Chora (black eyed beans)

Black eyed beans

Ahhh the humble black eyed beans…brings up visions of right-on vegetarian cafes from the 70s but really they are so lovely and eating them makes me very happy.  In case you have no idea what the heck I’m on about, they are beans that are white beans smaller than kidney beans with a black gash (where it was attached to the pod). As with other lentils, they are a good source of soluble fibre which is helpful in reducing cholesterol.

In the preparation section below, I’ve detailed what to do with some of the ingredients.  These steps are absolutely and completely optional however, they ensure that the ingredients are properly blended and also there are less items to pick out when you are eating. For once  I decided to do the cooking this way rather than throwing the separate ingredients into pot and you know what, hubby said he preferred to have the separate stuff as it let him taste the individual flavours so it’s a matter of personal taste. I do know that if you heat some of the spices, it helps release their flavours and they are not so harsh so if you are after a milder curry, do it just DO IT. Right enough mucking about – here’s the stuff you really want to read.


  • 200g black-eyed beans – soak overnight then cook in a pressure cooker until they are soft but not mushy. The beans should still be holding their shape. Boil in plenty of water and retain that water for later.
  • 2 tbs ground nut oil (tel)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp mustard / fenugreek seeds mix (rye/methi)
  • Pinch of asafoetida (hing) – optional
  • 2 large onions (dungri) – chopped very finely. Better still whizz them up in your blender. You want them as small as possible
  • 2 large cloves garlic – crushed again very finely (lusan)
  • 2 inches ginger – grated (adu)
  • 1 chili – finely sliced (murcha)
  • 1 stick cinnamon (tal)
  • 5 green cardamon pods (elchi)
  • 5 cloves (lawing)
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 large tomatoes / 220g worth. Diced finely
  • 1tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1tsp chili powder (murcha)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1/2 inch jaggery (gaur) or 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 mangosteen flowers (kokum)
  • 6 or 7  curry leaves (limra)
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Coriander for garnish


  • Tomatoes: An optional step is to skin the tomatoes then pulp the flesh before adding to the vagar. An easy way to do this is to place the washed tomatoes into a pan of boiling water then simmer very gently until the skin splits. Take out of the pan and remove the skin (be careful as they may still be hot from water). Then dice very finely removing the central core (i.e. the white bits)
  • Spices: in a frying pan or tawa gently heat the cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns. When you see a very thin amount of smoke remove from the frying pan. Take the cardamom seeds out of the pulp then pound all the dry cooked ingredients in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder. As I said above, this is an entirely optional step as some prefer to just put the ingredients into the vagar (sauce)
  • Beans: when the beans are cooked, throw the kokum into the beans&water and let this sit for about 10 minutes


  • The first stage is to make the vagar which is then added to the beans/water to cook through
  • In a very large pan, heat the oil over medium heat
  • Add the bayleaves and wait for them to start to brown
  • Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and wait for them to sizzle and pop then add the pinch of asafoetida if using
  • Add the onions and fry for at least 8 mins. Note it takes longer the bigger the pieces. Keep stirring to stop them sticking to the pan
  • Add the ginger, garlic and chili and cook for another 4 minutes
  • Add the chili powder, salt, turmeric and coriander/cumin powder, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. Keep stirring and cook for 3/4  minutes
  • Add the jaggery/sugar and wait for it to melt into the vagar
  • Blend in the tomatoes and curry leaves. Cook for about 1 minute
  • The vagar is now ready. Mix in the beans plus all the water they cooked in. Also add lemon juice to taste.
  • Cook until the water thickens. Taste to make sure there is enough salt/lemon for your liking
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with plain rice and naan or rotlis

Louisiana Sweet Potato Pancakes

I bought some sweet potatoes at the weekend. Sweet potatoes are choc full of betacarotene which boosts your immune system, vitamin c, fibre and are also a complex form of carbohydrate which is important for tots who like to run around.  The intention was to make them into a shak but today I decided to use one potato for some Louisiana Sweet Potato Pancakes.

They were delicious – both tot and hubby gobbled them up quickly with some lamb and egg. I think tot would happily have just eaten the pancakes alone which makes my veggie heart very happy (when she has meat, my heart sinks a bit but if she has something veggie it soars). I opted to have mine with a fried egg and some sour cream. I will definitely be making them again however, will use less baking powder as I was left with a bit of an aftertaste. I will also steam or roast the potato to preserve more nutrients.

I have a suspicion that these pancakes are meant for brekky or maybe a brunch and not dinner. It would be useful to have some serving suggestions.

BTW allrecipe site is BRILLIANT – very user-friendly. It can work out different quantities to cook which was good as the original recipe makes 24 pancakes which is apparently 8 servings (obviously not everyone gets the same number of pancakes). I decided to make 4 servings even though there are only 3 of us…we are greeeeeeedy! I’ll have to look at some other recipes to see how well this works as it’s not always a case of just halving ingredients blah blah.

The site also has an option for “kitchen friendly” view where you lose all the ads etc and just see the recipe. Unfortunately, there was a teeny-weeny glitch and the pancakes kitchen view was for a different recipe. Ah well.

And for those that need to know – all purpose flour is plain flour to us brits.

Chocolate cupcakes with pink buttercream

At half time today (Brazil vs Netherlands not that balls with racquets halftime), I agreed to make cupcakes with the tot. This ended up with me making the cakes whilst she was banished from the kitchen after decorating the whole floor with empty cup cake cases. Needless to say I missed the rest of the game. Ah well.

The recipe was from the back of the sugar packet and I added 75g of dark chocolate to the mix to jazz it up.


  • 125g softened butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2tbs milk
  • 75g dark ecuadorian chocolate melted (note for much more chocolately cakes add much more chocolate…kinda makes sense really)

For buttercream

  • 75g softened butter
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 1 drop pink food colouring (or whatever colour floats your boat)
  • 1 tbs milk or water MAX
  • Sprinkles


  • Pre-heat oven to 190degrees / 375 f / Gas mark 5
  • Fill a 12 cake cupcake tin with pretty cupcake cases


  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  • Slowly whisk in the egg and beat
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat again (very therapeutic unless you use an electric whisk as it’s all over so very quickly)
  • Sift in half the flour and fold
  • Add the milk and rest of flour fold until it is well combined
  • Fold in the chocolate and mix until combined
  • Put the mixture into the cupcake tins and bake in the oven for 12 mins – they are done when a toothpick comes out clean
  • Place on a cooling wire. After 10 mins take out of the tin and let cool down completely so that they are ready to be dressed for the night in delicious buttercream


  • Cream the butter
  • Sift in the icing sugar a little at a time and beat
  • Once all the icing sugar is added, add enough milk/water to make the cream fluffy
  • Add 1 drop food colouring and beat well
  • Either spoon onto the cakes or use a fun piping bag. I’ve just got one of these and am only learning to use it. It’s great fun but I still haven’t cracked the knack of making my cakes look shop bought. Mine defo sport the home-made look
  • Go mad with your sprinkles and put on as much as your cake loving heart desires
  • Put the cakes back in the fridge to let the buttercream harden

P.S. Rest assured I didn’t forget the tot. She was giving two cupcakes with plain icing to decorate with silver balls and sprinkles. She managed to do that then promptly devoured one cake. Tut tut, just an hour before dinner but I’m so glad my baby likes my cooking