When you think of kebab, you often picture meat on a skewer or stick which in India is also referred to as Sheek Kebab. The other type of kebab is a Shami kebab where it is a ground meat patty mixed with spices and besan or chick pea powder and sautéed.

This recipe is a plant based version of a Shami kebab. I used tinned chick peas and the spices are pantry essentials!

Chick pea & pumpkin kebabs


800g tinned chick peas rinsed and drained

300g pumpkin, peeled and grated

150g onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

1 tablespoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

½ tablespoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

4 tablespoons chick pea flour (besan)

Salt to taste

Oil for shallow frying


2 generous handfuls of mint

1-2 green chillies, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt to taste

300g Greek style yoghurt


Mash the chick peas with your hands, making a semi coarse mixture which is not too smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Rest for 15-20 minutes. Form into 20 golf sized balls and flatten to form round kebabs or patties. If your mixture is too wet or breaks, add more chick pea flour.

Chickpea and pumpkin kebabs

Shallow fry the kebabs in medium hot oil until crisp and browned on both sides. Serve with mint yogurt sauce. Serves 4.

For the mint and yoghurt sauce

Place all ingredients except yoghurt in a blender. Blend well to a puree. Add the yoghurt and pulse a couple of seconds and your sauce is ready.


Phanaeng or Phanang or Panang is a type of Thai red curry that is a little sweet, salty and nutty. It is generally made with meat but my version is a vegan one. I used soy sauce instead of fish sauce. This is great served with sticky rice and a side of greens.

Mushroom & Tofu Panang Curry


600ml coconut milk

500g extra firm tofu

350g mushrooms

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

3 Kaffir lime leaves

Thai basil leaves for garnish

3 tablespoons chickpea flour

¼ teaspoon chilli powder

3 tablespoons sunflower oil



You might think chick peas and Puy lentils as an unusual combination to say the least, and throw in bulgur to the mix. I assure you it works well and makes a very hearty meal.

Spicy soup with chick peas and Puy lentils

I make stock at home and of late been adding coriander stems as well as leek tops and the stock is just bursting with flavour. I do recommend making your own stock at home as it is so much more flavourful plus no nasties in the ingredients list! I mention here because your soup is only as good as the stock you use!


75g Puy lentils rinsed

400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed

100g onions, finely diced

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g carrots, cut into a 1cm dice

100g celery, sliced thin

1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder



I can say that I loved cooking and collecting recipes from a very young age. I still have the note book where I hand wrote family favourite recipes and subsequently made additions in the nineties. I think this recipe is my version of such a recipe – I love it because it is a generous cake and has spicy flavours to complement the pumpkin and prunes. The cake is easily serves 12-15 people so make it for a family get together.

Prune, pumpkin and hazelnut cake


1 kg peeled pumpkin

300ml sunflower oil

1 and ¼ cup soft brown sugar

4 eggs

¾ cup chopped prunes

1 cup hazelnuts



I love brassicas and always look for new and innovative ways to feature them front and centre as opposed to relegating them to a mere side dish. My creamy broccoli and kale soup is wholesome enough to be served on its own for lunch. This soup is vegan and the creaminess comes from the haricot / cannellini beans. The preserved lemon adds a refreshing, lemony flavour.

Creamy broccoli and kale soup


500g broccoli (1 medium sized head), cut into small florets, stem and all

100g kale, remove the rib and cut

150g onion, chopped

100g boiled potato, diced

6 plump garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 green chilli, sliced

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

750ml vegetable stock

1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans

½ a preserved lemon (discard seeds and chop)

Salt to taste

For garnishing:

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds


Heat the olive oil in a largish saucepan. Throw in the crushed garlic and green chilli. Fry for a minute and add the onions. Continue frying for three minutes. Add the potato and the tin of beans along with the liquid. Pour the stock in along with 500ml water and let it come up to the boil. Mix in the preserved lemon, tahini and kale. Cook for 3 minutes.

Toss in the broccoli. Once the soup comes up to the boil, cook for a further 3 minutes. Season with salt. Blitz the soup using an immersion or stick blender.

Spoon the serve into four bowls (if serving as a main or six bowls as starter). Drizzle a few drops of the sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6


One more recipe for sour dough discard! Even if you don’t have sour dough discard, you can still make this by adjusting the amounts of yeast used. You can use spinach instead of chard or silver beet. I used a Chinese cleaver to finely mince my silver beet but you can use a food processor for this.

I love making my own breads and feel so wonderful kneading the dough manually. I served it with a minestrone style soup – it is yummy on its own too.

Sun dried tomato, olive and chard focaccia bread


For the dough

325g high grade flour

25g wholemeal flour

5g salt

5g instant yeast (use 7g if no sour dough discard)

40g sour dough discard

120g silver beet finely chopped (see note above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

200ml tepid water

For the topping

3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

5-6 olives, sliced or halved

Sea salt crystals

Olive oil as needed

1 -2 tablespoons water


Place all ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients to form a dough mass.

You can use the dough hook on your stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes giving a 30 second break every 3-4 minutes of kneading. If you are like me and prefer to knead manually, tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, resting it for 30 seconds every three minutes. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to two hours to allow it to double in size.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and drizzle with two tablespoons of oil. Spread oil around to grease the paper. Using the palm of your hand, flatten dough to a 20cm disc and place on prepared baking tray. Using your fingertips, press dough down, leaving fingertip impressions. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.

Stud the dough with sun dried tomato and olive pieces. Sprinkle the sea salt and make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle water. Bake in preheated oven for 12 -15 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush focaccia with olive oil. Place on a wire rack to cool for half an hour at least before slicing.


I tend to sway towards savoury dishes and kind of play second fiddle when it comes to desserts or sweet things. I tend to create and choose recipes that are not too finicky, use fewer ingredients and sugar and fat are somewhat reduced.

I can’t take credit for this recipe – I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s beetroot, ginger and soured cream cake in his book “Sweet”. I of course modified to suit my family’s taste buds. The cake is rich and moist suitable to make as a birthday cake or for a cake and coffee morning.


75g pecan nuts

200g plain flour

150g caster sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon salt

250g raw red beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated

Finely grated zest of 1 large orange

100g crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

60g sour cream

125ml sunflower oil

For the Icing:

150g cream cheese, at room temperature

60g icing sugar, sifted

70ml cream

6 centimetre piece of fresh ginger, grated on a fine mesh and the flesh squeezed to extract all juices about 4 teaspoons


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin and set aside.

Spread the pecan nuts on a baking tray and roast for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and chop in half or smaller if you prefer. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 195 degrees Celsius.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix to combine and aerate. Add the beetroot, orange zest, pecan pieces and crystallized ginger, but do not stir.

Place the eggs and sour cream in another bowl and whisk to combine. Add the oil and whisk again. Pour over the beetroot and flour mix, and using your hands or a large spatula, mix well to combine.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the tin for 30 minutes or so before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack completely.

To make the icing, place the cream cheese in a bowl. Use a wooden spoon and beat for 10 seconds. The time may vary, but you want cream cheese relatively smooth. Add icing sugar and beat until well incorporated with an electric whisk. Add the cream and beat for about a minute, until the icing is thick and smooth. Add the ginger juice, beat for a final few seconds. Use a palette knife to spread over the top of the cake and serve.


When I was growing up in India, most of the dried fruit and nuts used to come from Afghanistan or Pakistan. They were mobile vendors on bicycles, who would do door to door selling. They were referred to as Kabuliwala, meaning a person from Kabul.

I am writing about this, because this korma dish uses pistachios. They are referred to as pista for short and generally reserved for ice-creams and halwas but pistachios along with cardamom add an interesting flavour to this chicken dish.

Pistachio Chicken


1 kilo of boneless, skinless chicken thighs

100g shelled pistachio nuts, unsalted

6 green chillies

2 onions (100g each approximately)

3 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

6 plump garlic cloves

¾ teaspoon garam masala powder

2 bay leaves

¾ teaspoon ground white pepper

1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds

12 cardamom pods

3 tablespoons chopped coriander stems, leaves and roots

1 teaspoon tamarind puree

200ml chicken stock

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt to taste


Cut the chicken thighs into half or a third depending on the size. Set aside.

Place pistachios in a microwave safe bowl that is fairly large. Pour enough water to submerge the nuts from a freshly boiled kettle. Let soak for a couple of minutes and then microwave on high for three minutes. Let cool. Once cool, rub the nuts with your fingers and remove the skin. Set aside.

Quarter one of the onions and finely dice the other onion. Place the onion quarters in a microwave safe bowl and pour enough water to drown the onions from a freshly boiled kettle. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Discard the cooking water by fishing out the onions.

Put the pistachio nuts, the onion quarters, ginger, garlic, 4 of the green chillies, coriander leaves in a food processor along with 50mls water and process to a fine paste.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and fry the onions on medium high for five minutes until lightly coloured. Add the garam masala, white pepper, bay leaves and fennel seeds and fry another minute. Mix in the spice paste and stir continuously for a further two minutes.

Add the chicken and sauté for five minutes. Add the tamarind puree, remaining chillies, chicken stock and salt. Cook for another 15 -20 minutes until done.

Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle powder the seeds. Just before serving, sprinkle the freshly ground cardamom powder. Serves 4-6.


I consider myself lucky to have experienced authentic Gujarati cuisine when I was in the hostel studying for my post graduate degree in Mumbai. People not familiar with Gujarati cuisine use the term khaman dhokla without realizing that there is no such dish. There is dhokla which is made using rice flour and khaman is made using chick pea flour or besan.


My mother used to make khaman by using a few tablespoons of idli batter as leavening agent. I used the same technique. Also I used a sponge cake tin (20 centimeter diameter) as a vessel for the batter and steamed in my Dutch oven.


1 and a ½ cups of chick pea flour or besan

4 tablespoons idli batter

5 centimetre piece of ginger

3-4 green chillies