Thursday, November 24, 2011

A tasty Italian spread

I grew up on polenta. It is a cheap, filling and useful multi-tasker in the kitchen. In it’s traditional form it can be served plain with cheese or with sauces and even fried into chips. You can also substitute or add cornmeal in some recipes instead of flour or breadcrumbs, it takes a little tweaking as the textures aren’t the same. Polenta is a great addition to savoury muffins and breads.

POLENTA NAPOLITANA with layers of melted mozzarella is the quintessential comfort food for me. Topped with CRISPY EGGPLANT BALLS and a sprinkling of sharp parmesan cheese it is a very satisfying meal.

The two side dishes we made were FENNEL, BLOOD ORANGE, BEETROOT & WALNUT SALAD and ROAST BROCCOLI w/ LEMON and PINE NUTS. Two excellent and colourful choices. If you’ve never tried roast broccoli, give it a try it is delicious!

We finished our meal with some lovely BISCOTTI, this time we made them with ALMONDS and GLACE CHERRIES. These would make great gifts for family and friends for Christmas as they look very pretty and keep well in a sealed jar.

Hope you enjoy this week’s recipes!

polenta & eggplant balls


A satisfying yet gluten free alternative to pasta.

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Equipment: chopping board, knife, garlic press, large pot with lid, frypan, wooden spoon, baking dish



6 cups water

2 cups polenta

1 teaspoon salt

1 quantity Simple Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

250gm Mozzarella cheese, sliced (optional)

100 gm Parmesan cheese

6 basil leaves, torn (as a garnish)


1. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid and add salt.

2. Whilst stirring the water, pour in the polenta in a thin stream.

3. Simmer and continue to stir with a long handled wooden spoon for 5 minutes.

4. Place on lid and sit at the back of the stove top whilst you prepare the sauce.

Simple Tomato Sauce


¼ cup olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

400gm tin Italian tomatoes, whole

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt & black pepper


1. In a frypan, gently heat oil and fry the onion and the garlic till translucent and without colour

2. Add tinned tomatoes squishing them with your (clean) fingers.

3. Add oregano and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

Stir polenta well and pour into an oven proof serving dish.

If using mozzarella, place slices on top and place under grill to melt till golden and bubbly.

Serve spoonfuls onto plates topped with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of parmesan and garnish with torn basil leaves.

Variations: Polenta goes very well with roasted vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant, vegetarian meatless balls or the following recipe for crispy eggplant balls…

eggplant mixeggplant balls

The eggplant and mushroom mix before being rolled up into balls and fried till crispy…


Serve as finger food or with pasta and fresh tomato sauce as a main course.

Serves: makes around small 32 balls

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes


Large pot of boiling water, knife, chopping board, wooden spoon, colander, large bowl, small bowl, fork, frypan, tray, paper towel


450 grams eggplant cut in 3cm cubes

1 tablespoon salt

100 grams breadcrumbs, fresh or “Panko” (or stale bread torn into chunks)

25 grams pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated

50 grams kalamata or green olives, finely chopped

200 grams mushroom, finely chopped

1 large egg

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil, for frying

50 grams fine dry breadcrumbs, for frying


1.Salt 4 litres of boiling water and add the eggplant

2.Boil uncovered for 10 minutes, pushing the eggplant occasionally under the water

(Alternatively, cook the eggplant for 6 minutes in the microwave till soft and rest before continuing with the recipe)

3.Drain eggplant in colander, cool and squeeze out excess water

4.Chop finely and place in a large bowl

5.Fry mushrooms in a little olive oil till dry

6.Combine the eggplant and mushrooms

7.Add in parsley, 100 grams breadcrumbs or bread, egg, garlic and cheese

8.Blend with a fork and season with salt & pepper

9.Cover frypan with a 2cm of olive oil and heat gently

10. Fry a little of the mix to check the seasoning, adjust if necessary

If the eggplant balls fall apart you may need to add more breadcrumbs or stale bread to make the mixture dry enough to bind together.

11. Roll remaining mix into 1” balls and set on a tray

12. Roll balls in dry bread crumbs till evenly coated

13. Fry the balls in hot oil, turning till golden brown all over

14. Drain on absorbent paper and cool slightly before serving

Variations: I like to use stale olive sourdough in the mix instead of breadcrumbs.


Fennel Beetroot Blood Orange & Walnut Salad


Serves: 6

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Equipment: foil, knife, chopping board, salad bowl or platter, whisk, a mandolin slicer is handy!


2 medium beetroot, washed and stalks/ roots trimmed to 1”

2 small fennel bulbs, washed and trimmed

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

½ small bunch radishes, washed and thinly sliced (optional)

½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted

2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented (no pith)

2 cups salad mix, washed and dried

½ cup pomegranate seeds (optional)


100 ml extra virgin olive oil

50 ml white balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste


1.Wrap beetroot in foil and bake for 30-40 minutes till a knife pierces them easily, rest

2.Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

3.Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin slice the fennel as thin as possible, set aside

4.Slice radish and red onion thinly, set aside

5. Peel blood oranges, removing all the pith and then carefully cut the segments. Add the juices to the salad dressing.

6.Cut pomegranate in half and remove all the seeds, set aside. (optional)

7.Place salad leaves in a bowl or on a platter.

8.Combine fennel, radish, onion and walnuts with the dressing, taste and adjust the seasoning.

9.Top with the cooled beetroot cut into wedges, blood orange segments and pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

roast broccoli


This dish elevates humble broccoli to a delicious zesty dish.

Serves: 6

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


Chopping board, sharp knife, large bowl, large shallow baking tray, lemon zester

Oven 180C


2 large heads of broccoli (c. 1 kilo)

1/3 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic

Salt and Pepper

¼ cup pine nuts

1 lemon

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)


1.Cut the broccoli into medium size florets

2.In a large bowl toss broccoli, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts

3.Spread evenly on baking tray and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper

4.Roast for 20 minutes till stems are tender

5.Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese (optional), lemon zest and lemon juice.

The cooked broccoli is great tossed through penne pasta.


Broccolini or cauliflower can also be cooked this way.

almond biscotti


A simple recipe, perfect for coffee or to serve with dessert.

Serves: makes about 36 thin biscotti

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Equipment: large bowl, 2 baking trays, baking paper, grater, electric mixer, sharp serrated knife.

Oven at 170C.


1 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1 lemon rind, finely grated

2 cups plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

150 gm almonds, raw

¼ cup extra flour for kneading on bench


1. Line baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place sugar, eggs, and grated lemon rind in a large bowl.

3. Beat with electric mixer till pale and thick

4. Fold in sifted flour, baking powder and almonds.

5. Using your hands, lightly knead the dough on a floured surface till smooth.

6. Divide the mixture in half and form 2 long logs about 25 cm long and 5 cm wide.

7. Place on prepared baking tray and bake for 20 -25 minutes till golden.

8. Remove from the oven and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 140C.

9. Using a sharp serrated knife gently cut on a slight angle into ½ cm thin slices.

10. Place slices flat on paper lined trays and bake for 15- 20 minutes turning once.

11. Remove from oven and allow biscuits to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Serving suggestions:

Traditionally served with coffee, wine (especially Vin Santo) or liqueur.

An easy dessert is a dollop of mascarpone with a little glass of Vin Santo and a few biscotti.

Can also add some crunch to creamy desserts and poached fruit.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Viva España and it’s colourful cuisine!

goat's cheese  & chili tostada


IMG_3243photo (16)IMG_3240







Nothing refreshes like a chilled GAZPACHO soup, it’s cold, tangy and fresh with cucumbers, capsicums and red onion. Make it well in advance and chill it before serving as an entree or a light supper with good bruschetta like GOAT’S CHEESE AND CHILLI TOSTADAS.

For a complete meal add a substantial salad of GREEN VEGETABLES w/ TOASTED ALMONDS & MANCHEGO CHEESE. Dressed with an orange vinaigrette and garnished with either some cherry tomatoes or roast red capsicums this is a feast for the eyes as well as the palette.

I watched a video recently with a local chef showing how they make their Spanish Tortillas. I was bowled over with the amount of olive oil they used in the recipe and how long the process took. I’ve been using an unorthodox way to make my TORTILLA DE PAPA for years now that uses much less oil and takes 20 minutes from start to finish. My secret is using the microwave to steam the potatoes in their skins. I slice them and leave the skins on for my recipe. You could steam them and peel the skins off if you don’t want to use the microwave. Be sure to proceed with the recipe straight away, cold potatoes take a lot longer to cook in a tortilla.

If you’ve got a crowd to feed or want to try something different you could make the TORTILLA DE ACELGA & GARBANZOS, made with silverbeet and chick peas in the same way as the potato one above. Using tinned chick peas this is also a very quick recipe.

For dessert on a really hot day you can get away with hardly turning the stove on to make the SPICED ORANGES W/ AMARETTI BISCUITS AND CREAMY YOGHURT. Or if the summer stone fruits are in season you could add some fresh apricots, plums and peaches to this compote and serve it with ice cream. It’s a great make ahead dessert that travels well.

Hope you enjoy this week’s recipes!



This cold tomato and cucumber soup is refreshing on a hot summer day.

Serves: 6 (as an entrée)

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes


knife, bread knife, chopping board, garlic press, measuring cup, large bowl, small bowl for rubbish, pastry brush, chargrill plate for toasting bread, bowls and spoons for service.


1 Spanish/ red onion

3 ripe tomatoes

½ Lebanese cucumber

½ green capsicum, seeded

½ red capsicum, seeded

1 clove garlic

3 ½ c tomato juice

½ t sugar

¼ c olive oil

¼ c white wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chilli: optional


1. Finely chop the onion, tomatoes and capsicums and add to a large bowl with pressed garlic.

2. Stir in the tomato juice, salt, sugar, combined vinegar and oil.

3. Taste and add salt pepper or chilli to your liking.

4. Refrigerate till well chilled for at least one hour.

5. Serve in a bowl or glass sprinkled with chopper parsley and a drizzle of good olive oil


goat's cheese  & chili tostada


½ loaf of sourdough bread

¼ c olive oil

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup goat’s cheese

1 small chilli

chopped parsley to garnish


1. Slice sourdough bread into thick slices

2. Rub with clove of garlic on both sides

3. Brush liberally with olive oil

4. Place on hot chargrill to mark on both sides

5. Spread with goat’s cheese, sprinkle with chilli, parsley and olive oil

Serve warm.



A crunchy mix of green vegetables, great as a side to egg dishes or tossed through pasta

Serves: 6 (as a part of a meal)

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes


Paring knife, chopping board, saucepan for boiling vegetables, oven tray, vegetable peeler, large bowl, whisk or glass jar with screw top lid, small bowl for rubbish, serving dish.

Heat oven to 180C to toast almonds


1 large head broccoli, cut into florets and washed well

2 bunches asparagus, washed and trimmed

500gm green beans, washed topped and tailed

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

50 grams manchego cheese, shaved (or parmesan, romano etc)

½ cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Orange Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon mustard

½ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional- sugar or honey to taste

For the salad dressing:

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk till emulsified/ combined.

Alternatively use a glass jar with a screw top lid.


1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.

3. Place slivered almonds on a tray and toast in oven till just golden, check regularly and set aside to cool.

2. Prepare all vegetables; cut broccoli into even sized florets, asparagus spears in half on an angle, green beans into even sized lengths.

3. Cook the vegetables in lots till cooked yet firm and bright green. When they are cooked strain them from pot and chill with cold water to retain their green colour.

4. To serve combine all vegetables and parsley with salad dressing and sprinkle with toasted almonds and shaved manchego cheese. Serve immediately to keep the acids from discolouring the greens.

Variations: This vegetable dish is great tossed through warm pasta.




A nutritious and fast meal that’s easily adapted for what’s on hand.

Serves: 8 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes


Microwave, grill, knife, chopping board, garlic press, non stick fry pan, 2 bowls, small bowl for rubbish,


1 onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 eggs, lightly beaten

5 medium potatoes, well washed

½ c parsley, chopped

¼ c olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat grill.


1.Place potatoes evenly around the microwave dish, cook on high for 6 minutes. Using a sharp paring knife or skewer check the potatoes are cooked through. If not cook them till they are.

2.Fry the onion gently in half the oil in a frypan adding the garlic towards the end to avoid burning it. Put into a bowl.

3.Leaving the skin on slice potatoes into 1cm thick slices.

4.Heat the remaining oil in a non stick fry pan. Arrange potato slices and scatter onion and garlic mixture on top. Season with salt and pepper.

5.Pour beaten eggs over the potatoes pressing them down if necessary.

6.Cook over medium heat till edges are loose then place whole pan under a grill.

7.When top is set and golden carefully place a plate over the pan and turn to invert.

8.Slide tortilla back into hot frypan and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

To Serve: invert onto plate and eat hot, warm or even cold the next day.

Variation: instead of potatoes try the following for a rich source of protein and iron.

English Spinach and Chick Pea Tortilla

2 English Spinach, washed well, trimmed and chopped (or 1 bunch silverbeet)

1½ c chick peas, cooked and well drained (or 1 can)

1. Fry onion and garlic, add chick peas and chopped spinach.

2. Season with salt and pepper and continue as above.

Also good with: Sweet potato, onion and peas, Zucchini and Grated Carrot etc….

chickpea and silverbeet tortilla


A nutritious and fast meal that’s easily adapted for what’s on hand.

Serves: 8 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, non stick fry pan, large bowl, small bowl for rubbish, plate for flipping


1 onion, sliced finely

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 bunch silver beet, washed, stems removed and shredded

1 ½ cup cooked chickpeas (or 1 tin), drained well

¼ c olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat grill.


1. Place half the oil in the non stick pan and gently fry the onion and garlic

2. Add the drained chick peas and warm through, stir through silver beet till wilted

3. Empty frypan and wipe it with kitchen paper

4. In a large bowl combine silver beet, chick peas, onion and garlic and season with salt & pepper

5. Warm fry pan and add remaining oil

6. Arrange spinach and chickpea mix evenly in the pan

7. Pour over beaten egg and allow to soak through to the bottom, eggs should partially cover the spinach

8. Cook for 5-8 minutes, keep an eye on the bottom by lifting with a knife

9. Place under grill and cook till browned; c. 5 minutes

10. Take pan out and place a large plate on top

11. Carefully flip upside down onto plate and slide back into the pan

12. Place back on the fire and cook till all egg is cooked through

To Serve: invert onto plate and slice into wedges or squares.

To be eaten hot, warm or even cold the next day.

Also good with: Sweet potato and peas, Zucchini and Grated Carrot etc….


spiced oranges


Make the oranges in advance and chill for a lovely dessert on a hot night.

Serves: 6

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Chilling Time: 4 hours


Sharp paring knife, chopping board, saucepan, measuring cup, wooden spoon, non metallic bowl or dish, small bowl for rubbish, plates and spoons for service.


½ cup dried apricots, cut in half
1 cup boiling water
½ cup brandy or dark rum
3 whole cloves
2 small pieces fresh orange zest
15 cm cinnamon stick
1 small piece star anise
½ cup sugar
5 oranges

1 packet amaretti biscuits

1 tub good creamy yoghurt or ice cream


1. Soak the apricots in boiling water for ½ hour.

3. Place apricots (with their soaking water) into a saucepan along with brandy, cloves, zest, cinnamon and star anise.

4. Sprinkle with sugar and bring to a simmer stirring till sugar dissolves.

5. Continue to simmer gently till apricots are soft; about 5 minutes.

6. Slice the top and bottom of the oranges and thickly peel them so that no pith remains. Slice oranges into 1cm thick slices and place into flat non metallic dish.

7. Pour sugar syrup over orange slices and chill for at least 4 hours.

To serve: place a few slices of oranges with syrup into a bowl or glass. Top each serving with a dollop of creamy yoghurt and a couple of amaretti biscuits.

This may also be served hot for a warming winter dessert with custard.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good food for tropical weather…

A good tropical storm was the setting for last night’s Indonesian cuisine class. The steamy weather was perfect for our spicy and tasty meal.

First up was the warung style meal of NASI CAMPUR; a mound of rice surrounded by a little of all the dishes SAMBAL TERONG ( Baked Eggplant with spicy sauce) , TEMPEH GORENG (marinated and fried tempeh), GADO GADO ( vegetables with satay sauce), PUMPKIN, CORN & SPINACH SAYUR (a light soup with loads of fresh herbs) and KANGKUNG CAH TAOCO (stir fried ong choy with black soy beans).

We also had a very refreshing RUJAK salad. And to finish my personal favourite dessert BUBUR KETAN HITAM (black rice pudding with coconut and mango).

If nothing else you should give the black rice pudding recipe a go. It’s not difficult to make and low in sugar. Glutinous black rice is available in many small Asian grocers and even in some supermarkets now.

This photo is from just cause I couldn’t stop laughing about the blog name!


Steamed rice surrounded by a little bit of what’s on hand!

Serves: 4

Preparation: 40 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


knife, chopping board, saucepan, wok, measuring cup, metal spoon, small bowl for rubbish, mortar and pestle, food processor


4 cups Steamed rice

Corn and pumpkin sayur

Spinach & Pumpkin Sayur (Spinach “soup”)

3 cups Vegetable stock

5 cm Galangal, sliced and bruised

1 cup Corn kernels

1 bunch English Spinach, washed and trimmed leaves

200 grams Pumpkin, diced and blanched

1 small red chilli, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 green shallots

Salt and pepper

Palm sugar to taste, optional


1. Make spice paste first by blending the chili, garlic and shallots, add ½ cup stock and blend again.

2. Bring the rest of the stock to the boil, add galangal, pumpkin and spice mix, simmer for a few minutes.

3. Add the corn and then the spinach leaves, cook briefly, taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

tempeh goreng

Tempeh Goreng (Fried Fermented Soybeans)

3 Garlic cloves

½ teaspoon Coriander, ground

1 tablespoon Water

250 grams Tempeh, cut into 1cm slices, scored with a fork

Oil for deep frying

Salt to taste

1. Pound coriander, salt and garlic together, mix with the water.

2. Rub this marinade over the tempeh slices and leave them to dry min. 20 mins.

3. Deep fry slices till brown, drain and reserve.

sambal terong

Sambal Terong (Eggplant with mild chili sauce)

2 Japanese eggplant (long thin ones) cut lengthways and into thirds

1 tablespoon Oil

¼ cup Sambal Balado or Sambal Oelek

¼ cup Kecap Manis


1. Place eggplants on a baking tray and brush lightly with oil.

2. Bake at 180C till slightly softened

3. Top with sambal paste and return to oven till warmed through.

4. Serve with a drizzle of kecap manis.

gado gado

Gado Gado: Vegetables and hardboiled egg with Satay sauce

Satay Sauce

2 tablespoons Vegetable oil

1 Eschallot, finely diced

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoons Grated ginger

¼ teaspoon Sambal Oelek

1 cup Crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon Kecap Manis

1 Lime, juiced

¼ cup Coconut milk

¼ cup Water


1. Gently fry onion, garlic, ginger and chilli in oil.

2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and heat till thick and bubbling.

3. Adjust flavourings to suit ie. Sugar, chilli, lime juice, salt.


1 cup Green beans, halved and blanched

1 cup Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced

4 Small potatoes, cooked skin on and sliced

1 cup Bean sprouts, rinsed

4 Eggs, hard boiled, peeled and quartered


Cucumber, sliced

Crackers, prawn or taro

Fried eschallots

Image from cause there was none left to photograph…


Stir fried water spinach with preserved soy beans

Serves: 4 as part of a meal

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes


knife, chopping board, saucepan, wok, measuring cup, metal spoon, small bowl for rubbish,



1 bunch water spinach ( also known as kangkung or onchoy)

2 cloves garlic

2 small red chillies

1 tablespoon preserved salty soy beans

3 tablespoons vegetable Oil for frying


1. Wash kang kung very well and cut into 15 cm lengths

2. Heat oil and fry garlic gently for 1-2 minutes till fragrant

3. Add chili and stir fry for another minute

3. Add soy beans and stir fry briefly

4. Add kangkung and toss till they are cooked evenly

To serve Nasi Campur:

Arrange a cup of rice in centre of each plate and surround with a little of the spinach soup, fried tempeh, gado gado, chilli eggplant and kangkung. Garnish with cucumber slices, crackers and a sprinkle of fried onion.



Crispy fruit salad served with a tangy sweet and sour dressing.

Serves: 6

Preparation: 20 minutes

Resting Time: 30 minutes


knife, chopping board, mortar and pestle, measuring cup, small bowl for rubbish, bowl


2 Chillies, chopped

¼ teaspoon Salt

3 tablespoon Palm sugar, grated

2 tablespoon Tamarind water

3 cups Crunchy fruit

(Eg. watermelon, starfruit, pineapple, nashi pear, papaya, mango, lychees etc..)


1. Grind chillies and salt to a fine paste in a mortar and pestle

2. Add sugar and water and mix till sugar is dissolved

3. Peel and slice fruit into evenly sized pieces

3. Toss the dressing though the fruit and stand before serving

Bubur with mango


A lovely South East Asian dessert.

Serves: 6

Preparation: Soak rice overnight

Cooking Time: 20/30 minutes, depends on the rice.


knife, chopping board, wok, measuring cup, 2 large spoons or spatulas for tossing noodles, small bowl for rubbish, vegetable peeler.


300gms black glutinous rice, washed and soaked overnight

7 cups water

150 grams Dark palm sugar, broken up

2 Drops pandan essence (or pandan leaf if available)

Pinch of salt

2 cups Thick coconut milk

Toasted shredded coconut for garnish

Optional: Serve with sliced mango cheeks or bananas and palm sugar syrup


1. Drain rice and bring to the boil in a pot with 6 cups of water.

2. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the rice is soft.

3. Add the sugar, pandan essence and extra cup water, stir until sugar dissolves.

4. Take off the stove and chill in a bowl or individual ramekins. (May also be eaten warm or hot)

1. In another pot simmer the coconut milk and pinch of salt till thickened. Cool.

6. Serve a few of spoonfuls of rice pudding topped with the coconut milk, palm sugar syrup and garnish with the toasted coconut.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turning up the heat…

carrot halvaaloo gobiIndian platepappadumsraitaDhal potKachumbernaan breadveg & paneer korma

Our last world cuisine was Indian. Perfect for both steamy and cool weather. And apparently perfect for when half the class doesn’t make it after a big Melbourne Cup win!

Wow, only half a class turned up and we still managed to get the 3 main dishes, 2 accompaniments and dessert served up. What a stellar class, I told you that by week 5 you guys won’t even need me... I’ll just email you the recipes and get the online delivery dropped off to your kitchen.

But seriously these are quick fun recipes that are just at home at a dinner party as a family meal. Adjust the seasonings and the number of dishes and you can’t go wrong.

On the menu was a big pot of DHAL, ALOO GOBI,  a delicious VEGETABLE & PANEER KORMA with some refreshing CUCUMBER & TOMATO KACHUMBER and soothing RAITA. Our sweet treat was the always popular CARROT HALWA. We decided to forego the rice and ate our delicious meal with Indian flatbreads and pappadums. Left me room for that yummy dessert!

Students are often surprised by how different homemade Indian food tastes compared with what you are served in a restaurant. There are many reasons for this. We don’t use any pre prepared sauces, we don’t use clarified butter (ghee), we don’t add coconut cream, butter or cream to enrich our dishes. But also restaurant curries are made in advance and have had time for the flavours to settle and deepen. To this effect curries always taste better the next day so make sure you make plenty!


This Indian “stew” can be prepared with lentils, split peas or chick peas but a combination provides a wider range of nutrients and variety in texture.

Serves: 8 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes (yellow split peas and dry chick peas require soaking)

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, large saucepan, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish, mortar and pestle to crush whole spices, fine grater for ginger.


1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated

¼ cup olive oil

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

1teaspoon coriander seeds

1teaspoon cumin seeds

5 cardamom pods (green/ black)

1teaspoon turmeric powder

Fresh or dried chilli flakes to taste

Salt and pepper

1cup yellow split peas (channa dhal), soaked overnight

1cup red lentils

1 tin chick peas (or 1 ½ cups cooked chick peas)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (or 4 fresh chopped tomatoes)

3 Lt Vegetable stock or water

To serve:

¼ cup coriander, chopped

1 lemon, juiced


1. Gently fry onion and garlic in oil in a large pot. Add grated ginger.

2. Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle or with a heavy knife and add to the pot.

3. Fry spices gently to release their aromas, if they catch on the pan add a little water.

4. Add tomatoes, stock and lentils/ split peas/ chick peas.

5. Cook gently for 30 minutes or until all pulses are soft. Stir occasionally.

6. Just before serving stir through chopped coriander and lemon juice.

Serve with: steamed basmati rice, naan or roti bread to soak up the juices.

This recipe freezes very well without the coriander and lemon juice.

It recipe can also be thinned with more stock to a soupy consistency.



A popular Punjabi “dry” curry of potatoes and cauliflower.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, large saucepan with lid, mortar and pestle, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish, plates and spoons for service.


½ cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons ginger, finely minced or chopped

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoon garam masala

½ bunch coriander; stems chopped for frying, leaves for garnish

1 teaspoon salt

1 small green chilli, de-seeded and chopped

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets c.5cm

3 potatoes, washed and cut into c.3cm cubes


1. Gently fry onion in oil till translucent.

2. Add garlic, ginger, coriander stems and all the spices and gently cook for 1 minute

3. Add the chilli and the potato, cook for 5 minutes letting it catch a little on the base to brown the potatoes.

4. Add the cauliflower and stir gently for 5 minutes. Put a lid on the pot.

5. Cook, covered on a low heat for 15mins. Occasionally check the bottom isn’t burning; add a little water to prevent this.

6. The dish is cooked when a potatoes are cooked through, it should be dry and slightly coloured. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serving suggestions: This dish is best served alongside a wet curry and rice or as a filling for Indian breads.

Each family has their own preferences and can alter the level of spice, add tinned tomatoes for more “gravy” or use paprika instead of chilli.



This is a rich North Indian style curry with a cashew nut & poppy seed paste and paneer.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, large saucepan, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish, food processor or mortar & pestle to make nut paste, fine grater for ginger.


1 cup paneer, cut into cubes and lightly fried till lightly golden

1 large onion, cut into cubes

1 green capsicum, cut into cubes

2 tomatoes, cut into cubes

1 carrot, diced into small cubes

½ cup green peas, frozen is fine

1 ½ cup tomato puree

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon ginger, finely grated

1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons canola oil

¼ cup cashew nuts ) Roasted in a dry pan with poppy seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds ) and ground in a food processor. Set aside.

1 teaspoon garam masala

Cream or plain yoghurt


Onion slices

Lemon wedges


1.Heat oil in a large pot and brown the onions.

2.Add the capsicum and stir fry for 2 minutes.

3.Add turmeric, red chilli powder, salt, ginger and garlic. Stir for 1 minute.

4.Add in the tomatoes, carrots, tomato puree, sugar and cashew/ poppy seed paste.

5.Add 2 cups water and simmer for 20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.

6.Add paneer cubes, peas and garam masala. Cook for 1 minute till peas are hot.

To serve: For a restaurant style dish, mix through some cream or yoghurt. Otherwise, chopped coriander, lemon wedges and onion slices are the traditional garnish.

Serve with rice or Indian breads.


A cool yoghurt and cucumber side dish to serve with curry.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 0


knife, chopping board, bowl, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish.


2 cup Greek or low fat plain yoghurt

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cucumber, deseeded and grated

1 ½ tablespoons mint leaves, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Gently roast cumin seeds in a dry pan, set aside to cool.

2. Mix all ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste.

3. Chill till ready to serve.


A tangy fresh salad to accompany a rich spicy curry.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 0


knife, chopping board, bowl, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish.


2 ripe tomatoes, finely diced

1 cucumber, seeded and finely diced

½ white onion, finely diced

1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional or add more to taste)

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill.


GAJJAR KA HALWA (carrot halwa)

This is a very rich dessert traditionally served at celebrations.

Serves: 8

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


Large wide based shallow pan, grater, wooden spoon, measuring cup, measuring spoons


1 kilo carrots, grated (preferably a thicker width)

5 cups full cream milk

6 cardamom pods, pounded to crack the casing

30 grams butter

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

½ cup sultanas or raisins

½ cup flaked almonds

Chopped almonds, sultanas and unsalted pistachios to garnish


1. Melt the butter in the large pan

2.Add the grated carrot and stir

3.Add the milk and cardamom pods

4.Simmer over a medium heat for around 20 minutes stirring frequently so it doesn’t “catch”

5.When the milk has almost evaporated add the sugar, sultanas and almonds

6.Stir well for a further 5 minutes till mixture begins to clump together

7.Add the tablespoon of golden syrup and cook again till mixture is dry.

8.Finished halva is a lumpy, bright orange dry mix

To serve warm: place a couple spoonfuls into bowls and serve with a little sprinkle of nuts and sultanas

To serve chilled: place into a greased mould and refrigerate till needed.

Alternatively: smooth mixture onto a flat dish and decorate the top before serving

NOTES: This is an amended recipe. Traditional halva has much more fat often incorporating up to 200 grams butter, cottage cheese and oil into this recipe! The original recipe also calls for much more sugar. I find that this recipe is sweet and rich enough for Australian palates. If you would like a richer dessert serve a scoop of vanilla ice cream along with chilled halva.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nihao… and better late than never!


pot stickers cookingPot stickers with saucefried riceeggplant & snowpeasalmond cookiesOrange & Cardamom Cookies

Last week is still a blur but I owe you some recipes!

It’s difficult to guess what the weather and the fresh fruit and vegetable market will be doing a few days in advance at the moment. One day we’re sweltering at 29C then next it’s a chilly 18C.

A guaranteed way to warm us up on a cool night are the delicious and popular POT STICKER DUMPLINGS.

You may have heard me go on about these before but do yourselves a favour and get some gow gee wrappers and make some dumplings, they are delicious! And if you make them yourself you know exactly what goes into them…

If you have some filling left over you can use wonton wrappers and make little wontons to freeze and pop into your next Asian style veggie soup.

We also made the perennial favourite FRIED RICE. Such a simple dish but when done well with lots of veggies, perfect rice and balanced seasoning it’s a very satisfying one wok dish!

The STIR FRIED EGGPLANT AND SNOWPEAS always look scrumptious, glossy vibrant snow peas and smooth eggplant chunks flavoured with a sweet soy sauce, garlic and chilli sauce.

To finish we made simple ALMOND COOKIES. Substituting some of the almond essence with some vanilla for a change. I’ve also made this with pistachio and orange and they are fab.

You can find all the recipes in this previous post about Chinese Cuisine.