Mint and Sumac Green Bean Salad

A real flavour explosion 


As the festive holiday season draws near I bet you all are getting your chefs hats on and figuring out the Christmas lunch menu this year. While meat is the obvious choice and barbecues are the go to way to cook, I find people often struggle to come up with equally tasty vegetarian options. 

There’s definitely more to vegetables than roast potatoes and a boring green salad. Today’s recipe is not only vegan/vegetarian but it will also make sure to please the hearts of hardcore meat eaters. So this Christmas try this lip smackingly delicious Green Bean salad with mint and sumac. I promise it will be a hit.

Ingredients: 12 Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 500 gms of green beans, ends trimmed
  • Two fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • One red onion, sliced
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One bunch of fresh parsley( stems and leaves), chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • One teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • One tablespoon sumac powder
  • One tablespoon dried mint leaves
  • One teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Salt to season 
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, onions and chopped parsley stem. Cook until aromatic and the onions lightly caramelised.

Now add tomatoes, all the dried spices and sugar. Cook until the tomatoes are slightly soft.


Then add the green beans, lemon juice and season with salt. Cook until the beans are tender.


Garnish with fresh parsley and serve at room tempature. You can also top it with crumbled feta if you want to make it a bit more decadent.

Enjoy the festive season with this flavour bomb.

Cucumber and Pea Salad 

Who would have thought this odd couple would be so good together…

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I love the idea of summer. Why wouldn’t you when you think of summer you think of the beach, pina colada, flowy summer dresses and perhaps sailing across the seas on an all indulgent yacht. Then summer comes and you are nothing but a giant mess of grime and sweat!

On hot days my tip is eat well to feel good and stay hydrated. Lots of salads and greens to chill your insides. Moreover when they come in the form of this lip smackingly delicious salad, you will instantly go from hating summer to loving summer.

Ingredients: 10  Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One continental cucumber, finely sliced
  • 125 gms of peas, steamed
  • One tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon dried mint leaves
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One tablespoon black sesame seeds,toasted
  • 125 gms of goats cheese, crumbled 
  • One tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season

In a bowl combine sliced cucumber, steamed peas, dill and mint. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

For the dressing, in another bowl combine EVOO, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Pour the dressing over the salad. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and goats cheese. Toss well before serving.

Enjoy this summer salad and feel thanda thanda cool cool!

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Crisp Asian Coleslaw

Give summer a chill pill with this…

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The summer gods have unleashed their fury across Australia. With temperatures soaring in the early 40s, the only place to be is inside the blast freezer or as my Australian counterparts would say, the beach. 

Call it my obssession with being fair and lovely or sheer lack of tolerance for heat, I prefer to coup up at home with the aircon cranking. Strangely during summers eating is actually the last thing on my mind, oh no wait its cooking. Yes, even a devout cook and foodie like me struggles battling in the kitchen to whip up a meal. 

Such heated moments need something quick, easy and definitely chilled. So checkout my crunchy Asian coleslaw recipe . Definitely going to serve this at the family Christmas lunch.

Ingredients: 12  Preparation time:

Serves: 4

  • Quarter cabbage, finely sliced
  • Half a continental cucumber, sliced
  • 250 gms sugar snap peas, ends removed
  • Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Half a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One tablespoon Tom Yum paste
  • Two tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted
  • One tablespoon sesame oil
  • One tablespoon honey
  • Half a teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to season.

Combine all the vegetables and herbs in a bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and let the ingredients chill.

For the dressing, combine Tom Yum paste, lemon juice, honey, sesame oil, sugar and salt. Mix them well. If you don’t like Tom Yum paste, you can replace it with soy sauce. 

Remove the coleslaw from the fridge and pour the dressing over it. Toss it well and ensure the dressing evenly coats all the ingredients.

Finally add toasted sesame seeds and give the salad a finally toss. Serve chilled.

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Cucumber Raita

Stay cool as a cucumber this summer…

This year the sun has decided to turn up the heat a bit early here in Australia. It’s only the start of October and already the temperatures are soaring in the high thirties. Despite coming from India, a country with long, hot summers, I have never been one to enjoy the heat. Anything beyond 28 degrees and you will struggle to get me out and about without an a/c. 

With that said, heat or no heat, I can never give up my curry. However in summer across India curries are served alongside various preparations made from yogurt, such as plain or flavoured lassis, buttermilk, raitas, dips, etc. Yogurt or what we call dahi in Hindi is definitely a superfood. Packed with loads of protein, calcium and vitamins, it also has fantastic cooling properties.

So today’s recipe is the quintessential Indian chiller, cucumber raita. When you combine yogurt and cucumber together you have got on hand the coolest dish in the world (pun intended). Raita is usually served as a condiment alongside lentil, vegetable and rice preparations. I sometimes like to eat it just by itself. Checkout the recipe below.

Ingredients:  7     Preparation time: 10 minutes 

Serves: 6

  • 500ml natural yogurt ( I use low-fat Greek natural yogurt)
  • Two medium cucumbers, peeled and grated
  • 100gms fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • Pinch of sugar

In a bowl add yogurt and whisk it until smooth. 

Now add the herbs, spices, sugar and salt. Mix well. Feel free to add these ingredients to suit your taste.

Finally add the grated cucumber. Some prefer to squeeze out the juice from the cucumber before adding it to the yogurt. However I recommend keeping the juice as it gives the dish a great flavour and also improves the consistency. 

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Garnish with a sprinkle of cumin powder and some fresh coriander. 

Serve this lip smackingly delicious raita at your next party. Serve it with a curry or some vegetable sticks, there’s definitely more than one way to enjoy it.

Butter Bean and Dill Salad

Summer is here, bring out the salad…

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Wow in between being pregnant and raising a newborn, winter changed to spring and today almost felt like a warm summers day! The beautiful weather coupled with a public holiday, made it a perfect day to enjoy a leisurely lunch with the family. I say leisurely in jest, if you have a newborn you will know what I mean! Everything needs to be timed around the little person’s schedule.

 Lucky for me baby SK decided to stretch his nap out a bit, which meant I could cook, eat and feel the warmth of the sun on me. I made up two really quick and easy recipes. First was my lemon, caper spaghetti with carrot ribbons. I made a slight modification and added zucchini ribbons too to give the dish a little more colour. You can find the recipe here. The second was a ripper of a salad, which was anything but a bunch of leaves on a plate. 


 

Low calorie, high protein, packed with loads of flavour. With one bite alone the family concurred this salad was going to make it on the Christmas lunch menu. This is a huge deal in a house full of foodies where everyone loves to cook and eat.

Ingredients: 7   Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 800 gms of canned butter beans
  • Half a bunch of fresh dill leaves, chopped
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese, crumbled 
  • One tablespoon of crispy shallots
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Half a teaspoon of cracked pepper

Rinse the butter beans under cold water. Drain the beans thoroughly and place them in the serving bowl. Put them in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill while you prepare the other ingredients.

Once the beans are cool, add crumbled goats cheese, dill leaves and crispy shallots (which can be bought at your Asian grocer). Toss the salad and mix the ingredients evenly. Feel free to add a bit more cheese or a bit more crispy shallots.

For the dressing combine olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Give it a good stir and pour over the salad.

Toss the salad gently one more time before serving. Serve this beauty at your next Sunday lunch and believe me it will give a you chill in the warm summers heat.

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An Indian affair

An Indian Sunday Lunch, A Feast To Tantalise All Your Senses…

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Here I am again with my most favourite cuisine in the world, Indian! The colours, the flavours, the textures and the variety Indian food offers is par excellence. A balanced Indian meal will usually include a lentil dish, a vegetable side dish, whole-wheat roti breads, a yogurt preparation and other accompaniments such as pickles, chutneys and pappadums. Most Indian mothers and wives religiously prepare this feast for their families day in and day out. So now you know why we Indians proudly wear our pot bellies, they are a sign of all the love, warmth and lip smackingly delicious food we receive from our family.

My feast today albeit a simple one packs in oodles of flavour and is a perfect idea for an indulgent Sunday family lunch. In fact what looks like a feast actually stemmed from my sheer lack of wanting to cook lunch one Sunday afternoon. Remember the Curried Carrot Soup I had recently made?  As always  I made too much of it and had to freeze most of it. I know you are wondering why am I talking about the soup? Well it’s the soup that transformed into this finger licking good lentil curry aka dal. I served the dal alongside cumin and coriander crispy potatoes known as aloo fry, basmati rice and a kachumber salad. Bonus for you, you get four recipes in one hit!

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I would recommend making the Curried Carrot Soup midweek for dinner one night, make enough to have leftovers that will enable you to make the dal and all its accompaniments for your Sunday feast. The soup recipe can be found here.  

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Ingredients: 25  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the dal
  • Approximately 750 ml of leftover curried carrot soup
  • 250 gms of yellow split lentils (Channa Dal)
  • One teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • Four to five green chillies, finely chopped
  • Two to three pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One tablespoon ghee 
  • One cup of water
  • Salt to taste
For the aloo fry
  • Six to eight medium potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of coriander powder
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
For the kachumber salad
  • One to two cucumbers depending on their size, cut in small cubes
  • Two tomatoes, cut in small cubes
  • One red onion, finely chopped
  • Half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon chaat masala
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Pinch of sugar
For the garnish
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • Half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • Toasted black sesame seeds (optional)

Begin by washing the lentils a few times under running water or until the water runs clear. In a pressure cooker add the leftover soup, lentils, one cup of water and season with salt as per taste. Cook the lentils for 20 to 25 minutes on a low heat or until soft. If you are not using a pressure cooker, soak the lentils for an hour prior to cooking, this will help them cook faster when using a saucepan. 

Once the lentils are cooked keep them aside and prepare the spice mix for tempering or as known in Hindi, the tadka. Tadka is what gives a lentil curry its flavour boost, it’s usually added at the start or end of a curry depending on this type of dish it is. For the tadka heat ghee in a skillet. Add cumin seeds, garlic, dried mint leaves and green chillies.  Once the cumin seeds begin to crackle and the tadka gets aromatic, add it to the dal and cover the pressure cooker or saucepan with a lid to capture those beautiful aromas.

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To make the potatoes, heat vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add cumin and coriander powder, followed by the chopped potatoes. Toss the potatoes to coat them with the spices, add more cumin and coriander powder if required. Cook the potatoes on a medium heat, tossing them intermittently to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom.

Once the potatoes are cooked, to crisp them up further you can transfer them on a baking tray and put them in the oven for seven to ten minutes at a 150 degrees celsius.

Finally season with salt as desired and toss the potatoes again to ensure the salt is evenly distributed.

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To make the kachumber salad, simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl. If you don’t have chaat masala, you can use cumin powder as a replacement. Toss all the ingredients and serve this salad chilled, it’s a refreshing treat and compliments the meal perfectly.

Lastly, to make the garnish for the dal. Heat ghee in a skillet, add the sliced onion and cook on a low to medium heat until caramelised. One tip to know the onions are caramelised, caramelised onions are dark brown in colour and have a sweet flavour, if you cook it past this point they become charred and taste bitter. 

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Finally, garnish the dal with caramelised onions, fresh coriander and toasted black sesame seeds and garnish the potatoes with fresh coriander. 

I recommend serving the dal, potatoes and kachumber with aromatic steamed basmati rice. You can also serve it with rotis if you are not a fan of rice. Either way the only way to enjoy this feast is with your family, using your hands to dig into the warmth, love and comfort of this meal.

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Pea, Mint and Goats Cheese Salad

Summer beckons and the salads are calling…

With daylight savings kicking in, Australia is truly on its path to embracing summer and what better than fresh salads to beat the heat. Being a true Indian foodie I don’t consider salads as a meal, but definitely think salads make a great side dish. Particularly when you are indulge in some rather heavy meals. Salads are the source of all things good, fresh and healthy.

You remember the last spaghetti recipe I posted. Well to make myself feel less guilty about indulging in those carbs, I served the spaghetti with a side of this delicious pea, mint and goats cheese salad. To make it more nutrient rich and slightly sexy I added toasted crushed almonds, sesame seeds and crispy shallots too.This salad would be a perfect accompaniment to a weeknight meal or a lazy weekend lunch because it is so light, refreshing and quick to make. Try it for your next party and take my word, it will be a hit.

Ingredients: 7   Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Three cups of fresh/frozen baby peas
  • One tablespoon of finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1.5 tablespoons of toasted crushed almonds
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
  • Three tablespoons of goats cheese (you can add more if you like your salad saltier)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons of crispy shallots

Whether you are using fresh or frozen peas, we need to blanch them. So add three cups of water in a saucepan and let it come to a boil. Now add the peas for about two-three minutes and once they are slightly soft, strain the peas and run them under cold water to prevent them from cooking further.

To assemble the salad, put the peas in a bowl and add the chopped mint and mix them well. Crumble the goats cheese, add it to the peas and mix it well. Now add the olive oil and mix again. Your salad is ready!

For the garnish add the toasted, crushed almonds, sesame seeds and crispy shallots. Enjoy this light and healthy salad and make it an accompaniment with your mail meals. I served this LSD salad with my Spaghetti con Pomodoro e Basilico and it was finito in a matter of minutes