In South India, particularly in Andhra and Telangana, breakfast almost always implies that it is cooked. There is a delectable selection of savoury lentil pancakes (adai or pesarettu), vegan crepes (dosas) rice cakes (idlis) and upma. Upma can be congee or porridge consistency and is often made with semolina. I feel I transformed the dish by using quinoa instead of semolina. The trouble with semolina is that it is ultra-processed and offers only empty calories.

Quinoa upma with coconut raita

Using quinoa, upma has gotten a face lift- now protein and fibre rich and a bonus being low glycemic index too. I have a similar recipe using bulgur too.

This is home style cooking and the quantities are only an indication – you can use all vegetables listed or some or use what you have in the fridge. Cauliflower, green peppers are a good addition.


Onion – 1 large about 100g diced into 1 centimetre piece

 Carrot – 1 large about 100g diced into 1 centimetre piece

Potato – 1 large about 150g diced into 1 centimetre piece

Peas – 1 cup

Tomatoes – 100g diced

1 cup of quinoa

Ginger – 4-5 centimetre piece, finely chopped

1 – 2 green chillies (deseeded if you don’t want the heat) finely chopped

2 -3 sprigs of curry leaves washed

½ cup of cashew pieces roasted

3 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1-2 dried red chilli cut into couple of pieces each

2 cups water from the kettle

Salt to taste

½ large lemon or lime for serving


Heat oil in a large fry pan or saute pan (kadai). Add the mustard seeds and dried red chillies – you need to wait until mustard seeds sputter (about a minute or so – if you don’t allow the mustard seeds to sputter, they will be bitter). Then add the curry leaves. When you can smell the curry leaves frying add the onion.

Allow the onions to fry, then add the green chilli and ginger. After thirty seconds, add the carrots, potatoes and tomatoes along with the salt. Continue frying for 2-3 minutes, then add the water. Allow the vegetables to cook for about 5 minutes, add the quinoa in a steady stream mixing continuously so as no lumps are formed. Once all quinoa is incorporated, reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to cook for a further 12-15 minutes.

 Let the upma rest for five minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime and sprinkle the cashew pieces on top.

Serve with coconut raita or any sweet, tangy chutney.


These are my adaptation of a traditional Gujarati steamed cakes called Paanki. What is special is that they are steamed in banana leaves or better still in the husks of a corncob. I shallow fried mine in a non-stick pan in oil and they were delicious. Traditionally served with a coconut chutney, you can serve with a spicy coriander chutney or a mint yoghurt sauce and a side salad for a light lunch or dinner. They are flavourful enough on their own.

Corn & Lentil Cakes


200g split mung dhal

100g urad dhal

6-8 green chillies

200g frozen corn kernels

2 tablespoons chickpea flour (Besan)

1 teaspoon cooking soda

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons sugar

2-3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves


Oil to pan fry

Continue reading “CORN & LENTIL CAKES”


The term mole stems from the Nahuatl world molli, which means “sauce” or “concoction.” Mole comes from a family of sauces prepared throughout the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico and is characterized by a complex, layered flavour derived from intricate blends of dried chillies, spices, fruits, and seasonings. If you have read some of my previous posts, I talked about similarities between Mexican and Indian cooking. Incidentally there is molee in Kerala and historians possibly believe it is a Portuguese influence. Going back to the feature recipe, I served mine with quinoa, red cabbage salad and an avocado salsa topped with a lime yoghurt sauce. You can get creative and imaginative with your plating.

I also read that it is better to pressure cook your beans and I always soak my quinoa for an hour or so before cooking. Remember when you cook any grain, resting it for 5 -10 minutes after cooking is necessary to allow the grain to bloom fully.

Black beans in a mole sauce


250g dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight

40g cashew nuts

250g onions, roughly chopped, divided

3-4 garlic, chopped

200g carrots, chopped

5 teaspoons tomato paste

1 cup vegetable stock

Continue reading “BLACK BEANS IN A MOLE SAUCE”


What do you do with cauliflower stems and tender leaves? Not many recipes feature this and it is a real shame if we just use the flower and chuck the stems in the compost. I remember my mum always cooked the stalks with some type of lentils and fresh coconut. With more awareness and education about eating from root to shoot and keeping waste to a minimum, it is refreshing to see sustainable cooking practices being adopted.

I created this recipe to prove a point to myself – the point being that with good planning and a bit of prep on the weekend, you can have a hearty, nutritionally balanced plant based meal on a weekday.

Braised chick peas with cauli stems and preserved lemon


400g dried chick peas, soaked overnight at least for 8 hours in water

100g onion, finely diced

3-4 sticks celery, peeled and finely diced

400g cauliflower stems and leaves, peeled and evenly sliced

400g butternut pumpkin, cut into even cubes

5-6 cloves of garlic, finely diced

300g of tinned tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste



Kung Pao or Kung Po or Gong Bao is a spicy, stir-fried Chinese dish made with cubes of chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. The classic dish in Sichuan cuisine originated in the Sichuan Province of south-western China and includes Sichuan peppercorns. It is highly addictive with its perfect blend of sweet, salty, crunchy and slightly numbing taste. I have managed to create a vegan version and the family has certified that the vegan version lives up to its reputation.

Gong Bao Tofu


450g firm tofu

200g mushrooms, cut into cubes

5 spring onions, white portion only, cut into 2 centimetre pieces

300g celery sticks, peeled and finely diced

3-4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

3 centimetres piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

Handful of peanuts, roasted with skin on

5-6 hot dried red chillies, seeds removed

1 teaspoon Sichuan peppers

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon potato starch

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar

1 tablespoon water


In a small bowl or measuring jug, mix all ingredients for sauce and keep ready.

Prepare tofu by pressing down under a heavy weight for 20 -30 minutes. Wipe dry and cut into even 1 centimetre cubes.

Heat oil in a large wok, Fry the Sichuan peppers and dried chillies taking care not to burn. Toss the mushrooms in and continue frying for a few minutes.

Stir in the tofu to ensure the tofu is heated through. You should see slight caramelization on the edges.

Stir in the garlic, ginger and spring onion whites. When you can smell the fragrance, add the celery and heat through.

Give the sauce a stir before pouring into the hot wok. Let the sauce bubble away for minute and toss the peanuts.

Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot with steamed sushi or Jasmine rice. Serves 4 -6


This is a great vegetable based starter or can be a side dish. Small plate meals to share are on the trend and this could be a small plate to share. It is my version of the Greek dish kounoupithi kapama.

Braised Cauliflower


500g cauliflower, cut into large even florets

5-6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

150g onion, sliced thinly

5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 large tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons currants

Continue reading “BRAISED CAULIFLOWER”


On cold wintry nights, if you are yearning for a hearty, spicy and warming casserole that is vegetarian, then this one is for you. You can serve over corn chips and make vegetarian nachos or other optional toppings are pickled jalapenos, crème fraiche, sour cream, coriander leaves, avocado or guacamole and hot sauce. The dish is relatively easy to make and using tinned beans halves the cooking time.

I used a combination of borlotti beans, red kidney beans and black beans. Any combination of dark coloured beans would work well.

Chile con Verduras


100g onions, finely diced

2-3 sticks celery, finely diced

200g carrots diced into a small cube

200g orange kumara or sweet potato, peeled and diced into a small cube

200g mushrooms, sliced or quartered



On days when you don’t feel like cooking much but still want to serve up something healthy and filling, this soup is your answer. You can actually use any combination of root vegetables you have on hand but vegetables like kumara (sweet potato) and carrots make the soup luscious. This is a lovely creamy soup that is so satisfying.

Creamy lentil and root vegetable soup


200g onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped

400g orange kumara

1 parsnip, chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons medium curry powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola

1 cup of lentils, rinsed

150ml coconut cream

30 – 40mls of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Salt to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry onions for 3-4 minutes. Toss the garlic and curry powder in and continue frying for a further 30 seconds. Add the lentils and root vegetables. Fry to combine everything well, so the vegetables are coated in the spices. Season with salt. Add 1.5 litres of water. Let it come up to the boil, cover with a lid and let simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and not offer resistance when pressed with a spoon. Rest for five minutes and blitz soup with a hand held stick blender.

Mix in the coconut cream and return saucepan to heat for five minutes until it is warmed through. Stir in the lemon juice. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.


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


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)


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.


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


450g beetroot

200g dark chocolate

½ cup plain flour

½ cup ground hazelnut powder

½ cup brown sugar


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.