Chinese stir fried vegetables

I absolutely enjoyed pulling together a stir fried vegetable dish for lunch today.  As previously mentioned there are a few cupboard essentials when wanting to make Chinese food taste slightly more authentic (rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil) and today I want to add another one to the list – spiced black rice vinegar.   I was in my local Waitrose earlier today and was browsing the specialty oils and vinegar aisle when I spotted three combinations I haven’t come across before – apple balsamic vinegar, apply & cranberry balsamic vinegar and black rice vinegar.   I picked up all three and used the black rice vinegar in the stir fry.  I am looking forward to using the other two in a salad vinaigrette soon.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Handful of green beans cut in half
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 green pepper cubed
  • 2 carrots chopped into wedges
  • 6 large closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 8 florets of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of choi sum (each stalk cut into 3-4 pieces)
  • 3 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1″ piece of ginger minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chili
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Handful coriander leaves chopped
  • 2 tsp Shaosin wine
  • 3 tsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tsp spicy black rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
  • Dash of salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4 as a side dish

How do I make it?

Heat wok and pour oil in once hot.  Add ginger and garlic mince and stir for 30 seconds before adding the crushed red chili flakes.   Stir for another minute before adding green pepper, celery, carrot, beans, mushroom and broccoli.  Stir for five to eight minutes before adding the choi sum (choi sum only takes a couple of minutes to cook).  Then add the rice wine, vinegar, soya sauce and white pepper.  Adjust the seasoning before garnishing with spring onions and fresh coriander.   Serve hot with rice or noodles.

Garden fresh – first vegetable

Following our bounty of rocket leaves a few days ago, I picked some red radishes from our garden which Shiv served up as a salad that also included the leaves and some plum tomatoes and dressed with lime juice.  We had the salad with some pan fried sea bream marinaded in an Arabian fish spice mix (black pepper, coriander, turmeric, cloves, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel and black cardamom).


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Pan fried prawns

Dinner tonight consisted of barbecued chicken legs (store bought but jazzed up with some chili flakes, Heinz barbecue sauce, Sriracha hot chili sauce and honey), a simple salad of butterhead leaves and apples dressed with olive oil and apple cider vinegar and a quick pan fried starter of prawns.


Pan fried prawns

What do I need to make it?

  • 20-24 raw prawns de-veined, washed and patted dry
  • 3 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt to taste

How do I make it?

Add oil and garlic to hot pan and stir for 30 seconds.  Add chili flakes and give it a quick stir before adding the spring onions.  Saute for a minute before adding prawns.   Turn the prawn after a couple of minutes and cook until done.  Sprinkle black pepper and season with salt.   Add vinegar and stir for another minute or so.  Switch off heat and garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Sublime supper

Regular readers of our blog would have noticed that I have not been writing very much these days and the husband’s offerings have been far more frequent. Well, I have not been cooking anything exciting with Shiv not around and have been making do with quick and easy meals as the kids have been rather demanding and I find myself too exhausted to pen my musings down at the end of the day.

Today I decided to cook myself and my mother a good supper.  You could call it a Mother’s day offering.  I baked a gluten free corn bread loaf, made a lovely cauliflower soup and a spicy chipotle dip for the bread.  The meal went down very well and my mother enjoyed it, just as I did.


Gluten free corn bread

What do I need to make it?

  • 150 gms fine corn meal
  • 150 gms fine rice flour
  • 50 gms cold unsalted butter or dairy free margarine
  • 2 medium sized eggs
  • 300 ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

How much will I make?

A medium sized loaf

How do I make it?

Preheat oven to 200.C.   Sieve together rice flour and fine corn meal into a large mixing bowl.  Add the baking powder, salt and Xanthan gum to this.  Chop cold butter into small cubes and add to the bowl.  Use finger tips to rub the flour and butter into a crumb like consistency.  Beat the eggs and almond milk together lightly.  Make a well in the mixing bowl and pour the egg and milk mixture into it.  Mix well with a wooden spoon until all the flour is blended well and you get a smooth batter.  Pour the batter into a prepared loaf tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the crust is a golden brown.  Pierce with a skewer to check if the bread is cooked through.  If the skewer comes out with wet mixture stuck to it, keep the loaf in the oven till the bread is cooked thoroughly.

Leave to cool on a  wire rack .

Spicy Chipotle dip

What do I need to make it?

  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic grated
  • 2 to 3 pickled chipotle peppers (available in the World food aisles of most super markets or in Mexican delis)
  • 1 tsp of the chipotle pepper pickling liquid

How do I make it?

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender.  Adjust seasoning.  The pickled chipotle peppers do have salt so extra salt is usually not needed.

Cauliflower soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms cauliflower florets
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 gluten free vegetable stock cube (Kallo stock cubes)
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Two sprigs of parsley to garnish.
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper powder to taste

How much will I make?

2 large main meal portion

How do I make it?

Heat a pan and add butter and olive oil to it.  Add the bay leaf, onion and garlic and sauté till they are translucent.  Make sure not to brown them.  Add the cauliflower florets and sauté for a minute or two.  Season with salt and white pepper powder.  Add the almond milk and bring to a boil.  Turn the flame down and let it simmer till the cauliflower is cooked. Remove the bay leaf before blending to a smooth consistency.  Add about 250 ml of boiling water and the stock cube, return to heat and let the soup come to a boil.  Sprinkle the ground nutmeg and remove from the heat.  Garnish with parsley sprigs before serving.

Gluten free pasta with tomato and basil sauce

Ever since Anna & I have switched off wheat and gluten (lifestyle choice) our consumption of pasta has plummeted.  It wasn’t until recently that we tried gluten free pasta (made from rice and maize flour) and we quite liked it.  Contrary to popular belief that gluten free means tasteless – you can dispel this myth – it’s a lot lighter than normal pasta and the texture is slightly different but once mixed with a good sauce it is delicious.  Last night I prepared a tomato and basil sauce pasta with a medley of vegetables and finally garnished with some fresh basil grown in my sister’s garden (never expected to  find fresh herbs in a garden in Dubai!!).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms gluten free pasta of your choice
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 1/2 each yellow and red pepper – washed, de-seeded and cubed
  • small onion peeled and sliced
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into pieces
  • 7-8 closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 7-8 broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  •  4 tbsp sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3-4

How do I make it?

Crush the garlic and red chili flakes in a pestle and mortar.  Boil and cook pasta with a little salt till done – strain and keep aside.

Heat big saucepan and add oil and garlic/ chili paste – fry for 30 seconds and then add onions and peppers.   Stir constantly for 5 minutes before adding remaining vegetables.  Cook for five minutes before sprinkling Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and salt.  Then add the tomato passata and cook for another 5 minutes – add some water if the sauce is too thick.  Once done adjust seasoning and add the pasta and give it a good mix.   Garnish with freshly chopped basil and serve hot.

Salad therapy

Ever so often we get tired of eating cooked food and look for salad options that not only please the palate but are visually appealing.  This evening was one of those nights that we decided to have a salad and a bowl of fruit for dinner.  I enjoyed putting both together and hope you do too.


Aple of my Eye 😉 Salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 75 gms rocket leaves (small packet)
  • 75 gms baby lambs lettuce (small packet)
  • 50 gms Greek salad cheese (feta can be used)
  • 1 gala apple thinly sliced
  • 8-10 queen size green olives pitted
  • 4-6 purple olives
  • 8-10 baby plum tomatoes cut in halves
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sprinkling of crushed black pepper
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Enough for 2 as a main dish

How do I make it?

Wash the leaves and place in bowl.  Sprinkle remaining ingredients around the leaves.  Dress the salad with oil and apple cider vinegar.  Use your hands to  toss the salad (great tip from Jamie Oliver).  Dish up and enjoy.

Spice discovery

Anna and I often like to experiment with new spices with the hope of discovering the next best thing since sliced bread.  We were recently picking up some groceries from our local Asian shop, Atif and my eyes locked onto a spice mix I had not come across before.  The name Ras Al Hanout sounded Moroccan/Arabic.  We decided to pick it up and tried it as a marinade for fish (mixed a couple of teaspoons with olive oil to make a paste) and it worked a treat.

The spice mix contains the following ingredients – coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne,  salt, pimento, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and aniseed (pretty much every spice under the sun!).  Drop us a line if you’ve got any other spice mix suggestions.


Corn meal adai

Celebrating Vishu and Tamil New Year in our house meant an embargo on all things meat (including eggs!).  I had to get my creative juices flowing and conjur a dinner option for Anna and  myself.  I have said it before we are quite pragmatic and not purists when following the Paleo lifestyle –  we have included the occasional dose of cornmeal or brown rice in our diets.  So here’s a recipe for cornmeal adai (adai is traditionally made of toor dahl and rice) which is a quick alternative as there’s no soaking, grinding involved.


What do I need to make it?

  • 1 cup fine cornmeal (yellow variety – makkai flour)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • 2-3 green finger chillies finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder (paprika can be used as an alternative)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • Handful chopped coriander
  • Juice of a lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to drizzle while cooking

How many will I make?

6-8 depending on size

How do I make it?

Mix 1 cup of water to the cornmeal and stir till you get a thick batter.  Add the remaining ingredients to the mixture and stir.   Heat pan and spread a little batter in a clockwise motion around the pan.  Drizzle some oil around the edges and along the center of the adai.  Cook on both sides and serve hot with a sweet chutney (strawberry jam works a treat).