Seasonal Cooking | Spring: The Joy of Asparagus

Get your asparagus on this Spring.

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Spring Asparagus is in a class of its own. Fresh, gentle, spring green and tender stalks – for me, so evocative of hot steamy days and the typical Australian BBQ with a large plate of char grilled asparagus stalks with lemon and sea salt.

I have been baking it lately, wrapping it in foil with butter, lemon juice and sea salt, or with some white wine, butter and sea salt. Popped in an oven for 15 or 20 minutes and the resulting tender and flavoured asparagus is meltingly tender. Asparagus and butter is a perfect match determined by some golden deity many eons ago.

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Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella

10 minutes and this salad is done.

Are you like me? Hate those 6pm meetings that are catered? Few vegetarian options except for chips and other deep fried snacks. I have one of those meetings tonight, but thankfully I have it licked.

Around 4pm I stopped work and made this salad. It is Nigel Slater’s originally, but I have adopted it as my own over time. I do love his way with vegetables. Simple.

Are you after other Fennel Salads? Try Fennel Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, Fennel, Potato and Tomato Salad with Garlicky Mayo, Fennel and Apple Salad and Fennel and Fresh Prune Salad.

We also particularly like Fennel on the BBQ and Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Garlic and Orange.

Also try Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers.

Browse all of our Fennel recipes and all of our many Salad recipes. Explore the Mozzarella recipes here. Or be inspired by our collection of Mid Spring recipes.

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Spicy Kidney Bean Feijoada from Goa

A fragrant vegetarian dish from Goa in West South India.

The Portuguese occupied Goa for some 400 years or so, so the cuisine of Goa is multi-faceted. There is very traditional South Indian/Hindu food, food very much influenced by Portuguese cuisines, Musilm cuisine from the occupiers before the Portuguese, and there are cuisines of other groups in Goa eg migrant workers who come from the North of India. It is fascinating and layered.

Feijoada is a Portuguese dish that has been adopted and adapted by Goa. This is a vegetarian version, pungent with spices and tamarind.

You might like to try our recipes from Goa here and here,  or perhaps Capsicums with Kidney Beans and Feta.  Browse all of our recipes using kidney beans here and here. Explore all of our Indian recipes here and here. Be inspired by our Spring dishes here and here.

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Coconut-y Rice Flatbread | Tandlachi Bhakar | Roti from Goa

A typical Goan Roti

I have such good memories of Goa from many trips over the years. Sitting on a beach, being pampered, eating local food – you can imagine the wonderful heaven I was in.

This is an easy Rice Flat Bread that is common in Goa. They were not pretty roti as the dough is hard to roll out, but they were very very tasty.

Browse some Goan recipes here and here, and also Dosa recipes here and here. Explore our Spring dishes here and here.

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A Gentle, Quick Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup – perfect for early spring when asparagus is plentiful and cheap.

A cup of quick asparagus soup will give you a boost on a Spring day. It is so easy, and asparagus is plentiful and cheap at that time of the year.

Browse our asparagus recipes here and here. Or explore Soup recipes here and here. Our favourites are Autumn Vegetables a la Grecque, and du Puy Lentil Soup. Find inspiration in our Spring recipes here and here. Continue reading “A Gentle, Quick Asparagus Soup”

Ginger and Tulsi Tea | Tulasyadi Phanta | For when you need to rest

Phanta Tea is a beautiful, relaxing tea. Just what you need!

Tulsi tea with ginger is very good for you, especially in early spring. Ayurvedically, it is good for sinusitis, flu, hayfever, bronchitis, asthma and some fevers. (Consult your Ayurvedic practictioner.) Phanta is a hot infusion in Ayurveda.

It is gentle and calming, reducing Vata and Kapha, but raising Pitta. Drink it at a time that you can relax and take some bed rest. It is best to avoid cold for a couple of hours after drinking.

Tulsi is the Holy Basil of India, with a taste somewhere between mint and basil. You can often buy Tulsi tea in organic and health shops. If I can’t find Tulsi, I make this tea with ordinary basil and it still works wonders.

You can read more about the extraordinary healthy properties of Tulasi here.  Tulasi can also be spelt as Tulsi or Thulasi, or called Holy Basil. Don’t get it confused with Thai or Sth East Asian Holy Basil, it is an Indian Holy Basil and quite different to the Thai herb. You can see our Tulsi recipes here.

Similar teas include Spring Chai, Dr. Kilkani’s Ayurvedic Chai, Longan and Ginger Tea, Ginger Root and Turmeric Tea, Rosebud and Borage Flower Tea, and Cumin, Coriander and Ginger Tea.

Our Tulasi recipes are here, and our Ayurveda recipes here. You might like to browse our other Teas as well. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Kampung Ghee Rice | Malaysian Village Rice

A warming, fragrant, beautiful rice for cool days.

Ghee and rice go together so well. Ghee Fried Rice is a Malaysian dish that is often called Kampung Ghee Rice. Kampung refers to its rustic village origins. This is a wonderfully fragrant rice, lighting up your whole house with its warm spice fragrance. I was first introduced to the recipe by my friend and cook extraordinaire Franz. Thanks Franz.

You might like to browse our rice recipes here and here. Our favourite is South Indian Coconut Rice. Or explore the S. E. Asian recipes here and here. Read more about Spices here. And find inspiration in our Spring recipes here and here.

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Quick Strawberry Jam

Make delicious jam in 35 minutes.

At another time in my life I used to make Strawberry Jam in the middle of the night. I was going through a period of sleeping difficulties, and, hating lying in bed trying to sleep, I would get up at 1 or 2 or 3am and make jam. It can be made and bottled in just over half an hour, using the microwave. Then I would pop back into bed and sleep like a baby.

This is a “fresh” jam – that is, make it in small batches, store it in the fridge, and make another batch when it is gone. Truly, it is wonderful.

Are you looking for more Strawberry recipes? Try Strawberries with Lemon, Baked Strawberries, and Strawberries with Sticky Balsamic.

Similar Jam recipes include Quick Lemon Marmalade, Quince Jelly, and Cumquat Marmalade.

You might like to browse all of our jam recipes. Or browse our Strawberry recipes. Be inspired by exploring our Early Spring recipes. Continue reading “Quick Strawberry Jam”

Sweet Bananas and Coconut | Pazham Varattiyathu | Banana Halwa from Kerala

A 6-minute dessert with Indian flavours. Banana and coconut – a winning combination.

Here it is, Sweet Bananas and Coconut, a tempting decadent siren of a dessert. 6 minutes only to make — easy to whip up after a hot curry or when unexpected guests arrive. It is sweet and buttery, so a small amount is enough.

The recipe came from my pile of hundreds of hand written recipes collected over the years. The scribbled notes came from a cooking session with a Chef at the Leela in Kovalam, Kerala on the West Coast of India. It is a Keralite dish, also common in Tamil Nadu.

Are you after more Banana recipes? You might also like to try Pomegranate and Banana Salad, Banana and Berry Lassi, or Flattened Rice with Bananas and Honey.

Have a look at all of our recipes from Kerala or all of our Indian recipes. Explore some more information about Halwa. Our Banana recipes are all here. You can also browse our Dessert recipes. Or simply explore our Early Spring dishes.

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Seasonal Cooking | Spring into Salads

There is nothing better in Spring than sharing a salad – or two.

It is so exciting to have Spring appear, creeping around the corner as she does, not really making her presence felt, just a little warmer, a little sunnier day by day. Capricious too, bringing thunderstorms and hail one moment and radiant sunshine the next.

Today, in all her glory, Spring served up a magnificent day. The afternoon was spent with friends eating and communing, enjoying her magnificence under sprouting grapevines, tiny tomato plants in just a tad too early, herbs flourishing.

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Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta

Not a fancy dish, Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta is a comfort dish. A dish for cold Friday nights in front of the TV.

With the remains of a bag of lentils sitting falornly on the kithen bench, I came across a recipe for Capsicums stuffed with Kidney Beans in my pile of hand written recipes saved over years. I am also a sucker for stuffed vegetables. So when this recipe turned up, I knew that I had lunch in the bag.

This isn’t a fancy dish. It is a comfort, homely, family dish that can be served for a quick, warming lunch or with a salad for a dinner eaten in front of the TV.

You might also like to try Drying Capsicums for Snacks, or Bhajji, Indian Vegetable Fritters. Or browse all of our Kidney Bean recipes and all of our Stuffed recipes here and here. Our Capsicum recipes are here and here. Find some inspiration in our Spring recipes here and here. Continue reading “Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta”

Du Puy Lentil Soup | Slow Cooked or Stove Top

Du Puy Lentil Soup recipe with Parmesan Toasts or Middle Eastern Tafoon

There is a a Middle Eastern flatbread, fresh Taftoon – Persian flatbread. It can be found in any Middle Eastern store. A little like Naan, but huge, round and soft, thicker than lavash, yeasted and made from a mix of wholewheat and plant flour. Just right for soups. So to fit in one more soup before the end of winter, and to use up any du Puy lentils left in the cupboard, make a slow cooked Du Puy Lentil Soup.

Those little black disks are great in winter slow cooked soups (but can of course be cooked on the stove top too). Throw some into the slow cooker and then go to the office. Arrive home to wonderful soup and soft taftoon to mop up the juices.

You might also like to browse our other Du Puy Lentil recipes. Our favourite is Du Puy Lentils with Feta and Tomato. Have a look at our Slow Cooker recipes here and here. Explore our Lentil Soups here or here, or all of our Soups here and here. Find some inspiration in our Winter recipes here and here.

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Roasted Tomato and Sweetcorn Soup

It is almost soup time – the weather is certainly cold enough.

There is nothing quite like a roasted tomato for wonderful and intense flavours. Use them everywhere and all year around. Cooked in the oven or in the covered BBQ, they are delicious.

Roasted tomatoes make great soups, like this cold one. But winter cometh, and it is time for hot soups once again.

Are you looking for Sweetcorn dishes? Try Roasted Sweetcorn Salad with Avocado, Sweetcorn Sundal, and How to Roast/Char Grill Sweetcorn.

Or are you looking for Tomato Soups? Try Tomato Kurma, Creamy Tomato Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger, Carrot and Roasted Tomato Soup, and Rustic Tomato Soup with Feta.

Browse all of our Tomato Soups, all of our Sweetcorn dishes, and all of our Soups. Or be inspired by our Late Autumn recipes.

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Baked Garlicky Eggplant with Feta

Perfect eggplants are a glory to look at. Shimmering purple, with a promise of so much under that sometimes tough outer purple layer. Then ther are the Thai globular eggplants, gorgeous again in their sheer perfection. It is rare that a week goes by without us slice or dicing, baking or grilling eggplants. Japanese cuisine, Indian dishes and Middle Eastern food are just rife with the best of ways to use eggplants.

Nigel Slater though, is generally purely British in his approach to food, and unashamedly so. He doesn’t like to steam eggplant, for example (one of my favourite ways with this vegetable. However I love his books and his one-eyed approach. At the moment I am finding Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries I and II very inspiring for evening supper-type meals. Quick to cook, open to adjustment, not too many steps or ingredients, his (vegetarian) food is my food at the moment. I am often home late-ish, so something quick and healthy is perfect for me.

And just to break the stereotype, this dish have overtones of, perhaps, a combination of Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern food.

Are you looking for other Eggplant dishes? Try Cheese and Eggplant Torte, Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Cheese and Tomatoes, and Roasted Eggplants with a Garlic Sauce, Pinenuts and Basil.

Our favourites are Brinjal Fry (Indian Deep Fried Eggplant) and a Persian Saffron and Rosewater Scented Eggplant.

You might like to browse all of our delicious eggplant recipes and other dishes from Nigel’s books. Or find inspiration in our Late Autumn recipes. Continue reading “Baked Garlicky Eggplant with Feta”

Three Different Raitas/Pachadis | Yoghurt Salads

Cooling, tasty, and refreshing raitas.

In Australia, if you see Raita on the menu of an Indian restaurant, it means the ubiquitous Cucumber Raita. Cooling and tasty, it helps those of us unused to the heat of Indian meals to cool our tongue and palate.

Raitas, or Pachadis, are an Indian version of salads.  To call yoghurt the “dressing” of the salad is a bit of a misnomer. It is more than that – it is the carrier of the vegetables and the flavours of the spices. It holds the whole dish together. The vegetables used might be cooked or raw, and in Tamil Nadu they are served near the end of the savoury portion of the meal, just before payasam/dessert/kheer (rather than along with the curries). But feel free to eat more “fusion” and serve raitas as part of a meal, or even part of the entree/ starters.

You can browse our raita and pachadi recipes here and here. We love Carrot Pachadi. Or browse all Yoghurt dishes here and here. Explore our Indian recipes here and here. Find inspiration in our Summer dishes here and here.

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