I love mushrooms in any form. Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins, are excellent sources of micro elements like selenium and copper and rich in antioxidants. For as long as I remember I used to make mushroom ragout with cream and in my quest to make more of my recipes plant based, I experimented with options and came up with this recipe as it has the richness and creaminess of cream but it is vegan.

I find instant polenta is easier to work with and does not get lumpy as easily. In my experience I have always found that it requires way more water than recommended on the packet. Another trick I found is that if your polenta is too runny, then cook for longer. The creamy polenta is not vegan as I add some grated parmesan cheese in the end. Maybe you can omit the parmesan and see if you like it.

Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Polenta


500g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 4-5mm thick

50g shallots, chopped

100g onions, finely diced

10g dried shitake mushrooms

1 teaspoon Marmite

50g cashew nuts, soaked for 30 minutes in 200ml hot water

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 sprigs of thyme

2 tablespoons brandy

½ teaspoon brown sugar

Salt and pepper

2 cups or 300g instant polenta

30g butter, cubed

30g parmesan cheese, finely grated or on microplane


Rinse the shitake mushrooms and soak in 50ml hot water from a freshly boiled kettle for 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

Blitz the cashew nuts along with their soaking liquid in a food processor until creamy. In a small jar of food processor or spice grinder, add the shallots, shitake mushrooms including the soaking liquid and marmite. Process to a fine paste.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large fry pan. Fry the onions, thyme and garlic for 8-10 minutes. Toss the mushrooms in and mix well so that the aromatics stick to the mushroom pieces. Increase heat to a high and pour in the brandy. Be very careful and set the alcohol alight by using the flame from the stove or lighting a match. Once the alcohol has burnt off, lower heat to medium and fry the onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Once mushrooms look cooked, add the shitake mushroom paste and sugar. Mix well and check for seasoning adjusting as needed.

Pour in the cashew nut cream. Mix well and if sauce is too thick, add hot water spoon by spoon until desired sauce consistency is achieved. Fish out the thyme before serving. Keep warm while you prepare the polenta.

Cook the polenta as per instructions on the packet. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Once butter cubes are incorporated, you can mix the parmesan cheese.

Serve a scoop of polenta and top it with the mushroom ragout. Serves 4 as a main meal.


There are several regional variations of kadi. This one is with onion pakodis but you can substitute spinach for the onion. In the South, they use vegetables like choko or okra to make kadi.

Kadi – onion pakodi in a yoghurt sauce



150g onions, diced

3 tablespoons chick pea flour (besan)

1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder

Pinch of baking powder

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying



Urad Dhal with silverbeet

Dhal or dal traditionally is made with toor dhal. Sometimes it is roasted and then cooked in the pressure cooker. This particular recipe is unusual in the sense that the dhal is made with urad dhal and most of the cooking is done while roasting with ghee. There is very little water used, most of the liquid needed is from tomatoes and onions. It is thick and delicious and is a satisfying plant based meal when served with brown rice.


140 grams urad dhal, rinsed

100 grams moong dhal, rinsed

600 grams onions thinly sliced

80 grams ghee or clarified butter

2 tablespoons tomato paste

80 grams ginger, peeled and finely chopped



I first made this dish nearly 20 years ago and it was an instant hit with my then pre-schoolers. I must say it has remained a firm family favourite.

Eggplant Spaghetti


2 medium eggplants

400 gram tin of Italian tomatoes, emptied into a bowl and squashed with your hand

Olive oil for frying the eggplants

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

Continue reading “EGGPLANT SPAGHETTI”


Dhal Fry

This is a very simple and satisfying dish (sometimes called tarka dhal or tadka dhal) you see on the menu in Indian restaurants and households. There are any number of variations – normally this is made with Toor Dhal (obtained from specialist Indian stores and you would cook this in a pressure cooker as stove top method takes too long) but I have done a simple one with all the flavours using red lentils.


1 cup red lentils washed

1 thumb size fresh ginger piece chopped fine

1 large onion finely chopped

1 fresh red chilli finely chopped

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons ghee

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Salt to taste

½ fresh lemon

1 tablespoon coriander leaves finely chopped


Place the lentils in a large saucepan and add two and a half cups water. Add the onion, ginger, chilli and turmeric powder. Stir to combine contents of the pot and bring it to a boil. Once the water is bubbling, reduce heat and let the lentils simmer for 15 minutes stirring a couple of times so the lentils do not stick to the bottom. Once cooked stir in the salt, lemon juice and coriander leaves and set aside. Heat the ghee in a small fry pan. When hot add the cumin seeds, fry until they splutter or the seeds have opened up and the flavour is evident. While hot pour on top and serve immediately with pulao. Serves 4.


Dhal fry and pulao


2 cups Basmati rice rinsed in a sieve and drained

1 large carrot cut into a small 1 centimetre dice

1 large onion sliced very thinly

1 cup frozen peas

½ thumb size piece of fresh ginger finely chopped

4 plump garlic cloves finely chopped

1 x 5 cm cinnamon stick cut in half

5 cloves

5 cardamom

4 tablespoons ghee

Salt to taste


Take a wide saucepan with a lid preferably one with a non-stick surface. Heat ghee and add the whole spices. Fry for a minute until all the spices have opened up and the smell is evident. Then fry the onions for three minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and continue to fry for a further minute. Add the rice, carrots and fry for a couple of minutes. Add salt and three and three quarters cups of cold water from the tap. Increase heat and let the contents of the pan come up to the boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook for 12 minutes. Stir in the frozen peas and continue cooking for a further 4- 5 minutes. The key to cooking beautiful rice on stove top is to get the best quality Basmati rice you can afford and also do not stir more than once in the middle of cooking. Allow the rice to rest for ten minutes before serving hot with the Dhal or raita.

Radish / Onion Salad

5 small pink table radishes sliced thinly

2 medium red onions sliced thinly

Salt to taste

Pinch of sugar

½ teaspoon Ajwain seeds (Indian store)

Juice of one lemon


Using your hands, mix the radishes, onions, salt, sugar and ajwain seeds. Squeeze in the lemon juice and allow to pickle for at least half an hour. Serve as part of an Indian meal.


10 large, juicy lemons (Meyer)

Juice from 4 lemons

10 tablespoons salt

9 tablespoons chilli powder (I use a combination of very hot and mild Kashmiri chilli powder)

1 heaped dessertspoon full of fenugreek seeds (roasted until brown and ground to a fine powder)

10 cloves plump garlic (optional)

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

4 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola


Cut the 10 lemons into eighths or if smallish into quarters. Take a large jar and place lemons in jar. Add all the salt and shake the jar so the salt is mixed in. Set the jar aside for 24 hours. Squeeze out all the pieces (retain the juice that has collected) and you can dry the pieces in the sun or I prefer to dehydrate them in the oven at 50 degrees Celsius for about 16 hours or so.  Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds – fry until the seeds are sputtering. Then add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds. In another large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon mix the chilli powder and roasted fenugreek powder and add the oil mixture. Add the dried lemon pieces and also the reserved juice (the one from soaking). Mix well and put all the pickle back into the jar. Allow to rest in a cupboard for a couple of days. Then give it a good mix and squeeze in juice from the four lemons. Will keep for a few months in the back of your cupboard. Serve as accompaniment to an Indian meal.