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!



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!


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!


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.



  • 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!






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?”


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:

The Recipe:

Makes 12

Prep Time:  10 mins

Bake time: 20-25 mins


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.


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


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.



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!


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.

Creamy Tomato Pasta

I am always wondering what to pack my husband for lunch:


Sandwiches become soggy

Curries are too smelly

Creamy pasta too often


So last week I ventured the pasta sauce isle for inspiration. I pick up a jar of creamy tomato pasta sauce and ready the back for ingredients. ”I can make that” I think to myself.. and it was a winner with my husband! A sure staple on our lunch menu.

For about 4 serves (500 gms pasta)

one can diced tomato ( I used one with olives because I bought it by mistake, but works great)

one medium onion – finely diced

two garlic cloves minced

oregano- 2 tablespoons (or any of your favourite herbs)

salt and a pinch of sugar to taste (sugar is used if the tomatoes arent very sweet)

1/2 cup cream

250 gm pasta

olives/sundried tomatoes (chopped- optional)

To make:

Saute onions of medium heat in some olive oil util soft. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients (except for cream) and cook on a low heat until completely cooked and softened. Add enough water to cook, but reduce when almost done as you do not want a soup!

The longer you let it cook (about 20-30 mins) the better the flavour. You know it is ready when the oil separates from the sauce.

Add desired amount of cream at the end, and olives/sundried tomatoes if you want to. Heat through and mix with your favourite pasta.

This sauce freezes well!


Creamy Pesto and Spinach Pasta

I always try to find some positive to an otherwise negative situation..

Yesterday my son was quite sick, so we spent a good portion of the day at the Children’s Hospital.

Long story short, we were told the wait to see a doc was 3 hours, so my husband and I went to the cafetria to have something to eat. I love looking at cafe displays and menus, so took the opportunity to learn something new.

My husband bought pesto and spinach pasta. I could see that it was incredibly rich, so I only tasted it.. It was really lovely and knew it would become a regular on our home menu. I am glad that I came across something new as I feel like I always packing my husband stirfry noodles or omlette for lunch 😀

Today I made some for my husband’s lunch for the week…

It was so tasty (and lighter than the one yesterday) that I couldn’t help but have a little myself.

You will need: enough for 1 kg of penne pasta

Approx 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour

Approx 2 tablespoons butter

Approx 1 L fullcream milk

half a cup of frozen chopped spinach

half a cup fresh basil (optional)

250 gms penne pasta

To make:

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir over medium heat until lightly golden but not deepn in colour. You know you are ready to add the milk when the flour smells like biscuits 🙂

Add milk (preferably warm) one cup at a time. Whisking really well. Lower heat and add more milk , little by little until desired consistency is achieved. You might not use all the milk, or you might need more.

Season well with salt. Add spinach and cook through.

Add basil (you can whiz up with some olive oil for a richer dish). Add to sauce.

Cook penne pasta and stir through the sauce.

Enjoy with a generous sprinkle of good quality parmesan cheese.


  • Whisk, whisk, whisk! Otherwise your sauce will be really lumpy.
  • Remember the sauce thickens as it cools.
  • Store any exrtra sauce and freeze for a quick midweek dinner or weekend lunch. Just cook the pasta and mix through heated sauce.

Pumpkin and Herb Risotto

I have been making this regularly at least once every fortnight. Really easy and full of flavour.

You will need:

1 large stalk celery – finely diced

one small carrot- finely diced

approx 2 cups Jap pumpkin – cubed into 2cm pieces

one medium onion – finely sliced

1-2 cloves garlic – minced

1-2 tablespoons oregnao (fresh or dry)

white and black pepper to taste

2 cups arborio rice

approx 2 L boiling water or chicken stock

parmesan cheese to serve

olive oil

To make:

Saute onions, carrots and celery on medium high heat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Stir constantly until some pieces start to caramelise. This step is very  important because it forms the flavour base of the risotto.

Add rice and stir  for a few minutes until translucent. Add pumpkin and stir well. Add water about one cup at a time, stir well and cook on a gentle simmer until almost fully absorbed. Add more water and repeat until rice is cooked through, but not mushy.

Season well with garlic, salt, pepper and oregano while cooking.

Serve hot with shaved or grated parmesan.

I had mine with some avocado and grilled chicken.



Chicken ‘Satay’ with Veg Jasmin Rice.

It has been stinking hot here in Melba for the past few days.. Nearing 40 deg C.

I’ve noticed my cooking has changed to suit the weather.. no curries or slow cooked food, especially with an electric stove-top  that retains its heat for a longggg while.

I made this dish last weekend. The reason why I didnt call this satay chicken is because I couldn’t find any bamboo skewers and really couldn’t be bothered for just good looks 🙂

Anyway. Super easy dish to make, perfect for this kind of weather; marinate the chicken and cook for a few mins when it’s time to eat.


For the chicken:

2 medium chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips (you can bash a bit to tenderise, but I don’t)

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

pinch of chilli powder (to taste_

one minced clove of garlic

2 tablespoons brown sugar (can use honey or normal sugar)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Maggin seasoning sauce)

salt to taste

sesame oil for cooking (can use any other mild tasting oil)

Kecap manis and lemon to serve

To cook:

Mix all ingredients together and allow to marinate for at least an hour (the longer the better)

When ready to cook, heat a little bit of oil in a skillet or non-stick  pan and add chicken pieces. Do NOT overcrowd the pan or turn too much. You want to turn only when the bottom side is cooked and picked up some colour. This way  you get a beautiful flavour without using a bbq.

Turn and cook the other side.

Serve with a drizzle of kecap manis and squeeze of lemon juice.

For the veg rice:

Chicken stock (i use the water I poach chicken in)

1 spring onion- sliced

2 cups jasmin rice

1/4 cup each diced carrots, peas and corn

1 small clove of garlic – minced

salt and black pepper to taste

To make:

Bring veg to boil in the stock with garlic and spring onions. Season well. Add pre-soaked and washed rice and cook according to packet instructions.

Vegetable, Herb And Parmesan Muffins

These muffins are tasty and full of goodness.With how good they taste,  you will be wondering why savoury muffins aren’t as popular as their sweet counterparts..

You will need: (makes 12)

2 cups self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup oil (can add up to 1/2 cup)

2 cups grated zuccini

1 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup finely sliced green parts of spring onions

1/4 cup chopped herbs (dill or corriander) – i used corriander

extra sharp grated parmesan cheese – about 1/2 a cup

To make:

Whisk together eggs, milk and oil. Add carrotts, zuccini and salt. Mix well. Add flour and baking powder. Mix well, but do not mix too much. Just enough to bring the mix together.

Place in a lined muffin tray, filling to about 3/4 of the way up. Bake in a preheated oven (180 deg) for about 15-30 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of a muffin.

About half way through baking (when they have risen and firmed up) sprnkle each muffin with about 1/2 tablespoon of parmesan, and return to the bake until cooked and golden on the top.

Spicy and Tangy Chickpea Salad

This is an all-time favourite chickpea salad. I made it a few months ago for a family and friend gathering it was a massive hit. A friend of mine has been asking me for the recipe for a while now, so here it is!

You will need:

1 cup cooked chickpeas (freshly cooked chickpeas give best results instead of canned)

one small ripe tomato (finely chopped or pureed)

about 1/2 tablespoon worth of finely diced or sliced or pureed onion – a little bit goes a long way.

chili to taste (I use on small chilli or 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder)

juice of one lime or lemon (more or less to taste)

few tablespoons of vinegar (from one to three tablespoons, to taste)

salt and pepper

mint, fresh corriander for garnish (optional)

To make:

Combine all ingredients together. First add a little bit of lemon juice/vingear and season well. Add more to taste until you are happy with the flavour.

Allow to absorb all flavours for at least half an hour before eating. Tastes best the next day.

For best results make sure chickpeas are cooked in water seasoned with salt.