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)


  • 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


  • 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

Beetroot and Chickpea salad

Who doesn’t love a salad that you can put together in no time? This easy to make and super quick to put together Beetroot and Chickpea salad recipe is just the thing when you want to eat healthy and not compromise on taste at the same time.  I have added in amchoor powder which is a tangy  dried mango powder which will give this salad a fabulous twist when combined with balsamic vinegar.

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If possible try and buy baby beetroot cooked in vinegar as these would be the perfect size and also have the right amount of vinegar. If you are not sure of how much balsamic vinegar you can handle, add 1⁄2 tbsp first and then if you feel brave add another half. I have a whole collection of flavoured vinegar and if you can get your hands on cranberry infused vinegar, I highly recommend adding that in as it will totally elevate the flavour of your salad.

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Serves: 4 as a side and 2 as a main


  •  1⁄2 a can of boiled and cooked chickpeas
  •  4 small beetroot cooked and peeled – roughly 250 gm
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small red onion sliced length wise
  • 2 tsp amchoor powder
  • 2 heaped tsp pomegranate seeds


  • In a large mixing bowl add the chickpeas
  • Chop the cooked and peeled beetroot into bite size chunks. Add them into the chickpeas. Add the chopped onion and pomegranate seeds.
  • Add the vinegar and the amchoor powder and mix well.
  • Serve and sprinkle with more pomegranate seeds if desired.

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I have found the perfect linky to add my virtuous yet superbly delicious salad to. It’s this month’s Spice Trail with the theme ‘ Temple Food‘ hosted by the lovely Vanesther on her blog called ‘Bangers and Mash’. The whole concept of respecting your body by treating it like a temple is really apt for the way I have recently begun to think about food. I have to re-think and re-align what I feed my system and actually begin to ‘listen’ to what my body is speaking to me. It’s important that after years of neglect I FINALLY pay attention to what is entirely my own – my body.


By linking to this challenge I take heart in knowing that I am not ALONE . There are other like-minded foodies who are re-thinking their ways of eating. I do hope my recipe is one of the many delicious , innovative and beautiful ones that will help my readers on their journey to eating healthy and feeling more energetic.


Olives et al review and recipe for Chickpea and sweet Chilli Paneer salad

Chickpeas are comfort food especially when used to make chole , a spicy chickpea curry best devoured with steamed rice. But chickpeas also taste great in salads and because they take up various flavourings so easily , they are perfect ingredients to be used in quick ,filling salads like my Chickpea and Olive salad with sweet chilli Paneer.

On a very rainy weekend , I was alone at home and curled up reading a very good book . Though my tummy was rumbling by mid- day I didn’t really want to let go off my book and cook an elaborate meal. So a hunt around the kitchen cabinets and fridge resulted in the following finds – a an of chickpeas sitting around and some soft paneer in the fridge , half an onion chopped – perfect.Now all I needed was some inspiration…

Sitting in the corner was a brown paper carton sent a few days ago by Olives et al – a few interesting bottles staring at me with beautiful labels and rather interesting names – a quick unpacking of the box revealed the following contents –

  • Smoky Chipotle Chilli Olives – marinated in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil naturally infused with Chipotle chillis.
  • Mojo Pink Grapefruit dressing and  marinade
  • North African Style Red Chilli Harissa sauce
  • Sweet Chilly Billy Jelly Chilly and Ginger Relish

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I decided to rustle up a quick salad in a jiffy using some of the samples and these ingredients and the result was a very punchy ,pleasing salad that I am sure to recreate soon! Especially on another rainy evening or afternoon when I won’t be able to tear myself away from yet another gripping novel …

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Serves : 2


  • 2 tbsp Olives et al Sweet Chilly Billy Jelly Chilly and Ginger Relish
  • 1 tsp Olive et al Mojo Pink Grapefruit dressing and  marinade
  • 397 gm Chickpea can
  • 267gm Paneer /Cottage cheese
  • 1/2 red onion medium size chopped
  • Few Olives et al Smoky Chipotle Chilli Olives
  • Sea salt to garnish


  • Cut the slab of paneer into large chunks so that they do not crumble.
  • Heat a  griddle pan on a low flame and add 2 tbsp of Olives et al Sweet Chilly Billy Jelly Chilly and Ginger Relish to the pan , spread using a  wooden spatula . Place the paneer gently on the chilli relish and allow the relish to caramelise and harden then flip and give the the other side of the paneer cubes the same treatment.

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  • This will give the paneer a delicious sticky and crunchy coating with just the right flavouring.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the entire can of chickpeas and pour some of the salty water it is preserved in over the chickpeas.
  • Toss in a few olives and pour a small amount of the chilli oil they are marinated on over the chickpeas. Garnish with sea salt to taste.Mix well.
  • Then add the sticky paneer cubes . Mix gently using a wooden spatula.
  • I then poured a very small amount of the Olive et al Mojo Pink Grapefruit dressing and marinade  over the salad – a perfectly beautiful dressing described on the Olives et al site as – ‘Inspired by a Caribbean sauce from the Cayman Islands known locally simply as Mojo Sauce ….Happily unusual, wonderfully versatile and loved by all’ Now I know why its a best seller !

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I would have loved to garnish with finely chopped cucumber but sadly my vegetable tray was quite bare that day but do feel free to add a generous amount onto the salad . Coriander marries well with chickpea in any form.

All this salad now needed was a fork and I fell back into the pages of my novel in like 15 minutes flat, how’s that for a quick and easy filling recipe that tastes fab and makes you go back for seconds and thirds ? Super I say 🙂

While browsing the website I noticed the beautiful logo for Olives et al and read the fabulous story of how this multi award winning company was born In the early 90s , brain child of Annie and Giles Henschel  who embarked on a year-long adventure that would be the inspiration for Olives Et Al. Travelling on motorbikes through the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa, they fell in love with the food we ate along the way and gathered many precious recipes along the way.

It is this motorbike journey that is hidden as a story in their beautifully intricate logo , reminds me so very much of my days in Pune spent zipping across the city in a black Honda Activa scooter that I prefer to call a bike , it had fantastic pick up, was gearless and because of it’s heavy errr ‘bottom’ on which the seats rested it didn’t shake like an autumn leaf even at high speeds on the highway – sigh… seems like a whole lifetime away …


They launched Olives Et Al in 1993 to satisfy their own culinary cravings and to share quality olives with a wider audience. They began producing Marinated Olives using some of their “souvenir” recipes. Over time, their range of products has grown and now includes, Oils and Balsamics, Speciality Olives, Sauces, Snacks, Kiln Roasted Nuts and Dressings and Marinades – all made in Dorset and free from  free of artificial colouring, flavours or preservatives.

Their products can  be purchased directly from their website or in delis across the country and in  various food stores.

With  thanks to Olives et al  for the complimentary samples. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Creamy Oatly Oat Cream Pasta with crunchy green Salad

I remember tasting Oatly for the first time at FBC earlier this year  ,it was a very pleasant taste,the chocolate one even better. All of us at Food Blogger connect this year got a generous bag of Oatly products to take home. The ‘milk’ went used up pretty quickly so I went and got us some more but the Organic Creamy Oat,basically a single cream, I was waiting to experiment with. Since the product is bursting with the goodness of all things organic and is dairy free I thought why not keep everything about this pasta gluten and dairy free . So I got some Lactofree mature cheddar cheese and also some pasta which is made from Italian rice and corn therefore making it dairy and gluten free. Oatly cream uses organic rapeseed oil so my cooking medium is …you guessed that right organic rapeseed oil! And since the cream also contains sea salt as one of the ingredients I have used my trusty smoked Maldon sea salt in here too 🙂

This pasta dish can’t get any better can it? Ok wait till you hear what OatLy Creamy Oat is all about…It’s made in Sweden using entirely organic ingredients. The fat content is absurdly low 3% over 9.6% in regular cream.Besides it tastes like cream made from cow’s milk and is packed with fibers.

Ingredients – For the pasta

  • Dairy and Gluten free fusilli Pasta 150 gm
  • Smoked Bacon 200gm
  • 1/2 of a 250 ml tetra pack OatLy cream
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic with their skins on
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs 1 each
  • a pinch red chilli flakes
  • Maldon sea salt to taste


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Method –  For the pasta

  • Boil the pasta in a saucepan with some rapeseed oil and allow it to cook completely.Sprinkle some sea salt into the water while it is boiling.
  • While the pasta is boiling get started with preparing the sauce. Chop the spring onion into bite size pieces.
  • In another saucepan add 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a medium heat ,when the oil is hot ,crush the garlic with the skin on and add into the hot oil.
  • Allow the garlic to brown and then add the spring onion, when the onion begins to change colour add the bacon pieces and reduce the flame.


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  • Let the bacon cook for about 5 minutes  till it turns crisp and yummy while stirring occasionally till ensuring it doesn’t get burnt.


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  •  Reduce the flame and then pour the Oatly oat cream into the bacon mixture and add a sprig each of thyme and rosemary.
  • Cover the sauce pan and allow to cook for about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add freshly crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste and some chilli flakes.
  • In a plate add the cooked pasta after draining excess water and pour the bacon and cream mixture over the top.

The oat cream will give you a  thick creamy sauce and the smoked bacon adds deep,rich flavours to this pasta dish.Its great for those who are lactose intolerant or those simply looking for a switch .Add some grated lacto free cheese for a truly cheesy and deliciously satisfying pasta carbonara.I know this dish isn’t vegan because of the bacon so if you want to make a vegan version using smoked paprika breadcrumbs for the texture and smoky taste ,also to replace eggs and go vegan use  soft tofu puree . I have skipped using eggs and honestly I didn’t miss them at all in the sauce. So its not really a carbonara but yes it’s just as silky and creamy and smoky and yummalicious ! 🙂

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Ingredients – For the salad

  • 1 medium sized white onion
  • 8 juicy cherry tomatoes
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1/2 a bag of crunchy mixed salad leaves
  • 8 stems of tender purple asparagus
  • 8 stems of tender purple broccoli
  • Cranberry flavoured vinegar
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Maldon smoked sea salt to taste

Method –  For the salad

  • Chop the tender stem purple asparagus roughly into bite size pieces keeping the spear head intact , do the same with tender stem purple broccoli. I loved the colour so I picked purple, its absolutely fine to go with the regular green stuff but the colours in this finished salad are so vibrant! Set aside and move onto the mushrooms and onion now.
  • Chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces ,then chop the onion in half and then slice it fine lengthwise
  • In a saucepan heat the olive oil.
  • Saute the garlic with skin on in the hot oil and when it turns brown add the mushrooms in .Let them cook for about 1/2 a  minute.
  •  Add the onion,asparagus and broccoli  into the saucepan and stir for about 1  minute on a low flame we don’t want the greens and the onion to cook and loose the crunch and bite , just give them a bit of flavour so they sit well with the leaves.
  • Take the saucepan off the bowl and allow to cool.


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  • In a salad bowl was and add the salad leaves , give them a good slosh of cranberry vinegar,sea salt and cracked black pepper and give them a good ol’ shake so that the vinegar coats the leaves well.
  • Place the green and onion over the salad leaves and throw in some juicy red cherry tomatoes on a vine or salad tomatoes into the salad. Give another sprinkling of Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • If you want to bulk up this salad add 2 boiled eggs halved on top and serve with a cheesy bread or focaccia as a side with a creamy mushroom or chicken soup for a wholesome but light and healthy meal option! Keep the bukled up version of this salad vegan , again by replacing boiled eggs with fresh large chunks of tofu.
  • This salad is bursting with goodness and packs in a great punch of flavour with the cranberry flavoured vinegar and the meaty mushrooms and crunchy tender stem asparagus  and broccoli feel so lush together when you bite into them ummmmm


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I am quite happy with the end result of this pasta and have another 250 ml tetra pack of Otaly CReamy Oat to experiment …wonder what will come out of that lovely little pack , now where is my thinking cap ?!


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Caramelised Red Onion Chutney with Feta and Chickpeas Salad.

On a trip to one of my favourite supermarkets I purchased my first jar of caramelised red onion chutney. Coming from India my palate is well -acclimatised to red onions and their sharp sweet taste. The tangy taste and deep rich colour and the versatility of this chutney got me hooked onto this dish and I was using it ever so often.

Since then I had been planning to make this chutney at home and after scouring for recipes online, I found this interesting recipe by Fraser Doherty – The Super Jam Cookbook. It’s a basic and simple recipe yet perfect in proportion and that’s exactly what a great recipe should be.

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It’s a perfect accompaniment for a good roast or in toasted sandwiches with a light soup during a cold wintry day. This chutney goes well with feta cheese and chickpea salad as it does with cheese and crackers .This is also my way of using all those empty glass jars that have been stacked behind various shelves in my tiny kitchen.

Averse to consuming chickpeas in popular Indian fare like ‘’Chole Bhature’’( a chickpea masala gravy with ‘’Bhature’’ which are huge, puffed fried fermented wheat bread). I find this a much healthier alternative to get my husband to eat chickpeas and get a nod of approval from my biggest critic 😉

After adding vinegars


Caramelised Red Onion Chutney


  • 8 red onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 150ml balsamic vinegar
  • 150ml red wine vinegar


Chop the red onions in fine long slices. Slice the chilli in long thin slits. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan and add the bay leaf and chilli followed by the red onions. On a low flame stir continuously and cook for about 20 minutes.

The onions will change colour now and turn dark and the mixture will have reduced in volume. Now stir in the sugar first followed by the vinegars, I used dark muscovado sugar as I love the rich dark smoky flavour. Simmer this mixture for 30 minutes and the chutney now turns sticky and thick.

While this is simmering, sterilise all those glass bottles and store the chutney in them. It takes a month for the flavour to mature fully.

Chutney close up in tiny bonne mamon jar

Feta Cheese and Chickpea Salad

Serves 4 as a side with a main meal


  • 120g chickpeas (That’s half a can of tinned chickpeas ready to eat)
  • 120g packet of crunchy salad leaves
  • 100g feta cheese
  • A pinch of Maldon sea salt
  • Half a red onion sliced thin and lengthwise
  • Few cherry tomatoes
  • Few small boiled potatoes
  • Some slices of colourful peppers


Create a bed of leaves and throw in the chickpeas and other ingredients. A generous dollop of the caramelised red onion chutney in this salad will offset the feta cheese beautifully. It’s great for a meatless Monday lunch or a perfect accompaniment for a big family Sunday lunch.

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The best part of making this chutney is that I get to give some to my friends, sharing is fun isn’t it?

This post is my contribution to Great British Chefs:


Share the post via the Great British Chefs site and leave your comments there.




Caribbean Sweet Mini Pepper Salad

When I first purchased sweet mini peppers I made a pie with them, well honestly it looked anything but perfect and just about made it to ”ok” on the taste parameters, but I shall leave that discussion for a later date. This recipe is adapted from the one given on the cute resealable bag in which the vibrantly colourfull and tempting  sweet peppers were packaged in by the supermarket.

Serves:6 as a side dish  Prep Time:15 Minutes, allow for at least half an hour of marination to allow flavours to really develop and pack a punch

Ingredients for the salad dressing:Juice of 1 lime

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove – remove skin and crush
  • 2 X 15 ml cooking oil, I used sunflower
  • 3 X 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 X 5 ml hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 X 5 ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 a teaspoon castor sugar
  • Salt to sprinkle
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salad

  • 6-8 sweet mini peppers, de-seeded and  chopped into tiny cubes
  • 1 can of 400 gm (14 oz) ready to eat  red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 a cucumber, peeled and chopped into tiny cubes
  • 250 gm cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion sliced lenght wise
  • 195 gm (7oz) sweet corn drained

I also added the remaining portion of the organic mangoes,roughly chopped into bite sized pieces, this is an optional add I just needed to use up the mango and it added a sweet-tangy taste which I love.You could also chop fine a small bunch of fresh coriander or skip it totally.


  • In a large salad bowl mix all the dressing ingredients and add all the salad ingredients into the bowl
  • Mix well and leave to marinate for at least half an hour.
  • Since it’s super hot right now I kept it in the fridge for a bit before serving.

This salad is a super side dish with Jerk Chicken and for those summer evening when you feel you cannot eat heavy meals, just combine it with a portion of roasted meat replacement done lightly spiced.I love my new salad bowl gifted by my aunt on her visit to ours.Love you maushi.

Caribbean Sweet Mini Pepper Salad