Pistachio nuts for cardamom kheer recipe

I love cardamom kheer, it takes me right back to India.  One of my favourite places to order kheer is Ayur Pak restaurant in Tapovan, Rishikesh.  This restaurant is a hidden delight and is a tranquil place to escape the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets.  The lush gardens are an escape from the sunshine and the peaceful environment always helps to reset your system.

The tasty and homely food served at Ayur Pak is prepared in the Ayurveda tradition.  It is believed that food is a medicine and their nutritious dishes are prepared following Ayurveda principles.  Their dishes avoid strong tastes and are simple and light.

Ayur Pak’s traditional kheer dish is highly recommended as well as the nourishing pumpkin soup with a side order of paratha.

Make your own tasty cardamom kheer at home.  It’s a super easy recipe to make.

Serves 4

Prep 5 mins / Cooking 30 mins / Chill in fridge


100g basmati rice
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
90g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp to decorate
700ml whole milk, plus extra if needed
150ml double cream
20g unsalted pistachios
1.5 tbsp dried edible flowers (such as marigold, roses, lavender)


1.  Place the rice, spices, sugar, milk and cream in a large saucepan and set over a medium-low heat.  Bring to the boil ensuring it doesn’t boil over.

2.  Then turn heat down and cook for about 30 mins, stirring frequently to make sure the rice doesn’t stick and burn.  If the mixture is getting too dry, add more milk, a little at a time.

3. When the rice is nearly done, it will start to bubble more furiously and will need more attention.  When the the rice is tender (ie there’s no chalkiness in the centre), take it off the heat and spoon into a serving bowl.

4. Allow to cool, then cover and chill in the fridge until cold.

5. Just before serving, grind the remaining tablespoon of sugar, the pistachios and the editable flowers as finely as you can, using a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder.  Sprinkle over the top, and serve.

Recipe Inspiration: Meera Sodha – ‘East’ cookbook

A quick, easy and cheap meal for one, perfect meal for winter evenings.

Serves 1

Prep 10 mins / Cooking 20 mins


20cm x 20cm square of puff pastry
2 tbsp passata
Salt and black pepper
1 pinch dried oregano
1/4 mozzarella ball, torn into chunks
A few spinach leaves
1 egg


1.  Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.

2.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.  Using a plate as a guide, cut out a big circle from the puff pastry square.  Place it on the lined backing tray and lightly score a 1 cm border around the edge with a knife, making sure not to cut all the way through.  Prick the inner circle a few times with a fork to stop it rising in the oven.

3. Spread the passata on to the pastry, within the border, season, sprinkle the oregano and then add the mozzarella and the spinach.

4. Bake for about 10 minutes, then take out of the oven, crack the egg in the middle and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the egg white is cooked but the yolk is still runny.

Serve with green salad leaves and a salad dressing of your choice (balsamic & olive oil, french dressing, lemon vinaigrette, honey & mustard dressing).

It’s been a while since I last posted to my blog.  2020 has been a challenging year for all and I hope you are doing ok.  I have been cooking and creating throughout the year so I thought I would post one of my favourite dishes.

Harissa shakshuka is a versatile dish that can be served for brunch, lunch or dinner.  It’s a substantial meal thanks to the eggs and beans.  You can use whatever you have handy in the cupboard in terms of beans, white beans, mixed beans or any bean combination.

This dish has minimal preparation time so provides a nourishing meal at times when you are busy or need a quick meal option.  You’ll need a large roasting tray to easily hold all of the ingredients.

Serves 6

Prep 5 mins / Cooking 60 mins


2 x 400g tins cannellini beans (or beans of your choice)
100ml olive oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 heads of garlic, sliced in half
3 tbsp rose harissa
Salt and black pepper
6 medium eggs
150g feta (optional)
Soft herbs such as parsley and mint (optional)

Serve with chunky fresh bread


1.  Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

2.  Drain and rinse the beans.  Drizzle the olive oil into a large baking tray and add the beans, mixing them well.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, harissa and 400ml water, season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast for one hour, until the sauce is thickened.  Remove from the oven.

4. Turn on the grill as high as it will go.  Make six holes in the tomato and bean mixture with the back of a spoon, then break an egg into each hole.  Season and place under the grill for two minutes, until the eggs are just set.

5. Remove, scatter over the herbs and crumble the feta on top.

Serve straight away with chunky fresh bread to mop up the sauce.


Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm is one of my all time favourite beauty products.  It’s an amazing all-round product that leaves your skin feeling radiant and it smells divine.

Here’s a DIY version of this beauty balm.  These natural ingredients are easy to buy and it’s really simple to make at a fraction of the price.

The ingredients help to repair, strengthen and balance the skin. This beauty balm can be used as a cleanser, moisturiser, hair conditioner, after sun balm and hand moisturiser.

This all-rounder natural beauty balm makes a perfect gift.

Recipe makes approx. 200g


4 tbsp Rosehip Seed Oil
1 tbsp Jojoba Oil
3 tbsp Hemp Seed Oil
1 tbsp Shea Butter
1/2 heaped tbsp Beeswax (I bought a small ingot of organic beeswax)
5 drops Geranium Essential Oil
4 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
2 drops Patchouli Essential Oil
3 drops Palmarosa or Rose Essential Oil
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil


1.  Fill a medium saucepan with boiling water and place a glass pyrex bowl in the water.

2.  Add ingredients except the essential oils to the glass bowl and heat on a medium heat.

3.  Once the beeswax and shea butter has melted completely, remove from the heat.

4.  Stir or whisk (I used a tiny whisk used for frothing milk for coffee) to ensure the mix is blended.

5.  Add essential oils and pour into a glass container.

6.  The product will set quickly but you can put into the fridge to speed up the setting time.



To save costs you can omit the jojoba oil, rose essential oil and frankincense essential oil. If you drop the jojoba oil just replace with hemp or rosehip seed oil.  You can create your own mix adding your selection of essential oils.

As this is an oil based product there is no need to store it in the fridge and it should last about 6 months.


A wonderfully rich fish curry with coconut cream, butter and tomatoes.  Serve with basmati rice or naan bread and chutneys.

Serves 4

Prep 20 mins / Cooking 70 mins


1¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tbsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground coriander
8 cardamom pods, shells discarded and seeds removed and crushed in a mortar
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tbsp smoked paprika
⅛th tsp ground cinnamon
450g hake (or other firm white fish), skinned, boned and cut into 5cm pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
350g small new potatoes, halved if large, skin on
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2-3 banana shallots, finely chopped
2 small green chillies, finely chopped (deseeded, if you prefer less heat)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
300g cherry tomatoes
1½ tbsp tomato paste
220g coconut cream, plus 1 tbsp to serve
500ml fish stock

For the salsa
½ cucumber, cut into 1cm dice
1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp lime juice
1½ tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil


1.  Put the first seven ingredients in a large, high-sided pan on a medium-high heat, and toast for a minute, until fragrant. Put the fish in a bowl with one and a half teaspoons of the spice blend, the olive oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, gently toss to coat, then leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

2.  Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through but still holding their shape, then drain.

3. Return the saute pan to a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of butter and, once bubbling, fry the fish in two or three batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan, for two minutes a side, until golden brown. Return to the bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the butter and any released liquid in the pan. Turn the heat to low, add another tablespoon of butter, the shallots and chillies, and fry gently for six to eight minutes, until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic, cook for two minutes, stirring often, then stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and the remaining butter and spice mix. Add the coconut cream, stock, potatoes and half a teaspoon of salt, mix again, and simmer for 25 minutes, until thick and reduced. Meanwhile, mix all the salsa ingredients with a good pinch of salt.

4. Return the fish to the curry pan, cover and cook for four minutes, until heated through. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of coconut cream over the top, then serve in the pan with the salsa spooned inside the pan or on the side.

Serve with basmati rice or naan bread and chutneys.

Recipe credit: Yotam Ottolenghi, Feast, The Guardian, 2018

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


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


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


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


  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


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


  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


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


  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


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


  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


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


  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.