White Bean and Silverbeet Spaghetti

A Vegan surprise…

Whether you like it or not vegan food and therefore vegans are here to stay. So if you can’t meat them you join them! Vegan food, when done right can be delicious and filling, saving you a trip to McDonalds later. Given the increasing popularity of this food religion, I am slowly trying to build a repertoire of recipes which are not only vegan friendly but also packed with loads of flavour. Leaves in a bowl with a can of chickpeas and a squeeze of lemon is definitely not my idea of a vegan meal.

The pasta recipe below is a good way to incorporate one vegan dish a week in your meal plan. Al dente spaghetti tossed together with creamy butter beans and earthy silverbeet (you can use spinach in place of silverbeet), flavoured with extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli, parsley and finished off with fresh lemon juice. Now if this isn’t a flavour bomb I don’t know what is.

Ingredients:    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of spaghetti
  • 400 gms of tinned white butter beans
  • One bunch of silverbeet or spinach (stalks included), finely chopped
  • One small onion, finely sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One red chilli, finely sliced
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley (stalks included), finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season

Cook spaghetti as per packet instructions.

Heat two to three tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add onion, once translucent add garlic, handful or parsley stalks and red chilli. Cook until aromatic.

Toss in the butter beans and pan sear on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly charred. Turn the flame to medium and add the silverbeet.  Season with salt and cook until the silverbeet stalks are al dente.

Now add half the lemon juice to the silverbeet and bean mix. Toss until evenly mixed.

Finally add the spaghetti, remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well and tada! Garnish with cracked black pepper and vegan cheese or parmesan if you are not going vegan the whole way. Either way, it truly is a lip smackingly delicious vegan surprise.

 

Shepherds Pie

A hearty wholesome winters delight


I started my blogging journey with great pomp and flair. Trying to take the perfect photo, making sure I use the high appeal hashtags to get lots of likes and comments, checking my stats every few hours to see how it was all tracking, etc. As the months went by this passion started turning into bit of an obsession. The pursuit of perfection got even more intense. On the flip side the number of likes and comments  took a downward turn. The more I watched my posts being less liked, the lesser I was inclined to publish new content.

Life also got busier, I went from being a mother of one to a mother of two. While parenthood is the most beautiful thing in the world, the constant demands it has of you means somewhere, something has to give. For me it was blogging. Days turned into weeks and weeks to months before I knew it, it was over six months since my last post.

Why am I telling you this? Simply because it dawned on me one late evening as I was feeding my newborn and watching my toddler sleep. You must do all that it takes to keep doing things that make you happy and pursue happiness not perfection. Life is too short to care about the camera angle or the perfect photo or about the number of  likes and comments on your social media. What matters is what makes you happy! After all life is a pursuit of happiness. So is this recipe!!!


Don’t get deterred by the list of ingredients. You can use frozen or fresh vegetables, basically whatever you have in the fridge. Enjoy this hearty, wholesome winters delight that may not be a perfect picture but it is a perfect meal. Lip smackingly delicious in every way.

Ingredients:  Cooking time: 45 minutes 

Serves: 4

  1. Two tins of canned brown lentils
  2. One tin of four bean mix
  3. One leek, finely chopped
  4. One small onion, finely chopped
  5. Four to five pods of garlic
  6. One zucchini, chopped
  7. Two parsnips, chopped
  8. Half a bunch of spinach
  9. 1.5 cups of frozen vegetable mix of peas, corn and carrots
  10. 1.5 teaspoon of garam masala
  11. Half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  12. 1.5 teaspoon of dried basil
  13. 250 gms of grated cheddar
  14. 125 gms of grated Parmesan
  15. Salt to season
  16. Black pepper to season
  17. Three tablespoons of olive oil
  18. Two tablespoons of butter

For Mash Potatoes

  1. Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  2.  300ml of milk
  3. Two tablespoons of butter
  4. One cup of grated cheddar

Heat butter and two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add garlic, leek and onion. Cook until leek is soft and lightly caramelised.


Add all the vegetables, lentils, beans and spices. Mix well. Season with salt and add a cup of water. Cover the pan and let the lentils and vegetables simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

To make mash potatoes, boil potatoes until extremely soft. Drain water and add milk, butter and cheese. Mash the potatoes until smooth.

To assemble the pie in a baking dish add the lentils and vegetables at the bottom. Top this with a layer of mash potatoes. Add grated cheddar and Parmesan on top. Drizzle remaining olive oil on the potatoes ( this will prevent them from drying in the oven.


Place the bake dish under a grill and grill until cheese is caramelised. Your Shepherds pie is ready to serve.

Serve hot along with a simple green side salad and let this hearty winter delight fill your belly and soul with warmth.

Potato and Bean Tacos

It does not get simpler than this

When we get really hungry but are really tired to cook, I bring out my Mexican toolkit. Mexican food is so simple to put together. No hassles with serving or plating up, especially when serving tacos. This DIY meal makes it fun for the whole family to get involved. 

Recently I made some rather indulgent tacos with crispy smoked paprika potatoes and refried beans. Yes, we are a potato loving family that isn’t afraid to eat all the potatoes and look like potatoes.  Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to take step by step photos because we were really hungry and there was a war to get stuck into crispy potatoes.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of soft tortillas 
  • Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
  • 400 gms of refried beans 
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • One onion, chopped
  • 400 gms of corn, steamed
  • One bunch of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One packet of taco seasoning
  • Two teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season 
  • Sour cream for topping 
  • 200 gms grated Parmesan 
  • Lemon wedges for garnish 

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add dried mint and smoked paprika. Once aromatic add the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are soft and crispy. Garnish with fresh coriander and parmesan.

I used canned refried beans for this dish.  You can also used cooked kidney beans as an alternative, simply mash them. Empty the beans in a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Microwave for three to four minutes. Keep aside.

Mix the chopped onion, tomato and coriander leaves. Add one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Two tablespoons of lemon juice. Your salsa is ready.

In another bowl mix corn, remaining coriander, lemon juice and taco seasoning. Your corn salsa is ready too.

Finally microwave your tacos to heat them through. To assemble the tacos, put a layer of beans, followed by potatoes. Add tomato and onion and corn salsa. A dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of lemon. A midweek meal does not get simpler than this.

 

Big Breakfast

Because nothing says weekend like a big breakfast…

Now with Samuel Kabir eating solids our mealtimes have become so much more fun. It’s so entertaining watching him try new things, roll his eyes or smile with glee each time he tries a new food. One thing is for sure the boy loves his food. Who wouldn’t I suppose with foodie parents like us two.

My favourite part of the week has to be cooking and relishing weekend brunches with my family. Recently I decided to make my own spiced breakfast beans and crispy breakfast potatoes. Needless to say there were cheesy scrambled eggs and beautiful crusty grilled sourdough. 

 

While I’m a complete believer in convenience and using canned baked beans would’ve been just fine. Since it’s the question of nutrition for little SammyK I make no compromise. Besides when homemade beans are so easy to make and ready in 15 minutes, why wouldn’t you make them at home.

Ingredients:  18 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the beans

  • One can of reduced salt cannellini beans
  • One small onion, chopped
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon of rosemary leaves
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil

For the potatoes 

  • Three to four medium-sized potatoes, cubed
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs 
  • Salt to season 

For the eggs

  • Eight eggs
  • Quarter cup of milk
  • Half a cup of grated tasty cheddar
  • Salt to season
  • One teaspoon of olive oil

Begin by rinsing the beans thoroughly to wash off the salts and rind. On the other hand parboil the potatoes until slightly tender.

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Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and onion, cook until aromatic. Now add tomatoes, herbs and spices and let the tomatoes stew on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

  
Once the tomatoes are soft add the beans and half a cup of water. Mix well and cover the pan, let the beans simmer for 10 minutes.

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In the meantime, heat oil in another pan. Add mixed Italian herbs, once aromatic, add the potatoes. Toss well and cook until potatoes are cooked through and crispy.

  

To make the eggs. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl. Heat oil in a pan, add the eggs and turn the heat low. Keep folding the eggs in until scrambled and fluffy. Add grated cheddar and mix through. Garnish with cracked pepper. 

Your lip smackingly delicious big breakfast is ready to serve. If you are sharing this with your little one, take out relevant portions for him/her and then add salt for seasoning to the remaining. All the meat lovers feel free to add chorizo in beans or bacon on the side. Or just take my word that you won’t miss the meat if you eat a well cooked vegetarian meal once in a while.

  

So what are you waiting for. Pile it all up on a big plate and enjoy with a nice cup of coffee. Meanwhile in our house SammyK demolished his food and then went on to feed his furbling.

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Dal Makhni (Creamy Black Lentils)

It ain’t real dal if it ain’t dal makhni….

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Let me begin by wishing you and a family a very Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year!! Diwali is the festival of lights celebrated across India and it holds different significance depending on which region and religious faith you come from. For simple people like me Diwali always meant and continues to mean only one thing – a celebration with family and friends with good food and lots of diyas, lamps and lights.

As I write this recipe I am thinking of my family back home in India, they are celebrating Diwali in the lap of the Himalayas with my Beeji (Grandmaa). The other side of my family is in Adelaide, which leaves just my husband, Viktor and I. This is such a special time, made even more special when you can share it with family and friends.

Being a North Indian, in my part of the world Diwali is celebrated in memory of Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana and his subsequent homecoming to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. There is also a great significance behind making Dal Makhni on Diwali, particularly in North Indian households. It is believed that back in the day people did not have much wealth IMG_5169and therefore fancy foods were out of the question. Kaali dal being a staple food in the North Indian diet was available in every household, so people made Dal Makhni using Kaali dal and made it special by adding a geneorous amount of ghee. This holds true for most North Indian families even today, wealthy or not – Dal Makhni is a special treat for every Diwali.

Ingredients:  5    Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves: 4
  • One cup whole black urad dal
  • One cup red kidney beans
  • Two tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • Two red onions sliced
  • One crushed tinned tomato can or fresh tomato paste (using three to four depending on size)
  • One table spoon grated ginger
  • Two pods of garlic
  • One or two green chillies (depending on how hot you like it)
  • One cinnamon stick
  • My top secret ingredient, fresh coriander stem (about 4 to 5 stems chopped)
  • 1.5 tea spoon cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1.5 tea spoon coriander powder (Dhaniya)
  • 1 tea spoon turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 1.5 tea spoon garam masala
  • 1/2 tea spoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (can be avoided if vegan or lactose intolerant)
  • 1/2 teapsoon asafoetedia powder (hing)
  • Two small black cardamoms
  • One bay leaf

Soak the lentils and the kidney beans over night if possible or atleast for four to five hours before cooking. You will notice the longer you soak the lentils and beans the more bloated they will get, which is good.

Transfer the lentils and beans into a pressure cooker and add the asafoetedia (hing) powder, which helps breaks the protein in the lentils making it easier to digest, add the black cardamom and bay leaf and cook the lentils for about 90 minutes (longer if using a saucepan) until they are soft. 

North Indian Red Curry Paste

In a pan add two table spoons of ghee (Sorry this recipe is notfor the faint hearted). Alright two table spoons of olive oil for my health conscious friends. Once you can smell the aroma of ghee (or olive oil), add the cumin seeds and wait until they start tempering. Now add the sliced onions and cook until translucent.

Once the onions are cooked add ginger, garlic, green chillies, cinnamon stick and coriander stems. Mix it all and wait until the onion mix has carmelised.

Bring on the colour and add the tomato paste, followed by adding coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Let the mixture simmer until the oil surfaces to the top. Add salt, sugar and skim milk. Add water if you wish to dilute the paste.

Let the mix cool slightly and blend it all up. TADA!!! Curry paste is ready.

While the dal is cooking, make your red curry paste and keep it aside. Once the dal is cooked mix it in with the curry paste and let it simmer. The reason this dal is called Makhni is not because it uses a lot of butter, ghee or cream. It is simply because it is cooked for so long that the lentils and beans become mushy and give the dal a rich creamy texture.

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