Coconut Vegetable Curry

Go Nuts for Coconuts…

As a mother of two, I am always finding ways to make haste in the kitchen. I am always on the quest for quick recipes, which are easy to make and equally tasty and nutritious. It’s hard to imagine but such recipes do exist!

Today’s recipe is a good way to introduce your little people to curry and vegetables. My boys adore this dish and will happily eat thirds too. It combines the warm earthiness of garam masala with the coastal flavours of coconut. What makes this recipe fuss free is that you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. My meat lovers, you could add chicken or fish or prawns to this dish, either way it’s lip smackingly delicious.

Ingredients: 16 Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves : 4

    One small cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
    Two potatoes, cut into bite size cubes
    Two carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
    One red capsicum, roughly sliced
    Handful of green beans, roughly chopped
    One cup of green peas
    One onion, finely sliced
    Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
    One thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
    One heaped teaspoon of garam masala
    Half teaspoon of turmeric
    One medium size cinnamon stick
    One bay leaf
    800 ml of light coconut milk
    Salt to season
    Four tablespoons of vegetable oil

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add cinnamon stick, followed by onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic and onion is translucent.

Now add the vegetables and dry spices, except bay leaf. Mix well.

Add coconut milk, bay leaf and season with salt to taste. Simmer the curry on a medium flame for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Serve with steamed rice or savoury flatbread or simply eat it as a soup. So moorish, so tasty

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.

Pumpkin, Carrot and Potato Soup

Autumn in a bowl 


Autumn is one of my favourite seasons in Australia. There’s a slight chill in the air and beautiful heartwarming colours of orange, red and yellow everywhere. It is one of the most picturesque sites to see. 

This autumn was made even better with the birth of my second son Jai Alexander. I mean how time flies my older son is nearly two, I am a mother of two and life is just that little more chaotic but oh so beautiful. The merriment around the house tripled as my parents were visiting too. I can’t explain watching my parents with my children in words except that it filled my heart with so much love, warmth and gratitude. 

To celebrate our little bundle of joy and the last remaining days of autumn, I decided to cook with colours of autumn.  I’m not a fan of pumpkin per say but I have to admit when combined with other warming flavours, it truly shines. So I decided to make a pumpkin, potato and carrot soup with chilli, lemon and ginger oil. 

Ingredients: 16   Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

For the soup

  • Half a pumpkin (I used butternut), peeled and cut in cubes 
  • Two carrots, peeled and diced 
  • Two to three potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • One onion, chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, chopped
  • One bay leaf
  • One teaspoon cumin powder
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • One vegetable stock cube
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt to season 

For the lemon chilli oil

  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • One to two red chillies, chopped
  • One thumb size piece of ginger, grated
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One to two kaffir lime leaves

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add garlic, once aromatic add onion and cooking until lightly caramelised.


Now add all the vegetables, followed by all the spices (except the stock cube). Mix well. Then add one litre of water, stock cube, season with salt and cover the pan with a lid. Let the soup simmer on a low heat until vegetables are cooked.


To make the flavoured oil, combine all the ingredients in a pan and let them simmer on a low heat for five to seven minutes or until aromatic.

Using the stick blender, blend the soup until smooth. Season with salt as required, add more water if needed to reach desired consistency. Again let the soup simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes.

Garnish with a generous drizzle of the chilli, lemon and ginger oil. Serve with a side of garlic bread and feel your heart and soul warm up with this autumnal goodness.

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.

  

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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Curried Carrot Soup

Why work hard, when you can work smart…

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I have never been one to take shortcuts in life, but I do abide by a philosophy which says ‘why work hard, when you can work smart’. This mantra holds especially true when I have had a hard long day at work and can’t be bothered cooking. While we all want our family and friends to think all the meals we prepare for them are a labour of love, wouldn’t it be nice if you could focus on adding more love and a little less labour in your everyday cooking.

On a recent trip to Adelaide, one of the pantry ingredients in my mother in law’s kitchen has changed my culinary world forever! Clive of India Curry Powder!!! Of course in my Indian spice repertoire there was no such thing as curry powder. Talk about British efficiency they took our gazillion Indian spices, combined it into one and unashamedly called it Clive of India. Besides the curry powder, here’s a little bit of a History lesson for you, Clive of India also known as Major General Robert Clive is credited with securing India, and the wealth that followed, for the British crown. 

The growing awareness and love of Indian food has meant that more and more people are buying spices individually, mixing them themselves for curries and to be truly impressive, grinding the spices and herbs themselves too in a mortar and pestle. This is definitely the right way to make a curry, but on weekdays when most of us are working on reserves there should be no embarrassment in choosing convenience without compromising on flavour. This curry powder offers just that!

So what exactly does the curry powder entail? There are two varieties – one  the traditional curry powder which uses 11 different herbs and spices, such as, coriander, turmeric, fennel, black pepper, cumin, chilli powder, fenugreek, garlic granules, ginger and salt. The other one is the hot madras curry powder which has a bit of a kick to it and in addition to the spices in the traditional curry powder this includes cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.
248866By now I am sure I have made you a Clive of India convert and if not then continue to read because I recently used this magic powder in a Carrot Soup and it worked a treat. 

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Six carrots, peeled and cubed
  • One brown onion, sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 250 ml of light coconut cream
  • One large bay leaf
  • One tablespoon of hot madras curry powder
  • One vegetable stock cube
  • One litre of water
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to season

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In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook until onions are translucent. Now add the garlic, cook the mixture for three to four minutes on a medium heat or until aromatic.

Add the carrots, hot madras curry powder, vegetable stock cube (you can replace this by using liquid vegetable/chicken stock instead of water) and season with salt as required. Place a lid on the pan and cook the carrots on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes.

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Now add one litre of water followed by the coconut cream. The coconut cream goes really well with the curry powder and elevates the flavour of this dish to a whole new level. If for some reason you don’t like the coconut flavour you can use normal cooking cream or even milk. Once again coven the saucepan with a lid and let the soup simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Finally using a stick blender blend the soup until smooth and creamy. I have garnished it with toasted black sesame seeds, you can also use fresh coriander, crispy shallots or just a swirl of cream as a garnish. 

Serve this lip smackingly delicious winter warmer with some crusty bread. Dig in and watch your winter blues vanish away.

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Cream of Leek and Broccoli Soup with Rosemary Oil

A warm soup, a cold evening is a match made in heaven…

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I must be the only weirdo who truly loves winter. Honestly, what’s not to love? You can overdose on carbs, drink hot chocolate endlessly, eat a piece of cake with your cup of tea without feeling guilty and if you pack on a few pounds you can cover it all up under that trench coat without a worry!

Apart from all the indulgence, there’s one more way to enjoy the winter chill and that is by trying and testing different soup concoctions. Soups are the perfect winter warmer and they are so incredibly versatile! There are smooth and creamy soups, chunky soups, soups with meat, soups with vegetables, soups with pasta, soups with lentils, the list is never-ending.

Recently I had a craving for the classic potato and leek soup, which screams comfort in every bite. So the other night while I was all set on making potato and leek soup, little did I know it was not meant to be that night! I was out of potatoes! The problem with being a foodie is once an idea germinates in your head it is impossible to settle for something else. Potato or no potato, I was determined to make a soup that was as good as potato and leek soup without potatoes. Lo and behold I found a beautiful lush green broccoli head in my fridge. I know you are wondering, how can broccoli ever replace potatoes in a potato and leek soup? Take my word for it, very easily!!!

To quote my husband “it’s the best soup I have ever eaten, I was shocked at how good it was” I believe him considering he went back for thirds.

Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

For the soup
  • One leek pale section only, sliced
  • Three pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • One massel vegetable stock cube
  • Four cups of water 
  • 300 ml of fat reduced cream
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • One tablespoon of butter
  • Salt to season
For rosemary infused oil
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Four stems of fresh rosemary leaves (approx 4 inches long)

Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and stir continuously, cook for five to seven minutes until soft. Now add garlic and cook for a minute or two, until aromatic.

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Add the broccoli florets, lemon juice and stock cube to the leek mixture. Stir until the stock cube has disintegrated. Now add four cups of water, followed by the dried rosemary leaves and season with salt as required. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the soup simmer until the broccoli is tender.

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Once the broccoli is tender, add cream and stir it through. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan and let the soup simmer for another five to seven minutes. Finally with a stick blender, blend the soup until smooth.

To make the rosemary oil, heat extra virgin olive oil on a low heat. Add rosemary leaves and temper for about five to seven minutes. Remove from heat and let the oil cool to room temperature.

Garnish the soup with rosemary oil and cracked pepper. Serve this lip smackingly delicious winter warmer with a side of char grilled sourdough bread.

Enjoy!

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Spicy Vegetable Noodle Soup

Winter is coming…bring out your stock pots…

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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.

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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).

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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!