Tag Archives: east

Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Milk from Karnataka

When we lived in India I needed to go to Cochin in Kerala for work. The market research session I was attending didn’t start until the afternoon, so I had the morning to explore Fort Cochin. There amoungst the alleyways I found a tiny little bookshop piled high with books. A wonderful little treasure trove. From that store I bought a South Indian Vegetarian cookbook which I love exploring. This recipe is based on that for Urulaikizhangu Saagu which is a Potato Curry from Karnataka. Using sweet potatoes to make a Sweet Potato Curry gives it a slightly richer flavor (and a few more vitamins), and I skipped the process of making homemade coconut milk, and stuck to a store bought can for convenience. It is truly delicious!


  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 270ml can coconut milk
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled, grated
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Spice paste

  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 3 dried chillies
  • 1 Tbsp Bengal gram or Moong dal
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp Bengal gram or Moong dal
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into 1-2cm cubes. Cook in salted, boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside
  2. Grind ingredients for spice paste in a mill accessory on a blender or food processor. Gradually add 2-3 Tbsp to make a paste
  3. Heat some oil in a large frying pan. Add all the Tempeeing ingredients and fry until the mustard seeds start to splutter
  4. Add the onions to the Tempered spices and fry until golden, around 3 minutes
  5. Add green chilies, ginger, tomatoes, turmeric, and salt. Fry for about 2 minutes
  6. Add 1 cup of water and turn up the heat (from 6 to 7 on an induction cooktop). Simmer for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally
  7. Turn down the heat (to 6 on an Induction cooktop). Mix in the spice paste and sweet potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure all ingredient should are well mixed together and the mixture does not catch on the pan
  8. Pour in the can of Coconut Milk and stir to combine thoroughly. Simmer for a few minutes over a low heat.
  9. Serve with rice, idli, dosa, or roti

Turkish Snack Bars

Turkish snack bars

We didn’t enter a wholefood lifestyle to lose weight. We started looking after ourselves better to improve our health and start feeling better. But the consequence has also been that as we have taken out the junk, the processed food, and the fried food from our diets, our weight has also dropped. But we also don’t want it to drop too much or too fast.

That is where a little bit of healthy snacking comes in. But most shop bought snacks have ingredients I don’t recognize, or sugar that I don’t want to eat. The alternative are pretty expensive raw snack bars. As a result, we have taken to making our own snack bars and keeping them in the fridge. I make one or two batches in the weekend (which takes me less than 10 minutes) and they keep all week. Given that they are all dried ingredients, they should actually keep quite a long time, but they have never last longer than a week in our house to find out.

These snack bars are inspired by the flavours of Turkey. Rich pistachios and almonds are bound together with the sweetness and stickiness of dates. They are a great snack to keep in the fridge and snack on with an espresso or on its own.


  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup dried dates
  • 10g extra pistachios, chopped, for garnishing


  1. Place the pistachios in a food processor with the metal knife blade inserted. Pulse until they are finely chopped.
  2. Add the apricots and dates to the food processor and turn the speed up to a medium speed. Process for about 1 minute until the fruits and nuts are all finely chopped and start to stick together.
  3. Grease a metal tray with a little coconut oil. Pour the mixture onto the tray and press down firmly with your hands to form a large square / rectangular shape. You need to press quite firmly to press all of the mixture together.
  4. Chop the extra 10g (a small handful) of pistachios and sprinkle over the top of the bar. Press down into the mixture with your hands firmly so that it sticks into the bars as a garnish
  5. Place in the fridge for an hour
  6. Cut into bar shapes and store in an airtight plastic container between layers of greaseproof baking paper.

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify:

Dukkah (Duqqa)

Dukkah crusted tuna

Dukkah is a classic Middle Eastern blend of spices, seeds and herbs. Originating in Egypt, there is no definitive recipe, with each home and store offering their unique blend. At its most simple it is a blend of mint, salt and pepper. It can be used as a topping for meat such as salmon, tuna or chicken, but can also be used as a dipping for bread (turkish flat bread is a good choice) or vegetables for a crunchy starter.


  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • Handful of chopped pine nuts, toasted
  • Handful of chopped almonds, toasted
  • Handful of chopped cashew nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 tbsp White sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp Black sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper


  1. Toast the seeds in a a pan for around 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle) and grind until you have a coarse powder.
  3. Transfer to a little bowl, add all other ingredients and mix.
  4. Use as a topping for meat, or with olive oil as a dipping for bread or vegetables

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Intergalactic Lovers – Little Heavy Burdens

Persian Stuffed Poussin

Persian stuffed Poussin

We love Middle Eastern Food! There are so many rich flavours and ingredients to explore that we never tire of exploring its kitchen. The Persian (Iranian) kitchen uses liberal doses of pistachios, dates, figs and pomegranates. What is not to love? 

Inspired by the tastes of Persia and the Middle East, this stuffed Poussin or Chicken is very rich in flavour with dates, prosciutto and mixed nuts combining to make a very rich stuffing. It was delicious with the Persian Avocado Salad that we created to go with it too!


  • 1 large poussin (or small chicken)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • handful of thyme sprigs (exact amount does not matter as it will just add aroma)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or butter


  • 75g pitted dates
  • 30g blenched almonds
  • 30g cashew nuts
  • 2 slices parma ham / prosciutto


  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees fahrenheit)
  2. Chop up all of the ingredients for the stuffing into small pieces. Alternatively, place all stuffing ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop roughly.
  3. Stuff the poussin (or chicken) with the mixture and tie the bird closed using kitchen string.
  4. Place the bird breast side down into an oven tray and brush with coconut oil, ghee and 1/2 the lemon juice. Sprinkle over a pinch of course sea salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Add the garlic (unpeeled) and the thyme to the tray.
  6. Place the tray in the oven and bake for around 35 minutes depending on the size of your bird. It should be golden brown and crispy on the side that is visible to you when you open the oven.
  7. Turn the bird over and baste with the rest of the lemon juice and a little more coconut oil. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the top of the chicken is also golden brown and crispy.
  8. When the chicken is ready, leave it to rest for a few minutes before carving and serving it.
  9. Serve with the Persian Avocado salad and some sweet potato chips from the Air Fryer

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Bony King – Wild Flowers

Persian Avocado Salad

Persian Avocado Salad

OK, so we can’t actually promise that this is an authentic Persian Salad. It isn’t. It was dreamed up in our kitchen while we were making Stuffed Poussin and needed a salad to go with it. But it is inspired by the tastes of the Middle East, and Persia in particular. The figs and dates combined with the nuts give a very rich salad, that is contrasted by the freshness of the salad. You can use whichever salad greens you happen to have in the house. Mesclun salad or rocket would be a good choice, but any other lettuce would also work. The parma ham / prosciutto can be omitted to make the meal vegetarian or vegan. 


  • 250g of lettuce greens – mesclun salad, rocket lettuce, or other lettuce of your choice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 150g pumpkin
  • coconut oil
  • 2 slices of parma ham / prosciutto, chopped (optional)
  • 25g cashews, chopped and toasted
  • 25g almonds, chopped
  • 25g pinenuts, chopped
  • 2 chopped dates, chopped
  • 2 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • pinch of coarse sea salt


  1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (420 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. Wash the lettuce greens and add them to a bowl
  3. Place the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a glass and stir vigorously to combine into a vinaigarette. Pour over the lettuce greens and toss to coat all the leaves.
  4. Cut the pumpkin into roughly 1cm square chunks. Place on a roasting dish in the oven. Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until a fork pricks easily through the pumpkin and the edges have turned golden. Alternatively, toss the pumpkin in 1 tsp of coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cook in an Air Fryer for 10 minutes on 220 degrees Celsius. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before adding to the salad to avoid the greens from wilting.
  5. Chop up the dates, all the nuts and the parma ham. Fry them together in a pan over a moderate heat with a little coconut oil until golden and crispy. Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the salad greens
  6. Chop the figs into small pieces and sprinkle over the salad as well.
  7. Fry the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a moderate heat until they turn golden, stirring all the time to avoid burning. It will take only 2 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and a little coarse sea salt over the salad.
  9. Enjoy on its own as a light meal, or serve together with Persian Stuffed Poussin

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Hills Like Elephants – The Endless Charade




Za’atar is the generic name for the herbs oregano, thyme, and marjoram. As a spice mix it is usually based on these dried herbs, combined with sesame seeds, salt, and sometimes sumac and other spices. Used widely in Arab cuisine, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East.

You can often find this in your supermarket (try the Asian food section), or by looking for a Middle Eastern supermarket in your city.

If you are not able to find it, then you can mix it up yourself. There is no definitive recipe for Za’atar as it is a blend of spices that varies from store to store in its native Lebanon, but this is a basic recipe you can use and vary from.

If you are unable to find it, you can also make it using our za’atar recipe

Lamb Koftas with Thai spices

Thai koftas

In its simplest form, koftas consist of balls or sausages of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions. They can be found from Greece, all the way across to Pakistan and India. This version uses Thai rather than Middle Eastern spices to make a simple but flavorsome meat dish.



  • 2 Tbsp yellow curry paste
  • 60ml coconut milk
  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 white onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • salt and pepper


  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp yellow curry
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • cucumber and salad leaves


  1. First mix the coconut milk with the curry paste in a bowl
  2. Add the minced lamb, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in another bowl. 
  3. Wet your hands and shape the meat into 6 sausage roll shaped koftas
  4. Brush the outside of the koftas with the curry paste mixture.
  5. Put them into the fridge for 30 minutes
  6. Bake in a little coconut oil for about 3 minutes in a hot pan until brown all over. 
  7. After making the koftas, fry the shallots, garlic from the sauce ingredients in a pan. 
  8. Add the curry paste and coconut milk and stir until it thickens. 
  9. Serve over the koftas with some cucumber slices and salad leaves. 

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify:  Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

Lemon and Mint Juice

Lemon and mint juice

This is a very refreshing drink that is perfect for a hot summer day. It is inspired by a drink that we had in Dubai, but uses honey as a sweetener instead of sugar. Makes 2 glasses.


  • 15 mint leaves
  • Half a lemon – unpeeled, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp boiling water
  • 2 glasses water


  1. Add the honey to the boiling water and let it dissolve.
  2. Put the mint leaves, water, lemon and honey into a blender.
  3. Blend for 1-2 minutes until you can see a green juice in the blender, and the lemon is finely blended
  4. Strain the juice to remove the lemon and mint remnants
  5. Serve over ice.

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Regan – Wiser





Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. Dates are an important traditional crop in Iraq, Arabia, and north Africa west to Morocco. Dates are also mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible and 20 times in the Qur’an. 

Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, or tahini. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco, to puddings, and other dessert items. We use them as a sweetener in our breakfast muffins.


Tahini Paste

Tahini is made from sesame seeds that are soaked in water and then crushed to separate the bran from the kernels. The crushed seeds are soaked in salt water, causing the bran to sink. The floating kernels are skimmed off the surface, toasted, and ground to produce an oily paste.

Because of tahini’s high oil content, many manufacturers recommend refrigeration to prevent spoilage. This is particularly true among makers of raw, organic tahini, who will often prepare their tahini at low temperatures and ship and store it in refrigerated cases to maximize quality and shelf life.

Used in middle eastern cooking, it has a peanut buttery flavour. You will find it used in hummus and other Middle Eastern dips.