Millet Pancakes with Grilled Pineapple and Date-Tamarind Sauce

Amaranth is a psuedocereal, which simply means that it is a seed which acts like a grain. It has been cultivated for about 8000 years.  It contains all nine essential amino acids and is a protein powerhouse. It contains lunasin, a peptide believed to have anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventive diseases. It has a distinctive peppery taste with a pleasant aroma of grass. 

I combined amaranth flour with powdered oatmeal and coconut flour for these pancakes which are both vegan and gluten-free. It’s an ideal breakfast option and it’s quite filling as well. The grilled pineapple and the date-tamarind sauce paired beautifully with the pancakes. It was sweet, sour and salty, all at the same time! And very delicious.

This sauce is usually made in India to go with chaats, which are savoury snacks or hors d’oeuvre, available all across the country in roadside stalls, food carts, restaurants, etc. It’s a combination of several things blended with different chutneys and spices, sometimes with yogurt and topped with crisp vermicelli called sev and freshly chopped coriander leaves. It’s an amazing explosion of flavours in your mouth. 

You can mix the batter and let it sit overnight in the fridge to speed up the cooking process. Coconut oil exudes a wonderful aroma while cooking and it also complements the pancakes and pineapple. The spices are also quite subtle and you can taste them on your palate. A very simple and comforting dish.

PREP:  20 minutes  COOK TIME:  20 – 30 minutes  SERVES:  4

Ingredients

11/2 cup old fashioned oats, powdered

3/4 cup amaranth flour

3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp flaxseed meal, mixed with 6 tbsp hot water

2 cups coconut milk/almond milk

Coconut oil

2 tbsp organic brown sugar (optional)

Salt to taste

For the pineapple

1 pineapple, cut into cubes

2-3 tbsp coconut oil

For the Date-Tamarind sauce

250 gms dates, seeded

75 gms tamarind

50 gms jaggery

1/4 tsp black pepper powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin powder

Instructions

Prepare the pancake batter by mixing the oatmeal, amaranth flour and coconut flour with all the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil and the flaxseed mixture and mix well. Add the coconut milk to the flour mixture, adding water if necessary to make a thick batter. Set aside.

Wash the tamarind well and combine it with the dates in a small pan. Add just enough water to cover them. Add all the other ingredients and cook over medium heat until the tamarind and dates are cooked thoroughly. Cool and blend into a paste. Strain and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the pineapple pieces. Toss them in the oil, turning them if necessary until they are a golden brown in colour. 

Heat a non-stick pan and add some coconut oil. Pour the batter and spread lightly to make a thick pancake. Cook until the edges start browning and flip them over and cook the other side. Make all the pancakes and serve hot with the grilled pineapple and the date-tamarind sauce.

Lime and Plum Trifle

A British classic, this dessert has many variations. Originally it consists of sponge cake soaked in syrup, topped with fruit and custard and whipped cream to finish it off. I decided to experiment with the numerous limes that my tree had borne this year. Asian limes are much stronger than lemons and so a little bit goes a long way.

I also wanted something without too many calories and so I substituted Greek yogurt for the cream. I also made a coconut milk custard instead of the usual egg custard, which is both dairy free and eggless. You can make this completely vegan by using vegan cake and coconut milk yogurt. 

Lime and coconut is a wonderful combination. Trifle is all about layering. The bottom layer consisted of sponges sandwiched with lime jam that I had made earlier. These were soaked in syrup and topped with the coconut milk custard. Then I topped this off with the plum compote and the final layer was the lime curd folded with the Greek yogurt.

The layers blended well together and the result was a lovely trifle with a decidedly sharp lime flavour. I love lime and lemons and so I found it delicious. You can let your imagination run riot and experiment with various fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, oranges, etc.

PREP:  20 minutes  COOK TIME:  40 minutes

Ingredients

6-8 trifle sponges or shop bought cake cut into slices

400 ml+ 3 tbsp coconut milk

3 tbsp cornflour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

600 ml water

350 grams sugar

1 tbsp lime zest

500 gms plums

400 ml Greek yogurt

1/3 cup lime/lemon curd

6-8 tbsp lime/lemon jam 

3-4 tbsp vodka (optional)

Instructions

First, make the sugar syrup by boiling the 600 ml water with the 350 gms sugar for about 10-15 minutes until you obtain a syrup. Add the lime zest and allow it to cool.

Cut the plums around the middle and twist to remove the stone from the centre. Place the plums in a small pan and add about a cup of the sugar syrup. Cook for about 10 minutes until the plums are softened but still whole. You can also cook them completely to make a sauce but I just left them whole. Reserve some of the syrup for decoration.

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Mix the 3 tbsp coconut milk with the cornflour to make a slurry. Place the 400 ml coconut milk in a pan with the 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla extract  and add the slurry. Heat the mixture, stirring vigorously until the mixture thickens to a custard. It will take about 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Place the lime curd in a bowl and fold the Greek yogurt through it, until they are well blended. Do not overmix.

Sandwich the sponges with lime jam or any other jam that you prefer. Place the sponges in a wide glass dish and spoon about a cup of the sugar syrup on them to soak them completely. Splash the vodka on top. Next spoon the coconut milk custard on the sponge layer and then the plum compote. Finish the dessert with the lime curd and Greek yogurt mixture. Decorate with the reserved plum syrup and enjoy.

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Last-Minute Christmas Pudding

The classic end to a traditional Christmas dinner – this recipe is amazingly quick to make. The end result tastes just as wonderful and it looks superb. Nobody will know that you made this as a last minute pudding.

The usual way of making this pudding is to steam it for 4-8 hours. This recipe just requires 20 minutes in the microwave. Serve with brandy butter or cream. I used some whisky to flambé the pudding at the end. It adds to the flavour of the pudding.

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PREP:  15 minutes  COOK TIME:  25 minutes  SERVES:  6-8

Ingredients

300g good-quality mincemeat

140g fine-shred orange marmalade

225g molasses cane sugar

4 tbsp black treacle

3 eggs, beaten

4 tbsp whisky

100g butter, frozen and coarsely grated

225t g self-raising flour

4 tbsp whisky to flambé (optional)

Brandy butter or cream to serve 

Instructions

Butter and line the base of a 1.5 litre or 21/4 pint pudding basin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, stir the ingredients together, adding them one at a time in the order they are listed, until everything is completely mixed.

Tip the pudding mixture into the prepared basin and cover with a circle of parchment. Place the pudding basin on a plate and microwave on Medium for 20-25 minutes until cooked and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto an attractive cake stand. Place the whisky in a small bowl and use a match to set it alight. Pour the burning whisky on to the pudding. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

 

 

 

Sugarplum Spiced Nuts

Sugarplums are old fashioned Christmas candies, which are made of dried fruits and nuts mixed with spices and rolled into balls and coated with sugar. These festive spiced nuts pack quite a punch and I have used the spices generally used with making sugarplums.

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They are perfect for this festive season and your guests will love the flavour of these nuts. If you want to give an edible gift to a special friend, these nuts are ideal, packed in beautiful containers. They are easy to make and you can store them in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Just heat in the microwave gently before serving. They bring out all the flavours of the holiday season and taste divine. I have used olive oil and it makes for a healthier option too.

PREP:  15 minutes  COOK TIME: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

3 cups mixed nuts (almonds, cashewnuts and walnuts)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup cane juice

3/4 cup apple juice

2 tsp cinnamon powder

2 tsp allspice powder

2 tsp nutmeg powder

2 tsp clove powder

2 tsp ginger powder

2 tsp cardamom powder

1/4 tsp pepper powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and toast lightly for a few minutes until they are lightly golden. Take care not to burn the nuts.

Heat the oil and add the cane juice. After a minute, add the apple juice and bring to a boil. Add the nuts and cook until the liquid evaporates. Cook for an extra two minutes and add half the spice mix. Toss to coat the nuts well. Remove from heat, add the remaining spice mix and mix well. Pour the nuts into the sugar and toss to coat.

Mincemeat Cookies

Hello everyone. I have really missed being on my blog. Due to a personal crisis that I was going through, I was not able to allot time for my blog. But I am back again and I hope to interest you all to try some recipes for Christmas.

I had made some mincemeat last year. It is so good because the fruits and nuts have been soaking in rum for a year. The smell of the mincemeat baking was heavenly! These cookies are quite soft. I used a tablespoon to drop them in the pan but if you use a teaspoon you should easily get around 50 cookies. 

This is a very simple recipe and even the children would be able to help mix and drop the batter into the pan for baking. It just takes around 10 minutes to bake a batch and the whole project can be done in a few hours. Munching on these is like eating fruit cake in cookie form! So good.

You can substitute unsifted whole wheat flour for the total amount of flour. The cookies will be much darker in colour. You could also spread the batter into an 8 inch greased baking pan for a pan cookie variation. Cut into 2 inch squares.  This mixture can also be doubled if you want more cookies. It works very well either way.

PREP:  15 minutes  COOK TIME:  20 minutes  

Ingredients

1 cup+2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4cup+1 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup+1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup good quality mincemeat

1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a bowl, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Mix in the flour mixture gradually and mix well. Add the mincemeat finally along with the walnuts if you are using them. Mix well to combine. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. 

 

Black Bean Energy Bars

Most people lead busy lives and end up eating packaged convenience foods more often than we like. Energy bars are packed with vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. The store bought ones may contain a lot of sugar and other unhealthy substitutes. However, if you can make your own bars, then you know exactly what goes into these delicious DIY bars. It’s just the fuel your body needs when you feel tired or have trouble focusing.

The antioxidants, fibre, protein and carbohydrates in black beans make them nutritionally powerful. A diet rich in beans can reduce your risk of various medical conditions and help your body to process calories more effectively.IMG-20201201-WA0003

The ingredients used to make these bars are a powerhouse of antioxidants. Cocoa, dark chocolate, coconut nectar, banana chips and almonds are all included in these nutritious bars. They don’t take much time to make if you’re using canned beans. Since this option wasn’t available for me, I soaked the beans overnight and cooked them. I still found it very easy to make. Just blend all the ingredients and shape into bars. They store very well in the fridge. I kept mine for up to three weeks, though it’s best to wrap them individually. This recipe has been adapted from http://www.livestrong.com.

PREP:  30 minutes (If you have to cook the beans)

Ingredients

11/2 cups cooked black beans

3/4 cup natural banana chips

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup raisins

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup oatmeal

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup almonds, chopped finely

2 tbsp almond meal

Instructions

Sprinkle the almond meal over the bottom of a 9×9 inch cake pan.

Drain and rinse the beans if you’re using canned beans. Otherwise, soak the beans overnight and drain the water. Rinse and boil in fresh water until they are completely cooked.

Blend the oats until fine,

Blend beans, banana chips, cocoa powder, raisins, vanilla and coconut nectar in a food processor until smooth. Add the oatmeal, chocolate chips and flaxseed and process until the mixture is blended and forms a dough. Add the chopped almonds and mix well. Press the mixture on the cake pan and chill for two hours until firm.

Cut into 12 bars and wrap each bar individually in waxed paper. Refrigerate in a closed container for up to 2-3 weeks or freeze up to a month.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Dip

Crispy and sweet-salty, you can snack on these fries without feeling guilty; Dip them in flavourful curry and runny egg yolks – yummy!

Sweet potatoes are really good for you. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. They are easy to add to your diet and very delicious.

You can toss them in whatever spices you have on hand after they have been baked. I just added sea salt because the curry dip had a lot of spices. We had them for dinner with fried eggs and bread. A simple and filling meal.

It’s very important to slice the sweet potatoes as thinly and uniformly as possible. They will crisp up more. Tossing them in the cornflour is essential as it adds to the crispness. These fries are great with burgers, soup and Mexican food.

PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients

500 gms sweet potatoes, sliced thinly

3 tbsp+ 2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp cornflour

Sea salt to taste

4 tbsp fresh curry leaves, chopped finely

For the curry dip

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

5 tbsp fresh coconut, grated

5 tbsp shallots, sliced thinly

1 large onion, sliced thinly

1 large tomato, chopped

Vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

Toss the sweet potatoes in the olive oil so that they are well coated. Sprinkle the cornflour over them and mix well so that they are evenly distributed. Place the sweet potatoes in the baking tray without overcrowding them too much and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the fries and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until they are crispy and golden brown. Cool slightly and sprinkle a little sea salt on them and toss well so that all the fries are coated with the salt. Reserve some salt to sprinkle on top just before serving.

Heat 2 tsp of olive oil and fry the chopped curry leaves until they turn crispy. Add half to the fries and mix well. Reserve the remaining for garnish.

To make the curry dip, heat two teaspoons of oil in a small frying pan and saute the cinnamon, cloves, pepper and cumin. Add the shallots and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the coriander powder, red chili powder and turmeric powder and mix well. Add the grated coconut and remove from the heat. Cool and grind to a fine paste with a little water.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the sliced onions. Saute until they are cooked and add the tomatoes. Cook them until they are softened and add the ground paste and salt to taste. Mix well and add about 2-3 tablespoons of water. Cook the paste for about 5 minutes and add 1cup of water and mix well. Cook for some time and simmer on low heat until the oil floats on top. Adjust the consistency by adding more water if necessary.

Serve the fries with fried eggs and bread. Sprinkle the remaining salt and curry leaves on top before serving.

black bean and tofu burrito bowl

I finally got down to making this burrito bowl. It’s super healthy and I felt full for the rest of the day. Plus you get your quota of proteins and vitamins. Really delicious! It’s also very satisfying to make your own bowl from scratch. It looks so colourful and appetising.

I often make this turmeric-coconut rice. I usually make a spicy curry to go with it. I used basmati rice as usual and added some fresh coriander at the end.

You might think that it takes a lot of time to make this dish. But it’s quite simple, with some planning and multi-tasking. I especially loved the flavour of the tofu. So, are you going to make this at home?

This burrito bowl consists of the following:

Turmeric-Coconut rice – A very flavourful rice with the goodness of turmeric.

Grilled Tofu – Pan fried and tossed in a combination of honey and sriracha – please refer to my earlier recipe Crispy Honey Sriracha paneer.

Black beans – Cooked beans with a touch of cumin and red chili powder.

Grilled peppers, jalapeno and fresh tomatoes.

Mint and coconut chutney – Mint leaves ground with some coconut and green chilies.

PREP: 50 minutes COOKTIME: 40-50 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup black beans, cooked and drained

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

4 tbsp jalapenos, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

400 gms tofu, frozen and thawed

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil as required

For the turmeric rice:

11/2 cups basmati rice, washed and drained

3 cups water

11/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 large onions, sliced

2 sticks cinnamon

3 cloves

2 cardamoms

1 cup coconut, grated

1 cup fresh coriander, chopped finely

For the mint and coconut chutney

1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped

1 green chili

1 tbsp fresh ginger

1/4 cup coconut, grated

Instructions

Soak the basmati rice for 15-20 minutes in the three cups of water.

Meanwhile, heat three tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the spices for the turmeric rice. When they smell fragrant, add the onions and cook until they become golden brown. Place the rice and water in a rice cooker and add the fried onions with salt and turmeric. When the rice is almost cooked, add the grated coconut and mix well. Add the chopped coriander and mix well. Set aside.

To prepare the black beans, add the cumin powder, chili powder and salt to the beans and mix well.

Cut the red and yellow peppers in half, remove the seeds and rub some oil on both sides and grill for about 20 minutes in a medium oven. Remove the skin and slice thinly.

Place all the ingredients of the mint chutney in a small blender with salt and blend into a fine paste with a little water.

To prepare the tofu, squeeze all the water out of the tofu. Please refer to my earlier recipe Crispy Honey Sriracha Paneer. I made it the same way, except that I didn’t slice the tofu before cooking. I fried the entire block in the pan and then sliced it as I found this much easier.

To assemble the bowl, place the turmeric rice about halfway up the bowl and arrange all the ingredients on top.

Poached Mangoes with Strawberry Coulis

My friend Beryl was an amazing and passionate cook who was very generous with her time and her recipes. She was warm and friendly, and really loved to feed people. She was one of my earliest food influencers. I got this recipe from her.

She passed away some years ago, but I continued to cook the recipes she gave me. Beryl used a thinned down version of her own blueberry jam as a topping, but I decided to try it with a strawberry coulis instead. The combination of the luscious mangoes cooked in spicy sugar syrup and the strawberries are amazing. It’s a dessert that can be put together very easily, even if you’re tired and pressed for time; serve it and watch the compliments flow in.

four ingredient spiced caramel fudge

This wickedly delicious and fattening fudge is an ideal recipe to make at this time of the year. Packed in attractive boxes or other imaginative containers, they make great gifts, to indulge your friends and loved ones.

This recipe is very quick and easy – just four ingredients and no sugar thermometers! The sugar might seem excessive, but it’s all good. In the end, the taste is just pure indulgence. I love fudge and making confectionery has also been a passion with me. The aroma of this fudge filled up the entire kitchen.

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Since Carnations Caramel is not available here, I made the caramel by immersing the can in water and boiling it for three hours. I made this on the previous day. Please refer to this link if you want to do the same – https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/caramel-sweetened-condensed-milk/9005d4ff-d063-43da-9fc6-509cc50ae771.

I know there are so many amazing fudge recipes without any cooking, but I love making it the old-fashioned way. I did try a peanut butter fudge recipe once which required no cooking and it was delicious. One of these days, I must try out the no-cook fudge recipes and I will be sure to blog them. I hope that you enjoy making this fudge as much as I did.  This recipe makes around 20-25 pieces of fudge.

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PREP:  10 minutes  COOK TIME:  20 minutes 

Ingredients

400 gms condensed milk can

100 gms butter

500 gms sugar

2 tsp pumpkin spice

! tsp vanilla essence (optional)

Instructions

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment.

Place the butter, caramelized condensed milk and sugar in a large heavy bottomed pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about five to ten minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pan and a little dropped into a pan of cold water forms a soft ball. Remove the fudge from the heat and add the spice and vanilla essence (if using) and beat with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until the fudge becomes grainy and starts to set. Pour into the prepared tin and mark into squares when the mixture has cooled slightly. cut into squares when it is completely cold.