Chickpea spiced rice

I am sure this recipe has a proper name, and could probably be attributed to many different cusines.

The best way I would describe it is an Indian inspired mild rice dish, South Indian due to the use of curry leaves 🙂

This is great eaten alone or as a more substantial side dish.

The beauty of it is that it is mildly spiced, so you get to taste the sweetness of the chickpeas and taste the few spices that are used.

And best of all it is easy to prepare!

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For a big batch you will need (you can divide the recipe as needed):

1 cup uncooked chickpeas (use more or less depending on how much chickpeas you want in the rice)

3 cup basmati rice

1 sprig curry leaves

1- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (make sure they are fresh)

2 pinches turmeric powder

black pepper to taste

you can also add some curry powder, chilli powder, corriander powder and garam masala but I do not, I like to keep this as simple as possible.

One x-large onion- sliced

To make:

Soak the chickpeas (ideally overnight) then  cook in boiling unsalted water until cooked but still firm.

Fry the onion slices in another pot in some oil or ghee/butter until golden.

Add the curry leaves and dry spices. Fry until fragrant for about a minute but do not burn.

Add salt and water, enough to cook the rice. Once boiling add the chickpeas and check the seasoning.

Add the rice to the water and cook as you would normally cook your basmati rice.

Enjoy on its own, or with your favourite curry!

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Quick banana and date muffins

These muffins are quick and easy to make. A great way to use up over-ripe bananas.

Delicious and very moist!

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Ingredients: (makes 12 muffins)

1.5 cups selfraising flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinammon

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

2-3 large ripe banana (the really black mushy ones no one wants to eat) – mashed

3/4 to 1 cup chopped pitted dates

1/2 cup sunflower or any other light tasting oil

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar or your choice of vanilla flavouring.

 

To make:

Preheat your oven to 150 deg C. Line a 12 – hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, including the dates

Mix all wet ingredients, including the banana, in another bowl or jug.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and fold in the wet ingredients until JUST COMBINED. This means the mixture will be a bit lumpy. That’s ok. This will make your muffins soft and moist.

Place the batter into the paper cases.Bake for approx 20 mins or until tops are golden and no longer soft. You can test either by inserting a skewer and removing it. If a few crumbs or non at all come on the skewer, then it is done. Take them out! If still moist and sticky, bake for a bit longer.

 

Tips:

  • Remember not to over-mix your batter. You really need a light touch when making muffins.
  • Mix the batter by folding/scraping the batter from the  bottom of the bowl upwards. That way you ensure even mixing without over-mixing the batter.
  • If you find some flour in the batter when scooping into the paper cases , do not panic.  if in the centre or at the bottom, It will mix when baking. If the flour is at the top of the batter in the paper cases, gently smooth out with your finger or add a bit of the moist batter ontop to cover it.
  • Keep bananas in the fridge as soon as they become over-ripe. They will be handy for when you want to make these yummy treats!

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Apple streusel wholemeal muffins

A few months back my husband rang me to ask a really important question; ‘ what’s the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?”

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Simply put: a cupcake is a mini fluffy cake while a muffin is a mini hybrid of a cake and a bread. It is more rustic, less sweet and lower in fat. Something you can enjoy with your morning tea or coffee, and smear with some butter and jam if you so wish. Some muffin recipes are more cake-like while others more bread-like

This recipe is closer to the bread-like variety and would be perfect as a loaf, sliced up for a special breakfast.

Before moving on to the recipe, I just want to share a funny apple discovery I made. The apples I used  today were purchased about 3 months ago and have been living in my fridge ever since. Apart from the skin shrivelling a bit, they were perfect. So if you have old apples, keep them in the fridge and use them when you want to bake.

This recipe is adapted from: http://www.folklifestyle.com/2011/09/whole-wheat-apple-muffins-with-walnut.html

The Recipe:

Makes 12

Prep Time:  10 mins

Bake time: 20-25 mins

Ingredients:

For the muffin mix:

• 1 1/2 cups plain flour

• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp mixed spice (optional)
• 3 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup caster sugar
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/3 cup full fat plain yogurt
• 1/4 cup sunflower oil
• 2 large eggs
•  1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
• 2  large apples, peeled and finely chopped.
For the streusel topping:
• 4 tablespoons plain flour
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 50gm unsalted or lightly salted butter

• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds etc

To make:

Preheat your oven to 200 deg C.
Line a 12 hole muffin tin.

In a small bowl rub struesel mixture together to for a fine crumby mixture. Dont worry if a bit lumpy.

Mix dry sifted ingredients (except sugar) in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients and sugar in another bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the large bowl, add the wet ingredients and the apples. Mix gently until just combined. This means the mixture will still be  a bit lumpy, That is perfectly fine.

You dont want to over-mix. I repeat: you dont want to over-mix.

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Place mixture into baking tray, and top with some of thee struesel mix.

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Bake for 5 mins, then reduce oven temp to 180 deg C and bake for another 15-20 mins.

Dont over bake.

Once done, remove from baking pan and allow to cool before eating.

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Enjoy!

Spiced Carrot Cupcakes

I’ve been making carrot cakes ever since I was a teen. It is wholesome, healthier than other cakes, easy to make and very tasty.

Today I used the batter to make 12 standard sized cupcakes. They go great with lemon cream cheese frosting, but I only make that on special occasions.

You will need:

3 eggs

1 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup oil (can use 1/2 cup for lower fat)

1 cup brown sugar (can use 3/4 for less sweet cake)

2.5-3 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup of mixed dried fruits (or 1/4 each chopped walnuts and dried fruits)

1 teaspoon mixed spice

zest of one orange.

1.5 tablespoons vanilla sugar
To make:

Preheat your oven to 160-180 deg

Mix together eggs, oil, sugar, spice, vanilla, zest and fruit/nuts. Mix well. Add the flour/baking soda and mix until well combined. Do not over mix.

Place batter evenly into a lined 12 cupcake tray.


Bake for about 20 mins or until the cupcakes are cooked through. This is when a skewer placed in the centre comes out clean. Or it bounces back when you press on the top. Only check this after the cupcakes have risen fully and have become golden in colour.

Kushari: Egyptian Lentil Rice with spicy tomato sauce

Kushari is a traditional Egyptian dish. I guess you could say that it is the Prince of Egyptian Cuisine (with falafel and fool being the King and Queen)

This is a lovely recipe to add to your repetoir, highly requested and easy to make!

Ingredients:

For the kushari rice

3/4 cup brown lentils : soaked for at least 30 mins

1.5 cups rice soaked (I used basmati, but traditionally short grain rice is used)

2 large brown onions: sliced

salt and black pepper for seasoning

1 tsp each corriander, cumin and garam masala powder (optional)

oil for frying the onions

For the tomato sauce (called da’ah):

1 large tomato pureed (0.5 cup) (alternatively use an extra tablespoon of tomato paste and add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (to taste)

2 large cloves of garlic: crushed

optional: pinch of cumin, corriander and garam masala powders

To make:

Fry the onions in some oil on medium heat for about 15 mins, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and deep golden brown in colour. Reserve half the onions for garnish. Add soaked lentils with the onions and add some water to cook. Season well with salt and pepper. When the lentils are almost done, add spices, salt, water and soaked rice. Cover and cook until the rice is done.

For the sauce, fry off the crushed garlic in some oil. Add the pureed tomatoes and fry off until cooked. Add tomato paste, vinegar, chilli, salt and pepper and cook until all the tomato paste is cooked out. you may add water to achieve desired consistency.

To serve the kushari, place the rice topped with sauce and caramalised onions. You may also add some cooked macaroni pasta and chickpeas.

Kishk – Egyptian Savoury Custard

Kishk is a delicious savoury custard, one of my favourite Egyptian side dishes.

It is fairly easy to make.

You will need:

1 cup full fat yogurt

1/2 cup of plain flour

A few ladels of chicken or lamb broth ( I genrally use lamb broth from boiling lamb bones with onions, cardomom, salt and pepper)

salt to taste

One large onion- chopped or sliced and caramalised by frying in mixture of oil/butter on a medium heat until deep golden brown

To make:

Mix the yogurt and flour together until you have a  thick paste. You may need more or less flour depending on how watery your yogurt is.

I usually let this sit near the stove top while the stock is cooking. This is how my mum taught me. I guess it ferments slightly in the warm weather and gives a richer flavour.

The stock flavour has to be good as this is the flavour base of your kishk.

When ready to cook, place in a deep pot and ladel some hot stock into the yogurt  mixture. Mix well and cook on medium heat, adding more stock when necessary to form a thick custard. Remember it will thicken as it cools, but you dont want it too thin! Season well with salt.

Once cooked, ladel into ramekins and garnish with caramelised onions. Make more onions if necessary as everyone LOVES to eat it with kishk.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

كبة بَالصنِية – Kibbeh Bisseniye : Burghul and Mince Baked Layers with Spiced Mince and Nut Filling

This is a traditional Lebanese recipe that is delicious, healthy and full of flavour.

Traditionally Kibbeh comes in many forms; some are football shaped filled with mince and nuts, then deep fried as an apetizer. This version contains the same ingredients but is baked instead of fried, hence saving on time and calories.

Dare I say, however, it is equally as delicous!

To make (makes enough for a family + leftovers for lunch):

For the outside (kibbeh) layers

1/2 kg fine burghul- soaked in enough water for about 1 hour – Drain later before using

250 gms lean beef of lamb mince

One medium onion – chopped

Handful of fresh mint, or a few tablespoons dry ground mint

Orange or lemon zest to taste ( I dont use it because my husband isnt a big fan of lemon flavours in food)

2 tablespoons ground corriander

Ground black pepper

Salt to taste

  • Blitz all ingredients in the food processor until a paste forms. It should be a bit grainy but not too rough.

For the filling:

250- 300 gms lamb mince

One or two large onions (according to preference)

Handful of chopped toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts

2 teaspoons ground corriander

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 Tablespoon sumak

alternatively you can use middle-eastern Baharat Spice mix

To make:

Brown mince in some oil in a hot pan, add onion and cook well. Add spices and fry off until dry. Do not burn. Season well and add the nuts. Set aside for stuffing

To assemble:

Add half the kibbeh mix to a greased/lined baking tin (I used a rectangular 20X 30 cm pan, but you can use any shape). Flatten out to fom an even later. You might need to wet your hands to make this easier.

Add the mince mixture and spread evenly.

Now the tricky part! Make medium sized patties and place ontop of the mince. Do not press hard. Repeat the process as if you are making a quilt, then press the seams together to make an even layer.

Wet your hands and gently run you fingers over the top to form an even and smooth surface

Cut out to desired shape and drizzle generously with olive oil and or butter/ghee. Garnish with raw almonds

Bake in a medium heat oven until cooked and springy to touch. Place under grill for extra colouration/crispy top.

Serve with rice and yogurt salad.

Delicious!

Freekah, Capsicum, Corn and Lamb Spiced Porridge.

Last week while out with my son, I found myself stuck without any food for him ( I was out longer than planned) and couldnt spot any supermarkets in my near vicinity.

I found a small lebanese foodshop so I bought some labneh (basically strained yogurt with some salt) and fed it to him with some bread.

I felt a bit dissapointed.. because I didnt think I would use it myself later. I dreaded it just sitting there in the fridge and I expected it to be laden with fat, so a no go food for me in my weight management efforts.

Having a look at the back it was surprisingly only 7% fat, yet lusciously creamy and delicious. Remincant of philly cream cheese.

So I’ve been using it with my smoked salmon sandwiches .. and I found that it works exceptionally well with this recipe I made for last weekend’s dinner.

This is a must try!

You will need:

3-4 pieces of lamb on the bone ( I used half neck and shanks)

1 cup freekah (green wheat available at Arab shops)

Half a medium red capsicum and half a green capscicum – diced

Corn off half a cob

One large onion- finely diced

5 cloves of garlic – minced

3 tablespoons paprika

1-3 tablespoons freshly ground cumin (to taste)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

One medium ripe tomato (pureed)

salt and pepper to taste

chilli powder (to taste) – optional

To make:

Fry off onions and capsicum in some oil (I used half sunflower half olive oil) until fragrant. Add lamb bones and fry off until they pick up some colour. Add remaining  ingredients with suffient water and allow to cook until lamb is tender.

If you want the freekah to be more chewy, only add when the lamb is 75% cooked.

This is delicious served with Toasted Turkish bread, a generous dollop of Labneh (or sour cream) and some drops of chilli sauce!

 

Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

I’ve been busy.. really busy

My son has always been a terrible sleeper and it started to take it’s toll on me. Anyone else know of 8 month olds who only sleep for 45 mins and declare war on anyone trying to put them down for a nap?

Last week a friend recommended I read a baby sleep help book: The no cry sleep solution (by Elizabeth Paintley). So I made a trip to the local library but couldnt resist gravitating towards the cookbook section after picking up the book.. In the very limited time I have every few days, I sit and study.. so stay tuned for some awesome recipes, tips and techniques!

Now for a recipe. Mushrooms are great in the cooler weather, and this recipe is easy to whip in no time

You will need;

1.5- 2 cups arborio rice

1 chicken breast or thigh: diced or sliced

4 button mushrooms: sliced or chopped

one medium onion: finely diced

one stalk of celery: finely diced

3 cloves of garlic: minced

one tablespoon dry oregano (or any other herb of your choice)

salt and pepper to taste

Chicken stock (i make my own while prepping the food: I use scrap bits of chicken, celery, onion and carrots. By the time I am done prepping the food the stock is hot and ready to use) – You can use water instead.

Parmesan cheese to serve

To make:

Saute onion and celery on medium heat in some olive oil until it is soft and picks up some golden colour

Add chicken and cook through. (if using chicken breast and you want it moist, remove after this step)

Add rice and stir in well for a minute.

Add stock, one ladel-full at a time, stirring until absorbed.Scrape any dry bits off the bottom and mix through. Maintain a medium heat.

Repeat until rice is cooked through and creamy. Halfway add the mushrooms, garlic and seasonings.

Enjoy with ha generous shaving of sharp parmesan cheese.

 

Tips:

You can make this without chicken

You can add some cream- but I like mine without.

The risotto flavour is based on how well you cook the onion/celery/chicken at the start. so take your time!

Toasted Muesli

I was never really a breakfast person before having a baby. Now I cant go without it.

Oats and muesli are my top choice for brekky, because they are tasty, healthy and keep me full for long.

The white balance was off on my camera, so the goldeness of muesli wasnt captured in this pic.. but you get the idea.

You will need:

4 cups traditional oats

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

1/3  to 1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon butter or oil (optional, i dont use it unless i want more flavour)

To make:

Warm honey slightly to make it runny, add flavourings (vanilla, butter and cinnamon). Line a tray with  baking paper and add oats + coconut. Pour over the honey mixture. Combine wel, then bake in a preheated oven at 100 deg for about an hr, stirring regularly so not to burn. *about every ten mins*

Once golden and crunchy remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in an air tight container.

Tips:

  • Dont be tempted to bake on a high temp or else it will burn
  • The muesli becomes more crunchy once cool, so do not worry if it doesnt seem crunchy once cooked
  • You can add fruit and toasted nuts to the mix before storing