Tag Archives: Superfoods

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

25 Jun

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

Throughout my 20’s I had infrequent contact with a self-indulgent and woeful lady who recurrently stressed to me that having children is the hardest thing in the world.  She meant raising them. She would stand over me as I slumped into the sofa, and she wafted an overstating finger above me whilst popping eyes glared at me, ‘it’s so hard’. I focused my eyes on the coarse hairs that grew under her chin and listened. I nodded as she told me how there is immense and overflowing love but there is no time even for a facemask or money left to buy clothes. I looked over at my husband and my expression clearly whispered, ‘I will still buy clothes’.

But look, I thought, people all over the world are popping them out. People in towns, cities and remote villages manage it and educated or uneducated, rich or poor, young or old…people all over the world and for as long as time has existed have been having children. So really, come on…

As my little one played with his friends in our garden and I looked at his sweaty little face reddening underneath layers of gritty sun cream. Underneath the wide forehead he gets from his daddy is a face that is so much like mine but that’s not the thing that sinks my heart and ties it in a knot.

Sweet, sour, spicy, nutty, smoky, crunchy roasted aubergine salad

Tiny friends rushed around busily and purposefully with his toys as he watched. One snatched his ball as he watched, as kids often do at this age. My little one let her and decided to go and water some plants instead until another friend announced that he would do it instead. But that was OK and my two year old headed for the trampoline but alas his was bounced off. He quietly returned to me and tucked himself under my arm, ‘mumma I want my ball, it’s mine’. The bitter-sweet irony, as I could almost feel the sand under my feet on a school trip. I felt the pressure inside, even as a toddler as I was worried that my parents would be disappointed that I wasn’t as lively or vivacious as the other children or lacked the confidence to climb through the tunnels or jump off the bars as they were doing. I remember sitting near the teachers and watching the sand tumble through my feet and clearly feeling that somehow there was a waste here but I was too young to really understand the concept of money. I know I should talk to guests when they arrived at our home, when my parents told me to even more so, but I was too shy to make conversation and just willed them to turn their loud and animated interrogation off.

And here we are again. A nice boy that I made nice, to some degree, as his primary carer…but now, how to instil some personal robustness or survival instinct in him? At what point do my own experiences of the world become his perceptions? I don’t want my experiences to dirty his mind…and for someone who wouldn’t talk look at me now…I talk a lot, in front of crowds.

Here is to the bitter-sweet, hot and cool of life. A salad that tingles and zings with each mouthful of crunch from the beansprouts and alfalfa, heat from the chillies, silky smoky aubergine, nutty almond bites and sweet kecap manis. It’s loaded. I like loaded. Juicy orange and green tomatoes burst in the mouth…it’s all going on in this healthy plate. Life eh?

Ingredients to serve two as a main dish or four as a side dish

3 medium-large aubergines

4 good pinches of alfalfa sprouts

A couple of handfuls of almonds

100g beansprouts

An onion, thinly sliced

100g orange tomatoes, sliced

100g green tomatoes, sliced

2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

The dressing

10 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

6 tbsp. kecap Manis

3 tbsp. sriracha sauce

Method

  1. You will need to coat the aubergines in oil and roast in the oven at 180 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until they are shrivelling and soft enough to pierce. Allow them to cool before removing the skin and scooping out the pulp and mash it lightly on a large plate.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick pan and add the onions, beansprouts and almonds and stir fry 3-4 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  3. Make the dressing by mixing the ingredients and smoothing any lumps with a fork
  4. Layer the aubergine pulp, then on top add the tomatoes, beansprouts mixture, alfalfa and the drizzle over as much dressing as you like.
  5. Serve with flatbread and share (try).

 

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

13 Nov

 

 

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

Christmas food gifts-plantain chips, cashews & dried cranberries in coconut, chilli and cinnamon

My lovely neighbour gave me a bag full of plantain today; fresh and green. I racked my brain for ways to use it. I thought of the spiced plantain mash I had at ‘mama’s roadside kitchen’ in st.Lucia or the indian curry my mum would make when we were kids, using her experience of living in Uganda as a child. I asked my friends on twitter and they suggested cake. I didn’t fancy any of these lovely recipes today, for some reason.

In the morning, by boy and I went shopping for women’s undergarments. My normally chatty and excitable child completely freaked out and sobbed loudly in the fitting cubicle and insisted, ‘put a jumper and jacket on mumma, put the clothes on mumma’. He’s not yet two but here we go. So I took him for a walk and stopped at the dried fruits and nuts section which looked festive but blue. Why blue? Anyway, that’s when it struck me.

But I did have a brief period of confusion; which is a more festive nut…the cashew or almond? Cashews are more expensive. Does that make it more special? I do recall my mum sending food parcels of special stuff for my grandmother in India when friends or relatives visited. Mum sent cashews, always. She also sent saffron and chocolate. Now I think back, it’s such a lovely thing to do.

But then, almonds are pretty special also. When we were in st.Lucia we stayed between the majestic pitons, hidden away. We were staying at a resort where the beach sat in a calm little cove and one of the paths along the beach was layer in almond shells. I loves cracking them open to find smooth almonds. It’s lovely that nature can create such a perfect little nut.

I’m actually rather excited about this simple yet addictive recipe. It’s really good. This tropical looking mix is crunchy, sweet, aromatic and there’s a lovely hint of chilli right at the end. It’s delightful. I’ve used agave nectar to sweeten the mix so, healthier than loads of sugar. You have to try it.

Ingredients for two gift containers

One large green plantain
4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 tbsp desiccated coconut
A generous handful of dried cranberries
200g cashew nuts
Oil for frying plantain chips

1 . Heat the oil in a deep pan and in the meantime, take the green skin off the plantain and cut the plantain into 1 cm thick circles with a knife of mandolin.
2. Fry the chips until they are crisp and deepened in colour. You will feel that they are tougher and crisp when you move them with a slotted spoon.
3. Remove the chips onto a kitchen paper and leave them to cool.
4. In a non stick pan, toast the cashew nuts until they are lightly golden before adding the cinnamon and the plantain chips. Mix well.
5. Stir in the chilli flakes, mix again. Then add the agave nectar and the desiccated coconut. Thoroughly mix it all together to make sure the spices and coconut are evenly distributed.
6. Toss in the dried cranberries and mix again.

Allow the mixture to cool completely before packaging it.

This has also been entered into Feel Good Food Challenge hosted by Jibberjabberuk and Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door

 

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

Chilli and tahini noodle soup with broccoli and tempeh

28 Oct

 

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

Tahini and chilli noodle soup with tempeh and broccoli

This sort of time two years ago I sat in the cafe adjacent to wing yip oriental supermarket with my mum, dad and my large baby bump. Our noses were puffy from the cold outside and my mum and I giggled like girls as we quietly splished spicy noodle soup around our lips. The heat of schiuan peppercorn and chilies thawed our noses as our chopsticks slipped around pak choi and jabbed into tofu. We eyed up the swan shaped pastry over the counter and the little creamy and fruity tarts. Light and airy bite-me- now sized cakes and buns.

As we were dissecting the swans and sighing lazily and contentedly, tears raced down my mums cheeks. Normally full of youthful laughter and red-cheeked over-excitement, my mum smiled through her gentle tears. I shot a baffled and questioning look towards my dad. He had been busy chomping through his egg fried rice and meaty-vegetable feast. When food is good value for money and Chinese, my dad is unusually focused. He did his cliched wise-laugh thing and said something that has stuck since then with me and will always remain with me.

‘Your mum is spending the time with you now that she never has done’.

We all have different choices and circumstances in life. My mum was just 22 when she had me. Almost a decade younger than I was when I became a mother. I grew into being a mother in my own mind, through maturity and transitioning through the various phases of my life. My mum just became a mum. I grew my career as did my husband. My mum had just learned to speak fluent English, let alone have a chance to work. My husband and I bought a house and did it up before we had my boy. I was born into a council flat. But look at this…my mum and dad worked tirelessly as a team, had multiple jobs, paid their mortgage and even my university fees and expenses.

The price my brave mum paid unfortunately, is the time with me. Funny thing is I had never heard her complain in all these years. I never sensed any resentment in her circumstances. She embraced it. We ate dinner together every day, she tucked me in, told me stories about her childhood in Africa and made me turmeric milk when I was sick. Some foods will always evoke emotional responses, whether it is turmeric milk, egg and chips or samosa in the rain. I’ve added noodle soup to that list of foods.

This one is unusual, because I use tahini (sesame paste) in the soup. The result is a nutty flavour with a smooth texture. I’ve used the chilli oil from my previous recipe as well as the sweet lychee and hot chilli sauce I made recently. If you don’t like tempeh or can’t get hold of this block of fermented soy beans, use tofu. This soup is warming, spicy, nutty, has bite and is soothing. My husband says it is in his top 3 noodle soups now.

Ingredients to serve 2-3

1 large red onion, sliced
2 tbsp chilli oil with 3 tsp of the chilli flakes or 2tbsp sesame oil and 2minced red chillies 
200g broccoli cut into bite sized florets
200g tempeh cut into bite sized chunks
1 litre vegetable stock
500ml water
3 cloves of galic
1 tsp schiuan peppercorns
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp tahini
3-4 tsp sweet chilli sauce 
100g udon noodles

Method

1. Mince together the garlic and schiuan peppercorns
2. Stir fry thr tempeh in 1 tbsp vegetable oil until it catches a golden brown colour
3. Heat the oil and chilies and then stir fry the onions until they soften before adding the garlic and peppercorns. Cook for anther two minutes before adding the broccoli, soy sauce, tahini and tempeh. Mix it well and then add the vegetable stock, water and sweet chilli sauce.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer before adding the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes before serving hot.

Mixed grains and vegetables in a tangy and fragrant coconut kadhi

15 Oct
Mixed grains and vegetables in a tangy and fragrant coconut kadhi

Mixed grains and vegetables in a tangy and fragrant coconut kadhi

We were in temple at Virpur in 1991 and we were travelling around pilgrimage and tourist sites of India. Some places we stayed in seemed shabby-palatial and some felt like cold student halls. My dad describes himself as atheist, but it isn’t true. He lights a diva in the morning (sometimes) and questions God often. Being in Virpur was very deliberate and it was a calming experience. It is the birth place of Jalaram Bapa and my family all have pictures or deities of him at home. Apparently my dad would pray to him for a little girl, before I arrived. And whilst my mum was in the throes of a terrible labour, Jalaram Bapa was whom he called upon.

We all sat on the floor with scores of other worshippers in an organised line and waited to be served. Slim men scooted around barefoot and expertly and neatly lay banana leaves before us. They could have been another form of leaf, I can’t quite recall. They were certainly not plates though. It was a novel experience for me and I was already charmed.

Before I knew it, hot, smooth, buttery and almost runny khichdi drizzled before me and then a gram flour and yoghurt soup, tempered in whole spices, curry leaves, chillies and ginger. Now, I eat with my fingers a lot but I was baffled as to how I would scoop khichdi into my mouth. But scoop I did.

I don’t know how much romanticism there is in my recollections of this experience, but look…clearly the experience has stuck in my mind after all these years. As you would expect, the kadhi was gloriously tangy, moderately spicy, creamy and slightly sweet. I loved it.

When I weaned my boy onto solids, I felt like I had the only child in the world that wouldn’t open that tiny mouth. I even bought an Annabel karmel book on purees. I tried it all; banana, butternut squash, baby rice, blueberries and carrots. Cauliflower cheese even, but nothing. He would turn his face and purse his lips. One day when I had made spinach kadhi for my husband ( he adores it) my little one grabbed the spoon and opened his mouth. Since then, kadhi has been his favourite food.

One of the awesome things about kadhi is that it is easy to bulk up. I add all sorts of vegetables, lentils, greens to it. This, However is one of my favourite recipes from my kadhi creations. It’s a one-pot, which makes my life simpler. It’s really easy to do; I made the lot in under twenty minutes and that includes chopping and mixing. This kadhi has grains in it, which we know are really good for us! I used the merchant gourmet pack which includes barley, quinoa and lentils and it does the job well! The coconut is delicate, smells divine and adds sweetness. Traditionally jaggery is added for sweetness. I’ve got some lovely and mellow veg in there, which you could vary. Hug a bowl of this and let it turn on the internal heating.

Ingredients

200g cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
100g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
100g asparagus cut into bite sized pieces
One large red onion, sliced
5-6 curry leaves
One stick of cinnamon
2 cloves
1 tsp minced ginger
One can of good quality coconut cream
500ml water
One pack of merchant gourmet mixed grains
2 tbsp ground nut oil
1 cup plain, natural yoghurt
1 tbsp gram flour
One red chilli, finely chopped
3/4 tsp brown (not black) mustard seeds
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
A squeeze of lime juice

Method

1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, chilli and turmeric. When the seeds sizzle and pop add the onion and ginger and sauté until the onion has softened.
2. Whilst the onion is softening, mix the yoghurt and gram flour to a paste and put it to a side for a couple of moments.
3. Mix the vegetables into the tempering and coat then well with the oil. Then add the yoghurt and gram flour paste, coconut milk and water and stir again before adding the salt and lime juice (just one squeeze)
4. Tip the mixed grains in and loosen them up.
5. Bring the kadhi to boil and simmer on a medium flame for about 10 minutes.

Serve lashings no lashings of it immediately

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Dance, sing and drink a rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

8 Oct

 

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

Rose, pomegranate and lime cooler

We were at soft play the other day, the boy and I and guess who had a work out? I think I stared sweating when my arm was yanked and I heard the teeny, tiny and sweetly made command ‘Let’s go mumma, let’s do climbing’.

So we crawled through tunnels and shuffled through nets. We balanced on beams and swirled through tunnel slides then repeatedly bobbed up and down waved slides. My poor bottom, it’s not terribly well endowed and I get this from my mother. ‘Again mumma again’. Why I wore a jumper I don’t know.
My feet moonwalk towards the café for a bright pink and blue slush puppy, because I needed ice to cool down and as I popped my boy onto the carousel for a break, I reminisced.

Whenever I have a slush puppy it throws me back to Shacks in India that sell gola. I always feel a bit rude comparing dishes to English ones but at least you now know what I mean. The Indian ones are crushed on a large retro style wheel and as you may expect, offer the full show. Thick and fruity syrups of bright green or red and toppings of coconut and nuts make a full on cool, sweet and nutty experience. They’d move along the streets and kids would come running and bouncing with huge grins as the gola song was heard. You can’t help but love it.

It was my beautiful nieces birthday party at the weekend and she had a lovely gathering of friends and relatives with lots of fun stuff going on in a beautifully decorated hall. I spent the whole time talking and walking on heels and hands moving, bum opening doors and carrying my tot who didn’t want to part. He was glued to me when his aunts and uncles wanted cuddles and cute chat, but soon as the crowds left he was on the dance floor. Typical.

Party over, I was thirsty as heck. I wanted something soothing, fragrant , sweet and cold. I wanted the gola man from India to come and make me one whilst I had a foot massage (not from the gola man, let’s not get any ideas). I needed a good soak in the bath with flowery fragrances. I fancied enacting one of those scenes from period films where the queen bathes in a pool of rose petals and warm water, with people passing her towels and drinks.

Alas, I’m no queen and the m25 was calling, so a quick, but gorgeous drink it was. It hit the spot though and that’s why I am sharing it with you. Its Navratri now and if you are dancing, this will go down especially well. It’s fragrant, sweet, fruity and cold! Just look at that picture my royal friends!

Ingredients to serve 4

300ml pomegranate juice
200ml rose-water
5tbsp palm sugar
The juice of 1.5l limes
1/4 tsp crushed cardamon seeds
20 ice cubes

Method

1. Mix the sugar and rose-water in a pan with the crushed cardamon a heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat and leave in to cool.
2. Put the pomegranate juice, like juice and ice in a food processor abs blitz it a few times until the ice is crushed
3. Once the rose-water is cool introduce it to the juice in the food processor and blitz again.
4. Chill it for 30mins and then serve.


Indian Superfood Recipes

1 Apr

These ruby red jewels are packed with vitamin C and are thought to contain antibacterial properties. Rich in antioxidants, the juice of this middle eastern fruit has been proven in some studies to combat heart disease and blood pressure. Pomegranate has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, to remedy diarrhoea and dysentery.

Superfood PomegranateEasy Pomegranate Shrikhand

Recipe (to serve 3-4)
Ingredient

100g of pomegranate seeds (about one medium sized pomegranate)
500g of quark cheese
Caster sugar to taste
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
A small pinch of saffron (approximately 4-5 strands)
2 tsp of rose water
12-15 roughly chopped pistachios

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, smooth together the quark cheese and caster sugar. Include enough sugar to your taste for a dessert.
2. Combine the quark cheese and sugar mixture with the cardamom powder, rose water and chopped pistachios.
3. Squash the strands of saffron into the side of the bowl, then beat them in. The light orange colour will infuse into the shrikhand.
4. Mix in half of the pomegranate seeds, leaving the other half for decoration and then serve.

Easy Blueberry Shrikhand

These antioxidant rich ’wild’ things are high in vitamin C, anti-oxidants, are a good source of fibre, and act to protect the heart. Some research has shown that blueberries may help to alleviate the cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of ageing and they may even assist in prevent urinary tract infection.

Recipe (to serve 3-4)
IngredientSuperfood blueberries

150g of blueberries
500g of quark cheese
Approximately 6 tbsp of caster sugar
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
15 roughly chopped pistachios

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, blend 100g of the blueberries to a smooth consistency, leaving no pulp. Then combine it with 4 tbsp of caster sugar. Simmer the mixture on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off the heat and then allow the blueberry sauce to cool completely.
2. Mix together the quark cheese and blueberry sauce until it turns a beautiful lavender colour. Add 2 tbsp of caster sugar (you can moderate this depending on your taste for a dessert).
3. Stir in the cardamom powder and the most of the pistachios, leaving some for decoration.
4. Serve, using the remaining blueberries (whole) for decoration or mix them in with the shrikhand. Sprinkle the individual portions lightly with the remaining chopped pistachios.

Spinach and Tofu Curry

Springtime spinach is a source of beta carotene and folate, but don’t expect Popeye’s instant biceps! Rich in antioxidants and containing vitamin K and Iron (which will be better absorbed with vitamin C) spinach will help your skin, immune system, heart, your bones and energy levels.

Recipe (serves 3-4)

Ingredient
250g of firm tofu, cubed
200g of baby leaf spinach, coarsely chopped
2 deep red tomatoes, chopped into cubes
One small-medium onion, peeled and diced
2 green chillies, chopped
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) and 5g of ginger (grated)
A bay leaf, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 cloves, a small stick of cinnamon, pinch of asafoetida (optional), 1 tsp of paprika, ¼ tsp of black pepper

Method

1. Heat 1tbsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan and shallow fry the cubes of tofu until they are golden brown. Remove the tofu onto kitchen paper and allow the cubes to cool.
2. In a separate pan heat two tablespoons of oil before adding the asafoetida. Next, put in the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon and let the cumin seeds crackle before mixing in the chillies.
3. Stir in the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes before introducing the garlic. When the onion has softened add the tomatoes, salt to taste and turmeric and cook until the tomatoes are smooth and pulpy.
4. Sprinkle in the black pepper and paprika, then combine the cubes of shallow fried tofu into the curry base.
5. Wilt the spinach into the curry and add the grated ginger. Simmer for 3-4 minutes before turning off the heat.

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