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.

Fish Curry

There’s nothing fishy about it 


I grew up in a vegetarian household and was strictly vegetarian until recently. Then one day just like that I decided to order a seafood pasta and haven’t looked back since. With that said I still can’t stomach fish that smells like fish, for instance, salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc. Nor can I eat oysters because they look like snot. After all food is an all inclusive experience. We eat with our eyes and taste with our nose first. 

Over time I have built my knowledge about various kinds of seafood and the flavours, spices, etc that are complimentary to each other. This fish curry recipe includes a mix of dried spices and fresh herbs. It’s similar to the Kerala fish curry called ‘meen moillee’. 


So when my mother in law and father in law were over I decided to indulge them in an all encompassing flavour explosion. I served the fish curry on a bed of basmati rice and with a side of crispy potatoes. I was so pleased to see everyone wipe their plates clean and even go back for thirds. 

Ingredients: 18   Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

  • Two large white fish fillets, without skin and cut into bite size pieces (I used barramundi)
  • 800ml of coconut light cream 
  • One onion, finely chopped
  • Two tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One thumbsized piece of ginger, grated
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves 
  • Two to three green chillies, chopped
  • Two kaffir lime leaves
  • Half a bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • Two teaspoons of dried mint
  • Two teaspoons of coriander powder
  • One teaspoon of red chilli powder
  • Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Half a teaspoon of asafoetida (hing), optional
  • Four tablespoons of mustard oil
  • Salt to season 
  • Fresh coriander to garnish (optional)

Heat mustard oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add asafoetida, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Once aromatic add garlic, ginger and onion and cook until onion is caramelised.


Add tomatoes, turmeric, chilli and coriander powder, cook until tomatoes are soft. Then add dried mint and fresh mint (leave some fresh mint for garnish), coconut cream, kaffir lime leaves and two cups of water. Season with salt as required.

Simmer the curry on low heat for 30 minutes. Now add the fish and cook on low heat for another seven to ten minutes or until the fish is cooked.

Garnish with fresh mint and coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice or roti bread. Either way this curry is one hell of a winner!

Dill and Lemon Fish with a Pea Mint Mash

Something a little special 


One of my favourite things to do over holidays is have family or friends over and indulge in leisurely and delicious dinner parties. Something a little different from the usual culinary fare and something a little special too. The recipe I’m sharing today is just that. 

I made this meal when our family was over and staying with us for the easter long weekend. Like me, my family is made up of devout foodies, we all live to eat. I wanted to make something a little extra special for them but also something that didn’t require slaving in the kitchen for hours on end.


Inspired by flavours from Greece this fish recipe makes the perfect use of fresh herbs and dried spices. I love the  freshness and simplicity of Greek food. This dish is so aromatic, with every bite you can smell and taste each distinct flavour. Served on a bed of pea mint mash not only makes it healthy but also a little extra moorish.

So the next time you have guests over, pull this trick out of your hat. It’ll be a meal they remember for a long time to come. 

Ingredients: 14  Cooking time: 30 minutes 

Serves: 6

For the fish 

  • Six fillets of white fish ( I used gummy shark)
  • One punnet of dill, finely chopped
  • Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 100gms of capers, chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • One teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 300ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to season 

For the pea mint mash

  • 500gms of peas
  • Two teaspoons of dried mint leaves
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt to season 

Begin by marinating the fish. In a large bowl combine, oil, dill, parsley, capers, oregano and chilli flakes. Mix well. 

Add the fish and using your hands gently rub the marinade on all the fillets. Cover the fish with cling wrap and put it in the fridge for five to six hours. This will allow all the flavours to seep into the fish.

While the fish marinates prepare the pea mint mash. Boil the peas for seven to ten minutes or until soft. Rinse with cold water and drain them. Now mix all the ingredients in the blender and blitz it. Season with salt as required, pea mint mash is ready.

To cook the fish, heat a heavy bottom frying pan and add the oil from the marinade. Use more extra virgin olive oil to cook the fish if required. Place the fillets in the pan and cook for four to five minutes on each side or until the fish is cooked. Drizzle lemon juice on top of each fillet and sprinkle salt to taste.

Before plating up warm up the pea mint mash. Add a large spoonful of the mash on a plate and gently place the fillet on top. Drizzle the oil from the pan on top for more flavour. Season with cracked pepper and serve.


 

Savoury Crepes with a Crisp Baby Cos Lettuce Salad

Like Paris, Crepes are always a good idea…

IMG_2273

I have been living away from home now for the past eight years. Nothing can ever replace Bombay or India in my life, but Australia is surely feeling more like home with each passing year. It is such a wonderful country! Full of natural beauty, laid back lifestyle, wonderful people and a melting pot of different cultures. Honestly, it would be hard to define who is a real Aussie because everyone here has their roots from another country. This is what makes Australia a truly magical place.

Imagine the food scene in a country where people from different origins live together in harmony! I could take a culinary cruise around the world all in a days time just by choosing what and where to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Moreover living in Melbourne which is the art, food and culture Mecca of Australia, I have had the privilege of eating beautiful food and meeting wonderful people from different countries.

Speaking of meeting people from other countries, I met some wonderful French expatriates whilst working with a French company and we are now really good friends. The connection was in some ways quite instant because the French love their food as much as I love mine! From social gatherings to serious work meetings talking about food seemed to navigate through every conversation seamlessly. Although I am yet to find out why French women don’t get fat!

Today’s recipe is a shoutout to all the wonderful Frenchies in my life. I love that you take your food seriously and make it look just as beautiful as you make it tasty. While I may not eat Foie gras or Pâté, I love hearing you gush about it. I look forward to many more culinary adventures with you, but for now I just want to thank you for introducing me to Crepes. My world has never been the same again!

Ingredients: 25  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

For the Crepes
  • 250 gms of plain flour
  • 500 ml of milk 
  • Two free-range eggs
  • Two tablespoons of melted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for cooking
For the Sauce
  • One leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • 125 gms of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Three tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 300 ml of light cooking cream
  • 100 ml of white wine (I used a Riesling)
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • Salt to season
For the Topping
  • Three strips of bacon (for the non vegetarian topping)
  • One medium-sized brown onion, finely sliced
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cracked pepper
For the Salad
  • One bunch of baby cos lettuce
  • Quarter teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • One teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon lemon juice
  • Toasted black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

To make the crepes mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. The batter should be thin and smooth. 

IMG_2259

Spray a medium, non-stick frying pan with oil. Heat over medium heat. Pour approximately 2.5 tablespoons of batter into pan. Swirl to cover base. Cook for two to three minutes or until light golden. Turn over and cook for one minute. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

IMG_2263

To make the sauce, melt butter in a pan. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add the leeks and cook until soft.

Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Cook until the sauce has reduced and the wine smell has evaporated.

Now add chopped parsley, cream and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt as required and let the sauce simmer on a low heat for another three to four minutes.

IMG_2261

To make the toppings, cook the bacon until crispy and cut it in cubes. For the vegetarian topping if using an oven pre heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.  Combine the onion slices, rosemary and olive oil and bake until the onion slices are golden brown. If cooking on a gas stove top, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and rosemary, cook on a medium heat until onions are golden and caramelised.

To make the salad, wash the lettuce bunch thoroughly, break the leaves and assemble on a plate. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste the dressing and increase the quantity of either ingredient depending on your taste. Pour the dressing on the lettuce and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

IMG_2265 (1)

To assemble the Crepes, place crepes on a warming serving plate. Add one to two tablespoons of the leek sauce in the middle and roll the crepe by folding both sides towards the centre and turn it over. Repeat the same for the remaining crepes. Drizzle remaining sauce on top of the crepes, garnish with the desired topping and serve alongside the chilled and crisp baby cos salad.

IMG_2268

IMG_2273

Roast Cauliflower with Pea Mash and Cinnamon Pumpkin

Glamourising vegetarian food…one dish at a time… 

One of my pet hates when dining out is – poorly constructed, extremely repetitive, flavourless and lack lustre vegetarian meals. Once in a while I have no problem with the commonly available vegetarian meals in most restaurants such as pumpkin gnocchi or a vegetarian pizza (that seems to have every vegetable in the world on it). However each time my husband and I go out his meals are so fancy with different textures, colours, flavours and mine the same old boring pumpkin gnocchi.

I want to ask professional chefs out there – what have we vegetarians done to you? why can’t pumpkin gnocchi be as glamourous as confit duck. I mean if you can make something dead look that good on a plate, shouldn’t it be easier with a vegetable that doesn’t bleed? Ok! I should stop being such a meanie, but the whole point is – vegetarian food can be made equally glamorous if not more. Today’s recipe is just that – GLAMOUROUS!

In this recipe I have used vegetables that are available all year round, cooked them with some techniques and spices that orchestrate a symphony of flavours with each bite.  This dish is truly a vegetarian’s delight.

Ingredients:  16  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

  • One medium cauliflower
  • Two cups of peas (I used frozen)
  • One cup of pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • Four tablespoons of light Greek yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Eight to ten fresh mint leaves
  • Two to three pods of garlic, smashed
  • 1.5 teaspoons of smoked paprika powder
  • Two teaspoons of ground cumin powder
  • One teaspoon of ground cinnamon powder
  • 0.5 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 0.5 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon of butter
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh watercress to garnish (optional)

Begin by thoroughly washing the cauliflower and break it into large-sized florets. Steam the florets for five to seven minutes until slightly tender.

Prepare a marinade using four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one and a half teaspoons of cumin powder,smoked paprika powder and smashed garlic. Marinate the cauliflower florets for 15 minutes prior to roasting, ensure each floret is thoroughly coated with the marinade (add more oil/powdered spices if necessary).

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and roast the marinated cauliflower for 20 minutes.

For the pea mash –  steam the peas for five to seven minutes. In a bowl add the steamed peas, fresh mint leaves, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive, juice of half a lemon and salt as per taste. Using a stick blender blend all the ingredients until smooth.

For the cinnamon pumpkin – melt one tablespoon of butter in a pan, once melted add the cinnamon powder and a pinch of brown sugar. Add the pumpkin cubes once you smell the cinnamon aroma. Season with salt as required and cook the pumpkin until tender.

The final component is the chilli oil yogurt – add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, half a teaspoon of chilli powder and cumin powder and juice of half a lemon. Mix all the ingredients well and add this dressing to the yogurt. Before serving air the yogurt by mixing it rapidly in a circular motion for one minute. My vegan readers feel free to omit this step.

To assemble – spoon the mash peas on the plate, place the roasted cauliflower on top of the pea mash, add the cinnamon pumpkin pieces around the pea mash and finally add a dollop or two of the chilli oil yogurt. If you love your greens like I do, garnish with fresh watercress leaves.

Get ready to scintillate your next dinner party with this quick, easy, lip smackingly delicious, glamorous meal.

Spicy Coconut Egg Curry

Spice up your life…

You would have noticed the recent round of recipes has had a flavour of the subcontinent, they show my love for Indian food and the ease with which these lip smackingly delicious curries can be made. The flavours are so distinct and robust one simply can’t have enough.

I have previously showcased an egg curry recipe, it can be found here. However today’s spicy coconut egg curry is very different to the previous one. It is inspired by southern Indian flavours of curry leaves, mustard seeds and delicately flavoured coconut. The curry has a dash of spice, the chilli uplifts it to a whole new level.

You can devour this curry with light, flaky savoury parathas (recipe can be found here) or simply on a bed of steamed basmati rice. 

Ingredients: 11   Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four eggs, hard-boiled
  • One onion, chopped
  • Two tomatoes, chopped
  • 400 ml light coconut milk
  • Four-five green chillies, chopped
  • Six-eight curry leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons oil ( I used mustard oil)

Heat oil in a saucepan, I use mustard oil which really enhances the flavour of the curry. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now add curry leaves and once they crackle add chopped onion. Cook the onion until translucent.

Add tomatoes, followed by turmeric powder. Cook the onion-tomato mixture for about five to seven minutes until the tomatoes are soft.

Now add coconut milk and one cup of water. Season with salt and sugar. Cover the saucepan and let the gravy simmer on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes, until the gravy has thickened.

Using a fork prick the eggs all over gently (this will allow the curry flavours to seep into the egg when you drop it into the curry). Gently drop the boiled eggs into the curry one by one. 

Your spicy coconut egg curry is ready to be devoured. Enjoy!

Smashed Peas with Poached Eggs and Avocado

Smashed avocado is so yesterday…Smashed Peas are here to stay…

As a devout foodie I can tell you nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than breakfast. Particularly on a Saturday morning after a wonderful sleep in, what could be better than a delicious breakfast plate waiting for you. My husband and I love surprising each other with breakfast in bed every now and then, believe me it’s a great old trick among others to keep that spark alive.

The other day we were still laying in bed at 11:00am, after all it was a Saturday. I said to my husband you know what I had a dream, where you brought me this delicious plate of green goodness for breakfast. He indulged me and asked what was on the plate, without any hesitation I began to describe – avocado, peas, fresh herbs, eggs and toast with lots of butter. Ha! yes I do recall my food dreams vividly, after all that’s how I get most of my cooking inspiration. Anyway so my husband just chuckled and continued to play on his phone and for some reason I fell back to sleep.

The next thing I know I was woken up by my dream, but this time it was a reality. My plate of green goodness was right in front of me and behind it all was my gorgeous husband. I know right – LUCKY ME!

Today’s breakfast/brunch is my dream on a plate. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients: 8   Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four free range eggs
  • One avocado, sliced
  • Two cups of frozen peas
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • A nice loaf of sourdough bread
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season

Everywhere around Melbourne, smashed avocado seems to be a raging breakfast sensation. I say honey your days are over because smashed peas are here to stay! This recipe is built on a bed of smashed peas flavoured with mint, extra virgin olive oil and lemon – a combination that will simply knock your jocks off. LOL!

Steam the peas for about five to seven minutes, until soft. In a bowl add the steamed peas, fresh mint leaves, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive, juice of half a lemon and salt as per taste. Using a stick blender coarsely blend all the ingredients. Your smashed mint peas are ready!

For poached eggs – the first step for perfect poached eggs is to use the freshest eggs. The next step is to get yourself a wide casserole type pan and bring water to a boil. Add one teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Once the water has boiled let it simmer. Crack each egg in a small bowl drop them in the pan one by one, you’ll see them begin to cook immediately. Depending on your pan, a really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes and a soft to firm one will need 4 minutes (it depends on the size of the eggs and whether you’re using them straight from the fridge). To check whether they’re done, remove one carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and give it a gentle shake. If it feels too soft (use your instincts), put it back and give the eggs a little longer in the water to firm up. Once the eggs are cooked remove them on to kitchen paper and dry off.

While the eggs are poaching get your toasts ready, it is essential to use really good bread with this recipe because life is too short to eat bad bread.

To plate up – make a bed of smashed peas, surround it with avocado slices, top it up with toast and poached eggs. I added some of the leftover smashed peas on the top too, because I just can’t get enough. Finally season with some cracked pepper, dig in and get ready to fall in a food coma.

Spicy Vegetable Noodle Soup

Winter is coming…bring out your stock pots…

IMG_0249

My favourite season is here, yes you heard that right – I love winter! I mean let’s be honest what’s not to love – you can eat what you want, sit in front of the fire snuggled up in your favourite blanket all day (yes on a cold winter day it is totally ok!) and winter fashion, seriously how can you not fall in love with those beautifully tailored woolen pants or that perfect trench coat?

Another thing that is great about winter – it’s the perfect season to enjoy delicious soups. Creamy soups, chunky soups, dumpling soups or noodle soups, the variety is truly endless!  This season I will be posting a lot of soups for you to try, but for starters here’s a spicy noodle soup recipe. To be honest this noodle soup is so delicious, it can be enjoyed all year round.

Don’t let the list of ingredients bring you down, most of these are pantry staples and as for the others you will be using them a lot if you intend on cooking some of my lip smackingly delicious recipes.

So without further ado here’s presenting my…Spicy Vegetable Noodle Soup

Ingredients:  19    Cooking time: 1 hr 15 mins

Serves: 2

For the broth

  • One large brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • Four celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • Five pods of smashed garlic
  • Two inch piece of smashed ginger
  • Five to six pieces of sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • Two kaffir lime leaves
  • Half a lime, deseeded
  • Three to four red chillies chopped
  • Coriander root, coarsely chopped
  • Two tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Two tablespoons of chinese rice wine
  •  Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to season
  • Five cups of water

Noodles

  • You can use flat rice noodles, Singapore noodles or udon noodles (I used udon noodles)

Toppings

  • Bunch of Asian greens
  • One cup of carrots, sliced
  • One cup tofu, cubed
  • One cup of broccolini, florets and stems sliced

We will start by making the broth, which is the centrepiece of a good noodle soup

To make the broth – heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil, add the coarsely chopped onion, smashed ginger and garlic, cook until the onion is translucent and you can smell those beautiful aromas.

Now add the chopped coriander root, celery, red chillies, shiitake mushrooms and give all the ingredients a good stir.

Add water, followed by soy sauce, chinese rice wine, sliced lime and kaffir lime leaves. Bring the broth to a boil on a medium heat and the cover the pan with a lid, letting the stock simmer for one hour on a low heat.

Strain the broth and keep hot until ready to serve.

FullSizeRender (44)

While the broth is simmering, cook the noodles as per packet instructions and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the toppings, lightly blanch the greens and carrots. In a wok add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and quickly stir fry the vegetables and tofu with some finely chopped ginger and a tablespoon of vegetable oil (Please note: stir frying the toppings is optional).

FullSizeRender (45)

To serve – divide noodles between two bowls, arrange toppings over noodles and finally ladle about 2 cups of broth into each bowl. Garnish with extra chopped red chillies for that extra fiery zing! Enjoy!