Dhals (dal, daal, dahl) are perfect comfort food for the winter months.  Dahls, made with lentils and spice, make a healthy meal providing a source of  protein, while the vegetables, spice and herb ingredients supply valuable vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

To create a warming dahl, it is recommended that it is cooked long and slow for maximum creaminess.  Spicy, aromatic tarka can be added to make a tasty garnish.  You can experiment with this recipe, you can make it as thin as soup or as thick as porridge.  You can add spices and vegetables to this versatile dish.

Serves 4

Prep 15-2o mins / Cooking 1.5 hours

Ingredients

400g mung dal (skinned yellow split mung beans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4cm piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into 4
1 tbsp turmeric
4 small green chillies, 2 finely chopped, 2 left whole
2 tbsp ghee or groundnut oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed chilli
Fresh coriander, chopped to serve

Method

1. Wash the dal until the water runs clear, then drain and put in a large pan and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and chopped chillies to the pan with a pinch of salt, turn down the heat, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer very gently for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the dal has broken down completely and become creamy.

3. Add boiling water or reduce the dal further to achieve your preferred consistency if necessary, and season to taste.  You can add 1 tsp salt but season to your taste.  Add the whole chillies and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and add the shallots. Stir until golden and beginning to crisp, then add the dried spices and cook for a couple of minutes until the mustard seeds are beginning to pop. Tip over the dal, stir in, and top with chopped coriander.

5. You can add vegetables to this recipe if you wish to experiment, sweet potatoes, potatoes, spinach.  Or oven-roast a whole cauliflower, chopped into small pieces, for 15-2o minutes and stir the roasted cauliflower into the cooked dhal, top with the tarka and serve.

6. Serve with plain rice or flatbreads.

 

An intensely flavoured curry with the recipe to make your own Sri Lankan curry powder.  The curry has a twist with the addition of preserved lemons.  If you don’t have preserved lemons you can substitute with a whole lemon sliced thinly and salted with half a teaspoon of sea salt.

If you are short on time you can use a shop-bought garam masala, adding an extra half-teaspoon of ground cloves, a tablespoon of mustard seeds and the zest of a lemon.  Serve this dish with warm bread and rice, top with crunchy cashews and a squeeze of lemon.

Sri Lankan Curry Powder

This recipe makes enough for a couple of curries and will keep for up to two months.  If you don’t think you will use the powder in this time, half the recipe.

As the spices are toasted, this powder works well sprinkled over warm, buttered chapatis or naans or on top of yoghurt or even on mashed avocado.

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 10 mins

Makes a small jar

Ingredients

2 tbsp. basmati rice
2 whole dried red chillies or 1/2 tsp dried red chilli
4 tbsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. black mustard seeds
1 tbsp. whole cloves
1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds
2 heaped tsp fennel seeds
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

Method:

  1. Put the rice in a dry nonstick large pan and put over a medium heat until it starts to turn light brown.
  2. Add the spices and dried chilli and toast for three minutes, until they also start to brown, toast and become aromatic.
  3. Keep moving the pan to prevent the spices from burning.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, then leave to cool.
  4. Once cooled, use a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar to grind them into a powder and keep in an airtight jar.

Sri Lankan Potato, Coconut and Chard Curry

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 55 mins

Ingredients

3 tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
3 onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 large thumb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
600g small potatoes
2 whole preserved lemons, roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp. Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
400ml (1 tin) coconut milk
400ml (1 tin) tomatoes
1 lemon
Rotis or chapatis and rice, to serve

For the cashews

100g cashew nuts
1/2 tsp red chilli or a pinch of dried chilli
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Put a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat, add two tablespoons of the oil and the onions, and cook until soft, sticky and sweet (15-20 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for another couple of minutes over a high heat, then add the potatoes, preserved lemons and curry powder, and cook for another three to four minutes, stirring all the time.
  3. Add the coconut milk and the tinned tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and again.
  4. While the curry is simmering, toast the cashews in a frying pan over a medium heat until golden, toss in the spices and toast for 30 seconds more.  Turn off the heat, add the maple syrup and salt, and scoop onto a plate for serving.
  5. Pull the chard leaves off the stems, tear the leaves into large bite sized pieces and finely chop the stalks.  Once the curry has had 20 minutes, add the chard and the stalks, and cook for a final 10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Serve the curry with the bread and rice, and top with crunchy cashews and a good squeeze of lemon.

Recipe inspiration: Anna Jones, The Guardian Feast Magazine

Chickpeas and Halloumi Recipe

A tasty twist for cooking chickpeas.  Using ras el hanout, a north-African mix, to spice up the recipe.  An alternative way of cooking halloumi and vegans can substitute the halloumi for a block of firm tofu and skip the honey.  Serve the dish with a drizzle of honey and flatbreads.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 mins / Cooking: 20 mins

Ingredients

2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
1 heaped tsp ras el hanout
1 unwaxed orange
Olive oil
240g block halloumi
3 tbsp. tahini
250g purple sprouting or tenderstem broccoli
1 large handful pumpkin seeds
Seeds from one pomegranate
1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked
1 heaped tsp honey, to serve
4 flatbreads, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
  2. Spread the chickpeas on a large roasting tray, sprinkle with the ras el hanout, the zest and juice of half the orange (grate the remaining zest into a bowl), drizzle with olive oil and season.  Roast for 10 minutes.
  3. Score the top of the halloumi block with 5mm deep criss-crosses, then set aside.  In a bowl or jar, mix the tahini, remaining orange zest and juice, and a tablespoon of olive oil – if the tahini is thick you may need a really good stir.
  4. Once the chickpeas have had 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and turn on the grill.  Add the halloumi, broccoli, pumpkin seeds & the tahini & orange mix to the tray, toss everything together, so it is all coated in the orangey spiced oil, then put under the grill for 10 minutes, until the halloumi is golden, the broccoli spears are softened and the florets are crisp.
  5. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and parsley, then drizzle the halloumi with honey and serve with flatbreads.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones, The Modern Cook in The Guardian Feast.

A tasty recipe for Spring using seasonal asparagus, radishes, spring onions and peas.  The mustard and orange dressing gives the dish some zing!  Serve with wild rice, fresh bread or new potatoes.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 20 mins

Ingredients

4 eggs
250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1 bunch of spring onions
150g radishes, halved with tops left on
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
200g fresh or frozen peas
1 small bunch of dill, leaves picked

For the dressing

Juice and zest of 1 unwaxed orange
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
  2. Boil the eggs in a pan of salted water for 5 mins, then drain and run under the cold tap to cool.  Peel when cool enough to handle.
  3. Arrange the asparagus, spring onions, radishes and garlic on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Season, then roast for 10-15 mins until the asparagus is just tender and the radishes still have a little bite.  Add the peas while everything is still hot and toss (pre-cook the peas if you are using frozen).
  4. Meanwhile, make the dressing.  Add all the dressing ingredients to a jar or small bowl.  Season, then shake or whisk to mix.  Toss the warm salad in a little of the dressing.
  5. Divide between four plates with the soft boiled eggs sliced in half, and top with the dill and a drizzle of the dressing.
  6. Serve with wild rice, fresh bread or new potatoes.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones, The Modern Cook in The Guardian Feast.

chickpea and swiss chard

A super quick dish to prepare and perfect comfort food.  Serve with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, chopped coriander leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and rice.

Serves 2

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 30 mins

Ingredients

60ml olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
Salt & Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
1.5 tsp ground cumin
200g swiss chard, cut into 1cm thick strips
1 tin of chickpeas (400g), drained and rinsed
1 lemon cut in half – one half juiced to get 1 tbsp, the other cut into 2 wedges to serve
80g Greek yoghurt or non-dairy yoghurt
5g coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Optional:  Serve with rice

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6.
  2. In a bowl, toss the carrots with two tablespoons of oil, a quarter teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
  3. Spread out on an oven tray lined with baking paper, then roast for 20 mins.  They should still be a little crunchy.
  4. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat, then fry the onion, caraway and cumin for 10 minutes.  Stirring occasionally until golden brown.  Add the swiss chard, cooked carrots, chickpeas, 75ml water, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.  Mix through and cook for 5 minutes until the swiss chard is soft and just about all of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, then serve with a generous spoonful of yoghurt, a sprinkling of coriander, a drizzle of oil and a wedge of lemon.  For extra comfort during winter you can serve with rice.
Recipe

Seasonal food is fresher and tends to be tastier and more nutritious.  Eating seasonal food helps us to reconnect with nature’s cycles and can help us lead a more eco friendly life by reducing the airmiles of our food.

This Beetroot & Ginger Soup is a perfect winter warmer.  Beetroot is high in betacartotene and folic acid.  This root vegetable helps cleanse the liver and can assist in lowering incidences of heart disease.

Depending on the weather, you can add extra warmth to the soup by adding more ginger.  Ginger is useful if you feel a cold coming on or if you wish to warm up.  It also helps soothe digestion.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 45 mins

Ingredients

3 tbsp oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 green chilli, roughly chopped
3 gloves of garlic chopped
2cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated (add more ginger if you wish to give the soup an extra warmth & kick)
500g beetroot, scrubbed and grated or finely chopped
1 small potato (about 100g), peeled and grated
750mls vegetable stock
Salt, to taste
Plain yoghurt or non-dairy yoghurt (for garnish)
Crusty bread

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the chopped onion and fry for 10 minutes over a gentle heat until softened. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for a further 3 minutes.
  2. Add the beetroot and potato, stir the ingredients.  Add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Leave the soup to cool slightly, blend until smooth and add salt to taste.
  4. Serve the soup with a topping of natural or non-dairy yoghurt and crusty bread.
Soup Recipe

This Supergreen Soup has been popular at our Summer Yoga Retreats and also on the Menopause, Wellness and Vitality Workshop this year.  Christine, our wonderful retreat cook, took inspiration for this recipe from Davina McCall’s ‘Sugar Free in a Hurry’ recipe book.

Christine has adapted the recipe stating “I have adapted it to suit my taste, after all, recipes are there to inspire and shouldn’t been seen as prescriptive“.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 15 mins

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil, I like rice bran
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
2 gloves of garlic chopped
20 grams fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
250g broccoli roughly chopped into florets
250gs leafy greens, I use a combination of kale and spinach
½ block of creamed coconut
750mls vegetable stock
grated zest of 1 lime plus the juice
2 – 3 tbsps chopped coriander

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the chopped onion and fry for 5-10 minutes over a gentle heat until softened. Add the chilli, garlic, ginger and turmeric and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli, greens and stock to the pan and cook until the broccoli has just softened. Blitz with a stick blender until completely smooth and then add the creamed coconut, using the blender if required. Add the lime zest and juice to taste.
  3. Serve the soup with a little extra chopped coriander scattered over the top.

 

smoked mackerel

I love this super simple light smoked mackerel pate recipe.  It’s really quick to make and adds lots of flavour to salads, picnics and regular meals such as jacket potatoes.  Also experiment with the flavours – try smoked mackerel with black pepper and chilli, replace the lemons with lime, add capers, dill or a squeeze of honey.

Serves 6

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 60 mins

Ingredients

480g smoked mackerel fillets, skin and any bones removed, flesh broken into pieces (I quite often use peppered smoked mackerel)
225g creme fraiche
2 tbsp. horseradish sauce
1/2 lemon juiced and zested
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in a processor and mix until smooth.
  2. Spoon the pate into your selected serving dishes – individual dishes or one dish if you are serving as part of a salad or main dish.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.
  4. This is a versatile recipe – serve individually with toast as a starter, use as a topping for jacket potatoes, use as part of a salad, include in your picnic.
Recipe

Here’s another recipe from the recommended Davina’s Sugar-Free in a Hurry recipe book.

I’m still enjoying working my way through this book and experimenting with the recipes. I love mackerel and it is a great fish as it is available locally here.  The apple dressing didn’t seem to have enough zing for me so I will experiment further with that perhaps trying a ginger, chilli & lime dressing, a beetroot dressing or a zingy lemon dressing.

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 30 mins

Ingredients

600g butternut squash, cut into cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 sprigs of thyme
50g walnut halves
90g lamb’s lettuce
2 smoked mackerel fillets, skin and any bones removed, flesh broken into pieces
salt & black pepper

Apple dressing

1 Granny Smith Apple
3 tbsp. walnut oil or olive oil
2 tbsp. cider vinegar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/ Fan 180C/Gas 6.  Put the cubes of squash on a shallow baking tray, spacing them well apart.  Drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle the thyme and season well.  Roast the squash for 25 minutes until it’s tender and golden.  Then scatter the walnut halves and roast for a further 5 minutes.
  2. To make the dressing, grate the apple into a bowl and then add the oil, cider vinegar and seasoning.
  3. Divide the lamb’s lettuce between 4 plates and top with the roasted squash, walnuts and tray juices.  Scatter over the pieces of mackerel, then pour over the apple dressing and serve immediately.

Davinia’s book includes Light Meal & Soups, Speedy Salads, Easy Suppers, Weekend Specials, Guilt-free Snacks.  Plus a 5 week meal plan for a guide to eating less sugar and eating wholesome home-cooked food.

Recipe credit: Davina McCall

healthy recipe

healthy recipe

Our Bala Brook cook, Christine, recently recommended Davina’s Sugar-Free in a Hurry recipe book.  Christine is an avid foodie and is always trying new recipes.  Upon this recommendation I’ve bought this book and I’m enjoying making the recipes which are super simple with easily accessible ingredients.  Even if you are not following a sugar-free diet this book gives a wide selection of healthy meal options.  This weekend  I made this butternut squash & couscous salad.  Really quick and simple plus any leftovers can be used for packed lunches.  I served this as a side dish to oven roasted fish.

Serves 4
Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 30 mins

Ingredients

1 butternut squash
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
200g barley couscous
200ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
small handful of mint leaves, chopped
30g pumpkin seeds
2 tsp chilli sauce (sriracha is good)
150g plain yogurt
salt & black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/ Fan 180C/Gas 6.  Top and tail the butternut squash and cut it in half. [Tip Leave the skin on to save time] Remove the seeds, then cut the squash into long wedges and put them in a roasting tin with the onion.  Drizzle with some of the oil, scatter over the cinnamon and paprika and season well.  Roast for 30 minutes or until the squash and onion wedges are tender and slightly charred, turning the squash halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough of the hot stock to just cover it.  Add the rest of the oil and the lemon zest.  Cover the bowl and set the couscous aside for 5 minutes or until it has absorbed the stock.  Fluff it up with a fork and then stir in the lemon juice and half the chopped mint.
  3. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over a low heat for about 2 minutes or until crisp and lightly golden.
  4. Tip the couscous on to a serving dish and top with the roasted squash and onion.  Mix the chilli sauce with the yogurt in a small jug, then pour this over the salad.  Scatter over the pumpkin seeds and the rest of the chopped mint and serve.

Davinia’s book includes Light Meal & Soups, Speedy Salads, Easy Suppers, Weekend Specials, Guilt-free Snacks.  Plus a 5 week meal plan for a guide to eating less sugar and eating wholesome home-cooked food.

Recipe credit: Davina McCall