Golden Triangles

Golden Triangles 1

I came up with this recipe as I really wanted to incorporate some dried fruit with a normal / traditional barfi. I also wanted to try and make a healthy sweet, using natural sugars from the fruit and very little ghee. Traditionally Indian sweets are full of calories because of the amount of sugar and ghee that are used, so I wanted to create some thing which used the bare minimum of these ingredients. The other criteria I was trying to fulfil is to make a simple, easy and quick recipe. I chose apricots because of their taste and texture, not to mention the health benefits. Dried apricots are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, high in fibre, potassium and low in fat. Apart from perhaps warding of cancer, heart disease and protecting eyesight, apricots also help increase the immune system as it is a good source of iron, which is essential for the renewal of red blood cells. These cells oxygenate the body, helping to stop feeling lethargic and tired. This is essential especially as the cold weather is setting in and days are starting to get shorter, we need to have feel good foods:)

Having decided on the fruit I started thinking about how to encase it and what other  ingredients, if any, to add. So I visualised the colour of the fruit and what other colours would go with it and what shape to give it etc. I just wanted to use the ingredients I had at home at the time. So I added some chocolate chips (which I now feel can be left out) and thought I would coat it with the barfi mixture with added flavour of cocoa. The triangle shape came about because this summer one of my husband’s aunties had given a gadget to make shaped mithai, which I wanted to use so that is why the shape is a triangular. The gadget is essential a V shaped long metal strip with a less than 90 degree bend along its length. Although the final shape I ended up making was by pressing roll of the mixture by hand into a triangle shape, so the strip of metal did not help in making the final shape. Everyone who has tried this sweet/mithai has loved and enjoyed it, so I am glad I thought out of the box and experimented with this sweet for diwali.

Golden Triangles 2

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Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcake

In recent years there are a few buzz words associated with all the lovely fruits & vegetables available, that are used to tell us why we should eat them. The key phrases are super food, rich in antioxidants, & packed full of vitamins and so on. I feel that all food is good for us, consumed in the correct quantities and eaten on a regular basis. There has been much research that has been conducted on strawberries and the results suggest that it is rich in vitamin C, is filled with antioxidants that help fight cancer and heart disease, rich in folic acid and are also good at helping reduce tartar as well as maintaining healthy skin. With or without the title of super food, strawberries are a great tasting food which gives us an uplifting effect and can satisfy any sweet tooth.

This recipe for Strawberry Cupcakes was requested from my dear son for some months now. He asked my younger sister to make a strawberry chocolate cake, so she attempted it earlier this year. She adapted her normal recipe for eggless chocolate cake and added strawberry jam and syrup. This experiment did not quite work as the cake sank! I then had a go with the yoghurt cake recipe and added strawberry syrup and cocoa. It smelt great but the taste was not there. Then at a recent food festival, I had tried some strawberry cake/bread which was vegan. They had used a lot of chopped fresh fruit to get taste and texture. Then I also saw a few recipes which inspired me, there was this Blueberry coffee cake & Eggless Vanilla Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins.

From all of that research and experimenting, I made the following recipe which was a good first attempt. The cup cakes were moist and had the correct balance of fruit and sugar. My husband said they were more like muffins than cupcakes, but all the same tasted great. I was glad that I took up the challenge and ventured into creating this recipe.

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Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies2

Each year as the mango season is upon us we enjoy eating it just as it is meant to be – plain and simple. The other favourite is to have mango pulp (ras) with our meal (it is great served with puri and any curry). Just so as we can prolong the taste and enjoy them well after the season has ended, it is always a good idea to freeze the pulp.

In the Indian culture mangoes are considered to be the king of all fruits, a place which is rightly deserved as the taste, aroma and juice of the fruit are all beyond comparison. In recent times it has become quite the trend to label the food that we eat as super foods or foods that are good for us. In my opinion all food if eaten in the correct quantity is a super food as it is all good for us, some may have qualities that other fruits don’t but that does not mean we eat any less of it. Having said that mangoes are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and dietary minerals &  fibre, hence qualifying as a ideal superfruit.

When I made these ice lollies last year, with my son, they were with just plain mango. So this year I thought I will do two batches, one with just mango and the other with some other fruit mixed in. So I thought of the 5 a day campaign and tried to incorporate as many fruits as I had at the time. Four out of five is not bad and considering they are all rich in vitamin C, A & E and in potassium, phytochemicals, and nutrients. This is one of the main reasons why I like to make these kind of foods at home as I know that it is 100% fruit, not from concentrate and not ladled with sugar and addatives. I know exactly what goes into the lollies and I control the content of fruit and sugar. This is exactly how  it was when we young, as there were no sell by dates on the food we ate nor did it give us any allergies or side effects. The fact that it is so quick and easy to make should be the other deciding factor in making these lollies.

Coincidently when we made the lollies, my son was learning about freezing water to make ice, so this was a perfect way of teaching him the process of creating something that he enjoys eating. He was very excited as a result to see the process, however was quite anxious as the waiting time was too long (freezing time).

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Greek Salad

Greek Salad

When the weather warms up it is always good to have foods that are going to fill us up, be good for us and are simple, easy and fuss free dishes to create. This salad is just that, it ticks all those boxes and the great flavours are an added bonus. I cannot remember how I came about this combination, but I have been making this salad for some years and it is great as an accompanying dish as well as on it’s own for a light lunch. A few basic ingredients put together to create a dish that even children enjoy, as my son loves having this salad.
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Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Pesto

sun-dried-tomato-basil-pesto

I only started using pesto after marriage and used to buy ready made jars. It was a convenient thing to do, as at the time I was on an interior design course on Tuesday evenings, so that was a pasta day 🙂 . It used to be a chore to find the vegetarian version of this classic Italian dish. Then about three or four years back I had bought a basil plant for the kitchen window sill and it had produces so many basil leaves, so I thought I should venture into making my own pesto. It was successful and so simple to make that I decided I would buy a basil plant each Spring and make my own pesto.

From looking at various TV chefs and other recipes, as well as a friend (who lives in Italy) telling me that I do not need to add cheese or pine nuts (as they are so expensive), just normal salted nuts are fine – I started making my own version as below. To make it more creamy I sometimes use almond, cashew, and pistachios nuts powder.

There are many uses for pesto, not only as a pasta sauce but also as a dressing for salads, for adding flavour to soups, a spread for sandwiches and roasted mushroom or eggplant. You can also create many different versions like I did by adding the sun-dried tomatoes. Other herbs and vegetables can also be added to give it an extra added flavour.

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Vegetarian Paella

vegetarian-paella

I was asked by my dear brother in-law some time back if there is such a thing as a vegetarian paella and I said yes just replace the meat or fish with vegetables.  I had never made it before but always enjoyed the passionate description given by TV chefs when they make or try paella. Every time I would say to myself I should make it but never did venture out to try and find a recipe or recreate a traditional paella with just vegetables.

So as he was coming around for dinner one day I thought  let me try making it. I looked at various different  traditional recipes. Some had just seafood and others with game and seafood mixed together. Certain things that came out of my research were that there is usually wine, saffron, and specific types of rice used. However the method changes per region and family recipe, much like the Indian biryani or the Creole rice dish jambalaya, which I make often. So I started thinking of the vegetables that I could use, or that would have similar colours to a seafood paella – orange, black, green, red etc. It turned out to be a tasty dish which we all enjoyed.

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Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous

moroccan-style-vegetables-with-couscous

On a recent visit to my local library I met a friend who was looking for ideas on hosting a dinner party for a few friends. She was thinking of a Moroccan theme so in my enthusiasm  I suggested serving Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous as it is so simple to make and would fit the theme she was thinking of.

I first saw a version of this recipe a couple of years back in a supermarket magazine where it was giving ideas on how to use a tagine and this was the vegetarian option. The vegetables were slightly different in the magazine so when I recreated it at home, I just used the vegetables that I had and it turned out to be really good. As I don’t have a tagine I just roasted the vegetables in the oven.

This recipe reminds me of the time when we went on a desert safari excursion on a trip to Dubai.  The desert  safari included a traditional meal and this dish was served as the vegetarian option. The vegetables were less tasty but the idea of the couscous I got from there so I mixed the two together to create this meal.

This dish of Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous works well for large gatherings where you want to try and have fuss free cooking plus it would be good to take on picnics as it tastes good when served cold. The best thing about this dish is the fact that not only is it simple to make,  especially for a large group, but it is vibrantly colourful, which to me is brilliant as half of the way we enjoy food comes from the visual impact.

I was told by Parita from Parita’s World about this event on Moroccan food hosted by Home Cook Recipes and originated by Holy Cow!

I look forward to seeing other vegetarian/vegan recipes from this event.

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