ROAST PUMPKIN TOPPED WITH PUY LENTILS

This is a wholesome and hearty vegetarian dish that you can make as a main and doesn’t require much else by way of accompaniments. Butternuts roasted are the best as they are sweet, luscious and warming. I used Manchego cheese for this recipe but you can use Gruyere or any other sweet cheese that melts well.

I’ve made the dish using two medium sized butternut pumpkins but you can scale it up or down. By the way, any leftover lentils are yummy on their own or on toast!

Roast Pumpkin Topped With Puy Lentils

INGREDIENTS

For the butternut pumpkins:

2 medium sized butternut pumpkins weighing about 700g each

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

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MILLIONAIRE’S CARAMEL OAT SLICE

Have you ever racked your brain wondering what to take a plate for an office morning tea? Not just office morning tea – I mean a baby shower or for other occasions when you are asked to take something. If you want an easy, fail proof, easy to impress slice, then look no further. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my own personal preferences but this is Dean Brettschneider, the Global Baker’s recipe. Do try it as like everyone who has tasted this slice, you’ll be craving for more!

Millionaire’s caramel oat slice

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BASE

125g melted butter

120g plain flour

70g rolled oats

50g coconut

120g brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

CARAMEL FILLING

1 tin (380g) caramel condensed milk

30g butter

45g golden syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Good pinch of sea salt (crystals)

CHOCOLATE TOPPING

100g dark chocolate (62% cocoa)

20g butter

75g evenly chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts

METHOD

For the base

 Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mix all dry ingredients together and then pour in the melted butter and combine until it forms a loose dough (a little crumbly). Prepare a 28cm by 22 cm baking tin by lining with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before applying caramel filling. Make caramel filling while base is baking.

CARAMEL FILLING

Place all the ingredients except the salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring all the time until it becomes thickened. Watch it does not burn.

Spread evenly on warm base and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Place back in oven for further 12 -15 minutes. Cool well.

CHOCOLATE TOPPING

Melt chocolate and butter together. Spread evenly over cooled caramel and base. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. When cool, use a sharp knife and cut into squares. Clean knife edge with every cut so you have clean squares.

To prepare roasted hazel nuts, place nuts on a shallow baking tray. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius. Check often to ensure that the nuts don’t burn. Cool and rub nuts in your fingers to loosen skins. Handpick nuts out and discard skins. Chop with a knife or in a food processor.

LENTIL, BUCKWHEAT & SPINACH STEW

This is a flavourful, protein packed one pot dish that is plant based. When you eat this, it definitely feels like you are feeding your soul. You may need to get the urad dhal from an Indian grocer along with black mustard seeds. The urad dhal makes the stew thick and creamy.

Lentil, Buckwheat and Spinach Stew

INGREDIENTS

250g red lentils

50g urad dhal

100g buckwheat, toasted

250g tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 x 400g tin of chick peas, drained

200g onions, thinly sliced

1-2 green chillies, sliced thinly (optional)

7-8 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

120g spinach, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

4 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola

Coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Greek style yoghurt to serve (optional)

METHOD

Dry toast the buck wheat for five minutes on medium heat until pale brown.

Heat oil in a large saucepan. When hot enough, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When you hear them crackling, add the onion, green chillies and ginger and a teaspoon of salt. Fry on medium heat for seven to ten minutes until soft. Add the red lentils and urad dhal and continue frying for another 10 minutes on low heat.

Use a box grater and grate the tomatoes. When the mixture looks dry, add the grated tomatoes and juice. Continue frying as the lentils will absorb most of the moisture quickly. Measure out 2 cups of water – add half cup of water at a time and cook (with lid closed) for five minutes until the water is absorbed before adding another half cup. Spoon in the tomato paste, along with chick peas, toasted buck wheat and turmeric powder. Continue adding half cup of water in five minute intervals and cook for a further 12-15 minutes until the buck wheat is soft. Mix in the spinach leaves. Cover and cook for a further 30 seconds. Turn off heat, remove lid. This way the spinach will remain a vibrant green colour.

Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Stir in the coriander leaves.

Serve hot with a dollop of Greek style yoghurt.

BEETROOT BROWNIES

I know the name is intriguing and yes the main ingredient is beetroot. This is a guilt free treat – just five ingredients and plant based. It is easy to make so definitely give this recipe a try. Boiling the beetroot does take time and the brownie is only as nice as the quality of your chocolate. Buy the best you can afford with at least 60% cocoa.

Beetroot Brownie

INGREDIENTS

450g beetroot

200g dark chocolate

½ cup plain flour

½ cup ground hazelnut powder

½ cup brown sugar

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a shallow 22 centimetre square baking tin with baking paper.

Top and tail the beetroot. I like to boil beetroot (whole), uncut and unpeeled so the colour does not run. Once boiled, cool and peel. Cut into pieces and puree well using a blender.

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.

Mix the pureed beetroot in to the melted chocolate. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Switch the oven off and let it sit in the oven for a further five minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin before slicing. You can serve with cream or ice-cream or I love it on its own.

STOVETOP MAC ‘N’ CHEESE

Sometimes you just feel like the basics or love the idea of a one pot no fuss dish. My ultra-gooey mac ‘n’ cheese is just the answer (you may need more than one pot though). Use flavourful cheese along with good melting cheese to get it gooey. A lot of households have salt and pepper on the table – in our household hot sauce also makes an appearance if my family suspects a dish looks bland and I hate the thought that my food will get doused in hot sauce for extra flavour. For chilli lovers, I have already incorporated hot English mustard and hot sauce into the recipe.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I have made this with both gluten and gluten free (Barilla) pasta and both are delicious. The gluten free packet is 350g and I didn’t alter the proportions.

My recipe has been adapted from Kenji Lopez Alt’s book “The Food Lab”.

INGREDIENTS

400g elbow macaroni

400ml evaporated milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste

1 tablespoon hot English mustard

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GRILLED MISO EGGPLANT

As far as condiments and flavourings go, I love miso. I use it rather unconventionally in salad dressings and also in sauces/ marinades. The savouriness of miso lends well to eggplant. You could use the same technique with zucchini (cut it lengthways).

Grilled Miso Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

2 eggplants, cut into 2cm thick slices

2 -3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (like sunflower)

100g mozzarella, grated

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MANGO PHIRNI

The history and origin of Phirni (sometimes spelt Firni) is not confirmed but often believed that the Mughals enjoyed rich milk based puddings. This milk pudding tradition is common in Persia so it is likely that the dish has origins there.

The main difference between phirni and kheer is that rice is ground in the former whereas kheer is rice pudding and you cook it whole.

Mango Phirni

INGREDIENTS

50g Basmati rice

2 tablespoons water

1 litre milk

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GRILLED HALLOUMI FLATBREADS

I guess this could easily pass for a Mediterranean version of a taco! You can serve with store bought flat breads or pita breads for convenience but my flat bread recipe is not cumbersome just takes a bit of planning. Don’t be daunted by the different elements – I guarantee this is very easy to make and you can serve this as a starter or on its own for a light lunch.

Grilled Halloumi flatbreads

INGREDIENTS

2 x 250g blocks Halloumi cheese

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons liquid honey

Sumac powder to garnish

For the avocado salsa

2 avocados, peeled, stoned and diced

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QABOOLI – KICHADI WITH OOMPH

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!

Qabooli

INGREDIENTS

250g Basmati rice

400g tinned brown lentils, drained and rinsed well

400g tinned Beluga lentils, drained and rinsed well

50g shallots, finely diced

1 medium sized red onion, finely diced

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DIWALI SWEETS – COCONUT BARFI

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.

Coconut barfi

INGREDIENTS

1 and a ½ cups sugar (frozen is fine)

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