Have you noticed that cauliflower has become extremely fashionable lately. I am talking beyond the traditional cauliflower cheese. You can turn this cruciferous vegetable into mash, rice, couscous or even buffalo wings.

Even if the low carb craze/grain phobia is partially to blame for this, it actually resulted in some rather tasty dishes that I personally adore. Cauliflower buffalo wings from PETA website have long been a firm favourite in my family. Even the kids love it. So I thought I will play with the concept a little and create a cross between “chicken” tikka and cauliflower pakora.

I have tried this recipe before with a whole cauliflower, thinking it would make a great centerpiece but it ended up undercooked. Separating the cauliflower into florets has solved this problem. The cauliflower bites are perfectly tender and the batter cooked all the way through.

These are perfect for a party with a spicy fruit chutney or yoghurt dip (the new KOKO coconut yoghurt makes a good raita). Or serve it alongside lovely curries for an Indian Thali dinner.



1 medium cauliflower
1 cup non dairy yoghurt (I like KOKO coconut or Alpro coconut/soya yoghurt)
1Tbs (or more if you like it spicy) of madras curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbs gram (chickpea) flour
salt to taste


  • Separate the cauliflower into medium sized florets.

  • In a large bowl mix the yoghurt, spices, salt and chickpea flour until well combined.

  • Coat the cauliflower in the yoghurt mixture.

  • Line a baking tray with baking powder and place the coated cauliflower florets onto the tray. Spoon any left over yoghurt mix over the florets.

  • Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes or till golden brown and tender (test with a toothpick or tip of a sharp knife)

  • Serve with chutney or coconut yoghurt raita.





If you have never cooked your own chickpeas you simply have to. Yes, you need to plan and yes, they can take 60-90 min to cook but it is so worth it. My reasons for doing this:
  • The taste is far superior. Hummus from home cooked chickpeas is so much tastier than one made from tinned ones.
  • They are more digestible (tinned ones are not soaked properly and are more likely to cause digestive issues - i.e. excessive flatulence and bloating)
  • The cost! You will end up with about 4-5 tins worth of chickpeas from dry

How I do it:
  • Soak your chickpeas for 12-24hrs, the soaking not only reduces the cooking time but it reduces they phytic acid in chickpeas. This has a knock on effect in increasing the mineral absorption from your chickpeas. (this applies for all legumes )
  • Drain the water, put the chickpeas into a large stock pot with large amount of water, about 4x the volume.
  • Add couple inches of kombu seaweed, this is meant to further reduce the gas-producing properties of the legumes. Kombu is used in stock making in Japan and will add to the flavour of the cooking liqour and the chickpeas. I also add an onion (left whole as it is easier to remove) and couple of bay leaves. You can also add other herbs and vegetables like carrots and celery.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 60min, check and cook longer if the chickpeas are not tender. Generally anywhere from 60-90min should do, the cooking time does depend on the age of the chickpeas.
  • Helpful tip: If you want to freeze the chickpeas freeze them in the liquor.

I always cook 500g pack of chickpeas all at one. I generally use a portion for soup or curry, and make hummus with the rest. You can easily make 3 dishes with this amount of chickpeas. This is one of my favourites; chickpea and coconut curry. I love it as a part of a larger Indian meal, next to a saucy creamy curry. It is also great for a midweek meal with an indian flat bread topped with soya or coconut yoghurt and mango chutney and Kuchumbar on the side for freshness.



Serves 4

2 tsp coconut oil
15 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups of cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup (or more if needed) water
salt and pepper to taste
200g (half pound) of spinach
3 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut


  • In a large lidded sauté pan heat the olive oil and add the curry leaves and spices, let cook for about 1 minute or until the spices begin to pop. Take care not to burn the spices.
  • Next add the onion and cook till softened and golden brown.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (when ginger is not cooked enough the whole curry can have a bitter undertone). Add the turmeric and cook further 30seconds.
  • Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or till they soften.
  • Add the chickpeas, coat well in the spices and flavours.
  • Pour in the water, add salt and pepper, put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook till most of the sauce has evaporated.
  • Next add in the spinach and let it wilt into the chickpeas.
  • Sprinkle in the coconut, stir it through and serve garnished with some fresh coriander.





There is a big anti legume movement out there, yes I am talking about the Paleo diet. But did the Paleo man eat beans, peas or lentils? Apparently there is accumulating evidence that legumes were eaten by the Paleo humans. You can read more here:

We have been consuming pulses for a long time. As I found out from Wikki, traces of production of lentils have been found in Punjab dating circa 3300BC. Similarly dried pea seeds have been discovered in a Swiss Village dating back to Stone Age. We have done rather well eating beans for millennia. Pulses certainly aren’t responsible for our world wide health crisis.

In India dal is a daily staple. I remember reading an article by a couple or travellers who spent some time in a village in the Himalayas. As Westerners, spoilt by choice, they got slightly fed up by the daily dal and chapati combo. Clearly dal is the main source of protein in the largely vegetarian India.

Beans feature strongly in cuisines around the world. They were traditionally the poor man staple. I own a cookbook of historic recipes from a mountain region in my home country and the biggest section is the bean/lentil one.

There is a massive drive to eat clean, eat natural, eat traditional. Can it get more traditional than hoummus, ful medames, cassoulett, black beans and rice or dal? I think not. And as some of the latest studies are confirming the phytate’s (anti-nutrient in pulses) have anticancer abilities I am keeping them on my menu.

More on phytates:


Make sure you season the dal well, it makes a world of difference to the taste.
Serves 4

1 cup red lentils
4 large tomatoes chopped or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 inch ginger, grated
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli
4 cups vegetable stock (I use Marigold vegan stock powder)
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, sliced
spray of oil
1 tsp garam masala
fresh coriander to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • In a large sauce pan combine the red lentils, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fenugreek and Kashmiri chilli.
  • Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are soft and falling apart. Check for seasoning.
  • While the dal soup is cooking, place the potatoes and onion into a roasting dish that will hold the potato in a single layer. Add the garam masala and spray lightly with oil. Toss to coat. Roast for 25-30 min until the potatoes are tender.
  • Serve in a bowl topped with the roasted potatoes and onions. Garnish with fresh coriander.




You may think having a curry is not a good idea in the summery weather but I could argue that is always summer in India… This recipe is light, no heavy sauce or too much oil like you might get in your takeaway. The main ingredients are some of the favourite among the plant based folk; potatoes and lentils. Both are indeed very filling and satisfying.

Yesterday, we had few friends over for a mezze type eating feast. My Brazilian friend announced she was brining Brazilian potato salad. I didn’t want to rain on her thunder but I needed to let her know that I am also using potatoes. I was making a spiced Indian potato salad… To my delight she swept my worries away with a firm: “You can’t ever have enough potatoes!”

Lentils, unlike beans, are known to be easily cooked even without soaking. That may be a convenient feature but I still recommend soaking all pulses, even the very small red lentils. It takes a bit of planning, but if you know you will be making some delicious lentil curry or soup in the evening just start soaking your lentils in the morning (or indeed the evening before). Beans, I preferably soak for 24 hrs. The soaking degrades phytic acid that minerals in the pulses are bound to, thus soaking them will make the minerals easier to absorb.

Another good idea is to cook your pulses with a piece of kombu seaweed. The kombu softens and you can either munch on it (it is a bit slimy…) or blend it into a sauce or soup. Kombu is traditionally used in Japanese broths to add flavour but when cooked with beans or lentils it increases digestibility and reduces the notorious gassiness… Skimming the foam off the surface will also reduce the gas production later :)

In this recipe I have used lentils verte (Puy), these are not traditionally used in Indian cooking, but I wanted the texture of these European lentils. Indian dals tend to be more mushy and soupy ( and I do love them) but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to experiment a little. French - Indian fusion, this may just catch on...


serves 4

250g dried lentils, I used lentils verte - Puy (or 2 tins of puy lentils) soaked for 12 hrs
1 - 1inch piece of kombu seeweed (optional)
2 tsp coconut oil
10 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella or black mustard seeds
2 tsp coconut oil
1 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
1 thumb piece of ginger, grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1/2-1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (or other chilli powder)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbs tomato puree
3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped and if you wish peeled and deseeded
1 and 1/2 - 2 cups water (this will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
200g spinach
1tsp garam masala.


  • First cook the lentils with the kombu in plenty of water for 20-30 minutes until they are just tender but still retaining shape. Drain and set aside
  • In a large sauté pan with a lid heat the coconut oil. Add the curry leaves, cumin and mustard (nigella) seeds. Heat till the mustard seeds start to pop and you can smell the aroma of spices. Take care not to burn.
  • Next add the onion and cook till soft and golden.
  • Add the ginger, onion, chopped green chilli (or add it whole with a slit down its side for less heat). Cook for 1 minute before adding the Kashmiri chilli powder and turmeric. Heat the spices for about 30 seconds.
  • Next step is to add tomato puree and chopped tomatoes, cover with a lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes of till the tomatoes start to soften.
  • When the tomatoes are soft and pulpy add 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of water (can use vegetable stock for even more depth of flavour). Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minuter or until potatoes are tender.
  • Finally add the lentils and cook very gently for another 10 min to allow the flavours to combine. Towards the end stir through the spinach and garam masala and check for seasoning. Cook briefly just to let the spinach wilt into the curry.
  • Serve with rice, Indian bread and Kachumbar.

Kachumbar recipe:




Last night, over some delicious food at our friends, we talked about our favourite cuisines. I couldn’t make up my mind, I like Italian for its delicious simplicity, Thai for its balance of flavours, Indian for its spiciness... Than there is Japanese, Czech, Moroccan, Syrian... I guess I just like delicious food.

I can spend hours watching cookery shows, chefs adding foams, smears of sauces, gels and jellies, freeze dried petals. We have elevated cooking to a form of art, it has become more than just food. However, in the end of the day, that's precisely what it is - food. Us mere home cooks will never use dry ice to make ice cream or jellify pea puree into pea like spheres. This doesn’t mean that a home cooked meal is somehow inferior to a 9 course tasting menu at a manor house restaurant.

As a home cook I love to look for inspiration from traditional cooking all over the world. No Michelin star presentation, no sommeliers, no pressed white table cloths or polished silver. Just simple nutritions flavoursome food. Dal is one of my favourite dishes. It is so comforting, easy and satisfying. It also is the perfect veggie meal, full of protein (25%), rich in B vitamins, iron and zinc. No wonder it is a daily staple all over India.

Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share my love of dal therefore I tend to cook it for myself for lunch or as a part of an Indian meal. I cooked this dal for my friend for lunch couple weeks ago and she has been reminding me to share the recipe online ever since. I know kale is not something you see in a traditional Indian dal but it works beautifully (so does spinach or Swiss chard) and as you may know by now I think there are never enough recipes for kale :)



Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a part of a Indian Thali style meal

1 and 1/2cup split mung dal
3 cups of water
2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
ground black pepper
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
4 oz (120g) kale leaves (weight without the tough stalks)

for the tarka

1 Tbs coconut oil
1 small onion (or shallot), finely sliced
1 chilli, finely sliced
1/2 tsp nigella seed
1/2tsp cumin seed
20 curry leaves

coriander leaves to garnish


  1. In a large sauce pan combine the mung dal, water, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, turmeric, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes (add more water if the dal seems too dry) or until the lentils are cooked through, falling apart. The consistency should be of a thick soup or porridge.
  2. Next add the kale and cook covered for 5 minutes or until the kale is soft.
  3. While the kale is cooking, in a small frying pan (or s heavy sauce pan) heat the coconut oil and fry the onion and chilli for 2 minutes (the onion should be brown) than add the whole spices for a minute. Add the onion and spice mix to the dal ( I love the way it sizzles).
  4. Serve garnished with lots of fresh coriander with some brown rice or a chapati on the side.



Parsnips. I have to admit I have not tasted a parsnip before moving to the UK. It is not a vegetable you find on the Czech table. I do admit there are many vegetables I would rather eat than parsnips. I don’t hate them but they do not excite me very much. If you put and aubergine and parsnip in front of me I know which one I would choose.

This is where my vegetable box comes to its force, I don’t get much of a choice what is delivered. And as I like to eat seasonally I do have to give even parsnips a chance. They sure deserve it, these roots are rich in fibre, Vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and B1, they do contain good amounts of minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. This sure make parsnips much more interesting.

What is the best way to cook them? I love them roasted (see I said love!!!), with spices and some maple syrup. This definitely brings out their natural sweetness. I am not keen on a parsnip mash, but a soup can be delicious, especially with plenty of warming curry spices thrown in.

Last time we found ourselves in Sweet Mart supermarket we decided to buy some gorgeous Indian savoury snacks. My husband bought a portion of fiery parsnips, not something I was drawn to. I made an aubergine curry that night and we had the parsnips on the side. Beyond all expectations I must admit we were hooked instantly, the tender sweet parsnips went so well with the heat of the chili and the acidity of the tomatoes. Delicious!

No surprise that as soon as I found myself with a few parsnips, I had to try to recreate this amazing dish. I only had a Scotch Bonnet pepper in the fridge which is not a typical Indian ingredient. It worked really well, lending the dish not only its fiery heat but also its lovely fruity flavour. My husband called it a close match. When he had the leftovers next day he than admitted it was a
very close match. Rested for a day and being gently reheated the sauce got even better, stickier and more intense. Parsnips have never tasted this good!



Serves 4

1 Tbs rapeseed (canola oil)
1 tsp nigella (kalonji) seed
15 curry leaves
1 onion, sliced
1 inch ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Scotch bonnet (Habanero chilli), left whole and slit with a knife. (chop up finely for an extra spicy curry)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
5 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunky batons
375 ml water
fresh coriander


  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil. Add the nigella seeds and curry leaves. Wait for the seeds to start popping. Take care not to burn them.
  2. Add the onions and cook them on medium heat till they are soft and brown.
  3. Next add the ginger, garlic and the Scotch Bonnet pepper. Cook for a minute.
  4. Add the spices, cook for about 30seconds.
  5. Next add the tomatoes, cover and cook for about 5min.
  6. While the tomatoes are cooking prepare the parsnips.
  7. Add the parsnips to the tomato together with water.
  8. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down. Cook gently for about 30min until the sauce it reduced and parsnips are very tender.
  9. Uncover the dish and turn up the heat for about 5 min. You should end up with a very reduced, sticky sauce.
  10. Serve with some fresh coriander and rice. Yum!




It is freezing outside, snow is on the way according to the forecast. An actual weather warning has been issued for our area. I do hope for quite a thick blanket of snow for the kids and dogs to play in, enough to build a substantial snowman and maybe get the sledge out. We have to grab every opportunity here in England, the snow rarely last more than 2 days.

There is nothing better than a bowl of steaming hot soup, stew or indeed a curry after playing in the snow. I may just make this one again. I got the idea of pairing up cauliflower with sweetcorn from Madhur Jaffrey, the queen of Indian cookery. Aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato) is one of my favourite traditional Indian combinations. Spuds had to go into my new creation too. Tomatoes, spices... and a new curry is born!

Speaking of aloo gobi, I found another great variation on the theme, an aloo gobi ball, that I bought in my favourite veggie supermarket Wild Oats. It was delicious but rather fiery, causing me to hiccup during the whole car journey home. We have since renamed it to Burn Your Gobi Ball.

My son is getting into his curries, but doesn’t quite enjoy too much heat hence leaving the green chilli whole, that way you get the flavour without too much heat. Feel free to chop it up or indeed add another one if you like it even hotter! Do search for fresh or frozen curry leaves, I buy them fresh from my other favourite shop Sweet Mart and keep them it the freezer. Cook them from frozen, nice and easy.

A lot of my recipes are oil free, but I have yet to take the plunge with curries. However in comparison with traditional Indian cooking I use far less oil. You get a great result with just half a tablespoon. I think that hitting the whole spices and leaves with hot oil creates amazing flavour base for you curry. I use rapeseed oil but I am sure coconut oil would be great too if that is your preferred medium for frying.

Keep an eye on the cauliflower, it shouldn’t fall apart but needs to be tender. Melt in your mouth potatoes are an imperative too. If you prefer you can add the tomatoes in the last few minutes of cooking to get a fresher tomato taste, I like them cooked well. Enjoy with rice or an Indian flat bread and top with some fresh coriander if you happen to have some in the fridge. Leftovers are great heated up in a tortilla - quesadilla style!



Serves 4

1/2-1Tbs rapeseed oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 green chilli pepper, slit in the middle (or chopped if you prefer a spicier curry)
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
black pepper
2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
1 cup of sweetcorn (frozen is fine)
500ml water
salt to taste
fresh coriander


  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin seeds. Heat till they start to pop.
  2. Add the cauliflower and onion, fry for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and chilli fry for 1 minute.
  4. Next add the garlic, ginger paste, turmeric and black pepper together with tomatoes. Fry for 1 min.
  5. Add the sweetcorn and water. Cook till potatoes are soft and the sauce has thickened, about 20min.
  6. Season and garnish with fresh coriander if you wish. Serve with rice or Indian breads.




As a self proclaimed foodie I never pass an opportunity to look for new and exciting ingredients. Yesterday we decided to do our weekly shop in the treasure trove, the Aladin’s cave of wonders and one of my favourite shops in the whole wide world, Bristol Sweet Mart. Whenever I go I discover new exciting things to try and to cook with.

First, I must apologise for slowing down the shoppers who came to get their shopping done and found themselves stuck behind me and my kids (the alleys are quite narrow). We treat this shop as a museum. We explore the produce, the spices, the colourful lentils, the olives and noodles.... We look at sauces and teas and I teach them what I know and marvel over the things I have never seen before.

Guava and amla

We sure found some new treasures: beautifully scented fresh guava (forget pot-purri these guys can perfume your house much better), fresh and dried powdered amla (AKA indian gooseberry or hog plum). I asked the cashier how to eat the fresh amla, she said she just eats them as they come. We tried that and they were incredibly tart and bitter. I may just stick to the dried powder and use it in smoothies as Dr Greger recommends:

My son wanted to try okra after seeing it on a Hairy Bikers episode and of course the Sweet Mart is the place to acquire some. I discussed the preparations with the helpful staff in the shop. I was instructed to wash it before I slice it, the other way the slime oozes out. Another advice was to fry it. I also talked to my friend who does cook okra, she stews it with meat. She made me laugh when she likened it to octopi as the slime reminded her of tentacles. I was a bit worried what my okra will end up like, but honestly it was great, no sea creature lookalikes coming out of my pot. Being warned about the slime I chose to fry, but still keeping it low in oil with only 1 Tbs. As we served it next to my spicy aubergine curry and some fiery parsnips (from Sweet Mart) I kept the chilli heat low using only half a chilli pepper, use more if you wish. The okra was definitely the star of the dish and will be gracing our table again soon.



Serves 4 as a part of an Indian meal

400g okra
1 Tbs rapeseed oil (canola)
1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
15 curry leaves (fresh or frozen)
1/2 - 2 chillies (I used just a half due to other curries being spicy)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 large beef (beefsteak) tomato, peeled,deseeded and chopped
2 Tbs shredded coconut (fresh or
unsweetened dessicated)
salt and pepper

  1. First prepare the okra. Top and tail the pods and cut into about 4 pieces each (my daughter did that beautifully).
  2. In a wok or a frying pan preheat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, they will start to pop. Next add the curry leaves and the chilli. Cook for about half a minute or the leaves should sizzle but do not burn.
  3. Add the cut up okra, turmeric and stir fry for about 5 min.
  4. Add the chopped tomato flesh to the okra and cook for about 5 minutes or until okra softens.
  5. Last add the coconut to the okra and just stir together. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve alongside other curries, rice and chapatis.



Thanks to the brilliant Vegan Dad (look up his blog) I found this article about... actually I am not sure what it is about. The title promises to enlighten the reader about vegetarian health, exploring 7 unhealthy foods vegetarians eat. Turns out the article is a bit vegetarian bashing... apparently it is a myth (a big one) that vegetarians eat vegetables. Generalising are we? Or am I an exception? I know for fact that I am not.

Quote from Shannon Kadlovski, a nutritionist:
"Vegetarian simply means someone who does not consume animal protein, but does not indicate that this person is otherwise consuming a healthy, balanced diet." I am sorry but as somebody who does not consume animal protein I would never make a sweeping statement about meat eaters, because I do believe that there can be healthy meat eaters just as unhealthy vegans or vegetarians.

So lets have a look at the seven deadly sins, I mean unhealthy foods vegetarians eat:

Tofu - Kadlovski says tofu is high in oestrogen causing hormonal imbalances if eaten in excess. First we should say that phytoestrogens not oestrogens are present in soya products. The science is divided on effects of phytoeostrogens but for example according to Cornell University phytoestrogens may actually help to lower oestrogens. My view on tofu? It has been eaten for centuries in Japan and China and their breast cancer rates have always been marginal in comparison with the west. Nor have I ever heard of problems with male fertility due to tofu in these countries. As for oestrogen: animal products, fat in the diet and body (obesity) all increase levels of oestrogen. So yes I am a vegetarian that eats tofu, maybe once or twice a week and no I don’t think it is unhealthy.

Processed cheese I do agree a lot of lacto/ovo vegetarians do heavily rely on cheese as their protein source but why the emphasis on processed cheese? Even when I ate cheese it was never the processed kind... it was organic.

Vegetarian hot dogs. Again I agree, not healthy, but the same goes for meat (pink slime) hot dogs. Products like veggie hot dogs are great for the transition to a veggie diet but I doubt that many vegetarians/vegans rely on these. I can’t remember last time I had a veggie hotdog myself.

Protein powders. I have never used these. Actually the only person I personally know that uses whey powder is my meat eating friend who I am convinced gets way too much protein from his diet already.

White pasta, white rice, white bread. I can only speak for myself here but 90% of pasta, rice and bread me and my family eat is certainly not white. Surely we don’t believe that the non vegetarians all eat whole versions of these?

Can we all agree that even though some vegetarians choose to eat all or some of the above, most meat eaters include most the above items in their diets too. Vegetarians and vegans are still a minority (unless you live in India) and considering the health crisis (heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancers...) criticising vegetarians makes for bad politics. Everybody despite their dietary choices should be making healthier decisions , mainly including more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and cutting out the junk.



This dish freezes very well. Make it as hot and mild as you wish by adding or omitting the chililes. This is a huge portion but great when you have friends over. Tastes even better the next day. I like to eat leftovers wrapped in a large tortilla wrap with some mango chutney.

You can use cashew nut cream instead of coconut milk.

enough to serve 8


First blend to paste:
3 large onion
1-2 chillies
2 inch ginger
6 cloves garlic

1 Tbs oil
3 aubergines cut into 2 inch (5cm) pieces
1 Tbs oil
2 tsp nigella seeds
10 curry leaves
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp jaggery (optional)
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch (5 cm) pieces
1 tin coconut milk (can be light)
250ml water
1 cup of peas
fresh coriander (cilantro)


  1. In a large nonstick saucepan heat the oil and add the aubergine. Gently fry just till starting to brown, sprinkle with salt and cover with a lid and cook till soft. Stir often make sure they don't stick. Remove the aubergine pieces and set aside.
  2. Add 1 cup of the onion paste into the pan and cook slowly until it starts to change colour and all moisture has evaporated, no rushing here or the curry will be bitter. (Traditionally quite a bit of oil is used and mixture is cooked till the oil separates from the paste)
  3. When the onion mixture is cooked out add  2 tsp nigella seeds, 10 curry leaves. The seeds should start to pop.
  4. Add rest of the spices: (cumin, coriander and turmeric) cook these for about 30 seconds.
  5. Next add 1 tin of tomatoes and 1 tsp of jaggery (palm sugar) or brown sugar (you can omit this).
  6. Let it cook for 5 min till tomatoes soften.
  7. Put in the butternut squash together with the coconut milk and water and simmer till butternut is soft. Season with salt.
  8. Add in the aubergine and peas, cook for just a couple of minutes or till the aubergine is heated up and peas cooked or defrosted.
  9. Last stir in some fresh coriander.



It would be hard to imagine cooking without onions. They are a based of so many dishes lending great flavour but there is so much more to the humble onion. We are constantly bombarded with the latest exotic superfoods like goji berries, macca powder, chlorella... the onion may look rather ordinary and unimportant.

Onions are one of my food superheros. They may not be trendy and exotic but they rightly deserve their superfood label. Onion cell walls contain alliinase, the enzyme that is released by chopping or crushing. The alliinase than catalyses the release of organosulfurs, hence the sulfuric acid smell and tears when we chop onions. The onion uses this as a protection agains herbivores. These chemicals are what makes onions so special.

The above mentioned compounds are what makes onions such a great cancer fighting food.
Dr Fuhrman in his book Super Immunity (a must read!!!) states that “epidemiological studies have found increased consumption of allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer at all common sites.” The numbers he mentions are staggering, just 80g portion of onions 7 times a week has provided these stats:
56% reduction in colon cancer
73% reduction of ovarian cancer
88% reduction in esophageal cancer
71% reduction in prostate cancer
50% reduction in stomach cancer.
Amazing right?


Onions are not just a cancer fighter, they have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in chromium that helps to balance blood sugar. Onions are the richest dietary source of quercetin (not in white onions) which may just reduce your hay fever or asthma symptoms, but can also raise the good HDL cholesterol and ward off blood clots.

The best thing about onions? Apart from being delicious they are cheap as chips and very available (no excuse!). I know that not everybody likes to eat them raw but in this Indian recipe they mellow out while they meld with all the other flavours creating a delicious salad/salsa/relish type concoction. Serve it traditionally with curry but is fab with veggie burgers, burritos or even on top of a veggie chille.



1 large tomato
2 red onions (medium) or 1 large
1/2 cucumber
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
juice of half a lime
2 Tbs coriander leaves

  1. Deseed the tomato and chop quite fine (think salsa). Put it into a medium bowl.
  2. Next chop the onion and cucumber into roughly the same size pieces as your tomato.
  3. Add the salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice and coriander leaves (I like to leave these whole).
  4. Rest in the fridge for half an hour for the flavours to develop. Bring to a room temperature before serving.





My kids are addicted to the Australian Junior Masterchef. After our holidays we have a few episodes to catch up with. Yesterday we watched the kids cooking some fab looking curries. That and my trip to a supermarket in an area where lots of ethnicities come together made me think of curry. I stocked up on some wonderful ingredients like fresh curry leaves, coriander with the root intact, baby aubergines, Japanese horseradish, Polish pickled gherkings and Mexican chipotles. Don’t worry I am not putting all of this into my curry, that would be just plain mad.

Since living in the UK I can hardly imagine a week without having a curry. Without claiming any authenticity I think I can make a good home made one. I like to be able to control the amount of oil and the level of spice and of course it gives me a free hand in choosing the vegetables. I know there is something addictive about Indian take aways and restaurants, but the amount of oil on the top of each dish is a bit scary. Even the American chef Bobby Chinn (Bobby Chinn Cooks Asia) was a bit surprise by the amount of oil the Indians use in their cooking. My today’s curry is made with 1 Tbs of oil only and as it serves 4-6 it amounts to a very small amount per person.

There is nothing worse than badly cooked aubergine. I have had many dining experiences ruined by undercooked aubergines making me very cautious when dining out. Indian restaurants cook them well, but of course this is because they tend to be fried in lots of oil. Aubergines are like sponges soaking up any amount of oil they are introduced to. I decided to steam them first, to ensure the “dissolve in your mouth” sensation I so love. The baby ones look great on a plate making this a fab dinner party dish. Enjoy.

I was thinking 4 aubergines per person, but if served as a part of an Indian themed meals it should serve 6. I have ground the cashews quite course I like the bite but you can grind them fine to create a smoother sauce.

Serves 4-6


the stuffed aubergines:
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled, cut into few pieces
2 large cloves of garlic
1 red or green chilli, halved
3 Tbs fresh coriander (include roots if you can find them)
1/2 tsp salt
16 baby aubergines

cashew and tomato sauce
1 onion
1 inch piece of ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 chilli pepper
1 Tbs of rapeseed oil
8 curry leaves
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp asofetida (optional)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
500ml (2 cups of water)
1 tsp sweet freedom syrup (or palm sugar, agave, brown sugar)
130g (1 cup ) of cashew nuts
1 tsp garam masala
fresh coriander


  1. In a small food processor (or mortar and pestle) finely chop together the ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander. Add salt.
  2. Slit the aubergines lengthways into quarters, do not cut through the stalk to keep the aubergine intact. (see picture)
  3. Put some of the ginger mixture inside each aubergines. Fingers are the best tool for this, just remember you are handling chillies so do not rub your eyes!
  4. Place the aubergines into a steamer basket and steam for about 10-15 min until tender, set aside.
  5. To make the sauce in a small food processor (or mortar and pestle) process the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli into a paste. If using a food processor add a tablespoon of water to help it along.
  6. In a large wide saucepan (with a lid) heat up the oil. Add the paste, be careful it will splatter. Cook on medium heat until all the water had evaporated and the paste darkens slightly (about 5-7 min).
  7. Add the curry leaves and spices, cook for half a minute, take care not to burn the spices.
  8. Next add the chopped tomatoes, turn the heat up and cook for five minutes till. Squish any big pieces of tomato.
  9. Add the sweet freedom syrup, salt and water.
  10. Put the aubergines into the sauce and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  11. In the meantime process the cashews to your preferred texture (see note above).
  12. Add the cashews into the sauce, this will thicken it.
  13. Next add the garam masala and the fresh coriander.
  14. Serve with Indian breads and rice.