recipes vegan

Simple pumpkin & lentil curry (vegan)

I found this recipe in The Age a long time ago & it’s very good. With lentils I don’t worry too much if I don’t have the correct variety, I use whatever is to hand rather than go out on a special shopping expedition!

200g chana dhal (lentils)

vege oil

either 1 large onion sliced or a handful of those fried onion flakes available in asian stores

1.5 tsp cumin seeds

2 small red chillies, slit

600-700g pumpkin (= 1 butternut) chopped into 2cm chunks (life’s too short to peel a pumpkin!)

20 curry leaves

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

Cook the dhal in 500mL water in a covered pan 30 mins or until nearly cooked.

If life isn’t too short to fry an onion fry the onion with a pinch of salt until brown in a medium saucepan, remove the onion & then fry the cumin seeds in the same pan for a few seconds, before tipping in the dhal. Add the chilli, pumpkin, some salt & cover. Simmer stirring regularly until the pumpkin is soft. Add the curry leaves. Heat the mustard seeds in a dry small pan until they crackle & then tip into the pumpkin mix. Serve with the fried onion on top with steamed basmati rice.

food recipes vegan

Rice with pulses (one dish vegan meal), much nicer than the ‘saffron rice’ at Indian restaurants

150g split yellow lentils

vege oil

60g dessicated coconut soaked for an hour in 60mL water (I’m going to try it dry next time)

7 dried red chillies

2tsp corainder seeds

1 tsp split chickpeas (chana dal)

1 tsp split black lentils (urid dal)

1tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

500g basmati rice

50g tamarind soaked in 120mL boiling water for 10mins, then strained to get the water


vege oil

1tsp mustard seeds

10 curry leaves

3 tbs chopped raw cashew nuts (the original recipe uses 1 tbs, but they’re very good!)

Boil the yellow lentils in 450mL water until tender, drain.

Fry the coconut, chillies, corainder seeds, extra lentils, turmeric, fenugreek in oil in a frying pan until fragrant. Cool, then grind to a fine powder (so I bashed them until I lost patience in a mortar & pestle).

Rinse the rice, simmer it in 1L salted water for approx 20mins.

Then add the yellow lentils, tamarind water & coconut etc. powder. Cook for a further 5mins, add a little more water if necessary.

For the tempering heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop add the curry leaves & cashew nuts & cook, stirring, until the nuts turn golden brown. Pour the mixture over the cooked rice, mix & serve hot.

food recipes vegan

Ginger Parkin – no eggs, vegan suitable if you use margarine & soy milk!

mmmm cake! This is exceedingly easy to make & tastes a bit like anzac biscuits! It’s nice & moist and would work as a pudding with custard. Don’t worry the mix is really liquid, it turns out fine!

Preheat the over to 150 deg.

Melt in the microwave a mix of:

200mL milk

2 tbs golden syrup

110g butter

In a bowl or mixer mix:

175g plain flour

200g sugar (raw would be nice, white is fine though!)

125g porridge oats

1.5 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp bicarb

grated one thumbs length of fresh ginger (optional) – with ginger the exact amount is unimportant – more = stronger ginger flavour!

Mix the melted ingredients into the dry using whisk or mixer.

Bake in a buttered loaf tin for 45 mins. I hate lining tins, but this is a sticky cake so I’d have to recommend lining the base of this one!

Makes 16 squares.


Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz Grenache 2003 South Australia 15.5% abv. approx. £10 = well ok some sites say $14.40

This is a serious beast of a wine. I loved it & in researching the price in Oz just now I discovered that Robert Parker did too, giving it 92 points (which equates to something like ‘a wine of exceptional quality’). Massive rich fruit (black cherry & plum) underlaid with spicey notes from the fruit & the clean but not obtrusive oak – cinnamon, vanilla, black pepper, star anise. A lovely well balanced wine, relatively long & offers a lot for the price & remarkably it does manage to carry off that level of alcohol. Not so my head 🙁

And of course available at Uncorked.  If you’re wondering, no I don’t have links to this company, they’re just my most local decent wine store who always help me out, which I appreciate!

Or if you’re in oz & don’t mind taking a gamble on the vintage these people seem outrageously affordable:



Massaya Classic 2005 Lebanon Bekaa Valley 14.5% abv Cinsault 60%, Cab sav. 20% Shiraz 20% £8

Lebanese wine!

A first for me, and since firsts are becoming more rare wine-wise I was very excited! On buying it my nice salesman at Uncorked told me that it is completely unlike other Lebanese wines – consistent, unoxidised, nice to drink… How could I resist?

Now I haven’t drunk a cinsault based wine before so this was doubly exciting.

At first I had it at room temperature & it seemed excessively alcoholic, however after cooling in the fridge and breathing a little it became something extremely interesting – medium + bodied, medium flavour intensity, medium length, medium + acidity and with tannins coming ever increasingly to the fore. With notes of violet and licorice I could see why the South Africans decided to cross this with Pinot Noir to produce their major red grape, Pinotage! All in all this was a clean, simple wine, a bit high in alcohol, but that’s unavoidable with red wine at the moment, with unusual fruit, very enjoyable!

I would pair this with duck, salmon or maybe tomato based vegetarian meals – let me know if anything better occurs to you. Apart from my head the next day, perfect for a Wednesday night wine.


RIP Tiffany

My poor little pud expired recently. She was only 19. I thought she had a few more years in her 🙁


Durban Roast Chicken

p60 approx Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry BibleI love this recipe – it’s incredibly simple to make – skin a chicken, whizz up 7 ingredients in the blender, marinate for 30mins, roast for 1.1h. Now you’ll call me a bit of a philistine, but the flavour reminds me a bit of the time I ate Nando’s back in 2001 (ginger, chilli). At any rate it’s lovely & very easy.


I HATE TESCO’s!!!!!!!!!!!!! (a letter from me to them)

Dear poor sod who has to read these letters,

I am not happy for several reasons.

I ordered wine from your wine club, one case of which I really wanted, 3 cases of which I thought might be useful. First I had to go through the rigmarole of being bounced back to the book a delivery slot page because one of the cases I ordered was not in stock. That’s ok I like entering my mastercard details on ‘secure’ websites several times because your programming departments are not capable of putting in a bright red error message ‘attention one of these items is not in stock’, whcih every other online store does manage.

And today it arrives, after a week’s delay & lo & behold, the one case I actually wanted to drink is not amongst the delivery ‘sorry but it’s not available today’. Now correct me if this is an unreasonable expectation – but surely my order from Weds last week reserved me one of the cases that were then most definitely in stock! Could you not have contacted me to let me know that my order would not go through because that item was missing & give me the option of taking a part delivery today or pushing back my delivery date even further, as most responsible retailers manage to do?????

Now whilst I’m already complaining, I’d like to cover a few more points about your online retailing and your in-store experience.

Why was it impossible for me to order the wine club wines & groceries together? I could have both shopping baskets running concurrently! I have to say that although you may be cheaper than ocado on 1000 items or something, they do not charge me £5 delivery for £20 of groceries as I can make a wine order at the same time.

Also why is it on the ‘contact us’ page of your website you list all number of telephone numbers, postal addresses, but no email address – could it be that you’re afraid of being swamped by a tidal wave of complaints, by people like myself who do not feel like waiting 10 minutes on hold to make their complaint?

Now getting back to the organisation of your stores I have a few small suggestions based on my experience of shopping at the hell hole known as Surrey Quays: please put the herbs & spices in one aisle, pick an aisle, I don’t care which, but I have so far located them in 4 different places in your store, which makes it very difficult for me the shopper to get what I want (a result of which is that I currently buy my groceries exclusively through Ocado, as entering your store causes me several hours of rage); and two, this one is really simple, please put the items in the aisles where they’re listed on the overhead signs. I’m not a mind-reader, how was I to guess that cream would not be located in the cream aisle, but in the ham aisle?

Ok, that gets all that off my chest, however I’m left with 2 cases of wine I didn’t particularly want & not the wine I want. I should really have heeded all the online information about avoiding Tesco.

Kind Regards,
Helen Coker


Turkey – but where are the gobblecocks???

Initially I was tempted to write off all Turkish food with the simple advice – just don’t go there! But then I remembered the sweets….. Each town seems to have it’s own specialty, whcih are all well represented in the Otogar (bas station), which was great! My absolute favourite was Bursa, home of candied chestnuts, mmmm…. Sorry i’ll try not to dribble on the keyboard! The main focus seemed to be little chocolates which were a paste of chocolate & candied chestnut with a piece of chestnut in the middle – divine! And the stall where I bought mine gave me not one, but 2 free as samples….. And then of course the candied chestnuts themselves!!!! (You may not be aware but in France/Belgium these little gems are valued higher than the best quality chocolates!) And when we moved onto other towns there was Safranbolu, specialising in saffron turkish delight, dried fig towns, fairy floss towns, wonderful!

Getting back to the savoury food though – it’s incredible how much tasteless white bread is eaten over there! Breakfast is an egg boiled for 20mins, bread, tomato, cucumber, olives & depending on where you are either local feta or some sort of spreadable abomination…. And dinner was meat. Barbequed. And more meat. And for our lucky vegetarian friend the odd vegetables cooked until their colour & texture changed….. For a few days it’s possible to live on gozleme (a dough rolled out really thin, filled with potato & chilli, or feta & mint, or of course meat, then cooked on a big shield shaped grill) and manti – turkish ravioli made from the same dough in yoghurt with a meat & tomato sauce on top, but even they pale after a while.

Though I suppose I should mention the amazing Roman etc. ruins (Troy & Ephesis), spectacular scenery (Cappadocia – it’s definitely worth the balloon trip!) and the beautiful (stone) beaches, as aside fromt he food it really is worth visiting.


Hello world!

Well I’m sitting here at the desk looking out onto the dripping Eco-Park, I figure it’s as good a time as ever to start my blog. I’m feeling a bit hyperthermic, as I’m trying to dry 3 loads of washing in the lounge-room using the heater. It’ll be a great day when we finally get a washer dryer with functioning dryer!

I landed in London the day before yesterday, everything’s back to normal, as long as you consider waking at 5.30am & passing out at 9.30pm normal… Yesterday we had a chilled out day around town – after rising we ambled on down to the ferry to discover ours just zipping off. So we sat & read the Guardian (provided by the ferry company) by the river. ALthough we got a ‘river roamer’ (daily ticket) we only went the one stop across the water to Canary Wharf, destination Paul’s boulangerie…. Truly my favourite London bakery (although admittedly in view of the shortage of bakeries this isn’t saying much) – I love the place because it’s got beautifully rough looking flans & tartes, a great hot chocolate in a fairly average looking continually stirring glass warmer thingie, perfect croissants (my petit pain au chocolat was a delight – crisp pastry enclosing chunks of good quality dark chocolate, mmm) and canelets…. I have to go back & resample their canelets because after the petit pain they did seem a trifle sweet, but I’ve been dreaming of them ever since the day I first discovered them in a parisian bakery in 1995. On the downside the French/Algerian/Spanish staff are clearly hired for looks & cheap wages rather than huge amounts of skill, but hey, who’d try to order a Macchiato in London??? We’re talking a town where people buy their coffee in vac packs, the Tchibo representative I spoke to said that although they began offering what the Germans demand (freshly ground coffee beans at the right level of fineness for their individual coffee making machine), they have decided to never again try this in England, as they threw out more than they sold 🙁 When I was in Australia I got the right beans correctly ground even in Lilydale (of all places), which tells you a lot about the difference in coffee cultures. But I shall deal with my pain in silence 😉

Then we went across to Wapping to visit the Wapping Project – a very cool old hydro power station, that is now a nice little restaurant with an all Australian wine list (including 1998 Grange & 1991 – if my memory is correct – Hill of Grace). I decided to go for something tried & true so the 2002 Balnaves CS it was, well integrated oak that served to give a backbone to the fat fruit rather than overpower it. The fruit itself was very ripe and sweet, a sort of compote of the black berries with a slight bloodiness and a little bit of green to balance out the power. I probably would have preferred it a little older, but c’est la vie, a 1998 was also on the wine list so my mistake! I started off with a plate of really very nice Spanish charcuterie, the highlight for me was probably the Pata Negra chorizo, although the plain chorizo was also excellent. It came with caper berries (love that texture with the seeds – it reminded me of why I like Okra) and olives, and the second waitress even came around to ask if I’d like some bread to go with it. Julian’s salt pepper & lime calamari was lovely – perfectly cooked. For mains I had a slightly rare vanilla glazed duck breast (did they let it sit a moment before serving?) topped with strips of deep fried ginger (actually very nice) & a grilled half peach (now I know what to do with the next lot of ‘ripen at home’ rock hard tesco fruit). And for dessert I had a sorbet of elderflower & stone fruits which was lovely, especially as I was feeling pretty full at that stage! I teamed that with a completely inappropriate 1978 Calvados, because I love calvados – which was absolutely amazing – it had the nose of a really ripe apple, very sweet and in the mouth it tasted like Kingston Black for my palate (and potentially my memory of the Kingston black cider, which is what I’m drawing this from is a little hazy) with its balance between sweet fruit & tannins from the oak. And then a lingering finish too, mmmm. I could only watch as Julian devoured the Valrhona chocolate fondue, though I couldn’t resist the chocolate dunked blackberry.

Ambience: 10 (crisp linen table cloths, light & airy, spacious)

Food: 8 (competent ‘Mod Oz’ style using great ingredients)

Service: 9/5 (one score for each waiter)

Then we continued cruising up & down the river – a truly relaxing way to start my time over here.