Chana Masala with Coconut Rice

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A quick and easy week night meal and a great way of working with ingredients that you already have in the cupboard. I played around with the herbs and spices until my taste buds were satisfied!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
•2tbsp veg oil
•1 onion, roughly chopped
•2 garlic cloves, crushed
•2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
•Pinch of chilli flakes
•1/2 tsp tumeric
•1 tsp ground coriander
•2 tsp ground cumin
•2 tsp garam masala
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•Juice of 1/4 lemon
•1 tbsp tomato purée
•1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
•A couple of large handfuls of chopped spinach
•1/2 cup of water
•A handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Coconut Rice
•1/2 cup of brown rice
•2 cups of water
•25g creamed coconut
•1 green cardamom pod, crushed to release the seeds

Method
1) Heat the oil and gently simmer the onion and garlic. After 2 minutes, add the ginger and chilli, shortly followed by the other herbs and spices, stirring frequently.
2) Mix in the lemon juice and tomato purée then add the chickpeas. Stir in the spinach until it begins to wilt. Add the water and mix well. Taste and adjust flavours or add more water if necessary.

Coconut Rice
1) Rinse the rice in cold water for 30 seconds before adding to the pan of boiling water. Stir in the creamed coconut and leave to boil on a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Drain and rinse for 10 seconds and then return to the pan, stir in the cardamom seeds, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
* Note that the above steps apply for wholegrain rice. Times and water quantities will need to be adjusted for white rice.

Serve the masala and rice together, sprinkling the fresh coriander on top. Perfect!

Seafood-less Spaghetti

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Seafood spaghetti without the seafood part…a bit pointless right? Well whenever my boyfriend makes himself some sort or seafood pasta dish, I find myself incredibly jealous. Not because of the fishy smell that permeates the room or the sight of him de-shelling prawns with his fingers. What I love is the combination of ingredients used in such dishes and the aromas they create when they cook together. I started thinking about a suitable vegan replacement and not just the obvious choice of tofu.

In the end I decided on the trusty aubergine; it brings it’s own level of flavour to the dish and the chewy textures makes a great seafood replacement.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
•4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•1 medium aubergine
•200g spaghetti
•3 cloves of garlic, crushed
•1 tsp chilli flakes
•150g of cherry tomatoes, halved
•300ml white wine
•A handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
•Black pepper to season
•1/2 a lemon

Method
1) Slice the aubergine vertically into three slices and then cut those in half.

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2) Heat half the oil in a frying pan and gently sizzle the aubergine slices until golden on each side; you want them soft but not cremated! Once this is done, place on kitchen roll to absorb the oil and set aside.
3) Add the spaghetti to a pan of boiling water and cook until al dente. In the meantime, heat the remaining oil and gently sauté the garlic and chilli, shortly followed by the cherry tomatoes.
4) Once the tomatoes begin to soften slightly, add the drained spaghetti and wine, mixing well. Cut the aubergine into 2cm thick strips and then stir them into the dish.
5) Season with pepper, add the chopped parsley and serve. Place 1/4 of a lemon on each dish and enjoy!

Spicy Bean Soup

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As the temperature begins to plummet, it becomes clear that autumn is well and truly on the way. With a chilly breeze in the air outside, it’s left me craving warm and hearty soups once again, such is the inspiration behind this delicious spicy bean soup.

This huge batch made enough for 6 generous portions. That’s lunch sorted for the rest of the week!

INGREDIENTS
•2 tbsp veg oil
•1 onion, roughly chopped
•3 crushed garlic cloves
•2 tbsp ground cumin
•2 tsp ground coriander
•chilli flakes…depends how hot you like it. I ended up using 2tbsp in this big batch!
•1 tbsp tomato purée
•1kg chopped tomatoes-I used this container from Sainsbury’s rather than buying multiple tins

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•1 tsp caster sugar
•1l veg stock
•1kg mixed beans-I used red kidney, butter and cannellini beans, drained
•salt and pepper to season
•fresh coriander to serve

METHOD
1) Heat the oil and gently cook the onion and garlic on a low setting.
2) Add the coriander, cumin and chilli flakes, stirring gently for 2 minutes.
3) Stir in the tomato purée, followed by the chopped tomatoes and sugar.
4) Pour in the stock and taste, adding more herbs and spices if necessary.
5) Transfer to a food processor or use a hand-held blender to form a rich, smooth soup. Add more stock if preferred.

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6) Add the the beans and season. Leave to cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.

When serving up, sprinkle on some fresh chopped coriander. Simple!

Vegetarian Breakfast: spicy avocado & halloumi on toasted sourdough w/tasty beans

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A while back, I never would have considered having avocado and halloumi for breakfast. However, after having these as part of the vegetarian breakfast at the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park, I was inspired to make this concoction for breakfast last week.

I bought this delicious sourdough loaf from the Spence Bakery on Stoke Newington Church Street and gently toasted it under the grill.

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I used very soft and ripe avocados (1 makes enough for 2 servings) and mashed a mixed it with a drizzle of olive oil, 2 pinches of chilli flakes and the juice of half a lime.

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I spread half of the mixture on a thick slice of the sourdough, refrigerating the rest for the next day. I lightly grilled a slice of halloumi and placed this on top.

For the beans, I heated a tbsp of olive oil and added half a crushed garlic clove and pinches of cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper. I then added a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of drained butter beans (cannellini beans would also work well).

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I left this to simmer on a low heat for around 15 mins, regularly tasting and adding more herbs and spices until I was satisfied with the taste. I added half of the beans to my dish and saved the rest for the following day.

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To wash this down, I had one of my boyfriend’s delicious fruit smoothies that he made by blitzing some frozen mixed berries, tinned pineapple and a banana in a blender.

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A great way to start the day and I remained full right up until dinner time…which is very unusual for me and my big appetite!

Next time I’m going to try a vegan alternative, replacing the halloumi with a grilled portobello mushroom!