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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BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS

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.

Bean quesadillas

INGREDIENTS

2 x 400g canned black beans, drained and rinsed well

100g red onions finely chopped

100g corn kernels

150g grated melting cheese

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CHICK PEA & PUMPKIN KEBABS

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

INGREDIENTS

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

FOR THE MINT & YOGHURT SAUCE

2 generous handfuls of mint

1-2 green chillies, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt to taste

300g Greek style yoghurt

METHOD

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.

SPICY SOUP WITH CHICK PEAS & PUY LENTILS

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!

INGREDIENTS

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

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PRUNE, PUMPKIN & HAZELNUT CAKE

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

INGREDIENTS

1 kg peeled pumpkin

300ml sunflower oil

1 and ¼ cup soft brown sugar

4 eggs

¾ cup chopped prunes

1 cup hazelnuts

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CREAMY BROCCOLI AND KALE SOUP

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

INGREDIENTS

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

METHOD

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

SPICED RHUBARB WITH SAGO CUSTARD

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable but it is cooked like a fruit! When you think of rhubarb and associate with a pie, you are not wrong because the red stalks (part used) are generally paired with sugar, butter and flour!

Rhubarb, with its attractive pinkish red hue is a heavy weight in terms of nutrition value. It is high in fibre, Vitamin K and also has more antioxidant punch than kale! Some people therefore consider rhubarb as super food. I personally wouldn’t say that because it only becomes palatable if you add sugar to it so I would go as far as saying that it is a healthyish dessert choice!

Spiced rhubarb with sago custard

This is a lovely dessert and it is vegan! I guess you could also try sub rice for sago.

INGREDIENTS

For the custard:

400ml tin of coconut milk

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CARROT SHORBA

The word “shorba” is of Persian origin and almost a dozen variations of the word exist. It is traditionally prepared by simmering meat or vegetables in boiling water along with salt and flavored with aromatic curry spices and herbs.

Carrot shorba

My recipe is an oldie but a goodie from the Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor who has been the celebrity chef on one of the longest running food shows of its kind Khana Khazana. (In fact the show has been running since 2010 and has over 500 million viewers.) I remember watching this show on my visits to India. I have simplified the recipe so it is easier and you don’t have so many dishes to wash up!

This is a great soup to serve as a starter for a dinner party and I assure you will have your guests wanting more and the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

500g carrots, peeled and cut into 2 centimetre chunks

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

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