Tag Archives: vegetarian

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes

21 Sep

Nowadays my weekly menu is devised on bases a little like this; is it something that we can all eat, does it deliver on the ‘rainbow factor’, does it taste good, is it quick to make and can we cook it together? The latter is important because there are repeated demonstrations of my little boy’s best manners when he wants to get involved, ‘mammap please may I help you, it will be educational for me’.

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya

 

 

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya Today the answer was, ‘yes of course’ and oh my, the croquettes smell incredible; pillows of lightly sweet potato and mellow cauliflower with a subtle aniseed like flavour from the fennel seeds and most importantly, the creamy and oozy cheese.  I generally love anything with a crunch and there is most certainly an magnificent sense of pleasure in the crisp shell giving way to steaming hot and moist, cheesy filling.

I know this sounds a little bizarre but I got that sense of eating chips on a cool walk home with my dad when I was a child, or in Brighton with my husband (before kiddo was born)…sitting in the car and listening to the radio and watching the waves.  Except these croquettes have that ‘special’ factor.

Wyke Farm cheese asked me to try their cheddar and I found that the bold but not overpowering flavour really works well with delicately sweet and moist flavours of cauliflower and potato.  Its creamy, oozy and yet gentle enough to balance the dish.

Make sure to bake the potatoes and steam the cauliflower and avoid the temptation to boil them; boiling them will leave them wet and overly moist.  You can spice the croquettes up more if you like and I have used panko breadcrumbs for what I feel is a deeper crunch but you don’t have to, the croquettes still taste great with standard breadcrumbs. I served them with harissa, but I like them with a red pepper ketchup too!

for the full recipe please visit the Great British chefs page here

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties

31 Jan

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties

I do get exasperated at points; my eyes fill with foggy grey, disorderly purple, and at the moment I have a stream of lectures to prepare for, a fourth birthday party to plan, a husband in Hong Kong, leaking boiler, new after nursery activities starting up, recipe submissions in two different directions, a cookery class to get ready for…what else, a much needed orange and yellow holiday perhaps? All the while, I have a toddler following me around, chanting question upon question and he does this peculiar thing of asking questions to which he knows the answer already, like, ‘mumma, can you fall inside the craters in the moon’. And if I say, ‘mmm, perhaps’…’but mumma you can’t, there’s no gravity on the moon’.

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties by Deena kakaya

 

And then, I have these moments where I remind myself why I haven’t extended his nursery hours beyond mornings. Because as exasperating as it feels, this time is short-lived, so precious and mine and his. Just me and him. And just like that, with some hugs and kisses things were looking green again, as we made these lean, green, nutty and moist patties. They work well with tomato or red pepper sauces, on a crisp salad or even on chaat. I put them in some pitta with some salad with chilli sauce- oof!

for the recipe please visit the new pink soda hub, by JD sports here, where you will find a host of recipes, exercise tips, beauty tips, sportswear for women.

To make approximately 12 patties

300g new potatoes

200g edamame beans

50g quinoa cooked per packet instructions

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 large red chilli, finely chopped or chilli flakes to taste

1 tsp. toasted cumin seeds

Vegetable oil for crisping the patties

For the Asian sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

½ tbsp. of your favourite chilli sauce

1 tsp. minced ginger

 

Method

  1. Boil the new potatoes for 7-8 minutes or until soft enough to mash coarsely. You can boil them with the skin on and rub it off once cooked or peel in advance. As the skin on new potatoes is pretty thin, I usually go for the former. Once boiled, drain the potatoes, skin them and then mash coarsely.
  2. Boil the edamame beans for 3 minutes and then drain them and refresh in cold water.
  3. Cook the quinoa per packet instructions.
  4. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients and simmer them together for about ten minutes on a low flame. Allow the sauce to cool to a room temperature before adding it to the patty mix.
  5. Combine the new potatoes, edamame beans and quinoa, and then mix in the spring onions, chilli and cumin seeds. Then add the sauce and mix it all well.
  6. Forms equal sized patties (approximately 12) and then place them on some baking paper and place them in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve the patties, heat a non-stick pan and drizzle a little oil onto the base. Cook the patties until they are browned on each side but most importantly use a medium flame to ensure that they are warm all the way through.

 

Green beans and soya beans in red sambal

9 Jan

I had a lovely Christmas break. If you are reading this and you didn’t then I can relate to you. Things are not always the same.

green beans and soya beans in red sambal by Deena Kakaya
This year, it was lovely. We saw Santa four times; at the activity farm where we ice skated, made a bear, rode a tractor and saw a real reindeer. We also saw Santa at the children’s theatre, where the performance charmed my child into sitting quietly, eyes widened for the whole lot. We went to the cinema and guess what? I went to the cinema on a separate occasion to watch a grown up, Bollywood movie with a friend. We went to the zoo; it was blustery but we had thepla, smiles and each other. We spent time with treasured family and cherished old friends and revelled in the good times. We ate out most days, even if we were slurping noodles in Camden market or Churro’s in the park and yes we even had muddy fun in the park.
My baby took part in his first nursery school concert and he looked edible, if not too grown up. He assuredly and dramatically rehearsed every day and was totally in his element up until the big day. But I am not disappointed or upset because the reason and experience totally moved me; as he walked onto the lit-up stage, he waved into the darkness of the audience, aimlessly as he didn’t know where I was. As the elves, Santa’s snowmen and donkey’s sang away, he repeatedly whispered to his neighbours and teachers, ‘where’s my mum’…his eyes wandered and so did his mind. As it was his turn to go onto stage, he looked behind; he looked around and still couldn’t see me. It wasn’t until the last five minutes that he finally spotted me and there was a sudden and latent burst of energy. I will take this with me.
I want to share what I learned from this Christmas holiday. That element of fun, that positive energy and gratitude, that high-frequency of love, the time spent with chosen and energising people, that free-spirit and relaxed mind…why should that be confined to Christmas. Why shouldn’t I inject spurts of it into my regular routine…the very simple things and the very simple pleasures? So that’s what I am going to do. And with that, I share a very simple pleasure of a Malaysian inspired recipe, my green beans and soya beans in red sambal.

A little nutty, very luscious and delicately sweet; it makes for a lovely side dish, or is great just with some rice. I have even put into a wrap with a drizzle of yoghurt. The aromas are so lifting in the red sambal, which for me makes the dish. The sambal is a blend of spices, onions and garlic and become gentler as it’s cooked. Add more chillies if you like!

Ingredients
175g green beans
175g soya beans
4 lime leaves, crushed
1 cup of warm water
1 tbsp. tamarind concentrate
2 tbsp. peanut oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. chilli oil
2 tbsp. toasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely ground
For the red sambal paste
2 tsp. soft brown sugar
One large onion, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic
5 long, dried red chillies soaked
2 tsp. lemongrass paste
1 tsp. minced ginger or galangal
1 tbsp. peanut oil
Method
1. Blitz together the ingredients for the spice paste and then leave it to the side
2. Heat 1 tbsp. peanut oil and add the paste on a very low flame and cook it, stirring to avoid sticking for approximately 5-7 minutes.
3. Now add the tamarind concentrate, chilli oil, lime leaves, salt and peanuts and then fry for another three minutes.
4. Now add the water and simmer for ten minutes.
5. In the meantime cook the edamame beans for three minutes and the green beans for 4-7 minutes or until barely tender. Drain and refresh them.
6. Combine the red sambal and the green and soya beans together and serve hot.

Black bean and Halloumi Curry- Video recipe

6 Dec

 

One of the most popular recipes that is visited on my site is the black bean and hallomi curry.  It is also a recipe that is now close to my heart. Why? Well it was a very early recipe on the vegetarian blog and I really enjoyed all the banter it created about it being strange and wonderful…halloumi is not a common ingredient for a curry after all. It works though, and some of you have written to tell me as much and for that, I thank you. Halloumi, when cooked is succulent and juicy. It soaks up the curry juices and releases them generously with each bite. I love the depth and mellow nature of black beans and together, they are a cajoling treat.

I know it has been a while since I shared a video recipe, so I thought…why not?

Halloumi and black bean curry

Ingredients to serve 4

250g cooked black beans
125g halloumi cut into bite sized pieces
One red onion finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp minced ginger
4-5 curry leaves
125ml water
1 cup chopped tomatoes (tinned is fine)
Spices; salt to taste, 1/3rd tsp garam masala, 1tsp cumin powder, 1tsp coriander powder, 1/4tsp turmeric, 1tsp cumin seeds

Method

1. Shallow fry the red onion until it is golden brown and then leave it to a side to cool. Once it is cooled, purée it.
2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil and add cumin seeds, turmeric and the ginger and garlic. Sauté for couple of minutes before adding the cumin powder, curry leaves and coriander powder, then stir on a medium heat for just under a minute.
3. Add the beans and coat them with the spices before adding the tomatoes, fried red onion purée and the water.
4. Bring the curry to a simmer before adding the halloumi cheese. Cook for ten minutes and serve hot.

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.

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

Quorn rendang curry

26 Jul

Quorn rendang curry by Deena Kakaya

As children, we knowingly grew up with and revelled in some food traditions.  During the week we typically had one ‘green’ curry which was something like okra, cluster beans or spinach for example with a lentil or pulse based dish and of course abundant chapatti and rice with, salad and pickles on the side.   When my aunts visited, we knew dad would go out and buy bright orange and sticky sweet spirals of jalebi, fluffy and lightly sour rice and lentil cakes of dhokla and all the children got bounty chocolate bars at the end. There were potato and cassava dishes for celebratory fasting days and summers full of steaming hot, spiced rice flour dough which puffed aromas of chillies as we lay the poppadum’s made with that very dough onto sheets of unused saris in the garden. On Thursdays we had hot, buttery Khichdi made of simmered down rice and lentils with potato curry, Kadhi and crisp poppadum’s. On Fridays, dad made proper chips after chopping and lightly boiling thick cuts of potatoes and they were accompanied by fried eggs, beans or mushy peas and lashings of vinegar. It was either that or a Chinese take-away or home-made pie but goodness my brother and I loved those Friday meals.

When I started working in London things altered. Every day was a food adventure rejoicing a different cuisine of the world with my friends or colleagues. One of the things I love about London is that pretty much any cuisine I want to explore is accessible. Some of these cuisines became regular features on my home-cooking menu such as Malaysian recipes with their fresh and sprightly flavours of lemongrass, chillies and lime leaves. Over the years I have read about the fusion of cultures that influences Malaysian cooking; Malays, Chinese, Indian and apparently even Portuguese and Dutch and for me this makes it such a testament to the success that fusion food can deliver. I am shameless when it comes to slurping up bowls of fragrant Laksa but the dish that has always made me most curious is rendang curry. I think it is the thick, clinging curry sauce that just makes me swoon for vegetarian alternatives to the traditional heavy meaty-based versions of this recipe. The curry gravy reaches thrilling levels of wonderfulness when simmered for around an hour, making it unsuitable for vegetable based dishes but Quorn works well in that it just becomes tender and soaks up the flavours of the curry base over this time. I have cut back on my intake of sugar so I haven’t added brown sugar, palm sugar or any sweeteners to this recipe but what I have done is add tamarind paste and also powdered some toasted coconut to give a little touch of sweetness.  It has taken me about three attempts to get to a rendang recipe that I am happy with and I have to say, this one is just divine. I have served it with a really easy and colourful carrot salad and steaming hot rice.

for the full recipe, head on over via this link to Great British Chefs

Pea and vegetarian Quorn mince Kofta curry

15 Jul

Pea and vegetarian mince Kofta curry

Sometimes, when my brother visits us, together with my family from Leicester, he makes unexplained (but definitely not mysterious) disappearances. Sometimes they are explicated. None of us feels illuminated. Let me explain;

Pea and Quorn mince Kofta curry by Deena Kakaya

When it comes to lunch or dinner, applying a menu favourably to the fussy audience that is my family is complicated. Each of them declares ‘I’m easy, whatever…’ but this is not factually correct. The children of course require a balanced, nutritious and mild diet and my parents like a more traditional menu these days or something with an x-rating on the chillies factor. But my dad is sick of chapatti every day so the mere indication of them will spin him off into, ‘that’s fine I will have Weetabix or toast for dinner’. What my diabetic dad really wants is something that resembles (or actually is) an obscenely dirty take-away; you know mounds of Chinese food, maybe some massaman curry or some deep fried aubergine Bhajhia.

But of course my husband likes the idea of all that but strokes his jumper down for the 97th time as he says, ‘no I have got to be healthier, I have lost 2kg and need to…’ right. By this time my sister-in-law, who has declined the chocolate cornflakes snack bites in the living room has made another trip to the kitchen corner and come out crunching, so the hunger is stirring. Oh, but where is my brother, how long has he actually been gone? He has of course, gone out in search of protein. It is I a fixation of his. Every meal must be loaded with protein that apparently fuels his work-outs and keeps him satiated for longer and various other reasons I switch off about and if its cabbage curry for dinner with vegetable rice and raitha, he is silently out and munching on chicken because we (which of course means ‘I’) have a no-meat rule in the house.

Pea and Quorn mince Kofta curry by Deena Kakaya

Cue my protein packed recipe. Every time we eat Quorn mince there are remarks from the non-vegetarian people around the table about how convincing it is. I have noticed over the years that it has actually become softer and juicier, less crumbly and they now lend so well to succulent, moist, lightly sweet, spice-soaked and juicy kofta. They hold so well and do not require any egg or potato. Peas are themselves a source of protein as well as the Quorn mince but I chose peas because they keep the kofta moist and add a little sweetness. They look pretty too don’t they? Let me tell you, we had some very happy people and also very quiet people eating these kofta.

 

for the full recipe, head over on this link to great british chefs

Mexican-Indian corn chaat

12 Jul

Mexican-Indian corn chaat

http://www.deenakakaya.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Mexican-indian-corn-chaat.jpg

I was in a waiting room for several hours the other day.

Between moments of exasperated and forced eye contact with staff down the window-less corridor and then stiller and weepily-hungry jiffies of reading ‘The Kite Runner’ I listened to a gentleman whose granddaughter had just graduated from a university in Birmingham and Grandson who had just departed for travels in Australia. His daughters’ tolerantly listened to ‘daddy’ repeating himself. Well, one did whilst the other arranged school pick-ups and take-away dinners. I wondered why they didn’t intervene when their father asked another waiting lady about how many children she had, again. She who had twin 7 year old sons and a four year old daughter had just miscarried and she had gently explained for the third or fourth time that, ‘these things happen’, ‘it’s really common’, ‘I just want to move on’. I wonder if she really was that calm when she heard the older gentleman resaying, ‘was it your first’, ‘oh that’s awful’ and ‘life is so unfair’. Maybe she was thinking the same as me, which is that we are all going to end up where this gentleman was except whether it is a lonely struggle or one accompanied by loved ones remains to be seen.

She tucked her gaze onto the sketch she was making; she is an artist and worked flexibly around her children, describing this harmony as ‘nice’. Across from me a father and daughter nestled into each other. She must have been 11 or 12, long dark and silky hair tied into wafting pony tails but sportily dressed, like her dad. When I was of that age, it would have been less common to see such snuggling in a public area. Things have changed. My husband asked my three year old son what we do in our family, he replied, ‘we just erm, give love’.

On my right a gentleman waited with his family. His wife smiled serenely and his son discussed important subjects around his work and readings. His father listened with eager eyes and encouraging nods, though I did notice him stifle a couple of yawns. His daughter explained how she wanted to gradually transition from her professional job into her own business and her father agreed devotedly. I thought back to my teens when some of my friends were chastised for even hinting at more artistic subjects and felt sorry for parents who could not truly understand, relate or advise their children on many of these education and profession related matters. But they tried, like my parents did.

And so, as an ode to the many colours of life, I share with you a recipe for Mexican-Indian corn chaat. I scoffed an entire (sharing) plate of corn chaat when in Dubai (where it is very easy to be vegetarian) a few months ago as my husband looked on smiling. It was supposed to be a light and easy meal. Sweet corn in chaat is probably not the most traditional chaat recipe but the juicy and cool kernels of corn work well amongst the crispy puffed rice, tangy chutneys and soft potatoes. As I was eating it I couldn’t help think of Mexican corn salad with lots of red onion, corn tortilla and green peppers. And so, the Mexican-Indian corn chaat is born; it has pungent and peppery chaat masala but also smoky Mexican Guajillo chillies. It has green chillies and also a double whammy of crunch from corn tortilla and puffed rice. I have smoothed on some cool whipped yoghurt for the base of the dish too. One serving of this dish is just never enough!

Ingredients to serve 2-4

3 guajillo chillies

3 green chillies, finely chopped

One medium red onion

½ cup mung bean shoots, or you could use chickpeas

2 tbsp. tamarind chutney (shop bought is fine)

5 tsp. chaat masala

125g chopped, fresh tomatoes

4 new potatoes, diced boiled

1 tin of 325g sweet corn

5-6 dessert spoons of plain, natural yoghurt

¾ cup puffed rice with peanuts (readily available in Indian supermarkets as sev mumra)

A couple of handfuls of corn tortilla, lightly crushed

Method

  1. On a dry pan gently roast the peppers until they start to smoke but don’t let them brown. Take them off the heat and immerse them with enough hot water to cover them. Leave them to stand for about 15 minutes before blitzing them to a paste.
  2. In a large bowl, add the drained corn and toss the kernels amongst the guajillo chilli paste and tamaring chutney.
  3. Now add the potatoes, onions, green chillies, tomatoes, mung bean shoots and then toss all the ingredients. Sprinkle in the chaat masala.
  4. Prepare each plate by layering the yoghurt on the base of the plate.
  5. Before serving, add the puffed rice with peanuts and corn tortilla to the bowl of ingredients. If you add them too early they will soften.

 

 

 

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