Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Stew

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Wowwie! This is so wonderfully flavorful and warm and cozy and I might or might not have finished 3/4 of the whole batch in one go.

I’m a huge fan of chickpeas in almost any form – curries, hummus, spiced and dried, in desserts (yes, desserts! google chickpea desserts and don’t knock it before you try it) – so it was inevitable that I would love this stew specially since it involves lots of olive oil, spices and spinach (my favorite vegetable by far – it’s so versatile!).

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It can take a while to cook if you soak and boil your own chickpeas, which we always do at home, but if you use canned chickpeas this is a super quick dish to whip up for lunch.

The recipe is technically for four people but since last time I made half the batch for my mom and I, there wasn’t enough left for my mom (oops!), I will definitely be making a bigger batch next time. And even if there’s some leftover, you can keep it in the fridge and it’ll make a great leftover lunch or dinner the next day.

I served it with brown rice but you can serve it with any grain – millet, quinoa, basmati rice etc. or even with some crusty bread like sourdough or a baguette.

Forgot to mention – the stew itself is accidentally vegan and gluten free! (I love it when that happens hehee..)

It was based on this recipe I found on food&wine but I changed it up quite a bit 🙂

Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Stew

serves 4

  • 1.5 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin powder, pinch ground cloves, pinch black pepper, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1-2 tsp chili powder (adjust chili according to personal preference), 1/2 tsp salt
  • ~3 cups cooked chickpeas or two 15oz cans (reserve the water!)
  • 2.5 tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large tomato or two small, diced and the seeds removed
  • salt, to taste
  • handful sultanas/dates/raisins (I recommend sultanas)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped finely
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • fresh coriander/mint/parsley to top (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, mash the crushed garlic with the saffron and the spices. Add a couple tablespoons of the chickpea liquid.
  2. In a skillet or a deep pan, heat 1.5 tbs olive oil.
  3. Add the onion and tomatoes and stir on low heat until softened and browned.
  4. Add the spiced garlic paste and cook for another minute
  5. Pour in the chickpeas, 1.5 cups of their liquid (if there is no more liquid, use water or stock) and the sultanas
  6. Bring to a simmer and add in the spinach. Lower the heat a bit, and let simmer for around 2 minutes until spinach is fully cooked.
  7. Transfer to your serving dish and top with 1 tbs of the olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs.
  8. Serve with rice, quinoa, cous cous, millet or crusty bread.

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Presto Pesto

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The saying about only appreciating things when you don’t have them – so true.

When we moved to India, one of the biggest problems for me was getting used to the fact that lots of the fresh products I was used to getting in Singapore were just not available widely here. I mean, you can still get things like raspberries, blueberries, avocados and asparagus but you have to go to specialty ‘gourmet’ stores and they’re extremely overpriced. Things I had taken for granted like basil, I now relished.

But now that we’ve moved into our own house we have lots of fresh produce growing in our own garden! We have spinach, methi (fenugreek), basil, mini oranges…  So you would think that now I have an almost endless supply of fresh basil I would be using it 24/7. Right?

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But yeah… not so much. Since we’ve moved into the house (5 months) I think I’ve used basil approximately… 3 times. And in that time we have probably gone through 10-12 jars of store bought pesto. I know, I know. Disgraceful.

It’s just that the whole process seems like so much work. It’s easier to just buy a ready made jar and not think about it. But when I went out one day and saw that the basil plant was slowly drying up I decided it was time to change.

And I’m so glad I did! Making pesto is so easy – it takes practically 15 minutes and most of that time is spent getting the pesto out of the food processor! When you make your own pesto, you can alter the flavors to your liking and experiment with different nuts and even add in other herbs. Also the taste of fresh pesto exceeds store bought by a landslide!

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So no further ado.. here’s an amazing, customizable, pesto recipe inspired by love and lemons.

How to customize:

I always use 2/3 basil + 1/3 coriander because otherwise the basil flavor is a bit too strong, but feel free to use all basil or experiment with addition of other herbs like mint or arugula

For the nuts I used a combination of walnuts and almonds, but you can use any nuts – pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans.. Pine nuts are generally the best for pesto but I didn’t have any on hand 🙂

Add in some grated parmesan cheese, some nutritional yeast or a dash of balsamic vinegar for some extra kick. Most recipes also use black pepper but I prefer the taste without it. It’s a personal opinion though so if you like it – go for it!

Basil Pesto

(Makes around 1 cup)

  • 1 1/2 cup herbs
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and paprika/chili flakes
  1. Lightly toast the nuts in a small plan until lightly browned
  2. Add all the ingredients in a food processor until well blended
  3. Taste and adjust the salt or acidity if necessary. If too sour, add a splash of honey or agave syrup.

Enjoy!

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Lentil Millet Vegetable Stew

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This is a take on indian ‘khichdi’, a simple traditional stew made with lentils, rice and vegetables. I used millet instead of rice and added some masala to brighten it up.

It’s a one pot meal – all the veggies, lentils and grains are dropped into a pressure cooker with some ghee and spices and voila, in twenty minutes you have a complete meal.

It’s already vegetarian but if you use oil instead of ghee and omit the yogurt topping, it’s vegan!

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This dish is a nutrition power house!  Protein rich from the lentils and millet, high in fibre, full of vitamins and minerals! Millet is one of the best sources of copper and manganese, while the ginger and yogurt aide digestion.

Did I mention it’s creamy, comforting and delicious?

mhm.

I have used carrots and bottle gourd (an indian vegetable) this time, but most vegetables work really well in this type of stew or khichdi. Use whatever produce you have at home – Zucchini, Spinach, Kale, Beans etc. would all be fine. Just keep in mind some vegetables like greens decrease a lot in volume when cooked so you would need to use more of them to start with. If you don’t have millet feel free to use rice.

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Lentil Millet Vegetable Stew

(Makes 1 large serving, just multiply the ingredients to make more)

Ingredients:

  • ~1.5 – 2 cup vegetables diced
  • 1/4 cup lentils (I used green split mung – mung (gram) lentils work best)
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ghee/oil
  • 1 tsp curry powder (can substitute with indian spices of choice like cumin, coriander or turmeric powder)
  • salt to taste
  • plain yogurt + coriander/cilantro to top (optional)
  1. Wash the millet and lentils
  2. In a pressure cooker turn on medium heat and add the ghee or oil
  3. When the ghee/oil becomes hot, add in the diced onion and sautee until browned
  4. Add in the vegetables, ginger, spices, millet and lentils.
  5. Add ~2.5 cups of water
  6. Put on the lid and cook for around 20 minutes
  7. Release the pressure and remove the lid
  8. Serve and if you wish, top with yogurt and herbs

Sweet Potato & Spinach Curry with Millet & Arugula

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I love arugula. Call me weird, but the bitterness is appealing to me? It’s one of the only leaves I’ll have raw. Raw spinach? bleh. Lettuce? tasteless. collard? ew.

But I’m not exactly fond of salads. They’re not filling enough or they’re doused in way too sweet dressing or they’re bland. So instead I like my arugula on pizza or in dishes like this. This dish is absolutely complete. Soft, fluffy millet, warm spicy curry, mellow sweet potato, bright acidic cherry tomatoes and sharp arugula.

I recently discovered millet as a grain. Prior, I’d only had millet flour rotis which are very popular in India and ‘baajre ki khichdi’ which is a millet stew cooked traditionally in lots of indian ghee and milk or cream. I had never actually had millet by itself. But a few weeks ago my mom picked up a bag of organic mixed millet and I fell in love! Its softer and less chewy than grains like quinoa and brown rice. It also has milder, less nutty taste.

The next component of the dish is the curry! This is a spicy, improvised curry that I sort of made up as I went a long. It has garlic, onion, coconut milk and a generous dash of spices. The sweet potato really balances out the spiciness.

And last but not least, the cherry tomatoes. We don’t normally have cherry tomatoes at home because they’re not always available here. We have to go to speciality grocery stores and even then, they’re quite expensive. But boy are they worth it! They’re spunky and colorful and they just elevate the dish.

I really hope you try out this dish. Even if you don’t have all the components – improvise! No millet? Use rice or another similar grain. No arugula? Skip it, or another raw green. No cherry tomatoes? Use normal diced tomatoes! Don’t have all the spices? Use a store bought curry powder, garam masala or thai spice mix instead!Don’t like sweet potato or spinach? Use other veggies – normal potatoes would be fine and you can substitute in any other vegetable under the sun. Pumpkin or zucchini would be wonderful here!

Oh, and I forgot to mention – this is accidentally vegan 🙂

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Now on to the recipe!

Sweet Potato & Spinach curry

(makes 3 portions)

Ingredients:

  • olive/vegetable oil
  • 2/3 tablespoon diced garlic/garlic paste
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 small or two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 cup spinach (or just 2 handfuls) cleaned and chopped roughly
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/cumin powder, 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/2-1 tsp chili powder, dash of black pepper and salt to taste
  • 3-4 handfuls arugula, cleaned
  • cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 2 cups cooked millet or any other grain

Directions:

  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan and when it’s hot, add in the garlic, onion and ginger.
  2. Keep mixing and when the onion and garlic are lightly browned, add in the sweet potato, around 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk.
  3. Cover and let simmer on low heat for around 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the spices and 1/4 cup more of the coconut milk, stir well
  5. Cook for another 10 minutes until the sweet potato is tender, stirring well throughout
  6. Add in the spices and the rest of the coconut milk, stir until the curry is thickened and the spinach is cooked (about a minute)
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Remove the stems from the arugula (unless you can take the bitter taste of the stems then leave them on) and arrange a handful on the plate
  9. Divide the millet into three portions and place a portion onto the plate
  10. Top with cherry tomatoes and a generous helping of the curry
  11. Squeeze some lemon juice on top if you’d like.
  12. Enjoy! 🙂

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Sesame & Peanut Crusted Tofu

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This is a great side dish to serve along with rice or vegetables or meat. It’s flavorful and hearty and really easy to make!

If you have time to marinade the tofu in the sauce, that would be highly recommended but if you’re pressed for time you can skip the marinading step and just dip the tofu in.

Serving size: 1-2 (easily double or triple the recipe for more servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package tofu
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon coconut milk (optional, can replace with 1 tsp water and )
  • 1.5 tsp ginger paste/grated ginger
  • 1 tsp honey/agave (I used honey, if vegan you can use agave)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • pinch of chill powder/paprika
  • 3 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoon shelled and toasted peanuts
  • sesame/canola/olive oil (sesame is best)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • handful fresh coriander (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut the tofu into square slices
  2. In a wide bowl, mix the soy sauce, coconut milk, honey, ginger and peanut butter well.
  3. Add the tofu pieces to the sauce and if you can, leave for 2-3 hours. Otherwise just move on to the next step.
  4. In an other bowl, crush the peanuts and sesame seeds.
  5. Heat a flat frypan, heat around 1-2 tsp oil and spread evenly
  6. Wait until the oil is hot
  7. Dip the tofu slices, one by one, in the crushed peanut-sesame mixture and then place on the pan. You can do 5-6 slices at a time.
  8. Pour some of the leftover sauce on top of the tofu slices and flip after around 30 seconds
  9. Cook until browned on both sides and then remove from pan.
  10. Top with fresh coriander, squeezed lemon juice and any leftover sauce or nuts
  11. Enjoy!

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Asian Wild Rice with Vegetables

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A wonderful palette of flavors and textures in this dish. Who knew something so healthy and nutritious could taste so good?

Feel free to mix up the veggies in this, but I love the combination of these because there is such a variety in size and crunch. The wild black rice is crunchy while the brown rice is hearty and nutty, the mushrooms and peas are soft and sweet while the carrot and cabbage blend in perfectly with the chewy (in a good way!) rice.

This dish is extremely high in protein, fibre, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C and iron all the while being comforting and delicious!

Asian Wild Rice with Vegetables

(serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dry wild rice
  • 1/2 packet button mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup finely diced cabbage
  • handful peas
  • 1.5 tsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon soy sauce
  • chili powder, according to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey

Cook the rice according to instructions or just boil for 30-40 minutes until cooked.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the vegetables.

Heat a wok or a large pan and spread the olive oil

When the oil is hot add the garlic and onion and sauté until browned. Add the peas and cabbage and cook for a minute and then add in the mushrooms and carrot. Add the soy sauce, honey and chili powder and cook for a few minutes, mixing well.

Add the rice, mix everything again and then cover the pan to let everything cook for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

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Vegetable Hash and Fried Eggs

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I just realised that most of the recipes I post on this blog are breakfast recipes. So to solve that, y’all are going to have to make this for dinner. I don’t think that will be a problem – it’s delicious and it’s extremely healthy as it’s full of vegetables and protein.

This vegetable hash, although not very traditional, is bursting with flavor and more importantly, is super easy to whip up! You can double, triple or even quadriple the servings to suit yourself.

Use whatever vegetables you wish but I would avoid anything too soft like squash or greens.

Vegetable Hash

(2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • pinch of garlic salt, black pepper, oregano and chilli flakes
  • 1.5 cup mixed vegetables (I suggest corn, baby corn, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes – whatever’s in season)
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. Dice the onion, garlic and vegetables. Set aside.
  2. Heat around 2 tsp olive oil in a small pan and when it’s hot, add the garlic and onion.
  3. Saute until lightly browned and then add in the vegetables
  4. Add the hot sauce and spices
  5. Lower the heat and cover the vegetables
  6. Meanwhile lightly coat a flat pan with olive oil
  7. When it’s hot, crack in two eggs
  8. Sprinkle the top with black pepper
  9. Your vegetables should be done by now, serve them on a plate and place the fried eggs on top.