When I tried quinoa nearly a decade ago, to be perfectly honest I didn’t like it. I felt it was chalky and the appearance wasn’t appetizing. I am now converted – I believe that locally grown organic red quinoa is tasty and yummy. You will love this salad as it is another great one pot dish that has all the nutrients you need.
800g butternut, skin on cut into a small 2cm by 1cm pieces
This is a Mughal influenced dish kind of like a kichadi and there are several variations. This is my take and is more of a rice salad than a kichadi. It is really easy to put together and the perfect one pot dish. The meaning of qabooli means acceptable or palatable and this dish certainly lives up to that expectation. Another easy and tasty one pot dish!
250g Basmati rice
400g tinned brown lentils, drained and rinsed well
400g tinned Beluga lentils, drained and rinsed well
Thiyya Gavallu literally translate to sweet shells. Store bought ones pale in comparison to homemade ones. This is an Andhra sweet and is like a sugar dipped dough nut. My grandmother used to make them and I have her shaping device but if you don’t have any such contraption, you can use the back of a fork.
This is a traditional Indian sweet that I made for Diwali a few days back and it was well appreciated by the family.
Around Diwali, I reminisce about my own childhood memories of this festival with a huge smile. Diwali is about wearing new clothes, decorating the house with as many oil lamps as you can manage, eating a feast and then fireworks. A month prior to Diwali, the preparations for making our own rockets, flower pots and pencils would start. We had a real chemistry lesson patiently delivered by my father. We lived on a University campus and would always have competitions with neighbours. Now we all know better and it is good everyone is keeping away from fireworks because of pollution. The spiritual significance of Diwali is to try to distinguish the truth from lies, illumine our minds from darkness with light and realize the oneness of energy in all living beings. It is believed that the spirits of our ancestors return on the night of Diwali and the fireworks are an offering to their spirits.
There isn’t ever a dessert course in a traditional Indian cuisine. Sweets and other sweet things are served alongside and in some regional cuisines they are eaten at the start of a meal. It is good to have some of these sweet treats as part of your repertoire so you can create an authentic Indian dining experience.
Pies (the meat kind I mean) could very easily be the national dish of New Zealand. I don’t know how true this statistic is, but on an average every New Zealander eats 17 pies a year. I don’t know who is eating our family’s share!!! I have never come across a vegetarian pie that looks good enough to make me want to try. So I have been on a quest to develop a vegetarian pie that is bursting with flavour and I think I have just the recipe for you.
This mushroom pie is so delicious and using dried as well as fresh mushrooms makes it yummy and flavourful. This is great as a family meal or you could do individual ones as a first course for a dinner party. I used store bought butter puff pastry (Edmonds) but you could just as easily make your own with a bit of planning.
All through South East Asia as well as in India, little patties or cakes are made from minced sea food be it fish, prawns or a combination. These are most often served as a snack or an appetizer. They are so moreish I often tell myself I should have made more!! Three are never enough!!
When you make with fish, use any firm white fish fillets. I often buy a big pack of prawn meat offcuts from the freezer section and use the off cuts to make these cakes.
400g prawn meat
2 shallots, finely chopped
A handful of coriander leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
If I remember correctly, it was Christmas break 1990– we went to Thames and it rained every day. The most memorable part of that trip was eating cream and jam filled scones straight from the oven with a cup of tea. I know some scones are just so stodgy and tough – this could be because of overmixing. My daughter is somewhat of an expert in scone making and she reckons I taught her but I’ve never made scones until now. In fact, my daughter kind of showed me her technique which I will share with you.
Cheese and onion is a classic combination if you ask me. I always like to add a touch of cayenne to make them extra savoury. Use a sharp tasting cheese like cheddar. You can easily double the recipe if you are making for a crowd.
3 onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oil, for frying the onions
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups grated cheddar or tasty cheese, plus extra for topping
Quesadillas are very popular with kids and adults alike. They are easy to put together and we love these vegetarian options for a quick weekend lunch. You can use a flat grilled sandwich press or do it old school, in a pan. If you use the pan method, use a spatula to press down firmly.
2 x 400g canned black beans, drained and rinsed well
I know there are several variations of this dish but I tried to create a creamy one without using cream. In some variations, I notice that the spinach loses its vibrancy and can be gritty so I created the dish where part of the spinach is pureed and the rest is added in the end. In India, Saag will often be made from mustard greens, silverbeet or other greens but I’ve used spinach. You can adjust the number of green chillies based on how hot they are and also your heat tolerance. The curry is not meant to be hot – kind of flavourful and spicy with a touch of chilli heat.
One of my favourite South East Asian dishes is Som Tum. Traditionally it is made with green papaya but here I made with kohl rabi and carrot. It is such a classic and if you get green papaya do try with it although kohl rabi works well too. The salad is slightly acidic, a little sweet from palm sugar, a little sour from tamarind contrasting the crunchy kohl rabi, green beans and peanuts.