Shakshouka 

Put on an eggstravganza for your Mumma…


There is no gift you can give to the one who gave you the gift of life. Yet the only gift she would ever want is your time and your smile. Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day here in Australia. All you babies and Daddies get up and do something extravagant for that special woman in your life.

The day should begin with a sleep in, followed by breakfast in bed. Hope SammyK, Viktor and Jesse ji are reading this.


Ingredients: 10 Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four eggs
  • 400 ml of tomato pureè 
  • One medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Half a teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • Half a teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes 
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and cook until lightly caramelised.

Now add tomato pureè and all the spices. Feel free to add more than suggested quantities to match your taste. Let the tomato sauce simmer on medium heat for 15 – 20minutes.

Crack the eggs one by one straight into the pan. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook the eggs until the egg white fully set.

Serve alongside toasted crusted sourdough bread. A lip smackingly delicious start to the day for that special lady in your life.

Curried egg and Broccoli open sandwich 

It hits the spot and how…

 
 

Little Samuel Kabir absolutely loves broccoli and eggs, which means our fridge is always stocked with them. Every second day I find myself steaming broccoli or boiling eggs for my little monster. 

While SammyK can happily eat steamed broccoli and boiled eggs just as they are. Mummy needs a little something extra because that’s just eating way too healthy for my liking. I decided to make myself an egg and broccoli and open sandwich. It was so good that I’ll definitely be making this for lunch more often.

Ingredients: 10   Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1

  • Two slices of crusty sourdough bread, toasted 
  • Two boiled eggs, chopped
  • Three to four medium sized broccoli florets, steamed and chopped 
  • One teaspoon of capers
  • Two tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • One tablespoon lemon juice
  • Half a teaspoon curry powder
  • Salt to season 
  • Crushed black pepper to garnish
  • Chilli flakes to garnish

In a bowl combine all the ingredients, mix well. Season with salt.

Assemble toasted bread on a plate. Scoop the egg and broccoli mixture and layer it on to the toast. If you are health coscious you can turn this into a salad by adding lettuce.

Garnish with pepper and chilli flakes. Some fresh herbs like parsley or coriander would be great for garnish too. 

A simple lunch for days when you are too busy to cook but never too busy to eat.

  

Leek, potato and cabbage soup

Another classic, with a twist…

  
I love ‘fridge clean-out’ kind of soups. The other day I found a globe of Savoy cabbage and leek in my fridge. Rustling through the pantry I found a couple of potatoes. There was only one way these ingredients were headed, into a large crockpot and coming out as a warm bowl of comforting soup.

Cabbage gives this classic potato and leek soup a real textural twist. My philosophy behind cooking is about always trying new things. Whether that is flavours, ingredients or cooking techniques they all make us one step closer to becoming culinary geniuses.

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One leek, finely chopped  
  • One Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
  • Two medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Two to three pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One medium sized bay leaf
  • One litre of vegetable stock 
  • One teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Two tablespoons olive oil

In a heavy bottom pot, melt butter and heat olive oil together. Add garlic, once aromatic add leek. I usually use the white part of the leek only, but this time I used the green bits too. Lower the heat and cook until leeks are slightly soft.

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Now add the cabbage and mix the ingredients well. Add potatoes, stock, season with salt and pepper. Finally add a bay leaf and cover the pot.

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Cook on a medium heat until potatoes are soft. Your lip smackingly delicious soup is ready to serve. Personally I like my soups with texture, but you can blend yours if you wish. 

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Garnish with some more crushed black pepper, serve alongside some warm crusty bread. Another winter warmer to comfort you on a cold night.

  

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.

 

Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

The Punjabi happy meal…

  

Growing up as a Punjabi kid life was very simple. There were three commandments to live by. First, beta nashta  kha lo ( eat your breakfast kiddo). Second, beta khaana kha lo (eat your lunch/dinner kiddo). Third, beta kuch aur kha lo ( eat something else kiddo). Life was all about breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything else sort of fit around it. 

Besides the three commandments one thing common in every Punjabi kids life is the Punjabi Happy Meal. No it’s not McDonalds because no self-respecting Punjabi mother would dare to feed their child that. It’s Rajma Chawal! A red kidney bean stew served on a bed of steamed basmati rice. Nothing says happy meal and happiness like this dish in a Punjabi household.

There is such depth and flavour in this curry.  It is like a mother has squeezed all the love out of her heart and put it straight into Rajma. 

  

Ingredients: 14 Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400gms of Rajma (kidney beans)
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • Four medium tomatoes, grated
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of cumin seeds 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of coriander powder
  • One teaspoon of chilli
  • Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Quarter teaspoon of asafoetida (hing)
  • Three tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (for garnish)

Soak the kidney beans overnight or at least for five to six hours. This helps to break the protein, soften the beans and cook them quicker.

In a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom saucepan add the beans. Cover them with water, add cinnamon and bayleaf. Cook until the beans are soft and can be mashed between two fingers.

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For the tadka (tempering), heat ghee in a saucepan. Add asafoetida (hing), cumin seeds, once aromatic add onions and cook until onions are lightly browned.

Now add grated tomatoes, key for this stew is use the freshest tomatoes. Add all the dried spices. Cook on a medium heat for 10 to fifteen minutes.

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Add the beans and the broth. Season with salt. Cover the saucepan and let the stew cook on a low heat for about an hour.


Your lipsmackingly delicious kidney bean stew or Rajma are ready. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve over steamed basmati rice and enjoy this happy meal with your beautiful family.

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Hyderabadi Baigan 

When memories create meals, they are one of a kind…

  

Many things in life are easy to forget but one seldom forgets a delicious dish. One such dish I found myself recently reminiscing about and relentlessly craving was Hyberabadi Baigan, also known as Bhagare Baigan. An eggplant curry inspired by flavours from Hyderabad, a former princely state in the southern belt of India.

Hyderabadi cuisine has evolved over centuries through local and foreign influences. The key ingredients of Hyderabadi cuisine are coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds. While the cuisine is more meat based, you can also find some real vegetarian gems in the mix.

Here’s my take on this Hyderabadi classic. To be enjoyed with parathas or rice,  every mouthful is lip smackingly delicious.

  

Ingredients: 15  Cooking time:  45 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 1.5 dozen of baby eggplants, quartered and soaking in water 
  • One medium-sized onion, sliced
  • Two medium tomatoes, quartered 
  • 200 gms of peanuts, roasted
  • 400 ml of coconut milk 
  • Six to eight curry leaves
  • One lemon sized tamarind ball or juice of one lemon
  • One bay large bay leaf
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Half teaspoon chilli powder 
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Three tablespoons of mustard oil
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying the eggplants.
  • Salt to season 
  • One teaspoon sugar

For tempering (optional)

  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Six to eight curry leaves

Begin by pan frying the quartered eggplants until they slightly change colour and are soft. Keep aside.

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To make the sauce, heat oil in a kadahi or a heavy based pot. If you can’t find mustard oil you can use vegetable oil, ghee or olive oil.

Once the oil is aromatic add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves. When the spices splutter and are aromatic add sliced onions. Cook until onions are slightly caramelised.

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Now add roasted peanuts and mix well. Cook onion and peanuts for about five to seven minutes. Then add the tomatoes and dried spices. Mix well. 

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While the tomatoes soften, soak the tamarind ball in quarter cup hot water. Once soft squeeze the pulp and strain the juice. If you don’t have tamarind you can also use juice of one lemon. Add the tamarind  juice, one teaspoon of sugar and two cups of water to the tomato mix. 

Give the ingredients a good stir. Once it comes to a boil turn the gas off and let the gravy cool. Then blend until smooth. Finally add coconut milk to the gravy, season with salt and cover the pot and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on a low heat.

  
Now the gravy is ready for the eggplants. Drop eggplants gently into the gravy. Let the gravy simmer again for 10 to 15 minutes so the eggplants soak in all the flavour.

 

Last step is to add the tadka or temper the gravy with aromatic flavours of mustard seeds and curry leaves. Heat ghee in a skillet. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once they splutter and are aromatic add to the curry and mix well to infuse the flavours.

Your lip smackingly delicious Hyderabadi Baigan are ready to be served. 

  

Paupers Soup…

Winter is coming, bring out the crockpot…

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Hello gorgeous readers, I’m back! After an eight week holiday in India, Singapore and Indonesia, I was well and truly ready for home. 

After the sweltering heat in Asia, we are back to the cold in Australia. Though I love winter and everything about it. Especially soups and the warmth they bring on a cold winter evening.

Here’s a simple silverbeet and butterbean soup known as Paupers Soup. Why paupers? Mainly because it used all the basic ingredients and seasonal vegetables you would find in an Italian kitchen. Simple, rustic Italian, the kind which kicks pretentious, petite portioned food in the nuts.  Full of deep earthy flavours and utterly nutritious. It will definitely help you and your family keep the cold and flu at bay.

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Ingredients:  14  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

  • One bunch of silverbeet, chopped
  • Two medium sized potatoes, cubed
  • Two carrots, peeled and sliced into discs
  • One medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • Three pods of garlic finely chopped
  • One red chilli, chopped
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley (leaves and stems), finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 400 gms of butterbeans ( I used the canned ones)
  • One bay leaf
  • One teaspoon of crushed black pepper
  • Salt to season
  • One litre vegetable stock
  • Four tablespoons of olive oil

Heat olive oil in a crockpot. Add garlic, cook until aromatic. Now add onions and red chilli, cook until onions are translucent.

Add the veggies and parsley. Mix well. Now add the stock and bayleaf, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 15 – 20 minutes on low heat.

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Once the veggies are slightly tender add the beans, followed by lemon juice. Add more stock or water if required. Cover the pot again and let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes on low heat.

While the soup is simmering you can prepare equal number of poached eggs per serve to garnish the soup with. Poached egg is a great accompaniment with this dish.

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Your lip smackingly delicious winter warmer is ready to serve. Serve this with fresh sourdough bread. I can most certainly guarantee one bite will teleport you to Italy.

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Palak Khichdi 

A spoonful of health and flavour…

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This humble old recipe is every Indian mothers answer when someone in the house says they are feeling under the weather. 

Traditionally defined as bland, boring but healthy. Khichdi is made from lentils, rice, turmeric and a bit of salt. As a child I labelled this dish ‘bimaaron ka khaana’ i.e. ‘ill people’s meal’. I never wanted to eat it and you wouldn’t blame me! 

Today Khichdi and I are good friends. What changed? Well Khichdi became a little more glamorous. Different spices and veggies have elevated this dish and put it at par with risotto from Italy or paella from Spain. All Khichdi is missing now is an exotic name.

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Ingredients: 14  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms of rice
  • 250 gms of yellow split peas (channa dal)
  • 500 ml of spinach puree
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • Six to eight cloves
  • One to two blades of mace
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • One teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Salt to season 
  • Fresh lemon for garnish 

Begin by washing the rice and lentils thoroughly. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.

In a heavy-set pot, melt butter. Add mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and mace. Mace gives this dish a subtle peppery flavour and goes really well with any rice dish. If you can’t find mace you can use half a teaspoon of grounded nutmeg, but add it along with other powdered spices later in the dish.

Once aromatic add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes or until the onion is lightly browned.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to the onion mixture. Now add garam masala, coriander powder and nutmeg if using it. Mix well, evenly coating all the ingredients.

Finally add the spinach pureè, about four cups of water and season with salt as desired. Cover the pot with a lid and let the Khichdi simmer on a low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Whilst Khichdi is simmering remember to stir it occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Your lip smackingly delicious Khichdi is ready to be served. I have served it with a side of crispy cumin potatoes and garnished it with a wedge of lemon. Here’s to health and happiness in every bite of life!!!

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Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti

If I was born in any other country, it would be Italy…

  

There is nothing better than an al dente, flavour packed pasta. Add to that a cooking time of 15 minutes, things are already looking great.

I love using assorted mushrooms to make this dish. Different textures and flavours make it a quick weeknight meal to reckon with.

So all you Italian Nonnas out there you better watch out, gone are the days to slave away in the kitchen. 15 minute meals are here to stay!

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Ingredients: 12  Cooking time:

Serves: 4

  • One packet of spaghetti 
  • One punnet of button mushrooms, sliced
  • One punnet of porcini mushrooms, dried or fresh
  • Two to three medium sized portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • One medium brown onion, finely sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • Half a bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped 
  • 250 ml of cooking cream
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt to season
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish 
  • Fresh baby rocket to garnish (optional)

Cook pasta as per packet instructions and keep aside.

In another pan heat EVOO. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add sliced onions and cook on medium heat for two to three minutes or until lightly browned.

Add all the mushrooms, including any stock and mix well. I recommend using dried porcini mushrooms, their stock adds a real intense and delicious mushroomy flavour to the dish. Simply soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water for seven to ten minutes or until soft. Cook the mushrooms on a medium heat for five to seven minutes. Now add fresh parsley and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for five minutes.


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Now add the spaghetti and toss it well. Ensure the creamy mushroom sauce coats all the pasta evenly. Check for seasoning and add more if required.


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Your lip smackingly delicious pasta is ready to serve. Garnish with grated Parmesan, cracked pepper and fresh rocket. 


 

Vegetable Pulao

Happy New Year…

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 I am a little bit late but as they say better late than never. Here’s wishing all you gorgeous people out there a very happy, healthy and proposerous new year. 

If you are anything like me you’ve probably already broken your New Years ‘eating healthy’ and ‘losing weight resolution. After all #yolo, so just eat those carbs. The key to a healthy lifestyle is not going without anything but having everything in moderation.

Today’s recipe is one that is cooked and savoured in every Indian home. It proudly embraces carbs, veggies and is packed with loads of flavour. An easy weeknight meal or lazy weekend lunch, a vegetable pulao perfectly lends itself to any occasion. It’s also a fuss free dish as you can use any vegetables fresh or frozen and the dish will still taste amazeballs!

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Ingredients:  12    Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Two cups of basmati rice
  • Half a cauliflower, cut into florets
  • One cup peas
  • One cup of carrots, sliced
  • Two tomatoes, finely chopped
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • One large bayleaf
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • Five to six cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 1.5 tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season

Begin by thoroughly rinsing basmati rice. Let them soak for about 15-20 mintues prior to cooking. Then cook the rice, ensuring not to overcook them.

In another heavy bottom saucepan heat and melt ghee. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves. Once aromatic add sliced onions and cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes, until caramelised.

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Now add chopped tomatoes and mix the ingredients well. Add garam masala, stir well and cook until tomatoes are soft.   

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Toss the vegetables through the onion tomato paste. Season with salt and cook until vegetables are slightly tender. Personally I prefer them to be slightly crunchy, it gives the dish a great texture.  

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Now add cooked rice and gently toss them through. Your lip smackingly delicious vegetable pulao is ready to serve. Serve it hot along with a cooling cucumber raita (raita recipe can be found here )

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