the mung dhal and boil it in roughly 600ml water, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove any froth as it appears but do wash the dhal in cold water once it is cooked. It should be cooked but have a bite.
  2. In a separate pan boil the cubes of potato for roughly ten minutes, or until they are cooked. Drain the potatoes and let them cool to room temperature.
  3. When the potato and mung dhal are cooked and cooled turn them into a large and shallow bowl
  4. Make a tempering by heating the vegetable oil and adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric then infuse them into the oil. Turn the heat off and allow the tempering to cool to room temperature before adding it to the potatoes and mung dhal.
  5. Toss the mixture with the finely chopped coriander, lemon juice and salt and make sure there is even coverage. Stir in the feta and beetroot.Ingredients to serve 4-6 2 medium potatoes, peeled diced 200g cooked beetroot, diced 100g mung dhal 4-5 curry leaves 200g feta cheese, cubed 2½ tbsp. vegetable oil 2 long green chillies, halved and then slit open 1/3 tsp. turmeric Salt to taste 2 tbsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. cumin seeds ¼ tsp. brown mustard seeds 30g coriander, finely chopped 1 cup desiccated coconut 8-10 plain flour tortillas  Method  1.	Wash the mung dhal and boil it in roughly 600ml water, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove any froth as it appears but do wash the dhal in cold water once it is cooked. It should be cooked but have a bite.  2.	In a separate pan boil the cubes of potato for roughly ten minutes, or until they are cooked. Drain the potatoes and let them cool to room temperature.  3.	When the potato and mung dhal are cooked and cooled turn them into a large and shallow bowl 4.	Make a tempering by heating the vegetable oil and adding the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and allow the seeds to sizzle and pop. Add the curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric then infuse them into the oil. Turn the heat off and allow the tempering to cool to room temperature before adding it to the potatoes and mung dhal.  5.	Toss the mixture with the finely chopped coriander, lemon juice and salt and make sure there is even coverage. Stir in the feta and beetroot.
  6. Toast the desiccated coconut lightly and quickly on a non-stick frying pan and introduce it to the salad too.coconut 1
  7. Prepare the plain flour tortilla per packet instructions and then fill them generously.

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

Chermoula marinated Halloumi, apricot and rocket salad with a chilli and agave yoghurt dressing

19 Dec

Chermoula marinated Halloumi, apricot and rocket salad with a chilli and agave yoghurt dressing
Is it nearly spring yet? Last night I went to sleep whilst creating some special spring recipes for a magazine and this morning I woke to beautiful sunshine and feeling a bit of a glow within; evidently, I hold magical powers.

It gets to this time of year when the number of philosophical posts I see on social networking sites spikes and I think I register what most of them are about. There’s a lot of stuff on the value of family, kids and love, how psychotic you are and assessing mental age. Then there’s all the stuff about following your dreams and believing in yourself. Now this is the one which gets me, because believing is one thing, but doing something about it is a whole other thing, isn’t it?

I think the ‘doing’ part is all in the mindset. I read something today about the behaviours of mentally strong people. Mentally strong people realise and know that nobody has the power to make you feel weak, or bad. We are are in charge of our own emotions, we are in charge of our lives. We are not in control of how other people behave but we can certainly control our emotional responses to any given person or circumstance. Mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results, don’t give up and don’t waste time.

Don’t waste time. I made Chermoula, dunked some halloumi in it and stuck it in the fridge for an hour. Look at how it turned out. Exactly.

Chermoula is a lively, zingy, herby Moroccan blend and really works well with the salty halloumi. They are beautifully harmonious with the sweet apricot and the heat from the rocket just finishes the whole dish lip-smackingly!

Ingredients to serve 2-3

200g Halloumi
200g rocket leaves
4 apricots, stoned and cut into slices
300ml plain, natural yoghurt
2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes

For the Chermoula

50g coriander, roughly chopped
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp olive oil

Method
1. Start by making the Chermoula. Put all of the ingredients into a blender and whizz it together. Gradually add the olive oil until its smooth.
2. Cut the halloumi into large chunks or equal size and then mix them with the Chermoula. Put the Chermoula coated halloumi in the fridge for an hour or so, or until you are ready to use it. Meanwhile make the dressing by gently whipping together the yoghurt, agave nectar and chilli flakes.
3. Prepare the plates with a small pile of rocket, then the apricots and yoghurt dressing.
4. Heat a non-stick pan and place the halloumi onto the pan on a medium flame. Heat the halloumi through and cook until its lightly golden on one side and then flip it over. Use the remaining, reserved Chermoula, as additional dressing if you wish.
5. Serve the halloumi hot, on top of the salad you’ve prepared. Eat it whilst it is hot, to make the most of the texture.

I am linking this to Karens cooking with herbs challenge because my Chermoula is full of them! image

I am also linking this to Vanesthers spice trail because it contains paprika spice-trail-badge-square

This week I would like to link this to Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays,

It’ll be ok – Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings

17 Nov

It'll be ok - Asian style sweetcorn soup with chilli, cumin and coriander rice flour dumplings
It’s been an amazing weekend. I feel utterly blessed and grateful. On Saturday afternoon I was on the Tesco finest interview stage at the BBC Good Food show. I had a moment of realisation as Lotte Duncan was interviewing Cyrus Todiwala before me and I saw my dad, husband, baby boy, brother, sis in law and niece waiting. Beaming. Love does funny things to you doesn’t it, seeing their faces through blurry eyes, I swelled with a lovely feeling of ‘I did that’.

Earlier that day I was in the green room. I met some wonderful people from Masterchef and The great British bake-off. Both the ex contestants/winners and presenters sat surrounding screens and munching. I thought, a lot. I thought about how brave these people are to follow their heart, to stand before a crowd of food lovers and demonstrate perfection. I thought about humility and balance in life and I saw how much of a food professionals life, heart and mind goes into delivering short and long-term. It really is different to what may people perceive.

The interview was fabulous fun. We talked about fusion food and whether it is a modern atrocity or an assault on the taste buds. We talked about my fussy boy and how he is my biggest food project and we chuckled about fishing food out of the bra and then eating it. The audience tasted some of my festive plantain chip mix and we also considered whether it is hard to be vegetarian. We even talked about whether Brussels sprouts smell like fart and what I do to them that makes them gorgeous! You know that I stuff them in a curry.

Today I am shattered. I walked around in heels the entire day and twice around the producers section eating my way through fabulous chocolate, wonderful macaroons and oils with cheeses. All I wanted today was food that real people like to eat, cuddles with my boy and the telly. I am back in leggings rather than a bodycon dress and my hair is back up.

I love this soup because it’s a whole meal; it’s hot, has a bite, has tons of flavour and those dumplings are a smooth and spicy joy. We had two bowls each…see how you go.

Ingredients

For the soup

Two large tins of sweetcorn
1.5litres of vegetable stock
2 tbsp corn flour mixed with water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cm piece of ginger, minced
4-5 spring onions
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce

For the dumplings

2 cups of water
1 1/4 cup of ground rice or rice flour
Salt to taste
2 green chilies
25g coriander, washed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds

1. To make the soup, heat the sesame oil in a deep pan and then quickly add the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the sweetcorn. Mix in the soy sauce and stir it well.
2. Add the vegetable stock and curry powder and then bring the soup to a simmer.
3. When the soup is boiling add the corn flour and water. Make sure you mix the corn flour with warm water because it will dissolve better. Simmer the soup for ten minutes before turning it off the heat.
4. To make the dumplings, start by making a paste from the Coriander and chilli.image
5. Heat the water in a separate pan. When it is boiling add the cumin seeds then the salt and the coriander and chilli paste. Simmer for a minute and then add the ground rice or rice flour in a stream, quickly stirring with a wooden spoon. Smooth any lumps out. Let me rice flour cool until it is lukewarm.
6. To make the dumplings grease your palms and take a pinch of the rice flour and make 3-4cm sized balls. Place them onto a plate.
7. Bring the soup to a simmer again, add the dumplings and simmer for 7-8 minutes,

Serve the soup hot and fresh. It’s gorgeous.

This month I am entering this into the Credit Crunch Munch pages on Helen and Camilla’s blogs

image

 

Being a soup this has also been shared with my friends at FSF hosted by Delicieux & Eat Your Veg on each entry.

fsf-autumn
 

Easy entertaining portobello mushrooms stuffed with creamy, spiced smoky Aubergine pulp and Beetroot.

15 Nov
Easy entertaining portobello mushrooms stuffed with creamy, spiced smoky Aubergine pulp and Beetroot.

Easy entertaining portobello mushrooms stuffed with creamy, spiced smoky Aubergine pulp and Beetroot.

Today I, who normally feasts three times a day and devours snacks liberally throughout the day, did not each eat lunch till 3.30pm. It’s been one of those days.

My boy and I went bowling this morning with some friends. Every time I put him down he bulleted back to the front desk where they’d displayed toy cars (for which he has a relentless infatuation with) for purchase. He thought every turn was his and he performed a series of victory leaps every time he pushed the ball (not necessarily knocking the skittles down.) Any spare pockets of time were filled by him lugging balls over to me. He’s  21 months old. His friend sat sweetly on the bench until her mum picked her up for her turn.

So we came home and he didn’t want to eat, then he didn’t want his nap. Great timing, as I have the BBC Good Food show tomorrow, where I am on the Tesco interview stage and I haven’t even done my legs. Fabulous. It’s ok, I have tights…I think.

It’s so cold anyway now, who goes out without tights? I’d go out in one of those onesies nowadays. Because it’s so cold, we are tending to have cosy meals in with friends and family…we’ve got an open fireplace in our home, so we get it going, get some blankets out and just talk. This is the stuff that makes me happy. But when you’ve had days like I have had today, you probably don’t want, or simply can’t spend hours in the kitchen preparing for a meal with friends. To be honest, if I have spent a very long time preparing I feel less relaxed and able to enjoy myself.

So here is a recipe for those days where you just feel too cold and tired. You want to live, laugh, eat and be merry…without some much hard work. Of course?

Portobello mushrooms cook really quickly, which is of course fabulous when in a hurry. I roasted the Aubergine in the morning which made life a bit easier because all I had to do was scoop out the pulp, mash it and then stick all the rest of the incidents together. It was just that easy. I think it took me about 20 mins including cooking time. Go on, get your friends round…

Ingredients to serve 3

3 portobello mushrooms
500g Aubergine
75g cooked Beetroot
100g crème Fraiche
Salt to taste
3/4tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder

Method

1. Roast the oiled Aubergines in the oven at 180′ degrees until they are shrivelling and can be pierced all way through. Mine took 25 minutes. Allow the Aubergine to cool before removing the skin and mashing the pulp with a fork.
2. In a bowl, combine the Aubergine, spices, salt and crème fraiche, then grate the Beetroot into the bowl. Combine it all well.
3. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stalk. Place them onto a baking tray and stuff with the mixture evenly. Top the mushrooms with grated cheddar and breadcrumbs and place them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees.
4. Cook the mushrooms for eight minutes and serve immediately.

Post Diwali Paneer, black bean, chilli French toasties with fig raitha

5 Nov

IMG_4135Post Diwali Paneer, black bean, chilli French toasties with fig raitha
Diwali is over; the fairy lights are off and diya’s have been packed up. We don’t really receive cards anymore otherwise they’d be down too I suppose. The Diwali snacks tubs are still out, but the excitement for them has waned given the over indulgence on them over the last few days. The phones are now quiet and the pretty and bright indian clothes are back in their zip covers and packed up. The skies now sleep in the dark, instead of popping and banging. The hardest bit will be that I will miss my family, the liveliness and the cheerful Diwali banter. The husband goes back to work too. We are back to normal.

So this is where I stop being sad that the festive period is over and take gratitude in the reality, which is a blessing. I was listening to friends and family talk over the past few days and as I grow, the more I realise that it’s so important to keep things in life simple.

We are always chasing. We are always doing. We are always thinking, dreaming, planning and aspiring. All good things, I suppose. If they make you truly happy. Now and in the future. I just often wonder what the point is. The simple things make most people I know happy. Spending time with loved ones, walking, laughing, watching a good movie, eating out, reading a great book, having a soak in the bath. Whatever it is that makes you happy now, do that. Our brains have been conditioned to believe that anger, jealousy, competition are all natural parts of life. But they aren’t. They become parts of our thinking right.

So when I came back from the Diwali celebrations, tired and happy, I flicked on the heaters, stood in front of the fridge and announced that I need a light and tasty meal. It’s part of my gentle recovery from all the feasting over Diwali. I still need something that’s packed with punch, dense but light. If that makes sense. Going straight for the salads feels like a step too far right now. So this is what I concocted. A flavour and texture delight of paneer, black beans, chilli French toasties with a fruity and sweet fig Raitha.

My wonderful sister-in-law is such a light in our lives. She’s an advocate of keeping things simple and the best ideas come to those who keep the clutter away. My sister-in-law is a genius ball of ideas. Honestly, sometimes she will just burst out, ‘ wouldn’t it be good if they invented…’

So amidst my child’s eating refusal, she suggested eggy bread. It’s crunchy and easy eat and taste great. It’s nutritious for a little one too. Of course me being me, I can’t just stop at eggy bread…and my little one loves spice. So I gave him this sarnie without the chillies!

Ingredients for four sandwiches

100g grated paneer
100g black beans
2 green chillies, finely chopped
One red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
A little oil to loosen the butter
8 slices of bread

For the Raitha

75ml plain natural yoghurt
3 fresh figs, peeled.
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp coriander powder

Method
1. Combine the grated paneer, black beans, red onion, chaat masala, cumin seeds, coriander powder and green chilies in a bowl and mix well.
2. Combine the eggs and milk in a separate bowl, whisk and keep to aside.
3. Heat half a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan and add a little oil to loosen and make sure the butter doesn’t burn. Make a sandwich by placing some of the mixture inside and then cut it half. Hold it to close and dip into the batter. Place it on the pan and let it catch a golden colour before turning it over.
4. To make the raitha, simply combine the yoghurt with the flesh of three figs. Fork it down to a pulpy texture and them add a little coriander powder and a pinch of salt.

Serve immediately and wait for sighs.

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