Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pan-roasted brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a great favourite with me, especially since I discovered that they could be roasted in the oven. That is definitely my most preferred way to eat these little green cabbagey things. My mother and I are the only two people in my family who would willingly and happily eat sprouts. My husband turns green at the sight of a sprout. Despite that, he always insists on having this vegetable as a side dish at Christmas dinner, and he'll even put a couple of them on his plate - but they remain untouched all through the meal and then they go straight into the bin. I've asked him why he wants sprouts on the table if he hates them so much, and why he puts them on his plate if he never means to eat them. The only answer I've received is a stubborn "There should be Brussels sprouts at Christmas dinner. It's a tradition." Yeah, his Christmas tradition being never to eat sprouts.

Anyway, my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, my niece and I all make up for Pete's boycott of the sprouts, because we all love them.

Today, inspired by Masterchef Australia 2016 (which I have been watching diligently and religiously), I decided to pan-fry my sprouts. I usually add a lot of chilli powder to my dry curries, but for some reason I refrained, just limiting myself to a pinch of Jaffna curry powder. 

Cooking the sprouts on a slightly higher heat, covered, for 15 or so minutes helped them "caramelise" where they were in contact with the hot pan. Masterchef contestants (and judges) are very big on caramelisation, which I've interpreted as "crisp in places and just very slightly burnt". 

Well, whatever the actual definition, the sprouts were absolutely delicious! i'm not joking when I say that I kept eating them straight from the pan - the caramelised bits were lovely and crunchy, the inner bits were soft... seriously, just thinking about it is making me salivate. I still have a few sprouts left and I'm very certain I'll be making this again tomorrow. Thank you, Masterchef Australia, for the caramelisation fixation!

Recipe for: Pan-roasted Brussels sprouts

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15 medium sprouts
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp Jaffna curry powder (or any curry powder or garam masala you might have)
Salt to taste


1. Trim the sprouts and cut into quarters.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the asafoetida powder and coriander powder and stir it for 30 seconds. Then add the quartered sprouts, sprinkle the curry powder or garam masala over, and stir to coat the sprouts in the oil and spices.

3. Keep the heat just below medium-high and cover the pan. Let the sprouts cook for 15 minutes undisturbed. Then take off the lid and check to see that they are cooked. They should be beautifully caramelised from the prolonged undisturbed contact with the hot pan. Sprinkle the salt over the cooked sprouts and stir it in.

4. Take the pan off the heat and serve the sprouts hot as a side with rice and sambar. (I ate most of them straight from the pan because they were just that delicious.)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Triple ginger white-chocolate cookies

Okay, I have a confession to make - I might as well be up front about it. I hate white chocolate. I think it's far too sweet and it isn't even proper chocolate. Another confession: I've kind of gone off chocolate bakes in general, although I did like my orgasmic brownies. More to the point, everybody else liked it a lot more, so they disappeared very quickly. 

The problem of the day was there was half a bar of white chocolate in my cupboard that had been there for absolutely ages - possibly even years, because I can't remember the last time I used white chocolate in anything! Still, I didn't want to throw it away because I'm stingy like that. 

I was toying with the idea of making a white chocolate and raspberry something but wasn't sure what that should be - apart from the small matter of not having any raspberries in the house. My husband tried to convince me to let the white chocolate be and make ginger nut biscuits instead. I make a really mean spicy ginger nut biscuit that he loves, but I wasn't in the mood because they're quite labour-intensive. Also because I didn't want that white chocolate sitting around for a single moment longer. So, as a compromise, I finally decided I would make cookies with ginger AND the white chocolate. And that is how these cookies happened. 

My husband thought the cookies were lovely. Some friends who popped by also thought the same, so they went back home happily accompanied by a dozen. My husband was happy, my friends were happy. I tried a cookie myself and I thought it was ok (considering it contained white chocolate). Still, I was happy too, because no more white chocolate in the house... and no more coming in ever if I have a say in it! 

Recipe for:
Triple-ginger white chocolate cookies

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2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tbsp chopped stem ginger
225gm plain flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
150gm butter
100gm light brown sugar
50gm dark brown sugar
150gm white chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or use white chocolate chips)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp nutmeg


1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well combined.

2. Now add the flour, grated ginger, nutmeg and ginger powder to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a dough. Fold in the chopped stem ginger and the white chocolate until they are evenly distributed. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, as it will be too sticky to work with otherwise.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. While the oven is heating, form walnut-sized balls from the chilled dough and place 1.5 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. (The time will vary a little depending on your oven - mine is a fan-assisted oven.) If you have to bake the cookies in batches like I did (because I only have one baking sheet that I actually like), remember to keep the dough refrigerated between bakes so that it doesn't soften too much.

The cookies will be quite soft at first, so leave them on the tray for 2 minutes before carefully removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. They will crisp up as they cool.

If you like your cookies crisp around the edges but softer in the middle (I do), take them out of the oven after about 8-9 minutes. My husband likes them crisp so I baked his for the full 10 minutes.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Apple, cucumber and carrot salad

Salads aren't my most favourite food, if I am to be honest. Seeing a recipe for salad on anyone's blog doesn't usually float my boat. So I don't expect this simple recipe to turn the Internet's head and send millions of unique visitors my way. But it really was a refreshing salad when I ate it yesterday, and I thought it worthwhile to make a post of it. The best part was that the apples were from my own little container tree, which has done rather well this year. i think I got about 20 apples from it, all told. It's only got two branches!

I had picked a couple of apples to see if they were edible or whether I would have to make an apple crisp or cake, because last month when I tried one, it was much too sour to make pleasant eating. (I made a cake with the apples then). They are meant to be eating apples, you see. But this time they were perfect, beautifully juicy and sweet with the right amount of tartness. Really lovely. Why I fancied a salad using the apples, I have no idea. I don't usually want a salad for dinner. But I had also picked some mint too, and I wanted to use that. So here it is. I can assure you that the salad is refreshing and I really enjoyed it. It is not any more exciting than that, unfortunately.

No wait, that's not quite true. There was SOME excitement while I was slicing the vegetables - I used a mandoline to make wafer-thin slices, and it was so viciously sharp and efficient at its job that I found I had sliced a bit off the side of my forefinger before I knew it. I cursed a bit and ran cold water over my finger, then went back to the mandoline. And it happened AGAIN, this time to my thumb. It was painful, but at least I can claim that I put myself into my salad. You don't have to do the same, though. I'm sure the salad would taste just as nice without the blood, sweat (metaphorically speaking) and tears.

Recipe for:
Apple, cucumber and carrot salad

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2 medium eating apples
1 small cucumber
1 medium carrot
2 tbsp walnuts
handful of Chinese cabbage or lettuce, shredded very fine

For the dressing:
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp very finely chopped mint
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp apple balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste

1. Slice the cucumber, apples and carrot very thinly (I used a mandoline).

2. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Adjust the taste to your requirement.

3. Mix the salad vegetables together, then add the dressing a little at a time - you may not require all of it, so go easy. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and eat immediately.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mixed vegetable pakoda v2

I've posted a pakoda recipe before, but I thought I'd do a post on this version because, for one, it IS slightly different and for another, I really REALLY like my photo and think it deserves to be enshrined on my blog for posterity to view over and over.


My mother's version (which is the only one I've used all these years) for vegetable pakoda does not involve ginger-garlic paste. This time I decided to add it, and gosh, what a difference it made to the taste! The mint also added a refreshing note. I recommend it. 

Oh, and while you're considering my recommendation, make sure you guys admire my beautiful photo of the pakodas. I recommend that too.

Recipe for:
Mixed vegetable pakoda

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1 medium potato
10-12 green beans
1/5 small cauliflower
1 medium carrot
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup green peas
1 medium onion
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp finely chopped mint

1 tsp omam/ajwain/oregano seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1.5 - 2 cups chickpea flour
2 tbsp rava/semolina
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying


1. Peel the carrot. Chop all the vegetables into thin 1/2-inch long strips.

2. Heat the oil in a deep wok. While the oil is heating, in a large mixing bowl, mix together all the chopped vegetables, spice powders, grated ginger and garlic, the semolina and the chickpea flour. Mix well, then add salt to taste and mix again. Add 1/4 cup water and mix with your hands to a thick dough. It should not be runny at all, because the vegetables will exude water. And once the dough is mixed, use it straightaway.

3. Drop a small piece of dough in the oil - if it floats to the top rightaway, the oil is ready. Drop the mixture carefully into the oil by the tablespoonful. Don't crowd the oil or the pakodas will not be crisp and soak up the oil. Once they are an even golden brown, remove from the oil and drain onto kitchen paper.

4. Serve warm. Great with drinks.

Monday, November 07, 2016

No-cook green chutney

This is such a simple recipe that I'm slightly embarrassed that I'm making it an actual post. However, consider this a record of the ingredients for this chutney. Bear in mind that the ingredients are not set in stone. The coriander and mint are necessary, but the spinach can be omitted, you can use peanuts or walnuts instead of the almonds, add or omit the sunflower seeds or substitute some other seeds... you get the idea.

This chutney can be used as is, as a condiment to go with samosas and other Indian snacks, as a sandwich spread, as a dip mixed into yogurt. It could even be good with pasta, if you consider it as a sort of fat-free Indian "pesto". I haven't tried that, but there's no reason to think it won't be nice. It's versatiie, zingy and easy to make. Last but not the least. this is a healthy chutney - 
not in the sense of "I've halved the sugar so I'm calling this healthy" or "I've added spinach to the vegetable pakodas that I deep fried, so I'm calling it healthy" - but actually good for you. That's all.

Oh - one more thing. I had this chutney with khatta dhokla yesterday (made from a packet mix, so sue me). And today, I dolloped a couple of spoonfuls over my bowlful of oven-roasted veggies (Charlotte potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, red onion) and enjoyed every last bite of my light supper. See what I'm saying about this green chutney being versatile?

Recipe for: Green chutney

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3 cups chopped coriander
1 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1-2 green chillies, chopped (or to taste)
10-12 almonds, skinned
2 tbsp mixed seeds (I used sunflower and melon)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Water as required


1. Grind together all the ingredients (except the salt and lemon juice) to a smooth paste.

2. Mix in the lemon juice and salt to taste. The consistency should be softly runny, not very thick. 

3. That's it. It's ready to use. 

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Blackeyed bean curry

I love my local "Indian" shop in Wellington. Del, the owner, is a really nice man with a great sense of humour and enough knowledge of rugby to engage with Pete. Plus, he keeps adding new products, especially in the fresh frozen section. I might not get a wide variety of fresh and exotic vegetables there, although most of the Indian staples are easily available, but there's plenty in the frozen section to keep me happy.

Like the fresh frozen black eyed beans that I bought the other day. (I also bought a couple of bags of some type of mystery greens, but that's another story.) I guess my foodie friends will understand when I say that my cup of happiness ranneth (new word!) over when I saw the fresh beans and green chickpeas in the freezer section. 

I made a curry the same evening with the black eyed beans - really tasty it was, too. I won't say that it will rock your world, although it should. (Mine wobbled a bit on its axis.)

Recipe for: Blackeyed bean curry
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2 tsp oil
2 cups fresh frozen blackeyed beans
1 medium potato, sliced into strips
3 large tomatoes, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3-4 green chillies, minced (or to taste)
1" piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp Kitchen King masala (or garam masala)
1-2 cups water
1/4 cup yogurt
Salt to taste
Juice of half a lime
Coriander leaves for garnish


1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion, green chillies, ginger and garlic along with the coriander and cumin powder. Mix well and fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften.

2. Now add the chopped tomatoes and sliced potatoes and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the frozen blackeyed beans, pour in a cupful of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Then cover the pan, turn down the heat and let the beans cook for 10 minutes. Stir once in a while so that the masala does not burn. Add a little more water if required.

3. Once the potatoes and beans are cooked, and the sauce is thick, stir in the yogurt over medium heat. Do not let it boil after adding the yogurt. Add salt to taste and mix it in, then the lime juice. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the beans with the chopped coriander and serve hot with rice or chapaties.