The Spiceman Cometh

A few weeks ago I mentioned a truly squeal-y moment. Well I can now reveal the details. My apologies to Wlx who did an awesome job of the card below. It’s been stuck on my fridge for me to admire and got a bit worn in the process.


Probably the best leaving present that I have ever had – a one to one session with one of The Spicemen…. Mr T Singh himself.

There were quite a few mails back and forth trying to agree on what to cook and when.

When: I so wanted to wait until we had a new kitchen. But that would have been too far into the future (end April). Then I read that he isn’t allowed into his wife’s kitchen as he’s too messy so my mind was made up to get him in sooner. We were hoping he would come on a Friday afternoon when kiddo was at home. We agreed on a Friday but it had to be the morning (later found out he was off to take part in Saturday Kitchen’s 400th episode so he’s allowed to set terms!)

Cuisine: Tony has over 20 years experience as a chef doing all sorts of cuisines and though I would have absolutely loved a session in either chocolate work or pastry making, in the end I decided (lying here….hubby told me!) that it had to be Scottish Punjabi food. Before agreeing on the menu, I searched through the SpiceMen cookbook and also downloaded his latest book Tasty on the kindle to get some idea of what types of dishes interested me. Just a side note, never get a cookbook on Kindle, it’s just not the same as thumbing through a physical one and propping it up in the kitchen when cooking.

The final agreed menu:


and Satan’s Ketchup

Stuffed Pratha

Wild Mushroom


( Curried yellow lentils)

Herbed Rice

Mint and Coriander Sauce

I had two weeks between leaving the job and my next one. The session took place on the last Friday. During those weeks, I spent a LOT of time tidying. Lots of moving stuff about. Doing my shoulder in moving shelf units about and realising that I have a lot of cookbooks. Partly to get ready for the kitchen refit, and partly because I didn’t want any spec of dust to be visible. Two weeks later the bloody laundry baskets were still not empty – rather like Terry Prachett’s The Luggage they just keep spewing out laundry. So they were chucked out of view.

A few days beforehand I took out my food processor – it’s part of a huge kitchen aid that Mr Plummy bought for my birthday last year. I only ever use the cake making part and didn’t even know there was a food processor bit until I was in the midst of the mad clearout. Whooo hoo. That was washed, instructions read and I was set!

The day before I went shopping for the ingredients list Mr Singh had sent me. Strangely there were not many spices but lots and lots of herbs. Four supermarkets later I was devastated that there were no wild mushrooms available anywhere in Livingston. But a quick email and he confirmed a substitute was fine.  I also bought a new chef’s knife and whilst practicing at home managed to slice off of a bit of my finger nail, painfully. So that was hidden away on a high shelf away for kiddo’s little fingers. I got Mr Plummy to sharpen up a selection of the knives that I use more regularly.

Friday 20th March was the day of the solar eclipse. Diverted my attention for all of an hour (clouds got in the way of my pinhole camera working hey ho). Then, I got ready by getting out equipment and ingredients. Note the total lack of space now! Limes… I’ve never used limes in Indian cooking so this was going to be interesting. As were the herbs (am getting obsessive innit)


Then bang on time (which is very un-desi like), a Range Rover drove up and I had an uncontrollable fit of giggles. He was here, red turban, red shoes and ladybird earrings. I opened the door, then closed it in his face saying I had to get rid of the giggles. He came in with a crate.

In the kitchen he asked for a surface so I had to creep into the laundry filled conservatory and drag out a table. And what came out of the crate was this. SPICES. No wonder he didn’t list any in the shopping. He had them all. I was just sticking my nose in everything.


Now some of these I have already. But it’s the ones that I don’t that I want! Garam masala is a prime example – Gujaratis don’t tend to use it much. His was delicious as it contained star anise giving it a slightly liquorice scent. And there was the curious pink pot which I later learnt contained asafoetida crystals –  I had no idea that asafoetida was resin extracted from a number of plants. The powder I have in my kitchen is the crushed up form of the crystals.

See the roll of knives. Yes, chefy types really do sharpen their knives –


I had pen and paper ready to take notes but was told not to worry about recipes as he had copies for me. I should have read them before we started so I would have an idea of what we were going to make. But I just too excited and had so many questions to ask so we just got stuck into the prep. I wish I had taken notes but the next 3 hours were spent talking a lot. It was a golden opportunity chance to ask about working in the restaurant business, to find out what it was like to get work after he finished his catering studies (shortsighted restaurant people saw the turban and turned him away, the fools!), why so many Indian restaurants close in Edinburgh, about charities in Edinburgh and lots of questions about a Punjabi boy growing up in Scotland. We talked about family, about Punjab Junction (in Leith and run by his aunt, where his mum can be found) the recipes his female relatives won’t teach him as he’s a man! Lots of chatter about the healthy eating courses I teach and the cooking he does with communities/charities.  Some chat on diabetes (its high in Asian populations) and also the new rules on allergen labelling in restaurants. And all the while a lot of washing, peeling and chopping.

We chopped (OK mostly he did the work as I was too busy chatting) as the first lesson was about prepping ingredients all beforehand. There was a lot and in reality, probably too much for my little family. But he gave me tips on how to cover the garlic, ginger and chillies in freezer boxes then cover with oil. The oil preserves the ingredients, and as an added bonus infuses so you can use the oil itself in cooking for flavour.

Or to freeze them in ice cubes. I’ve frozen garlic/ginger before but never chopped chillies. It’s all about having things ready so that when you cook, you can just chuck things into the pot.

So here’s what was chopped:

A bag of white onions. At this point, I got a lesson in how to chop properly. First I had to use the correct knife. Out came the finger tip chopper. Then I was shown how to hold my left hand which holds the item to be chopped (think about how club scout salute!) but my hand didn’t like that so I was told to keep my thumb and pinky out of the way and then look at the shape of the blade which is designed to chop in a rocking motion. The tip should always remain on the board and I should use the heel of the blade to cut, not the top end near the blade as I’ve always done. I then got on with cutting the onions. And slicing off a tiny bit of my thumb. What a dummy! Blood started to seep out. Here’s the next tip – have the spray on plaster stuff in your cookbag or even superglue 3. I suspected he was taking the mick but he insisted that  it was used by the Americans in Vietnam to bind wounds temporarily whilst soldiers were taken to hospital. (Turns out there is some truth in this according to Wikipedia…!!!)

3 red onions – sliced ready for pickled onions.

Garlic: About 7 bulbs of which each individual clove was peeled by him

Ginger – I was doing my usual of scraping the skin when he told me to slice it off and freeze it to use in smoothies, or in ginger/lemon tea.  I’m looking forward to using that.


Chillies – 150 grams worth!!!!! That’s a lot of chillies.  I was instructed to wash these and pull the stalks off.

To avoid washing the processor he advised that I should whiz up the ginger first, scrape it out then put that in to a freezer box, next do the garlic (scrap and store) and finally the chillies.

Herbs – coriander, parsley and mint. These were washed and I spun them in my salad spinner to drain off the water. He pulled the leaves of the mint off. I also had tarragon but this was not washed just taken out of the bags and then I pulled the leaves off.

Mint and coriander sauce:

My wee processor was not up to the task of making the sauce so he dashed to his car and got his supermixer. I would love to have this but I bet it costs a bomb. In went the mint, coriander, some of the whizzed up garlic, ginger and chilies, sugar, salt and vinegar. It was whizzed up to a runny paste and is happily sitting in my fridge now.


Pickled onions: The sliced red onions were put into a large bowl, then we added the juice of 2 limes, distilled vinegar, chilli flakes, anar dana and salt. Now anar dana is a new ingredient for me – it’s the powder made from dried pomegranate seeds. It’s really tangy but sweet too which surprised me as pomegranates are never sour but are sweet. In the Tasty book, the recipe uses pomegranate molasses but he said the powder is a good substitute. OMG this mix was just delicious – we were all eating it straight out of the bowl. But the recipe says you should mix it, bottle it and wait at least 3 hours. Again in the book, it says wait a week. No way they are going to last a week – I’ve already had them with lunch and again at dinner that night, in sandwiches, as the base of mash and just as a sneaky snack.



This was very different from the dhals I cook. For one, there was no ginger or garlic in it. Instead, he used asafoetida – which led to a chat about jains and swaminaryan bods who don’t use food taken from the ground (and hence no onions, garlic or ginger). So the dhals were boiled in water – he grabbed a mix fo dhals from my shelves including red lentils, yellow split dhal (which I never used before) and chana dhal (which I use in some curries but never as a dhal). These were boiled in plenty of water. After that he added in salt and tumeric and half a tin of chopped tomatoes. Once the dhal was soft, he added a tarka which was made by melting about 100g unsalted butter (eeek see my cholesterol levels go up) to nutty point then adding cumin seeds, chilli powder and about 2 tablepoons of asafoetida (which for me is a huge amount, I normally just use a small pinch). The recipe he gave me included ginger and garlic paste but I’m pretty sure he didn’t put any in on the day. This is mixed into the soft dhal and he usually finishes it off with more butter. But I had to insist that this was left off. There was no chili in this as I wanted my daughter to try it. It was the only way we could get her to eat it and truth be told – the dhal didn’t need it. It was simply delicious.


At this point we were already 2 hours into the session and some of the food still had to be cooked. The kiddo and hubby were due and there was nothing for them to eat. There was only an hour left and so we made an executive decision that he would spend the remaining time cooking falafels and showing me how to make prathas. And whilst he wasn’t watching the clock, he did have a plane to catch to London later and I didn’t want to keep him too long. As we had cut up the ingredients, I was confident I could make the samosas and herbed rice myself later.


I had soaked the chickpeas the day before – he drained these and then whizzed them in the processor. Then in went some of the prepped garlic, parsley leaves, tarragon leaves, coriander leaves, baking soda, salt, pepper, cumin powder, ground coriander, ground cardamom and the juice and zest of a lemon. The herbs made the mixture beautifully green and fragrant.  Usually the recipe has chillies but I wanted to make them less spicy so I think he just put in a bit of chilli powder. OK as I was chopping bits of myself off, and talking, I didn’t see exactly what he was sticking into the food processor but I’ve got the recipe so should be able to replicate it all. The mixture was runny so we added gram (chickpea) flour to thicken it slightly. Unfortunately, once whizzed it was apparent the chickpeas hadn’t soaked enough as they were still grainy. This was really disheartening as they had been soaking for over 12 hours. Next time, I will do it for longer.

Just in time, hubby and kiddo came home and to my amazement, she wanted to help so he set her to getting the falafel balls ready for frying. I got another tip here which is to make sure that when putting the falafels in, I should not just drop them in but kind of glide them in so I don’t burn. We used rapeseed oil – another new ingredient which I have never used. On the rare occasions I fry food, I use either groundnut or sunflower oil. The latter usually leaves a strong frying smell in the house which is one of the reasons I don’t like frying food (and yes, the other is health, I would much rather use the oven). However, the rapeseed oil didn’t leave that strong smell around the house. So I may use that going forward though it is relatively more expensive (I got two bottles rather cheaply from Costco for this session)

BTW, Check out the white stripe in my hair …bride of Frankenstein!

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I love parathas (the way we pronouce it in our house). My mum used to make wonder stuffed ones -sometimes with spicy potato mixtures, other times with a very sweetened dhal. She also used to make simple ones fried in ghee (clarified butter) but I didn’t pay attention and never learnt off her. So fast forward 35 years and a Punjabi Scot showed a London raised Guju woman and her little kiddo how to make them. The little one was very cute as we got out her mini rolling board and pin. And he was very good about teaching us both – he’s a brilliant teacher and very patient. I can see why he is asked to go into schools to teach kids and he is very easy going but inspiring.

The first set were stuffed with the potato mixture which contained crushed boiled potatoes (not mashed, had some lumps in for texture), red onion, coriander powder, cumin powder, chili powder, salt and chopped up coriander and a bit of tarragon again. The recipe includes chopped chillies but as I wanted kiddo to eat them, we left those out. However, in the future, I will divide the mix and add chillies to the ones for hubby and me.

Another tip – prep dough to use for 3 days. I was aghast at this as I always make my dough fresh but he said that it’s fine to prep before and keep the dough in the fridge. Another time saver tip.

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And even though he was short of time, he showed us how to make a sweet paratha using jaggery and ghee which are laid onto one end of the rolled out circle, the the circle is rolled up. The roll is then made into a spiral and rolled out flat. He said that we could make layers and layers but healthy mamma said no, thats fine. In the pan, I dry cooked a side until brown spots appeared and then flipped over and brushed on ghee (oil on the potato stuffed ones). Once one side is cooked, repeat on the other. Both versions were just lovely and the little one enjoyed making them. In truth, I still need more practice before I get them perfect but at least I have a better idea of what to do now.

Mushrooms: Here’s our Tony cooking down the mushrooms. I had a mix of mini portabella mushrooms (wiped and sliced, stalks and all), shitake (wiped, stalks discarded as they are quite rubbery and chopped) and oyster (no wiping needed, all chopped). He cooked off onions in a bit of oil in the pan, then in went the mushrooms and herbs. Tarragon – wowser wonderful. The mushrooms were meant to be for the samosas but over the next few days hubby had them with sausages, I had them on toast and then also stirred through pasta. I am totally converted to tarragon – an aniseed type flavour that just tastes delicious.


Through out all the cooking, he had me taste the mixes to make sure seasoning was right. I have to admit this is not something I always do, especially when I’m in a hurry and I know that I should.  I don’t think I always got it right as in retrospect, both the parathas and mushrooms needed more salt.

That evening, I made more parathas, falafels and also the herbed rice which even the kiddo ate together with the amazing dhal. I probably wouldn’t haven’t the herbed rice with all my dishes, but I can see it being a great base for the falafels, or for a lunch or just as a quick snack. I didn’t make the samosas as we had so much food to eat that we would have ended wasting them. I did however, mix up a small amount of satan’s ketchup to have with the falafels the following night for dinner – and let me tell you, it’s another keeper. Wonderful blend of tomatoes and spice that complemented the falafels well.

And here’s us at the end. Smiles all round.  I look demented – I don’t photograph at all well which is why I rarely show myself on this site and to make it worse, I was KNACKERED – it was a lot of work but man, what a superb morning.


And the bonus, at some point once the kitchen is back he’ll be back to get a master class off me on how to make pickles. And I cannot wait as I’m sure by then I will be a master chopper and a much better kitchen helper.

P.S. it’s true the man is very messy. I took the rest of the day to clean up the mess!!!!!! Next time, I’m gonna make sure he knows where the mop is. 😉

Leek and potato pie with suet pastry


Everyday I go to work through Edinburgh Waverly station I pass by the Cornish Pasty shop. I love their vegetable pasty. It’s the same one I used to get in Maidenhead when I worked there, and at London Bridge on the way to see the then boyfriend-now-Mr-Plummy-Mummy.

So I wanted to have a go and ended up mashing (probably in inappropriate term in this context….synergizing?) two recipes – the pastry from Louise Pickfords Mediterranean Suet Parcels from her Vegetarian Cookbook and the filling from a good food recipe.


For the pastry

  • 500g Self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 175g shredded vegetable suet
  • 150ml yoghurt
  • 200ml milk

For the filling

  • 2 leeks (500g)
  • 2 potatoes (500g) – used Greenvales potatoes. They are just gorgeous for everything.
  • Knob of butter (about 10g)
  • Pinch of dried thyme or rosemary
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 150g cathedral city mature cheddar
  • Salt and pepper
  • I small egg for the glaze


For the pastry

  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
  • Stir in the suet (I found the consistency a bit odd as the bits were like little pellets)
  • Mix the milk and yoghurt together and then slowly pour into flour a little at a time. Form in to a dough and kneed lightly until smooth. I had a little trouble at this stage due the consistency of the suet. I wasn’t sure how much to knead it as short pastry shouldn’t be worked too much.
  • I kneaded until it was somewhat smooth then covered the bowl with cling film to rest whilst I made the filling

For the filling

  • Turn the oven on to 200 degrees (400f, gas mark 6)
  • Wash the ginger, potatoes and leeks thoroughly
  • Chop the leeks into small pieces – I did this by quartering the leeks along their length then slicing these finely. A serrated edge knife makes this a doddle. For good measure, I always rinse leeks again to get out dirt that is caught between layers
  • Peel the potatoes then slice in thick slices.
  • Peel the ginger then grate it finely
  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan then add the sliced leeks, herbs and ginger and cook over a low heat until very soft
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoe in a pan with cold water and bring to the boil. Then simmer for a few minutes until the potatotes are slightly softened (i.e. parboil them). I wish I had cooked mine a little longer as they stayed quite firm in the pie.
  • Once the leeks are cooked, drain off the potatoes and stir in. Let the mixture cool
  • Cut the cheese into small 1cm cubes and stir into the mixture
  • Season with salt and pepper

The construction and cooking

  • Get a baking sheet ready. Dust it with a bit of flour.
  • Roll out the pastry until it forms a 14inc wide square. That’s what the recipe says. What it doesn’t mention is how hard that dough is to roll. My arms were aching. But after a bit of stubbornness, I got a sort of square (ok it was a rectangle but hey ho)
  • Place the cooled mixture in the middle.
  • Then, I was meant to water the edges of the pastry and bring up the corners up to form a parcel. Things did not go to plan!  I think I had too much filling and the edges would not stick together. I should have rolled the pastry out a little larger or just done what the good food recipe said and made two circles. Anyhoooo, I got very frustrated so kind of rolled it into a cylinder shape, picked it up and plonked it onto a floured baking tray. The pie had a bit of leakage – in future, I will add one teaspoon of flour to the mixture to thicken it up
  • Glaze it with egg wash (I used a silicon brush, think you could also glaze with milk if you prefer to keep the thing egg free)
  • Put into the oven and cook for 30 minutes until lovely and golden
  • Take out and let it cool for 10 minutes. Marvel in the glory of a home baked pie. Slice it up and marvel again as the wonderful feeling oozes out a bit
  • Serve with greens, salad or as we did GRAVY



The review

Not bad for my first pie. But I think in future I will use shortcrust as I prefer the crust. I’m going to try to make a pie with traditional samosa filling made out of carrots, peas and potatoes…bound to be healthier than the fried version right?

BTW check out my new bin from the council – it collects food waste. How wonderful!


Sausage, haggis and bean pie


Now calm down, don’t get excited. There is no meat in this recipe whatsoever. Occasionally I eat veggie sausages. I don’t know why as I can never get them to taste as nice as the ones in pubs. I sometimes suspect the ones in the pubs aren’t veggie at all 😦

I usually boil the sausages in gravy then eat them with a huge mound of mash. And there it is… the real reason for the meal….an excuse to have a huge plateful of buttery, creamy, yummy, cheese-y mash.

Today that all changed. I am now converted to veggie sausages and the reason is the Cauldron sausage and bean pie recipe. I only had a tiny tin of beans 120g, so made up the bulk with half a Halls veggie haggis frozen on  Burns night and a quarter can of chopped tomatoes.  I used a packet of Cauldron Lincolnshire sausages.

My goodness the result was delicious. Even meat eating Mr Plummy Mummy enjoyed it enough to have two helpings. I was grinning with full belly smug satisfaction which was only slightly marred when he said it would taste really good with meat sausages and meat haggis. Silently, in my mind and under my breath I blow giant  raspberries at his love of meat – I’ll stick to this pie from now on!

Dudhi ne chana dal shak (bottle guord/calabash and split chana dal)

Calabash, cala bash what a great word almost Batman like word. I also like the word Dudhi especially since that Friends episode with Chandler and dooody. Dudhi  is a lovely delicate and versatile vegetable. It can be used to make shak, in a special Gujarati flat bread called thepla (look out for a recipe in future) or into another gujarati dish called Muthia which are a form of steamed dumpling.  Today’s offering is a mix of dudhi with lentils called Chana Dal, a split bengal gram lentil that gives a creamy taste to the meal. The dal needs careful washing and soaking for a few hours so if you pressed for time, you can leave it out and just have the vegetable. This is a slow cook shak with a stew like consistency – all the liquid needed comes from the veg. Slow cooking vastly improves the flavour. If you aren’t adding the dal, then the dudhi cooks quite quickly.

I have only ever used the long light green version of dudhi but they also come in a round ball shape. Honestly, I’m not aware if there is any taste difference. It’s available in large supermarkets but if you can, try to buy it from a Asian store as I think they tend to be fresher and have a nicer taste. When selecting look for one which is smooth skinned and firm, but not too hard skinned (e.g. like a marrow) and without many blemishes. I usually squeeze the tip near the stalk to make sure it doesn’t give as that’s a sign of an old vegetable. Further down, I’ll show you how to prepare it for this recipe.


  • 3 tbs ground nut oil (tel)
  • 1tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 dried red chili (lal marcha)
  • 2 bay leaves (tamal patra)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (lasun)
  • 1 fresh green chili chopped finely
  • 6 cloves (laving)
  • 1 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder (marcha)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin coriandere powder (dhana jeeru)
  • 1 long dudhi chopped into 2 inch pieces (see below)
  • 5 tbs drained chana dal
  • 7-8 curry leaves (limbra)
  • 2 mangosteen (kokum). These give a sourness to the dal which is different from lemon juice. Almost a hint of tamarind. If you don’t have any, don’t worry as lemon juice does fine.
  • 2 vine tomatoes diced finely
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Coriander to garnish

Prepare dal:

  • Measure out the dal into a bowl. Check there are no stones in there. Then wash in about 4 changes of cold water. Now they need to be soaked for 2- 3 hours in about a pint of water. Cover with a plate and set aside
  • After a few hours, discard the soaking water, thoroughly rinse the dal and set aside ready to cook.

Prepare dudhi:

  • Wash the dudhi then chop off the stalk and the other end. You may see an amber liquid oozing out – don’t worry it’s normal!
  • Peel a thin layer of the skin from the dudhi. I use a potato peeler for ease
  • Cut along length and then chop into small 2 inch pieces


  • Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large heavy based saucepan (a pressure cooker is ideal)
  • Add cumin seeds, red chilli and bayleaves.
  • Once the seeds start to sizzle, add the garlic, chilies and cloves.  Stir and cook until the garlic begins to brown
  • Add the spices and cook for about 15 seconds to cook the spices. Keep stirring to prevent sticking.
  • Add the dudhi, dal, mangosteen and curry leaves and mix to ensure that it is all coated well.
  • Turn heat down and cover the pan. If you are using a pressure cooker, don’t add the weight.
  • Cook until the dudhi and the dal softens. This can take up to half an hour. This slow cooking allows some of the gram from the dal to soak into the juices from the dudhi creating a slightly creamy texture. Don’t add any water as the dudhi has more than enough to cook the dal. Every now and again, give it a stir to make sure it doesn’t stick.
  • Once the dudhi is softened, add the tomatoes and lemon juice (if you feel it is not sour enough) and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, rotlis or parathas.

Roasted veg potato cakes

These would work with left over roast veg but as I didn’t have any so roasted from fresh. Plus ideally I would have liked to bake them in the oven as it’s healthier but time was limited (tot was on way home for lunch) so I shallow fried them.  I liked them better than tot who like most [fussy] eaters of her age tends to treat all new things with a great deal of suspicion. That was was fine as it meant that I was able to scoff a load for my lunch as she nibbled on 3 for hers.


  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 10 g unsalted butter
  • 25 g cheese
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • Season to taste
  • 2 tbs olive oil for roasting
  • 2 tbs Olive oil/15g butter for shallow frying


  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees
  • Wash then peel parsnips and carrot. Cut them into cubes of roughly equal sizes
  • Today I peeled the potatoes and cut them into cubes but in future I’ll leave the skin on as somehow the taste is better methinks.
  • Put into a roasting pan and pour over olive oil
  • Roast until the veg are soft
  • Once cooked, put all veg into a bowl and mash to smithereens ensuring it’s all well combined. (You may want to peel the potatoes first if roasted in skins)
  • Mix in soy sauce, ginger powder, cheese, seasoning if using and butter. Again combine well
  • Add flour. Do this a little at a time until the mixture comes together into a ball. It will still be slighty sticky
  • Divide into 12 equal portions and form into little handhold-able shapes
  • Shallow a few at a time in the olive oil/butter mix being careful to turn frequently to prevent burning
  • Serve with your tot’s favourite dip – we had ours with reduced fat soured cream and chives dip today.

Lemon drizzle cake

I’ve posted before about a Ramsay – Gordon who I find to be quite odious. However, while on the hunt for a lemon-y cake, I came across the Tana Ramsay Lemon Drizzle Cake which is simple and delicious and VEGETARIAN (hahahahaha seeing as her hubby is so anti-vegie). Perhaps she got the recipe by watching his sour face and wanting to push it into cake. Right that’s enough meanness. As my tot would say “I’m ONLY joking”.

Back to the recipe. I couldn’t quite follow the recipe as I only had three eggs (but they were large so maybe ok) and one lemon. Tot didn’t want to have a loaf like cake so I gave her some of the mixture to make fairy cakes and in the end my one lemon was sufficient in sourness for the remainder.  Once the fairy cakes were done (i.e. covered in icing and various sprinkles surrounding a solitary chocolate button) tot left me alone to drizzle away. Yesterday evening hubby and I ate half the thing…if we hadn’t had a big dinner I am quite sure that we would have eaten it all – light and lemony. Yum. Today it was a bit denser but very much edible. I thoroughly recommend this recipe.

Spicy cauliflower cheese

This is an alternative recipe to my normal one for cauliflower cheese. It’s odd as I’m not a huge fan of cc but hubby is so that’s why it features on our menu from time to time. He was having gammon tonight and apparently, cauliflower cheese is a perfect accompaniment. However, I was in the mood for a bit of spice so here is what I came up with. It was not sock-it-to-you spicy but delicate with an afterpunch courtesy of the mustard…all in all it was rather delicious 🙂


  • 1 large cauliflower
  • Enough water for cauliflower
  • 1 small white onion chopped very finely
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbs groundnut oil (though any would do methinks)
  • 25g butter
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Generous dose of freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Coleman’s mustard
  • 75 g cheddar cheese grated
  • 100 ml low-fat creme fraiche


  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees (fan oven)
  • Trim all the green leaves off the cauliflower, give it a wash and then cut up into large florets
  • Place in boiling water and simmer for five minutes. The idea is to blanch the cauli – it should still be quite firm. If you have time, you could steam instead. Once blanched, drain and set aside
  • While cauli is blanching, heat the oil and butter in a large pan then add the onions, garlic and bayleaf. Cook until onions are caramelised.
  • In a large bowl add the creme fraiche, 50g of cheese and spices, seasoning and mustard. Combine well.
  • Add the cauliflower and onion to the bowl and mix until the cauliflower is well coated
  • Place the mixture into a baking dish and then cover with the remaining grated cheese
  • Cook until the cheese is browned and cauliflower sauce is bubbling
  • Serve with gammon, or for Vegies with fresh crusty bread.

Chili and colour

I have not posted any recipes lately. We have been a germ filled house which makes cooking less than fun and eating a chore. So there has been very little exploration of new recipes. I did make the Quorn Chili Recipe last night which wasn’t bad though next time, I will up the ante on the chilies (I added one huge green chili) as it wasn’t hot enough for me. We had it with taco shells and huge dollops of guacamole. I’ve frozen half of it to enjoy later…hubby said that things get spicier once frozen so maybe when it’s thawed it will be just right for my taste buds.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying some colour in my life. My beautiful Christmas cactus is in my porch and makes me very happy every time I walk in or out of the house. If you could love an inanimate object, then I would love this little plant as it hardly needs any care and rewards me twice a year with a magnificent display.

I’ve also been busy working away at various craft projects in time for Xmas. I hope the recipients appreciate them. Here is a granny blanket for tot  which just needs the ends woven in.

Mushroom, cauliflower and potato shak (khumbi, phool khobi and bateta nu shak)

What do you do if your supermarket delivers a cauliflower that looks promising but when your remove the leaves, turns out to have a dolly sized head? Well, first I vow not to get my caulis delivered anymore (stupid store shoppers), and then put my thinking cap on, peer into the fridge and come up with a new recipe that worked out remarkably well. I hope you enjoy it too.

The preparation of the veg looks like a faff but trust me, it took less than 5 minutes.


  • 2 tbs ground nut oil
  • 1/2 tbs ghee (optional)
  • 1 large dried bayleaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 180 g onion diced finely
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 1 green chili chopped finely
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 200g cauliflower(this was my silly doll’s head. If you have a full head, use it all)
  • 200 g mini new potatoes (if you don’t have mini don’t worry but do not substitute with non new potatoes)
  • 200g mini portabella mushrooms (about 9 mini mushrooms or 3 large flat mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (lal murcha)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1 tsp cumic / coriander seed powder (dhana jeeru)
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • 2 firm red tomatoes cut into quarters
  • Coriander to garnish


  • Cauliflower: cut this in small florets and then blanch. To blanch you boil your kettle, fill a large pan with the boiled water and let the cauliflower sit in it for 5 minutes. This slightly softens the veg. With a spoon carefully lift the cauliflower from the hot water and put aside. Don’t ditch the water as you need for the next step
  • Potatoes: Scrub your new potatoes, if they are large cut them into 1/2 inch pieces and put them into the hot water to par boil – that is they are still firm but a knife should be able to slip in easily.

  • Mushrooms: wipe the dirt off and slice thinly. I wanted to remove some of the moisture so I decided to sweat the mushrooms. Pour a tsp of oil into a frying pan and then throw in the mushrooms. Keep stirring and you will see lots of water/steam start to emerge. Pour this water out and set mushrooms aside.


  • In a large pan, heat the oil and ghee
  • Add cumin seeds and bayleaf. When the seeds start to sizzle and brown slightly, add the onions and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently
  • Add the ginger, chilies and peppercorn then cook for 1 minute
  • Throw in the cauliflower and new potatoes. Stir for 2 minutes
  • Add the mushrooms and spices. Combine all very well and then turn heat down to low, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes to stop it sticking to the bottom
  • When the cauliflower and potatoes have softened so that you can easily slip a fork in add lemon juice to taste and the quartered tomatoes.
  • Cook for a further one minute ONLY. Turn off and let it cool slightly.
  • Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with plain basmati rice

Eat-your-greens shak

Peas, brocolli and green bean shak

A very quick shak to make as it uses frozen veg – however it’s full of flavour and goodness. If you are aghast at using frozen, fresh will do but just take slightly longer.  I like the vegetables to have some bite so tend to stir fry the shak until the veg are just tender.


  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbs groundnut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green chili chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (lal murcha)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhanna jeeru)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 4 curry leaves
  • Lemon juice to taste (I find a good squeeze of a half sufficient)


  • In a large pan, heat oil over medium flame and throw in cumin.
  • Once cumin are sizzling, add ginger, garlic and chili. Stir
  • Add the vegetables, spices and curry leaves. Stir gently until the veg have softened slightly
  • Add lemon juice to taste, stir and cook for further 2 minutes
  • Serve with basmati rice.