Grilled Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary (and a Le Creuset Giveaway)

‘Where do you see yourself in five years time?’ His slim reading glasses perched at the tip of his nose, recording every word I said with an emphatic scrawl of his pencil. I thought about it long, and hard. It is always the simplest questions that seem to have the hardest answers.

‘I see myself doing something that I love, something which I enjoy, something for which I am excited to wake up for everyday. But most importantly, something where I’m learning new things everyday.’ Yes, that was my answer. His face was expressionless, not a hint of emotion. Giving nothing away.

That afternoon, he called to say I had got the job. My first professional job as an optometrist. I learned on my very first day that one of the strongest reasons why I got the job was on the basis of that question I had answered. ‘Most people said they see themselves working up the ladder, managing there own store, earning a certain amount. But you will not succeed unless you enjoy what you do. You will never be good at it unless you love it. And that’s why I hired you over anyone else.’

My answer still stands today. Although I no longer work as an optometrist, I make sure whatever I do excites me, ignites a passion in me, satisfies me. Something which I look forward to, that gives me a sense of achievement. Something that I love and enjoy.

And that is exactly what photography does for me. I love creating images, artwork. Arranging plates and food to make the photograph look as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Carefully choosing props to enhance the food. Deciding on a color scheme, what angle to shoot the food from. Where to place the herbs.

From the day I picked up my point and shoot till now, that same fires burns within me. That same enthusiasm. That same feeling of trying a new adventure. And that is exactly what I did this last week. I decided to try something completely- shooting meat. And to complicate matters a little more, shooting it in a style I’m not familiar with.

I decided to try out high contrast ‘dark’ photography- completely out of style and character for me. It was a a fun journey though. Picking dark props, painting moody backdrops, using black reflectors and making friends with shadows.

So where are the somber images you ask? Well, they just weren’t good enough to publish. As I said, it’s a work in progress, a learning curve. But with a recipe that involves, enthusiasm, hard work and perseverance, I’m sure it won’t be long before you see them on the blog.

Even if the photos were not up to par, the lamb cutlets certainly were. Juicy, spicy, lots of garlic and that grilled smoky flavor. And that is one of the reasons why I love my Le Creuset skillet grill. So much so, that I’m happy to give away one Signature Square Skillet Grill ($165) in a color of your choice.

To enter, leave a comment here telling me what is your favorite food to grill. The required entry must be done otherwise any extra entries will not count.

For more chances to win:
1. Follow @sipsandspoonful on Twitter and tweet the following: Enter to #win a @LeCreuset Signature Skillet Grill (ARV $165) from @sipsandspoonful #giveaway #lecreuset
2.  ‘Like’ Sips and Spoonfuls on Facebook
3.  Follow @LeCreuset on Twitter
4.  Subscribe to Sips and Spoonfuls by email or RSS feed (top right corner of the page)

PLEASE REMEMBER: Leave a separate comment for EACH of your entries or only one entry will be counted.

If you already follow me on Twitter and Facebook and/or already subscribe to Sips and Spoonfuls let me know as well, since this counts as an entry.

Giveaway starts on 24/05/2012 and will run until 04/06/2012 at 11:59 pm PST.

Official Rules:
Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
To enter leave a comment.
One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random. I will email the winner and they will have up to 3 days to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.
One winner will be selected at random to receive a Signature Square Sillet Grill ($165).
The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
Sponsors are as follows: Le Creuset,
Above competition rules, regulations and guidelines from Gourmande in the Kitchen. 

Grilled Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

8 trimmed lamb chops
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs soya sauce
4 birds eye chilies, minced (vary the amount depending on how much spice you can handle)
a few fresh rosemary sprigs
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
olive oil for frying

Marinate the lamb chops in all the ingredients. You can do this overnight or at least an hour before. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in your skillet grill over heat. Place your lamb chops in batches on the grill for 2-3 minutes on the first side. Turn over and cook for a further minute or so (cooking time will depend on how well done you like your meat). Remove from the grill pan and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 3.


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The Colors of Tanzania and Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble

Come, pull up a chair. Get cozy and comfortable. I’m going to take you on a little journey and share with you a small part of me. A glimpse into my childhood, where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where my parents still live, where the big five can be found and peacocks roam free, where the ocean has a hundred hues of blue, a haven of peace. This is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

There is so much to tell you about Dar es Salaam- this post won’t even scratch the surface. Exotic, colorful, lush, tropical. As soon as you land and the rush of hot hair hits you hard, you know you’ve arrived.

We had glorious sunshine followed by tremendous outpours. Such stark contrasts. Lush green vegetation cocooned by the deep azure seas followed by arid and red dry land. Every day we had a different activity planned. Naturally, we spent a lot of time at the various local beaches. But Dar es Salaam has so much more to offer.  

There were visits to crowded local markets in Kinondoni where you would find more exotic produce such as avocados and the crunchiest variety of pears I have ever eaten. Or the more local market in Kariakoo where vendors stalls are literally piled on top of another, produce piled like little mountains on each table. And sellers hollering and jostling to get your attention. The place is bustling.

We visited The Slipway- a local tourist district from where you can take fishing trips, cruise the Indian ocean, eat local fare and just watch the sun set. We bought some hand crafted wooden souveniers and local ground coffee to bring back for friends. I was thrilled to catch a man skillfully chisseling at some wood to make a delicate carving. We were enamoured with the colorful and saturated ‘tinga tinga’ paintings- a style of painting developed in Dar es Salaam.

Then there was the food, oh the street food. The grilled corn or ‘makaai’ sold at every street corner-vigorously scrubbed with keffir lime and a generous helping of chili powder and salt. Deep fried ‘mihogo’ (cassava) drenched in a speciality sauce of local scotch bonnet pepper and tomatoes. And one of my favorites- mishkaki. Tender pieces of lamb eaten right off the skewer. Coconut water after each meal- ‘ngumu kyasi, maji tamu’ (slightly hard, but with sweet water we would tell the vendor). Yes, every day. Those are the little things we miss here.

We made sure to eat at least one meal a day at home. Infact, the first meal we had as soon as we came back from the airport had been planned weeks in advance. Slow cooked chicken stew which is then barbequed and simmered again in a rich creamy coconut sauce, ‘kuku paka’ similar to this. With sticky coconut rice on the side. Typical African fare.

As much as we ate at home, we ventured to quaint local restaurants from time to time. Especially those dotted along the beaches. At Mediterraneo, we ate fresh off the boat kingfish which was simply grilled. No spice, no fuss but full of flavor with a side of pickled garlic and scotch bonnet peppers. Definitely one to replicate at home. But that’s another post. 

Evenings were spent feeding the peacocks that wandered from the fauna and flora garden we live next to. Maryam wasn’t keen at first but she quickly warmed to their cries in the evenings. She was chasing them in the garden and before we knew it, they were more weary of her. At night, the days’ culinary adventures were digested with a few slices of papaya sprinkled with passion fruit and a dash of smoked paprika.

We were also lucky enough to visit a dairy farm on our last day. It wasn’t on the agenda, sort of just happened by accident. On the way to a picnic at my aunt’s beach house, I came across a herd of cows- a beautiful sea of velvety browns and blacks. A masaai was leading them to a nearby field to graze. You could tell they were happy cows. 

I made a few quick calls and it seemed we were destined to visit. The farm was owned by a lively Greek man who just happened to be a family friend. His passion for providing his family an open and green space, a place where nature roams freely, a place nature meets nurture led him to develop the organic farm.

Each of the twenty five cows are milked manually. Completely non commercial, the milk produced is given to local school children in the area. When he wants to show a token of appreciation to someone, he will gift them a cow. Anyone who knows local Tanzanians would now how much how heartfelt and revered a gift like that is. Such an inspiring man.

And so we watched a cow being milked and its baby calf being fed from a huge bottle. We were treated to smooth and creamy homemade yoghurt. Eaten Greek style with a dollop of honey. Simple, wholesome and so moreish. We were made to feel part of their family. It was a day to remember. The perfect end to a wonderful trip.

And so we are back in Dubai. But not empty handed. We have these memories locked in our hearts, our bellies are full with the beautiful meals we had and these photographs to remember good times spent. And these pineapples. I knew they would somehow find their way into my suitcase from the moment I had my first bite. Their sweet fragrance still lingers in my suitcase.

And that is not all I brought back. There was fiery red scotch bonnet peppers- fiery in appearance and taste. ‘Mali maao’, local keffir limes that I have been sprinkling on anything in sight. Very strong and pungent with a crackled green skin. We’ll be cooking with them in the next few days and I can’t wait to show you the results.

I mentioned this crumble before and that is the first thing I made when I came back, to celebrate the foods of my country. I added some seasonal mango and toasted coconut in the crumble. If you haven’t added coconut into your crumble before, you must. Tanzanian produce with exotic local flavors. Each bite brings back good times…..until we visit again.

Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble

1 large mango- cubed
1 pmedium pineappe- cubed
3 tbs muscivado sugar
1 vanilla pod desseded
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup muscavado sugar
5 tbs cold butter- cubed
1/2 cup dessicated coconut- toasted
3 tbs ice cold water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Toss the first four ingredients on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter until it just resembles bread crumbs. Incorporate the sugar and coconut. Add the water and rake gently with a fork until some clumps are formed. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Line your baking tray or ramekins with fruit and top with crumble. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (time will depend on size of each serving). Serve hot with custard, cream or ice cream and toasted coconut flakes.

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Strawberry and Pistachio Cake

I am in bed typing this post, a worn out 20 year old throw that I used since I was 5 years old comforting me and a pineapple and mango coconut crumble sitting on the bedside table. Piping hot, so much so, that you can you still see the juice bubbling. With custard on the side. Crumble with custard. ALWAYS with custard.

We have had stormy weather on and off and today is one of those days. You may have even heard on the news last week when Tanzania was issued a tsunami warning. Incessant rain, dull grey skies, a few strikes of thunder. Such a contrast to the bright blues I posted about last week.

Maryam is enthralled with this weather and glued to the window, sticking her hands out of the grill to catch a few drops every now and then, giddy with excitement. You see, Dubai has never experienced rain like this before. Capturing little sparkly drops in her tiny palms.

I am still in Dar es Salaam, having extended my trip by a week. Although I have been taking photo after photo to show you my second home, my country, I have really missed this space. This blog, writing. YOU. And so, here I am. Doing what I love.

You must be wondering then where these bright spring inspired images of strawberries have come from? It was a strawberries and pistachio cake I baked a few weeks ago before leaving Dubai. BBC Good Food Middle East did a short interview with me for their April issue and asked for a spring inspired recipe.
I knew I wanted to do a fruity dessert. Light and refreshing, oozing with fruit. And so this strawberry and pistachio cake was born. A simple cake elevated by using ground pistachio meal and raw pistachio milk. Then generously studded with tiny fragrant berries on top. The red of the strawberries and the jade green pistachios makes for a striking visual picture.

No frosting needed here- just a simple dusting of icing sugar and a warm cup of tea. And as for that crumble I mentioned earlier- well I’ve already polished that down. Slurping the last bit with creamy custard as I type. But I’m sure I’ll be making it again when I head back home. To savor the taste and the memories of home. With Tanzanian pineapples naturally that I hope to take back with me.
Catch you when I’m back in Dubai.
Strawberry Pistachio Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp soda bicarbonate
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbs butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup raw pistachio milk (can use normal milk)
4 tbs pistachio meal
Strawberries, hulled and cut into half (approx 1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and grease a 9 inch cake pan with butter. In a bowl, mix together the first four ingredients. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape sides of the bowl if necessary. With the mixer speed on low, add the pistachio milk alternating with the flour mixture until just mixed. Stir in the pistachio meal. Put batter into cake pan and place strawberry halves on top of the batter. Press them in very slightly into the batter. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

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Jambo from Tanzania. I’m here in Dar es Salaam visiting my parents and introducing Hassan to the rest of the family. We have been here a week now and enjoying every minute of being pampered by my mom.

Besides visiting the beautiful beaches and relaxing, my aunt has taken me to local markets. Markets that have been there for years but ones I’ve never visited before, ones that have never interested me before now.

I have taken my loyal companion everywhere- my camera. Clicked over 500 photos already and it hasn’t even been a week yet. Here is a teaser. I will write a more detailed post when I return. I can’t wait to show you my country, the azure beaches, the farm fresh produce and the wilderness.

And as for the lychees- I packed some for my mom all the way from Dubai. Isn’ that pinkish purple hue regal? It has always been a tradition to take exotic foods back home for the family. And of course, in return, we always bring back what is seasonal.

Wonder what fruits will make it into my suitcase this time- perhaps some of these ripe yellow pineapples?

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Beet and Potato Chips with Thyme Rock Salt

‘What inspires you to cook?’

That must be the most frequently asked question I have come across since I began blogging. For me, it really depends on a number of factors. I find inspiration everywhere, in everything.

My first foray into cooking started in my teens. I think it was a chocolate cake I made. Inspiration for that was ease. Easy to make, easy to clean up, easy to eat. When responsibility set in and I was living on my own and fending for myself, it was familiarity. Comfort. Meals that we ate regularly, nothing fancy. Recipes that weren’t written down but came from the heart. recipes that didn’t have any accurate measurements but were ball parked. Recipes that sometimes didn’t even have names, only descriptions and memories.

Then I moved to Dubai. I wanted a change in direction and pace in my life, take things slower. As I decided to not work for sometime, I unleashed my creativity in the kitchen. Inspiration then came from boredom. Having too much time on my hands, I scoured the internet, numerous food blogs. I tore recipes out of newspapers and magazines were covered with post it notes. It was the years of discovering new recipes as well as my love of being in the kitchen.

Motherhood came next and that was life changing. Inspiration came from wanting to provide the best for my child, my family. Healthy, from scratch, wholesome, homemade. Those words are where I drew my inspiration from.

Once I started this food blog, inspiration really flowed. From all directions, everywhere. Recipes developed as I read other food blogs, as I discovered and photographed unusual ingredients, tried out new dishes on a restaurant menu.

Currently, one of my main sources of inspiration comes from shopping trips- be it the Farmer’s market or plain grocery shopping. I’m always on the lookout for anything that looks unusual, exciting. Something colorful, eye catching.

And recently, it is these beets that have had me enthralled. They may seem common to you but I only discovered beets recently. Correction- I only began to LIKE beets recently. Before this, I had only eaten them raw in a salad. That earthy taste did not leave much of an impression.

But when I saw these beautiful baby beets at the market. I knew they would photograph wonderfully. There was my inspiration lying on the table at the farmer’s market. Phenomenal shades of red and purple hidden from the world beneath a rustic and raw earthy skin.

Since I’m not a connoiseur when it comes to cooking with beets, I decided simplicity was the key. Beet chips sounded like a good idea and since I had made potato chips in the past, I applied the same method. I knew Maryam would love this little beauties- my most important source of inspiration. Don’t we all aspire to please our families.

And she did. She couldn’t believe that the chips were homemade. Sprinkled with thyme and rock salt, they are the perfect mid afternoon snack. Or anytime snack really. All that was missing was a crackly plastic bag to eat them out of. 

So tell me, what is your source of inspiration?

Beet and Potato Chips with Thyme Rock Salt

Himalayan sea salt
Fresh thyme leaves
Oil for deep frying (canola or sunflower oil)

Wash and dry the beets and potatoes. Finely slice with a mandolin. Make sure the slices are dry. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beet and potato slices one at a time so they don’t stick to one another. Don’t overcrowd the oil. Fry, stirring every so often until they are crispy. Drain on a paper towel and immediately sprinkle with thyme salt. Serve when it cools down.
To make thyme salt, grind Himalayan sea salt with thyme leaves in a pestle and mortar.
Notes: Beets will shrink when fried so you are better off using larger beets. I left the skin on beets and potatoes but that is personal preference.

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Cardamom Crepes With Rhubarb Compote

‘What’s that Mamma?’ she asked, a curious twinkle in her eye. I glanced over to see where her finger was pointing. ‘That’s rhubarb,’ I said. An incredulous giggle escaped her. ‘That’s not Rabab!’ It was my turn to laugh. Rabab is a friend of Maryams and she certainly doesn’t look like a ruby red sword sitting comfortably on the supermarket shelf.

She grabbed the rhubarb from the shelf- ‘See Mamma, this isn’t Rabab.’ I explained to her that rhubarb was actually a fruit. One that we hadn’t eaten or experimented with ever. ‘Like strawberries?’ Hmmmmm, not quite. We put it into the trolley and I promised we would transform it into something magical.

When we got home, I had forgotten but she had not. ‘Can I eat Rabab?’ As I carefully washed the woody stalk, I wondered what I would do with it. I have never eaten or cooked with rhubarb so I knew I wanted to do something simple.

And what could be more simple than compote- sophisticated and uncomplicated. Maryam grabbed a small piece and put it into her mouth. The pained expression on her face told me she wasn’t a fan. ‘Once it’s cooked, it will taste much nicer, sweeter.’

I quickly tossed the pretty rubies in sugar whilst throwing together the rest of the ingredients in the blender for the crepes. In no time at all, we had paper thin cardamom crepes topped with the prettiest pink compote I have ever seen. Some finely chopped pistachios to garnish….just because everything tastes better with nuts.

Maryam was unsure about putting the cooked rhubarb into her mouth- once bitten, twice shy, no? With some reassurance, she did. Although there wasn’t that pained expression on her face, she didn’t ask for seconds. That’s OK though. She doesn’t have to like every fruit. At least she tried though.

The crepes, however, she loved. Topped with plain icing sugar. Gobble gobble gobble and then lick lick lick the dust of icing sugar from around her lips. ‘Yummy in my tummy,’ she squealed. I had never heard that expression from her before but it’s once I hope to hear many many times.

And so that is the story of how we both discovered rhubarb!

Cardamom Crepes with Rhubarb Compote

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup milk
½ cup soda water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
½ tsp cardamom powder
Melted butter for frying
2 cups chopped rhubarb
¼ cup caster sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a blender and mix until the batter is smooth and lump free. If lumps remain, sieve the batter. Let it rest for at least an hour or more.

In a non stick frying pan set over medium heat, ladle approximately 1/3 cup batter at a time (the amount will depend on how big your pan is) and swirl the batter around the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. You can add a few drops of butter to help lift the edges off to flip the pancake over. Cook for a further minute on the other side. Serve immediately with icing sugar or rhubarb compote.
To make the compote, cook the rhubarb and sugar until the rhubarb is soft (less than 5 minutes). Serve with crepes warm.
Makes 10 crepes.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart with Peanut Praline Brittle

Every once in a while, I have the urge to declutter and cleanse. Every part of my life- from my make up bag to the pantry as well as the fridge and freezer. There is nothing better than opening your wardrobe to find all your clothes arranged neatly according to color. Or opening the kitchen cupboard and staring in awe at all the jars labeled alphabetically.

Yes, you could say I am rather obsessed with being a clean freak- everything must be orderly and organised. This year, Maryam joined in my spring cleaning spree. Together, we went through her toys and systematically sorted out what she loves to play with and what is currently tossed to one side. As I kept putting more and mroe toys to the ‘chairty’ pile, every time I turned my head the pile became smaller and smaller.

She would putting the toys back saying she still ‘needed’ them. In the end, we collectively agreed on what toys she would be giving away to those less fortunate. It was a great activity to do together, to make her realise the importance of charity, of giving, of sharing. Yet, it also made me more conscious of how wasteful we can be.

Perhaps the best part of cleaning sprees is that moment of discovery. When you find hidden money in the sofa, when you stumble upon an outfit that is almost as good as new, when leftover tart dough is unearthed from the depths of your freezer.

And that is exactly how this tart came to be. I had made this tart dough a while back when I made these pear crumble tarts for Mowie’s magazine. I decided to top them with smooth and velvety chocolate mousse and a kiss of peanut butter. Then you bite into it and there is a crackling explosion in your mouth. It’s the crackle of peanut praline brittle. It was the icing on the cake after a hard day of cleaning.

Me and Maryam quietly ate one each at the end of the day, a twinkle of excitement in both our eyes. She- because she chanced upon a singing stuffed toy in her toy box. I- because I discovered a long lost yellow dress, perfect for spring.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart with Peanut Praline Brittle

Tart dough:
200 gms butter, room temperature
100 gms sugar
1 egg
300- 350 gms all purpose flour

Mousse filling:
200 ml whipping cream
1 tbs peanut butter
50 gms milk chocolate
100 gms dark chocolate

Peanut praline brittle:
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs water

To make tart bases, cream the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment on your mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in 300 grams of flour. If the mixture doesn’t clean the sides of the bowl, keep adding more flour a tablespoon at a time until it does. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Grease your tart bases and roll out the tart dough using minimal flour to a 1/4 inch thickness. Fill the tart bases and cut off any excess (can be stored in the freezer). Pierce the tarts with a fork and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Place the peanuts on baking paper placed over a baking tray. To make the peanut praline brittle, mix the sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to the boil (do NOT stir but swirl the pan). Boil for a minute and reduce the heat. Simmer mixture until it turns a golden color. Quickly pour the syrup over the peanuts and tilt the tray to coat all the peanuts. Work quickly as the toffee sets very quickly. Refrigerate until completely cool. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times.

To make the mousse, whip the cream to soft peaks. Heat chocolate and peanut butter until melted and fully incorporated over a bain marie (can use a microwave). Cool completely and quickly fold into the whipped cream. Spread into the cooled tart bases and sprinkle with peanut praline brittle. Can serve as is or refrigerate and serve cold.

Makes 6 tarts. Extra dough can be frozen.

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Sesame Egg Noodles with Stir Fried Vegetables

As I brought up Blogger on my screen to write this post, my mind went blank for a few seconds. I forgot what I was to write about. What dish had I photographed? What images had I edited? What exactly did we have for dinner the other night?

You see, I have been having many sleepless nights. I’m certainly not used to it. Maryam started sleeping through the night when she was a mere two months. I never knew what it was like to be up every few hours to nurse, change diapers, burp, rinse and repeat.

Hassan is different though. He certainly wakes more often and it’s already taking its toll on me. I just haven’t had the time to test recipes as I did previously and baking has taken a back seat. Nor for long though as I have had interesting flavour combinations I’ve been brainstorming in those late night feeding sessions. Pistachio and chocolate doughnuts, date and nut tea cakes, baklava ice cream sandwich anyone?

For now though, I hope I can entice you with our everyday meals. Like this quick stir fry. Organic egg noodles tossed in sesame oil and whatever vegetables you have on the side. Ready in less than ten minutes and eaten even faster. The perfect meal to prepare when time and energy isn’t on your side.

As I quickly whipped this meal in the kitchen, Maryam made her own version of ‘loodles’ with playdough. We then stole a few quiet moments to have this simple lunch together. It was good- with plenty of crunch left in the vegetables. We sucked up the ‘loodles’ like vacuums.

I’m hoping to find some time this week to bring some of those baking ideas I’ve been dreaming about to reality this week. Soon I hope.

Sesame Egg Noodles with Stir Fried Vegetables

200 grams organic egg noodles (or 3 servings)
1 tbs sunflower oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs tomato ketchup
1 tbs sweet soya sauce
1/4 cup soya sauce
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
Vegetables of choice slit into thin strips – I used half a carrot, half a green pepper and two spring onions (the bulb as well as the greens)
1 tbs sesame oil
Sesame seeds to garnish

Cook noodles according to manufacturer’s description. Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a wok and add crushed garlic. After 30 seconds or so, add all the ingredients except the vegetables and sesame oil. Let the sauce come to a boil and turn the heat off. Add the cooked noodles, sesame oil and vegetables and cover the wok for at least 10 minutes (the steam from within will soften the vegetables but still leave them with enough crunch). Toss and serve hot sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Serves 3. 

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Purple Cauliflower Fritters with Garlic and Coriander Dressing

Our weekends are usually unplanned at the moment. Unless we have a kids birthday party to attend (which has been the case for the last three weekends!), we play it by ear. It very much depends on what time the kids wake and how soon can breakfast be ready and eaten. Very casual, very spontaneous.

Kids. Plural. I’m still getting used to that. Still unbelievable to think I’m a mama of two now. But reality certainly hits when you’ve got two to bathe, two to dress, two to feed, two to pacify, two to put to sleep. One to entertain on the weekends for now.

We haven’t been able to visit the farmer’s market since it started in November lasy year. First it was the end of my pregnancy and then Hassan was born. But this weekend, I made a prior plan. We decided to have breakfast at the souk to make sure we reached on time- a beautiful shakshouka is what we had. A rich sauce made from roasted peppers, tomatoes and herbs, topped with poached eggs. Crusty bread to scoop it all up.

I had made a long list of fresh vegetables I wanted to buy. Strawberries and beets topped that list and I was very much disappointed to find neither. However, I then laid eyes on the most beautiful hue of purple. Rich, velvety, royal. I’m not a fan of cauliflower but the color drew me in as I picked one up with no clue as to what I’d do with this striking find.

And so on the journey home, I planned and plotted. I settled on these crisp cauliflower fritters. Lightly seasoned with cumin and chili flakes, it is only when you dip them into the garlic and coriander dressing does the flavour burst into your mouth. It was perfect over a bed of baby spinach.

And so that is how our weekend was spent- a royal breakfast followed by a royal find which eventually transformed itself into a perfect weekend lunch.

Click on recipe card to print

Purple Cauliflower Fritters with Garlic and Coriander Dressing

1 cauliflower, cut into small even florets
1/2 cup white flour
2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
salt, to taste
140 ml sparkling water

Oil for deep frying

1 small bunch coriander
2 tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 green chilies (optional)
salt, to taste

Blanch the cauliflower florets in salted boiling water for a minute and then shock in ice cold water. Make the batter by mixing all the ingredients together. Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat until hot. Dip florets into battter and shake off excess batter. Fry the florets for a minute or so until it starts to change color. Drain on a kitchen towel.

Serve immediately as they become soggy after a while. Serve on a bed of greens (I used baby spinach) and garlic coriander dressing.

To make the dressing, blend all the ingredients together. You may need to use 1-2 tbs of water.

Serves 2.

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When My Camera Found a Purple Cauliflower

Sometimes in life, things go by unnoticed. Beautiful yet simple, we miss them because we don’t have the time to sit and stare. Things that are often overlooked by our eyes but not by a camera. I have never been a fan of cauliflower- it had never held my attention really. That is, until this beautiful purple hue caught the attention of my camera. Had it not been for photography, it would have passed me by. For that, I will always be grateful to my humble camera.

My mind is buzzing with recipes- a cauliflower pakora or simply roasted and tossed with greens? How do YOU like to eat yours?

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