A slice of Costa Rica – Casado

With summer firmly on it’s way out and Autumn settling in, the chilly nights demand some great comfort food. I wanted to try something different so I choose a popular Costa Rican dish – Casado. Why? Well, it’s the ideal comfort food, easy to put together and tastes amazing! Best part is it’s very easy on the pocket and if you plate it well, it looks like a posh meal – no one would guess what went into making it!

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                             Costa Rican Casado

Casado literally means a ‘married man’ and it is said that the name probably originates from how the local men expected food to be served when they were eating outside so that it reminded them of familiar tastes of a home cooked meal. An authentic Casado which is served at ‘sodas’ or local cafes is accompanied by what is known as a Lizano sauce. The brand name Lizano is now generic and retails in N. America.  Since this sauce is yet to hit UK shores ( believe me I did a fair bit of looking around in shops that sell Mexican ingredients, Asian, Carribean and most of my local supermarkets) I finally decided to make my own ,which was a great decision – why ? Well scope to experiment and innovate for one, coupled with freedom to incorporate easy to procure, local ingredients – resulting in a deliciously moorish creation! A traditional root vegetables dish from Costa Rico called Picadillo is a popular side dish with rice and tortillas. You can safely say that the gravy sauce is a marriage of sorts between the Lizano sauce and the Picadillo. I have done a fair amount of customisation and the most interesting part of cooking Casado was creating the gravy sauce, combining it with root vegetables and serving it as a wholesome gravy side dish. Let’s get started with the sauce aka gravy as this will take the most time to cook of all the other sides.

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                                Costa Rican Casado

 

Recipe is good for 2 with generous helpings.

Root Vegetable Gravy Side

Prep & Cooking Time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium juicy tomato – finely chopped
  • 2 small red onions finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped into tiny cubes
  • 3 small sweet fresh peppers finely chopped
  • A handful of cauliflower florets
  • A handful of very finely chopped sweet potato
  • 1 heaped tbsp of finely grated celeriac
  • A pinch of garlic puree
  • Half a dry red Kashmiri chilli
  • ½ tsp of thick tamarind puree
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  •  1/2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • A handful of finely chopped coriander

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and add the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and cumin powder and stir well.
  2. When the onion starts to reduce add the bay leaves, the chopped tomato and chopped sweet peppers, stir the the tomato & peppers around vigorously bit to get them to release their juices and reduce the flame to a minimum.
  3. Throw in the finely chopped carrot cubes, sweet potato, grated celeriac, tomato puree and add enough water to cover this mixture.
  4. Cook with lid on till the sweet potato and carrots begin to soften, then it’s time to toss in the cauliflower florets, season with the dry red chilli,tamarind,cracked black pepper, salt and sugar and give it a good stir.
  5. Let this cook on a low flame with lid for about 25 minutes.
  6. Keep opening the lid, stirring and adjusting the water if it becomes to run dry, we need a gravy like consistency.
  7. When it done, add some finely chopped coriander in the tamarind should give it a bit of tangy twist, while the dried Kashmiri chilli gives it colour and mild heat, the sweet pepper and tomato puree work their magic together and the gravy is delicious and wholesome what with so many veggies hidden inside!

Root Vegetable Gravy Sauce

Red Kidney bean side

Prep and Cooking Time: 15 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 2 large tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and stir well.
  2. After the onion has sautéed, add the tomato puree and stir then add the beans and mix well.
Red onions for Kidney Beans

                                                                             Red onions for Kidney Beans

  1. Add some water to the mixture and reduce the flame to a minimum, cook with a lid on but check often so that it does not burn or run dry.
  2. 4.Since the canned and ready to eat red kidney beans are preserved in salty water, check the taste before adding in any more salt, chuck in some dry red chilli flakes for flavour and set aside.
Red Kidney Bean side is done

                                                                                         Red Kidney Bean side is done

Boiled white rice

  • Cook 1 cup rice using exactly double the water and a pinch of salt

Fried Plantain

  • Peel and chop the plantain into large chunks and fry in hot oil in a kadhai or wok until they are a light brown. It’s easy for them to char so get them out as soon as the colour turns a golden shade of brown, allow to cool on a plate on a bit of kitchen roll to soak excess oil.

Plaintains peeled

  • Don’t fret if like me you can’t peel the plantain I simply use a knife and remove the thick green skin, even if that means that the plantain pieces are hexagonal or cubes now, well I never was too good at geometry 😉

Frying Plantains in Kadhai

Fish

  • Casado can be served with meat, fish or chicken. Chop one large fillet of fresh salmon and pan fry both sides till done in about 1 tbsp oil.

Salmon Pan Shallow Fry

Cheese Tortilla

  • Heat a large flour tortilla –shop bought on a pan and adds a generous helping of grated parmesan cheese on tortilla. Just as the tortilla heats up and the cheese shows sign of melting fold the tortilla in half and flip over and toast each side till you have a crispy yum cheesy tortilla, slice into neat triangles ready to be served.

Tortilla on pan with grated cheddar

Cabbage Salad

  • Chop a fresh cabbage fine to get one large handful of cabbage, add half a red onion and a small handful of finely chopped cucumber, squeeze half a lime, sprinkle some cracked black pepper, a small amount of fresh finely chopped coriander and toss all these together. Easy-peasy right?

Folded Tortilla

Serve the steaming hot rice with the salmon on the side, topped with some of the root vegetable gravy. Mop up the beans with the cheesy tortilla and munch on the sweet fried plantain with generous bites of the tangy cabbage salad in between mouthfuls of everything else.

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                                Costa Rican Casado

Korean Beef stir-fry

What is one to do when left with a gorgeous cut of meat? Well other than eat it as is, would have been delicious given the meat in question was a 300 gm rump of steak with a fabulous chimicurri sauce. But I had other plans for the leftover steak. ( Where did I order this gorgeous steak? It was at CAU in Blackheath where I was invited for an Argentinian Street Food Masterclass where I learnt how to make empanadas and sampled some amazing authentic Argentinian cuisine. CAU group of resturants is raising funds for the charity Action Against Hunger with the launch of #CAUnival a month long celebration of an ‘Friend’s Day’ or Dia do Amigo. Read all about it here )

Argentinian Lomito Steak with Chimichurri

Argentinian Lomito Steak with Chimichurri

The thought of a spicy Korean beef stir fry served with a comforting bowl of rice was very appealing. I wanted to ensure that I made the most of the succulent medium rare cooked beef and gave the vegetables just the right amount of flavour without any flavour overpowering the already moreish chimichurri dressing.

Korean Beef Stir Fry

Korean Beef Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 250 gm beef  (in this case I was leftovers from a medium rare cooked steak with a chimichurri sauce)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp Chimmichuri dressing
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a red Thai chilli
  • 250 gm of vegetables – carrots sliced into ribbons, green beans, bok choy
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Chopped fresh spring onion to garnish
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Slice the beef thinly and set aside soaking in the chimichurri dressing. The chimichurri contains paprika, garlic, parsley, tangy vinegar and oil. Packed with favour this Argentinian steak sauce pairs surprisingly well with the spicy Korean flavours of the stir fry. If you are serving the Korean beef stir fry with steamed rice then leave it to cook before starting on the beef, so that it is ready soon after the beef is done.
  • Remove the skin from the garlic cloves.
  • Heat the sesame oil in a large wok and fry the garlic cloves in the hot oil until it just begins to brown. Sprinkle the dried red chilli flakes into the hot oil.
Garlic,red chilli and dried chilli flakes in sesame oi

Garlic,red chilli and dried chilli flakes in sesame oi

  • Then add the chopped red chilli and add the carrots followed the beans, allow them to cook ensuring the vegetables still have a bite in them. Stir in the soy sauce and season with little salt. (Light soy sauce has less salt content that’s why I generally prefer it over dark soy sauce)
  • Remove the vegetables and set aisde in a bowl with a lid.
  • Then add the sliced beef into the wok and stir fry on heat for under a minute as the beef is already almost cooked.
  • Now reduce the heat to a minimum and add in the vegetables, add the bok choy and drizzle the chimichurri sauce over this. Mix everything well together.
Mixing the vegetables and the stir fried beef

Mixing the vegetables and the stir fried beef

  • Remove from the wok and serve with the steaming hot sticky rice. Garnish with chopped spring onion for a fresh,crunchy garnish.
Korean Beef Stir Fry

Korean Beef Stir Fry

Eat in Chicken Tikka Masala – Take the Tefal ActiFryDay challenge

Friday nights – when all you want to do is get home, put your feet up and watch some telly while tucking into your favourite takeaway. But here are some staggering facts about the eating habits of Britons and how many calories are consumed on an average with a takeaway meal. According to Tefal’s ActiFryday Report:

  • From a study of the 5 most popular dishes it was found that the nation consumes 12,400 tonnes of saturated fat through takeaway’s alone.
  • Brits eat upto 2900 calories and 161 grams of fat in their most popular takeaway meal.
  • Friday is the most popular day to order.

Not surprising then the survey revealed this shocking statistic –

BRITONS FEAST ON MORE THAN 12,000 TONNES OF SATURATED FAT FROM TAKEAWAYS EACH YEAR

Am sure you are as shocked after reading these statistics as I was. So naturally when Tefal asked me to take on their Actifryday challenge – to swap a typical Friday night takeaway for a healthier alternative –  I was in.

Tefal Actifry XL

Tefal Actifry XL

I decided to give the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that they sent me a go. Why? Because  I have always been very intrigued by the recpie for Chicken Tikka Masala – a dish that I only ate when I first came to the U.K few years ago. CTM as it is popularly called, is without doubt the nations favourite British-Indian curry. Part of it’s popularity is attributed to the fact that it’s origin is quite disputed and many have staked a claim as to the dish being their own invention. While some believe that it was dish born out of necessity to satiate the British palate’s need to serve chicken in a gravy which can be mopped up with naan or rice, it is also believed that it is a variation of butter chicken. Many also firmly believe that it’s roots like in Mughlai cuisine and it was one of the many culinary inventions that were born to suit the English palate, when the migrant population from post partition India, Pakistan and Bangladesh came into Britain. Of course I was not going to follow the recipe without making some changes of my own. I normally make all my own masala’s and marinades from scratch and all of them can be stored and/ or frozen to be used later. I used half of the tikka masala paste I made  and froze the rest. Find my easy recipe for tikka masala on my blog here.

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

Since this is a recipe which aims to reduce the fat content the double cream that normally goes in the curry is replaced by low fat natural yoghurt. Figuring out how to use my new Tefal Actifry XL was not difficult at all and the instruction booklet is quite simple to follow too. Once the removable parts has been hand washed and dried completely , I set about making a Chicken Tikka Masala. Here is my modified version of the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 500g boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2cm pieces
  • 100g Tikka Masala curry paste
  • 2 pots (150g size) natural low fat yoghurt
  • 1 ActiFry spoon of vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large finely chopped onion and made into a thick paste
  • 390g canned premium chopped tomatoes made into a puree
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 onion gravy flavour pot – I used Knorr
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 150ml of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar – I used a substitute -Natvia
  • 2 teaspoons on lemon juice
  • Salt as per taste
  • a handfull of fresh coriander leaves chopped fine – to garnish

Method:

  1. In a large bowl mix the Tikka Masala paste with 4 tablespoonsof yougurt. Add the chicken in the coat then cover. Leave the marinate in the fridge for atleast 4 hours or ideally overnight – this will ensure the flavours have really seeped in, into the chicken.
  2. Heat oil in ActiFry for 2 minutes. Add the onion paste and cook for 5 minutes. I simply chopped the onion fine in my food processor and sprinkled some water to give it movement and gave it 2 spins at low speed. Result was a thick onion paste which is a much better way to use the onion in this recipe in the Actifry.
  3. Add the marinated Chicken and cook for a another 10 minutes. This ensures that the Actifry is hot enough to bruise the ends of the chicken giving it a similar treatment to what the griddle pan will. But of course the bruising is minimal and cannot be compared to grilling the meat. But this is where the addition of smoked paprika in the chicken tikka paste plays a big role as it works with the chicken and the cooking process to impart a much better smoky effect than without.
  4. In a small glass bowl crush the chicken stock cube, add the onion gravy flavour pot and smoked paprika and pour 2 tbps of hot water. With the back of a spoon mix well until a thick paste is formed.
  5. Add the tomato puree, the mixture with the stock and water cook for another 10 minutes. Add salt to taste but keep in mind that the chicken stock cube contains a lot of salt so taste some of the gravy base before adding additional salt.
  6. Remove the CTM into a bowl and then stir in remaining yoghurt. Then add the sugar and mix well.
  7. Add the lemon juice mix well and top with a handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves.
  8. Serve with steaming hot basmati rice, jeera rice or naan.

If you would like to view the original recipe from Tefal click here. To save time you can purchase the tikka masala paste too.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Both hubby and me were quite satisfied with this low calorie version of CTM and it definitely can hold it’s own in terms of taste. Of course the texture of tandoor grilled chicken tikkas and the unmistakeable creaminess of double cream is missing. But it’s a win -win on 2 very important factors :

  • Saving on unnecessary calories from the grease and oil from a takeaway. Thus eliminating the risk of eating artery clogging saturated fats.
  • Tefal Actifry is easy to use and very easy to cook in. With a little effort and planning it’s not at all difficult to produce a delicious curry – a healthier alternative to your takeaway- at home.

The Tefal ActiFry Express XL is available from John Lewis RRP £249.99.

*With  thanks to Tefal for sending me a Tefal Actifry XL for review. No monetary compensation was offered. No request was made for a positive review.  As usual all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala curry paste

Chicken Tikka Masala is the poster child for British Indian cuisine and definitely tops the list of the nations favourite curry. CTM as it is popularly known as is also the top choice for a Friday Night takeway when ordering in Indian food.

Like any good curry, it’s best to use a home made marinade, so if you can spare some time, it’s best to make your own tikka curry paste. I made mine and here is a simple recipe that you can use. The quantity is enough to marinade 1 kilo of skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces. I used 5000 gm of chicken for my CTM so the rest is in my freezer and can continue to live there for at least 2 months – I don’t think it will though because am sure the craving for a curry can strike sooner rather than later. Actually the tikka paste can be used as a starter marinade for grilled chicken kebabs as that is what is the basis of a good CTM. Or can be used for marinating even meat or fish to grill or as part of a curry dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Half a red chilli de-seeded
  • 2 medium sized kashmiri chillies
  • 2 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 heaped tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander and green chilli puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp roasted coriander seeds powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt as per taste
Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

Method:

  • In a small saucepan heat the oil.
  • Reduce the flame to a minium then add the bay leaf and the dried red kashmiri chillies, which add flavour and colour and not heat.
  • Then add in the ginger garlic paste. Stir for 30 seconds before adding in the garam masala, that will allow the ginger garlic paste to mix well with the hot oil but prevent it from drying up the oil.
  • Once the garam masala is mixed well with the paste and the oil add the screaming dry spices and mix well. Allow  to cook on a very low flame for under a minute and then add the coriander and green chilli puree. (Again I make my own puree – simply spitz 2 large bunches of  fresh coriander leaves with two small Indian green chillies, add some water in a small food processor to make a thick puree. This can be frozen and used for many curries and sabzi’s or bhajee’s as we call them in Marathi.I store mine for upto 3 weeks)
  • The smoked paprika will work with the chiken while making the curry and impart a fabulous smoky flavour that is hard to miss.
  • Allow the paste to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not burn or become too dry.
  • The water content in the coriander and green chilli mixture will totally dry out and you will be left with a dark reddish brown paste.

Like any marinade there are many things that been added or omitted according to one’s preferences. For example the red chilli can be eliminated to reduce the heat. A small pinch of sugar can be added to balance out the green chilli too. Also a small amount of water can be sprinkled to give the paste a more fluid consistency of required.
I use the dried kashmiri chillies and the bay leaf later in the curry base and did not purree the tikka paste further. Why?  Because the garam masala already contains both these spices. After marinating the chicken with the paste, the same kashmiri chilli and the bay leaf can be added to the hot oil, to impart fragrance and colour.

 

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

 

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Today is World Gin Day and a Saturday and it’s summer, can’t think of a better excuse to mix up some fabulously fragrant summer cocktails and share with a few friends! After all can be anything more English than a fruity gin and tonic? Think Not!

So get your cocktail shakers ready for my crazy new cocktail which I have christened as the Bombay Fever Pink Gin. This is an offshoot of the iconic original Pink Gin cocktail. Originating in Cuidad Bolivar – earlier known as Angostura, the capital of Venezuela’s Bolivar state, this cocktail rose to fame in the England in the mid-19th century.

The cocktail is normally made with 4 parts of pink gin and a dash of the angostura bitters. Also a lime rind is added into to allow the oils to infuse into the drink. Served in a chilled highball glass with lots of ice and tonic water it makes for a refreshing and citrusy drink. I always avoid sweet tonic water as it defeats the purpose of adding the bitters. But to each his own and even sweet tonic water works.

I wanted to add a bit of kick into the recipe so I decided to crush some red peppercorns and slit a red chilli in the middle and hang it on the side, slowly adding it’s heat into the drink.  Obviously then the glass must be chilled and the gin should be poured over ice before adding the tonic water. I also decided to leave the bitters out instead of ”in”.

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur is infused with rhubarb which gives the gin and the cocktail a delicate rose colour and an intense .aroma.The ginger, peppercorns and the chilli have a warming aftertaste. Made in the heart of Scotland at the Edinburgh distillery where they create gins infused with beautiful botanicals.This gin pairs well with tonic, soda or lemonade, and as I can say with guaranatee is also fabulous in cocktails, with Champagne or simply over ice

Ingredients:

  • 60 ml Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur
  • a dash of  angostura bitters
  • 1 red chilli split top to down and de-seeded
  • a small twirl of lemon rind
  • 1/2 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
  • a sprig of mint
  • Ice
Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Method:

  • Wash and wipe down your best martini glasses. Leave them to chill in the freezer the frostier the glass the better.
  • Crush the red peppercorns and add into the cocktail shaker
  • Pour angostura bitters into an ice filled glass and stir 4-5 times, then pour the bitters out.
  • Pour the gin onto the ice and add the crushed peppercorns stir gently allowing the flavour from the bitters and the peppercorns to mix well with the gin.
  • Remove the frosted glasses from the freezer and strain the gin into the glasses.
  • Top with tonic water and add a lemon rind into each glass.
  • Rest one half of a split red chill on the side of each glass
  • Gently crush a fresh mint leaf and add into each cocktail glass
  • Sip slowly and enjoy the sunshine

Mix-strain-repeat! It’s #WorldGinDay after all so kick any guilt away by thinking of the many gin lovers who are enjoying their favourite spirit too.

I must say I have a really good time reading all about the history, production and cocktail recipes with gin. Here are links to a few recipes and articles by some of my food blogger friends who appreciate  England’s national spirit as much as I do:

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Curious to know how the World Gin Day came into being? Head to their website here, but be warned you might just get crazy gin cravings after!

To Purchase Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur head to stockist Amazon UK by clicking here

References:

*With  thanks to Aamzon U.K for sending me a sample of Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

BombayFever Pink Gin

Bombay Fever Pink Gin

Mixed berries, finger millet and amaranth GF Pancakes with Co Yo

Coconut Yoghurt is something that will change your life forever, I think I have jumped on the cocnut yoghurt bandwagon a little late but better late than never right? I mean considering that coconut oil used for cooking and as a moisturizer and of course hair oil – I have done it all thanks to having lived in Mumbai. The most amazing taste of coconut oil in food I have eaten has got to be the banana chips sold at small tiny shops mostly to be found outside railway stations where raw banana slices are deep fried in a massive wok gingerly balanced on gas stove. It is a miracle how though these street food stall owners manage to function in tiny spaces in the busy bustling lanes adjoining stations – it is just something I shall never be able to figure out!

Ok back to coconut yoghurt – I wanted to use them in pancakes and also use a mix of flours to come up with a pancake that is not just fluffy but a bit crunchy too – a fusion of the dosa with the pancake really. This time I left out the Natvia sugar and upped the berries and let the natural fruit sugars do their magic.

Co Yo is a very creamy and delicious yoghurt made with coconut milk – it is 100% dairy free , 100% gluten free – and true to their tag line it really does taste like – heaven in a mouthful! An offshoot of Planet Organic these are now manufactured in Kent by Bethany and her husband Paul, read all about it here.

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Health Benefits of these pancakes:

  • Finger Millet prevents any spikes in blood sugar as it is naturally Low GI
  • No added sugars means it is refined sugar free and safe for diabetics
  • The use of amaranth which is GF and a great source of protine. It contains lysine which most grains lack.
  • High Fiber
  • The omission of semolina will make this recipe suitable for vegans too
  • 00% dairy free , 100% gluten free coconut yoghurt
  • Thick and creamy consistency from the coconut milk yoghurt
  • Great option for people aiming to loose weight as part of a balanced diet with exercise
  • A low carb and low fat recipe suitable for those looking to maintain low levels of bad cholestrol ( diabetes patients face a risk of increased cholesterol)

Amaranth is a glutenfree food and a source of complete protein—it contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most grains. High in fiber and a good source of magnesium and iron,Amaranth is a spectacular addition to your diet.

Serves: 1 – makes 6 mini pancakes – double up quantity for 2 people

Preparation and Cooking time :15 minutes + 20 minutes to rest the pancake mix

Ingredients:

  • 4 heaped tbsp finger millet flour / Nachni in Marathi / Ragi in Hindi
  • 1 tbsp Amaranth flour / Rajgira in Marathi and Hindi
  • 2 tbsp toasted semolina / toasted rava – OMIT for a vegan version
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 2 pots  CoYo – one plain and one with vanilla
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of blackberries
  • Handful of raspberries
  • Olive Oil
  • Water
Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Method:

  •  In a large bowl add the oats, amaranth flour, semolina. Then add both the pots of yoghurt and mix well. To make your pancakes GF omit the semolina.
  • Then chop the foods roughly and add into the mixture.
Pancake mix with CoYo

Pancake mix with CoYo

  • Dilute the mixture with water until you get a consistency good enough to pour into the pan and make a pancake.
  • Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the mixture to develop a good consistency. In my first attempt I did not add oats and used the mix immediately – the difference with oats and resting time is a fluffier pancake that has more bounce and kick 😉
  • Heat a pan on a medium flame and add 1 tsp of olive oil then spoon the mixture and flip when the pancake starts to seperate from the side using a wooden spatula.
  • For maximum effect stack the pancakes on a fancy plate, serve with a large dollop of CoYo and a handful of mixed berries.
Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

Mixed berries finger millet amaranth pancakes with CoYo

*With  thanks to CoYo  for sending over the samples. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.Kindly do not re-produce any images without my prior permission. Please consult your doctor of you have been diagnosed as a Diabetic before making any drastic changes to your diet. None of the information in this post is to be used for self diagnostic and / or medical purposes. Please consult your doctor and / or a trained dietitian for any existing health conditions.

Roasted mini Romanesque cauliflower with dukkah yoghurt dip

I do hope some of you may recollect me mentioning that Cauliflower is one of my beloved vegetables, and after I found mini cauliflower and mini Romanesque cauliflowers it was love at first sight, in my mind, they run rings around even the baby courgettes and baby leeks! I mean they look like beautiful little green diamonds, such a beautiful shape, almost too pretty to be eaten!

Mini Cauliflower and Romasque  Cauliflowers

Mini Cauliflower and Romasque Cauliflowers

I just had to bring these beauties home and rustle up something tasty and easy with them. I have written earlier about the many health benefits of cauliflowers and how they are an aid to weight loss. But here are some fun facts for you:

Every 100gm of cauliflower i.e 1 cup has:

  • 25 calories
  • Total Carbs only 5 grams
  • Total Fat 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin C – 77%
  • Vitamin K – 20%

I have been obsessing with the idea of whole roasted Cauliflower and love this recipe – Whole Roast Cauliflower and today I was craving something different for tea. Did not want to load on excess and unwanted calories and wasn’t interested in deep fried stuff at all.

So I tweaked the original recipe, and used fragrant baharat, a fabulous Middle Eastern with dried rose petals and hints of smoked paprika for a kick and roasted cumin. This simple snack makes for a perfect tea time treat especially if like me you are craving cauliflower bhajji/fritters ( bhajji in Marathi is a deep fried vegetable fritter coated in spiced besan ie. chickpea flour)

I decided to dry roast two cauliflowers and coat two on the four mini cauliflowers just to see how the taste varies when coated with a greek yoghurt marinade.

Ingredients

  • 2 baby cauliflowers
  • 2 baby Romanesco broccoli or the Romanesque cauliflower
  • 3 large heaped tablespoons Greek yoghurt
  • 3.5 tsp baharat
  • 2 tsp dukkah

Method

  • In a small bowl add 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt and  and add and mix well 2 tsp baharat
  • Pick one each of the baby cauliflower and the baby Romanesco broccoli or the Romanesque cauliflower and coat it completely with the seasoned yoghurt marinade.
  • Place them onto a baking tray.
  • Then take the remaining baharat in another dry small bowl and coat the other 2 cauliflowers thoroughly.
Mini Cauliflower and Romasque  Cauliflowers marinated

Mini Cauliflower and Romasque Cauliflowers marinated

  • Bake in a preheated oven for  20 minutes at 180° C
  • Make a quick dip with the remaining yoghurt topped with dukkah
Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

  • Serve with hot Turkish tea for a Mediterranean Treat.
Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

Mini Roasted Cauliflower with a Dukkah dip

 

 

 

 

Whole Sea Bass steamed with a Rainbow side salad

A delicious and healthy steamed fish recipe perfect for stay in #FishFriday night dinner or a lovely brunch on a lazy afternoon. The accompanying salad is colourful and full of fresh veggies that’s why I choose to call it a Rainbow Salad.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sea bass scaled and gutted
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 sprigs of Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Garlic sea salt
  • Red Chilli powder

Whole Sea Bass

For the steamed veggies on the side

  • 2 small carrots per person
  • Handful of green peas person

For the Rainbow Side Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh pepper (capsicum)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/2 a courgette
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tbsp Red wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Olive Oil

Beautiful whole Sea Bass seasoned

Method:

To steam the fish

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C 
  • Wash the fish and place on the foil.
  • Stuff the lemon wedges inside the fish along with the Chives, rosemary and thyme.
  • Sprinkle generously with sea salt, red chilli powder and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Wrap the fish in the foil parcel and cook in the oven until it has cooked through, should take about 20-25 minutes.
  • Steam the veggies in a steamer.

To make the Rainbow Salad:

  • Chop all the vegetables into tiny bite sized cubes.
  • Place chopped veggies in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil and add the red wine vinegar.
  • Season well with sea salt and add a generous sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Mix well

To Serve

  • Plate a portion of the fish and serve the steamed carrots and peas on the side.
  • Serve a generous helping of the crunchy veggies salad.

Whole steamed sea bass with a Rainbow salad

Here are some other fabulous recipes to try if you are cooking sea bass:

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes / Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes/ Nachni chya god polya

Another new obsession – Nachni (Marathi) / Ragi (Hindi) or Finger Millet as it is popularly known , in the past few days have made savoury pancakes several times so today I thought I would rustle up some sweet pancakes. But had to keep them healthy so opted for Soya Yoghurt instead of eggs which makes these vegan friendly and added in oats so that makes them gluten free too.

I really wanted to come up with some name for the Marathi alternative to this recipe and ‘Nachni chya god polya’ sounded like fun 😉

Light and puffy these are just perfect when you are craving pancakes but a healthier version is what you really want!

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

Ragi is known to have a whole host of health benefits:

  • Popular amongst diabetics due to it’s low GI
  • High is dietary fiber
  • Rich in calcium, iron and thiamine
  • It is an aid to healthy weight loss due to it’s very low fat content
  • It is a good source of GF protien
  • Popular as a baby food too

Nutritional value of finger millet per 100g

Protein 7.6g
Fat 1.5g
Carbohydrate 88g
Calcium 370mg
Vitamins – A: 0.48mg
Thiamine (B1): 0.33mg
Riboflavin (B2): 0.11mg
Niacin: (B3) 1.2mg
Fiber 3g

800px-Millet_fields_in_Annapurna

Image Credit: Mikael Häggström

Why you should make these pancakes! As if you need any excuses for blueberry pancakes!!!

  • Low GI due to the finger millet flour so ideal for diabetics as it keeps blood sugar levels steady avoiding any sudden spikes and crashes.
  • Gluten free
  • Ideal for vegans
  • Dairy Free
  • Egg Free
  • Refined sugar free as Natvia is great sugar substitute
  • The oats ensure that this pancake keeps you fuller longer

Serves: 1 – makes 6 mini pancakes – double up quantity for 2 people

Ingredients:

  • 6 heaped tbsp oats
  • 4 heaped tbsp finger millet flour
  • 3 tbsp Soya yoghurt – I used Alpro – it’s approved by the Vegan society
  • Handful of blueberries
  • water
  • 4 tsp of Natvia – adjust as per taste

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl add the oats and finger millet and then the yoghurt
  • Mix well and a thick mixture will form
  • Heat about 2 cups of water in a kettle and let it cool down a bit
  • Slowly pour into the mixture and set aside for about 5-7 minutes
  • Then mix well to form a batter ensuring that it is not runny but has a good consistency, then add the Natvia and stir well till it all dissolves, adjust as per taste.
  • On a non-stick pan on medium heat melt 1 heaped tbsp unsalted butter or if your using the 1 cal sunflower oil spray then about 6 – 8 sprays are enough.
  • Ladle enough of the batter in the centre of the pan enough for a mini pancake, do not spread it like a dosa as the batter will disintegrate.
  • Allow to cook on each side for about 1 minute with a lid.
  • Use a wooden spatula to loosen the side done first and flip over carefully, the more the blueberries in each pancake that you ladle into the pan the more the water content as the heat will make the fruit pop and melt into gooey fruity goodness. Don’t fret if the first few pancakes break especially where the fruit is at the edge.

My pancake stack collapsed just as I was about to photograph it – humfph! But it was a very satisfying , delicious and healthy breakfast which even the hubster loved – win-win! Woohoo 🙂

A word of caution though excessive consumption may lead to kidney trouble so don’t over do the consumption.

Lastly a fun fact! Did you know that the grains are fermented to make a beer in some parts in Nepal? Cool or what?!

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

References:

  • Wiki
  • Supra Organics
  • Veg Weight Loss Diets

Whole Masoor dal and Tofu salad

The long Easter weekend has sped past far too quick for me and am back to work. I just wanted to keep lunch really light today – guilty after ordering a Chinese takeaway yesterday *sad face*

So this recipe is basically me throwing together stuff found in my fridge, not necessarily planned but just what I thought would taste yummy and am very pleased with the result.

I am currently in love with a few things like red lentils, avocados, butternut nut squash, oranges, baby spinach, baby kale, walnuts and matcha green tea. I somehow can’t seem to get enough of this. Also my love affair with tofu is just getting more passionate.

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Serves: 2  with extra helpings

Ready in: 45 minutes (If roasted squash is done then ready in 20 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 80gm baby spinach
  • 150 gm whole red masoor dal i.e. whole red lentils with skin
  • 50 gm Tofu
  • Approx 75gm Butternut Squash and sweet potato diced
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 Knorr stock pots of onion gravy
  • 1/2 Knorr stock pots of mixed chillies
  • Walnuts chopped roughly to garnish
Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 (I have fan oven, adjust setting accordingly to suit your oven type)
  • Line a baking tray with a baking sheet, place the diced butternut squash and sweet potato , drizzle some olive oil, smoked sea salt and black pepper. I purchased a ready to roast pack of diced butternut squash and sweet potato from LIDL.
  • To save time, you could roast a larger batch of the diced butternut squash and sweet potato, so it’s ready to be used in soups, salads and curries.
  • Wash the whole masoor in sieve under running water.
  • Place the washed whole masoor with double the quantity of water in a small saucepan and add in the Knorr stock pots of onion gravy and mixed chillies. Cover with a lid and allow to boil until the dal is completely cooked. Top up with more water if you think it is running dry
  • If you like your tofu firm then cut out about 1/4th of the tofu from the pack and place it on a kitchen towel to remove excess water, then place another plate on top keep something on this plate to weigh it down. Leave aside for 10 minutes. This should drain the excess water from the tofu.
  • Alternatively just cut the tofu straight from the  pack into large chunks – I like the texture of the tofu when it’s done like but hubby like its the other way around. If like me, you haven’t drained and pressed the tofu to become extra firm, then handle it very gently with a wooden spatula as it easily crumbles.
  • Now place the tofu on a non-stick pan and dry roast on a low-medium flame for about 4 minutes each side or until done.
  • Meanwhile half and avocado, scoop out the flesh and roughly cut  into large chunks with a spoon.
  • Remove the butternut squash and sweet potato from the oven and set aside.
  • Remove the lid from the sauce pan containing the whole massor dal cooked and allow it to rest for a while as it should not be too hot when served, also allowing it to sit will help the dal to absorb any excess water, if there is too much excess water simply drain it.
  • To plate, divide the spinach leaves equally on the plate, then serve the cooked masoor dal on top, followed by the oven roasted  butternut squash and sweet potato, dry roasted tofu and finally top with the walnuts.

I found that this salad didn’t require any dressing or drizzling as the cooked dal works well with the succulent and sweet squash and the tofu adds texture and tastes great with the spinach. Walnuts add crunch, taste fab and are great for those who try this salad for the first time expecting it to be boring. Avocado I like with everything so I simply like having it in there.

I am up for experimenting and may try various permutations of this salad with the following toppings, not only will they make your salad more interesting but also help you reduce food wastage by finding new ways to recycle any of the following leftovers :

  • steamed fish – salmon and topped with pine nuts
  • Pan grilled Tofu and walnuts
  • slices of pork salami with nuts

I shall be reporting back with happy experiments with salads and smoothies soon  for now am just very satisfied with the end result and the fact that I am back to eating healthy.

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad

Whole Masoor Dal and Tofu salad