My dad’s chickpea dahl ‘channa masala’ {a recipe}

Today I made my dad’s chickpea dahl. My dad is one of the best cook’s I know. ……maybe the best..?? Anyway, he’s a pretty excellent cook. We grew up eating his good healthy real made-with intention, thought, care, love meals. My mum was a great cook too.

I think childhood memories of food and cooking and being in the kitchen with your parents are some of the strongest memories I have. I think maybe my siblings have similar strong food memories.

A couple of days ago Ari told me he wanted to make hummus for his school class party. He makes a pretty delicious hummus. As I won’t buy tinned beans, it meant I had to soak raw chickpeas for his hummus making – so I decided to soak and cook a big batch at once. Which led to deciding what to make with the other chickpeas. And of course it being cosy fire-weather and warm nourishing dinners, I decided to make dahl. Luckily I got to ask my dad how he makes his.

So – here’s the recipe. In case you want to make:

Eric’s Channa Masala

(as with all my recipes, quantities are fairly inaccurate as I’m not so good at measuring…sorry. I think that’s the best way to cook – but instinct and to your own taste).

1 cup dried chickpeas
3 cloves local or Australian garlic* diced
a knob of fresh ginger grated
1 onion diced (I use the purple ones because I like the caramel sweetness better than brown onions)
2t cumin powder
2t coriander powder
2t paprika or chillis
2t sea or rock salt (the one in the photo is pink Himalayan rock salt)
5-7 tomatoes diced
Olive oil or cooking oil
Fresh coriander.

The day before you want to eat your dahl you’ll need to soak 1 cup dried chickpeas. Just regular water will do (of course we have beautiful rain water, so you should use filtered water if you have town water). Leave them in the saucepan to soak overnight. And then the next morning top up with water and put on to cook. The longer you soak them, the less cooking time they take. Bring up to the boil and then leave to simmer for some time – may take 1-3hours. Skim any scum that comes to the surface. You want to turn the heat off before they are fully cooked – a little bit of bite left, don’t let them cook until falling apart.

Heat a heavy based fry pan (I have a beautiful cast iron one that my parents gave me when I first left home all that time ago and I use it every single day) and add olive oil. I let the oil heat a teeny bit, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and salt and fry until all nice (don’t burn it!), add the tomatoes and spices and fry until the tomatoes start to break down. A good five minutes at least.

Drain the cooked chickpeas, but keep the cooking water. Add the drained chickpeas to the fry pan spicy sauce and fry for a further 10 or 15 minutes. Return it all to the saucepan and add a little of the retained cooking water if need. Put the lid on the saucepan and allow to slowly simmer for at least 3 or so hours. Stir occasionally and if needed add more of the cooking water, though the tomatoes make it nice and saucy on their own. Taste the chickpeas and see if they’re well cooked and have soaked up the flavours. It can slowly simmer for more than 3 hours if you have the time.

Add freshly torn coriander right at the end, just before serving.

Serve with basmatic rice.

You can also add potatoes and kale during the cooking process if you want to make it a more vegetable meal. Though we like it plain like this and serve it with pan-crispy spiced potatoes which are super yum!

Enjoy. And think of the memories you can start making for your own children to have.

ALSO – in other wonderful and exciting news – our new benchtop was half installed today. Will be finished very very soon. Can’t wait. It’s so beautiful. We’re all  dreaming of standing in our new kitchen and cooking and sharing and being in the space. Can’t wait to show it to you. And maybe have some of you over for sharing a meal together!

Beautiful spotty bowl by Elke Lucas.

*do not ever, please please, use imported from China garlic. Local garlic grown in your country is much tastier and better for you. Garlic that has been imported from China has been irradiated.

Coconut Cake – Pretty flowers & a recipe

Cake solves lots of problems, don’t you think. You know, not massive world issue problems, but those tiny at home daily challenges problems.

The making of a cake, for me, is such a restorative process (mostly). I love thinking about the cake I’ll make, and gathering the ingredients  – seeing if we have the right things, or making do with what we do have instead. I love the preparation – getting the butter and eggs out. And then thinking about the sharing of the cake – that’s the lovely part. Sitting down together and cutting into a cake.

So – cake is good. Yes?

I wanted to share a current go-to cake, with you. It’s easy to make, quite healthy, very delicious and ever so pretty when you want to pretty it all up. (Those of you who read this blog know that I don’t often use a recipe – but there are times I need to know a cake will work with no issues and this one ticks so many boxes in terms of look, taste, ease of making and fairly healthy).

Coconut Cake with (coconut) Cream
 6 fresh free-range eggs, separated
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup plain flour (I use spelt or whatever you want)
2 pinches baking powder
2 cups shredded coconut or 1 cup shredded + 1 cup dessicated.
180g butter, melted (I always use salted butter in my cake cooking – it adds that little speck of salt)

For cream ganache / filling
1-2 can of coconut cream – place in the fridge for 24hours before ready to use
2-4T coconut sugar (the coconut sugar will turn your cream a beautiful golden colour)

How to:
Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 16cm spring form cake tin.
Using an electric beater, mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and sugar until thick.
Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the yolks, with a third of the sifted flour. Repeat until all mixed together, then gently add the coconut and melted butter and fold through until just combined. It’s ok if some of egg white can still be seen.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40mins  until golden and pulling away from the sides. Leave to cool and then remove from the tin.

For the coconut cream ganache – Place one can of the cooled cream and 2T of the coconut sugar into bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. One can is enough for one layer of cake filling.
To ice cake – slice cake horizontally into either 2 or 3 pieces, through the middle. Spread the coconut cream filling over each layer and carefully place them on top of each other. You can leave the top naked or cream it as well. This is the fun part – so I’ll leave it up to you to decorate as you like. Toasted or large flakes of fresh coconut on the top is lovely too.

Decorate with non-toxic or edible flowers. Please be sure you check that the flowers aren’t poisonous before serving to your guests!

You can make as many layers as you like – make 2 cakes to make a giant cake stack of 6 layers!

Coconut cream is more of an ‘adult’ taste, so you can just as easily use regular whipped (cows) cream. You shouldn’t need sugar with this as it’s sweet enough on it’s own. We like whipping it in a jar – shakey shakey. Fun and easy. (Half fill a glass jar with regular pouring cream – make sure the lid is tightly closed. Then shake shake shake and keep on shaking until it turns to nice thick cream. This is a fun to do with kids as well. Just make sure you keep checking on it; if you shake too much you’ll end up making butter.)

{I have started using a 16cm cake tin, instead of my usual 22cm as it makes a smaller but taller cake. I’m loving the tall cake layers at the moment, but not needing the giant 22cm size cake for smaller gatherings or family nibbles. This recipe is suitable for a 22cm cake tin – it makes two well-sized layers}.

*Recipe is adapted from “Coming Home” by Cathy Armstrong.
*Photos of pansy-topped cake are taken by Leah from Such Wild Grace at my weaving workshop gathering, a few years ago. The cut-pansy cake photo is by me. Other photos are by me, at my daughter’s 7th birthday party earlier this year.
Pansy-topped cake has coconut cream and 16cm tin used.
Zinnia-topped cake has regular cream and 2x 22cm tin used.

This post was originally written on my Petalplum blogspot blog – I’m moving a few posts over here because I think they’re still beautiful and worthwhile sharing.

Recipe: almond & triple-choc (cacao) healthy biscuits

We don’t buy packet biscuits in our family. Some days my kids ‘hate’ me for it, but really they’re ok with it. What we do it make our own. SOoooooo much yummier, more fun, and seriously I know how much sugar goes into them so I’m ok with them being gobbled up in only a day or so. Keeping organised to make sure there’s enough for school everyday is sometimes a challenge; that’s why I’ve taught my kids to bake as well – so it’s not all just up to me. Actually, mostly my son does the biscuit baking. But today I wanted to make some. Seriously yum yum yum! Thought I’d share the recipe with you, cause I know you’ll want to make your own – share them with the kids if you want, but I won’t think badly of you if you don’t.

Healthy Almond & Triple Cacao Biscuits:
Makes approx 20 or so.
1/2 cup coconut sugar ( or similar of your choice)
4T softened butter (or coconut oil)
2t baking powder (aluminium free)
1 vanilla pod scraped, or 1t vanilla extract
3 cups almond meal
1 cup dark cacao powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped chocolate – dark and white mix. (We use the raw vegan chocolate bulk from the health food shop)

Mix the butter, sugar, baking powder & vanilla until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating. Then add almond meal cup by cup and mix in; it’s quite stiff and needs to be worked well. Add cacao powder (or extra almond meal if you don’t want the triple choc factor). Stir in choc pieces. Mix it together really well. Roll into teaspoon sized balls and flatten with the back of a fork onto a baking paper lines tray. Bake for 15 or so mins at 180C. Leave to cool before eating.

 These are naturally gluten-free, and would be easy to convert to vegan if you wanted. Are you going to make some? Are you a white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate fan? Do you use cocoa or cacao or carob?

This fabulous stainless steel straw from Biome is perfect for easy and ongoing plastic free living (make sure you grab a straw cleaning brush at the same time). Pack some in your handbag for when you’re out & about. Did you know straws are one of the biggest throwaways yet so easy to stop using.

Souper Hero Challenge + Red Lentil Soup Recipe

I like soup, a whole lot. I think I could happily eat soup for dinner every night (my family doesn’t always think so, but that’s ok – cause I’m happy to eat it all myself). Well then how good that I’ve joined the Salvation Army Be a SouperHero Challenge! Yay – a whole week of soup. But actually, the real reason I’m doing it is to raise funds to donate to the thousands of people in Australia who have no choice but to eat soup every night, the people who can’t afford luxury items, who sometimes can’t afford heating for their homes. There are thousands living on less than $17 a day for all their expenses (after accommodation costs), including food, schooling, medical. That’s a cup of coffee, and a magazine for some of you!

Each year the Salvation Army raises money through their shops, door-knock-appeals and now the Souper Challenge. I’ve decided that I’ll be eating soup for every dinner for the whole week of the appeal from 25th – 31st July, and I’m asking you to sponsor me. The cost of a cup of coffee, or a dinner out – whatever you can spare. I’ll be eating soup.

I’ve decided that I will need more than just and only soup for the whole week, due to being a breastfeeding mama – so I’m setting myself a challenge of soup each night for dinner (rather than the official challenge of soup for every meal). If you’re keen to join in there’s heaps of different challenges to work around your life, and encourage you to participate. Check it all out on the main website.

A week of soup – what’s your favourite soup? Being a vegetarian, and living on a budget, soup is a low-cost but high nutritious food for us. We fill it with lentils or beans and lots of fresh locally grown veges.

Here’s my recipe for Red Lentil & Ginger Soup – perfect to stick to a budget, fill your tummy and keep you healthy; the ginger is great for cold season to boost your immune system.

1 cup of red lentils
1 red onion, finely diced
1 cup pumpkin, cut into cubes
1/2 bunch kale, cut into slithers
3 large fresh tomatoes, cut into cubes or 1 tin diced toms
piece of fresh ginger, grated – as much or as little as you like the heat of it
2 pinches of sea or rock salt
spices – 1t each of powdered cumin, coriander, turmeric (or freshly if you can get it)
a few gluggs of good quality olive oil
Other veges you can include – potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots…. cut into cubes

Put the lentils on to boil, covered well with water. They take about 15 mins at a semi-rapid boil.
Heat a heavy based frypan (I use a cast iron pan I’ve had since I was 18), and add the olive oil, onion, salt and spices and let the onion soften and start to caramelise slightly. Add the pumpkin (potatoes, sweet potatoes) and allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes, add the kale and cook down briefly, then the tomatoes and about 2 cups of water. Cook for approx 15 mins until the tomatoes are all nice and juicy and broken down (less time if you happen to use a tin of diced tomatoes).
By this stage the lentils should be cooked. Drain them, but retain the cooking water. Put the lentils and tomato vege sauce into the saucepan, and add enough lentil cooking water to make a lovely thick soup consistency. Grate in the ginger, and cook for 15 mins – adding more water (lentil water) if you want.

Serve with fresh coriander, feta cheese or yoghurt and a slice of yummy bread, + freshly cracked black pepper for extra bite. Gobble it up and go back for seconds. It keeps well for a day or two in fridge and makes excellent leftovers for breakfast or lunch. It will thicken up and can be reheated easily.

I’d love any other suggestions for what soup I should make for the Be a SouperHero Challenge. You can find my channa masala dahl / soup recipe here, and I’ve love to know if you make my red lentil & ginger soup.

Spiced Almonds {a recipe}

These delicious spiced almonds are perfect to have as a snack in the cupboard, to take on a picnic or even as a treat to share at a party. They’re more-ish, ever-so-tasty and a whole lot of pretty. And really really easy.

You’ll need:

  • Almonds, or a mix of other nuts you like
  • Organic cinnamon sticks (seriously tastes better than regular cinnamon)
  • Salt flakes – use sea, rock or ocean salt. The real stuff, not table salt
  • Spices of your choice – whole star anise, black pepper, coriander seeds or powder, smokey paprika

Using a heavy based metal fry pan, dry toast the spices and salt with the nuts, until the spices start to release their aroma and the nuts look all toasty roasty. Allow to cool before you taste them – hot nuts can burn your mouth and are also soft (they become hard again once they’re cooled).

Store in a glass jar – and nibble whenever you need something sweet salty spicy crunchy yummy.

And, need I mention – choose Australian, pesticide-free almonds always (support our farmers and consider the food miles, as well as the taste).

my dad’s chana masala {a recipe}

My dad is one of the best cook’s I know. ……maybe the best..?? Anyway, he’s a pretty excellent cook. We grew up eating his good healthy real made-with intention, thought, care, love meals. My mum was a great cook too.

I think childhood memories of food and cooking and being in the kitchen with your parents are some of the strongest memories I have. I think maybe my siblings have similar strong food memories.