Aubergine, salsa and couscous stack

This recipe is inspired by the Big Ready Steady cookbook from 1997 which I bought off someone at work. Luckily, it had a vegetarian  section at the start which I got stuck into right away. The original recipe used bulgar wheat and a few other ingredients which I didn’t have at the time I decided to make it. This is my take on the recipe and makes a light and yummy dinner. My partner who isn’t a fan of couscous gave this one the seal of approval.

I’ll admit that the ingredient list looks long and scary. However, you can always omit things you don’t have and replace others. For example, coriander with mint/parsley (dried is OK), limes with lemons and omit the dressing. While the dressing does add flavour to the dish, the couscous, aubergines and salsa have plenty of their own.

Aubergine, salsa and couscous stack

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Hazelnut, Coconut and Apricot cookies (adapted from a Donna Hay recipe)

This recipe is unfortunately not for those who have nut and dried fruit allergies. It is full of flavour and texture and my partner declared it my best cookie ever.  The house smelt amazing while these were baking and though the original recipe says to only bake it for 20 mins, my cookies took nearly an hour to bake at 160ºC (probably my crappy oven). The result was a cookie that was crisp on the outside (especially the coconut) and still slightly moist on the inside.  The 225gms of butter that went into this recipe might have something to do with its awesomeness.

For those who don’t know, Donna Hay is an Australian food stylist (whatever that means) and magazine editor. All I can say is all Donna Hay recipes that I have tried have been a success. The proportions she mentions are perfect and she is one of the few chefs whose recipes I tend to use as is. If you come across a magazine/cook book written by Donna, do give it a glance and you will find something that to whet your appetite for cooking.

Hazelnut, apricot and coconut cookies

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Spicy chickpea rotis (unleavened bread)


Another one of my favourite Indian chef’s recipes. I bought myself a book called “How to cook Indian” and was terribly disappointed not to see any pictures in it.  However, the recipes I’ve tried so far have yielded great results and this roti recipe is one of them.   These rotis (flatbread) are  crispy because of the chickpea flour well spiced so you can eat them on their own as a snack. A smear of butter on a hot roti will not go amiss !

Spicy chickpea flour and fenugreek rotis

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Simple spanakopita (Spinach and feta pastry)

Simple dishes can be tasty and not take as much time to make. This is one such recipe. I will admit that I am a bit of a slow cook and my partner has come to accept that if  it is my turn to cook, dinner won’t be served until 8 (if I start at about 6:30 that is). With the spanakopita, we had well and truly finished by 8. Hooray!

I have previously made this pastry with puff pastry sheets and they turn out as well but are on the greasy side. I much prefer the filo pastry sheets where I can control the amount of butter/margarine in the dish. I’m all for fresh vegetables and greens but in this particular recipe, I prefer using frozen spinach as it doesn’t contain as much moisture as its fresh counterpart. Too much moisture will make a soggy pastry so I would squeeze as much water out of the spinach as I could before adding it to the pastry. My favourite part of this pastry is the gooey feta as it comes out of the oven so eat it hot – even if it threatens to burn your tongue.

Spanakopita oozing with sundried tomatoes, spinach and feta

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Very berry pancakes with plum reduction

Berries and stone fruit were luxuries as a child growing up in India. Once we moved to New Zealand and then to Australia, these fruits became more accessible and I’ve fallen in love with them. Berries in England are in an altogether different league of awesomeness so it is very rare for me to go into the supermarket and not come out with a box of strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. My partner often jokes that berries are going to make us bankrupt but when I put them in front of us for breakfast or as dessert, they disappear quite quickly.

In an attempt to pry my partner from the computer screen and take him outside the house on a weekend, I pledged a pancake breakfast. Of course pancakes take longer to make that you expect them to, especially when all you have is a single pan to cook them in. So on this particular Sunday, we had a pancake lunch instead.

The same Sunday that I mention in the previous paragraph, I found myself with half a punnet of raspberries, half a punnet of blueberries and 5 plums that had looked promising in the supermarket but hadn’t ripened though I’d bought them  2 weeks prior. Very berry pancakes and some plum-based sauce it was!

Very berry pancakes

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Dum Aloo Amritsari



Aloo’ means potatoes in Hindi. ‘Dum’ means strength or pressure and in this context, it means that the potatoes are cooked with a lid covering them so they are under pressure due to the build up of steam. The pressure is important as it helps the potatoes soak up the flavours of the sauce they are in. ‘Amritsari’ implies that it came from the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab.

This potato dish was a novelty when I was a child and I always imagined only special people in the restaurant could make it because my mum never did. My dad who worked in Calcutta, West Bengal when he was younger would rave about ‘Dum Aloo’ or ‘Aloo dum’ but I never got to taste it until I was an adult. All I knew was that you had to use whole baby potatoes to make it and that it was awesome.

In my early teens when mum would let me tinker in the kitchen, I’d attempt to make what I imagined dum aloo should be like. Of course, I only used the simplest of ingredients (onions, tomatoes, potatoes and garam masala +coriander for garnish) back then and mum had to help me fry the potatoes. I like this grown-ups recipe better with a lot more spice and a partiality towards chilli and I try not to fry the potatoes because they can be quite oily.

Sanjeev Kapoor's Dum Aloo Amritsari

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Blueberry and raspberry scones


Last week, I acquired a bottle of red gooseberry jam from a colleague at work. I’d never seen/heard of or tasted red gooseberry before. Growing up in India, I’d seen and bitten into green gooseberries with my childhood friends. These berries called “Nelli-kai” in Kannada would make us all screw our faces into a knot as the sourness stung the backs of our mouths. However, mum would turn them into a wonderfully spicy Indian pickle with chilli and mustard and fenugreek and that’s the only form I’d eaten and liked it in. I thought it was time to give this other kind of gooseberry a try.

Scones – ready to eat

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