Aubergine with Black Garlic and Herbs

Here’s a recipe from Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Plenty More. It’s exquisite. Don’t get intimidated by the ingredients list. Just go with it. Trust me.

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As usual, the recipe is modified to be a bit easier and not so detail obsessed.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 long aubergines cut into circles about 1-2 cm thick
  • 2 long red chilli peppers (medium hot)
  • 4 large cloves of regular garlic
  • 4 cloves of black garlic*
  • About 3 large tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • Lemons
  • Some pretty herbs such as basil, dill and tarragon.

What to do:

Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Lay the aubergine slices on the trays and gently brush them with olive oil on each side, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until they become golden brown and soft. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Meanwhile, slice the garlic cloves and the red chilli on a diagonal and heat a couple millimetres of olive oil in a small frying pan. When the oil is very hot, throw in the chilli and garlic and fry until the garlic gets golden and the chillies shrivel and everything becomes very aromatic.

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Make sure you remove the garlic and chillies (using a slotted spoon) just as they’re getting golden, they’ll continue to cook once you’ve removed them from the oil so you don’t want anything to burn. Remove and place on to a paper towel on a plate.

In a small blender or food processor, blitz the yogurt, black garlic cloves, the juice of one lemon, and some salt until smooth.

Once the aubergine slices are cooked, remove and place on to a pretty or serving platter. Scatter the garlic and chillies over it, tear up the herbs and sprinkle them on top. Then drizzle the black garlic yogurt over everything and serve your awe-inspired guests. Presentation is essential with this dish.

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My guests chose to fold each aubergine slice into a taco-style bite, with the aubergine as the taco and the chilli, garlic, yogurt and herbs as the filling. These flavour combinations are about as about as unique and exciting as it gets. ESPECIALLY if you’re able to get your hands on some black garlic.

Enjoy!

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* Black Garlic is pretty incredible. It’s basically normal garlic that’s been cooked slowly over several weeks so that it takes on an incredible caramelisation leaving it sweet and delicious without any garlicky after taste. It’s incredibly healthy for you. If you can get your hands on some I highly recommend you make this a part of your normal ingredient repertoire. I was lucky enough to score some from Black Garlic UK but if you’re not in the UK do a bit of investigation online and I’m sure you’ll find some no problem!

If you’re not able to find any, or you need to make this recipe RIGHT NOW and you only have regular garlic, I suggest you chop the top of an entire garlic bulb–drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap in some tin foil. Roast the garlic bulb for at least an hour or until your whole house smells incredible. Squeeze out the golden brown garlicky paste and use this instead. 

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Chilli and Turmeric Chicken Noodle Soup

With cold season upon us, I think it’s really important to have a go-to recipe for those damp and chilly days when you’re not feeling too good. This recipe combines loads of cold fighting ingredients–ginger, garlic and the bacteria fighting super spice turmeric–into one classic and comforting chicken soup. This soup helps you feel better immediately, and will also help in the long run, blasting any illness out of your body and healing you from within.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s very simple to make. So you can whip it up for a loved one who’s feeling under the weather, or make it for yourself in no time at all!

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What you’ll need:

  • 2 good quality chicken breasts, yucky stuff cut off, and thinly sliced
  • Chicken (or veg) stock cubes or powder
  • A healthy chunk of ginger, sliced and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 red chillies (medium hot to hot), sliced and roughly chopped
  • Coconut oil (or regular veg oil)
  • One heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • A few spring onions, roughly chopped
  • Some button or chestnut mushrooms, stalks removed, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Thin rice noodles
  • Sriracha
  • Extra veggies if you want (mangetout, cabbage, carrot etc.)

What to do:

In a large saucepan, warm up the oil and throw in the garlic, ginger and chilli and sautee until sizzling and fragrant. You want to inhale all of that goodness and begin to feel your sinuses clearing up! When they begin to sizzle, throw in the chicken and stir to coat. Add your huge tablespoon of turmeric and coat until everything is nice and yellow.

Cook for a few more minutes and add your water and stock. A good way of measuring how much water you’ll need, is by assessing how many bowls you intend to serve. If you’re going to make 2-3 bowls, pour in 2 bowls worth of boiling water. Add your stock cube or powder (if you’re unsure of how much stock powder to use, you can either check the suggestions on the box or estimate, but less is more, you don’t want the soup to be too salty.

Once the chicken, ginger, chilli and garlic is covered with the water and stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, fry the mushrooms and spring onions in a bit of oil on high heat until brown and somewhat crispy. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Go back to the soup, uncover and squeeze in some sriracha sauce. Taste and add salt if necessary. Add the rice noodles and keep the broth warm until the noodles have softened.

To serve, ladle out the soup with plenty of noodles and chicken and top with the spring onions and mushrooms.

Posted in Asian, Soups | Leave a comment

My Homage to Poha

Poha and I have had a long and intense relationship. I first tried poha the summer of 2007 (aka the summer I lived through 50° weather) in Bhopal, India, living at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic.  The Clinic canteen served the most inappropriate breakfast foods including freshly deep fried green chilli pakoras and this delightful kinda-rice dish by the name of POHA. POHA!

Just saying the name brings me joy.

I ate poha every morning for 10 straight weeks and didn’t tire of  it. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to Canada and never get to eat it again.  So On my last day in Bhopal I went to the home of the beautiful Ankita, who at the time was running the canteen and grabbed the first person I could find who could translate for me and demanded the secret recipe to this delicious treat.

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When I came home after that first stint in Bhopal I was desperate to recreate poha as authentically as possible. I bought a bag of the stuff in an Indian grocery store (pretty much the only place you can find the stuff, but don’t bother asking for it, just look hard) and made some for my parents.

My mom was horrified when she noticed there was live bug larvae in the bag–presumably having travelled all the way from South Asia!–but my dad and I were like “meh” and ate it anyways. I even made some for my new boyfriend who seemed a bit put off when my mom told him about the bugs, but that guy ended up marrying me so THATS HOW GOOD POHA IS!!!!

In the years to follow I returned to Sambhavna in Bhopal 3 more times and spent several more months of my life eating bowl after bowl of Poha:

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Sometimes the canteen runs out of plates so we eat that shit in a coffee filter.

Sometimes the canteen runs out of plates so we eat that shit in a coffee filter.

Here I am in utter ecstasy eating poha in someone's home.

Here I am in utter ecstasy eating poha in someone’s home.

The poha is so good at Sambhavna even the rats get in on the action.

The poha is so good at Sambhavna even the rats get in on the action.

 

Okay now back to present day. This incredible new restaurant/bar opened up in Leeds recently called Bundobust “A craft beer bar with an Indian street food kitchen.” UM YES PLEASE. From the moment I learned they’d be opening I basically stalked them on twitter counting the days until their opening. They’ve only been open a few weeks and I’ve already been twice with several more dates in the calendar to revisit in the near future.

The first time we went we decided the best call was to ORDER EVERYTHING and I was literally blown away to discover that they made poha. I was so pleased and surprised because in my experience, no one outside of Bhopal really seemed to know what it was. It made me so happy to know others could enjoy the glory of poha, even if it wasn’t for breakfast….

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Today I was wandering around an Indian (ethnic) grocery store and this big bag of poha was just calling out to me “take me home!” and I couldn’t refuse.

This stuff is dead easy to make. In fact, finding the stuff is 90% of the battle. But once you’ve found it, you’re all set to go!

What you’ll need:

  • 1-2 mugs full of poha
  • Some vegetable oil
  • A sprinkling of black mustard seeds
  • A sprinkling of fennel seeds
  • One medium sized onion, chopped
  • One tiny green HOT chilli
  • A heaped tablespoon of turmeric
  • A sprinkling of white sugar
  • A bunch of fresh coriander
  • Plenty of salt
  • One boiled potato, cut into small cubes (optional)
  • Lemon or lime for a squeeze at the end.

What to do:

In a large colander, rinse the poha and toss a few times to release any excess water. It’s fine if it’s a bit soggy and wet. 

In a wok or large frying pan, dry toast some mustard and fennel seeds and once they start to sputter and pop add some vegetable oil, the chilli and onions. Stir and allow the onions to cook a bit so they get a little melty and then add the turmeric. Stir so that everything gets yellow and then pour in the poha (and the potato if you’re using). Toss everything well so that the poha takes on that magical turmeric yellow hue.

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Add a tiny bit of sugar and then season with salt, tasting and adding more if you think it needs some. Mix in the coriander and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

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Posted in Indian, Uncategorized, Veg, Vegan | 1 Comment

Asian Chicken Salad with Cabbage and Crispy Noodles!

This is the kind of salad that satisfies all your cravings. It’s got sticky and spicy chicken, crispy rice noodles, and crunchy fresh raw veggies. It’s dead easy to prepare and makes for a fabulous dinner idea on a weeknight.

This salad reminds me of something my mom and aunts used to make back in the ’90s it was really trendy and replaced boring old pasta salad, back in the days before the internet and food creativity was oppressively limited. It was this delicious salad made with purple cabbage, crunchy Ramen noodles (the kind from the little packets for instant soup and noodles) and toasted almond slivers. The vinaigrette was made with the spice packet that came with the noodles, sesame seeds and sesame oil.

I used to eat it like it was my last day on earth and I would always try and decide which part was my favourite: the fresh and crunchy cabbage, the crispy noodles or the toasted almonds So I like to think that this is a grown up and more mature (healthier and more creative) version of the Ramen Noodle Salad that was oh so popular back in the day.

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Here’s how to do it!

 

What you’ll need:

  • An assortment of cabbage (purple, green, white) or just one kind, whatever. Shredded on a mandolin, in a food processor or just cut thinly freehand.
  • Some long fresh and green celery stalks cut diagonally in to thin slices
  • Some green scallions chopped
  • A package of rice noodles (preferably pre-cooked ones)
  • Some whole almonds smashed up or almond slivers
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Soya sauce
  • Honey
  • Sesame oil
  • Limes
  • White and black sesame seeds (optional)

What to do:

Cut the chicken breasts into very thin slices and coat well with some soya sauce, honey and black pepper. put in a container or cover a bowl with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge (preferably for a few hours, if possible). Then make your salad. Toss the celery, spring onions and cabbage in a large bowl.  Leave a few large chunks of spring onion aside.

Heat up a flat frying pan for the noodles(If you’ve not got pre-cooked rice noodles, you’ll obviously need to boil them first and drain them well). Put a tiny bit of sesame oil in a hot frying pan and spread the noodles out evenly along the pan surface. Allow the noodles to fry and get slightly golden and crispy, tossing the pan regularly. In another smaller frying pan, dry toast the almonds until they become golden and fragrant. Keep an eye on both the almonds and noodles so that they don’t get too burnt. When the noodles and almonds have cooled down, toss them in with the vegetables.

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Remove the chicken from the fridge and add a tiny bit more sesame oil to the pan you fried the noodles in. Throw in those large chunks of leftover spring onion. Fry the chicken with the onions until it begins to  get a bit charred on each side, shaking the pan regularly. Before add the chicken to the salad, drizzle some sesame oil, soya sauce, honey and lime juice over the salad and toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Add the chicken and enjoy!

 

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Posted in Asian, Salads | Leave a comment

Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad

This salad is a fabulous side-dish  idea for an Asian themed meal. If you’re making dumplings, tofu rice bowls, some panko chicken or any of your other favourite Chinese or Thai style dishes, this fresh and fruity salad is a great replacement for a boring old side of sautéed vegetables.

It’s really easy to prepare and served cold, the leftovers make a fantastic lunch the next day!

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What you’ll need:

  • One cup of quinoa, cooked
  • One mango, cut into cubes
  • 2 red peppers
  • One avocado (not too ripe) cut into cubes
  • A few handfuls of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • One bunch of spring onions, chopped
  • Some cress or alfalfa sprouts (optional)

As a dressing…

  • Lots of fresh lime juice
  • Sesame oil
  • A drizzle of honey
  • Salt and pepper
  • Some chilli flakes (optional)

As a really nice garnish…

  • Some black sesame seeds (for dramatic visual effects!)
  • Some toasted cashew nuts

What to do:

This salad doesn’t need too many assembly instructions, chop the red pepper and char it on a grill or in a frying pan with a bit of oil so that some of the skin gets nice and blackened.

Let the cooked quinoa cool and add to the bowl, then add the red pepper (once cooled) avocado, mango, spring onions, spinach and sprouts and then toss well.

Sprinkle with the nuts and seeds for garnish and then drizzle with the dressing.

 

Posted in Asian, Salads, Veg, Vegan | 1 Comment

Roasted Cauliflower, Parsley and Hazelnut Salad

 

After discovering this salad, you most likely will not want to eat anything else ever again. It’s the most perfect array of flavours and textures. The ingredients might seem like unlikely combinations but after trying this you’ll never look back. Basically this is an extremely impressive, unique and tasty addition to any dinner party you’re hosting. It is a lovely accompaniment to meat or fish alongside a nice big bowl of couscous.

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What you’ll need:

  • 1-2 heads of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into medium-sized florets
  • 2-3 packages of flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 3 long celery sticks, sliced on an angle
  • Half a cup of hazelnuts, smashed or roughly chopped
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (ONLY IF IN SEASON)
    OR
  • A couple handfuls of dried cranberries
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Some maple syrup
  • Cider or Sherry vinegar

What to do:

Preheat your oven to a not too high temperature and put the cauliflower florets into a large roasting tray (or parchment lined baking sheet) drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast the cauliflower for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring the cauliflower around every 10 minutes or so. At first the cauliflower will seem like a lot but it will shrink down significantly. It’s not ready until the cauliflower is golden and shrivelled and incredibly tasty.*

While the cauliflower is roasting prepare the rest of the salad.

Chop the parsley, the celery and dry toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan until golden and fragrant. When the hazelnuts have cooled off, add to the salad and sprinkle with the cranberries or pomegranate seeds. Squeeze some lemon juice over the salad just to keep it fresh.

When the cauliflower is ready allow it to cool off completely and then add to the rest of the salad and toss well. Combine about a quarter cup of maple syrup with a quarter cup of vinegar, season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Drizzle most of the dressing on the salad and toss again. The oil from the cauliflower should be enough oil for the salad but you can always add a bit more if you like.

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Oh god its going to be so incredible.

 

* I usually roast 2 heads of cauliflower because I snack on so much before the meal that roasting 2 is the only way to ensure there’s still cauliflower left to go in the salad once it’s dinnertime.

 

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Lebanese Potato Salad

 

Another one of many gorgeous recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen cookbook. I would have better photos if my husband hadn’t been hounding me to sit down and start eating…

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This is a fabulous spring recipe and includes a salad dressing that is 100% unbeatable. I’ve used it before and turns out it was quite similar to the recipe in the cookbook. Bring this to the next potluck you attend or cook it for the next sunday lunch you host.

What you’ll need:

  • A bunch of small potatoes washed and halved (baby new potatoes are best, or 2 large regular potatoes cut into cubes)
  • Some salad cress or alfalfa sprouts (if you’re into it)
  • Some baby spinach, rocket, watercress (a combination of the 3 is ideal!)
  • Some chopped spring onions
  • Any fresh herbs you may have on hand
  • Any mixture of seeds you have (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts etc.)

For the salad dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons of greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini (you want the tahini to be nice and thin so use some water to thin it out if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • The juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper

What to do: 

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes until soft and tender. Drain and set aside so that they cool off.

In a dry frying pan, toast the nuts and seeds very slightly until golden.

In a large salad bowl, combine the cress, leaves, spring onions and herbs and squeeze over a bit of lemon juice.

In a smaller bowl, combine all of the salad dressing ingredients and stir until it’s got a good salad dressing-like consistency. Add some olive oil to thin it out. Add more honey or lemon juice if too bitter or not sweet enough.

When the potatoes cool off, toss them with the leaves and drizzle with salad dressing. Sprinkle with the nuts and seeds and enjoy!

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