Glue. That’s what a bowl of oats meant to me growing up in boarding school. At breakfast, I could turn the bowl of porridge over my head and nothing. The gloop would hold its ground, strong and tenacious. I almost always never touched it. Oat porridge re-entered my life later on when I overcame my memories to try new oats recipes – both sweet and savoury. I’m partial to a bowl of savoury oats because I think it is incredibly versatile. It would so gladden my culinary cockles if this post encourages cooks to look beyond pre-flavoured instant oats (loaded with sodium and preservatives) to create their own imaginative oats recipes.
Today’s post on whole wheat flatbread is inspired by the ‘green lady’. I see her almost every Saturday at our local food market. She’s often brushing away truant grains of soil dusting the table under bunches of beetroot; their darkly glistening, purple-veined leaves nudging fat cucumbers jostling for space with fire engine-red peppadews, jars of fresh horseradish, chilli oil and trays of speckled quail eggs. A ready smile rounds off her robust Russian accent as she greets us and extols the freshness of her 100 percent organic vegetables and eggs. I love digging through the big boxes beside her table for spinach and Tuscan kale, crisp and shiny with health, and also for coriander, dill, parsley, rosemary and thyme, herbaceous and passionately aromatic, tied in neat little bunches. A Rolodex of recipes goes off in my brain and as always, there’s no getting away without buying some. Like invisible, secret spells, these little leaves add lift and nuance to any dish.
On a beach somewhere, sand between my toes, salt on my lips and the sea breeze teasing my hair, I’m lulled into a gentle somnolence by the blue rhythm of the waves. A tall, cold glass, a meaty slider and a book keep me company and I don’t know what time it is. Truth is, I’m in the middle of a heatwave, bored by chores, plotting an imaginary escape plan. I do that sometimes, don’t you? When reality bites hard, we all seek a cloud to float away on. But I tire quickly of too many clouds floating away, leaving me behind. The heat, I realise is shutting me down – making me complain about the weather and stifling my spirit. I need to cook something I could eat on that beach. Maybe a slider since I was daydreaming of one.
Butternut squash is the king of autumn vegetables and I love it when it’s simply drizzled with olive oil, oven-roasted and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. This gives it a sweet and caramelly
On any given day you are likely to find at least five types of fresh and/or dried chillies in my fridge and kitchen cupboard. I simply love the flavour variations of different chillies as does my family. Some are mild and sweet, some smoky, others fiery hot and still others that have a peppery tickle. Substituting one kind for another can drastically alter a dish, so it’s important to use the right kind of chilly as specified by a recipe.
Try avocados and caramelised onions on toast. It’s a little bite of paradise, I promise. It’s a great go-to meal on lazy days when you want a yumminess with minimal effort. Slicing and caramelising the onions is about the only task that takes about 15 minutes (actually you can do the crossword while the onions acquire their golden tan). It’s just oil (any light oil will do), onions and a splash of balsamic towards the end to deepen their sweetness. Add a dressing on top of the avocados if you wish but even without it’s delicious.
Roast potatoes just got bold, brassy and bodacious in the fashion of Bollywood films. Dressed up in a rich spice mix, these roast potatoes can hold their own unlike plain salted roast potatoes. The recipe, adapted from Pushpesh Pant’s India Cookbook,is a fried potato dish from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh known for its fiery cuisine. Cooking for a party, I figured it was much easier and less labour-intensive to roast the potatoes instead of frying them, I also tweaked the quantities of the spices a teeny-weeny bit because the quantities in the original recipe would produce a much milder flavour than I wanted (you can add or reduce the red chillies to your taste).
This is one of those dishes that just happen. It began with half a head of cauliflower and half a head of broccoli. Thought I’d roast them and make a pasta salad. Then remembered that I had some lovely, tangy sundried tomatoes, which would lift the relatively blander flavours of the
Love, love, love butternut squash. It’s sweet, aromatic and yummy in savoury dishes. The other day, I needed to make a quick lunch of something substantial to go with either plain steamed rice or rotis. Came up with this super simple and delicious butternut squash and coconut milk curry. It needs very few ingredients and is versatile too if you want to throw in some boneless chicken or other vegetables like carrots, peas, potatoes etc. This curry always perfumes my kitchen with the delicate fragrances of cinnamon and cardamom, which I love because it whets everyone’s appetite and makes me happy to be home cooking for my family.