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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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.