Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

Keep calm and curry on…

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I am a big believer of experimenting with ingredients. Combining different spices, herbs, vegetables and proteins to create lip smackingly delicious flavours is my thing. After all variety is the spice of life

Take this curry for instance, both chickpeas and cauliflower are very humble in flavour. However combined with bold spices like cinnamon, black cardamom and smoked paprika even humble flavours are brought to life. This curry was so quick and easy, I didn’t even get a chance to take photos along the way. Not to mention we were so hungry at the end that we devoured this beauty without a photo pause. 

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Ingredients: 16 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

  • One cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 400gms of chickpeas (I used the canned ones)
  • One medium onion, finely chopped
  • 250gms of tomato pasata (or canned tomatoes)
  • Two pods of garlic, minced
  • Thumbsized piece of ginger, grated
  • 400ml of light coconut milk
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • One black cardamom
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon red chilli powder
  • Half teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon of ghee or two tablespoons of olive oil
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Melt ghee in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add cinnamon and crushed black cardamom. Once aromatic add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onions are lightly caramelised.

Add tomato pasata, followed by all the dried spices. Mix well. Now add the cauliflower, chickpeas (drain and rinse prior to use) and two cups of water. Mix well and cover the pan, let the curry simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Now add coconut milk and season with salt as required. Cover the pan and let the curry simmer for another 15 minutes. Your lip smackingly delicious curry is ready to be served.

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve on a bed of steamed rice. This is a perfect way to enjoy a mid week meal.

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Vegetarian Laksa

No more take away Laksa…

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Wow! the past four weeks have been such a roller coaster. New baby, crazy hormones, house full of family. Everyday feels like a surprise test, but thank God I love a good challenge. This lets me take everyday in my stride and keep me sane. Fortunately I have been blessed with some wonderful support from my family, which allows me to make time to do things I really enjoy, cooking being one of them. Every opportunity I get I sneak into my kitchen, ransack my fridge and try to whip up some lip smackingly delicious treats for my family. I know they say mum should sleep when bubs sleeps, but this mumma here loves to cook, eat and blog!!!

Recently for dinner I craved something spicy, soupy, with oodles of flavour and packed with a truck load of veggies. After a thorough fridge and pantry inspection I found the following – Tom Yum paste, curry powder, vermicelli noodles, coconut milk and assorted vegetables. This was only going to go one way, a cruise through South East Asia with a tasty bowl of Laksa. 

Although Laksa hails from Malaysia, it is a confluence of flavours from China, Thailand and Indonesia. My recipe today has a bit of twist, instead of Laksa paste, I have used Tom Yum paste. Traditionally one would not use Tom Yum paste in a laksa! However the ingredients that go into making Tom Yum paste particularly lemongrass and galangal make this paste a good choice when making a laksa. Particularly if you are time poor or just lazy and can’t be bothered making your own laksa paste from scratch. Although if you can’t find Tom Yum paste you can use Thai red curry paste or laksa paste too!

So without further ado find the list of ingredients below and the recipe too.

Ingredients: 16   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 200 gms of hokkien noodles
  • 200 gms of vermicelli noodles
  • 450 ml of coconut milk
  • 750 ml of vegetable/chicken stock
  • One heaped tom yum paste
  • Two tablespoons of curry powder (I used Clives of India Curry Powder)
  • One teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Two medium cinnamon sticks
  • Two to three kaffir lime leaves
  • One tablespoon of palm sugar
  • One medium brown onion, sliced
  • Two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Assorted vegetables (I used bok choi, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas) 
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil

Heat oil in a wok. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Now add the grated ginger, cook until aromatic.

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Add Tom Yum paste, stir well and cook until the oil surfaces on the top. Now add curry powder, chilli powder and stir well again. Cook on a low heat for another two to three minutes.

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Time to add the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Followed by cinnamon sticks, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar and lemon juice. The lemon juice was my secret twist, it cuts through the richness of coconut milk and gives the dish a great flavour. Now lower to the heat, cover the wok with a lid and simmer the gravy for 10 to 15 minutes.

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The gravy is now ready. Add the sliced vegetables, give the gravy a good stir and let it simmer for another five to seven minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. While the gravy is simmering cook the noodles as per packet instructions.

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Your laksa is ready to serve. Place the noodles in a bowl and scoop the lip smackingly delicious gravy and vegetables on top. Garnish with fresh coriander and crispy shallots. Serve warm and enjoy the heartwarming goodness of this beautiful dish.

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Fasolakia (Green Bean and potato stew)

OPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…

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Wow! after an almost month-long hiatus, I am finally back! You must be wondering where I have been? Well nowhere really! I was just busy growing a baby in my last month of pregnancy and now enjoying every moment with my beautiful son Samuel Kabir. I am sure now you will pardon me for leaving you wanting some lip smackingly delicious recipes.

I won’t blabber on with too much of a story because you never know when my sleeping dragon will awaken and demand to be fed. So without further ado check out today’s vegetarian recipe which is inspired by the beautiful mediterranean flavours and comes from Greece. I know right just when you thought the Greeks were all about lamb.

Around our travels in Greece I did struggle as a vegetarian but only until we got to the beautiful island of Crete. Here I discovered loads of simple, quick and lip smackingly delicious vegetarian dishes and Fasolakia is just one of them. A beautiful green bean stew cooked in a rich tomato sauce topped with loads of feta and olive oil. I have also added some potatoes to make it a bit hearty. Aaahhh!!! Gotta love that.

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Ingredients: 12     Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms green beans, ends trimmed
  • Four medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 400 gms of crushed tomatoes (I used canned)
  • One large brown onion, finely chopped
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One cup of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Quarter cup of fresh dill, chopped
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Salt to season
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Goats Cheese or Feta Cheese to garnish (optional)

In a heavy based pot heat three tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion, garlic and two tablespoons of chopped parsley and one tablespoon of chopped dill. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mixture is aromatic.

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Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until a layer of oil surfaces on the top. Now add the potatoes and cook until slightly tender. Then add the beans, followed by the remaining herbs, lemon juice, three to four tablespoons of olive oil, sugar and season with salt as required.

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Now add one cup of water and cover the pot. Let the potatoes and beans simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Remember the beans in this dish are meant to be soft and mushy so don’t fret if you happen to leave it longer that 20 minutes to simmer.

Fasolakia is ready to serve, garnish it with crumbled feta or goats cheese, drizzle some olive oil on top, add a wedge of lemon on the side and serve this lip smackingly delicious stew with some chargrilled sourdough bread. 

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Tomato Pea and Basil Frittata

Frittatas are always an eggcellent idea…

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Ahhhhh!!! Eggs!!! I remember my favourite TV commercial as a child was the one about eggs, even to date I remember their ad jingle – Sunday ho ya Monday roz khaao ande (Be it Sunday or Monday, eat eggs everyday). Eggs are so versatile. Boil them, poach them, scramble them, bake them, eat them by themselves or mixed up with other tasty ingredients, they never disappoint!

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While poached and baked eggs are my top two favourite ways of eating eggs, from time to time I do enjoy a good omelet or frittata. In the strictest sense, the difference between an omelet and frittata boils down to a matter of folding in a filling rather than mixing it in. Omelets traditionally have the egg mixture cooked and folded around a filling, while a frittata just mixes it all up, cooked in a mishmash combination all at once. Frittatas are often served at room temperature, making them perfect for brunches or larger groups.

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Today’s frittata recipe is inspired by the Australian spring. Even though we are currently in the middle of winter, this recipe creates an illusion with its aromas whereby I can almost smell and feel the freshness of spring. Tangy tomatoes, sweet peas and aromas of basil are enough to allure even the harshest frittata critic and convert them to a lover.

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Ingredients: 10  Cooking time:25 mins

Serves: 4

  • Six eggs, lightly beaten
  • One medium red onion, finely sliced
  • Half cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Half cup of peas
  • Eight to ten basil leaves
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese or feta (optional)
  • One red chilli, sliced
  • One green chilli, sliced
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Lightly beat the eggs and season them with a pinch of salt and keep aside.

Heat three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan. Add sliced onions and chillies, cook until onion is translucent.Roughly tear up the basil leaves and add them to the onion mixture, this will ensure that beautiful basil aroma permeates through the dish.

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Now add the peas and tomatoes and cook for seven to ten minutes on medium heat. 

Take the pan off the heat and pour in the egg mixture. Crumble goats cheese on top. Place the pan back on low heat for five to seven minutes until the eggs have set.

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Finally place the pan in the hot oven for ten to fifteen minutes or until the frittata is golden and risen.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves and sliced tomatoes.

You can serve the frittata with a fresh salad or charred toast. Enjoy this lip smackingly delicious meal on days where you want to eat something tasty but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.

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Wild Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Polenta

Glamourising vegetarian food, one dish at a time…

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After moving to Australia and travelling around the world, I have noticed how underrated good vegetarian food is. For some reason the vegetarian culinary repertoire across most restaurants rarely showcase delicious fresh produce or out of the box cooking techniques. I am no masterchef but I suppose having been a vegetarian for 27+ years I can definitely put up a cracker of a vegetarian dish sure to give even some of the meat dishes a run for its money.

Today’s dish is definitely one that will even knock the socks of an avid carnivore! Ragu traditionally is a slow cooked Italian meat based sauce served with pasta. However since I am all about challenging traditions in the kitchen, my ragu recipe is quick and easy and above all vegetarian!

I have used a medley of Mushrooms as a star of this dish. A mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms provides an abundance of different textures and deep mushroom flavor. I haved served the stew with a creamy polenta, believe me when I say it’s a match made in heaven.

So without further ado, here’s my lip smackingly delicious autumn winter classic.

Ingredients:  18  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves:

For the Ragu

  • 20 gms of dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 200 gms of sliced swiss brown mushrooms
  • 100 gms of shimeji mushrooms 
  • One brown onion, chopped
  • Five to six pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Eight to ten parsley stems, finely chopped
  • 10 to 12 sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
  • Two tablespoons of goats cheese (optional)
  • 300ml of light cooking cream
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

For the Polenta

  • One cup of polenta
  • Three cups of water
  • One tablespoon butter

For the Garnish (optional)

  • One bunch of asparagus, hard ends trimmed
  • One tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 0.5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

 

Begin by soaking the porcini mushrooms in hot water and keep aside.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add chopped onions, followed by chopped garlic and cook until the onions are slightly caramelised and you can smell the delicious garlic aroma.

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Now add chopped parsley stems and about six to eight sprigs of lemon thyme. These fresh herbs help in flavouring the oil and give the dish a great fresh flavour. Cook the onion mix on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

Add the assorted mushrooms, except the porcini mushrooms to the onion mix and let them sweat on a low heat for about seven to ten minutes. 

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Now add the remaining lemon thyme sprigs to flavour the mushrooms. Followed by porcini mushrooms including their stock. Right about now, you should be smelling the mushroomy goodness!

Once the mushrooms are tender add cream and goats cheese. Season with salt as desired, cover the pan with a lid and let the ragu simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

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To make the polenta, in a saucepan bring three cups of water to a boil. Now lower the flame and add the polenta. Stir continuously to avoid lumps and polenta sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the water is absorbed and the polenta has thickened add a tablespoon of butter and stir it through to give the polenta its richness and shiny glaze. Finally season with salt as desired.

Finally for the garnish, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the asparagus, followed by lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Continuously toss the asparagus until evenly coated with the balsamic glaze. Take off the heat once tender.

To assemble the dish – place the creamy polenta at the base, ladle the delicious mushroom ragu on top and finally add the asparagus as the final garnish. 

Enjoy this lip smackingly delicious hearty dish with a beautiful red wine and you may just find yourself teleported to Italy.

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Palak Dal (Spinach Lentil Curry)

Never judge a book by its cover…

Palak Dal and I have crossed paths many a time, but it never really interested me. I think it’s because it didn’t sound glamourous enough to eat when dining out and didn’t sound simple enough to make at home. Moreover with so many varieties of dal that are my favourite, palak dal didn’t really stand a chance.

So just when I ruled out palak dal, it came back into my life. One night I had a massive craving for dal and rice and surprisingly not many options, I only had chana dal in my pantry. Some days to satisfy a craving you have to make do with the dal you may not necessarily eat on other days.

There I was cooking chana dal for dinner only to realise I had no fresh coriander!! This may sound like a first world problem but it is a really big issue when you don’t have fresh coriander to uplift the spirits of the dal you don’t really like. After ransacking my fridge and freezer, I found some frozen spinach. Turns out I ended up making Palak Dal!

The truth is this not so glamourous and seemingly complicated dal was so comforting, flavourful and easy to make that I have been kicking myself wondering why I did not try it earlier. My lesson learnt is never judge a book by its cover. Without further ado find this lip smackingly delicious recipe below and take my word it will become your go to comfort food on days when you crave dal chawal.

Ingredients: 16   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One cup chana dal (yellow split chickpeas)
  • One onion, finely chopped
  • Two medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Three to four green chillies, finely chopped
  • Five to six pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One cup of spinach, finely chopped (I used frozen)
  • Three tablespoons of desiccated coconut (or four tablespoons of coconut milk
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 0.5 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon dried coriander powder
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Two tablespoons of mustard oil
  • Salt to season

Start by rinsing the lentils a few times under water. Soak the lentils in water for an hour prior to cooking and if you have less time then soak it for 30 minutes in hot water. Drain the lentils and add them in a pressure cooker or saucepan with 3 cups of water and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Cook the lentils until they are soft.

To pack a punch in the lentils let’s make the tadka. In a pan heat mustard oil (mustard oil gives the dal a real earthy flavour but you can use ghee or olive oil) , smoke the oil for two minutes or so to get rid of the pungent mustard aroma. Now add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cinnamon stick and let them sizzle.

Add onion, garlic and green chillies. Cook until the onions are lightly caramelised. Now add chopped tomatoes , cook the mixture on a medium heat until the tomatoes are soft. 

Now add coriander powder and desiccated coconut, followed by lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients well to distribute the flavour evenly. Finally add spinach and half a cup of water, season with salt and sugar and let the tadka paste simmer for 10 minutes on a medium heat.

Its time for the holy matrimony of chana dal with the tadka. Mix the boiled chana dal in the tadka paste, check for seasoning (add more salt or sugar as required). Cover the pan with a lid and let the dal simmer for five to seven minutes.

Your lip smackingly delicious Palak Dal is ready to serve. I served this beauty with a side of peas pulao (you can find a recipe for peas pulao here) and plain yogurt, truly a match made in heaven.