Whole Roasted Cauliflower

This whole roasted cauliflower is what you could term a Multi-Culti fusion of flavours and technique but with honourable intent, and to most pleasing effect. This recipe might take a little while to make, but each step is simple and the fork tender cauliflower is gorgeous to eat.

Before we get to the recipe, I must let you in on a little secret. I hated the putrid-pungent-sulphurous cauliflower smell so much that I refused to eat it for many years. When I did make it, I either cooked it beyond death with an awfully heavy-handed dusting of spices and seasoning or suffocated it under a blanket of cheese.⁣ But it turns out my choice of cooking method was the culprit: as the cauliflower cells break down during a long, slow cook, smelly compounds are unlocked and the vitamins that leach out tip it right over the edge. However, cooking it by a quicker, more intense method ensures the cells don’t break down enough to release that off-putting odour.

What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)
  • Cauliflower – 1 medium (roughly 800g)
  • Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Asafoetida powder (hing) – 1 pinch / 1/8 tsp (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Smoked Paprika – 1 teaspoon
  • Coconut sugar – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Garlic cloves – 8 – 10, minced
  • Lemon – 1 large, zest and juice
  • Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

For Sauce –

  • Garlic cloves – 2-3, grated or pressed
  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
  • Tahini – 1/4 cup
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pinch of cumin powder
  • Cold water – 3 tablespoons or as needed

For Garnish –

  • Almonds – 40 g chopped
  • Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
Method –
  1. Boil water in a large pot. Remove outer leaves of the cauliflower. Trim away the stalk so the cauliflower can sit flat. Add the cauliflower, stem side down into the boiling water. Allow to simmer for no more than 6-7 mins. Take it out and rest on a kitchen towel for excess water to drain.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  3. Toast coriander seeds on medium heat till fragrant, then add to a pestle and mortar with asafoetida, turmeric, paprika, coconut sugar and salt. Bash well to a rough powder, then muddle in olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest. Stir well to combine. This should have a paste-y consistency.
  4. Rub the spice paste all over the cauliflower with your fingers, don’t forget the underside.
  5. Place spice rubbed cauliflower in a heavy pan or casserole. Cover (with lid or aluminium foil) and pop in the hot oven for around 45 mins, or until tender, removing the lid for the final 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in pan over a medium-low heat until golden, then leave to cool.
  7. For the sauce, add minced garlic to lemon juice for 10 mins. The acidity of the lemon juice prevents the garlic from becoming too harsh (here’s why). Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another medium bowl. Press the garlic solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the garlic. combine with tahini, cumin and salt. Add water just enough to achieve a smooth, slightly runny consistency.
  8. Once ready, take the cauliflower out of the oven. Drizzle the sauce, scrunch over the toasted almonds, then roughly chop and scatter the cilantro leaves on top.
  9. Carve up and serve with rice and steamed greens, or as part of a bigger spread.

Storage notes –

Best eaten the same day.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Thai inspired Fresh Corn Curry

It’s a good idea to have something up your sleeve that you can cook quickly, and simply, for a quick midweek supper: that’s instantly comforting but spirited enough to make one feel uplifted rather than stultified by eating it. This is that something.

Yes, you do need to hunt down the fabulously flavoured ingredients. But the good news is, most of them keep: kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chillies and lemongrass in the deep-freeze; corn and beans in the fridge; the coconut milk and jaggery in the cupboard. I always make a large batch of the paste since it freezes incredibly well.

Yes, the flavours are mostly Thai but if authenticity is your concern, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. And if these infractions do not offend, cook on.

What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)

For the curry paste –

  • Fresh Lemongrass – 1 stalk
  • Bird’s eye chillies – 3-5
  • Red onion – 1 medium, chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 7-8
  • Galangal – 1 large piece, about 2 inch, thinly sliced (or ginger)
  • Fresh Cilantro – 3/4 cup, roughly chopped
  • Lemon juice – 3 tablespoons
  • Kaffir Lime leaves – 2, stems removed
  • Jaggery Powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the curry –

  • Curry Paste (from above)
  • Peanut or vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Fresh Corn – 1 cup, cooked
  • Green Beans – 1 cup
  • Cherry Tomatoes – 15-20
  • Coconut Milk – 400 ml
  • Fresh Basil and Baked Lotus stem chips for garnish (optional)
Method –
  1. Bung all the curry paste ingredients into a blender and blitz to make a smooth paste.
  2. On medium flame, heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add in the curry paste, sauté for 3-4 mins. It should go from bright green to a dull dark green.
  3. Now pour in the coconut milk and stir well.
  4. Add in the vegetables and simmer for 10 mins. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve alongside steamed rice or cooked millets.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for 2 days. The curry gets thicker the longer it stays in the fridge.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Coconut Almond Oat Cookies

This cookie is an ode to my childhood favourite coconut macarons dredged in throat-catching desiccated coconut. For close to a decade now, I’ve been impelled towards reproducing artifice by more natural and plant-based means. This recipe is hardly troublesome to make and once made, I assure you, will become a regular of homely accomplishments.

What you will need – (for roughly 20 cookies)
  • Rolled Oats – 1 cup
  • Almond flour – 1 cup
  • Desiccated Coconut – 1 cup (make sure it’s good quality, not too old or too dry)
  • Coconut or soft brown sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Light olive oil or coconut oil – 1/4 cup
  • Maple syrup or honey – 2 tablespoon
  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Water – 2-5 tablespoons
Method –
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add oil and stir to combine.
  4. Add water 2 tablespoons at first, mix and check the mixture is damp and gooey.
  5. Squeeze a spoonful in the palms of your hand, the water should ooze out. Add more water if needed.
  6. Shape into roughly 20 balls, flatten to make cookies and lay on a prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 25-30 mins or until lightly golden.
  8. Allow to completely cool and enjoy.

Storage notes –

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Curry in a Hurry

I have a rather indelicate lack of faith in Indian food; I worry all too deftly whether it’s going to be too spicy, eye-wateringly so or too time-consuming. This, which I call my Curry in a Hurry, is the easiest thing to make; it’s warm and comforting especially when all I’ve done is a bit of chopping and some light stirring. And somehow, it always surprises me. Not in the cooking, so much as in the eating: I can’t believe how perfect a marriage of rich creaminess of the coconut and full-throttle sharpness of lemon this is. ⁣⁣

It’s also a great way of making sure the odd handful of beans or other vegetable fragments can be eaten up when none of them individually can offer a meal in themselves. You can vary the vegetables according to what you have or add chicken, prawns, or whatever else you like. Yes, I’ve been bold with the amount of lemon juice here but the curry really does need it. ⁣⁣

And for what it’s worth, I sometimes thin it down with a little bit of water; it really depends on whether I feel like eating out of a deep bowl, soupily, or a shallow one. ⁣

What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)
  • Vegetables of choice – 3 cups, chopped
  • Olive or vegetable oil – 2 tablespoon, divided
  • Black mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh ginger – 1 large thumb, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Coconut milk – 400 ml
  • Lemon juice – 1/4 cup
  • Fresh green chilli – 2, slit lengthwise
  • Salt to taste
Method –
  1. On medium flame, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, lightly sauté the vegetables and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Then, in the same pan, add remaining oil, add the mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. When the mustard starts to splutter, add finely chopped ginger. Give it a stir to keep it from burning.
  4. Once it’s fragrant and the ginger begins to brown around the edges ever so slightly, throw in the curry leaves, turmeric and red chilli powder. Sauté for 1 minute for the turmeric powder to lose its raw smell.
  5. Now pour in the coconut milk and lemon juice, season with salt and add the slit green chillies.
  6. Bring it to a gentle boil. Stir in the sautéed vegetables and serve alongside rice or noodles or bread.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. The curry gets thicker the longer it stays in the fridge.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Plant-based Carrot Cake

This plant based adaptation of the classic carrot cake sends citrus juices permeating the sweetness of carrots. The input from you is minimal. Culinary self esteem – and festive spirit – never came at so low an emotional cost.

What you will need – (for a 2 layer 9 inch cake)

For the carrot cake –

  • Olive oil – 1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Flax eggs – 2 (2 tbsp flaxseed powder mixed with 5 tbsp water)
  • Carrots – 3 large (2 cups when grated)
  • Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
  • Zest of a whole orange
  • Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Walnuts – 1/3 cup, chopped
  • Golden sultanas – 1/3 cup
  • Dried Cranberries – 1/3 cup (optional)

For Plant-based Cream Cheese –

  • Raw Cashews – 1 1/2 cups (225g) (soaked in hot water for 1 hour)
  • Lemon Juice – 2 Tbsp 
  • Coconut Cream – 1/2 cup (120ml)
  • Salt – 1 tsp 
  • White Vinegar – 1/4 tsp

For Plant-based Cream Cheese Frosting –

  • Vegan Cream Cheese (from above) – 225g
  • Vegan Butter – 1/4 cup (56g)
  • Powdered Sugar – 2/3 – 1 cup (65-120g) (adjust as per your preference of sweetness)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1/2 tsp
Method –

You will need 1 x 9-inch round cake tin

  1. To make your vegan cream cheese, soak the raw cashews in hot water for 1 hour. Then drain the cashews and add to a blender jug with the lemon juice, coconut cream, salt and white vinegar. Blend until you have a smooth texture. Transfer the cream cheese from the blender to a storage container.
  2. Mix flaxseed powder with water and keep aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Grease your cake tin with oil and lightly dust with flour and keep aside.
  4. Meanwhile, grate the carrots in a processor (for ease) or with a coarse grater, taking care not to to squeeze out liquid from the carrots. Set aside.
  5. Whisk the sugar and oil – I use my electric mixer, but it wouldn’t be much of a faff by hand – until creamily and airily mixed.
  6. Whisk in the flax egg. When well-whisked, add the orange zest and lemon juice and finally, the dry ingredients and grated carrots. Ensure the batter is not over-mixed.
  7. Now fold in the cranberries, walnuts and sultanas using a spatula.
  8. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is risen and golden and a toothpick comes out sticky but more or less clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and let the cake sit in its tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before taking it out of the tin and leaving it on the rack to cool.
  11. Weigh out 225g of the cream cheese and place it into a large bowl. Then add softened vegan butter, sift in the powdered sugar and add the vanilla extract. Starting at slow speed gradually increase speed until the frosting is thick and smooth. I prefer it not so sweet and 65g sugar is perfectly sweet by my standards. Taste the frosting and add more sugar if you so desire. (If the frosting is a little on the soft/runny side, place the bowl of frosting in the fridge to firm up)
  12. Remove the cake to a plate; slice in half horizontally. I insert toothpicks at the halfway mark on 4 sides of the cake and use dental floss to slice it through.
  13. Add half of the frosting on the first layer, followed by the next half of the cake and another layer of frosting. Tumble over a handful of cranberries, walnuts and mint leaves. Serve.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Mushroom Pie with Cacao and Parsley

Much as chocolate makes the ‘power couple’ in desserts, when incorporated in small quantities, chocolate lends silkiness and complexity to a plethora of savoury dishes too. Originally, cocoa was consumed, crumbled, in some drinks which were anything but sweet, in fact, they were enriched with chilli pepper. ⁣⁣⁣
This mushroom pie features a complexity of flavours like no other. The crust is delectably flakey and crumbly while the filling is the perfect mingling of umami notes from the mushrooms and bitter flavours of cacao.

I really do hope you will try this recipe and it will prod you further in the direction of culinary experimentation.

What you will need – (for a 9 inch pie)

For the stock –

  • Olive oil – 3 tbsp
  • Onions – 2 large, sliced 1 cm thick
  • Coconut sugar – 1 tsp
  • Carrot – 1 large, roughly chopped
  • Mushroom stems/trimmings – 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Bay leaf – 1 large, torn
  • Rosemary – 1 sprig (sub with dried rosemary)
  • Water – 1 litre

For the mushroom & cacao filling –

  • Mushrooms – 400g, stems removed and divided. (Use part of the stems for the stock mentioned above)
    (highly recommend using a mix of Button, Shiitake, Portobello and Oyster)
  • Butter – 20g, or use vegan butter if preferred
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp
  • Onion – 1 large, chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 5-6, finely chopped
  • Fresh red chillies – 1, minced
  • Black pepper – 1 tsp
  • Stock – 300ml (from above)
  • Lime juice – 2-3 tbsp
  • 100% unsweetened Cacao – 10g, grated or use unsweetened cacao/cocoa powder
  • Soy sauce – 2-3 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp or to taste
  • Cornstarch slurry – 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Flat-leaf parsley – 3/4 cup, chopped, or use fresh coriander

For Pastry –

  • 500g of pie dough (I use 1 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup all purpose, 150g frozen butter, 2-3 tbsp ice cold water and salt to make mine)
Method –
  1. To begin, make the stock. Remove stems from about 100 g mushrooms and finely chop them. Slice the onions 1 cm thick. Heat olive oil in a large pot, add the onions, sugar and salt. Fry over low heat until they are very brown and caramelised. Take care not to burn them as this will make the stock bitter
  2. Add all the remaining stock ingredients along with cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and leave to simmer till the liquid is reduced to about 300ml (roughly 1 hour). Strain and set aside.
    (Add dried mushrooms, if using, to this hot stock. Cover and allow to rehydrate)
  3. Next, prepare the filling. Remove stems from all mushrooms, finely chop and set aside. Chop heads either in half or into fat chunks, depending on shape and size. Leave the smaller mushrooms whole.
  4. Divide chopped mushroom heads into batches (depending on the size of your pan). Cook each batch over medium heat until soft (don’t overcook or you will lose the individual flavours of the mushrooms). Set aside and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms.
  5. Heat olive oil in the same pan, add the chopped onions and fry until they are a nutty brown. Add finely chopped mushroom stems, garlic, chillies and black pepper. Pour in the prepared stock, then add the cooked mushrooms, cacao, soy sauce, lime juice, cornstarch slurry and salt. Bring to a boil and cook gently over low heat until thickened, about 5–7 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. (You may want to add a tsp of sugar if the filling is too salty or bitter). Stir in the parsley and allow to cool completely.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  7. Divide pastry dough in half. Roll out one half to a thickness of about 3mm. Add to a prepared pie tin. Blind bake for 12 mins. Meanwhile, roll out the remaining pastry dough to 3mm thickness. Then add prepared filling to the tin and lay the sheet of rolled-out pastry on top. Press down firmly along the edges to seal, then trim off any excess. Cut a few slits in the pastry topping and glaze by brushing with beaten egg.

    (If you are a pastry beginner, I highly recommend baking hand-pies instead. Roll the dough out to an even thickness and use a small circular bowl to cut out discs. Spoon 1 tbsp filling onto half of the discs, cover each one with another dough disc. Firmly press down the edges with a fork to seal the pies. Use a knife to make a tiny slit on top of each hand-pie. This method does not need any blind baking. Reduce baking time by 5-8 mins)
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Storage notes –

Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven, microwaving will make the pastry go soggy.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Labneh Pancakes with Orange Blossom Syrup

Orange season is coming to an end and this, for me, is a good way of bidding farewell to the glorious fruit. By no means are these breakfast pancakes, they’re light, aromatic and dreamy puddings to be eaten after dinner in the garden to on balmy evenings. The pancakes are sodden with orange juice and the only adornment is a prolific sluicing of orange blossom syrup for its floral sharpness. ⁣

What you will need – (for 10 small pancakes)
  • Oat flour – 1/2 cup
  • Coconut Sugar – 2 teaspoons
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon
  • Milk – 1/4 cup
  • Labneh – 2 tablespoons (sub with greek yogurt)
  • Baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cardamom powder – 1 pinch

For the syrup –

  • Coconut Sugar – 3 tablespoons
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Orange blossom water – 2 teaspoons

For serving –

  • One handful of hulled pistachios and a squirt of fresh orange juice
Method –
  1. Start with the syrup, combine coconut sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
  2. Swill the pan to help the sugar dissolve and when it does, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5-7 mins.
  3. Once it turns syrupy, turn the heat off and stir in 2 teaspoons of orange blossom water.
    Set aside to cool.⁣
  4. For the pancakes, combine labneh and milk in a large bowl. Whisk to break down all the labneh lumps.
  5. Whisk in the egg and butter followed by all the dry ingredients. The mixture will stiffen into a thick, fluffy batter immediately.
  6. Use about 2 tablespoons of batter for 1 pancake and cook till golden brown on each side.⁣
  7. To serve, drizzle pancakes with cold syrup, add pistachios and a squirt of fresh orange juice.

Storage notes –

Pancakes can be made and kept warm for a couple of hours in the oven.
The syrup can be made in a bigger batch and stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Miso Orzotto

This is my Japanese spin on the Italian classic. The miso-soused grains of barley positively ooze deep umami flavours. I love the Mame (or Hatcho) variety for its musky breath and the aged pungent hit of almost liquorice intensity. It’s a deep reddish-brown, maybe even black that resembles chocolate fudge. By all means, use another miso variety if you find Mame overwhelming.

What you will need – (for 4 servings)
  • Pearl barley – 1 cup, soaked for a 4-5 hours 
  • Carrots – 1 large, peeled and sliced into roundelles (about 1 cup)
  • Green peas – 1 cup
  • Onion – 1 medium, chopped (leeks work really well too)
  • Garlic cloves – 4 -5, minced
  • Ginger – 2″ knob, peeled and minced
  • Mushrooms – 200 grams, sliced (I used button mushrooms but I highly recommend using shiitake mushrooms. Both fresh and dried varieties work well) 
  • Soy sauce – 1/4 cup
  • Miso paste – 1 1/2 teaspoon 
  • Kale/Cabbage – 1 cup packed, chopped
  • Sesame oil – 2 tablespoon (sub with vegetable oil)
  • A pinch of salt

For garnish –
Toasted sesame seeds

I prefer an abundance of vegetables in my orzottos or pilafs. Please adjust the veg to grain ratio to your liking.
Also feel free to use broccoli, beans or other robust vegetables if you wish.

Method –
  1. Rinse soaked barley in cold running water. Add to a pot with 3 cups water and cook on medium heat for 25-30 mins (or until the barley is tender and chewy). It’s important that you let it cook untouched. Stirring the barley while it cooks will leave you with a gummy-sticky-blob and you definitely don’t want that.
  2. Once tender, drain excess water and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking further. Set aside.
  3. In a cup mix miso paste with soy sauce. Stir to dissolve the miso completely and set aside.
  4. Heat a large pan over medium-low heat, add 1 tbsp oil and onions. Sauté till onions are translucent. Add the carrots, peas, garlic and ginger. Season with a wee bit of salt (use way lesser than you think you need because miso and soy are rather salty on their own). Sauté for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add cabbage/kale or other greens. Sauté till all the veg is cooked to your liking. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add remaining oil and sauté mushrooms for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until any released liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are darker. Transfer to the bowl of veggies.
  7. Now stir in the miso-soy mix into the pan and let it reduce for 30-40 seconds. Add cooked barley and stir well to coat evenly in the sauce. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, add all of the cooked vegetables, turn off the flame and serve warm.

Storage notes –

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for upto 3 days.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Aubergines stuffed with Lentils

This creation is inspired by the classic stuffed aubergine dish from the Ottoman cuisine – Imam Baylidi. The aubergines are simmered in olive oil and though it is quite a delightful dish, I find it rather oily. For this recipe, I cook the aubergines in a skillet first and then roast in the oven.

What you will need – (for 2 massive servings)
  1. Aubergines – 2 large, halved lengthwise
  2. Cooked masoor (red) lentils – 1 cup
  3. Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
  4. Tomatoes – 4 large, puréed
  5. Garlic – 1 large clove, finely chopped
  6. Harissa paste – 1-1.5 tablespoons (can sub with Gochujang paste)
  7. Rosemary – 1 sprig
  8. Broth – 3/4th cup
  9. Olive oil – 2 + 2 tablespoons
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. Grated parmesan or cheddar (optional) – 1/4th cup

For garnish –
Fresh coriander and toasted sesame seeds

Method –
  • Slit aubergines lengthwise and score in a criss-cross. Drizzle with salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet on medium flame and place the aubergines slit-side down.
    Cook till the skin begins to wrinkle (about 7 mins).
  • Take the aubergines out of the pan and scoop out a little flesh from the centre to create a cavity. Set aside. (You only want to scoop out the tender bits in the centre. There should be enough flesh remaining on all sides.)
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to 180°C.
  • In the same pan add remaining oil, garlic, chopped onions and rosemary. Sauté on medium heat till the onions become translucent.
  • Add tomato purée, salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 mins.
  • Now add cooked lentils, scooped aubergine flesh and harissa. Stir to combine.
  • Add broth to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer till thickened.
  • Add this mix into the aubergines and roast at 180°C for 30 mins or until the aubergine is completely cooked.
  • Garnish with grated cheese and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Serve as is or alongside a vibrant salad or rice or cauliflower rice or quinoa.

Storage notes –

The stuffing can be stored for upto 3 days. Advisable to cook the eggplants when you’re ready to eat.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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Çılbır – Poached eggs in garlicky yogurt sauce

Çılbır is typically enjoyed as a hot mezze but I admit I’ve throughly enjoyed it as lunch or a light supper as well. This is the perfect remedy for all your wistful complaining about cooking with only pantry staples. The addictive and easy combination of flavours will certainly confound and delight you. While you might find it a bit fiddly to poach eggs, I assure you you’ll find this culinary exercise immensely rewarding.

What you will need – (for 2 servings)
  1. Eggs – 4 large
  2. Greek Yogurt – 200 grams
  3. Dill leaves – finely chopped, 2-3 heaping tablespoons
    (Sub with fresh parsley or coriander)
  4. Butter – 40 grams
  5. Garlic – 1 large clove, grated
  6. Aleppo pepper flakes – 2 teaspoons (sub with Kashmiri chillis)
    (highly recommend you get some Aleppo flakes when the lockdown is lifted)
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
Method –
  • For the yogurt sauce –
    Into a bowl, add greek yogurt, garlic, dill, salt and pepper. Whisk this mix for 5 mins to make it light and fluffy. ⁣⁣⁣Set aside.
  • For the butter sauce –
    Melt butter gently in a small pan until it is just beginning to turn a hazelnutty brown, but make sure it’s not actually burning. You’ll notice a nutty smell emanating from the butter as well. Turn the heat off, then add a splash of olive oil and chilli flakes; it will foam up fierily. Set aside and let it become a beautiful red-orange colour. ⁣⁣⁣

    If using Kashmiri Chillis, dry roast them on a pan for 2 mins, let them rest for a few minutes, remove seeds and crush into flakes. The sweet heat and distinct lemoniness of Aleppo pepper is not easy to replicate, so get your hands on some when you can.
  • To poach the eggs –
    Crack an egg into a small bowl and set aside.
    Boil water in a saucepan, reduce heat to a simmer and use a spoon to create a whirlpool.
    You’re looking for a gentle whirlpool, not a violent hurricane.
    Gently slide egg into the water and poach for 3-4 mins.
    Remove with a slotted spoon onto a kitchen towel to let the excess water drain.⁣⁣⁣
    (Adding white vinegar to water helps coagulate the egg whites faster, I don’t do this often but I know many people who swear by it)
  • Finally, when serving, put some yogurt sauce in a bowl, place the poached eggs on top (two per person), drizzle them with the butter sauce and sprinkle chopped herbs. Serve with some lightly toasted crusty bread.

Storage notes –

It’s advisable to make all the three components just before eating. I’m afraid none of them store well.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

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