Tag Archives: Salad recipe

Malaysian spiced green bean salad

27 Sep

Malaysian spiced green bean salad

Last week my husband and I went on our first date together in over a year.

malaysian green bean salad by Deena Kakaya

It has been a momentous month since the last recipe I shared. We attended the weddings of two cousins; smiling, colour-clad, swung between nostalgia and envisaging the future and all the while joyfully exhausted. My uniformed baby started nursery school and the first day was full of new and unanticipated juxtapositions; flowing tears, knots of loss, wholesome growth and untainted pride. My new baby nephew arrived, perfect and scrumptiously complete. The husband travelled to Kuwait and India, whilst I juggled a new phase of life with ending a continuous stretch of lectures since the start of the year. We planned new developments with our home and made many new friends with a whole different mind-set and outlook, but we share a common thread. I learned to be honest enough and let go of doing things that don’t bring me joy and well, we went on a date.

How possibly could it feel so peculiar to not be ‘mumma’ for a couple of hours? To talk to my husband without, ‘mum I need to ask you a question’ or to hold hands without a possessive boy intervening and stealing my hand? To have actual conversation about what we had read, observed or interesting conversations we’d had through the week? To smile, without having to request crayons in the restaurant or just very simply, to look at each other.

To the many colours of life, and the many colours of us; to trying to balance and well – letting something, one thing overcomes the rest. To my green bean salad in a loud and Malaysian spiced curry paste with juicy and succulent tomatoes and nutty topping. To smiling to it all.

Ingredients to serve 3-4 as a side salad

250g green beans

2 golden beetroot, peeled and grated

150g mixed baby plum tomatoes, halved.

3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

3 tbsp. almonds

For the curry paste

1 medium sized pink onion

1 tbsp. lemongrass puree

½ tbsp. galangal or ginger

4-5 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water

150ml coconut milk

½ tsp. ground turmeric

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 stick of cinnamon

2 tbsp. tamarind paste

Salt to taste

The juice of half a lime

1 tsp. tomato puree (optional)

2 tbsp. sesame oil

Method

  1. Blitz together the onion, chillies, turmeric, tomato paste, lemongrass and galangal, into a smooth paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, and then add the paste. On a gentle flame cook the paste until the oil rises to the top.
  3. Now stir in the kaffir lime leaves, tamarind paste, coconut milk, and cinnamon, salt to taste and bring the paste to a simmer. Squeeze in the lime juice and simmer for approximately 20minutes on a low-medium flame until the paste is reduced, thick, aromatic and lightly browned.
  4. Simmer the green beans in boiling water for about 4 minutes and then drain them and rinse them in cold water.
  5. Toast the coconut and flaked almonds until they catch a light golden colour and then remove them from the heat.
  6. Once the paste is cooked, turn off the heat and combine it evenly with the green beans.
  7. Layer the salad with the spiced green beans, tomatoes, gold beetroot and the almonds and coconut. Make sure to serve and enjoy it warm.

 

Padron pepper, paneer, carrot & quinoa salad in a teriyaki dressing

30 Jul

Padron pepper, paneer, carrot & quinoa salad in a teriyaki dressing

Padron pepper, paneer, carrot and qunioa salad in a teriyaki dressing by Deena Kakaya

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I stood in the kitchen amongst the pre-dinner pandemonium as we had our toddler boy perched on the worktop reciting a loud hum of, ‘mum..mumma, I want to talk to you, I need to ask you a question…Muuuum’ and quite abruptly, I disarmed all tools, turned down all simmering pots, swiped for some work surface space and exhaled, ‘ I think we should give thanks. Let’s do something to show our gratitude, you know…give back’.

Of course I knew he would say yes, but I explained anyway; he had achieved a recent promotion, our boy was going to ‘that’ nursery school. The one which we used to talk about when I was a new bride of 23 years of age, when we lived in our rented flat in an upmarket area. There was a school uniform shop on the high street and once or twice when we evening-walked past it, my husband softened as he divulged that he has always liked the idea of having a son, and if we should have one he would go to ‘that’ school. So we had received a few blessings. I had even ended my term of lectures on a high with positive and glowing feedback from both institutions I delivered courses at; with students writing in ‘I would love to have Deena as a lecturer again, she goes above and beyond’. I had waited so long for things to be positive again, that I really needed to show gratitude.

The following week, a hole appeared in the path. An uncomfortable hole appeared. This is life. Arrogantly, I had never contemplated a hole of this size and shape would ever be presented in my path, but this is life. Now I will spend some lengthy time and energy in building a bridge and mustering enough will to keep moving forwards. This is something I am not unfamiliar with, but this indeed, is life.

But there is a difference. I now have a few coping skills. I have learned a few ways of calming myself and pushing myself to see beyond the physiological reactions right now. Look, if I strip away that one hole, the other blessings are still there. If I strip away all the blessings that are ‘things’ the promotion, the accolades, the praise the recognition, the work the good stuff… even if we strip all that transient, ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ stuff, there is still enough to be grateful for. In time, the all the meetings the cancellations, the delays and the frustrations…all of it and none of it matter little. Around the dark hole is colour and beauty.

And that of course brings me to this recipe of delicate and mellow Padron peppers, succulent paneer, carrot and that low GI and high iron grain of quinoa. I have probably mentioned that I always have carrots in the fridge that are permanently in the at-risk status (at risk of going limp). But look at the colour they give the salad, and they work so well with spring onions and Padron peppers, which are one of my recent foodie best friends for being so easy, addictive and darn tasty. I have dressed the salad in home-made teriyaki sauce, though dark and bold it made my home smell lovely as it simmered away. All colour in darkness here.

for the full recipe follow this link to Great British Chefs

Crispy Chaat masala tofu salad with tamarind chutney and yoghurt dip

29 May

Crispy Chaat masala tofu salad with tamarind chutney and yoghurt dip

Crispy Chaat masala tofu salad with tamarind chutney and yoghurt dip

I was 26, but came weeping childishly down the stairs of our new build home at that time, flaccid, tousled and seeking warmth and comfort and really, an escape. I discharged my strains in barely comprehensible trickles, “I don’t want to study any more I’m just too tired”.

I drooped into my husband’s embrace, “I don’t wanna do it, I don’t want to”. Working full time and taking three papers of my final post graduate exams was proving too much. My palms and arms were stained with the colours of inducing some sort of excitement through pens and my hair flopped in half greasy protest, threatening an invitation for pimples. I felt the cool of the house and it began to calm me, the heat escaped my forehead and cheeks and diffused some of the tension. I have this strange habit of keeping the fan heater close to me whilst I am studying you see, even when it isn’t that cold. Maybe it insulates me from external distraction.

I whimpered to my husband that I wanted to wear nice clothes, not these vests and tracksuit bottoms with thick cosy socks that are suited for hibernation. I told him that I wanted to socialize and have fun and go for dinner, not be tied to my books and notes. I told him that I did not want to fail…and the sound of fatigue escalated. He said all the right things, about it being temporary and that nothing worth having comes easily.

In the exam hall, my eyes were sore and head foggy. Emotional, depleted and almost without hope, I listened to my peers as they waited for the rest of the students to be seated. “I don’t even care anymore because I am so tired”, said one. “I just hope the stuff I want comes up”. All I wanted was a hot soak in the bath and cuddles. But you know what? I nailed that paper, because there is always room for a little bit more, if you want to find it.  

Crispy Chaat masala tofu salad with tamarind chutney and yoghurt dip

The reason I am telling you this story is because it is how I felt over the last week or so. I am very tired. Of course I am a bit older and wiser now, so I have more of a toolbox. I won’t lie, I did have a day or two of bubbling over but then, a lovely lady prompted me to find a little bit more. Lovely lady, I know you will read this. Thank you.

I thought about what it is that actually makes me happy. Not what I think I should achieve, work for or do. I took a social media break. I baked a cake in my new oven. I stopped talking to people that inspired doubt. I livened up my sense with chaat.

Chaat is a combination of ingredients and flavors that tantalizes the senses. It is a mix of cool, warm, crisp and soft. The chaat masala itself is peppery, pungent and spiky. There is no food better at livening up the senses. Chaat masala is readily available in supermarkets in the Indian section, or in Indian stores. The tamarind chutney is ready bought and offers sweet and sour tastes without the sharpness. I have mixed it with the yogurt to give cool tang. You have vegetarian salad with a bit of naughtiness here, go on…life is short.

Ingredients

200g Asparagus boiled or steamed until barely tender

150g radish, thinly sliced

250g firm tofu, cut into 3-4 cm cubes

8 heaped tablespoons of corn flour

2 tbsp. chaat masala

Oil for deep frying

4 dessert spoons of plain natural yoghurt

2 dessert spoons of tamarind chutney

Method

  1. Heat the oil for frying and in the meantime, drain the tofu and envelop it between sheets of kitchen paper to drain off excess moisture
  2. Mix together the corn flour and Chaat masala.
  3. Gently roll the tofu in the corn flour to coat it and then drop them into the oil when it is hot enough and fry until the cubes are golden and crisp. Place them onto some kitchen paper to drain off any excess moisture.
  4. Make the dip by mixing together the tamarind chutney and yoghurt
  5. Assemble the salad and serve it whilst the tofu is still hot. You will feel your mouth tingle!

 

Start the year as you mean to go on- tomato, pomegranate and roasted mini pepper salad

1 Jan

Start the year as you mean to go on- tomato, pomegranate and roasted mini pepper salad

The husband and I ate hurriedly, quietly and messily from one plate today. It had been a long time since we shared a plate, but the salad was very good.

Back in the day, we shared a plate a bit more frequently. Sharing food is a lovely and warm thing to do isn’t it. Nowadays we focus on feeding our boy and eat in between offering him cars or dinosaurs that find my little guys food so yummy and scrummy in the tummy.

I loved sharing fresh and hot donuts with my mum and brother in the open market in Leicester when growing up. They were hot and doughy and sprinkled liberally with sugar. I remember fondly sharing Chinese take-away boxes from Camden market with my husband when we were students or falafel wraps from edgware road late in the evening and it became a tradition for him to unravel it for me.

Now our bodies can not cope with too many late, heavy, fried or generally indulgent meals. Christmas and New Year meals have left my tummy feeling tender and polluted. It’s time for fresh, clean, colourful and juicy foods. Salad. It doesn’t have to be boring…

My tomato, pomegranate, roasted mini pepper salad is fresh, zingy, spicy, sweet and herby. The juices from the tomatoes, pomegranate and spices and herbs all blend into a fresh and refreshing utterly moorish mix. I’m so pleased at how well the pomegranate works with the tomatoes. I’ve used a red chilli, oregano and chaat masala to give it a real kick and aroma. Do invest in some chaat masala, it’s a salty and peppery spice blend that really livens up dishes and works fabulously well with tomatoes or cucumber.

I served this with flatbread and my recipe for hummus.

Ingredients to serve 2-4

350g plum tomatoes
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Salt to taste
The seeds of one pomegranate
Half and avocado, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp oregano leaves
1 mild and large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp chaat masala
A couple of glugs of olive oil
About a dozen tiny red or yellow peppers, roasted in a light coating of rapeseed oil.

Method
1. Toss the tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, roasted mini peppers and avocado chunks togetherimage
2. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, pomegranate molasses, salt, garlic, chilli, chaat masala, white wine vinegar and oregano leaves.
3. Drizzle the dressing over dressing and serve with lots of flatbread and hummus

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

21 Nov

Festive salad of Sweet potato and kiwi fruit in a parsley, Beetroot, Indian spice and mint pesto

The simple things

We had friends over for dinner today. For a couple of hours, according to my husband, I was like the old me. I chatted, I fed people and I smiled lots. I put my phone away and the house was warm. I had Mickey Mouse ears on and my boy dragged me the playroom. He took his little friends hand and they ran around the living room together.

My boy ran up to the other day and sighed, ‘mumma, I missed you…I love you mumma’. He’s been getting up at night because he misses me and wants to sleep next to his mumma.

My husband and I reminisced about travelling to Brighton one winter, when we were crazy young fools. The winds bashed against the sea and the jar wobbled in defence. We were parked outside a chip shop, the aroma seeped inside us and our frozen ears detected banter. The skies were deep grey and we had Robbin Williams playing on the car radio. We returned to the car, watched the waves threaten the pier and ate steaming hot chips off wooden forks.

Life’s most joyful moments are in the simplest ones. We all know that. It’s as complicated as we make it, isn’t it?

My salad is simple. It has few ingredients but they are fresh and invigorating. The kiwi fruit and mint add a juicy vibrancy and the parsley and sweet potato give the salad sweet depth. The salty and pungent chaat masala is not to be compromised on and the Beetroot gives fabulous colour. This is an unusual salad, but then I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share an unusual recipe. What I really love about this salad is that the juice of the kiwi fruit blends with the chaat masala and the peppercorns an sits on the sweet potato too. This one is a real quencher, do it.

Ingredients

300g sweet potato,peeled and cubed into 3-4cm chunks
4 kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
50g Beetroot
40g flat leaf parsley
40g coriander
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground black and red peppercorns

Method
1. Boil the sweet potato for about 7cm or until the potato is soft enough to pierce through.
2. In the meantime, make the pesto by blitzing together the parsley, mint, chaat masala, beetroot, black pepper and lemon juice. Stop when it is almost smooth in texture.
3. When the sweet potato is cooked, drain and cool until the cubes are dry.
4. Combine the potato, kiwi and the pesto gently until there is even coverage.

I served this with halloumi cheese and some lovely flatbreads and it was magic.

Cooking with Herbs
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