Spinach and Potato Bake

Love what you do, do what you love…

After a long break, I am sitting here staring at the screen thinking of something profound to say. Trying to make a come back, with a bang. However, words fail me! I don’t have an explanation for my absence. I don’t know how long I am back for or how frequently I will post a recipe for you. What I do know, is I love food and as long as I can cook, I will share it with you.

Today’s recipe is a simple, hearty winter warmer. Layers of potato, garlicky spinach, cream and cheese, a perfect matrimony of decadence and nutrition.

Ingredients:  11          Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One large bunch of spinach, finely chopped
  • Three medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • two to three garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Two eggs
  • 300ml of cream
  • 250 gms of grated cheddar cheese
  • 125 gms of grated parmesan cheese
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Heat oil in a pan. Add onion, once translucent add garlic. Cook until aromatic.

Now add the chopped spinach, season with salt. Once wilted, drain the excess liquid (tip: you can use the liquid as stock in your gravies or pasta sauce).

In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Now grease a baking dish with some olive oil. Make a double layer the of the sliced potatoes, then add the spinach mixture and finish with a double layer of potatoes.

Pour the cream and egg batter and finally top it with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until cooked and golden brown on the top.

I usually serve this with a side of roasted vegetables or a salad. Either way it is lip smackingly delicious.

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Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

If winter had a fragrance, this would be it…

There’s a real chill in the air these days. A perfect reason to stock up on vegetables and make soups to last for days. After all there is nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of soup on a cold night, watching Netflix wrapped up in a blanket. 

I am a big fan of combining different vegetables and spices whilst making soup. Take this soup for instance, pumpkin and carrot are combined with cinnamon and ginger. Now if winter had a   fragrance this would be it. Cinnamon brings out the sweetness in pumpkin and ginger, while ginger gives the soup a really earthiness. I don’t even have to begin to tell you the health benefits of these ingredients. Let’s just say it’s like winning a jackpot of good health.

So without further ado here’s the recipe.

Ingredients: 18  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Half a pumpkin, peeled and cubed (I used Kent pumpkin)
  • Four medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • One medium sized onion, sliced
  • Three to four pods of garlic, chopped
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated 
  • One large cinnamon stick 
  • Two bayleaves
  • Half a teaspoon of rosemary leaves
  • Half a teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • Half a teaspoon of cumin powder
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1.25 ltr of stock or water

For the garnish 

  • Sage leaves
  • Small piece of ginger
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil 
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional)

Heat oil in a crockpot. Add garlic, once aromatic add onion, ginger, bay leaves and cinnamon. Cook on medium heat for three to four minutes. 


Now add pumpkin and carrots, followed by all the dried herbs and spices. Mix well, cover the pot and cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

Add water or stock, cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 20 to 30 minutes on a medium heat. 


Now take out the bayleaves and cinnamon stick. Season with salt as required and blend the soup. Add the bayleaves and cinnamon stick back in the soup. Cover the pot again and let the soup simmer again for five to ten minutes.

To prepare the garnish, mix olive oil, sage and smashed ginger in a skillet. Heat until aromatic. Keep aside.

Your lip smackingly delicious soup is ready to be served. Ladle a generous serve into a bowl, glaze it with the sensational sage and ginger oil, add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and finally top with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with some toasted sourdough bread. Aaahhh!!!! Heaven.

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.

 

Spaghetti Napoli – My Way

Simplicity, Flavour and Ease…all in one…

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Recently I was looking at my wedding and honeymoon photos. Someday I really wish I could go back in time and relive those days. Surrounded by family and friends, dressed in glamorous clothes, eating unbelievably amazing food and then travelling around Europe with my husband. Oh what bliss! We went to France, Italy, Greece and Austria, mesmerised by each country my husband and I really did not want to come back.

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I was really excited about Italy, primarily because I love Italian food and could not wait to try the local cuisine. My obsession with Italian food started quite young but back in those days it was hard to find those fresh and authentic Italian flavours in India. Everything from pizza to pasta was loaded with chilli and oregano and because I knew no better I loved it just as it was. 

I discovered authentic Italian flavours when I moved to Australia and met my sister-in-law and her family. Their food is simple and uncomplicated yet it packs so much of a flavour punch that each bite is like a party in your mouth. Similarly in my travels around Italy it wasn’t the fancy meals that I enjoyed but the simple ones, using a few ingredients and cooked with love. Add to that the beautiful red wine from the region, the warmth and passion of the locals, I was truly in food heaven.

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Today’s pasta dish is inspired by those simple yet bold and fresh Italian flavours. Spaghetti Napoli was my go to dish when we were in Naples. The sweet tomatoes, fresh herbs and al dente spaghetti gosh I never seemed to get enough of it. My version has a bit of a twist, I am using the freshness of mint to elevate this dish to the next level. Believe me when I say tomato and mint is a match made in heaven.

Ingredients: 8    Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 250 gms of spaghetti
  • Five medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • Four to five pods of garlic, roughly chopped
  • One tablespoon of capers
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Five to six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

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In a deep saucepan bring water to a boil, add salt, followed by the spaghetti and cook as per packet instructions. Until al dente.

To make the sauce, heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add the roughly chopped garlic and cook until aromatic. Once the oil is aromatic, you can remove the garlic if you don’t like chunks of garlic through your pasta.

Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes until the tomatoes are soft. 

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Next add capers, fresh mint leaves and season with salt as desired. If you are not fan of capers you can replace them with olives.

Finally add the pasta and toss through, ensuring the sauce is evenly coating the spaghetti. If serving this dish to kids you can replace the spaghetti with penne or fusilli pasta as it would be less messy when the little ones eat.

To serve garnish with grated Parmesan cheese or just cracked pepper for a vegan friendly option. Serve hot alongside some garlic bread or a simple green salad.

Enjoy this Italian sensation with a glass of red and the company of your family and friends.

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Bhindi do Pyaza (Okra with Caramelised Onions)

The unsung hero…

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Bhindi or Okra is one of my favourite vegetables. Each time I go back home to India, bhindi has to be on the menu for my arrival celebratory dinner. Also known as ladyfinger, Okra is used across a wide variety of cuisines – Indian, Middle Eastern, Southern American to name a few. Yet I find this lip smackingly delicious vegetable is not celebrated like it should and remains the unsung hero of the vegetable kingdom.

There are various ways in which Okra can be prepared – you can make an okra curry, deep fry it to make crispy okra, and many more. However our family favourite is definitely Bhindi do Pyaza. Okra cooked with caramelised onions and dried spices, the flavours are just divine.

I remember as a child when we would go visit my Beeji and Massi in Shimla (a beautiful hill station in the lap of the Himalayas, north of India), my Mum would always make bhindi and tamatar waale jeera aloo with savoury parathas for our overnight train journey. Meal times on the train were so exciting. I vividly remember my Mum would buy my brother and I tomato soup to start with. You will know of this legendary tomato soup if you have taken an overnight train from Bombay to Delhi. After the soup followed a lavish meal, my Mum would open up that big stainless steel tiffin and in each container were lip smackingly delicious treats. Of course I was the happiest when there was Bhindi on the menu.

Ingredients: 8   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

  1. 300 gms of Okra
  2. Two medium red onions, finely sliced
  3. Two teaspoons coriander powder
  4. One teaspoon cumin powder
  5. One teaspoon Amchur (dried mango) powder
  6. One teaspoon red chilli powder
  7. Four tablespoons mustard oil
  8. Salt to season

Wash the okra under running water. Prior to chopping it thoroughly wipe it with a kitchen napkin and ensure its dry. This prevents the okra from getting slimy while cooking. Chop the okra into half-inch pieces.

In a pan or wok heat mustard oil, it gives the dish that delicious earthy flavour. However you can use vegetable oil or olive oil too. Add the sliced onions and slow cook them on a low to medium heat for seven to ten minutes or until slightly caramelised.

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Now add the chopped okra, followed by all the dried spices except Amchur powder and salt. Toss the okra and ensure the spices are evenly mixed through.  Cook the okra on a medium heat until okra is tender.

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Finally add Amchur powder and season with salt as desired. If you don’t have Amchur powder you can replace it with one tablespoon of lemon juice. Toss the okra once more prior to serving.

Your lip smackingly delicious Bhindi do Pyaza is ready to serve. Remember you can serve it as a side dish or a main dish as I have along with savoury parathas, cucumber raita and rice. 

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Ps: If my Mums train tiffin interested you at all, please find the tamatar waale jeera aloo recipe here and savoury paratha recipe here. Enjoy!!

Reshmi Dal (Creamy Lentil Curry)

It’s smooth like silk…

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Growing up in an Indian household, it will suffice to say I have had a very spoilt upbringing. Not spoilt by material things, but by unconditional love, limitless care and utterly delicious food. While at home I never spared a thought on ‘whats for dinner?’ because there one of my favourite dishes was always simmering away on the stove. Moving away from home has not only got me thinking about whats for dinner, but also cooking it! Cooking and eating Indian food is second nature to me, therefore most weeknights it is my preferred cuisine.

I do have some tried and tested recipes, but my inherent curiosity  always leads me to try new recipes and flavour combinations. There are two things I look for in a recipe – loads of flavour and ease of cooking. After all the last thing one wants to do following a long day at work is slave in the kitchen. Today’s recipe definitely has my two pre-requisites covered, but there is another added bonus – this dish is low in calories and high in nutrition.

I have called this recipe Reshmi Dal because it truly is smooth like silk and Reshm does actually mean silk in Hindi. I use canned brown lentils for this recipe, so you don’t need a pressure cooker – the dal can be made with great ease in a saucepan. This recipe in particular is an ode to all my Australian friends who love Indian food – give this recipe a go, I promise you will keep coming back for more.

Ingredients:  9    Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 400 gms of canned brown lentils (I use the Annalisa brand)
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two inch piece of ginger, smashed
  • One cup of coriander, finely chopped (leaves and stems)
  • Three to four green chillies, halved
  • Two teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon of light Greek natural yogurt to garnish

Heat ghee in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Now add the smashed ginger, coriander stems and green chillies. Cook the onion mixture on low heat for four to five minutes.

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Rinse the lentils thoroughly, add them to the onion mixture and give the ingredients a good stir. Now add about three cups of water, salt to season, cover the saucepan and let the dal simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Check the dal, as it cooks and the protein breakdowns the dal will transform into a creamy consistency. At this stage add half a cup of water, fresh coriander (spare some leaves for the garnish later), cover the saucepan and let the lentils simmer for another five to seven minutes.

Your dal is now ready to serve. Garnish with a dollop of natural Greek yogurt and coriader leaves, serve with steamed rice and simply dig in.

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