All posts by Raks


Potatoes with cumin

It doesn’t get simpler than potatoes with cumin!  Beautiful, crisp potatoes cooked with the simplest of spices.  Ideal with dal and rice or in a wrap.  Cooks in no time and requires very little preparation so give it a go!

Potatoes with cumin(1)

3-4 side servings


4 medium potatoes (waxy potatoes, not floury), cut into round slices
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 whole dry red chillies
About 8-10 curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh coriander for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat oil and pop the dry chillies in the pan
  2. As soon as the chillies go brown, add the cumin seeds. Wait for cumin to change colour, don’t let them burn – this should take about 20 seconds
  3. Take off heat and add rest of the spices, salt and potatoes
  4. Give a good stir and add 3 tablespoons water
  5. Cover lid with teacloth and steam potatoes on lowest heat for 30 minutes –check after 20 minutes and give it a stir with a flat spatula so the potatoes don’t break up
  6. Sprinkle with fresh coriander
  7. Serve with rice and lentils or in a wrap



Tofu & peanut butter curry

We went to Wholefoods in Richmond the other day and I couldn’t resist picking up a small tub of freshly ground peanut butter – visions of peanut butter curry sauce with tofu floated past and passing it by was not an option.  They keep an industrial grinder which you can use to grind as much or as little as you please – nice!  This peanut butter curry is not quite like the Thai version.  I have modified it to give it more of an Indian curry flavour with some sweet & sour which complements the peanut butter.  I think it is matter of taste as to how sweet & sour you like your curries; same with chillies.  I usually start with small amounts, taste and gradually build up – better than adding a whole lot and getting it too sweet or too sour!

Peanut sauce curry

2 large servings


About 350 grams firm or medium tofu, squeezed dry between layers of kitchen paper
1 cup frozen peas
Flour to coat tofu

The sauce
3 cloves garlic
1½ inch piece ginger
1-2 fresh chillies, de-seeded if you don’t like it hot
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 star anise, whole
8 curry leaves
½ cup peanut butter, not sweetened
3 tablespoons oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses + 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1 teaspoon tamarind paste + 1 tablespoon sugar OR 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 tablespoon lemon juice (whichever combination you use, adjust according to taste)
Fresh coriander 


  1. Grind garlic, ginger, chillies and fresh coriander in blender with a little water
  2. Heat oil in saucepan and add all the spices including the ginger and garlic paste.
  3. Fry on low heat for about 10 minutes, adding small amounts of water to stop it sticking. This is important to bring out the flavour of the spices and to get rid of that “raw” taste
  4. Now add the peanut butter and fry for a further 5 minutes
  5. Add water, peas and your choice of sweet/sour combination – cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes to thicken the sauce
  6. Coat tofu in flour and fry until golden
  7. Add to curry sauce and serve with boiled rice

Note: you can add any vegetable you wish – root vegetables, green beans etc


Potato and Soya Mince bake

Mince & veggie bake(3)


4-5 medium potatoes, thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 stick celery, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
About 200 grams mushrooms (your choice)
2 cups frozen vegan mince (Tivall do a good coarse style mince and so do VegiDeli, available at Waitrose and Holland & Barrett respectively)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon Mushroom ketchup (I have Geo Watkins and it is available at Sainsbury’s & Waitrose)
½ tablespoon Worcester sauce (Biona)
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 cup water mixed with 1 teaspoon cornflour
Black pepper


  1. Steam the sliced potatoes until cooked (this is a good way of cooking sliced potatoes as they don’t fall apart)
  2. Gently sauté onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, don’t brown
  3. Add carrots, celery, and peas and fry on low heat for a few minutes until translucent
  4. Remove with slotted spoon and fry mushrooms in the same pan (I use a wok)
  5. Put the onion, carrot etc back in the wok with the mushrooms
  6. Add mince, tomato puree, all the seasoning and sauces and water mixed with cornflour
  7. Gently cook for about 5 minutes and transfer to ovenproof dish
  8. Lay the potatoes on top and bake at 200C, gas mark 6 for 30-35 minutes
  9. Brush a little oil on the potatoes and pop under grill until golden

Mince & veggie bake
Just before laying potatoes


Yellow Mung dal

Mung dal(2)

Yellow mung or moong dal is mung bean which has been split and the skin removed. It is easy to digest, cooks very quickly and doesn’t need to be soaked.  It has a creamy, earthy flavour.  Not always available in supermarkets in the UK but you can buy it easily in all Asian stores.  It is best garnished with fried onions which complement the mild flavour of the mung dal.

Yellow mung (or moong) dal

1 cup mung dal
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1½ inch piece ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, grated

2 tablespoons oil 1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli (optional)


  1. Wash dal and add turmeric, ginger and garlic.
  2. Bring to with 3 cups of water. Cook on low heat and don’t cover completely or it will boil over
  3. When dal is soft and mushy add salt and cook until it is the right consistency – some people like it thicker than others so it is a matter of preference!


  1. Heat the oil and add chilli
  2. Give it 10-15 seconds, take off heat and add cumin seeds followed by the onions
  3. Fry gently until onions are golden and pour tarka on dal.

I couldn’t resist popping in the glowing red chilli I had just bought!


Tofu types & preparation

I recently read that freezing tofu changes the texture and makes it chewier!  Next thing was to have a go which I did and, guess what, it does!  So well worth it and here’s how…. Get some firm tofu and slice into about ¼ inch slices, drizzle some soy sauce on the tofu and freeze.  Only freeze as much as you wish to use for one meal as once defrosted, you need to cook it.  To defrost you could either leave it out at room temperature or place the container in warm water.  Always remember to squeeze the tofu to remove excess liquid.  I find the best way to do this is to place 2 sheets of kitchen paper on the chopping board, place slices of tofu on it and then cover with another 2 sheets of kitchen paper.  Press gently with the palm of your hands and the kitchen paper will absorb the moisture.  Change the paper if it gets too soggy and squeeze again – always handle tofu gently and with care as it breaks easily.  Use this method to remove excess water from tofu even if you don’t freeze it.  Squeezing in the palms of your hands can be tricky and not efficient – I find placing it in kitchen paper works best. For more information on different types of tofu check this site. This is what I did for these tofu bites and they turned out really chewy and dry which is the result we are looking for in fried tofu!  Have a go and leave your comments.

Smokey fried tofu


The Desperate Fry!

Not sure where the day went today…. working on my blog, figuring out widgets! and some time on Facebook of course.  A FB friend posted a plate of yummy dinner she had prepared and my brain sent down some urgent signals – I was starving!  Had promised John I would do Shepherdess Pie but it was too late and I was too tired and as he finishes quite late tonight and doesn’t mind having something from the freezer, I made my way to the kitchen wondering what to throw together for myself.  Rice yes, but what to go with it??!!??  I had meant to go to the local Farmer’s Market yesterday  but never got around to it and the veggie stock was pretty much depleted and sad.

Much rummaging in the salad drawers and came up with 3 radishes, 1 spring onion, some celery and tomatoes and green chillies of course – I always have chillies because they perk up any troublesome dish.   I also had some tofu in the larder.  So here is what the combined ingredients looked like and have to say, it was simple but just hit the spot!

Desperate fry


1 red onion, sliced
2 radishes, cut into sticks
1 stick of celery, chopped
2 green chillies, sliced into strips
4 slices of tofu, squeezed dry between kitchen paper
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Chilli flakes


  1. Add some salt and chilli flakes to the flour and coat slices of tofu
  2. Gently fry in some oil until light golden – remove and set aside
  3. In the same frying pan or wok, whatever you are using, add all the meagre supply of vegetables and fry on high for a couple of minutes
  4. Add fried tofu and soy sauce, give it a quick stir or two and serve with boiled rice – viola!

All my recipes are vegan and  I am happy for you to leave a comment, thanks!


Liquid smoke!

I bought hickory flavoured liquid smoke a while back and recently used it to marinade tofu – it turned out amazing (see recipe for Smoky tofu bites).  Was just browsing to find the same online to add to my hints & tips post and found this! Multi-pack of Colgin Liquid Smoke in 4 different flavours.

Go to


Dal with cherry tomatoes

Not everyone will agree, but I think the ubiquitous Masoor dal (aka orange lentil) must be at the top of the menu in most households in India and Pakistan; it certainly was in ours!  Not only because it is so delicious and loved by young and old alike, it is also very easy to cook and takes less than half the time it takes chana dal.  I will be posting some more recipes using my favourite masoor dal to include vegetables, specially spinach and even soy chunks…. so watch this space for more if you are a dal fan.

4 servings


1 cup orange lentils, I don’t bother soaking this as it cooks easily!
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
1 – 1½ inch piece ginger, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or less if you prefer)
3 cups water

For tarka/garnish

8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 whole dried chillies
1 large clove garlic, finely sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed with pestle or rolling pin
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A few curry leaves/karhi patta (no worries if you don’t have it although it does add an unique flavour)
2 tablespoons oil


  1. Wash the lentils and add 3 cups water, garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilli powder (add salt after the lentils are cooked)
  2. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat, partly covered as it is quick to boil over, until lentils are soft and mushy
  3. Add salt and mash with potato masher – this will purée some of the lentils and thicken the dal – if the dal is too runny cook uncovered to thicken. 

Note: The consistency of the dal varies from house to house and is a matter of personal preference.


  1. Quickly fry the cherry tomatoes in 1 tablespoon oil – about 1 minute so they don’t lose their shape
  2. Add to dal (take dal off the heat)
  3. Give the frying pan a quick rinse and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, add dry chillies, give it about 30 seconds and add garlic.
  4. As soon as the garlic turns light brown, add cumin seeds, coriander seeds and curry leaves –give it another 20 seconds, don’t let the cumin burn.
  5. Pour on dal and serve with steamed rice or quinoa

Lazy potato & aubergine hot pot

Potato and aubergine hot pot

This is a super simple delicious Iranian hot pot called tas kebab. My mother used to make it quite often – days when she simply wanted to put something together with too much ado and we couldn’t have enough of it.  Mine is somehow never as nice as her’s….. but that’s Mum’s cooking for you and we can never quite replicate the magic formula – perhaps it’s the love factor…..a pinch of love makes all the difference.

4 servings


1 large aubergine, cut in half across the belly, then slice lengthways into 4 slices
4 medium waxy potatoes, cut into thick slices
2 medium onions, cut in round thick slices
3 large tomatoes, cut in round thick slices (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
1 tin braised tofu (I used Marigold Braised Tofu available at Holland & Barrett)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried mint and some fresh mint if handy
1 small cup of water
A little black pepper


  1. In a large deep saucepan, layer the onions, followed by tofu, potatoes, aubergines and lastly sliced tomatoes
  2. In one cup of water add turmeric, tomato puree, black pepper, salt and olive oil, mix and pour on hot pot
  3. Cover with lid and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 1 – 1¼ hours
  4. Sprinkle with mint 15 minutes before it is ready
  5. There shouldn’t be much liquid left in the hot pot – if there is, uncover and dry it off to leave just a thick sauce
  6. Serve with rice or quinoa



AHA on veggie diet


Following was published by the American Heart Association on its website – here is an excerpt….. What is a vegetarian diet? Some people follow a “vegetarian” diet, but there’s no single vegetarian eating pattern. The vegan or total vegetarian diet includes only foods from plants: fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans and peas), grains, seeds and nuts. The lactovegetarian diet includes plant foods plus cheese and other dairy products. The ovo-lactovegetarian (or lacto-ovovegetarian) diet also includes eggs. Semi-vegetarians don’t eat red meat but include chicken and fish with plant foods, dairy products and eggs Are vegetarian diets healthful? Most vegetarian diets are low in or devoid of animal products. They’re also usually lower than nonvegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer. Vegetarian diets can be healthful and nutritionally sound if they’re carefully planned to include essential nutrients. However, a vegetarian diet can be unhealthy if it contains too many calories and/or saturated fat and not enough important nutrients What are the nutrients to consider in a vegetarian diet?

  • Protein: You don’t need to eat foods from animals to have enough protein in your diet. Plant proteins alone can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids, as long as sources of dietary protein are varied and caloric intake is high enough to meet energy needs.
  • Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts all contain both essential and non-essential amino acids. You don’t need to consciously combine these foods (“complementary proteins”) within a given meal.
  • Soy protein has been shown to be equal to proteins of animal origin. It can be your sole protein source if you choose.
  • Iron: Vegetarians may have a greater risk of iron deficiency than nonvegetarians. The richest sources of iron are red meat, liver and egg yolk — all high in cholesterol. However, dried beans, spinach, enriched products, brewer’s yeast and dried fruits are all good plant sources of iron.
  • Vitamin B-12: This comes naturally only from animal sources. Vegans need a reliable source of vitamin B-12. It can be found in some fortified (not enriched) breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, some brands of nutritional (brewer’s) yeast and other foods (check the labels), as well as vitamin supplements.
  • Vitamin D: Vegans should have a reliable source of vitamin D. Vegans who don’t get much sunlight may need a supplement.
  • Calcium: Studies show that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than nonvegetarians do. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products, are good sources of calcium from plants.
  • Zinc: Zinc is needed for growth and development. Good plant sources include grains, nuts and legumes. Shellfish are an excellent source of zinc. Take care to select supplements containing no more than 15-18 mg zinc. Supplements containing 50 mg or more may lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol in some people.

What meal plans are recommended? Any type of vegetarian diet should include a wide variety of foods and enough calories to meet your energy needs.  Keep your intake of sweets and fatty foods to a minimum. These foods are low in nutrients and high in calories.