Kadhai Paneer

Nothing compares, nothing compares to you…


Indian cottage cheese or paneer is one of the most celebrated ingredients of our cuisine. In India, you can be sure to expect a paneer dish on the menu for all special occasions. Growing up I remember eating paneer ever so often. In curries, flatbreads and believe it or not even on a pizza.

Todays recipe combines succulent chunks of paneer with the earthiness of spinach and the sweetness of capsicum. Cooked in an Indian wok called a kadhai, this dish gets humbly called kadhai paneer.

Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 500gms of paneer, cut in bite sized cubes
  • One bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
  • Two medium capsicums, finely sliced
  • One red onion, finely sliced
  • Two pods of garlic, minced
  • One teaspoon of ginger paste
  • 1.5 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • One tablespoon of garam masala
  • One teaspoon of coriander powder
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Two tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Heat ghee in a kadhai (wok). Add onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until aromatic and the onion is lightly caramelised.


Now add spinach, cinnamon stick, one teaspoon of dried mint leaves and half tablespoon of garam masala. Mix well, cover the pan and let the spinach wilt on a medium heat for four to five minutes.


Then add capsicum and paneer chunks, followed by rest of the dried spices, including remaining garam masala and dried mint leaves. Season with salt and mix well. Let the paneer and capsicum sear on a high heat for seven to ten minutes.


If you are an avid meat eater or vegan, you can replace paneer with chicken or tofu too.

Your kadhai paneer is ready to serve. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve alongside flaky parathas or on a bed of rice with raita. Eat it anyway you like and be rest assured nothing will compare to it.

Cheesey Potato Bake

Because potato and cheese make everything better


 

 

 

 

 

I can’t imagine the world without potatoes! Let’s be honest what a sad place that will be. Potatoes are an every occasion food and can be eaten at every mealtime too. I suppose that’s what makes them so special. 

Both my mum and mother in law make some of the nicest dishes with potatoes. While my mum makes the best Jeera Aloo (Cumin potatoes), my mother in law does an incredible potato bake. So much so that whenever either of them are in town I’m sure to request these potato dishes. 

Since I have already shared the cumin potato recipe (find it here), it was only fair to not keep you bereft of this incredible potato bake recipe. It’s cheesey, its flavour packed, it’s actually healthy and such a quick mid week family meal.



Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Two to three carrots, peeled and sliced
  • One leek, chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, minced
  • 500ml of vegetable stock
  • 400gms of grated tasty or cheddar cheese
  • 100gms of grated Parmesan cheese 
  • Black pepper to season
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil
  • Chopped parsley to garnish 

Pre heat the oven to 250 degrees celsius.

In a pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic, once aromatic add leek and cook on a medium flame for two to three minutes. Now add the carrots, mix well and cook for five to ten minutes. Season with cracked pepper and keep aside.

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Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Assemble a layer of potatoes, then add a layer of the leek and carrot mix and a layer of cheese. Continue layering the remaining potatoes, leek and carrots and cheese. Once assembled pour the stock and finish off the a generous layer of cheese. 

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Place the dish in the oven and bake until the potatoes are cooked. Place under the broiler for the last five minutes to melt the cheese and crisp the top.

Your lip smackingly delicious cheesey potato bake is ready to be served. Garnish with chopped parsley and cracked pepper. This dish goes perfectly with a nice dry Pinot Grigio or Riesling. 

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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Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Carrot Stroganoff 

Show off with your stroganoff 


Somedays even the most devout foodies struggle to come up with ideas for mid week cooking. I don’t know if it’s the lack of inspiration or sheer laziness but for some reason cooking has felt like a real chore this week.

 Thank god Melbourne’s takeaway scene is delicious and bountiful. However when you have a rapidly growing little hungry hippo to feed, meals have to be more about nutrition than convenience. If you can find a meal that’s both nutritious and convenient then you’ve hit the jackpot. 

So after a few nights of sparing my kitchen, I got in there last night determined to whip up something lip smackingly delicious. This is how one sweet potato, couple of carrots and a tin of black beans came together to make a quick and easy, healthy and tasty meal for my family.

Ingredients: 12  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One medium sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into three inch sticks
  • Three carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 275 gms of black beans (I used canned one)
  • One medium onion, chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Three teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cracked black pepper
  • Five tablespoons of sour cream
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil

Heat oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Cook for one to two minutes until onions are slightly caramelised and aromatic.

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Now add sweetpotatoes, carrots and black beans. Mix well. Then add smoked paprika, chilli flakes, black pepper and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Add one cup of water, cover the pan and let the veggies and beans simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes.

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Once the sweetpotatoes and tender add sour cream. Mix well. Season with salt to taste and cook for another three to four minutes. 
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Your lip smackingly delicious stroganoff is ready to serve. You can serve it with polenta, cous cous, pasta or rice. I have served it with some steamed rice, lemon butter asparagus and minted peas. A wholesome meal for those hectic week nights.

Green Thai Curry

Bring the taste of Thailand to your home…

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As much as I love winter, I am not a fan of all the cold and flu ailments it brings with it. 

I always thought being a stay at home meant I could just lie in bed all day and be a vegetable on days when I’m feeling under the weather. The reality is so far from it!  Give me a corporate job any day, atleast it comes with an end time everyday and paid leave for sick days. A stay at home mum on the other hand is a 24/7 kind of thing, sick or not sick #thestruggleisreal.

Now that I wasn’t going to get any ‘lie on my ass all day’ recovery time. So what’s the next best thing to cure a winter flu? Yep, you guessed it right a big bowl of curry and rice. 

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Here’s my version of Thai green curry. It’s simple, it’s tasty and filled with lotsa goodness, which will please your palette and heal your soul.

Ingredients: 20   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

  •  One bunch of fresh coriander
  • One to two green chillies
  • Four kaffir lime leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Half a teaspoon cumin powder
  • Two pods of garlic
  • One two inch piece of ginger
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One bay leaf 
  • 500 ml of coconut milk
  • 250 gms of firm tofu, cut in sticks
  • Two carrots, peeled and cut into discs
  • One zucchini, cut into discs
  • 150 gms of shiitake mushrooms, quartered 
  • Two bunches of pak choy
  • One medium sized broccoli, cut into florets
  • One tablespoon of brown sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • One teaspoon sesame oil (optional)

To make the green curry paste combine coriander, green chillies, two kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice, cumin powder, garlic and ginger in a blender. Add one cup of water and blend the ingredients into a smooth paste.

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Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add tofu and all veggies apart from the pak choy, sear them through for three to four minutes. Now add the green curry paste, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, remaining kaffir lime leaves and bayleaf. Cover the pan and let the gravy simmer on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes. 

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Now add pak choy and season with salt and sugar. Cover the pan and let the curry simmer on a low heat for another 10  minutes. Finally drizzle a teaspoon of sesame oil and mix well.

Your lip smackingly delicious Green Thai Curry is ready to be served. Serve alongside some steamed rice or simply eat it by itself. This dish is a definitely a midweek treat.

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Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese 

My vegetarian bolognese brings all the Italian Nonnas to the yard…

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Everytime I go to an Italian restaurant I’m so tempted to order Nonnas homestyle spaghetti bolognese. After all there is nothing more comforting than rustic homestyle Italian food. The only problem is that a classic bolognese sauce is cooked with mince meat, which makes it a deal breaker for me. Not anymore! I can have my bolognese and can eat it too.

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This vegetarian bolognese packs the rustic Ialian homestyle flavourful punch, no animals were harmed or killed in its making and it’s just so easy.  You could make a big batch and freeze it too for ready to eat meals on weeks nights when cooking is the last thing on your mind.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400 gms of canned brown lentils
  • 300 gms of firm tofu, crumbled
  • One red onion, finely chopped
  • Two medium Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 400 gms of canned tomatoes or Pasata
  • Three to four pods of garlic, minced
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon chilli powder
  • Two teaspoons of sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Four tablespoons of olive oil
  • One litre of vegetable stock

Drain the lentils, thoroughly rinse them  and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Once aromatic add garlic and onion, cook until onions are lightly caramelised.

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Now add tomatoes, Passata and all the dried herbs and spices, mix well. Add crumbled tofu, cover the pot and cook the ingredients on a medium for seven to ten minutes.


Once the tofu is soft, add the stock and lentils. Mix well, cover the pot and cook the sauce of a low heat for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir the sauce from time to time to help break the protein and infuse the flavour thoroughly.


Season with salt and mix well. Let the sauce simmer for another five to seven minutes. In the meantime cook spaghetti as per packet instructions.

To serve toss the sauce with pasta and ladle a generous serve on top. Garnish with cracked pepper and grated Parmesan. I can guarantee this spaghetti will bring all the Italian Nonnas to the yard and you can say – Damn right it is better than yours!

Masala Aloo Gobi (Indian Spiced Potato and Cauliflower)

You haven’t eaten it all till you’ve eaten Aloo Gobi…

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Every Punjabi mother  dreams of a world where she cooks all day and her children eat all day. There are few vegetarian dishes every Punjabi mother swears by. These staples made up most of my childhood and continue to delight my tastebuds even today. For instance Rajma Chawal (red kidney bean stew with rice), Kaali Dal aur paratha (creamy black lentils with crispy flatbread), Kadhi Chawal (Chickpea flour and yogurt curry with rice), Aloo Paratha ( Potato stuffed crispy flatbread) and finally Aloo Gobi (potato with cauliflower).

So far I’ve brought you recipes for Rajma, Kaali Dal, Kadhi, and Parathas. Therefore it only makes sense to add Aloo Gobi,  another lip smackingly delicious dish to sort of complete your vegetarian Punjabi repertoire. There are many different ways to make aloo gobi but my favourite is cooking it in a onion, ginger and tomato paste with loads of garam masala, cumin and coriander powder.

So without further ado here’s the recipe for masala aloo gobi.



Ingredients: 15  Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6

  • One medium sized cauliflower cut into florets
  • Cauliflower stalks, roughly sliced
  • Three to four medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • One red onion, roughly chopped
  • Two tomatoes, cut in big chunks
  • One thumbsized piece of ginger grated
  • One tablespoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Half a teaspoon chilli powder
  • Quarter teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to season
  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Once aromatic add onion, cook until lightly caramelised. Now add tomatoes, grated ginger, one teaspoon of garam masala and all the other dried spices.


Once the tomatoes are soft, add potatoes and mix well. Cover the pan and cook the potatoes for five to seven minutes on a medium heat. Now add the cauliflower, stalks, remaining garam masala and season with salt. Mix well, cover the pan and cook the vegetables on a medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes. From time to time stir the aloo gobi to cook it evenly.


Take the lid of at this point, cook the aloo gobi on a high heat to crisp it up for about four to five minutes. Your lip smackingly delicious aloo gobi is ready to serve. It’s best eaten as a side along with dal, rotis and rice. Alternatively it can also be served with a nice piece of fish and some salad.

Superfood Pesto

Why do regular pesto when you can do super pesto…


With my little boy getting more and more interested in food, I am constantly looking for new ways to incorporate healthy ingredients into his meals. In my world healthy does not need to be boring. Healthy meals can be equally exciting if done well, a little inspiration is all you need.

Take this superfood pesto for instance. I had lotsa greens and herbs in the fridge that needed to be used. So I decided to take the concept of pesto and turn it up a gazillion notches by combining all the herbs and veggies together. The result was absolutely sensational.  I used some rocket, mint, Vietnamese mint, dill, continental parsley, peas and spinach. Combined all that with some chilli flakes, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts. You can replace the spinach with silverbeet or kale too. 


My little boy absolutely demolished his superfood pesto pasta, I added some cheeky bits of steamed Beetroot for that extra dose of iron. Checkout the recipe below, a quick and easy meal for the whole family.

 

Ingredients: 11 Preparation time: 10 minutes

  • Half a bunch of fresh mint
  • Half a bunch of continental parsley
  • Quarter bunch of Vietnamese mint
  • Quarter bunch of dill
  • One cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
  • One cup of spinach
  • Two pods of garlic
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice 
  • Two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 125ml of extra virgin olive oil


Steam the peas and spinach until soft. Wash all the herbs, pat dry and add to the blender along with the other ingredients. Blitz until smooth. Your pesto is now ready. 


These proportions make enough for you to freeze a good chunk and use on days when putting a meal together for your family is the last thing on your mind.


I served this superfood pesto with rigatoni pasta, which my nine month old could easily grasp and feed himself. So in my books this is – Winner winner super dinner!

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.

Aloo Shimla Mirch (Potato with Capsicum)

A childhood memory, a taste of home…


Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Beeji (maternal grandmother) and Massi (maternal aunty). These two women are cornerstones of my upbringing. I owe a big part of who I am today to them. Even now every year when we visit India, I can’t help but feel the same excitement I did when I would visit Beeji and Massi during my school holidays.

Life was pretty simple as a child. Eat, play, nap and repeat. Although I think all I did was eat, eat, eat and eat. Among all the lip smackingly delicious dishes Beeji and Massi made, Aloo Shimla Mirch was my favourite. So much so I demanded that it be cooked everyday.

After all what’s not to love about potato and capsicum cooked in an onion and tomato paste. Flavoured with cumin and coriander powder. This dish right here is a perfect side dish to an Indian meal.

Ingredients: 11  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Three to four medium potatoes, sliced
  • Two medium green capsicums, sliced
  • One medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • Two medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons coriander powder
  • Half a teaspoon chilli powder
  • Quarter teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to season 
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil 

Heat oil in a wok. Add cumin seeds, once aromatic add onions and cook until lightly caramelised.

Once the onions are browned, add tomatoes. Followed by all the dried spices. Mix well and cook the onion tomato paste on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.


Now add the potatoes and mix well. Cover the pan, turn the heat down and cook the potatoes for ten to fifteen minutes.
Finally add the capsicum, season with salt and mix well. Coven the pan and cook the dish on a low heat for another 15 minutes. 


Your lip smackingly delicious Aloo Shimla mirch is ready to serve. Serve alongside dal tadka and plain yogurt, enjoy it with warm rotis or plain rice.