Sabut Masoor Dal (Whole Red Lentils)

One of my favourite lentil curries often made at my in-laws, I have just reduced the use of oil to the bare minimum 😊 Enjoy with naan, boiled rice or fragrant zeera (cumin) rice for a wholesome, healthy and heart-warming dish on a cold winter’s day.

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 45 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole red lentils
  • 3 cups water + plus a more during cooking
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chilliest ( optional)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste, or 2 cloves finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Fresh ginger slivers and lemons wedges (optional garnish)

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the lentils and pressure cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the cumin. Wait till they change colour.
  3. Add the onions and green chilli; cook until the onions have softened.
  4. Add the garlic and cook off for 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomato with the salt, cover and cook until softened completely.
  6. Add the dry spices and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add a little water and continue cooking to create a semi-dry mixture – ‘bhuna’.
  8. Add the cooked lentils to the pan and mix well.
  9. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot water, stir again and bring to boil.
  10. Simmer the dal until the desired consistently is achieved – add more water if you preferred a runnier curry.
  11. Stir in the coriander leaves and remove from the heat.
  12. Top with the ginger slivers and lemon wedges, if using.
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Chickpea & Rocket Salad

I just love this salad as a healthy, high protein, low-fat zingy variation of a desi chaat. Completely versatile as either a quick lunch or a starter dish, you can be as imaginative with the ingredients as you wish!

Prep time: 10 mins

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 480g chick peas (2×400 tins, drained)
  • 1 medium or large tomato, diced
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Large handful of rocket leaves
  • 1 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

How to prepare

Simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill if desired and serve!

Cauliflower and Lentil Curry tempered with Fennel, Cumin and Mustard Seeds

Where do I even begin! I have been run down most of the week struggling to teach my yoga class on Wedneaday and not able to go to the gym since Monday 😱 I was determined to make the day count so at the first sign of recovery I felt my creative juices flowing again. So here we are, a popular vegetarian curry which I have just added a bit of this and that to and adapted to my own liking; gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, low fat and rather delicious 😜 Perfect for my yoga students 🙏🏼

Rich in protein with a good balance of veg and just a tablespoon of oil this is a nutritious meal in itself. Of course if you need your carbs just pour two generous dollops over some boiled rice.

I actually made it to the gym this afternoon and helped myself to two bowlfuls upon my return. Guilt-free pleasures of my simple life 😊🙏🏼

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red lentils

6 cups water

2 tbsp ginger purée

1 small cauliflower, separated into small florets

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 green chillies (optional)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin, roasted

1/2 tsp chilli powder

Salt to taste

Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

For the Tempering

1 tbsp veg oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried curry leaves

HOW TO COOK

1. Wash the lentils and place in a medium saucepan with the water.

2. Add the ginger, onion, dry spices and salt.

3. Stir well and bring to boil.

4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft.

5. Strike in the cauliflower, tomato and green chillies, if using).

6. Cover and cook on medium heat until the cauliflower is tender – about 10 minutes.

7. To prepare the tempering, gently heat the oil in a small wok or frying pan.

8. Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds. Allow them to sizzle.

9. Stir in the garlic and cook until browned.

10. Mix in the curry leaves.

11. Pour this mixture over the curry. Stir in and cover the pan to allow the flavours to infuse through the dish.

12. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

Tagine-Steamed White Fish

Steamed FishIn keeping with our Bengali traditional, but much to my parents’ disapproval of my aversion to eating fish, it was often a case of “Eat your fish!” at the dining table. More so than the proverbial peas.

Ironically, as a Mother of two teens, I now find myself cooking fish in a variety of ways. The versatility of cooking with fish, whether it’s a fishermen’s pie, a curry, a grill or even a biriyani (!) makes it quite effortless to get those all-essential Omega-3’s into our daily diet in the most natural way.

Last night I chose to steam these basa fillets, but not quite the conventional way. I seasoned the fillets and simply arranged them in a single layer in my glazed ceramic tagine. I then placed the tagine on the stove over a heat diffuser to ensure even cooking.

The build up of steam in the pot creates condensation and the resulting droplets ensure the fish is left beautifully moist with all the flavours sealed into the fish. Simply lushalicious :p. So here’s how it goes…

Cooking Time: 20 mins

Serves: 4  

Ingredients

  • 4 white fish fillets (such as cod, haddock or basa)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of a quarter lemon
  • 1 tsp crushed red chilies (or more if you dare!)
  • sprinkle of course black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • a lemon twist and sprig of fresh coriander to garnish each piece

How to cook

  1. Mix all the ingredients well and season the fish. Set aside for 10 mins.
  2. Gently heat a large wok, karahi or tagine placed in a heat diffuser (you can use a tava or frying pan for this purpose).
  3. Arrange the fish onto the vessel a single layer and place a tight fitting lid (or the tagine lid if using a tagine).
  4. Allow to cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove each piece carefully and garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of coriander.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with seasoned, steamed new potatoes and beans or spinach. Or for a touch of Indian, serve with a portion of boiled rice topped with a tadka-free lentil curry as shown here 🙂

Basa fillet with lentils and rice

All Things Chai…

Chai for me is to be enjoyed on its own. Simple. No food required. I often long for a ‘dhaba’ (roadside restaurant) style desi (with reference to all things South Asian) chai. The last time I enjoyed the authenticity of sitting by a roadside kiosk at dusk, sipping a hot, sweet masala chai, was during one of my rare visits to Bangladesh – a place where I spent a good part of my childhood. Sadly, most restaurants in London will not serve a tea without a meal…unlike our coffee shops. So whilst my day always starts with a desi cardamom chai, when out and about, like a bee to drawn to nectar, I find myself in my favourite coffee shop ordering a “Grande Soya Chai Tea Latte, extra chai, no water” – a bit of a mouthful but certainly worth the effort. Worth noting: The soya lends a creamy sweetness which I find lacking in the dairy version. However, during a recent visit to a well known curry house, I was blown away by the luscious Kashmiri Chai served, on request, BEFORE my meal. Now let me tell you a little about this beverage. Kashmiri Chai, otherwise know as Sheer Chai or Pink Tea is a traditional Kashmiri drink brewed from special tea leaves and served with cardamom, pistachios and almonds served as a warming beverage during the cold winter months in India and Pakistan; also enjoyed during festivities and celebrations. It’s characteristic pink colour is achieved by adding a pinch of baking soda. Not wanting to go out for a full blown meal, but longing to indulge in this very superior version of chai, I took to the stove with a zealous determination to recreate the magic of Kashmir in my South West London home kitchen, albeit a lower fat rendition.

Image Cooking Time: approx. 1-2 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbl kashmiri or green tea leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup half fat milk
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup half fat evaporated milk (opional)
  • 10-12 cardamon pods, split and used whole or seeds crushed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of ground pistachios (optional)
  • pinch of ground almonds (optional)

How to brew

  1. Bring 2 cup of water to boil.
  2. Add the tea leaves and bring to boil.
  3. Cover and simmer for 60-90 minutes until the liquid turns a reddish colour.
  4. Add the baking soda and shake, then bring back to boil.
  5. Add the another cup of water (preferably chilled), pouring it in from a height.
  6. Shift the liquid between the pan and another pan or jug, by pouring the liquid from a height from one to the other – this process enhances the flavour and pink colour.
  7. Return to boil.
  8. Strain the liquid and return to the pan.
  9. Bring back to boil and add the milk and sugar.
  10. Gently bring to boil and simmer for 5 mins.
  11. Pour in the evaporated milk (if using) and again bring to boil and simmer for 1-2 mins.
  12. Pour into your favourite chai mugs and top with crushed nuts if desired.

Gluten-Free Braised Ginger Chicken

This is a quick and easy recipe which can be whipped on any week night and served with plain boiled rice to make a delicious, low fat meal.

Cooking Time: approx. 40 mins
Serves: 2

IngredientsGinger Chicken

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 green pepper, julienned
  • 1 small onion, cut into eights
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1″ piece fresh, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

How to cook

  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized lidded pan.
  2. Add the chicken and cook on a high heat until sealed.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken pieces and stir in curry powder, black pepper and salt.
  7. Cover and cook until chicken is tender.