Beetroot & bean spread

Beet spread

This is a yummy, vibrant spread / dip that’s quick to make. It’s has an earthy flavor and is nice and healthy.

Start by dry roasting 1 tsp. cumin seeds in a frying pan, then put them aside.  Chop a small onion and a stalk of celery and fry them in a couple of tbsp. olive oil, as they begin cooking add 3-4 clove of garlic. While they are all softening peel and grate a large beetroot (about 350 – 400g) then grate it coarsely. Add the beetroot to the frying pan and 1/2 tsp. salt. Fry for a couple of minutes until the beetroot begins to soften.

Meanwhile strain and rinse a can of beans (red kidney or mixed beans). Then add 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika and half the cumin seeds to the veggies and turn off the heat.  Put the veggies and the beans in a food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth paste. Scoop out into a bowl and allow to coo. To serve drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining cumin seeds and a little smoked paprika.

Edible gifts, Snacks

Devilled peanuts

These make a nice snack and go very well with a cold beer or two. When I was in India a few years ago I really enjoyed all the flavoured nuts that were available. You can experiment with the flavours and how spicy you like them and the nuts that you use. For this recipe you need to use plain peanuts that have had their shells and skins removed.

So what do you need?

  • 500 g plain peanuts.
  • 2 or 3 lrage cloves of galic
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder
  • a sprig of curry leaves (about 15 leaves)
  • 4- 6  dried chilles (optional)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. vegetable oil

So what do you do?

Start by preheating your oven to 175 degrees C / 325 F. Spread the peanuts out on a large baking sheet and put them in the oven to start roasting while you prepare the other ingredients. Peel the garlic and pound it into a paste with a teaspoon of salt in a mortar. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and first quickly fry the chillies until crisp if using them and then put them to one side. Once they are cool break them open and discard the seeds, as these will make the nuts very spicy. Then add the curry leaves to the oil, be careful as they spit when they first go in the oil. Stir them until they become crisp and then remove them from the oil. Put the garlic in the oil with the curry powder and the chilli powder and cook gently for about half a minute to ‘temper’ the spices. The oil will become infused with the flavours of the spices, the garlic does not need to be completely cooked at this stage.

Next, take the nuts out of the oven and pour over the spiced oil, break most of the curry leaves into smaller pieces and add them to the nuts reserving a few whole curry leaves to garnish the nuts with. If you want your nuts to be extra spicy add the chillies at this stage too, if you want them milder reserve the chilles to garnish the nuts after cooking. Put the nuts back in the oven and stir them every 10 mins. Cook for about 30 mins. until they are golden brown. Taste the nuts and if necessary add a little more salt. Allow to cool and then serve garnishing with any reserved curry leaves and chillies. Store in an airtight container once cool.




Onion Bhajis


Onion bhajis make a great snack or starter for an Indian meal. I decided to make these after going out for an Indian meal in Birmingham this week. They’re easy to make and much better than shop bought ones.

This will make about 20 bhajis

So what do you need?

  • 4-5 medium-sized onions (about 800g of onions)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • a sprig of curry leaves (optional)
  • a small munch of coriander
  • a lemon / lime
  • 300g gram flour
  • 150ml water
  • vegetable oil for frying

So what do you do?

Start by peeling and finely slicing the onions. I cut the onions in half and then slice them finely and then separate the pieces and put them in a large mixing bowl. Then crush the cumin seeds in a mortar a little and add them, next crush the garlic with the salt and add it. Then chop up the curry leaves and a handful of coriander and add them along with the other dry spices and mix everything together. Then add the gram flour and the bicarbonate of soda and cover the onions in the flour. Next add a squeeze of lemon juice, about a tablespoon, and add most of the water. Mix everything together. you want a thick batter that covers all the onions so be careful not to add too much water and make it sloppy so add water until you get it right.

Leave to stand while you heat up some oil in a frying pan or wok. The oil should be at least a centimeter deep. When the oil is hot use a tablespoon to spoon dollops of the onion mixture into the frying pan, making sure you leave some space between each bhaji. Fry for a minute or two until golden brown and then turn over. Once cooked on both sides drain off any excess oil and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the bhajis. Serve with a pickle or chutney.








Vegetable samosas


I’m not sure how many vegetable samosas I’ve eaten in my life but it’s a fair few, but I’d never made them myself before. They make a great savoury snack and I’ll certainly be making them again especially as they’re not that easy to come by in Thailand.

So what do you need?

For the pastry

  • 400g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. nigella seeds (optional)
  • 180ml warm water

For the filling

  • 1 large potato (about 400g)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cuminn seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
  • a pinch or two of salt
  • a few fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 300 – 400ml vegetable oil for frying

So what do you do?

Start by making the pastry. Put the dry ingredients in a bowl or mixer and add the oil and mix together. Then add most of the water and mix together, you want a soft dough so keep adding water until you get this. Then kneed the dough for about 5 minutes and cover with a tea towel.

Next peel and dice the potatoes and the carrot into small cubes and boil in salted water for about 8 minutes and then add the peas cook for another minute or so until the carrot seems cooked but still firm and drain. Meanwhile peel and chop the onion and fry in a large frying pan with the oil, crush the garlic and add it. Once the onion is soft add all the spices and fry them for a minute or so and then add the vegetables and mix everything together and allow to cool.

Separate the dough into 12 balls about the size of golf balls. Mix some flour and water to make a watery paste about a tbsp. of flour and 2-3 tbsp. water. Then start making the samosas. Roll out a ball of dough on a flowered surface until its thin and about 16-18cms across. Then cut the circle in half. Turn the flat side of the pastry towards you and with a  pastry brush moisten the rounded side with the flour paste. Put a pile of the filling in the middle of the pastry (about a heaped tbsp.) and the fold the right bottom of the pastry up to the middle of the rounded edge and then put some of the flour paste on the left hand side of the pastry and fold this up over the top to make a triangular parcel and ensure the edges are sealed. Place on a floured baking tray, covered with a tea towel, and continue making the rest of the samosas.


When you have finished making the samosas heat the oil up in a wok until very hot. You can test the heat with a small offcut of pastry it should start cooking and brown quickly. Then cook the samosas in batches of 3 or 4 at a time turning occasionally until they are golden brown. Drain them of oil and place on a wire rack while you cook the others. Best served fresh while warm with chutney.







Snacks, Veggie mains

Arancini / risotto patties

This is a great way to use up any leftover risotto (there are several risotto recipes on the blog already). Just roll the cold, sticky risotto rice into balls or patties and coat in flour or breadcrumbs and shallow fry in oil until crisp and golden. You can put a small piece of mozzarella or blue cheese in the middle of the balls if you like. Serve on a bed of green leaves. Here I also added some homomade tomato sauce too. Enjoy!

Baking, Snacks, The Basics


If you live somewhere that they are readily available in the shops then you probably  wouldn’t bother making them but if you don’t and you get a craving for them they’re not ask to make and you can make them smaller than shop bought ones for a more delicate biscuit to go with cheese after dinner. They’re also very economical to make. This recipe makes about 40 biscuits.

So what do you need?

  • 250g porridge oats
  • 50g whole meal flour
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

So what do you do?

First preheat your oven to about 190 degrees C / 375F. If you have a baking stone then put it in the oven to heat up. Then put the oats in a food processor and grind them until they become like a rough flour still with about a third still in oat pieces. Then heat about 80ml of water and add a tsp. of sea salt and the butter until it melts. Mix the flour in with the oats and then pour in the water and butter. Mix everything together with a spoon until it comes together  in a ball. If necessary add a little more hot water to bring everything together. Put the mixture on a floured work surface and roll it out until it’s as thin as you want the oatcakes I made mine slightly thinner than shop bought ones. The with a cookie cutter of your desired size, I used one 4cms and one 5 cms in diameter. Cut out the oatcakes and the reroll any extra mixture and repeat. Then put the oatcakes on a baking stine or baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes and then turn them over for about 10 minutes on the other side so they dry out completely. Then put them on wire racks to cool. Enjoy with your favourite cheese!


Snacks, Thai Food

Fried tofu with Thai herbs & cashew nuts

This makes a really tasty and attractive snack, starter or part of a bigger Thai meal.

Start by preparing your Thai herbs and spices. I finely sliced the more tender insides of four or five lemongrass stems lengthways, julienned a large red chilli, sliced about four red shallots, 3 cloves of garlic and tore a few kaffir lime leaves.

In a wok with about half a cup of hot oil I started by frying the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, as they take a little longer, after about a minute I added the shallots and fried for another minute then added chilli, garlic, a couple of bunches of fresh green peppercorns and a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts and fried everything until it was golden and crisp and then drained them. You can use large dried chillis instead, of the fresh one, which will go crisp and can be crumbled on the risotto for an extra kick of spiciness (these don’t take long to cook so add them near the end of the frying process.)

Next I cube a couple of blocks of form tofu (about 500g). I then fried this in the same oil, turning occasionally) until crisp and golden brown (you may need to fry the tofu in two batches). I then drained the tofu and put it on a serving plate and scattered the herbs and nuts over the top. I served with a chilli dipping sauce with some extra dried chilli (optional) and coriander leaves in it.